Based on the news, every day, for the last decade-to-century, I’m more or less certain the apocalypse will come in our lifetime. (Not just “my” lifetime – “our.” GO TEAM!)

I’m not really sure what form it’ll take. Oceans become irreversibly toxic? Zombie outbreak? Atmosphere has brain-eating bits of cadmium in it?  ‘Roid-raging Carrot Top clone army armed with batzookas (bazookas with bat-wings, which are as groan-worthy as they are catastrophically destructive)?

You can’t even guess at this point.

I do know two simple truths – bestowed upon me by the sacred Book of Eli. First, God will grant me magical samurai powers as long as I’m carrying some form of Bible (even, I’m assuming, an Itty-Bitty Bible for easy transport), and second, my MP3 player may still work.

But only if I find a junk shop run by Tom Waits. Which, rest assured, will be my primary mission as I wander the scorched-earth remnants of the United States.

Which is why I thought it prudent to create this apocalypse playlist. (The heading of this post  is misleading, because I’m assuming there will be some kind of horrible electromagnetic pulse that will wipe out all my carefully-constructed mid-90’s mix tapes…sorry to see you go, last known record of the Spin Doctors).

Now, I figure we’ve got a couple of years to really put together something slam-bang (before the cataclysmic slam-bang), but it’s good to start early and prepare for all eventualities. For starters, I’m going with:

The Man Comes Around, by Johnny Cash – If I meet Death riding on a pale horse, he might spare me if I play him this jauntily horrifying tune.

Red Right Hand, by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – similarly, I may run into the Devil, but I’ll need to know if it’s really him (lord of lies and all that), so I can test him with this song; if he doesn’t listen to it, nod thoughtfully, and remark, “Yeah, that guy’s got me down pretty good,” I’ll know I shouldn’t barter my soul for canned goods.

Wave of Mutilation by The Pixies – Because duh.

Rake at the Gates of Hell by The Pogues – If it’s good enough to be the soundtrack for Garth Ennis’s “Hellblazer” run, it’s good enough for me.

Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner by Warren Zevon – I’m just going with my gut that there will be several headless war-wraiths roaming the countryside, and if they see this on the playlist they’ll know I’m “down” with them.

Deep Red Bells by Neko Case – To evade the waves of roving killers, I must get into their heads, and so this song will help me survive (and also wail like a banshee when I try to sing along, which I assume will ward off hungry octo-coyotes).

The Earth Died Screaming and Black Wings by Tom Waits – Remember: I’m searching for Mr. Waits’ junk shop, and I would not mind some kind of fan discount.

Till the End of the World by Jim Reeves – Y’know…if I have to woo a lovely mutant-girl in order to steal her precious Spam.

Some Velvet Morning by Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra – This song inspired me to write a short story about riding in a desolate wasteland only to be transported to an unnerving fairy kingdom, so it’d just be SILLY for me not to keep it handy.

Dare to be Stupid by “Weird” Al Yankovic – Because even in the End Times, you need a good laugh (that is also pretty rockin’).

I need some help bulking up my playlist, so by all means offer suggestions. But hustle up, and be creative, because you just KNOW there’s gonna be a line at Tom Waits’ junk shop, and jumping to the front will probably depend on having some sweet deep cuts.

(By which I mean non-singles, B-sides and rarities, not actual lacerations – fricking everyone in line will have those, it’ll be the apocalypse version of trendy. Those damn posers.)

  1. Moff says:

    Tokyo Police Club’s “Citizens of Tomorrow” covers life after the ROBOT APOCALYPSE pretty well.

  2. Katy says:

    My newest apocalyptic song discovery is Florence and the Machine’s Dog Days are Over – lots of vague references to running and surviving.

  3. Mary Jones says:

    My own apocalypse mix overlaps a lot with this, with some of the more obvious rock songs (“London Calling”, etc.) thrown in. But “We Will All Go Together When We Go” by Tom Lehrer is a personal favorite.

  4. Steve W. says:

    A couple from mine:

    Alice In Chains – Heaven Beside You

    Soundgarden – Fell On Black Days

    and of course:

    REM – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

  5. Jeff Holland says:

    You know, in my head I always figured “London Calling” was apocalyptic, but mostly just for London. Like over in the US we’d be like “Hey, what’s England been up to?” not realizing it was just cannibalism and werewolves and stuff.

    Which is why the movie “Doomsday” made so much sense to me, I guess.

    I would also nominate most of the Flaming Lips’ “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” but it’s not so much an apocalypse, so much as Robots Achieve Awareness and Are Sad, But Also Will EAT YOU if a Japanese girl doesn’t practice her karate.

    God I love that album.

  6. braak says:

    After Promethea, I now always think of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” as an apocalyptic folksong. Once you think of it that way, a lot of it starts to sound really ominous (my favorite part is how, “We’ll kill the old red rooster when she comes”).

  7. V.I.P. Referee says:

    Johnny Cash is just so perfect for end-days, that I only gingerly attempt to offer anything else marginally appropriate. Here goes:

    1. “House of the Rising Sun” by Leadbelly. Blues-y, New Orleans stuff has been claiming main stage space on The Final Concert, since its inception.

    2. “Sugarman” by Rodriguez. Don’t know what it is about this song, but it almost feels like a cult-like final plea as the fire comes raining down!

    3. “Pirate Jet” by Gorillaz. And also all of “Demon Days”.

    4. “Heaven” by Ebo Taylor. just to get the ammo ready.

    5. “Ac-cent-tchu-ate The Positive” by Johnny Mercer. Because damn those zombies, that’s why.

    6. “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. We’ll probably all be drunk and at the sing-a-long stage, anyway.

    7. “Jump into the Fire” by Harry Nilsson. It’s got a weird but inspiring dissonance to it. Making music out of chaotic sound. Which would play well with end-days as the backdrop.

    8. “Digital Love” by Daft Punk. In case The Apocolypse comes in the form of giant, marshmallow kitties, that intend to end humanity by entombing us all in spun-sugar, cotton-candy fur-balls.

    9. “Lake of Fire” by Nirvana. Nirvana. 90’s angst. Heavy New Orleans blues influences. Nirvana.

    10. “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky. No Apocolypse is complete, without our final bow. Do it with class, ladies and gentleman.

    And there’s so much more…

  8. V.I.P. Referee says:

    @ Braak: True. So many folk songs and lullabies have a “Round Robin” edge to them. Conspiracies, plots, intrigues! Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie (which was intended as a mocking knock at a king, by the way)!

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