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Indie Rock Is My Siddur

It’s pretty cool to have a day job that involves writing and editing a siddur. But to be honest, at the end of the day, I really just looked forward to blasting my stereo on the way home from the office or singing in my rock band Can!!Can.

I imagine that the siddur is a mix tape of lamentations to G-d. And with that in mind, I tried to craft a playlist that, for me, would be the equivalent of a morning prayer service (Shacharit). Here’s my best shot:

Here Comes Your Man – The Pixies 

The perfect song to start off your audio davening, the chorus "here comes your man" is like a blessing before study, leading you with its pop sweetness onto the stronger stuff, like an audio gateway drug. 

G-d Only Knows – The Beach Boys

"G-d only knows what I’d be without you" is an amazing line that captures yearning and the essence of the morning blessings. 

Heartbeats – The Knife 

The daily sacrifice is found in Orthodox siddurim, and a song by a band called The Knife only seems appropriate when dealing with issues of animal slaughter. Plus, I couldn’t think of a good metal transition from The Beach Boys…but I’m open to suggestions. 

Lips Like Sugar – Echo and the Bunnymen 

A darkwave song that reminds me of Psalm 30, since the psalm is about turning "mourning to dancing" and that’s about as goth as it gets (or maybe it would be more goth if it turned dancing into mourning?) 

Breed – Nirvana 

And speaking of mourning, Breed by Nirvana is my mourner’s kaddish. You’d think this kaddish would have reference to the dead or something dark (like Echo and the Bunnymen) but remember that Mourner’s Kaddish as a prayer never actually talks about the dead. Nirvana is so iconic (as is this kaddish in the Jewish prayer ritual) that I can’t help but put the two together.

Hellelujah – Jeff Buckley

Jeff Buckley’s cover of Leonard Cohen is the musical equivalent of the Shema.

I Was A Desert – Girls In Trouble

The Amidah, for me, is like a roller coaster. I start off with a slow build with the "Elohei Avraham, Sarai, Yitzak, etc. etc." then go full steam with the chest striking. That’s what this song is like for me: layer after layer of guitars and percussion adding up to the explosion of "I was a desert until I learned to make the sky rain down on me."

La Serena – DeLeon

Kaddish is one of those things where the element of group prayer really comes together. Since I like singing this song to myself in the car, it’s close enough to congregational prayer.

Modern Love – David Bowie

I think I would end my audio morning service with an Aleinu from David Bowie, especially since this song says "modern love puts my trust in G-d and Man" and Deuteronomy 4 talks about the idea of G-d being G-d alone…a similar, powerful statement.

And now for the Tehilim, the Psalms that you study after the service. For me, these are the songs that on their own don’t do it for me, but in this combo, really give me that extra boost…like a sonic cup of coffee.

Salvation – The Cranberries

Oh Lord – The Brian Jonestown Massacre

All Women Are Bad – The Cramps

Your Mangled Heart – The Gossip

Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division

That Great Love Sound – The Raveonettes

Samson – Regina Spektor

Never Gonna Give You Up – Rick Astley

Kool Thing – Sonic Youth 

The World’s A Mess, It’s In My Kiss – X 

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