Tomorrow is Easter so obviously I have to do an Easter column.
This presents a bit of a problem for me because Easter is a religious holiday and I’m completely incapable of not offending people. I offend people perpetually without even trying. And while Christmas has a vast catalogue of specialty albums by musicians of just about every genre, Easter does not, which means juggling the dichotomy of its religious origins and its modern, secular aspects is definitely going to get me in trouble.
So here’s what I’m gonna do: I’m gonna list five songs that have to do with Easter, bunnies and eggs, and you’re not going to get mad at me that none of them are explicitly religious, because in the United States it has a secondary theme of hope and renewal and rabbits and delicious, delicious Cadbury eggs.
Judy Garland — “Easter Parade”
I’m starting off with one pop song specifically about Easter, because there are only two and the other is “Here Comes Peter Cottontail,” which is absolute trash. It’s a garbage song. Yeah, I said it. We’re all thinking it but I said it.
“Easter Parade” was written in 1918 by Irving Berlin, who wrote basically every song before 1950. Everything from “Blue Skies” to “Puttin’ On the Ritz” to “There’s No Business Like Show Business” to “All By Myself” to “God Bless America” were his.
Speaking of which, when the stadium announcer tells you to rise and remove your cap for “God Bless America” in the 7th inning of Opening Day? You don’t actually have to do that. It’s not the National Anthem, it’s a 1938 pop song from the writer of “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” and “White Christmas.” If anything it’s disrespectful to treat it with the same reverence as the actual Anthem.
Ella Fitzgerald — “I’m Putting All my Eggs in One Basket”
This one was written in 1936 so obviously it’s another Irving Berlin jam. Like I said, every song prior to 1950 was written by Irving Berlin.
This is, as I stated in the intro, not about Easter. In fact it’s about commitment. But on Easter kids find eggs and put them in baskets so it’s going on this list so I don’t inadvertently alienate a significant portion of our readership.
Like all of Berlin’s songs, this has been recorded at least 10 times. I went with Ella Fitzgerald because you, yes you specifically, don’t have enough Ella Fitzgerald in your life, and now we’ve remedied that. You’re welcome.
Jefferson Airplane — “White Rabbit”
Yes, yes, I know, this is way off the rails. Re-read the intro!
“White Rabbit” (from 1967 and thus not written by Irving Berlin) is the pinnacle of psychedelic rock. Like jam bands, psychedelia worked really well when it worked but hasn’t been successfully accomplished since. Everyone should stop trying.
I’m convinced that the difficulty of recreating this one perfect song is what drove Jefferson Airplane to switch genres to pop rock and rename themselves Jefferson Starship, then rename themselves again to Starship and change their genre to depressingly awful drivel.
Florence and the Machine — “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)”
Why is this one on an Easter list? Because it has “Rabbit” in the title and I like songs where the singer is overdubbed with an irresponsible number of harmonies they also sang.
This is even less Eastery than the last, which was at least kinda about a rabbit, but I’m trying to branch out and include more songs from the 21st century, and the only other 21st century bands I like are Dethklok and Ghost. And if I included a Ghost song in an Easter list there would be a torch-and-pitchfork-wielding mob outside my house before it was even published.
Del the Funky Homosapien — “Easter Eggs”
Finally, a deep-cut track from Del’s 2010 album, It Ain’t Illegal Yet. It has Easter in the title, and it’s about, I don’t know, probably idolatry. Which means someone’s gonna get mad at me over it.
It’s worth it, though, to expose you to more of his stuff. The founder of hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics, frequent Gorillaz contributor, and cousin of Ice Cube (really, look it up) is an Oakland legend who deserves to get as much recognition as Shock G, Lil B, and other local stars. (But less than Tupac who, obviously, stands alone at the top, and Hammer, who’s basically the Mayor of Oakland).
Happy Easter, and please direct all complaints to someone else.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis and tweet column ideas to him at Twitter.com/BayAreaData, but direct all complaints to someone else.