Midnight on Dauphine

Aimed squarely at the midnight hour, this installment is best enjoyed on a porch or fire escape.

Back in high school, I got in the habit of staying up late thanks to the Electrifying Mojo, a Detroit DJ whose eclectic sets featuring Parliament, Kraftwerk, and Cybotron helped kickstart techno music. Mojo was one of the first DJs to put Prince on the air, he interrupted songs with social commentary from “the mental machine,” and he always rocked the fifteen-minute version of “Flashlight.” I discovered Mojo near the tail of his career late one August night in ’92 and my musical landscape exploded as he turned me on to Al Green, A Tribe Called Quest, Devo, Joy Division, Stetsasonic, and Funkadelic. I’d stay up through the night, hunched over my tape player, rocking the pause/record switch and making mix tapes culled from Mojo’s show. The 120-minute Maxell cassettes were the best for this.

Twenty years later, I’m staying up late down here in New Orleans, sitting on the porch ’round midnight while I catch up on my reading and try to write another book. Lately I’ve been thinking about those deep summer nights with my little Panasonic radio back in Michigan, and so I’ve put together this sprawling track list of favorites.

  1. Little Red, 22, Tangle Eye & Hard Hair – “Early in the Morning” (Angola prison ca. 1947)
  2. Stars of the Lid – “Austin, TX Mental Hospital”
  3. The Cranes – “Beautiful Friend”
  4. Black Sabbath – “Planet Caravan”
  5. Serge Gainsbourg – “Melody”
  6. Bob Vaught & The Renegaids – “Surfin’ Tragedy”
  7. The Blue Hawaiians – “Martini Five Oh”
  8. Al Green – “Simply Beautiful”
  9. Irma Thomas – “Ruler of My Heart”
  10. Füxa – “Dreamlanding”
  11. Jeanette – “Oi Tu Voz”
  12. Parva – “Mosem-e Gol”
  13. Prince – “Purple Rain”
  14. Bohren & Der Club of Gore – “Street Tattoo”
  15. Vangelis – “Blade Runner Blues”
  16. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “The Dead Flag Blues” Part I
  17. Mojave 3 – “My Life in Art”
  18. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “The Dead Flag Blues” Part II
  19. Datacide – “Flashback Signal”
  20. Mississippi Fred McDowell – “Roll and Tumble”
Additional samples: Electrifying Mojo; Kraftwerk's "Numbers"; various field recordings of helicopters and traffic.
Further Listening

Chaos is Your New Lady

Vintage Ambient | 48 Minutes

A dusty ballad plays from an old radio in an alley but the machines can’t find it. A blurry sequence of songs starring the Ronettes, Autechre, Suicide, and more.

Mojave Super Eight

Desert Americana | 50 Minutes

Whenever I get into the car around sunset, I want to keep pushing west into the Mojave desert. All that strange spiritual space dotted with cheap motor lodges that advertise color television. Starts off with The Counts, Dale Hawkins, and Wanda Jackson.

Blue Motor Lodge

Dub Ballads | 57 Minutes

Two pitched-down dub records meander through a field of mid-century blues and ballads. Featuring Françoise Hardy, Pole, Dean Martin, and A Rocket in Dub.