Welcome back to Takeover Tuesday, where each week, Billboard taps chart-topping artists and tastemakers to compile their very own playlist exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. We give the artists free rein to base the list on whatever subject they choose. The only rule? Make it as creative and unique to them as possible.
Matt Nathanson hails from San Francisco, but he has big love for Chicago. In fact, the 46-year-old singer-songwriter recently released an entire EP dedicated to the Windy City, Postcards (From Chicago), with covers of tunes by Chi-Town natives like Chance the Rapper and Fall Out Boy.
Since Nathanson’s EP is only six songs, he wanted to further show his Chicago love with his Takeover Tuesday playlist. He included 13 songs from the city’s more familiar names like Kanye West and Wilco, as well as ’90s rockers Veruca Salt and ’80s legends Survivor and Chicago‘s Peter Cetera. And what would a Chicago playlist be without The Blues Brothers‘ “Soul Man”?
Also on the playlist are Cheap Trick‘s “She’s Tight” and Liz Phair‘s “Divorce Song,” which are different cuts than the ones Nathanson chose to cover on Postcards. Of course, the “Come On Get Higher” singer had to give a nod to a few of the tracks from Postcards too — not to flaunt his own voice, but to give the artists even more praise.
Take a listen to Nathanson’s Chicago-inspired Takeover Tuesday playlist, and take a look at why he chose the songs below.
John Carpenter, “Halloween Theme”: “Even though the movie was filmed in Burbank — and Haddonfiled, IL, isn’t even a real place — it’s hard not to associate Michael Myers (and his killing spree) with a small town an hour or so outside of Chicago. Midwest mayhem at its finest!”
Matt Nathanson, “Hum Hallelujah”: “I’m a huge Fall Out Boy fan, and ‘Hum Hallelujah’ is one of my favorites. Patrick [Stump] is just endlessly talented — it’s criminal. And Pete [Wentz] is a 1000% poet. He writes line after incredible line and this song’s full of them. I mean… ‘I could write it better than you ever felt it’; ‘I thought I loved you/ But it was just how you looked in the light.’ SO GOOD!”
Cheap Trick, “She’s Tight”: “Hands down my favorite Cheap Trick song. I wanted to cover this for the EP but, surprise, surprise, I couldn’t convincingly sing the lyrics. It takes a certain kinda person to pull off a line like, ‘She’s got her head down tight’ — and that person is Robin Zander!”
Matt Nathanson, “Same Drugs”: “This song is bulletproof for me. The pocket. The melodies. The lyrics. The first time I heard it, it knocked me out clean! ‘We don’t do the same drugs no more’ to describe two people who’ve grown apart. I mean, COME ON! Then the whole Wendy growing up, from Peter Pan’s perspective: ‘Window closed / Wendy got old / I was too late’… I’m on the verge of crying just typing it. And to have Patrick Stump hang his funky-ass, Prince vocal phrasing all over this version — I never DON’T get chills when he vamps that ‘la de da de da’ part during the last chorus. Total magic.”
Kanye West, “New Slaves”: “As an artist, Kanye is miles ahead of everyone else. His lyrics, his beats, his songs — they just live on the next level. This is one of my favorite gut-punch Kanye songs. The lyrics and the way he spits them out are like a wrecking ball.”
Liz Phair, “Divorce Song”: “I really can’t say enough good things about Liz Phair. She’s an artist who is so uniquely herself that her records sound like extensions of her soul. This song devastates me every time. Don’t even get me started on her lyrics. Untouchable.”
The Blues Brothers, “Soul Man”: “When i was a kid, I was obsessed with John Belushi. My friend and I used to have all day film festivals where we would watch every movie he ever made. And in school talent shows, we would lip sync different Blues Brothers songs. “Soul Man” always brought the house to their feet. I had his dance moves — and physique — down pat.”
Peter Cetera, “Glory of Love”: “I’m convinced if you don’t feel this song in the deepest part of your soul, you’re either dead or lying. And the video, with the footage from Karate Kid 2, forget about it. That shit still brings me to tears!”
Wilco, “Misunderstood”: “For me, Wilco is one of the best bands we’ve got, because they’re constantly evolving. They really never make the same record twice. We recorded Postcards (From Chicago) in their studio, The Loft. It was music-nerd nirvana. We were there for three days, and they had to drag me out of there. I never wanted to leave.”
Veruca Salt, “Shutterbug”: “I remember watching them play this song on SNL. It was a glorious mess. The story goes that at the last minute they had to give one of their two songs to Sting (who was there to promote his lute album), and then were asked to play this song instead of their single. So their crew had to scramble to re-tune the guitars before they went live on air. Everything was slightly out of tune and slightly wobbly, but KILLING!”
Survivor, “I Can’t Hold Back”: “The way this song drops into the first chorus is still one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me in my life.”
Matt Nathanson, “Hold On to the Nights”: “I absolutely love this song. Always have. Richard Marx came and sang it with me once at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. I was over the moon for a week.”
Matt Nathanson, “Whiskey Bottle”: “I saw Uncle Tupelo in college, right before they disbanded. It was one of the greatest shows I’d ever seen. They were switching instruments all night and veering between punk and country. This is my favorite of their songs. The original is so heavy, and the chorus crashes in. We approached it a little differently, more like bluegrass. I love how Aaron, my guitar player, and my bass player Shiben’s harmonies come in and lift the chorus. Lyrically, this song just kills me: ‘In between the dirt / And disgust there must be / Some air to breathe / And something to believe.’ YES!”