Music

The Prime Minister’s Playlist

“Obama’s is fine. Mine is better”

The Prime Minister’s Playlist

Less than a week after US President Barack Obama published two Spotify playlists compiling his favourite vacation songs, the Prime Minister’s Office released the following statement, titled “Stephen Harper’s Hot Summer Playlist.” Contacted by The Walrus, a PMO staffer denied that Harper had been inspired by Obama’s list. “It’s completely separate,” the staffer said. “The prime minister was already working on his playlist before Obama’s tweet. He wanted to refute the myth that he is ‘wooden’ or ‘square’ and demonstrate his diverse and fashionable taste.”

Something you might not know about me is that I love music. From symphonies to country music, rock ’n’ roll to droopywave. As Canadian families gear up for the height of cottage season, I thought it might be a good time to share ten of my favourite summer tunes. Play these songs at home, in your car or boat, even on the campaign trail. Just remember to “turn it up”!—Stephen Harper

  1. Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses: I love rock ’n’ roll. It is the best of all musical genres. Just listen to this masterpiece, its energy and grace: Axl’s voice is the sound of my brave, keening heart; Slash’s guitar solos tell me everything I need to know about the human condition. Sometimes, standing motionless before my stereo cabinet, absorbing this magnum opus, I am struck by the conviction that my most important task is simply to ensure Canadians fully “feel my serpentine.”
  2. Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” by Chris Isaak: The sexiest song I know. I get a special frisson from certain parts of my job. It is difficult to put into words. It is like an angel is running its eyelashes across the inner part of my leg. Paper on paper, a door closing, whisper of an email as a member of my staff clicks “delete.”
  3. We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus: At its heart, the upcoming election comes down to values. Do you believe, as I do, that the principle of personal freedom trumps the daydream of shared social responsibility? Do you believe in the entitling power of YOLO? Are you squatting with Justin and Tommy at their boring potluck kumbaya, or are you “forgetting the haters,” living your life, reveling in privilege with me, Miss Cyrus, and a pleasant young woman named Molly?
  4. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder: A few years ago I recorded a cover of this song to include on a Blu-ray “digital” Christmas card to executives in Canada’s energy sector. Although NDP MP Charlie Angus has wittily described me as a “blue-eyed king of anti-soul,” I heard from several CEOs that my unique crooning style kept them warm all through the winter months!
  5. Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora: Occasionally I play this track to improve morale during closed-door committee hearings. However, as with most things, I prefer to experience it alone. Truly there is nothing more sensuous than getting down to “Tarzan Boy” in the solitude of my office at 24 Sussex, my stockinged feet shushing across the carpet’s thin pile.
  6. Power” by Kanye West: Kanye West is a Canadian icon and so it is no surprise that he is my favourite Canadian rapper. Every time I throw on his latest piece of wax I am impressed by how articulate he is! My advisers say that Kanye and I are like spiritual brothers—outspoken strivers, surmounting obstacles, each of us receiving criticism just for being ourselves.
  7. I’m the Slime” by Frank Zappa: A detractor once sent me this song as a kind of jab: I think she was insinuating that I’m not “cool” enough to dig Zappa, to grok his funky grooves. As usual, the joke’s on my critics: I love this song, I sing it to myself all the time.
  8. It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry If I Want To)” by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin: As much as I admire Lesley Gore’s peppy original, Canadians will agree that this is the superior rendition. We’re spared Gore’s piercing voice and the wild, gay brass; instead, Stewart and Gaskin capture the nausea that accompanies any such party breakdown. When things are going wrong I must always suppress the taste of vomit.
  9. Hey Jude” by The Beatles: Like many Canadians, I am an excellent musician. Whenever I am asked to play this song live I imagine that all the words are “tax cut”—just “tax cut tax cut tax cut, hey tax cut!” And that tax cuts are what the audience is all na-na-na-ing about, cheering me on, like lucky imbeciles.
  10. Who’s Gonna Stand Up? (And Save The Earth)” by Neil Young: At the end of every summer I like to listen to this song sarcastically. Standing up, at the end of the dock, laughing into the lake.

Sean Michaels (@stgramophone) won the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his debut novel, Us Conductors. He writes about music for Believer magazine, the Guardian, and his Montreal blog, Said the Gramophone.

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