In the past year alone, Lukas Nelson has played all over world with his band Promise of the Real, collaborated with Lady Gaga on the A Star Is Born soundtrack and appeared alongside her in the movie, and continued to blow minds as Neil Young’s lead guitar player both in the studio and on the road. Despite all that, he was in a dark frame of mind when he called up Rolling Stone to share a playlist that he created. “You know that feeling when you realize that we’re all fucked?” he asks. “Like the world is going to end any minute and, really, what are we going to do about it? It’s a feeling everyone feels. My friend and bandmate Logan [Metz] helped me make this list of songs about it. They’ll help you feel a lot better about things when something on the news makes you cringe.”
Ray Charles, “Come Rain or Come Shine”
The statement of that song is so defiant. He sings, “I’m gonna love you like no one loves you/Come rain or come shine.” That’s a good sentiment to have in a trying time. It’s a good sort of solid way of saying, “I’ll be your rock in a world that’s falling apart.” I’ve written songs like this. I wrote one a while back before the tsunami hit called “When the Ocean Takes the Earth.” It’s about when water covers the entire planet again, this lover will be holding his woman or man or however you want to look at it, up in the air out of the water so she can breathe.
Tom Waits, “Come On Up to the House”
“The world is not my home/I’m just a-passing through.” That line really helps you understand this song. It’s about cautiousness. We don’t know what this world is. None of us came here with knowledge previously of why we’re coming here or why we have to leave. Tom Waits is just declaring that the world is not his home. He’s just passing through. I really like that sentiment in a song. It’s a good one to listen to should you be thinking the walls are collapsing.
Neil Young, “Sail Away”
This is from Rust Never Sleeps. “I could live inside a tepee/I could die In Penthouse 35/You could lose me on the freeway/But I would still make it back alive/As long as we can sail away.” In the song, he’s lost his friends and credit cards and he went off to the canyon and decided he’s going to sail away. He’s okay as long as he can get to a sail boat and just go. I feel that sentiment as well.
Willie Nelson, “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”
That one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a reverie, an ode to the old saying that we are ashes to dust and dust to ashes and so forth. It’s sort of a jovial romp on one’s inevitable demise and saying that it’s a cause for celebration rather than mourning. I think in the trying times of this world, we never know what’s gonna happen. I would hope that someone might get high off my remains at some point in the future if they were so inclined. I think it’s nice to think that somebody might be smoking you when you’re dead.
Aretha Franklin, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
This one allows me to combine two artists that are very near and dear to my ear and my heart: Paul Simon and Aretha Franklin. I really, really, really love this song and the way she sings it gets me in a sort of a fetal position in my heart. It just takes me right down to it. What brings us together in trying times? How do we lift ourselves out of the times and finally bring ourselves into the new era of prosperity and hope? A bridge over troubled water.