Monthly Magick Music: A Love Letter to the American Desert

by Saint Reverence

I had the idea for this playlist around the same time that I had the idea for May's playlist. For the past 2 Junes in a row (and the March before that), I have crossed the country from the Midwest into the Southern California desert and back, by car. This June, Gigi and I will be making the trip by plane instead of driving, but there is something about the desert in June that feels inherently magickal to me - a feeling which has been strengthened by the trips I've made between California and Indiana. I love the desert, I love driving, and I love curating a journey through music.

Music, to me, is intrinsically linked to places; whether it's the place I was in when I first heard the music, a place where I made strong memories while listening to a piece of music, or an image of an imagined place that comes to mind when I hear certain music. Every song, every album conjures a mental geography that I can explore through the music itself. This playlist is comprised of music that personifies the American desert, from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma and Texas to the red rocks of Utah to the mountains of California's High Desert. To me, the desert represents a sense of wonder, mysticism, and beauty; though for many of the artists featured on the playlist, it's a place of desolation and despair. The songs on this playlist date back over 80 years (but are not presented in chronological order here). As such, there are some sentiments that may not be shared between myself and some of the artists featured here, and by including them on this playlist I am not necessarily condoning their views or lyrics. I have only tried to capture the sonic essence of the sprawling Southwest over the better part of the last century.

This is all to say that this playlist was curated and compiled before the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery. There is no music I can post, nothing I can type in this blog that conveys the injustice, the anger, the sadness that we are all collectively feeling at these senseless, unjustifiable, state-sponsored executions and the ones that came before them. If you follow me on social media you know my beliefs and opinions on what is happening right now in the United States, and if you don't, I'll make it crystal clear right now: Black Lives Matter. The police are a gang and all of them are pigs and bastards. I will do what I can in the form of donating, attending protests, and calling out racism no matter who is perpetuating it. I know that nothing I alone can do is enough, but I also believe that if everyone chips in and steps out of their comfort zone to help out those most in need right now (the wrongfully jailed protesters who can't make bail, the Black-owned businesses and organizations that are working to give aid to their communities and appeal to government officials for change, the religious and community leaders who are organizing marches). Please, if you can help in any way, do so. The revolution is upon us, and if you're not actively participating then you're on the wrong side.

*** This playlist is curated and presented as a 200-mile drive through the desert. It is best listened to in sequential order first (Two Hundred Miles), then shuffled afterwards for the return trip (200 More Miles). ***