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The essential playlist for the 2017 eclipse

updated: 1/31/2018 10:32 AM

"Howling in shadows, living in a lunar spell," Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness himself, will scream at the sky Aug. 21 from Walker's Bluff in Carterville. "He finds his heaven, spewing from the mouth of hell."
Heavy stuff there, but fortunately, Monday's total solar eclipse offers an opportunity to dive into countless other classics of a decidedly astronomical bent -- unless, of course, you feel silence will be the best soundtrack. And you might be onto something there.
If your eclipse weekend simply demands a musical interlude, however, you could do worse than the tunes cued up here. No doubt someone's favorite is missing. If so, shoot me an email at, or comment on the link to this story on the newspaper's Facebook page. Let's have some fun.

The obvious picks

You're not getting anywhere without Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse," the signature closing beats of the band's landmark 1973 album "The Dark Side of the Moon." They belong at the top of the heap.

And no one ever minded hearing CCR's "Bad Moon Rising" for the umpteenth time. You may already be humming "House of the Rising Sun" in your head. But where would we be without "Total Eclipse of the Heart?" Go in for Bonnie Tyler's classic ballad, or create a fun moment at your eclipse party and download The Dan Band's live cover on iTunes. Seriously: Do it before the weekend rush.

The rockers

The untimely passing of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell in May only adds weight to the band's 1994 hit "Black Hole Sun." Also, consider The Doors' "Waiting for the Sun," Weezer's alt-rock "Island in the Sun," or even "Walking on the Moon" by The Police -- but only if paired with Smashmouth's infectious "Walking on the Sun."

Feeling subversive? Throw on Manfred Mann's Earth Band's "Blinded by the Light," and revel in its possible prescience.

Easy listening

I love The Eagles' "Tequila Sunrise," and Elton John's soaring "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" is a must. But we're not going anywhere without Van Morrison's toe-tapping "Moondance" or Cat Stevens' "Moonshadow." Perhaps best of all is "Ain't No Sunshine," conveyed sadly and soulfully by Bill Withers on 1971's "Just As I Am."


There's always room for the Fab Four, especially with picks like "Here Comes the Sun" and "Good Day Sunshine" -- and, to a lesser degree, "Across the Universe" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds." My favorite pick from left field? "A Hard Day's Night," of course!

The old standards

It's hard to resist a big band. For reference, cue up "I'm Beginning to See the Light" by Bobby Darin or Ella Fitzgerald, or even the instrumentals "Moonglow" from Benny Goodman and "Moonlight Serenade" from Glenn Miller's great big orchestra. "Fly Me to the Moon" is one of my favorites, especially with a roaring horn section. And take any version of "Me and My Shadow" you wish. I'm going with Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.

Think local

With such a thriving arts community, Southern Illinois will produce its own response to the eclipse, some of which will be on display Monday on the Homegrown Stage at Carbondale's Shadow Fest. Check it out. In the meantime, look on iTunes for "The Eclipse" by Shadi Frick and Michael Baltz, or go one better and grab Jenny Johnson's big, beautiful, cabaret-infused "Solar Eclipse." It's been in my head all week.

Before we go

We're not forgetting "Da-Doo" from "Little Shop of Horrors," or even The Fifth Dimension's "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In." "Space Oddity" is a bit of a stretch, but Bowie fans must be heard. "Walking on Sunshine" arrives with pure '80s splendor.

I prefer the less obvious picks -- and besides, we haven't heard from the Stones yet. "Paint It Black" gets the nod.

And while we began with the Prince of Darkness, we end with the Man in Black, who sang about love and how it makes a burning ring. With that, we begin our eclipse weekend, and fall together down, down, down in a burning "Ring of Fire."

Regardless of what beat moves you, please enjoy the show Monday, along with the natural soundtrack all around you. Everyone, make it a truly fantastic weekend.