If you’re anything like us, we know what you’re thinking. It’s a Monday. You’re tired from the weekend and facing a long week at work or school. Well, John Constantine is here to help. No, he’s not going to cast a spell to shift time so that the weekend arrives sooner (though he probably can). Rather, he’s the subject of one of our newest Rebirth playlists.
THE HELLBLAZER playlist was compiled by series writer Simon Oliver and artist Moritat, and sounds a lot how you’d expect. Crank it up if you need something loud and wild. Of course, if that’s not to your liking, we invite you to stream our new BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY playlist from the creative team of Julie and Shawna Benson and Claire Roe, NEW SUPER-MAN from Gene Yang, Viktor Bogdanovic and Richard Friend, HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS from artist Ethan Van Sciver or NIGHTWING from writer Tim Seeley. All of them can be found at the official DC Spotify profile.
Remember, these playlists can either be reflective of the character or could simply be the music that the team was listening to as they were working on the first issue. It’s all up to the writers and artists. Though if you would like a little context, Oliver and the Benson sisters were happy to provide some. You’ll find it, along with links to all five playlists, below.
I love music, but the thing is I can’t listen to it when I write. Well let me rephrase that, I can’t listen to music where people are singing in English when I write. So instead I listen to a lot of movie scores. Now it’s often scores for movies I don’t even like and sometimes even hate (Warcraft, anyone?). But it so happens that at the moment I’ve been listening to the score to the last Ben Wheatley movie, High Rise. It’s a great, great movie that no one saw, but everyone should and the Clint Mansell score is equally great and it does feature a version of Abba’s “SOS” done by Portishead that’s not on the score version. Cliff Martinez is another great film composer I listen to a lot. I haven’t seen The Neon Demon yet, but the music’s in heavy rotation, along with his fabulous work on The Knick, which was such a big part of the TV show.
When I’m bored of soundtracks I switch out to strange and wonderful playlists and artists that I’ve found on Spotify. They’re like virtual musical rabbit holes to fall down for a few hours—Tunisian pop music, Moroccan rap, Indian reggae, as long as they don’t sing in English I can listen while working. I kind of love that about Spotify, no plug intended.
Now when it comes to John Constantine and the music I think he’d like? Well, as he’s been around so long, I think like any one of us actual non-fictional characters it’s best to think about it in periods of his life, and jump from decade to decade. I mean I love the Clash, without doubt they mean more to me than any other band ever, and they still do, but I haven’t listened to them in years, so they remain kind of wrapped in aural amber for me. I think John might be the same way in his musical tastes, I doubt he really listens to much punk anymore but it still informs a lot about his character and who he is.
He’s older than me (thank god), and he would have been out drinking and going to gigs around the rise of pub-rock in the mid-seventies, and that would have left its mark. I also think he would have been aware of the proto-punk stuff coming out of the USA, so I’d say “Dr. Feelgood” would be in there as the poster child of mid-1970’s English pub-rock, along with “MC5” and “Iggy and the Stooges” out of the States.
When punk did hit in 1976/77 I think past the obvious choices of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, John would have gone more for the underdogs like the Damned, a band who despite actually putting out what is considered the first British punk record, never really made it as big. They’re also from my hometown of Croydon and that alone deserves a shout out. And of course there was John’s own stab at punk immortality in the short lived Mucus Membrane of which thankfully no recordings remain.
Jumping ahead a few years to the late 1980s/early 1990s, I can totally imagine John having a chemically fuelled lost weekend or two lost in Acid House land. I’m not 100% sure he would have known what to make of the music, but some more traditional bands like Primal Scream were able to mush it into something I think he’d like a little more.
Then came “Brit Pop.” I don’t know about John and Brit Pop. Suddenly it’s all “Cool Britannia” and Oasis sipping champagne with Tony bloody Blair. John’s an underdog, the anti-establishment, an anti-hero. Music is about rebellion, about kicking against the pricks, this was the establishment co-opting something they had no place in being a part of. This was selling out.
But then again, on the other hand Pulp lyrics like “...She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge. She studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College,” would have John at least smile a little, while Blair pissed away what good will he once had marching Britain into war.
Now John’s old. It happens to all of us. What was so important twenty, thirty years ago doesn’t seem so important now. When you remember what a big deal a new Bowie album was way back when, or when the Sex Pistols really were shocking and not flogging English butter, or even as far back as when the Rolling Stones actually wrote a song worth listening too (forty plus years by my calculations) then the world around you has probably moved on.
The music business is all but dead, at least as we remember it. Four white guys with guitars and drums are six feet under and pushing up daisies, but that’s okay, because there are some bright sparks, some places where the anger and the energy still manages to break through the crust of pop culture crud from time to time.
And to that end, I I’ll leave you with the Sleaford Mods, an angry, foul-mouth slice of English blue-collar anger that I think John would enjoy.
“Bad Girls” - M.I.A.
The epitome of female baddassery. This song always gets me revved up for action.
“Ces Bottes Sont Faites Pour Marcher” (“These Boots Are Made for Walking”) - Femmes de Paris
The English version of this song was already amazing, but add some French and it's next level. Fitting as all the Birds of Prey wear boots that have, at some point, walked all over someone.
“Blue Blood Blues” - Dead Weather
Jack White, Alison Mosshart, nuff said.
“John Allyn Smith Sails” - Okkervil River
Whether Will Sheff knows it or not (he doesn't), he kept me company during a lot of late night writing sessions. Who doesn't love a good Beach Boys homage?
“The Magic” - Joan as Police Woman
This is a more chilled out, ethereal sound, and the lead singer "looking for the magic" was how I felt most of the time trying to dig into my creativity to toss into the book.
“The Hell of It” - Paul Williams
From Phantom of the Paradise and, if I may, my soul. Paul Williams, one of our greatest songwriters, manages to find an ominous "peppy" sound that feels like an anthem of any one of Gotham's villains.
“Me & Magdalena” - The Monkees
The Good Times album came out when we were neck deep in writing Batgirl & The Birds of Prey. This song is an instant glass of rose and a foot rub. Much needed after so much time on the dark streets of Gotham.
“Blackbird” - The Beatles
All will become clear on this one as the issues release. Or maybe sooner for those with a keen eye.
“Partyman” - Prince
Tim Burton's Batman was so groundbreaking in its ability to turn a typically goofy superhero into a Dark Knight. Prince passed while we were working on Issue #1 of Birds of Prey and so I played the entire soundtrack A LOT. This song is just pure fun and silliness and helped me focus during such a painful loss.
“Pursuit of Happiness” - Kid Cudi
Writing comics is a dream come true, but sometimes I'd throw this on to remind myself what all the hard work was for.
“Prophet's Song” - Queen
I love Bohemian Rhapsody as much as the next guy, but this song feels even more epic and musically challenging. I feel like I'd hear this before flying head first into battle.
“Life on Mars” - David Bowie
Shawna and I were just gearing up to pitch our take on Birds of Prey when Bowie passed. He influenced me in ways I haven't even seen bear fruit yet. It felt like I lost a mentor. I think what gave me solace is that a LOT of people felt the same way.
“Bad Thing” - King Tuff
A rock and roll anthem that deserves to be played loud and often.
“Compared to What” - Les McCann and Eddie Harris
I'm notoriously skittish of jazz but if it was all like this, I'd be listening to jazz while I jog just like Carrie in Homeland. This song was performed in 1969, but I turn on the news and feel like I'm (sadly) hearing the same angst and exasperation today.
“Cities” - Talking Heads
The relentless rhythm of David Byrne never ceases to amaze me. I'd like to think Dinah would have covered this one with the Black Canary band.
“End Credits from Buckaroo Banzai” - Michael Boddicker
From one of my all time favorite movies that my entire family can quote nearly word for word. The entire team walking in unison to this (albeit 80's) victory lap of a song is pure caffeine for my veins.
“I Know What I Am” – Band of Skulls
This song inspired me for all three of our ladies. The refrain of “I know what I am“ feels defiant and proud, which the Birds all are. There’s a line about having ‘the wit my enemies lack’ which is very Dinah.
“Heroes and Villains” – The Beach Boys
The title obviously has some meaning, but the first verse ran through my head a lot when writing about Barbara’s return to fighting crime in Gotham.
“One Way Or Another” – Blondie
This to me is Barbara’s theme song for the entire arc. She wants to find Oracle and she will do whatever it takes to do that.
“Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley & the Wailers
Okay, this is just me being tongue in cheek, but come on!
“End of Line” – Daft Punk (from Tron: Legacy)
The entire soundtrack for the film Tron: Legacy feels very Oracle to me. This one feels like the rise of Barbara Gordon as Oracle. There’s another track that feels like our impostor Oracle, but that would be telling!
“The Batman Theme” – Danny Elfman (from Batman)
This was good warm-up music. It sets the mood for Gotham in a way I love.
“Introduce a Little Anarchy” – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard (from The Dark Knight)
But this energetic track really helped set up Huntress’s entrance in the Rebirth Issue. She is Anarchy.
“Blitzkrieg Bop” – The Ramones
This feels like pure Black Canary to me.
“Le Disko” – Shiny Toy Guns
If there’s a song that feels like the Birds of Prey staking their claim on the world, this would certainly be a contender.