Music / Feature

Tour Bus Playlist: Amanda Palmer’s essential tracks

Listen to the uncompromising musician's favourite tracks to listen to on tour.

Former Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer returned earlier this year with There Will Be No Intermissionher third studio album released under her own name.

Palmer became something of a pioneer of crowdfunding with her previous solo effort 2012’s Theatre Is Evil, and turned to the fan-driven financing model again for her new album, which has gone down a storm with both her sizable fanbase and music critics.

The album is deeply rooted in grief and sees Palmer using her music as a way of coping with loss in her personal life.

To support the release, Palmer has taken to the road for a series of intimate shows where her personal stories are interspersed among her emotionally visceral songs.

The 2019 leg of the tour concludes with a run of shows at London’s stunning Union Chapel this December. To coincide with the gigs, Amanda has picked out a playlist of tracks that she’s been listening to on tour throughout the year.


Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – I Need You
“This tour and album has been the deepest, quietest, and most emotionally draining of my career: I’m on stage for four hours a night talking about grief, cancer, abortion, miscarriage and compassion”.

“It’s not really the kind of show where you gear up with AC/DC and come off stage ready for strippers and blow. I’ve found that the music I’ve wanted to listen to has been alternating between the stuff that inspired the record – there’s been a lot of songs about death floating around – and the sort of songs that bring me solace and comfort after I’ve spent time in a signing line listening to everybody pouring their own hearts out. Nick Cave’s album Skeleton Tree was a real emotional light post when I sat down to write this record, and I would listen to I Need You many mornings before heading into work. It still has a nice, grounding, magical quality that reminds me of how powerful it is to be vulnerable. His vocal take in this song is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Such power in its total rawness”.


Lorde – Tennis Court
“Any time I just need music to bring me back to reality before or after a show, this is one of my go-to songs. Lush dark synths take me back to my teenage Cure-postered bedroom, and Lorde’s voice reminds me that some things haven’t changed one bit since 1989. Her vocal delivery is the oddest combination of sincere and detached. I think there are some alchemical properties going on there. She’s my hero”.


Cathode – Amtrak Trainwreck
“Cathode was a little-known instrumental Boston band from back in the day – they used to play the same local joints as the Dresden Dolls in the early 2000s. This record, Sleeping And Breathing was The Dolls go-to post-show comedown record; we would pop it into the CD drive of the tour van and play it over and over again while the stars whizzed by and we drove to whoever’s house we were staying at, or whatever city we were trying to race to overnight in order to make the next gig. This song in particular is like a warm hug. Watch out for the drop. It will make your heart explode”.


Our Native Daughters – Mama’s Cryin’ Long
“When I first heard this song, about a year ago, I had headphones on and I got full-body chills running up and down my spine… then the tears came. Rhiannon Giddens and I have a bunch of friends in common and I knew that her voice was powerful, but this song was just next level. I put this one on backstage when I need to be reminded of the basics. That just a few words and voices can bring dreams and nightmares to life, that music has a power that simply speaking never can. I suggest headphones and eyes closed if you’re going to listen to this”.


Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe
“Guilty Pleasure. I am not sorry. On my last tour, I played this song every single night before shows and it drove my band up the fucking wall. But, oh my god, it’s so good. THOSE STRINGS”.


Michael Nyman – Time Lapse
“This is another one of the instrumentals that I come back to time and time again when I need calming and centering before or after a show.
Simple chords, pure pleasure, point A to point B. Michael Nyman is one of my favourite film composers and his music has been a huge comfort to me over the years, this Zed And Two Naughts soundtrack especially”.


Patti Munroe – Fighter 
“For strength, when I need to remember. Patti is a South African artist from Cape Town that I met and collaborated with last year and her spitfire-no-holds-barred words in this song remind me to keep it honest. Just hearing her voice is a kick in the ass”.


Kimya Dawson – All I Could Do
“Whenever I need a reminder to bring it back to basics, I listen to this woman singing about fear and motherhood. Kimya has a way of telling the truth in a song that’s just unmatchable”.


Glenn Gould, playing Bach – Goldberg Variations 
“This one just never, ever stops working. Ever. It’s like the eternal clockwork of the universe, this performance. I can never hear it too many times, get bored of it, or not be soothed by it”.


Tori Amos – Cornflake Girl
“It’s a classic, but I’m sticking it on here. My crew has been using this song as the blast-it-at-full-volume house music right before I take stage every night on this tour, and sometimes people in the audience bust out screaming and cheering, such is the love for Tori Amos’s disembodied voice. I didn’t know that this song was partly inspired by stories Tori read about Female Genital Mutilation until I did some digging into the song meaning, but holy shit. That brings an entirely new level of depth to the lyrics, which are already so weirdly evocative”.


Amanda Palmer plays the following London shows this winter:

6 December 2019 – Union Chapel, London
13 December 2019 – Union Chapel, London
14 December 2019 – Union Chapel, London

Grab tickets for forthcoming Amanda Palmer shows at Ticketmaster.co.uk

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