The Pitch’s Infinite Playlist Round 22: Matilda Jane Kennedy

Infinite Playlist Header Shelby Phelps

The Pitch’s Infinite Playlist. // Illustration by Shelby Phelps

Welcome to The Pitch’s Infinite Playlist, a forever-growing playlist of songs picked by people in KC. View/follow the full playlist on Spotify and you can always go back and check out the full run of articles. Throw the playlist on shuffle and enjoy away!

Playlist Guest #22: Matilda Jane Kennedy

Who are you and what do you do?

A hormonally criss-crossed creature of the night, and recently voted Goblin Queen of this sector. She slouches in at 5’4″ and a mere 220 pounds! Born in the lowest foundation of St. Joe’s Hospital on a dank April evening in—whoa, easy girl.

Let me take it from here, I’m Matilda Jane Kennedy. I’m a freelance photographer, writer, and critic of everything from right here in Kansas City. My main focus is queer culture and portraiture. I have a strong passion for old music and new places and it’s even better when I get to combine both.

So, being new here at The Pitch, I thought I’d put together a bad lil’ list of old goodies for y’all to sink your earbuds into. 

Where can we follow/support your work?

So, who likes Star Trek memes? Anywho, I can be found on Facebook. Instagram is where I put the good good. Insta is also the place to reach me about purchasing prints or scheduling shoots. There are plenty of examples of my photography,  including samples from a recent short film I did all the on-set photography for Cecelia, which is still set to release later this year. 

 “Starting A New Life” by Van Morrison

There are feelings and then there’s music, and sometimes they get married. Early Van Morrison was a preacher in this regard. “Starting A New Life” is off of Morrison’s 1971 release, Tupelo Honey.

Morrison has, in later years, refused to license this record to streaming platforms, stating that at the time, it [Tupelo Honey] was a collection of songs that were odds and ends from other records and that he wasn’t happy with the quality of the final product.  

But for real, Van? “Wild Night,” “(Straight to your heart) Like A Cannonball,” “You’re My Woman,” “Tupelo Honey,” “When That Evening Sun Goes Down,”and “Moonshine Whiskey?” I mean—shit, counting the song I’m singularly gushing over, that’s seven outta nine right there, my guy.

Simply put, the record is stacked and bangs all day. And while Morrison claims to have failed at making a country and western album, I’d gamble that he ended up making an Irish country record. This song gets me stepping, gets me ready, and as a trans woman—this song just gets me.

“Virginia Plain” by Roxy Music

Roxy Music are a bunch of freaks. We’re kindred spirits in this regard. Not gonna lie, y’all, this should’ve been a Cars song, but Roxy released it six years before The Cars released their first record.

I like to say that Roxy Music has something to turn off everyone. Some may find them insufferable, but there’s something in the suffering sometimes that makes the music that much more interesting. And if that sounds intriguing, then Roxy’s self-titled debut from ’72 has a lot to offer you.

“Virginia Plain” acts as a palate cleanser on a record that, at times, is clumsily stumbling drunk through the dark, but that’s not really a bad thing. This song makes me feel like I’m on the run, but, like, in a fun 80’s movie montage kinda way. 

“Wildflowers” by The Trio

If you have anything bad to say about this group, just pack up and leave town right now. The Trio, of course, is the lovechild of three towering icons: Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt.

“Wildflowers,” like everything else we listen to, was written by Dolly Parton and was released on the 1987 record, Trio. The rate at which Dolly Parton turns a phrase that breaks your heart and simultaneously makes you feel like you’re growing up has created a lifelong fan in this girl.

“Wildflowers” is a masterclass in Dolly Parton’s ability to turn something simple and mundane into something whimsical and eternal. Oftentimes, it’s easy to feel lost and even easier to feel like your shape doesn’t really fit into the world around you.

“Wildflowers” is a song that has provided me with the long division necessary to know that I can make the world fit around me. ‘Cause what do we say, class? Wildflowers don’t care where they grow. 

 “I’ve Been Your Fan Since Yesterday” by Electrelane

Close your eyes and imagine you’re getting into the car. You turn the key and feel the engine’s hum greet your fingertips, and the frays on your shorts begin to whisper on your thighs. You reach up to put the top down, listening as the space around you opens up, letting the dawn sky serenade you with seagulls and the soft crash of far-off waves.

Inhale deeply, smell the sea in the air, and feel the wind tickle your nose as if challenging you to fly through it as fast as you can. Now press play. 

“God Don’t Ever Change” by Lucinda Williams

Between y’all, me, and the devil, I’m an atheist. But growing up in the Catholic Church I still have a fascination with gospel music. As well as fire and brimstone-fueled blues and country.

The lady with a big hammer, Lucinda Williams, covers this title track from the 2016 comp of nearly the same name, God Don’t Ever Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson. What makes this song significant in my weird sonic rolodex is that it offers a really unique perspective on what “God” is and how this “God” person really operates.  

“She’s a God way up in heaven, She’s a God way down in hell.” The song bellows the constant refrain, “God don’t ever change / She’s God / Always will be god / She’s God.”

It’s a near sobering tune, that if nothing else states, God might be here, but not for you. It’s a call to be responsible for yourself and for the community around you—we’re the gods in God’s absence kinda vibes, and we can all access the divine inside of us without any help from the heavens or hell. It also just sounds really badass. 

“Fall Together” by Powderpaint

O.M.F.G. I love this song so ding dang hord! Powderpaint are a fabulous queer duo out of England, and my goodness, do they pack a punch.

“Fall Together” is neatly packaged into such a layer cake of synths and drum machine beats thanks to the producer half of the duo, Envelope Generator, Juxtaposed beautifully with Shalonika’s velvety synth-wave croon and ultra posi lyrics.

“Fall Together” is on their self-titled EP, released in 2020. Their bio states, “Powderpaint are not yet done with this planet.”  I think we should all hold them to their word. 

“Come Back To Me” by X

First off and most importantly, this song makes me feel like it’s the first 70-degree night in April, and you can finally ride your bike at sunset without a heavy coat on. From the 1982 release, Under The Big Black Sun, “Come Back To Me” is a soft and delicate example of Exene Cervenka’s lyrical stylings.

X is the exact space between punk and rock. John Doe and DJ Bonebrake made up one of the most interesting and dynamic rhythm sections in a punk band at that time. Filling out that sound with a huge guitar was Billy Zoom, who is my favorite picker from the era.

And Exene Cervenka and John Doe split fronting duties. Exene’s songs started out as poems and rhythms and would then form around her shrieks, bellows, and croons. “Come Back To Me” is a one-and-done lullaby effort from the L.A. four-piece, that subdues you into a brief lil’ dream. 

“Edge Of Living” by RVIVR

When successfully delivered, nothing quite amps me up like some pop-punk. And for whatever reason, there’s something in the water in Canada that makes their pop-punk scene fierce as heck.

RVIVR’s 2010 self-titled release is my benchmark for the genre. No hyperbole, it’s just that good. It sustains a solid pace from beginning to end and makes you feel like you could punch your fist through this entire town.

“Edge Of Living,” while not the highest point on the record, is a slammer of a banger that quite literally hits the ground like a new pair of running shoes. 

“Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To” by Courtney Barnett

It’s hard not to be charmed to your knees into indie rock worship over Courtney Barnett. There are few in the mainstream like her today. I love the way she focuses on rhythm and lets it drive her lyrics, rather than the other way around.

Barnett makes romantic use of mundane themes and situations.  She’s able to draw you in with the conversation of her music and similar to the call of a siren, you can’t stop listening. “Write A List Of Things To Look Forward To” is on Barnett’s latest 2021 release, Things Take Time, Take Time.

Categories: Music