Everyone has their own rituals when it comes to reading comics. Some people like to read them on the train, others while drinking a cup of coffee. Some of us here at Panels love to don our headphones and sync some of our favorite songs with our favorite comics. In Graphic Playlist, we present you with a recommended set of songs for our favorite comics or favorite characters.
It’s Father’s Day in the U.S., so the newest Graphic Playlist focuses on Patient Zero for Daddy Issues in the Marvel Universe: Matt Murdock, the Hero Known as Daredevil.
The first Daredevil comic I ever read was The Man Without Fear, a 1990s retelling of the character’s origin, by Frank Miller, John Romita, Jr., Al Williamson, and colorist Christie Scheele. The first question I had about Daredevil’s origin was, “So, has anybody noticed this has the same plot as the song “Coward of the County”?
I remembered this while watching the Daredevil Netflix show, which keeps the same essential origin, and I made the observation a few times, to the sound of crickets Then it occurred to me that not everybody running around in 2015 remembers a minor Kenny Rogers hit from 1980. Real fast: with his dying wish, a hard-fighting father pleads for his son to stay away from a path of violence. Son does his best to honor the father’s wish, until honor compels him to break it. Also, son turns out to be really really, improbably, good at inflicting violence. The moral of the story, as Kenny tells us: “Sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man.”
Daredevil fans — this should sound familiar.
For me, the association led to me loudly singing, at what I imagine were supposed to be very emotional moments of the Netflix show, “Pro-o-o-o-mise me son, not to doooooo the things I’ve done.” It was great. I’m my roommate’s hero. I also invented a Netflix Daredevil drinking game where you take a shot every time someone says “this city.” Don’t try this at home or, if you do, don’t sue me when you get alcohol poisoning.
I didn’t actually put “Coward of the County” on this playlist because 1) it’s annoyingly earwormy 2) its hero is motivated to discover his manhood when his girlfriend suffers an implied sexual assault, in a plot development that might make Frank Miller think, “Gee, maybe you could have been a little more subtle” and 3) it’s basically an inferior version of “The Gambler,” which is also a great song to sing loudly at the television while Murdock and the Kingpin are laying their plans, and your roommate is trying to pay attention.
(If you’re still interested, the song is here:)
In the course of trying to free Matt Murdock of his mental association with this unfortunate ballad (not to mention the Evanescence-overloaded soundtrack of the 2003 movie), I’ve ended up giving a lot of thought to what songs I do want to dedicate to the vigilante of Hell’s Kitchen.
“Boxers,” by Morrissey — a singer with Irish blood, lamenting the pain of a fighter, losing in front of the people who love him — is the Battling Jack Murdock song, accept no substitutes. There are a lot of songs about New York, but I used The Butcherettes’ short, pointed, exercise in dissonance because it suggests the sensory overload Matt must encounter every day.
From there, I have some songs about fighting, about making bad decisions that drive the people you love away, and about the people who stick around anyway.
Bruce Springsteen’s “Adam Raised a Cain” (covered here by Rusties) is one of the great songs about toxic masculinity and its painful legacy over the generations, which both Wilson Fisk and Matt Murdock know something about. Spoon’s “Underdog” is the swagger Matt puts on to convince himself he’s got a chance against organized evil. We return to the Boss’s “Backstreets” for an intimate epic about urban landscapes, complicated friendship, and the nights when you can hear that whole damn city crying. To close out, it’s back to New York, and that lonely boxer, in the Simon & Garfunkel classic.
Have a listen, then let us know what would go on some of your favorite characters’ playlists.
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