So there’s this guy with a belly that pokes out of his Harley Davidson t-shirt like a grin, and the other day, he walked up to me and said, “First thing I do every morning is send God a knee-mail,” and I hate him so much for saying this because now it’s lodged in my head whenever I try to pray. Maybe telling you will help me exorcise it.

Welcome to Midnight Radio, a dispatch of five thematic songs + a brief ramble delivered 'round midnight on the first and fifteenth of each month. Our debut broadcast begins with a stone summertime classic and some underrated Japanese dream pop, followed by a humid laser workout, a touch of Suicide, a river of Michigan space rock, and mountains of glorious reverb.

Now, about that summertime classic: there are nights when I listen to “Jesus Children of America” for hours, getting lost in its plush bassline before Stevie Wonder delivers a righteous inventory of America’s soul. He challenges those who claim religion as faith: “Tell me, holy roller, are you standing for everything you talk about?” He captures the hell of addiction: “Are you happy when you stick a needle in your vein? Tell the truth now.” And he sings like the world’s about to come undone at any moment: “You’d better tell your story fast.”

Three days after the song was released, Wonder was asleep in the passenger seat after a show in South Carolina when a truck loaded with timber hit its brakes. A log smashed through the windshield, and Wonder spent four days in a coma. “We brought one of his instruments—I think it was the Clavinet—to the hospital,” said a friend. "For a while, Stevie just looked at it. You could see he was afraid to touch it because he didn’t know if he still had it in him. He didn’t know if he could still play. And then, when he finally did . . . man, you could just see the happiness spreading all over him. I’ll never forget that."

That was fifty years ago. Wonder lost his sense of smell, but he found God. “Everything is the way it is supposed to be," he said. "The accident, losing the sense of smell — everything that has ever happened to me is the way it is supposed to have been. I wrote ‘Higher Ground’ before the accident. Something must have been telling me that something was going to happen to make me aware of a lot of things and get myself together.”

I’m still getting myself together. It’s a never-ending project. Last year, I made an album to accompany my bouts of late-night writing. I’m doing my best to be less self-righteous. And I moved from Vegas to Ohio.

Now for tonight's broadcast: after a brief station identification, we'll hear the Electrifying Mojo tell us to flash our headlights because he's our spirit animal for this endeavor, then we'll drop into a loop or two before moving through five songs that work best during a heatwave:

  1. Stevie Wonder - Jesus Children of America
    Innervisions | Tamla, 1973 | More
  2. Sugar Plant - Rise
    Happy | 7th Heaven, 1998 | More
  3. Actress - Hubble
    Thriller, 2009 | More
  4. Suicide - Cheree (Remix)
    Suicide | Bronze Records, 1978 | More
  5. Füxa - Karmaloop
    Accretion | Mind Expansion, 1998 | More

The mix is below. If you prefer Big Streaming, here’s a Spotify playlist, although it’s not nearly as interesting as the static and reverb of the proper midnight broadcast, which also includes some advice at the nineteen-minute mark for how to relax circa 1963.

Midnight Radio 001 | Download

Midnight Radio 001: Heatwave