The Shrine Mont PlaylistS
Best things first. With lots of help I've put together five Spotify playlists that have camp music from across the decades on them. You can listen to them now by 1) playing the embedded playlists in this article 2) clicking on any of the hyperlinks below, or 3) searching Spotify for my username "ed.keithly" and following the playlists from there.
The playlists are titled "The Dance," “St. G.’s Rebellion,” "The Slideshow,” "The Green Book," and, the motherlode, "Shrine Mont Jams." This requires a Spotify account; it's easy to sign up for and free with some commercial interruptions. If you don't want to make an account, you can still play along by remaking playlists of your own or listening via your own methods, e.g., YouTube or iTunes.
“St. G.’s Rebellion” is a playlist of songs from “The Dance” featuring bands like The Clash, Violent Femmes and The Who. These are my personal favorites, more on that in the article to follow.
"The Slideshow" is filled with music that would be played along with the end-of-session slideshow. It's slower, hopeful and introspective. It's basically the Cat Stevens of playlists.
“The Green Book” contains songs from our camp hymnal of the same name. It includes songs played at camp worship that can be found on Spotify.
“Shrine Mont Jams” (above) is the omnibus playlist, combining the music from “The Dance” and “The Slideshow” with some more songs that didn’t quite fit in either category.
I got a lot of help putting this playlist together from counselors and campers spanning four decades of camp. I would thank them each by name for the thought and care they put into picking the songs, but that'd take forever. So, thank you all.
Some things to note about "Shrine Mont Jams" and the following article.
- A couple of the greatest camp jams of all time "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC and The Beatles' version of "Twist and Shout" are conspicuously absent from this list. Neither band puts their songs on Spotify, and I couldn't bring myself to go with covers (yes, I know that The Beatles’ song is in itself a cover). One exception: In the case of "Hey Jude" on The Green Book playlist, I went with Wilson Pickett's cover because, well, it’s fantastic.
- This playlist and the following story focus mostly on St. George's Camp. There are many songs in the playlist that cross campsite borders, but some don't. When trying to discuss a canon, it helps to keep the focus narrow. And even with a focus on St. George's, there will be some folks that look at the list and say, "That song? Really?" because it wasn’t part of their experience of camp. All Shrine Mont Camps have rich musical histories, sometimes in vastly different ways, or ways that are sewn more deliberately into the fabric of camp (cough, MAD Camp). I’m sure if MAD made a playlist, it would include lots of songs from musicals – who wants to volunteer to make that playlist and send me a link?
- (2b, really) I encourage everyone from every Shrine Mont Camp to come up with their own playlist and share it with everyone they know. Without shilling too much for a company that's not paying Shrine Mont Camps or me a dime, Spotify is a really great way to share.
That Loving Rebellion
Or, THe Kid [Rock] Is Alright
Before going to camp in 2000* I was about to enter Robinson Middle School and was going through the first serious stages of directionless teenage angst, rebelling against the upper-middle-class decency of Fairfax County via Napster. I would download explicit versions of Puff Daddy, Kid Rock, Cisqo and Creed (well, there wasn’t anything offensive about Creed’s lyrics, just their music in general) and blast the worst of the 2000’s Billboard Top 100 over the speakers on the Dell computer in our basement. My parents were getting used to shouting down the stairs several times a day, “Ed! Ed! Volume, please.”
*Fun fact about how I started going to camp: My sister, Sarah, saw the Lindsay Lohan remake of “The Parent Trap” and was inspired by the camp scenes in that movie. I think deep down she might have hoped she’d meet her twin at camp, too, and said twin would deliver her from daily arguments with her annoying older brother. The newfound Keithly twins would play light-hearted pranks on me and make me see the error of my jerkish ways. No estranged Keithlys, twin or otherwise, were found at camp in the following years. But my parents did find a brochure for Shrine Mont Camps on the bulletin board at our newly-adopted home parish, Church of the Good Shepherd in Burke. They signed us up for the longest possible camp for our age groups (St. G’s II and III), and bought themselves a 20-day vacation from our bickering.
So I think it came as a serious shock to Tom and Pat Keithly when I returned from my first summer at St. George’s and insisted that we go to Best Buy so I could buy Guns ‘N Roses’ album “Appetite for Destruction.” Given some of the content on that album, I’m sure my parents worried that my taste for aggressive, wildly-inappropriate music was starting to explore previously uncharted decades. But my parents are both multi-instrument musicians who lived through the 80s and probably remembered something about critical acclaim for Guns N’ Roses – even if they wished I’d discovered David Byrne instead – and hoped that this was a step in the right direction.
Soon more promising music was coming through the floorboards to interrupt my parents watching Masterpiece Theatre: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elton John. Before long the refrain became, “Ed! Ed! Volume, please! Great song, though!”
PlayList: The Green Book
PlayList: The Dance
Songs like “Train in Vain” by The Clash, “My Generation” by The Who and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M. spoke to the brokenness and absurdity of the world. These songs were honest about why it sucks sometimes to be a young adult or teenager – the powerlessness and disenfranchisement – but something about belting out these songs together with Hoss, camp’s house band made up of former counselors, made all that go away. Most importantly, these songs held out hope that things can and will get better, that the meek and powerless shall inherit the earth. For me, the song that typified this was and is Modern English’s “I Melt With You”:
PlayList: St. G's Rebellion
It wasn’t an easy task. I didn’t flip a switch and become a teenaged Mr. Rogers or stand on a windy cliff and toss my Kid Rock CD into the ocean, swearing to never listen to crappy music again. Throughout middle and high school I would join in on bullying or go through long periods where I thought only about myself. But what I’d learned at St. George’s about the Body of Christ and my membership in it changed the way I saw the world on a molecular level: Instead of seeing meanness as a form of personal advancement (as it so often is in grade school), meanness and cruelty became something that corroded my soul. Each word I said out of hate or fear drew me away from the rebellion I’d joined at St. G’s, while each counter-cultural good deed I did brought me closer to my home among the misfits who believed, in spite of so much counterevidence, that the world didn’t have to spin on an axis of greed and fear.
Away from the mountain, I was sustained by playlists I created of the music from camp dances, slideshows and everything in between. Even when it had been months since I saw friends from camp and longer since I was last at Shrine Mont, our music brought me back and reminded me that the rebellion still needed my help. It still does today.
Now that everyone in the Shrine Mont Camps family has returned to the Valley of the World, I hope that the playlists I’ve created with the help of that constantly-growing family can sustain you and bring you joy too. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord, and viva la resistance.
By Ed Keithly
PlayList: The Slideshow
Ed Keithly is the editor of this blog. He first came to Shrine Mont as a St. George's camper in 2000, returning in 2007 to work as a counselor. He's worked at Shrine Mont in some capacity every summer since.
In his day job, Ed works as the vocation officer serving the Diocese of Virginia, shepherding future priests and deacons through the discernment and formation process and seeking to strengthen diocesan programs for future leaders of the Church.
Ed graduated from Sewanee in 2010. He lives in the Fan District of Richmond.