In Random Rules, The A.V. Club asks some of its favorite people to set their MP3 players to shuffle and comment on the first few tracks that come up—no cheating or skipping embarrassing tracks allowed.
The shuffler: Gerald Casale is one of the founding members of the legendary Devo, which is currently on tour. In September, Casale released a solo project under the name Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers, with the following mission statement: "I say to you that I wear this Turban not to hide from Justice but to perform it. The enemy is not the Muslim, Jew or Christian but stupidity itself." Jihad Jerry's debut album, Mine Is Not A Holy War, contains such topical tracks as "Army Girls Gone Wild."
Bob Dylan, "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue"
Gerald Casale: I still have a soft spot for Bob Dylan. If he had died after Blonde On Blonde, he would be bigger than James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. And he may end up that way anyway. The body of work he did from that period is unparalleled, and still resonates with me. It just puts me in a mood, in a mind where the culture was so far less devolved and people were so much smarter.
Devo, "Beautiful World"
GC: I still like those guys! I have three or four Devo songs on my shuffler. I like listening to my own music. I know that sounds ridiculous, but "Beautiful World," there's a kind of finality to it. It's one man's opinion. It was very simple—it's a beautiful world for you, but not for me. The planet could be a great place if it wasn't for all the assholes who destroy it.
R. Kelly, "Trapped In The Closet"
GC: Now that's genius. I mean, I might have thought I was devo, but that was just an art concept. This guy proves devolution is real. There's a certain genius to "Trapped In The Closet." Each part gets more unbelievable. By the time there's a midget hiding under the kitchen sink, I am actually so entertained at the almost exquisite stupidity of it all. And the DVD where he comments on his own stuff—where they show him in a theater, dressed in a suit, smoking a cigar, watching the screen, it's sublime. When he says, "Now right here, I don't really like a Beretta, I just needed something that rhymed with dresser." Oh, God.
David Bowie, "Big Brother"
Good old David. I guess it's because poor Jihad Jerry has been so affected by the 24-hour news cycle of all war, all the time. All propaganda. All conditioning and fear. I've got a bunch of songs right now in my shuffler like The Isley Brothers' "Fight The Power." Bowie and "Big Brother." All done in a time before science fiction became reality and we went way beyond anyone's most horrific expectations.
Howlin' Wolf, "Evil"
GC: Well, there's plenty of evil still going on, so that's probably why that's on there. I've always loved Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, and I always have something on there from them. It's still the best to me. I grew up in Ohio listening to roots music, blues, and early R&B from stations out of Detroit, and I still love it. I think it's really some of the best stuff in the world, and what America's really about.
The Hives, "Hate To Say I Told You So"
GC: The Hives. I just love this recording. It has an energy that feels like a 1966 shindig. It's fantastic.
The A.V. Club: It's the most contemporary thing you have on there, apart from R. Kelly. How closely do you keep track of contemporary music?
GC: I try to listen to everything all the time. My problem is, because I write and make music, I don't use music as a background. If I'm going to listen to something, I really get into listening to it. I take it seriously. It isn't something I talk over at a party, or stick on at the gym. I certainly listen to everything that's coming out, that's played on the college stations or KROQs of the world. And so even if I don't have that kind of stuff on my shuffler at any given point, I hear it all. I'm not big on sensitive, tortured, emo singer-songwriter stuff.
AVC: Any particular reason?
GC: They're irritating.
Interpol, "Slow Hands"
GC: I must have heard that song for about three months on KROQ, and I never knew what they were saying. At some point, I thought, "Are they saying 'slow hand'? That couldn't be. What is that?" I love the Interpol kind of postmodern rendition of New Order, where it's kind of the scary-nerd thing.
AVC: When you say "scary nerd," I think of Devo.
GC: I guess so. Yeah, Mark [Mothersbaugh] was the original scary-nerd guy.