Jimmy Saffron - July 11, 2006
Ken Lay, former CEO of Enron, died of a heart attack last Wednesday, just days before facing sentencing on charges of fraud and conspiracy. What follows are the last ten tracks played on his iPod.
The Devil Had a Hold of Me – Welch, Gillian, from “Hell Among The Yearlings”
Ken would get misty whenever this song came on. It took him back to his youth, growing up in Tyrone, Missouri. Ken’s father was a Baptist Preacher. He, too, spoke of the devil and his myriad traps, greed and pride chief among them.
9 counts of fraud and conspiracy later, Ken wondered why he didn’t listen more closely.
A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off – The Magnetic Fields, from “69 Loves Songs Vol. 1”
Ken enjoyed this band’s cheeky, yet confessional lyrics. They captured his feelings about love perfectly, that it made fools of men but could just as easily raise them up. Money can’t buy love, and if anyone knows that, it’s Ken. In 1999 alone, he made 42.5 million dollars.
(I Was Drunk At The) Pulpit – Palace Brothers, from “There is No-One What Will Take Care of You”
Ken always felt weird describing Will Oldham as “folk.” He just didn’t know how else to describe his music when recommending it. Ken didn’t know which was more difficult—selling someone on Will Oldham, or selling them worthless stock in a company that’s about to collapse and take their pension with it.
Just kidding. Ken knew perfectly well which was easier.
Lucky – Radiohead, from “OK Computer”
Ken remembered being told once that Enron was the “OK Computer” of energy companies. Though he knew it was meant as a compliment, he still found it unnerving. He would have preferred being the “The Bends” of energy companies. “The Bends” rocked.
Innocent When You Dream (Barroom) – Waits, Tom, from “Franks Wild Years”
You’re also innocent until proven guilty. At least that used to be the case in this country.
Shining Skinned Friend – The Juan Maclean, from “Less Than Human”
Ken kept his love of the Juan Maclean to himself. He hung out with a lot of corporate guy-guys who would never listen to any electronica. Jeff Skilling would definitely have called this “faggy.”
Wishful Thinking – Wilco, from “A Ghost is Born”
“What would we be without wishful thinking?” asks Jeff Tweedy. “Not on trial for our lives,” answered Ken Lay.
23 Minutes in Brussels – Luna, from “Penthouse”
Ken Lay wasn’t a Luna fan, but if he had been he’d know they played this song at every single one of their live shows, usually as an encore.
Bees – Animal Collective, From “Feels”
Ken Lay felt that AC’s debt to Mercury Rev was heaviest on this track. He’d keep this to himself however, realizing he was in no position to talk about “debts.”
Dinner at Eight – Wainwright, Rufus, from “Want One”
Again, not a word of this to Jeff Skilling.