Received this great email from my friend, John, a lawyer and former speechwriter in New York City. He's just moved with his family to a great old house in Riverdale, in the Bronx. And he's also just bought The Rising. John writes:
I hooked up the stereo in the new living room last night and put on the new Springsteen disc. I felt that, even at this late date, I was bringing rock and roll to where it has rarely, if ever, been heard. Our house was built by an Irish union boss in the '20s and he lived here until the '70s when he sold it to an orthodox Jewish family from whose estate we purchased. Not much, if any, rock and roll has been heard here. But there is lots of wood within the old brick walls, lots of room to separate the speakers and you can blast the stereo late at night without pissing off the neighbors. The music sounded good and new -- almost as new as it used to sound when we would slip off to Eddie Sashuoa's house during free periods Sophmore year of high school to hear his new album, Born To Run. Then, it was about busting out, about escaping and running, about breaking the ties that bound; now, it's about digging in, about connections and connectedness, about strengthening the ties that bind. I think I'm writing about the music, but it speaks at least for me.
posted by Anon. 5:41 PM
Cold Dog Soup and rainbow pie
I've been listening a lot to Guy Clark's 2000 record on Sugar Hill, Cold Dog Soup. When I first picked this album up, I was disappointed, because it paled in comparison to the Texas troubadour's previous effort, Dublin Blues -- one of my favorite albums by anyone in the 90s. But sometimes just because something doesn't live up to the one that came before it, doesn't mean it is without riches of its own. Cold Dog Soup is low on interesting production -- most of it just sounds like Clark playing guitar with Verlon Thompson and Darrell Scott taking the other instruments. (Emmylou Harris does pitch in on Guy's take on Steve Earle's fine elegy to Townes Van Zandt, "Fort WOrth Blues," and the lovely album closer "Been Gone Forever.")
While his voice doesn't have much range (but does have much timber), Clark is one of the great songwriters of the Austin scene, and while some of the songs on the record are a little silly, there are some -- "Men Will be Boys," "Indian Head Penny," and "Been Gone Forever" especially -- which bring together his gift for wordplay and lyrics written and sung from the gut.
Clark's discography is checkered. I bought a compilation Rounder released called Craftsman, which put together three of his middle period albums; sadly, the production on the songs was so cheesy thick, it marred my ability to enjoy the songs themselves. His debut, Old No. 1, though, is a classic, and his live record, Keepers, is mighty fine.
Your best bets, though, are the Essential Guy Clark and Dublin Blues, an album intermittently charming and chilling. Ain't too many songwriters who can accomplish both of those on the same album. Let alone the same song.
posted by Anon. 5:34 PM
Six songs into Sleepless. Pretty damn good!
posted by Anon. 6:07 PM
Oh sweet mercy
I am only two songs into listening to a lent copy of Peter Wolf's new record on Artemis, Sleepless, but I dare say it's terrific, if only from the second song, "Nothing But the Wheel," an acoustic, Exile on Main Streety rocker that's a duet with... Mick Jagger. It's tremendous. I have gotten much joy from Peter Wolf's last record, Fool's Parade, which had a song that was much more soulful, while this new one is a bit more country honkytonkish. That said, I'm getting much pleasure from it today at work.
Earlier, I was listening to a fine bootleg of Richard Thompson, probably from his tour in support of Mirror Blue. Standout cuts were live acoustic versions of "Why must I Plead," from Rumour and Sigh, and his wonderful "From Galway to Graceland." A fitting song, given that we're commemorating 25 years since the King left his throne...
posted by Anon. 6:03 PM
In case you missed it, David Hadju, who wrote the book on Dylan, Baez, and the Farinas that came out a year or two ago, had a piece in the Sunday NY Times Magazine on lesbianism and folk music. Good reading...
posted by Anon. 8:51 AM