Eddie Mitchell Makes Me Go Country

Eddie called me out to comment on EW’s top 25 country albums you have to hear, even if you don’t like country music. Since I pretty much do whatever Eddie requests – he asks so nicely – I could do naught but respond, albeit reluctantly. I am not what I’d call a big country fan; I don’t dislike it, just don’t follow it much.
Once, though, I did. Back in the days when AM radio was king, there were many stations that operated pretty much from sunrise to sundown. Then there were these mega “clear channel” stations that one could hear from a great distance at night. From my home in Binghamton, NY, I could hear stations in New York City and Cleveland. I could also get WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia, a country station.
Also, my grandfather brought home this album “50 Stars, 50 Hits” on “two long-playing albums”, as the pitchman said it.

Now to the list:
*means I Have It

*1. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
Maybe it’s because I heard it first, but I prefer San Quentin. Not that this is a bad album. I also liked the American Recordings John R. did later in his life. In fact, if you considered that best of American Recordings album that came in the posthumous box set, I might pick that.

*2. Home, Dixie Chicks
As I mentioned recently, bought this to protest the protest of the Dixie Chicks. Ironically, this album has one mighty patriotic tune in particular that was on the charts when the controversy developed. I like it, but it seems terribly high in the pantheon of all country music.

3. Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., Dwight Yoakam
I like him when I see him on TV or when he appears on a compilation album I have, but have none of his albums.

*4. Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn
I’m quite fond of this Jack White-produced disc.

5. Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson
Have some Willie, not this.

6. Carnegie Hall Concert, Buck Owens and His Buckaroos
No Buck except on 50 Stars.

7. Modern Day Drifter, Dierks Bentley
Don’t know him. See he already has a greatest hits album.

8. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Miranda Lambert
I heard her name mentioned in a positive review on CBS Sunday Morning, I believe.

9. The Complete Reprise Sessions, Gram Parsons
The only Gram I have is on the expanded version of the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo CD.

10. Time Well Wasted, Brad Paisley
Know the name. He’s playing around here soon.

11. Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton
Eddie will probably hate me, but I own no solo Dolly.

*12. Elite Hotel, Emmylou Harris
Own it on LP, haven’t played it in years. Prefer Blue Kentucky Girl from that era.

13. Georgia Hard, Robbie Fulks
Don’t know.

*14. Trio, Dolly Parton/Linda Ronstadt/Emmylou Harris
Bought unheard based on all those great Emmylou harmonies on Linda’s albums, and Dolly’s harmony on Linda’s “I’ll Never Be Married”. Very fond of this album.

15. Gold, Hank Williams
For all the covers of Hank Williams songs I own and songs referring to Hank, from Johnny Cash to Neil Young that I have, unless I got one in the end days of my LP collecting, I just don’t have any collections.

16. Hag — The Best of Merle Haggard, Merle Haggard
I think that I didn’t get the parody that was “Okie from Muskogee” and dismissed him out of hand. Know better now, but haven’t rectified the void in my collection.

17. Come On Over, Shania Twain
I do remember some sultry video from this, which I did hear as country particularly. And that “Man, I’m a Woman” song’s from here, too. The album sold 20 bajillion copies. My feeling: meh.

*18. Guitar Town, Steve Earle
My first Steve Earle was a live album I didn’t much like. The second was I Feel Alright, which just love. Guitar Town is a really good album, but it was so hyped in my circle of friends, it couldn’t bear the weight.

19. These Days, Vince Gill
Own none Like to watch him on TV occasionally.

*20. Almost Blue, Elvis Costello
It was an acquired taste for me. Grew to like and respect it, rather than embrace it.

21. Here for the Party, Gretchen Wilson
I know who she is, but not this album.

22. The Definitive Collection, the Flying Burrito Brothers
Know them, have heard them on FM radio, but own none.

23. Revival, Gillian Welch
If there’s one artist on this list I’m mostly likely to purchase, it’s Gillian Welch. I’ve heard her music at other people’s houses.

24. Horse of a Different Color, Big & Rich
Know them only by reputation, not all good.

*25. Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
My wife loves Alison Krauss, and we saw her in April 2003 at the Palace Theater in Albany. There are tracks of hers on albums I like but I haven’t loved a whole album since that greatest hits album she put out back c. 1994 when she was still brunette and more zaftig, until this one. But is it country?

I have eight out of 25.

What, no Patsy Cline? I would also found room for Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter and maybe Rosanne Cash.

Your turn, Eddie.

ROG

Songs That Move Me, 90-81

90. Wah Wah – George Harrison.
On an album, All This Must Pass, of mostly lovely little tunes, this really rocks. I love the harmonies. And is that a race car engine revving at the end?
Feeling: like playing air guitar.

89. Police on My Back – the Clash.
Just for that guitar line that sounds like a UK siren. The harmonies aren’t as apparent in this version, but the frentic energy certainly is.
Feeling: slightly paranoid.

88. Cancer – Joe Jackson.
The juxtaposition of the topic “there’s no cure, there’s no answer” with the jaunty, piano-driven tune fascinated me. From side 2 of the LP Night and Day. This is a live version, which I ALSO own.
Feeling: conflicted.

87. Born To Run- Bruce Springsteen.
Anthemic, from the drum intro on.
Feeling: see title.

86. Rock Lobster – the B-52’s.
The “hook” is in the very beginning. I especially like the Yokoesque segment.
Feeling: in the mood for seafood.

85. Kiko and the Lavender Moon – Los Lobos.
Based on Three Blind Mice, this is just a weird, weird song.
Feeling: if I HAD taken it, I’d be experiencing an acid flashback.

84. Winter Snow – Booker T. & The MG’s
This is only 30 seconds of this, which does not give the full mood of the piece. From the Album Stax/Volt – The Complete Singles 1959-1968 – Volume 8.
HERE.
Feeling: melancholy.

83. Sail On Sailor-the Beach Boys.
The first song on the Holland LP. This was released twice as a single, somebody believed so much in it, but it was never more than a moderate hit, which surprises me, because I just love it.
Feeling: nautical.

82. Maybe – Alison Krauss.
I wish I could explain musical things better, but in the chorus, but the way the chord resolves in the chorus always moved me. Bonus: Carol and I saw this tour in 2003.
Feeling: a bit melancholy.

81. Summer in the City – Lovin’ Spoonful.
A song I could play on the piano, albeit poorly. The intro, and the instrumentation at the end makes it for me.
Feeling: dirty and gritty..

if this is gone:

***
So you want to write a fugue by Glenn Gould.


ROG

Top 10 5 Albums of 2007

I only got 13 albums that came out in 2007, all CDs, as opposed to downloads or vinyl. Unlike the movies I didn’t see, this fact does not particularly distress me as much as it might, since I did download some individual cuts as well as older albums I had on vinyl.

So coming up with a Top 10 seemed silly. I will discuss all of them, but then give you my Top 5, which is pretty soft.

Across the Universe SOUNDTRACK – It’s OK. Too much of it sounds the same. Didn’t see the movie, though, and that might have helped. I love EDDIE IZZARD doing Mr. Kite, though.

Like A Hurricane-Neil Young Tribute, Uncut Magazine. Pretty good actually, though invariably uneven.

It’s Not Big, It’s Large- Lyle Lovett. As I wrote here, I like it, but haven’t played it in over a month. Might rank higher when I hear it again.

Memory Almost Full-Paul McCartney. I liked it, especially some of the latter songs. The cut that explains the meanings of the songs really enhanced the album for me.

Magic-Bruce Springsteen. I enjoyed it quite a bit actually, but with a couple of exceptions, it sounds as though it could have come out a decade or more ago.

Live In Dublin-Bruce Springsteen. This lives heavily on the songs from the Seeger Session of 2006 that I loved so much. Works well here, too, plus some great reframing of the Springsteen oeuvre, and a surprise or two.

We’ll Never Turn Back-Mavis Staples. Lefty Brown turned me onto this album, and it was in constant rotation in the summer, one track in particular.

Photograph: the Very Best of Ringo Starr. Quite possibly all the Richard Starkey I’ll ever need. A mostly known commodity going in, and some good songs. Beatlefan magazine posed the question a couple months ago whether Ringo, as a solo artist, deserved to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; I’d say no, as commercial success, and is largely not a criterion.

And now, my Top 5:

5) West- Lucinda Williams. This might be is a hard album to love for me. Sometimes the lyrics are weak, sometimes the music, though usually at least one element is outstanding. Some of the lyrics are as nonsensical as Dylan’s most obtuse. There’s a 9-minute quasi-rap song that somebody on Amazon called the WORST SONG EVER. But when it clicks, it really works for me. It’s no “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”, but it is a worthwhile effort about loss.

4) Dirt Farmer – Levon Helm. – Maybe I’m a sucker for a feel-good story. Helm, the voice of the legendary group The Band, survived throat cancer, but he was unable to talk, let alone sing. But with treatment, he was able to do both. And this album, which sounds like The Band mixed with the music of the group’s roots, is outstanding. His daughter Amy, who sings with the group Olabelle, is also present here.

3) Chrome Dreams II-Neil Young. What Nik said about the eclectic nature of the project. BTW, Tosy once had a post about the longest and shortest album cuts. He and I had the same Dylan cut as the longest, but Ordinary People on this album at 18 minutes surpasses that. (I have since discovered that I have a 20-minute live version of Frank Zappa’s Don’t eat the Yellow Snow.) Here’s a review from the United Methodist Church website!

2) Raising Sand- Alison Krauss/Robert Plant. Actually, I bought this for my wife for Christmas. I always buy Alison Krauss for my wife for Christmas or her birthday when she has a new album out. While there were some duets that sounded more like her fare, there’s at least one cut that’s louder than anything on any Krauss album I’ve heard. In any case, it works because of genre-bending song selection and a great production by T-Bone Burnett. The more I hear it, the more I like it.

1)I’m Not There SOUNDTRACK- (Nik: this is how I write every day – I just quote other people.) As Nik says, compilations are tough, but this one works exceedingly well, even though I didn’t see this movie yet, either.

The album I’m most likely to get, sound unheard, based on everyone else’s reviews: LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver.

ROG

My Back Is Killing Me

On Memorial Day, I was carrying Lydia’s not-so-little red wagon down the back step of the house. I stepped down on what should have been the penultimate step and ended up on my back, the wagon on top of me. I discovered that step was lower on the left side by about an inch and a quarter than it was on the right.

You might think 1.25 inches isn’t much, but when you can’t actually SEE the steps, it’s like a chasm. Falling down these stairs, at least in this case, is somewhat like sliding into second base. One starts vertically, and ends up horizontal. The difference is intentionality; I didn’t plan to land on my backside carrying the wagon. (Also, no one in Major League Baseball seems to slide feet first anymore.)

Immediately after the fall, I thought, “I need to sue the landlord.” Then I had that annoying realization: I AM the landlord. When you’ve lived in housing owned by others for the vast majority of your life, home ownership, even after eight years, is still a bit of a foreign concept.

The house I grew up in was owned by my maternal grandmother, which, as I think back on it, may have contributed to the tension between her and my father. My parents didn’t buy their own place until shortly after I went to college.

So, I’ve been a renter most of my life. This means I’ve moved a number of times, some number north of 20, maybe as many as 30; I forget. Given the fact that I didn’t move from the time I was six months old until I went to college, that meant about once a year in my adulthood prior to being a homeowner. Since I stayed some places longer than a year, other places were much shorter. 1977, e.g., I was in Charlotte, NYC and New Paltz. In 1978, I was at three different addresses in Schenectady, four if you count the four days I spent at one location.

But the rate of change has slowed, I spent 4.5 years in one apartment before I got married. One year in the house Carol bought before we met, and now seven years here.

The downside of moving so often are that it’s harder to peg time. “Oh, that happened when I was living on Madison Avenue; must have been ’82 or ’83.” the other downside is that the ability for stuff to clutter up certain rooms is so much easier. But I’ll deal.

Oh, and the back is still sore, as is my left knee, which I seem to have hyperextended. I say “seem” because I haven’t gone to the doctor, yet. I will if it isn’t better soon.
***
And speaking of stuff, we have an overstuffed chair and a pull-out sofa bed that we’ve been trying to get rid of (i.e., give away if someone would just haul it off) for weeks. The chair’s going on the curb this week, the sofa next. The street entrepreneurs, I hope, will pick them up before they end up in the landfill. I’ve tired of having two stuffed chairs and two sofas in the living room.
***
Things I like about June: music on PBS. Alison Krauss live and also a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald on Wednesday. Later in the month, the Gershwin Award to Paul Simon, with a whole bunch of folks singing Simon songs.

ROG