Sunday, January 03, 2010

For my dad

Stu Smith, 1936-2009

My dad passed away on Christmas Eve. He was a great guy who always got the most out of life. He loved his old sailboat and his old cabin in the north woods (even though it lacked indoor plumbing). He also loved a cold beer and a good tune.

To honor his memory I decided to resurrect this blog and post a few of his favorite songs here. Those of you who have spent time with Stu will remember hearing many of them on the boat, by the barbecue, or at the cabin. Some of them I've enjoyed my whole life (thanks to him).

Lyle Lovett - If I Had A Boat (buy). My dad loved every kind of boat from canoes to freighters and spent as much time as he could near the water. This was one of his favorite boat songs.

Jimmy Buffett - Son Of A Son Of A Sailor (buy). Another regular tune heard on Smith family sailboat rides. Almost always with beer in hand.

The Country Gentlemen - Fox On The Run (buy). My dad's favorite style of music was bluegrass, so naturally I learned this one at a young age.

The Osborne Brothers - Rocky Top (buy). You can't have one without the other (at least you couldn't in our house growing up).

Lucinda Williams - Crescent City (buy). "Everybody's had a few." I know that feeling. So did my dad. My dad enjoyed having fun with family and friends at our favorite spots. Giving this album to my dad was probably my most successful music recommendation ever. He really loved it.

Tom T. Hall - The Little Lady Preacher (buy). My dad was a clever guy. So it's no surprise he was a big Tom T. Hall fan. He really liked the funny ending to this one.

Bill Monroe - I'm Going Back To Old Kentucky (buy). You can't be a bluegrass fan without playing a lot of Bill Monroe, which my dad did frequently.

The Stanley Brothers - Rank Strangers (buy). Another one of my dad's favorite bluegrass songs.

Glen Campbell - Gentle On My Mind (buy). This was a huge hit back in the 1960's when my sister and I came into my dad's life. The songwriter, John Hartford, with his love of life (and boats), reminds me of my dad.

Gordon Lightfoot - Christian Island (buy). This song about enjoying a quiet time on a sailboat in the Summer on Georgian Bay. This one best captures my dad's general attitude towards life. He usually liked the mood he was in, especially on his sailboat (at least when the wind was cooperating).

John Denver - Country Roads (live) (buy). If he wasn't on a boat, then my dad wanted to be on a two-track country road.

Willie Nelson - My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (buy). Finally, here's a song from one of my dad's favorite artists that was used in one of his favorite movies.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Goodbye Joe, Me Gotta Go...

All good things must come to an end, or at least take an extended break every once in awhile. So that's what I'm doing. Long story short: My kids are getting older, my job is getting tougher, and I want to spend more of my free time outside. That means I can't keep Setting The Woods On Fire going at the level you expect.

You have no idea how much I've enjoyed putting this website together and meeting the people that I've met as a result of it. I hope you've discovered some new music to love. I know I've learned a ton from you guys. Thanks for all the great comments and e-mails.

Before I head down the trail, here's one last STWOF mix. You probably have all these songs already, but they go together nicely. They aren't rarities or little known gems, just a bunch of great tunes that will stand as my closing argument for the brilliance of old-fashioned country music. Most of the big names are here, with a slight tilt towards the Texas artists (naturally). It will fit nicely onto a CD for you to enjoy, or--better yet--for you to give to a friend to spread the word about the music we love.

This ain't "redneck" music.

STWOF Honky Tonk Heroes Mix:
01. Billy Joe Shaver - Honky Tonk Heroes (buy) - 0:00
02. Hank Williams - Why Don't You Love Me? (buy) - 3:01
03. Lefty Frizzell - Long Black Veil (buy) - 5:23
04. Patsy Cline - Walkin' After Midnight (buy) - 8:29
05. George Jones - A Girl I Used To Know (buy) - 11:00
06. Tom T. Hall - I Hope It Rains At My Funeral (buy) - 13:36
07. Merle Haggard - I Can't Hold Myself In Line (buy) - 16:59
08. Buck Owens - Under The Influence Of Love (buy) - 19:50
09. Doug Sahm - Is Anybody Goin' To San Antone? (buy) - 22:06
10. The Flying Burrito Brothers - Sin City (buy) - 25:06
11. Johnny Cash - Man In Black (buy) - 29:14
12. Steve Young - White Trash Song (buy) - 32:04
13. Loretta Lynn - One's On The Way (buy) - 34:51
14. Ernest Tubb - Walking The Floor Over You (buy) - 37:27
15. Bob Wills - Bubbles In My Beer (buy) - 39:29
16. Bill Monroe - I'm Going Back To Old Kentucky (buy) - 41:29
17. The Flatlanders - Dallas (buy) - 43:50
18. Townes Van Zandt - Pancho & Lefty (buy) - 46:35
19. Willie Nelson - Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain (buy) - 50:12
20. Jerry Jeff Walker - Redneck Mother (buy) -52:28
21. Waylon Jennings - Bob Wills Is Still The King (buy) - 56:40
22. John Hartford - In Tall Buildings (buy) - 59:55

You might remember that I almost quit once before because of an apparent change in policy from the music publishers. That didn't stick, but this time it's on my own terms.

I'll still keep doing the quick and easy posts over at Groover's Paradise and Star Maker Machine. If you're a subscriber here, please consider subscribing to--and commenting at--those sites.

Thank you, friends.

Friday, May 01, 2009

One Road More: The Flatlanders cover Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family

The album pictured above is "More a Legend than a Band" by The Flatlanders. Much has been written about this amazing and indispensible album. It was recorded in the early seventies by three soon-to-be legends of Texas country music, Butch Hancock, Joe Ely, & Jimmie Dale Gilmore. It has a sound and feel like no other country album and its easily one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time (right up there with Pet Sounds and Highway 61 Revisited). You can read about it here, here, here, here, and here.

In addition to the stellar tracks on "Legend," The Flatlanders produced four more songs during the same recording sessions. For awhile, these extra tracks were available on on a collection called One Road More and then later on another collection called the Complete Plantation Recordings. As far as I can tell, both of these releases are now discontinued and out of print. That's a shame because these "missing" tracks are just as good as the ones that made the cut.

Here, for your listening enjoyment, are two of the missing tracks. The first is a fun cover of one of Jimmie Rodgers' most famous songs. The second dips into the Carter Family catalog. It's good stuff!

The Flatlanders – Waitin' For A Train
The Flatlanders – Hello Stranger

If you don't have it already, make sure you buy yourself a copy of More A Legend Than A Band.

* * * *

Of course, no masterpiece can please everyone. Check out what one 1-star Amazon reviewer had to say about "More a Legend than a Band":
"Didn't know what a musical saw was, but henceforth I will be on the lookout. Unless you like an eerie wail floating over most of the tunes, this album is nigh unlistenable."
OK, you have been warned.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

It could be that the good Lord likes a little pickin' too...

LD from The Adios Lounge sent over this great Tom T. Hall video:

The Year Clayton Delaney Died is the quintessential Tom T. Hall story song.

Tom T. Hall - The Year Clayton Delaney Died (buy)

As Tom notes in the video, the inspiration for the arrangement came from Jimmie Rodgers' guitar stye, which fits the song perfectly:

Jimmie Rodgers - Blue Yodel No. 8 (Mule Skinner Blues) (buy)

Yesterday's Gone

R.I.P. Vern Gosdin, 1934-2009.

Here's a good one from old Vern, with a big assist from Emmylou.

Vern Gosdin & Emmylou Harris – Yesterday's Gone (buy)

Also check out Brendan's post about Vern Gosdin at Groover's Paradise.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Has Sprung (You Can Feel The Magic In The Air)

The music selection: SDQ

This past Friday night was the first warm evening of the year up here in Michigan, so I decided to light the charcoal and enjoy some fermented malt with hops (and a slice of orange).

I'm writing this post because the evening's music selection, the Sir Douglas Quintet, hit a perfect note for my Spring time festivities. As I kicked back on the patio in my shorts, while taking in the laid-back tones of the SDQ (along with my delicious Bell's Oberon Ale), I realized that it was time to put another bug in your ear about them.

Give these tracks a spin. If they move you, put some SDQ in your collection. You won't be sorry...

Dinner on the grill. Mmmmm.

The Sir Douglas Quintet – She's About A Mover

Dinner on the plate. Tastes better that way.

The Sir Douglas Quintet – Be Real

Buds along the fence line

The Sir Douglas Quintet – Nuevo Laredo

My dog is a big SDQ fan

The Sir Douglas Quintet – Sunday Sunny Mill Valley Groove Day

Bell's Oberon Ale. Extra delicious with a slice of orange.


Life is good.

For more about Doug Sahm, check out Groover's Paradise

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Is The Most Underrated Rock Band?

Not these guys

Music bloggers are always labeling bands as "underrated." I do it all the time. Probably because attempting to right the injustices of popular recognition (or the lack thereof) is one of the main reasons why fans want to spread the word about their favorite artists.

Today the question occurred to me: What is the most underrated rock band?

This one's a natural to put before you, my highly intelligent readers. Tell me, in your opinion, what rock band (not artist) suffers the injustice of having the widest gap between Factor A (Actual Quality & Influence) and Factor B (Level Of Recognition & Acclaim)? Extra credit for having an out-of-print masterpiece.

Please give my your answer and any reasons in the comment section. Thanks in advance!

By the way, I'm pretty sure that the answer to this question is not the Kinks. While that may have been the case 5 or 10 years ago, I think The Kinks are now starting to get the level of recognition they deserve.

The Kinks - A Well Respected Man (buy)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Me And Jesus

Over the years, Jesus has made his way into a ton of songs, many of which are on my i-pod today. Here's the official STWOF Jesus mix:

01. Talladega Nights – Baby Jesus Grace
02. Ernest Tubb - What A Friend We Have In Jesus
03. Tom T. Hall - Me And Jesus
04. Kinky Friedman - High On Jesus
05. Paul Newman - Plastic Jesus
06. The Bad Livers - Jesus Is On The Mainline
07. Loretta Lynn - I'd Rather Have Jesus
08. Bobby Bare - Dropkick Me, Jesus
09. Bobby Charles - Save Me Jesus
10. Help Yourself - I Must See Jesus For Myself
11. The Byrds - Jesus Is Just Alright
12. Buck Owens - Bring It To Jesus
13. Billy Joe Shaver - Jesus Christ, What A Man
14. Johnny Cash - It Was Jesus
15. Emmylou Harris - Jerusalem Tomorrow
16. John Prine - Jesus The Missing Years
17. Lightnin' Hopkins - Jesus Would You Come By Here
18. Tom T. Hall - One More Song For Jesus

"I like to party, so I like my Jesus to party..."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sweet Dreams Of You

Sweet dreams of you
Every night I go through
Why can't I forget you and start my life anew
Instead of having sweet dreams about you

You don't love me, it's plain
I should know I'll never wear your ring
I should hate you the whole night through
Instead of having sweet dreams about you

Sweet dreams of you
Things I know can't come true
Why can't I forget the past, start loving someone new
Instead of having sweet dreams about you

Don Gibson – Sweet Dreams (buy)

Faron Young – Sweet Dreams (buy)

Patsy Cline – Sweet Dreams (buy)

The Everly Brothers – Sweet Dreams (buy)

Tommy McLain – Sweet Dreams (buy)

Elvis Costello – Sweet Dreams (buy)

A recent commenter caught me being a bit lazy with the "original" Almost Blue post. I used Patsy Cline's version of Sweet Dreams which really isn't the original, or even necessarily the best version, just the most popular. We here at STWOF like to remedy our mistakes when possible. Hence, this post about the song Sweet Dreams.

The simple, yet effective, song was first performed by its writer, Don Gibson, in 1956. That same year, Faron Young (pictured top) had a No. 2 hit with the song. I really like his honky-tonky version.

Sweet Dreams is a perfect example of how Gibson described his own writing style:
"My songs are simple, and just about all of them are about love. I write about people, not things. I never had a lot of education, and I don't feel easy with words. Most of the words to my songs are real simple. I just make them up to put to some tune on the guitar I've come up with. It's the sound of the guitar that I've always been interested in."
Patsy Cline's crossover hit version of Sweet Dreams was released posthumously in 1963, months after she was killed in an airplane crash at the age of 30. That same year, The Everly Brothers recorded a version for their album The Everly Brothers Sing Great Country Hits.

Three years later, in 1966, Tommy McLain's "swamp pop" version sold three million copies. The liner notes to Almost Blue suggest that this was the version that most directly influenced Elvis Costello's 1981 recording.

Other notable recordings of the song include Emmylou Harris (1975), Loretta Lynn (1977), and Reba McEntire (1979).

Which is your favorite version, and why? My vote goes to Faron because I love that honky-tonk feel.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

I like my lovin' country style...

...I'm only in the city for awhile.

Wanda Jackson - Lovin' Country Style (buy)

This fun tune comes from Wanda's pre-rockabilly country phase (mid-1950's). It's good for dancing around the living room and embarrassing your children.