Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick Or Treat?

This one's definitely a treat. My five-year-old's favorite song is either "Rocky Top" or "Ghost Town" by The Specials, depending on his mood. (buy album). If he were old enough to type, I'd ask him to appear as a guest blogger to explain why. Maybe next year...

Note: If you explore here (worth the trip), you'll discover that, statistically speaking, Ghost Town is considered by the critics to be the 95th best song of all-time.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Cabin Classics

Here’s another country music post. I guess it’s just that time of year. Up here in Michigan its hunting season, which means its almost time for my annual trip up to the north woods with the boys (high school friends, not kids) for a weekend of drinking Wild Turkey liquor, playing poker, eating steak, and telling jokes. (We don’t actually hunt.) It’s always great fun and it goes especially well with the kind of country music I like--old. This year’s trip to the cabin pictured above is just around the bend. I can't wait. Here’s a preview of some of the great country music we'll be hearing:

I don't know how you could not like Charley Pride singing Is Anybody Goin' To San Antone (buy album). This track is what classic country is all about. Charley hits you right in the face with a driving beat and lyrics to match. If you are wavering about whether to become a country music fan, this one will bring you into the fold.

Now let's take our foot off the gas a bit with this reflective number from the legendary Merle Haggard (who stands with Tom T. and Johnny Cash--just below Hank Sr.--atop the pinacle of my own personal country music mountain). In My Own Kind Of Hat (buy album) Merle adopts a live and let live approach to cherries, fairies, mothers, dogs, cats, etc. Who says real country singers can't be sensitive?

Quick! Can you name the greatest country record of all-time (according to the authors of Heartaches By The Number)???

No. They did not realize that the correct answer is "Okie From Muskogee." (you must buy album).

You might be surprised to know that the authors tabbed Sammi Smith's version of the Kris Kristofferson-penned Help Me Make It Through The Night (buy album) as the greatest achievement in the history of country music. Hmm? Read about it here. I'm not so sure, but after listening to it a few more times tonight, I can see what got them so excited. It might even sneak into my own top twenty-five.

Well gee, its been over a week since my last Hank Sr. post. So here's a live version of I Can't Get You Off Of My Mind (buy album) from the Health And Happiness radio show. You should also check out this version of the same song (buy album) from The The's 1995 album of Hank Sr. covers called, cleverly enough, "Hanky Panky." The instrumentation and delivery is nothing like Hank, but it still sounds great. Hanky Panky is a real testament to Hank's abilities as a composer.

Unfortunately, my next post won't be about country music. Stay tuned for the tragic story of Jim Walewander...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Outlaw for your love?

"If it's so, well, let me know; If it's no, well, I can go" - Thirteen

The blog is off to a pretty good start, I think. Great comments and some fun interaction with other bloggers. But it's really been a lot of work! Anyway, my real job and family are calling me back to reality now (plus I have a single malt wiskey tasting to attend this evening), so I've got to step back from the world of blogging for a few days.

Before taking the weekend off, I thought I would leave you with my No. 1 favorite pop song, which is Thirteen on Big Star's classic #1 Record (buy album).

The melody, instrumentation, lyrics, and delivery are all spot on. Read the AMG review here. There are many cover versions (Garbage, Elliot Smith, Wilco, Evan Dando) but none capture the feeling as well as the original masterpiece. Hard to believe that its sung by the same guy who sang "The Letter" for the Box Tops.

Just listen and enjoy. And have a nice weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Its Organic And It Comes From The Vine

Its also legal and it gets you so high....

What I'm talking about, of course, is sangria. One of the best inventions of humankind. Today's assignment is to make yourself some delicious sangria. To get started you need to locate your copy of Jerry Jeff Walker's album "Viva Terlingua!" and spin track 3 repeatedly. In case you don't yet own the whole wonderful record, check this out: Sangria Wine (buy album). An all-time great.

Anyway, Jerry Jeff's recipe (taken from the lyrics of the song) requires mixing the following ingredients in whatever amounts suit your fancy:

- Start with some wine
- Get some apples and brandy and sugar just fine
- Add sparkling Burgandy wine (huh? more wine?)
- Everclear is added sometimes (especially in Texas on Saturday night)
- Lemons and Limes

There you have it. For another, slightly more complicated mixture (which will require you to obtain a red apricot and split a strawberry into exactly three pieces), check in with Martha Stewart here.

And now for a word about Jerry Jeff Walker. He's probably best known for writing the 1970's hit "Mr. Bojangles." But in my mind his greatest achievement was becoming a key part of the Austin, Texas outlaw country movement. Viva Terlingua is a great introduction to this genre. See AMG review here. It was recorded live in 1973 at a virtual ghost town called Luckenbach, Texas -- a locale made famous four years later by fellow-outlaw Waylon Jennings' song Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love) (buy album). In fact, one of the verses in Waylon's song (the last one, sung with Willie Nelson) mentions "Jerry Jeff's train songs."

Another one of my all time favorite Jerry Jeff songs is the irreverant Pissin’ In The Wind (buy album), which describes one way to end a Saturday night sangria party.

And now for a genre shift: All of this semi-rowdy country music brings to mind the Replacements' 3rd album, Hootenanny--especially this track: Treatment Bound (buy album). While not really a country album in any way, shape, or form, Hootenanny hits a lot of the same tones as JJW. And the album Hootenanny also contains one of the world's great rock songs, "Color Me Impressed," which will be fodder for another post...

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Thanks for playing all that Tom T."

Here is a blurb from one of my favorite books:

“After I drank a little, I went over to the jukebox and put some money in to help pass the time and help take my mind off thoughts of Mildred. They had fourteen Tom T. Hall songs, and I played every one of them. It seemed to put everybody in a good mood. I noticed several people looking at me kindly, as if to say thanks for playing all that Tom T.” Larry Brown, Big Bad Love, p 53.

I'm in full agreement with the folks in that Mississippi bar. Always use your quarters on Tom T. Hall. You won’t be disappointed.

Check it out here: Tom T. Hall - I Hope It Rains At My Funeral. (buy album).

The Whiskeytown version is pretty good too: Whiskeytown - I Hope It Rains At My Funeral. (buy album).

UPDATE!: Here's a fun track sent over by the good folks at The Rising Storm (a site worth checking out): It's the Flatlanders' version of this site's title track (buy album).

More Tom T. coming in the next few weeks...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Modern Girl Goes Old School

Are you a fan of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music? How about the current garage rock scene? Well, if you like both of these styles--anybody?--then you should check out Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs' new album "You Can't Buy A Gun When You're Crying." It’s modern music that feels like it could have been performed a century ago. I like it. Read the AMG review here.

Listen to You Can’t Buy A Gun. (buy album).

Speaking of the six-disc Harry Smith Anthology, which I may delve into in a later post, here are two tracks from the distant past for your listening enjoyment: King Kong Kitchie by "Chubby" Parker (1928) & Pennys Farm by the Bently Boys (1929). (buy album).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

All Our Old Bands, Part 1: The Have Nots


Back when we were young, my buddies and I spent way too much time inventing bands for ourselves to join. We would think of a name (usually kind of funny), a lineup, and a highly detailed list of “influences.” But we usually never got around to playing a show (or even practicing). Some of these included “Cheeno Vibes and the Blackouts” (beer-drenched post punk) and “Crawfish Pie” (funk/punk/honky-tonk fusion).

In that spirit, and to amuse my friends, I plan to occasionally dedicate a post to one of our old bands, real or imagined. Today’s edition is about The Have Nots. They're first because they made it farther than any of my other bands. We actually played shows and recorded a CD (in one of our basements). Nothing much ever came of it, but now thanks to the internet we can preserve it for posterity. My only contribution to these tracks was playing the bass guitar.

Without further ado, here are two tracks from The Have Nots (1993): Nobody (mp3), That’s Life (mp3)

Let me know what you think.

And now listen to this great track from the band X that supplied the name for our band: The Have Nots (mp3) (buy album)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

With God On Our Side

One of the best early Bob Dylan tracks is With God On Our Side (buy album) from his third album, The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964). It’s a powerful song. Read the All Music Guide review here. And if you want more early Dylan, there is a great 1962 radio interview (with many songs performed and a few lies told) here.

Part of Bob Dylan’s genius is knowing when to borrow a good melody or lyric for his own purpose. The musical and lyrical inspiration for With God On Our Side came from an Irish folk song called Patriot Game (buy album). This excellent version is sung by Liam Clancy, of the Clancy Brothers. Liam was a Greenwich Village drinking buddy of Dylan’s during the early 1960’s, and is featured in the Dylan documentary No Direction Home.

You would not expect With God On Our Side to translate well into an 1980’s pop song, but it did. The band Wire Train put a nice version of God On Our Side on their 1985 album Between Two Worlds, which I believe is now out of print. This version is not as powerful as Dylan’s but its an entertaining cover and great bit of 1980’s pop music.

Two Favorites From 2007

Here are two of my favorite albums from this year, so far:

Check out Die Die Die; twangy pop from the North Carolina trio The Avett Brothers. On the album "Emotionalsim."
(buy album)

Check out the song "Heretics" here from Andrew Bird's new album "Armchair Apocrypha." (buy album)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Getting The Kinks Out

Well, it looks like the kinks are out and we are ready to go. Speaking of The Kinks, check out this great song: Village Green Preservation Society. It's one of my favorites. It's also a good one for this blog because its about "preserving the old," which part of what I'm trying to do here by posting old songs. (buy album)

UPDATE!: Listen to another superb Kinks song here.

Hey Rich Girl!

O.K. This one's for the younger kids. Don't be the last person on your block to find out about New York City's The Virgins. It's just good, catchy indie rock. Their new EP will be out later this month. Until it arrives, enjoy the bass line in this track: Rich Girls.

Title Track

What's the purpose of this site? It's just a fun way for me to get the word out about music that I like. I want to help people discover good stuff and learn more about music.

For starters, you should check out the song that inspired the name of this blog. From Hank Sr., himself: Settin' the Woods on Fire (buy album).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Who, What, and Why of This Website


I'm a music fan from Detroit. I like rock, jazz, and old country. My favorite artists are Hank Williams, Tom T. Hall, Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, The Kinks, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Townes Van Zandt, The Replacements, Elvis Costello, and Big Star. And I'm always searching for good stuff (old and new).


The purpose of this blog is to help people discover and learn about great music. The name is inspired by one of my favorite Hank Williams songs, but this blog won't be limited to just one style of music. I'll write about whatever's inspiring me at the moment. Could be an old rock gem, a new artist, honky-tonk, bluegrass, alt-country, jazz, folk, punk, 80's-alternative, whatever. I'll probably include lots of old country music, because it gets less coverage elsewhere.

Because I want to have a life outside of blogging, I won't post every day (or even every week), but whenever the mood strikes and time allows. If you want to share in the fun, but don't want to have to deal with always checking back for new posts, just subscribe to the feed and you will be notified whenever a new post appears.

(My mission will be accomplished when everybody loves Tom T. Hall. But I might give up before then.)

Ideally, this site will be interactive. If you like something you hear, or have some new info to add to the discussion, then please post a comment or send an e-mail to me. Thanks!


This website is solely for nonprofit educational purposes. I make no revenue. Nor am I affiliated with any of the artists. My goal in selecting and commenting on the material featured here is to increase public knowledge about music deserving greater appreciation.

Any mp3 links posted here are for a limited time only to enable you to sample music from the artists I'm writing about. I usually won't post more than one song per record, and I always include a link to make it easier for you to buy the music featured here. If you enjoy the music featured on this blog, please support the artists by purchasing their records and going to their shows.

While I believe that the limited use of mp3 files on this site fairly accomplishes the valid purposes of this blog (and calls attention to music worth buying), I have no desire to contradict the specific wishes of any rightsholder. If you hold the copyright and object to having your material featured here, then please contact me directly at the e-mail address above and I will promptly remove the link.


Post mp3s for a limited time only
Never post full albums
Always provide “buy” links
Take down mp3s on request
Collect no revenue for posting mp3s.

See also The Repo Code:

I shall not cause harm to any vehicle, nor to the personal contents thereof; nor through inaction let that vehicle, or the personal contents thereof, come to harm.