Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Chug-A-Lug, Chug-A-Lug: The Quest For The Perfect Drinking Song

Attention STWOF Readers!
I need your help.

I'm attempting to put together the ultimate compilation of drinking songs. As a fan of both drinking and song, this task is close to my heart, but I can't do it alone.

Your vast knowledge of the musical landscape is necessary to ensure that no stone is left unturned. This is a quest for quality, not quantity. Please send your suggestion in the comment section below. There are no genre limitations. Include as many as you wish. Supporting arguments are welcome but not required. (Optional: You might also wish to tell us the perfect drink to go with the song or songs you have selected.)


I'll get the ball rolling with this nomination:

Roger Miller – Chug-A-Lug (buy album)

The perfect drink to accompany this tune is a crisp German lager.

[Note: This has been done before. I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel here, or anything, but it's a process worth repeating.]

Thanks for your help!

St. Patrick's Day is nearing, so don't delay.

Ladies Love Lawyers Outlaws

This one comes from the expanded edition of Waylon's great live album from the 1970's:

Waylon Jennings – Ladies Love Outlaws (live) (buy album)

"Ladies touch babies like a banker touches gold
Outlaws touch ladies anywhere they want..."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Killer Track: The Sir Douglas Quintet - Texas Me (Alternate Mix)

Lately I've really been loving The Sir Douglas Quintet. Today's featured killer track, Texas Me, is about Doug Sahm's move from Texas to San Francisco during the late 1960's. Like every other tune on the brilliant album Mendicino, Doug's got the band playing loose and just close enough to the groove. It's soulful, twangy, and laid back. Pop the top of a can of Pearl and enjoy!

The Sir Douglas Quintet - Texas Me (Alternate Mix) (buy album)

Trivia: Doug Sahm was a country music prodigy. Before turning 12 he had already been featured on the Louisiana Hayride and played live on stage with Hank Williams San Antonio (source). Has anybody else played with both Hank Williams and Jerry Garcia?

I'm in a good mood today because I just ordered Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet (The Complete Mercury Recordings) (Get it!).

For more about Doug Sahm, make sure you read LD's great work over at The Adios Lounge. LD's regular spotlight on Sahm turned me from a casual fan to a huge supporter.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hank Williams Covers at When You Awake - Part 2

I've put together another set of Hank Williams covers, which is now posted at When You Awake. The first set is still available there as well.

Here's one more for the road:

Skeeter Davis - I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You) (buy album)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Now I'm gonna teach you how the crow flies...

Here's a great song (really two songs) about a jacknife, an ear, a crow, and a red newt:

Michael Hurley, Unholy Moral Rounders, Jeffrey Frederick & The Clamtones – Jacknife/The Red Newt (buy album)

If you like it (or are at least intrigued by it), then you should check out the album from which it comes, called Have Moicy!, by Michael Hurley, Unholy Moral Rounders, Jeffrey Frederick & The Clamtones. This truly brilliant album from 1976 also features the song, Griselda, which was later covered by Yo La Tengo.

Read more about it at The Rising Storm, All Music Guide, and from
Robert Christgau (A+ review).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Exploring Rock's Clichés: Sandinista! as a Single LP

I've mentioned before that London Calling by The Clash was a monumental album for me. Unfortunately, Sandinista! didn't have the same effect. With 36 varied tracks sprawling over three LPs—requiring six needle drops!—it was just too much. Sure, I knew there were plenty of good songs on Sandinista!, but the presentation dulled their impact. (What can I say? I was lazy.) But I wasn't alone. One of rock's famous clichés is that there is a great single LP buried within those six sides.

This weekend I happened to hear The Call Up, which reminded me of the many other great songs "hidden" on the album. Never being one to shy away from clichés, I decided to "find" that great single LP. This post shows the track listing I came up with. While I hate to second guess major rock legends, I do have a blog...

Verdict: The cliché is true. A streamlined forty minutes of then-cutting-edge rock power would've been a better way to follow London Calling. (And just think about all of the bonus tracks that could have been included years later in the "deluxe reissue"!)

You always want to leave them wanting more.

In putting this together I followed the time-honored rules for creating a classic rock LP (pre-CD-era): (1) Use just ten songs, five per side, (2) put strong songs at the beginning and end of each side, with the best attention grabber as Track 1/Side A, and (3) make it flow nicely from song to song.


Side A
1. Police On My Back
2. One More Time
3. Washington Bullets
4. Somebody Got Murdered
5. The Call Up

Side B
1. The Magnificent Seven
2. Hitsville U.K.
3. Something About England
4. Charlie Don't Surf
5. The Leader

Buy Sandinista! (It's full of great music, and then some.)

If you're fan of The Clash, give this track listing a try and let me know what you think. Would a single-disc Sandinista! be regarded right up there with London Calling as one of the greatest rock albums?

What would your single disc Sandinista! look like?

Am I just full of it today?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Guest Post: Honky Tonk Music Is Alive and Well in Texas

Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon, Austin

Hey folks! Today's excellent post comes from longtime commenter, first-time guest-poster Dave D. (Not to be confused with my poker buddy Dave, who has posted here before).

Dave D. is a self-described honky-tonk addict who occasionally takes work in Nashville or Austin strictly to feed his honky-tonk addiction. So sit back and enjoy his take on the female side of the current honky-tonk scene in Texas:

* * * * *

Although country music radio these days bears little in common with the music celebrated here at STWOF, the State of Texas is producing lots of music consistent with country music’s honky-tonk heritage. This post highlights five ladies who have released recordings in the last year or two that are certainty worth a listen. If it generates any interest, I’ll follow up with a post about the fellas.

Leading the list is Sunny Sweeney, a traditionalist (motto: “Get Your Honky Tonk On”) with an updated edge - or, Americana music loaded with twang. Sunny self-produced her Heartbreakers Hall of Fame CD while holding down a gig at Austin’s cinder-block Poodle Dog Lounge. The CD made its way to Big Machine Record’s (home of that other traditional country music paragon, Taylor Swift) president Scott Borchetta, who signed Sunny to a record contract and re-released the CD completely unedited from its original form. Along with writing her own music, Sunny has a great ear for songs, as the covers below from writers such as Jim Lauderdale and Iris Dement will attest. Sunny is currently in the studio cutting her second record; one can only hope that it is nearly as good as her first.

Sunny Sweeney – Refresh My Memory
Sunny Sweeney – Mama’s Opry

(Buy music from Sunny Sweeney)

Next up is Houston’s Leslie Sloan, fronting Miss Leslie and Her Juke Jointers. Often compared to Connie Smith, her earlier records contained a mix of ‘50s and 60’s honky-tonk chestnuts and her live shows feature more Johnny Paycheck than anyone around. She really hit her stride with last summer’s Between the Whiskey and the Wine, a completely self-penned record that covers coping (and not) with a recent divorce. I’d suggest that songs such as In the Matter of Me and You stand up quite well when compared to the classic George Jones weepers of the ‘60s. If you act quickly, Miss Leslie has been sending out free copies of this CD to those who request it from her web site.

Miss Leslie – In The Matter Of You And Me
Miss Leslie –Honky Tonk Hangover

(Buy music from Miss Leslie)

Third on the list is Amber Digby, a Nashville native relocated to Texas. Her music can be described as retro and not necessarily breaking any new ground, but when it is this well done, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You could put any of her music in a 1960’s truck stop juke box, and it wouldn’t sound the least bit out of place.

Amber Digby – Close Up The Honky Tonks
Amber Digby – Just In Case

(Buy music from Amber Digby)

Next, Brennen Leigh sings a mix of folk/county/bluegrass/blues, although her last release, Holdin’ Our Own with Jesse Dayton, conjures memories of George Jones/Tammy Wynette or June Carter/Johnny Cash.

Brennen Leigh – Like A Freight Train
Jesse Dayton & Brennen Leigh – Long-Legged Guitar Pickin’ Man

(Buy music from Brennen Leigh)

Finally, there's Kimberly Murray, a newcomer with only one CD released to date, but one that is full of two-stepping goodness.

Kimberly Murray – The Box That It Came In

(Buy music from Kimberly Murray)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

There's A Ramshackle Shack . . .

I've really been getting into 1950's rock lately, especially the amazing Wanda Jackson. One song that really showcases her charm is Sparkling Brown Eyes, which is a 1959 cover of a Webb Pierce recording from four years earlier:

Wanda Jackson - Sparkling Brown Eyes (buy album)

The arrangement is great, but what really sells the song is Wanda's "sparkling" vocal. The way she sings "Them two brown eyes" is just killer. Her approach is so different from Webb's that it sounds like a completely different song. For comparison purposes, here's Webb Pierce's version (which is also good):

Webb Pierce - Sparkling Brown Eyes (buy album)

From The Skiffle Files: The Road To Ride

I'm in the mood for a skiffly-sounding train song this morning. I guess that calls for a ride on the Rock Island Line. I've heard Cash's version a few too many times. And Lonnie Donegan's famous recording of the song kind of feaks me out. (Maybe it's because Lonnie sounds so much like the jailer from Cool Hand Luke?). So let's go with this version by The Knitters.

It's a gas:

The Knitters - Rock Island Line (buy album)

Oh, what the heck, here's a dramatic reading from Johnny Cash:

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Far Across Deep Blue Water

This is a good one. Willie's isn't the original hit, but it's my favorite version.

Willie Nelson - Fraulein (buy album)

Far across deep blue water
Lives an old German's daughter
By the banks of the old River Rhine
Where I loved her and left her
Now I can't forget her
I miss my pretty Fraulein

Fraulein, Fraulein walk down by the river
Pretend that your hand's holding mine
By the same stars above you
I swear that I love you
You are my pretty Fraulein

When my memories wander
Away over yonder
To the sweetheart that I left behind
In a moment of glory
A face comes before me
The face of my pretty Fraulein

Fraulein, Fraulein look up toward the heavens
Each night when the stars start to shine
By the same stars above you
I swear that I love you
You are my pretty Fraulein
Fraulein was written by songwriter Lawton Williams (who also co-wrote Color Of The Blues with George Jones.) The backstory is here.

The original hit original is by Bobby Helms. He's now most famous for Jingle Bell Rock, but he captured the nation's attention with this number one hit back in '57:

Bobby Helms - Fraulein (buy album)

And here's one more great take on Fraulein:

Townes Van Zandt - Fraulein (buy album)

Are any of you pining away for a fraulein? If so, look up towards the heavens. Or just spin this song a few times.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Here's To You, Buddy

I'm not usually one to keep up with birth/death anniversaries, but this is a big one, so the least I can do is put up some links.

For a proper Buddy tribute, go to Locust St: 50 Years On. (Most of you probably already visit Locust Street, but just in case you didn't already know about it, now you do. It's excellent.) Elsewhere, check out this post to see Bob Dylan tell about his encounter with Buddy Holly and this post about Buddy Holly's hassles with Decca (including a Buddy Holly telephone call).

Like most rock nerds, I've always held Buddy in high esteem. When I started playing guitar, his songs were the first victims. Somewhere waiting to be burned is a cassette recording of the kid version of me playing and singing Think It Over, circa 1982. Yikes!

Now for some music. This one, which I've posted before, always puts a little lump in my throat (thinking about Buddy and Maria Elena). There's nothing to the lyrics, but Buddy's delivery is heartfelt:

Buddy Holly - True Love Ways (buy album)

In "new" release news: I am very much looking forward to the day this finally arrives on my front porch. I know it's good, because I've already got the bootlegs.

* * * * *
Update: There's a good discussion going on about Buddy Holly's legacy in the comment section of this post at Rock Town Hall.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Super Bowl Is Today

Continuing on my tradition from last year, here is one song representing each team in today's big game.

On behalf of the Arizona Cardinals, enjoy this ditty from The Bluegrass Cardinals (personally selected by Kurt Warner himself). It's catchy with a message:

The Bluegrass Cardinals - Bring Your Talents (buy album)

And on behalf of the Pittsburgh Steelers, folkie Tom Russell brings us a gritty song about the Pennsylvania steel industry:

Tom Russell - U.S. Steel (buy album)

Arrested On Charges Of Unemployment

Have you ever stopped and listened to just how GREAT this song is?

Chuck Berry - Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (buy album)

Arrested on charges of unemployment
He was sittin' in the witness stand
The judge's wife called up the district attorney
She said free that brown-eyed man
If you want your job you better free that brown-eyed man

Flying across the desert in a T.W.A.
I saw a woman walking 'cross the sand
She been walkin' thirty miles en route to Bombay
To meet a brown-eyed handsome man
Her destination was a brown-eyed handsome man

Way back in history 3,000 years
In fact, ever since the world began
There's been a whole lotta good women sheddin' tears
For a brown-eyed handsome man
It's a lot of trouble with a brown-eyed handsome man

Beautiful daughter couldn't make up her mind
Between a doctor and a lawyer man
Her mother told her darling go out and find yourself
A brown-eyed handsome man
Just like your daddy, he's a brown-eyed handsome man

Milo Venus was a beautiful lass
She had the world in the palm of her hand
She lost both her arms in a wrestlin' match
To meet brown-eyed handsome man
She fought and won herself a brown-eyed handsome man

2-3 the count with nobody on
He hit a high fly into the stand
Rounding third he was headed for home
It was a brown-eyed handsome man
That won the game, it was a brown-eyed handsome man
The Million Dollar Quartet took notice:

The Million Dollar Quartet – Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (buy album)

* * * * *
In other news: You will be happy to know that I finally cured my severe music rut by using Jerry Lee Lewis deep-emersion therapy. A whole lotta the Killer was all it took.

Jerry Lee Lewis - Workin' Man Blues (buy album)