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.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Great Blog: The Old, Weird America

As an enthusiastic music blogger, I spend a lot of time throwing around conclusory superlatives. Everything is "great" or "amazing" or "brilliant." (Remember, I'm not a critic--just a guy trying to point you to some good things.) So get ready, it's time for more gushing!

Today's post is about a brilliant newish blog called The Old, Weird America. Simply put, this blog is an amazing resource. The writer, a 33-year-old man from France, is using Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music "as a roadmap to explore American folk music and maybe other countries traditions along the way."

What that means is that each song from the Anthology is used as the starting point for a separate post about the song or the style. Not only do you get an informative description about the specific song from the Anthology, but you can also download and listen to other songs by the same artist and--even better--several other variations of the same song by different artists.

While you might think it would be tedious to hear 32 different versions of Froggy Went A-Courtin' (or 100 different performances of John Henry) that's not the case at all. There is a great variety of styles and structure from song to song, and the recordings span a number of years up to the present time. It's interesting to hear the differences as the songs evolve over the years (and sometimes split into two entirely separate songs). Give it a try.

Here are a few tracks I downloaded this week from the post about Song No. 8: King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O (a.k.a. Froggy Went A-Courtin'):

The first is a funny song about Kansas by Chubby Parker, the performer on the Anthology:

Chubby Parker - In Kansas ("The girls are fat as pigs in Kansas...")

The next two are modern variations on the primary song used on the Anthology:

Red Allen - Froggy Went A-Courtin' (buy)

Flat Duo Jets - Frog Went A Courtin' (buy)

Friday, April 03, 2009

That's the spirit, Woody

If you've been paying attention to the news, you may know things have been pretty rough here in Detroit lately, and they're probably about to get rougher. I don't want to be too doom-and-gloomy, but it's looking like the "Dust Bowl" of the 1930s may be replaced by the "Rust Bowl" of the 2010s

If the U.S. automakers start going through bankruptcy, a lot of people around here are going to be looking to relocate, but its not clear where they'll be able to go, or what they'll leave behind. Anyway, it's got me a concerned (and listening to Woody Guthrie).

Like the protagonist in Woody's song, we Detroiters are going to have to try to keep a positive attitude and perservere:

Woody Guthrie - Dust Can't Kill Me (buy)

Talk about a tale of woe...

The photos used in this post come for a recent photo essay appearing in Time magazine.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

There is moonlight and moss in the trees...

Sorry things have been so quiet here lately. The ideas aren't flowing, but I do have a few projects in the works. Stay tuned for posts on Doug Sahm and Cowboy Jack Clement (a great songwriter and producer who worked with Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Young among many others).

Lately, I've been raving about Steve Young over at Groover's Paradise. Check out this post for details. Steve Young is so good he deserves a mention here too. (Also, with today's post I'm testing out the new Disqus comment feature here. Let me know what you think.)

This is a 1981 re-recording of the title track of Steve Young's second album (recorded for use on the Rounder reissue).

Steve Young - Seven Bridges Road

A different version also appeared on his debut album. I'm told the Eagles did a cover version as well. The seven bridges road refers to the road outside of Montgomery, Alabama that leads to Oakwood Annex Cemetery and Hank Williams' grave (Wikipedia). (Incidentally, in the second song on the album, Montgomery in the Rain, Young sings about going out to "Hank's tombstone.")

There are stars in the southern sky,
Southward as you go
There is moonlight and moss in the trees
Down the seven bridges road...