Jerry Reed 1937-2008

While I fully realize that my attachment to Jerry Reed was primarily due to his participation in Smokey & The Bandit and Scooby-Doo, I found out later in life that he was a hell of a songwriter and a amazing guitarist. Jerry passed away today at the age of 71, our hearts go out to family, friends and fans.

10-4 Good Buddy, over and out…

Hittin’ the Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

As I sit to type this, I’m watching American Idol contestant Kristy Lee Cook absolutely BUTCHER the Beatles song “8 Days a Week”. An uptempo, countrified version. Buhhh-leck. “Dolly Parton on helium”, says Simon. Lucky for me I don’t watch American Idol. Oh sh – -, caught!

So anyway, here’s Alabama 3 with a version of John Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness” – one of my favorites in his catalog. A3, as the popular country group Alabama insists they call themselves stateside, is a British acid house band that mixes in genres like country, gospel, and blues. Their claim to fame so far is “Woke Up This Morning”, the theme song to The Sopranos (RIP). I heard this on Sirius a few weeks ago, and promised to share it with you fine folks sometime soon.

Alabama 3 – Speed of the Sound of Loneliness (mp3)

From Last Train to Mashville, Vol. 2. (2003)

It’s a fun version – hee-hawed up a bit and turned into a first person perspective. I don’t think they’re being irreverent, and I don’t think the point of the song is lost on them (Prine’s lyrics imply a more somber tone) – but they do alter the atmosphere of tune – one of sadness and – well – loneliness.


photo by Senor McGuire

And who captures the atmosphere of the song the best? My favorite version (I have to honestly say I like it better than Prine’s original) is Nanci Griffith‘s, from her great album of covers, Other Voices, Other Rooms. With a little help from Mr. Prine himself on backing vocals, Nanci sets the tone perfectly – wistful and bittersweet. Every time I hear it though, I wish Prine would take that second verse!

Nanci Griffith – Speed of the Sound of Loneliness (mp3)

From Other Voices, Other Rooms (1993):

And that isn’t to say that Prine’s version is lacking in any way. Here’s the original from Prine’s 1986 album German Afternoons.

John Prine – Speed of the Sound of Loneliness (mp3)

From German Afternoons (1986):

Links:
Alabama 3’s Official Site
Nanci Griffith’s Official Site
John Prine’s Official Site

Up On Cripple Creek

The closest I ever came to going through a country music phase was during the summer of 1992. I had just graduated from college, and my plan was to jump into a career in law enforcement. Since a high school internship with my local police department, I had my sights set on being a police officer. Well, it didn’t exacty turn out that way in the end. A change of heart ensued after a few interviews….

John Prine – You Got Gold

I’m in the John Prine state of mind.

I guess it was a year ago about this time when I professed my love for The Missing Years album. Another track popped up tonight while I was holding my youngest daughter, getting ready to give her a bath. I immediately stopped in my tracks, and we spent the next four and a half minutes dancing and spinning. What a look of joy on her face. Goosebump moments.

Non-parents have already moved on to the next web site, but you parents know how it is – those spontaneous moments out of nowhere where your child can somehow convince you – just with an expression or a gleam in her eye – that all is right with this world. Escapism in its purest, most innocent (not to mention healthiest) form.

So it’s this song that I’ve absolutely loved since the record came out back in 1991. It’s the joyful, reeling melody, combined with Prine’s witty and beautiful lyrics. I mean look at this verse:

Life is a blessing, it’s a delicatessen
Of all the little favors you do.
All wrapped up together no matter the weather,
Baby you always come through.
It’s a measure of treasure that gives me the pleasure
Of loving you the way I do
And you know I would gladly say I need your love badly
And bring these little things to you.

Who else but John Prine could craft that?

So listen up, and if you have a spare few moments with your kid, give him or her a whirl with this one…

John PrineYou Got Gold (mp3) – from The Missing Years (Boss fans – Bruce and Prine duet on “Take a Look at My Heart”, reason enough to pick up the album – and so do Tom Petty and Bonnie Raitt)

John’s most recent album is a collection of old school country & western standards with bluegrass legend Mac Wiseman. It’s a great ride, and definitely puts me in a great place each time I hear it. Here’s a taste of what you’re in store for….

John Prine & Mac WisemanDon’t Be Ashamed of Your Age (mp3) – from Standard Songs for Average People

John’s Official Site

My Dwight Masterpiece: If There Was a Way

If There Was a Way

Tonight I’m reaching back to the archives to my favorite Dwight Yoakam album, 1990’s If There Was a Way. It’s a great record start to finish, and my cassette – yes cassette – got many many listens in its day. Dwight has always remained a steadfastly old-school country-boogie-swingin’ honky-tonk man.

My two favorites off the album are the title track, and “Turn it On, Turn it Up, Turn Me Loose”. The latter track I’ve been looking for on YouTube for a while, and I finally found it. Who uploaded it to YouTube? Why, Warner Brothers Records, believe it or not! A step in the right direction, as the labels are figuring out how important this medium is to the future (and past) of music.

Dwight does himself a little acting in this video for “Turn it On…” As you may know, Dwight’s also established himself as a formidable actor in Hollywood. You all remember him as that prick Doyle in Sling Blade, right? This video precedes his first movie role, 1992’s Red Rock West, by two years.

So, in the annals of songs I’ll always love, I give you the video, courtesy of Warner Brothers, for “Turn It On, Turn It Up, Turn Me Loose.”

“If a tear should fall
If I should whisper her name
To some stranger I’m holdin’
While we’re dancin to an old Buck Owens soooong”

And here’s the title track for your listening pleasure, taken straight from my old cassette.

Dwight Yoakam: If There Was a Way (mp3)

So naturally, your next inclination is to buy the album: If There Was a Way

New Johnny Cash Releases and a Giveaway too

cash

On October 31st, Mercury/UM released Johnny Cash in Ireland, an hour long concert DVD of a 1993 performance at the Olympia Theater in Dublin. He is joined by his wife June, the Carter Family,and Kris Kristofferson. If you’re a Cash fan, then you probably want to have this.

the approximately one-hour-long concert showcases Cash singing many of his greatest hits–“I Walk The Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Get Rhythm,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky,” “Daddy Sang Bass” and “Ring Of Fire” plus “I Still Miss Someone.”

He also sings with wife June Carter Cash (their classic duet “Jackson”), son John Carter Cash (“No Use In Treatin’ Me This Way”), Kris Kristofferson (“Big River” and “Long Black Veil”), and The Carter Family, who perform their own gems too–“Keep On The Sunny Side,” “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “Wabash Cannonball.” In addition, John Carter Cash solos Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Irish popster Sandy Kelly joins Cash, Kristofferson and The Carter Family on “Forty Shades Of Green,” the Johnny Cash-penned tribute to Ireland.

So who wants this DVD as an early Christmas present? Look at me, December 11th, I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping, and here I am giving away a DVD on my site. Ah priorities…

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment below. I’ll randomly choose a winner in a few days, and get the DVD shipped off to the winner before Christmas.

UPDATE: We gotta winner! See here.

Another cool recent release is Johnny Cash – At San Quentin: Legacy Edition. It contains the full show from San Quentin Prison and a 1969 documentary of the event.

Here’s a promo for the boxed set….

cash vid

Johnny Cash: I Walk the Line (Audio stream: WMP, Quicktime, Real) – live in San Quentin (“man you in the wrong place to bend over, don’t you know it? Get up from there with that camera!”)

Buy Johnny Cash In Ireland – 1993
Buy Johnny Cash – At San Quentin: Legacy Edition

Dwight’s Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc.

Dwight

My appreciation for country music has always lied squarely outside of the Nashville mainstream country machine. I’ll take the old school country any day of the week: the Willies, Waylons, and Johnny Cashes. But the manufactured new school of country will never interest me. Not to knock ’em, but I don’t see myself ever getting into Toby Keith, Rascall Flatts, Brad Paisley, or for crikey’s sake, Carrie Underwood (TM). Now I see another American Idol princess of the ditzballs, Kelly Pickler (TM), has a debut album. And what is a Dierks Bentley?? (To be fair, if anyone wants to recommend the best of the New Nashville in the comments, feel free). It’s just that anything that makes me think of George W. Bush and red staters just makes me, well, not listen (and I live smack dab in the middle of a red state – egads, they’re everywhere!).

One of the artists I’ve always admired, and who has always stuck to his independent, honky tonkin’ ways is Dwight Yoakam. In my late teen years, between 1986 and 1990, he released these great four albums: Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc., Hillbilly Deluxe, Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room, and my favorite, If There Was a Way (mostly due to the title track and “Turn it On, Turn it Up, Turn Me Loose”). All fantastic albums, all dabbling in traditional country, western swing, and good ol’ hillbilly honky-tonk music.

Well now Rhino, yes Rhino again, has released a special 20th Anniversary deluxe edition of Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. 2 discs of music containing early demos from 1981, a remastered album, and an entire live 1986 show from the Roxy in Hollywood. Yep, Dwight is so far outside the Nashville mainstream that he’s called Los Angeles home since 1977 (he turned 50 on Oct. 23rd).

I listened to the live show tonight. Dwight Yoakam live and loose on the Sunset Strip, playing to the likes of John Fogerty and Emmylou Harris. Belting out his early hits (“Guitars, Cadillacs”, “I’ll Be Gone”) as well as some classics (Bill Monroe’s “Rocky Road Blues”, “Mystery Train”, Hank Williams’ “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It”).

So definitely folks, the Ickmusic Seal of Approval is dipped into a tub of moonshine and *dinggg* firmly adhered to this CD (and all D.Y. albums for that matter).

Dwight Yoakam:
This Drinkin’ Will Kill Me (mp3 – the 1981 demo version)

Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. eCard | The Rhino Listening Party.

Dwight’s Official Site.

Buy the Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. Deluxe Edition.

cover

GUITARS, CADILLACS, ETC., ETC.
Track Listing

Disc 1
The 1981 Demos
1. “This Drinkin’ Will Kill Me”
2. “It Won’t Hurt”
3. “I’ll Be Gone”
4. “Floyd County”
5. “You’re The One”
6. “Twenty Years”
7. “Please Daddy”
8. “Miner’s Prayer”
9. “I Sang Dixie”
10. “Bury Me”

Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.
11. “Honky Tonk Man”
12. “It Won’t Hurt”
13. “I’ll Be Gone”
14. “South Of Cincinnati”
15. “Bury Me” – Duet with Maria McKee
16. “Guitars, Cadillacs”
17. “Twenty Years
18. “Ring Of Fire”
19. “Miner’s Prayer”
20. “Heartaches By The Number”

Disc 2
Live at The Roxy 1986
1. “Hear Me Calling”
2. “Honky Tonk Man”*
3. “Guitars, Cadillacs”*
4. “Rocky Road Blues”*
5. “Heartaches By The Number”
6. “I’ll Be Gone”*
7. “It Won’t Hurt”*
8. “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It”
9. “South Of Cincinnati”*
10. “Mystery Train”*
11. “Ring Of Fire”*
12. “Since I Started Drinking Again”*

*Previously Unissued

Lovin Him Was Easier – Rosanne sings Kris

rosanne cash

‘Tis a good thing to hear a well written, beautifully sung song. The words of Kris Kristofferson and the voice of Rosanne Cash come together quite nicely in “Lovin’ Him Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)”. The song (“Lovin’ HER” was the original) first appeared on Kristofferson’s 1971 album The Silver Tongued Devil & I, and has since been covered by the likes of Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, and even Tina Turner.

Just a nice song that’s prompted me to pick up this tribute to Kristofferson.

Rosanne Cash: Lovin’ Him Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again) [mp3]

Buy The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson

kris

Buy Rosanne Cash’s new album:

black cadillac

Allison Moorer meets Mr. Earle

allison moorer and steve earle

I have two words for Steve Earle: You dog!! He must have the charms of Casanova, because he continues to seduce the ladies into taking his hand in marriage. His latest – sixth, seventh, eighth? – bride is none other than the lovely and very talented Allison Moorer. I’m not privy to the story behind their courtship, but they spent Steve’s last tour together with Allison in the opening slot. Steve also produced Allison’s latest release, ‘Getting Somewhere’, which was released last Tuesday (June 13) on Sugar Hill Records.

cover

From the the three tracks I’ve heard, it certainly has that Earle / Twangtrust vibe to it, and – well, I eat that stuff right up like a pint of Cherry Garcia. You certainly hear it on “Fairweather”, which was co-written by Earle. Driving pounding drums, those crunchy guitar riffs…

allison moorer

Allison made quite a splash in 1998, when her song “A Soft Place to Fall” was included on the soundtrack to ‘The Horse Whisperer’ (one of the best soundtracks I own). That same year, her debut, ‘Alabama Song’ was released on MCA Records.

Allison and her older sister, Shelby Lynne (also a country-esque singer/songwriter) overcame quite a tragic event in their childhood to find success in the Nashville music scene. When they were both teenagers, their alcoholic father shot and killed their mother in the driveway of their Alabama home, and then turned the gun on himself – all while Shelby and Allison looked on. Shelby, who was 17 at the time, raised Allison for the remaining years of her adolescence. Sickening and tragic to even comprehend, but Shelby and Allison have persevered.

What I like about Allison (and her sister) are their refusal to bow down to the Nashville Country Machine, which churns out the cookie cutter singers as products, ruled by the almighty dollar (which country radio eats right up). I like the Nashville rebels, and Allison’s link-up with Steve Earle (in the musical and poetic sense) confirms what I knew I liked about her: artistic integrity and a perpetual middle finger to the “system” (even though Steve Earle sold “The Revolution Starts Now” to a Chevy commercial, but I choose to overlook that).

So take a listen to some Allison Moorer music. Here’s the song from the ‘Horse Whisperer’…

Allison Moorer: A Soft Place to Fall (mp3) – from The Soundtrack to the Horse Whisperer.

And here’s some RealPlayer goodness from her latest album, ‘Getting Somewhere’, her second release on Sugar Hill Records.

Allison Moorer: Fairweather (rm) | New Year’s Day (rm) | How She Does It (rm) – RealPlayer is required for these three