The Friday Five: November 25, 2011

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

Deck the Halls” by John Denver & The Muppets (from A Christmas Together, 1977)

I swear, I did nothing to rig this. I opened iTunes, hit shuffle, and this is the first thing that played. I’ll let you in, however, on a little secret: on a normal Friday I will skip any random holiday tune that presents itself during the Friday Five. Since today is “black” Friday, I’m going to let this one play. Besides, it’s from one of my favorite Christmas records!

Goin’ Against Your Mind” by Built to Spill (from You in Reverse, 2006)

I always forget how much I like Built to Spill. Drive-By Truckers, too! They fall into that category of bands that when I hear them I instantly fall in love with all over again.

Still Water (Love)” by Four Tops (from The Complete Motown Singles, Volume 10: 1970, 1996)

Still the most intimidating collection in my library, The Complete Motown Singles continues to turn up tunes that I’ve not heard before.

New Tattoo” by Mötley Crüe (from New Tattoo, 2008)

Naming your record after a lazy mid-tempo ballad can never lead anywhere good. Did Vince really just sing “I will be your Dorian Grey”? You can’t see it, but I’m sitting at the kitchen table shaking my head in disappointment.

Never” by Gravity Kills (from Gravity Kills, 1996)

You know, I was kind of hoping that this Friday Five would finish strong. C’est la Vie!

What’s on your shuffle today?

[Ick’s Pick] Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine

I discovered the treasure trove that is the music of John Prine back in the early 90’s, during my last year of college. The Missing Years about knocked me on my butt, with its witty wordplay, catchy cadences, and gorgeous melodies. The album led me directly to Great Days: The John Prine Anthology, which gave me a crash course in this American treasure, the postman turned folk singer from Maywood, Illinois.

In reading the liner notes of the new tribute album, Broken Hearts &Dirty Windows – Songs of John Prine, I found out that Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) had the same experience – growing up in Wisconsin and happening across the Anthology; getting to know John Prine through classics like “Sam Stone”, “Paradise”, “That’s The Way That The World Goes Round”, and “Hello In There.”

With the release of this fantastic new tribute album, it’s clear that Prine has had a similar impact on a host of younger artists – and it’s interesting that the artists on this record rank among some of my current favorites: Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket, Old Crow Medicine Show, Deer Tick, Drive-By Truckers… it makes sense now: we’re all rooted in Prine’s music, and as they’ve matured and made music of their own, its these same roots that have pulled me into their music.

The common theme is humble, genuine, gritty, homegrown American music.

The standouts for me on this record include Deer Tick’s “Unwed Fathers”, featuring the sandpaper vocals of John McCauley and the sweet accompaniment of Liz Isenberg; Josh Ritter does “Mexican Home” from 1973’s Sweet Revenge. Ritter takes Prine’s uptempo version. and slows it way down – exposing the song’s melancholy core:

“My father died on the porch outside
On an August afternoon
I sipped bourbon and cried
With a friend by the light of the moon
So its hurry! hurry! Step right up
It’s a matter of life or death
The sun is going down
And the moon is just holding its breath.

Drive-By Truckers do their thing, taking The Missing Year‘s “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” and shifting it into overdrive; My Morning Jacket also do a Missing Years tune, “All The Best”, which Jim James and Prine recently performed on Letterman (worth a look); the Avett Brothers pick what I think is the perfect song for them: “Spanish Pipedream”; and Old Crow Medicine Show take the beautiful “Angel from Montgomery” and add their old timey flavor to it.

The big surprise for me was the album’s finale – “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian” as performed by Those Darlins, a female trio from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. First off, it’s one of Prine’s most hilarious songs, the innuendos flying left & right. And then you add a sexy rhythm, an island feel, and the sensual and sassy singing of Those Darlins. Play this at a BBQ this summer, it’ll be a guaranteed hit. It’s such a fun ride, and a fitting finale to what amounts to a great tribute to good ol’ John Prine.

The Wig He Made Her Wear

I dragged my feet for a good while before I picked up the new Drive-By Truckers record, The Big To-Do. I finally downloaded it from eMusic yesterday during a nice cool Arizona morning – one of the last before the thermometer jumps over 100 and sends us all scurrying into our sealed, air-conditioned dwellings.

I especially dig the Southern drawl of singer/guitarist Patterson Hood – so I’m drawn to the songs he sings (his Murdering Oscar solo album last year was a 2009 favorite). On The Big To-Do, I’ve been loving “Drag the Lake Charlie” and “The Wig He Made Her Wear”. Yep, the lyrics are one entertaining trip too. Colorful characters and the immoral society they live in are a theme throughout their songs.

“The Wig He Made Her Wear” is the story of the preacher’s wife, who kills said preacher and high-tails it across state lines with their three kids. She’s soon caught and returned for trial. During her defense, she “[s]aid that he berated her about everything / Make her do things that made her feel so ashamed”.

I’ll let you listen to this great song to figure out the verdict, and how “The Wig He Made Her Wear” figures into the story.

I love the rhythm of this tune (has me thinking of Marah’s “Phantom Eyes” from their first record). Dig the sinister, down n’ dirty vibe of this tune, the guitars, and a story enhanced by Patterson Hood’s unmistakable drawl.

Buy Big To-Do

Visit: Drive-By

Drive By Truckers – a new record and a stop on E Street

For Ickmusic’s Springsteen fans:

Patterson Hood Guest DJs on E Street Radio (Sirius)
Fri 4/11 4:00 pm ET
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers gets to share his love of all things Springsteen with an hour as guest DJ. You’ll hear how he tricked his parents and snuck out to see his first Bruce show – a small act of teenage defiance that changed his entire life.

Rebroadcast: Sat., Apr. 12th @ 12 am & 8 am ET.

dwive by twuckers

Drive-by Truckers (DBT) are mostly known for their great live shows and categorized in the ‘southern rock’ genre. Over the past few years, though, they haven’t exactly acted like your standard ‘southern rock’ band.

Last year they backed blues woman Bettye Lavette on her Scene of the Crime album, which was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category (the award went to Eric Clapton). This year, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark (New West, 2008) received 4 stars, and much praise, from Rolling Stone, amongst many others, but is also featured on CMT. Their previous album, A Blessing and a Curse (2006), had elements of early 70s rock, showing influences like Faces & the Rolling Stones.