“Boots of Spanish Leather” – Martin Simpson
From A Nod to Bob: An Artists’ Tribute to Bob Dylan on His 60th BirthdayFranklyI’ve never heard of Martin Simpson, but being a Dylan fan I got this tribute disk. Dylan is one of the few artists that have been covered by just about everyone who has ever sung a song. He’s also one of the fewer whose covers are often better than the originals.Sorry Bob, I love ya, but that voice can be improved upon.This version is much slower, and sadder than the most excellent Nanci Griffith cover version. It has its charm though. Simpson phrases the lyrics a little oddly, with lots of pauses and stops and then a rush to get to the end of the line before the next one starts. This creates kind of an interesting flow to the song, but does keep me from actually listening to the lyrics. Which isn’t all that weird for me since I often don’t pay attention to lyrics, but here I know the lyrics quite well but continue to find myself forgetting what the song is.
“The Lengths” – The Black Keys
From Rubber FactoryThe brother-in-law recently turned me onto the Black Keys as he has to many a good old rock n roll band. You see somewhere over the last decade I got lost in a sea of folk and bluegrass and alt.country acoustic instruments and forgot how to rock. Over the last many months I’ve tried to find my way back. Problem was that radio sucks and most of the electrified music I could find just kind of stunk. I’ve finally found a path called indie rock and have begun to dig walking my way along the path.And then I have to say this song is actually a pretty nice acoustical number. Sure there some electircal type guitar swinging, but for the most part it is a softer little number.
The beginning of this song reminds me immensely of some other tune that I can never remember. I get that nostalgic reminiscence going in my head and even sing the first line “baby…” but then this song changes and I can’t put my finger on my memory.
“Seeing Things” – The Black Crowes
From Shake Your Money MakerI recently had an argument with a coworker (or is that ex-coworker since I no longer work there?) over whether the mix-tape was dead. Her point was making mix tapes went out with junior high and good riddance since it was an utterly juvenile practice.I actually agreed with the general premise that the mix tape was dead, but this has more to do with CD burning technology and mp3 players than any type of junior high play. Mix-taping was a craft, and a good one, that has died because no one knows what a freaking tape is anymore.But in the day a good tape could convey emotions you could never impart in real life, tell the person to whom the tape was going what kind of person you were, impart upon them all kinds of cool tunes and get their groove on all in one 90 minute piece of plastic.
Who now knows anything about the importance of the first and last songs on each side? The last song on side A may seem trivial since there is still side B to listen to, but if a person doesn’t have an automatic flip on their tape player that side A may be all they listen to, and thus last song side A may resonate a lot farther than first perceived.
What about segues? Sure now with all this digital technology its easy to splice two songs together and give them some fade in and out. But in the day all you had was the stop button and pause. An awful “kawack” between songs because you hit Stop poorly could totally kill the mood.
I could go on, and probably will someday, but you get the point. I rant about mix-tapes because this song was a pivotal one in a good friend’s mix tape to a lost love. By now the tangled web that was that love has gotten all mixed up. Was the tape made before they hooked up or after? Was it about the long term boyfriend from hell, or before he even existed? Who knows? But I do remember the tape and its significance.
“Ft. Worth Blues” – Steve Earle
From El Corazon Before I began dating the girl who became my wife, we spent a lot of time thinking and talking about dating. Well, that’s not entirely true, because we didn’t talk about it that much straight out, but there were undercurrents of what that would mean flowing all the time.You see at the time we lived a thousand miles apart or so. For while I toiled away in Tennessee she was spending a cold winter in Montreal, Canada. There was talk of her going to graduate school at the University of Tennessee and I figured that proximity would allow for all sorts of romantical escapades.Problem was the talks of Tennessee turned into a reality of Indiana which convoluted those escapades a great deal. The heart subdued the mind and we eventually did date, fall in love and marry. However it was during this time that I heard a quizzical little song containing a lovely lyric that went something like:
“Oklahoma’s alright when I’m in Montreal”
Oklahoma being the place I was raised and Montreal being where the girl was, this lined seemed a bit prophetic.
Unfortunately I was driving when I heard the song and the name slipped past me like a passing car. I later e-mailed the radio station asking what the name of the song was, but by that time I couldn’t remember the precise lyric only its mentioning of the two locations. Their response was that it could be this Steve Earle song.
I quickly downloaded said song and realized they were wrong. The song stayed though and I’ve grown to love its lonesome, sadness on my own.
The song I was looking for, by the way, was “Some Things Gotta Hold On Me” by Steve Forbert.
“Annie Waits” – Ben Folds
From Rockin’ the Suburbs Lead piano in a rock group never sounds like a good idea. Sure Elton John pulled it off quite profoundly in the 70’s but then he got old and gave us “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Billie Joel sounded promising with “Piano Man” and then married Christie Brinkley and it was all over.Folds takes the idea and creates something (usually) interesting. I think what I like about him as a songwriter is that he doesn’t (usually) make the piano the focus of the song. Sure, it’s there and often pounding away, but so is the guitar and drums and it all sounds like a real rock unit, versus a singer songwriter who never learned to play an acoustic guitar.This one starts the ever excellent Suburbs album and carries this incredibly syncopated rhythm. I don’t know what the heck Annie is waiting for, but if it is good piano rock, she’s found it.
As always if ye belong to the music biz and wish for an mp3 to be taken down, contact me.