Thursday, December 30, 2004
pick a song
Say a prayer or mantra for R.L. Burnside. He apparently suffered two heart attacks and a stroke a couple of weeks ago, and is in a hospital in South Haven, Mississippi. One of the last of the greats.
Going all out today. Sorta.
Some questions before we begin the final countdown.
1. Does Spin actually listen to the music they cover, or do they just copy down the press bios from the labels that pay them the most advertising dollars?
2. In a related vein, why did someone lie to Chuck Klosterman and tell him that his dated-the-moment-he-writes-them columns and "books" were somehow relevant, much less well written? Hey, I'm no great writer myself, but I don't get paid for it, and I actually like music. Lester Bangs may have been a fuck up and a nutjob, but,christ, he seemed to actually like the music he ranted about. If we're still talking about the social impact of the Real World 25 years from now, and how it was Klosterman who exposed the deep themes and subtext behind it, then I'll gladly eat my shoes, Herzog-style.
3. Why the hell do I read Spin?
4. Should I start footnoting all my sentences ala David Foster Wallace?*
5. Should I sell out?
6. What does selling out mean?
7. What if I'd rather buy in?
8. Who fed me the grumpy pills these last few days? (please see number 3 on the list below)
*Usually if an author has to explain himself, or draw attention to how clever he is, he's probably not a very good author.
And, finally, on the eve of the eve, everyone slap their knees or thighs together in yr best apporximation of a drumroll, please. Ladies and gentlemen, the numberonebestalltimeatleastforthenextfewminutes Top 3 albums of the year, as compiled by noted music scholar and expert lecturer, BigRockCandyMountain:
3. Tom Waits: Real Gone
Well, if you've read this blog more than once over the past few months, you should have seen this one coming. Maybe Tom was too cranky for most this year. Maybe it was all that damn noise he was makin' that kept folks away. Maybe it's the love it or hate it voice that sent people running back to the safe confines of their modern rock stations. Those are all the things I loved about this album. Perhaps only Neil Young can lay the same claim as Waits: the older he gets, the louder he gets. This is hard music. This is not music about drinking in bars and riding Old 55's. This is music about the world falling apart, in flames or in rot. It's a rusty album, full of discomfort or terror. You can have yr techno-terrorist beat manufacturers and yr guitar thrashers, none of them make a sound so scary as what Tom does with his mouth. In a bathroom. With a tape recorder. You're not supposed to be comfortable. This is the sound of the end of the world, made by an aging balladeer on tin cans, piss, and a whole lot of vinegar.
Tom Waits: Make It Rain (mp3)
2. Various Artists: From Where I Stand (The Black Experience In Country Music)
Well. This came out about six years ago. But I bought it this year. The year that Ray Charles died. And make no mistake, his spirit haunts this 3-disc box set. Tracing Black "roots" music (whatever that is) from 20's string bands, through Ray Charles, to Charley Pride and beyond, this set will make you dance, fuck, drink, cry in yr drink, repent, and sin all over again. Ostensibly, it's attempt is to show country's influence on R&B. I'd argue it goes both ways, and both are fed by the blues and gospel, fed by jazz, fed by a very unique American experience (the good kind, not the one represented by SUV's and Dubya). In the same way Sister Rosetta Tharpe oozed more sex in one song than Britney has in her entire career, Country'n' Soul have produced more sin and salvation than the entire modernindiealternative universe could ever hope to approach. If you really wanna dance, put down the synthesizers and get sweaty to this. In a box set that includes Etta James, Staples Singers, Fats Domino, Al Green, Professor Longhair, Solomon Burke, Wynonnie Harris, Brother Ray Charles himself, and a ton more, it was hard to narrow down to one sample. So, here's a mega (for me) sampling from each of the three discs.
Mississippi Sheiks: Sittin' On Top of the World (mp3)
Big Al Dowling: Down on the Farm (mp3)
The Staple Singers: Will the Circle Be Unbroken(mp3)
Charley Pride: Snakes Crawl at Night (mp3)
Otis Williams and the Midnight Cowboys: How I Got to Memphis (mp3)
1. Loretta Lynn: Van Lear Rose
Some call it a comeback. I say she never left. Somehow, Jack White managed to get away from a photo shoot to play Steve Albini for a bit. What resulted could have been very bad. Instead, it was stunning. Not a wasted note. I'm gonna assume that Jack just turned on the machines, set up the mikes and let Loretta do all the directin', cuz really, what could Jack tell Ms. Lynn about makin' records? In a year when it seemed every band dreamed it was 1985 again, it took a little ole coal miner's daughter from Kentucky to drop the purest album of the year. And she did it her way. As usual. With class. I can't even begin to pay proper respect to this album. You've heard Portland Oregon by now, I assume. It's mighty, and no song suffers a letdown from that high. Really, the album is life, in all it's joy and sadness. The grandest statements are sometimes the smallest.
Loretta Lynn: Story of My Life (mp3)
Bonus old song
Loretta Lynn: Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (mp3)
Well, that does it. Opinions? Do all my choices sound the same? Am I completely out of touch with the youth vote? Stay tuned tomorrow for a special tribute to the New Year. Gonna take a few days off after that, regroup, and return with some of that old timey music we had here before all that Xmas and Top 10 nonsense. How does a little Hank Snow sound? He's on his way.