Sunday, November 29, 2009

Top Ten Albums of the 2000's

I am going to be closing out the decade on this recently neglected blog with my Top Ten Albums of the Oughts List. Please note that the order of the posts will read from ten to one so I will have to adjust the date posted (blogger arranges posts by date posted). Ten through one will follow this post below in reverse order. I will make a new post each Friday and Monday. I am sending this email / notice out to challenge you to put together your list so I can find out about some great stuff I haven’t heard. I still stand by my 90’s list even though there would likely be a change or two, but I have much more trepidation about this one. I have been going backwards time wise thanks to a case my brother made (hand made packed with 2,500 plus cd's / no big whoop) me so my palate has been limited but I still feel good enough to put this list out there.

If you put together a list (awesome!) just reply to my post on the blog with your corresponding album for that ranking. If you just want to post a list of some favorites of the 2000's hell do that too.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Number Ten The Crane Wife

#10 The Crane Wife – The Decemberists 2006

1. "The Crane Wife 3"
2. "The Island"
- "Come and See"
- "The Landlord's Daughter"
- "You'll Not Feel the Drowning"
3. "Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)" (duet with Laura Veirs)
4. "O Valencia!"
5. "The Perfect Crime #2"
6. "When the War Came"
7. "Shankill Butchers"
8. "Summersong"
9. "The Crane Wife 1 & 2"
10. "Sons & Daughters"

“And all the stars were crashing ‘round as I laid eyes on what I found.”

The Crane Wife is not a usual record, and my appreciation for it didn’t grow in the usual way; from repeated listening. Its impact was instant and this ranking is most certainly a reverberation from how far it went the first time I listened to it.

I approached the Crane Wife and the Decemberists naked. Had no inkling who they were or what their sound was like. If I had, perhaps the impact wouldn’t have been so penetrating, who knows. I was researching a lot of the top albums of the year sites and this kept coming up and actually what drew me in was the cover artwork. A pale brownish-mustard colored frame with a time frozen drawing of an arm locked couple with but a drip of blood on the female’s dress.

In the blurbs on these top ten lists I discovered it was a concept record and that it was based loosely on a Japanese folk tale. That was it for my preview, no youtube, or website hunts. I just bought the record on a whim and gave it a shot.

The Crane Wife is bold, a hard to do thing, its vistas are wide and peppered with strange old time references and vibes. The lyrics read like literature. The idea of laying down a bass line to Shakespeare or Faulkner is far from appealing, but nonetheless here are these songs like Yankee Bayonet, Shankhill Butchers, and The Perfect Crime falling on top of each other, held together by some wonderfully unfamiliar glue.

Coupling these songs with lines like…

“By land, by sea, by dirigible”

“But oh, did you see all the dead of Manassas
All the bellies and the bones and the bile?”

…Is the voice of Colin Meloy, overtly austere and folkishly formal. So how do all of these seemingly unappealing traits mesh together into an intense, moving work?

Part of the reason the Crane Wife is so appealing to me is that I can’t answer that very question. I shouldn’t like it, but I do, even more so I love it, number 10 favorite of the “oughts” love it.

From the opening strums of Crane Wife 3 to the closing repeated chorus of “hear all the bombs fade away” from Sons and Daughters I get lost in the odd, beautiful world of The Crane Wife. This album would be a hard sell to a lot of people I know. I would have never tried it if I had cheated and listened to a part of it before hand. That’s a lesson I try to remember.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Number Nine Hold Time

#9 Hold Time – M. Ward 2009

1. "For Beginners"
2. "Never Had Nobody Like You"
3. "Jailbird"
4. "Hold Time"
5. "Rave On" (Norman Petty/Bill Tilghman/Sonny West)
6. "To Save Me"
7. "One Hundred Million Years"
8. "Stars of Leo"
9. "Fisher of Men"
10. "Oh Lonesome Me" (Don Gibson)
11. "Epistemology"
12. "Blake's View"
13. "Shangri-La"
14. "Outro (I'm a Fool to Want You)" (Joel Herron/Frank Sinatra/Jack Wolf) – 3:47

“We come and we go a weepin’ and a wailin' our heads in the hands of the nurse.”

M. Ward is the man. Equal parts songwriter, guitar player, singer (I think so anyway), and studio whiz. By the release of Hold Time, his 6th studio album proper, he had elevated his status to being a poster child for “indie” music (what is "indie" music anyway?). He is perfectly just behind the scenes and from what I’ve read I think that’s the way he prefers it.

Hold Time just sounds great, an absolute pleasure to listen to. The first few spins I was caught up in the sound of the thing, the production, and the way all of it comes together in such a good way. Slowly the impact of the songwriting came and I realized I was listening to a pretty cohesive spiritual statement.

From One Hundred Million Years:

“This love between you and I is older than that burning ball of fire up in the sky and the gale that fills our sail”

From Fisher of Men:

“He’s a fisher of men and he’s as wise as a prizefighter. He’s like a soul barter buying souls on down the great divide.”

From Absolute Beginners:

“When you’re absolute beginners, it’s a panoramic view from her majesty Mount Zion and the kingdom is for you.”

From Shangri-La:

“And I cannot wait to see the expression on the face of my sweet Lord.”

From Blake’s View:

“I say death is just a door we’ll be reunited on the other side.”

So in a way Hold Time is a really listenable my-kind-of-gospel record. Something I can reflect on and lean against and find comfort in. The message isn’t overt, far from it with songs off the radar from this “spiritual” vibe like a great cover of Buddy Holly’s Rave On and an almost radio friendly Never Had Nobody Like You this spirituality flows underground but having listened to it enough (once again because it is just so enjoyable to listen to) the beautiful underlying vision that is there is revealed to me.

The songs on Hold Time are only 2 to 3 minutes except for a slow drawn out version of Don Gibson’s Oh Lonesome Me, it is amazing how much Ward can get into these songs and how much I get out of them.

The one downer for me is actually this cover of Oh Lonesome Me, a duet with Lucinda Williams. I like it fine enough, but the energy and feel is out of place on Hold Time. Would have made for a fantastic extra promo track somewhere, but when Lucinda Williams helps out I kind of understand the song finding its way onto the record.

Hold Time is a terrific recording, and a stealthily moving one too. M Ward is the man.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Numer Eight Gold

#8 Gold – Ryan Adams 2001

1. "New York, New York"
2. "Firecracker"
3. "Answering Bell"
4. "La Cienega Just Smiled"
5. "The Rescue Blues"
6. "Somehow Someday"
7. "When The Stars Go Blue"
8. "Nobody Girl"
9. "Sylvia Plath"
10. "Enemy Fire"
11. "Gonna Make You Love Me"
12. "Wild Flowers"
13. "Harder Now That It’s Over"
14. "Touch Feel Lose"
15. "Tina Toledo’s Street Walking Blues"
16. "Goodnight Hollywood Blvd."

“Everybody wants to go forever, I just want to burn up hard and bright.”

Gold goes against the grain, most reviewers look at Adam’s debut solo record Heartbreaker as his best (a real real good one), but I think Gold is where it’s at. Gold is ambitious, Adams as he’s stated “trying to make a modern classic.” A young super talented guy trying to make a classic rock record, in the vein of The Rolling Stone's Exile on Main Street or Springsteen's The River.

Actually I need to state for the record and for this record that I am not including the original intended “bonus” five tracks. Lost Highway released Gold as a single disc and (for the first pressing) included five songs originally intended to be on Gold as a “bonus disc”. The Gold I know and have ranked ends at Goodnight Hollywood Blvd.

In many ways this ambitious, sprawling, swinging for the fences feel to Gold is what turned many fans / reviewers off. But what if Gold were a homerun which I argue it is? A little cocky to say you’re trying to make a modern classic, but if you do then kudos to you, #8 of the 2000’s kudos.

I haven’t listened to an album from the 2000’s more than I’ve listened to Gold. When I go through that sound Rolodex in my mind and I hear that opening guitar on New York, New York then usually in the old player the CD goes. Gold is jammed full of energy and intimacy – you know - rock and roll. I remember the first time I listened all the way through I was just intimidated by how damn good Ryan Adams was. I still feel that way, that if this were the times of great records equalling radio play, Gold would have dominated the charts.

I remember listening to Gold with my wife on the way to the beach for our wedding. Windows down, young, turned on, radio turned up way up so you know it's got soul, RADIO..RADIO, in love, vulnerable…ALIVE

Singing out:
“I’m just saying Hi Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, to your answering bell.”
Gold, you big old cannon blast of "It's harder now that it's over now that the cuffs are off" or "I remember Christmas in the blistering cold in a church on the upper west side." or "Hard on her knees money in the bank". Gold, you are a friend of mine.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Number Seven Essence

#7 Essence – Lucinda Williams 2001

1. "Lonely Girls"
2. "Steal Your Love"
3. "I Envy the Wind"
4. "Blue"
5. "Out of Touch"
6. "Are You Down"
7. "Essence"
8. "Reason to Cry"
9. "Get Right With God"
10. "Bus to Baton Rouge"
11. "Broken Butterflies"

“All the front rooms were kept closed off I never liked to go in there much. Sometimes the doors they'd be locked 'cause there were precious things I couldn't touch.”

To use a sports reference Lucinda is a first ballot hall of famer. For many, many years she was the ultimate, “hey there’s this lady you’ve got to hear” for people. If there ever were an “in the know cult artist” she would have been the one. A few of her songs were recorded by other main stream artists who had chart success, most notably Passionate Kisses by Mary Chapin Carpenter and The Night’s Too Long by Patty Loveless. Then everything changed with the release of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, an instant hear it once masterwork. It was a long time coming and there was a lot of talk and discussion about Williams' meticulous approach to getting everything on Car Wheels just right.

I came in on the Car Wheels bandwagon, head scratching like most at how great the record was and then going backward to the rest of a stand out catalog that preceded it. Heard many times “Oh I could have told you about Lucinda Williams” from people who were in the Lucinda cult, in the know. Car Wheels made my top of the 90’s list and the follow up Essence slips right on in with its predecessor as a top album of the decade.

Essence is a different beast than Car Wheels; the best word I can come up with is luscious. A quiet, slow moving, luscious work, where all things are in service of the lyrics and the voice, that voice, oh man there is something about what happens when she sings.

Soul vs. sorrow is the theme here. The texture of it is blue but a quiet dignity and defiance and the simple act of being aware of oneself weaves in and out of the songs on Essence. My favorite song on the record and my favorite Lucinda Williams song, Bus to Baton Rouge, is a prime example.

The narrator of the story returns to a childhood home, a place that contains “ghosts in the wind that blow through my life and haunt me wherever I go.” But the fact of the matter in Bus to Baton Rouge is that the person has taken that bus ride, is trying to deal with these things that weigh on her. This person isn’t hiding; recalling these things from afar but instead is meeting these ghosts head on. I love this song.

If you’re into Lucinda she can spoil you, her stuff is so consistently good you can forget about work you haven’t heard in a while. It was like that for me when doing this list. I recalled Essence and then first had to make sure it was in the 2000’s, which of course it was. Then I thought maybe it wasn’t going to make the cut so I listened to it over again, and man oh man when I was through I knew it was an automatic.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Number Six Live in Dublin

#6 Live in Dublin – Bruce Springsteen with the Sessions Band - 2007

“They died together a hundred years ago they’re dying now, the hands that built this country we’re always trying to keep down”

There’s a now famous amongst Boss fans occurrence that supposedly ignited the songwriting that lead to The Rising after the World Trade Center attacks. A fan shouted out to Bruce in Jersey:

“We need you now.”

So Springsteen, as the story goes, wrote many of the songs for and recorded The Rising. For me this is a difinitive representation of where he kind of went off the tracks and lost his voice this decade. Springsteen became too aware of his relationship with his audience and in a way became subservient to it. He joined political campaigns, lent his songs to causes and intead of being his own voice that reflected America’s voice he simply tried to be America’s voice.

Devils and Dust, a really good record evokes this. For me this record would have been a high consideration for this list except for that title track. I like the song Devils and Dust fine but it smells of this need to be that voice and is way away from the other songs on the album. This is kind of how it continued, a lot of great stuff mixed in but overall not so much.

He toured relentlessly with the E Street Band securing his incredible live rep. The shows were grossly expensive however and speaking from a fan’s point of view excluded a lot of the long time fans who had shared his journey with him.

Now all of this poo-pooing is simply to put in context / elevate and lift my pick for number six of the decade, Live in Dublin. In the midst of this kind of lost decade Springsteen absolutely got it right, found his voice, and was exactly what the arc of his career projected him to be.

On a whim, after recording one track for a Seeger tribute album, Springsteen gathered area musicians to his house in New Jersey and recorded a number of folk tracks popularized by Pete Seeger. You read that correct, the man who spent months recording the song Born to Run, freewheeled a session with the results being the 2006 release We Shall Overcome – The Seeger Sessions.

Imagine if you will being a Boss fan coming home and hearing the opening banjo on Old Dan Tucker… Pure energy and joy, unexpected and exhilirating. There wasn’t a hint of sobering purposefullness, just flat out playing to play. As a Springsteen fan it was thrilling as hell.

In the All Music Guide review of We Shall Overcome Stephen Thomas Erlewine writes:

“Springsteen has made plenty of great records, but We Shall Overcome is unique in its sheer kinetic energy; he has never made a record that feels as alive as this.”

In another favorable review Noel Murray with The Onion’s A.V. Club concluded with this statement:

“…and while this record remains absolutely likeable, it still sounds too much like the soundtrack for a concert that hasn't happened yet.”

Prophetic indeed as Springsteen went on the road backing this record with a 478 piece band titled simply enough The Sessions Band. There were singers, horn players, fiddle, pedal steel, piano, penny whistle, banjo etc…

Live in Dublin is We Shall Overcome supercharged, a two CD tour de force of working songs, traditional folk songs, field songs, and originals. It is in my opinion the best live recording Springsteen has released uncannily capturing the energy of a Springsteen show.

What I repeatedly find so remarkable about Live in Dublin is how much it displays the force of Springsteen. Many songs that in their original context (as recorded by Seeger or other folk musicians) come off as shallow and hokey, are given immense depth and power by these performances. I’m talking Eerie Canal, Old Dan Tucker, This Little Light of Mine, no one and man I mean no one else performing now could convince you of the sincerity of these standards like Springsteen does on this.

In these songs lies the voice that has seemed so forced recently. This is the American voice, a tried and true songbook of the American experience.

There was an eerily comparable feeling when I was watching the DVD release of the best of the Johnny Cash show. One of the performances pulled is of Pete Seeger performing Worried Man Blues with his banjo. It starts with Seeger solo and in his way he is getting the audience to sing along, then… THEN the band starts up and Cash comes in from off screen and everything changes… the depth and sincerity of the song explodes. No longer is it a sing-a-long but a sermon, something you’d better shut up and listen to.

Just like Cash, when Springsteen is at his best he brings that type of power and never has this been more on display on record than Live in Dublin.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Number Five Modern Times

#5 Modern Times – Bob Dylan 2006

"Thunder on the Mountain"
"Spirit on the Water"
"Rollin' and Tumblin'"
"When the Deal Goes Down"
"Someday Baby"
"Workingman's Blues #2"
"Beyond the Horizon"
"Nettie Moore"
"The Levee's Gonna Break"
"Ain't Talkin'"

“The suffering is unending every nook and cranny has it's tears
I'm not playing, I'm not pretending, I'm not nursing any superfluous fears”

How good are you if I feel like you slipped one by me and it still comes in at number five on my best of the decade list? Or maybe the question should be: What kind of precedent have you set if Modern Times feels like an album slipped under my nose while I wasn’t looking?

Modern Times is a tough one to corner, it can get by you, think it’s great but then again you’re really not sure. The last two Dylan releases you bought were Time Out of Mind and Love and Theft, immediate ballistics upside your head and heart. Trust yourself man, Modern Times is on par and is a stalwart closer to this latter day Dylan triumvirate.

“My cruel weapons have been put on the shelf come and sit down on my knee. You are dearer to me than myself as you yourself can see.”

Dylan sings from Working Man Blues #2. In reading through a mountain of decade end reviews time and time again the idea of an album singularly reflecting this often harrowing time in modern history is attributed to various different works. A sense of despair and impending decline, a loss of identity and purpose.

Modern Times is Dylan’s stamp on the days we now find ourselves in. The character in this work exists despite these surroundings, rarely in harmony with them. These are not the reflections of a kid, a young man, but of a weathered soul - heart burning still yearning almost impossibly against the backdrop of this time. I often think of the unnamed father from Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

“In the still of the night, in the world's ancient light
Where wisdom grows up in strife
My bewildering brain, toils in vain
Through the darkness on the pathways of life
Each invisible prayer is like a cloud in the air
Tomorrow keeps turning around
We live and we die, we know not why
But I'll be with you when the deal goes down"
This is the opening verse of When the Deal Goes Down. Heavy stuff indeed, getting to it, time is winding down, no pussyfootin’ around, say it straight and true.

“In the dark I hear the night birds call
I can hear a lover's breath
I sleep in the kitchen with my feet in the hall
Sleep is like a temporary death”

Woah man…. A life lived and still living – rest is the enemy now.

“Oh, I miss you Nettie Moore
And my happiness is o'er
Winter's gone, the river's on the rise
I loved you then and ever shall
But there's no one here that's left to tell
The world has gone black before my eyes”

Longing with no one to tell, a world you thought you knew had the curtain pulled.

“As I walked out in the mystic garden
On a hot summer day, hot summer lawn
Excuse me, ma'am I beg your pardon
There's no one here, the gardener is gone
Ain't talkin', just walkin'
Up the road around the bend
Heart burnin', still yearnin'
In the last outback, at the world's end”

This is how Modern Times ends with a lone figure still walking in a world where the gardener is missing… A backdoor gem, Bob Dylan tip toed in to my house and left a bomb, I can hear the dynamite sizzling.

I have a distinct feeling that this album is going to age beautifully. For me it just gets better and better.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Number Four Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

#4 Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots – The Flaming Lips - 2002

"Fight Test"
"One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21"
"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1"
"Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 2"
"In the Morning of the Magicians"
"Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell"

"Are You a Hypnotist??"
"It's Summertime"
"Do You Realize??"
"All We Have Is Now"
"Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia)"
“When you look inside - all you'll see is a self reflected inner sadness”

Allright we’ve got to it here on this little count down. We will call this 1- D as the top 4 were the big boppers for me in the 2,000’s. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is a weird title, The Flaming Lips are a weird band, and this stuff right here is perfectly weird.

Yoshimi, a black belt in Karate that works for the City has to fight evil pink robot machines????? A sort of concept but not really album with song titles like Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell and Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon (Utopia Planitia). A monochromatic male voice starts the record:

“The test begins nownownownownownownownownownownowwwwwwwwwww.”

The best single of the decade that was everywhere for a couple of years (Do You Realize??).

This album much like the band that made it exists in its own atmosphere. Yoshimi is awesome because it is a grand open door into that weirdness. The sound on this is just hypnotic. The drum rhythms are so distinct and identifiable to this record. Wayne Coyne's voice lilts above everything in a real beautiful way. The lyrics are existential meanderings about love and all that kind of stuff that range from surface fluff to way deep inner reflections. A couple of the songs are just fun, a couple are down and out, a couple are meditative, and they are all great.

The most enjoyable listen of the decade, I just get all giddy when I play this one.

This is going to be my shortest write up for this all decade list. You just have to hear this one. I just wanna go listen. Nownownownownownow…………………………

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Number Three Escondida

#3 Escondida – Jolie Holland 2004

1. "Sascha"
2. "Black Stars"
3. "Old Fashioned Morphine"
4. "Amen"
5. "Mad Tom of Bedlam"
6. "Poor Girl's Blues"
7. "Goodbye California"
8. "Do You?"
9. "Darlin Ukelele"
10. "Damn Shame"
11. "Tiny Idyll/Lil Missy"
12. "Faded Coat of Blue"

“I tried to go to sleep in my haunted little room. The shadows are churning in the passage of the moon”

Trampled paths and repetition
In my mind shot through my ears

Heat some coffee
Stare out into the black night

Big red sun and no new heat
Lucky old sun with nothing to do
Rollin' around heaven all day

I’d misplaced the notion to be hungered or thirsty
Yet and so and hold on

Oh’ Escondida you’ve found my harvest moon
Unlike the others and I keep you close
No closer

I can’t believe my ears when I believe you
That sweet thing you know
My little secret, my darlin’ ukulele

Bigger than this whole wide world which people say is round
Tucked into my pocket
There is something new under the big red sun

A million miles from behind the moon
Oh’ Escondida – rejuvenator, new path finder, companion

It is endless
Hallways and closets and cupboards
The tower of song

You little flashlight
You lovely little flashlight

I’m grateful to have heard your light
Age stiffens your back
N' dull your mind
But Oh’ that little light of yours sure did shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

And spin, and be heard

Friday, November 20, 2009

Number Two Post War

#2 Post War – M. Ward – 2006

1. "Poison Cup"
2. "To Go Home"
3. "Right in the Head"
4. "Post-War"
5. "Requiem"
6. "Chinese Translation"
7. "Eyes on the Prize"
8. "Magic Trick"
9. "Neptune's Net"
10. "Rollercoaster"
11. "Today's Undertaking"
12. "Afterword/Rag"

“Everything I've learned I have forgotten. Everything I've forgotten looks just like new”

There is a new member of the periodic table of elements. M Wardium was first discovered in 2006 with the release of the album Post War. It’s existence as it’s own separate element was in question until this release, rumor and innuendo surrounded it’s potency and uniqueness. Once scientists heard the opening sound of Poison Cup the imperical evidence was at hand.
“We simply have never heard anything like this. This is a whole new elemental musical thing.”

Post War is absolutely as good as it can be. I can’t find a mistake with it, the sequencing is right, the songs are right, the length is right. M Wardium is an addictive thing, especially in it’s purest form on stand outs like Requiem, Chinese Translation, Rollercoaster, and Right in the Head.

The Daniel Johnston cover, To Go Home is a home run, a turbo charged cover of the highest order. Ward’s vocals have a murkified sound reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind. On two tracks, the afore mentioned Poison Cup and Today’s Undertaking, we are given a dose of a Roy Orbison feel in their build up and exhalting triumphant endings.

Magic Trick is pure fun and yet fits snug and comfy right between Eyes on the Prize and Neptune’s Net. When they were done recording, sequencing, and mastering Post War and gave it that first listen they had to know it was right. It must have been gratifying.

When I was checking out the top of the 2000’s lists this was the one that shocked me as far as a lack of inclusion. It was very well reviewed back in 06’ but for some reason these guys forgot about it. I will not be forgetting Post War anytime soon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Number One "Love and Theft"

#1 "Love and Theft" – Bob Dylan – 2001

1. "Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum"
2. "Mississippi"
3. "Summer Days"
4. "Bye and Bye"
5. "Lonesome Day Blues"
6. "Floater (Too Much to Ask)"
7. "High Water (For Charley Patton)"
8. "Moonlight"
9. "Honest with Me"
10. "Po' Boy"
11. "Cry a While"
12. "Sugar Baby"

“Yes, I'm leaving in the morning just as soon as the dark clouds lift. Gonna break the roof in - set fire to the place as a parting gift.”

You simply aren’t allowed to be this bad ass and still be alive. You can’t be Robert Johnson or Hank Williams Sr. unless you’re dead. Part of what signifies and ignites their legend is that death hovers over their records when you listen to them. Somewhere in the middle of Summer Days you realize this stuff is just like Crossroad Blues or Lost Highway but the incalculable legend belting out Honest With Me is still alive, and has finally after all this time made the record he always wanted to.

Dylan himself produced "Love and Theft", he liked what Daniel Lanois did with Time Out of Mind but there was a sound, an immediacy of his live shows that he wanted to capture. Well, BAP! ZOOM! POW! He captured it, caged it up, poked sticks at it, made it angry, and then unhinged the cage.

“Jump into my wagon love, throw your panties overboard.”

He sings in High Water (For Charley Patton). When someone else, anyone else, does a song in honor of Charley Patton he is looking up, but not here, no way. Dylan is right beside him nudging him with his elbow. Love and Theft is atomic swagger, it’s as if everything he’d done before was so he could earn the right to make an album like "Love and Theft", to make a record that is full of Robert Johnson’s “the stuff I got will bust your brains out”.

I can completely see this scenario for context:

Some kid, 18 years old has been turned onto Dylan by hearing Time Out of Mind, "Love and Theft", and Modern Times. He goes back to Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 and Blonde on Blonde and says..

“Man that old stuff is great but I don’t know I just think "Love and Theft" is better.”

And what kills me is that you can’t dismiss the idea. "Love and Theft" is right on par, it is.

“Well, there's preachers in the pulpits and babies in the cribs
I'm longin' for that sweet fat that sticks to your ribs
I'm gonna buy me a barrel of whiskey - I'll die before I turn senile
Well, I cried for you - now it's your turn, you can cry awhile”

This crazy old bastard is tap dancing on burning coals in a dapper suit and walking cane!

“Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay
You can always come back, but you can't come back all the way
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long”

You simply aren’t allowed to be this bad ass and still be alive. "Love and Theft" is my best album of the decade. The world has simply never seen the likes of a Bob Dylan before. A songwriter with an unequaled catalog making records that haunt and inspire awe on the level with the likes of monumental ghosts like Charley Patton, Hank Williams, and Robert Johnson while still being around to grin in the face of it all.

So how do you wrap your head around all of it? Screw it, jump up on your coffee table – no seriously - turn Summer Days way up and just soak in the atomic swagger.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bob Dylan Album Rankings #10 thru #1

10. World Gone Wrong
9. Love and Theft
8. New Morning
7. Desire
6. Time Out of Mind
5. Oh Mercy
4. Blood On the Tracks
3. Street Legal
2. The Times They Are A Changin’
1. Highway 61 Revisited

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bob Dylan Album Rankings #20 Thru #11

Been away from the ol’ blog with the beginning of the NFL football season. Back to my Bob Album rankings:

20. Modern Times
19. Saved
18. Slow Train Coming
17. Infidels
16. John Wesley Harding
15. Shot of Love
14. Blonde on Blonde
13. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
12. Bringing It All Back Home
11. Another Side of Bob Dylan

Are there actually ten Bob Albums I like more than Another Side!?!!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Turn One More Corner

Another Darren O'Dell original up on Youtube:

Apologize up front for the lighting or lack there of..You can jack up the brightness on your monitor to see better...

Turn One More Corner by Darren O'Dell ©

Once they walked down by the river
She had that ribbon in her hair
She whispered to him forever
He's a long long way from there

But I know just where to find him
It's where he's always been
Turn one more corner, down one more backstreet
Up the road and around the bend

We grew up on the same street
From a town no one knows
His old man would lay it on him hard
He thought he didn't let it show

When it gets quiet I think about him
How his means never met the ends
Turn one more corner, down one more backstreet
Up the road and around the bend

Well he met her over in Vicksburg
That woman's love it set him free
Three seasons passed and they were married
At her old home place near Metairie

Got a call around 2 AM
Big news, I heard him cry
His wife she was expecting
A baby girl come mid July

Sometimes I ride out past the trestles
When the pain comes rolling in
Turn one more corner, down one more backstreet
Up the road and around the bend

Got a call around 2 AM
He was wailing through the telephone
Something bout a southbound semi
His wife and baby girl were gone

I drove ten straight hours
Just to be there by his side
Longest night of my lifetime
He was long gone when I arrived

But I know just where to find him
Hell It's where he's always been
Turn one more corner, down one more backstreet
Up the road and around the bend

Somethings you just can't explain
I gave up trying years ago
I never did hear from him
Don't think I even want to know

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kid Hart at Bob Night II

Kid Hart at Bob Night II
American Legion Hall, Tallahassee, FL 8-14-09

“Might need a good lawyer. Could be your funeral my trial. Well I cried for you. Now it’s your turn to cry a while.”

- B. Dylan

A franchise has started in Tallahassee that has now become an absolute highlight on my calendar. Area artist (is Sopchoppy an area?) Grant Peeples has started what he plans to be a bi-annual event known as Bob Night. He invites regional musicians to perform their own renditions of Bob Dylan songs. Two are in the books and they were both wildly successful.

The first thing I noticed at these Bob Nights is that the crowd that comes to see a show at the Legion Hall are there for the music. They are tuned in and all about what is happening on stage. The second thing I noticed is that the place fills out. The second show was standing room only in the back. Once again credit goes to Grant Peeples for his dedication and organization. As for both nights the folks knew their Bob too, applauding once they recognized songs, tuned in and turned on.

For Bob Night I I highlighted a band here on my blog that I had never seen before, The New 76ers who really impressed. For Bob Night II I am going to go with the closing act, a Tallahassee band, Kid Hart.

Many of the night’s performances were from well-established members of the Florida Folk music scene, Mimi and the Hern Dogs, Whitey Markle, Scotty Lee, and other popular performers such as Velma Fry and The Sauce Boss. It says a lot for Grant to give a local band, a much younger and louder band a shot, not only a shot but to close the show.

Kid Hart is a two-piece rock band well known and established in the Tallahassee bar circuit. For Bob Night II they recruited a bass player, overheard someone say it was a guy who worked with Eric Hartsfield (lead guitar – singer). The evening was almost entirely acoustic, except for Mimi and the Herndogs – adept at getting asses moving.

Kid Hart plugged in and by this time the crowd was juiced and ready to turn it up a notch (insert beer here). The first notes that came were unfamiliar to many, as a silence followed, but I knew what it was. Maggie’s Farm, not the studio version but instead a dead ringer for the infamous Bob goes electric version played at Newport and documented brilliantly on the recent DVD release The Other Side of The Mirror – Bob Dylan at The Newport Folk Festival.

When the first line was sung falling in on top of the bass and drums the crowd audibly and physically responded. I was up front but turned around and saw a lot of people dancing, shaking it, getting down. The guys in the band were having a blast (well the bass player and the lead, the drummer, Alan Donaldson, brings the stoic and steady drummer thing). Maggie’s Farm was a home run with the crowd, which had to be a relief to the band. You’d have to think they were wondering if they were way out of place at this show.

Can’t stop there though, they turned it up a notch with a well known Bob classic Highway 61. Now glasses are clanking and women are getting turned on. Unlike Bob back at Newport there was no booing to be heard. The song was delivered straight without over cooking the goose. You don’t have to show off on a song like Highway 61, and Kid Hart knew it.

Taking things down a notch they worked in Girl From the North Country. Slow mover that the crowd once again really enjoyed, just like Bob does, Kid Hart showed how this initially quiet folk song can have some kick and drive.

The highlight for me was the closer. All the performances from the night were from the better known first half of Bob’s career. Mimi threw in a fun as hell Mozambique from 75’s Desire but hey that is still 34 years ago. Kid Hart laid it on with Cry a While, a back end barn burner from the 2001 masterpiece Love and Theft. A song Bob himself does from time to time on tour. Hartsfield introduced it by saying:

“We’re gonna’ do one from the church of latter day Dylan.”

Smoking hot performance. Cry a While has this line in it to give you an idea.

“Last night cross the alley there was a pounding on the wall, must have been Don Pasquale making a 2 AM booty call.”

When Kid Hart was done the crowd was clamoring for more, the ladies were clamoring for something else. I think I saw Grant ask the guys if they knew another. Nope. That’s allright boys leave em’ wanting more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Flint River Pearl

Put a new song up on Youtube. It's an original and I actually can stand seeing it. It feels good to know I'm progressing toward my goals with this.

Flint River Pearl:

Four long nights I’ve only
Thought about her
Three short years since her soul
Flew this world

Two life terms I’m serving
In Lowndes prison cell
All for the love of the
Flint river pearl

Nothing more than a drunk kid
From Hern Road
An old shotgun the barrel
Hard and cold

The fire that night
Couldn’t be surrendered
Not for money sir
Silver or gold

Her auburn hair was dancing
In the harsh glow
From room fourteen of
The Colquitt County Inn

Smoked a few outside
And thought it over, Lord
The barrel cocked as
I came blasting in.

Four long nights I’ve only
Thought about her
Three short years since her soul
Flew this world

Two life terms I’m serving
In Lowndes prison cell
All for the love of the
Flint river pearl

I could smell the sweat
See all that stranger inside
My thoughts went black
As I heard her scream

The first kickback damn near
Broke my shoulder
But the second was like
Some kind of walking dream

The stranger was dead
Half his face was gone
As she lay trembling
With his blood all in her eyes

Well I climbed on top
And I took what I’d come for my God no
One more blast and it was
Darlin’ goodnight

Four long nights I’ve only
Thought about her
Three short years since her soul
Flew this world

Two life terms I’m serving
In Lowndes prison cell
All for the love of the
Flint river pearl

Lyrics by Darren O'Dell ©

Friday, August 7, 2009

Possible Dylan Christmas Songs

With the rumors going around that Bob Dylan is going to release a Christmas album I have "discovered" snippets from some possible songs that could make the cut.

"Well I see you got your brand new red velvet Santa haaaaaaaat. I wonder what it would feel like to give out gifts under something like that your brand new red velvet Santa hat!"

"You could be known as the only red nose reindeer ever cut through a snow storm to do the deal. What's a reindeer like you doin’ leading a team like this?"

“There’s a whole lotta people at the mall today with a gift receipt. Whole lotta people in line today with a gift receipt. Three neck ties or a microwave, you didn’t need em so it’s time to save. Maybe get some new shoes for your feet with a gift receipt”

“One more cup of coffee before I go, to the NORRRRRRRRRTH POLLLLLLLLLE!”

“I laid up in bed I waited for you
So darn excited I could barely sleep
So many wishes I hope that come true
If I don’t get that bicycle I think I will weep
Santaaaa oh Santa, whatever made you want to change my list
Santaaaa oh Santa , how did I end up with all the wrong gifts”

“It may be oatmeal or may be chocolate chip but you’re gonna have to serve some cookies”

“Under that pine fur Christmas tree oh yeah! Underneath that pine fur Christmas tree oh yeah. Well underneath that tree are gonna’ be some milk and cookies. Underneath that pine fur Christmas tree oh yeah.”

“The snow is falling and I’ve been here all day
Too excited to sleep and time is running away
Hope I get that cool big wheel
My older brother just told me that Santa isn’t real
As long as I get gifts I don’t really care
It’s not Christmas yet, but it’s getting there.”

“Hey Frosty the Snowman, sing a song for me.
I’m not sleepy and it’s a quarter past two
Hey Frosty the Snowman sing a song for me
If the sun comes out tomorrow I’ll be missing you”

“Can’t you see the sky a snowin?
Reindeer coming into view coming from a country mile or two
So happy just to see a smile and share eggnog with you
On this Christmasssss morning, on this Christmas morning with you”

Friday, July 31, 2009

Roger Ebert Blows My Mind

I was checking out various reviews of The Last Waltz on line after having thoroughly digested the anniversary DVD. In this searching I came across a review by Roger Ebert and was horrified by the evaluation. I actually considered Ebert a well-informed guy, and I usually check out his review of older movies that I’m interested in to get a general idea of what is coming.

This is an interesting view by an evaluator of movies in regards to a documentary focused on live music. I would have no disgust or inexcusable disbelief if he were evaluating the cinema of the work, the way it’s shot, edited, pieced together etc., but his evaluation focuses almost entirely on the music and his interpretation of the artists mindset during the performance. Here is the review:

"I wonder if the sadness comes across on the CD. The music probably sounds happy. But the performers, seen on screen, seem curiously morose, exhausted, played out. Recently, I was at a memorial concert for the late tenor sax man Spike Robinson, and the musicians--jazz and big band veterans--were cheerful, filled with joy, happy to be there. Most of the musicians in "The Last Waltz" are, on average, 25 years younger than Spike's friends, but they drag themselves onstage like exhausted veterans of wrong wars.

The rock documentary was filmed by Martin Scorsese at a farewell concert given on Thanksgiving Day 1976 by The Band, which had been performing since 1960, in recent years as the backup band for Bob Dylan. Now the film is back in a 25th anniversary restoration. "Sixteen years on the road is long enough," says Robbie Robertson, the group's leader. "Twenty years is unthinkable." There is a weight and gravity in his words that suggests he seriously doubts if he could survive four more years.

Drugs are possibly involved. Memoirs recalling the filming report that cocaine was everywhere backstage. The overall tenor of the documentary suggests survivors at the ends of their ropes. They dress in dark, cheerless clothes, hide behind beards, hats and shades, pound out rote performances of old hits, don't seem to smile much at their music or each other. There is the whole pointless road warrior mystique, of hard-living men whose daily duty it is to play music and get wasted. They look tired of it.

Not all of them. The women (Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris) seem immune, although what Mitchell's song is about I have no clue, and Harris is filmed in another time and place. Visitors like the Staple Singers are open-faced and happy. Eric Clapton is in the right place and time. Muddy Waters is on sublime autopilot. Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads a bad poem, badly, but seems pleased to be reading it. Neil Diamond seems puzzled to find himself in this company, grateful to be invited.

But then look at the faces of Neil Young or Van Morrison. Study Robertson, whose face is kind and whose smile comes easily, but who does not project a feeling of celebration for the past or anticipation of the future. These are not musicians at the top of their art, but laborers on the last day of the job. Look in their eyes. Read their body language.

"The Last Waltz" has inexplicably been called the greatest rock documentary of all time. Certainly that would be "Woodstock," which heralds the beginning of the era which The Band gathered to bury. Among 1970s contemporaries of The Band, one senses joy in the various Rolling Stones documentaries, in Chuck Berry's "Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll" and in concert films by the Temptations or Rod Stewart. Not here.

In "The Last Waltz," we have musicians who seem to have bad memories. Who are hanging on. Scorsese's direction is mostly limited to closeups and medium shots of performances; he ignores the audience. The movie was made at the end of a difficult period in his own life, and at a particularly hard time (the filming coincided with his work on "New York, New York"). This is not a record of serene men, filled with nostalgia, happy to be among friends.

At the end, Bob Dylan himself comes on. One senses little connection between Dylan and The Band. One also wonders what he was thinking as he chose that oversized white cowboy hat, a hat so absurd that during his entire performance I could scarcely think of anything else. It is the haberdashery equivalent of an uplifted middle finger.

The music probably sounds fine on a CD. Certainly it is well-rehearsed. But the overall sense of the film is of good riddance to a bad time. Even references to groupies inspire creases of pain on the faces of the rememberers: The sex must have been as bad as anything else. Watching this film, the viewer with mercy will be content to allow the musicians to embrace closure, and will not demand an encore. Yet I give it three stars? Yes, because the film is such a revealing document of a time."

What I take the most umbrage with is this:

“…although what Mitchell's song is about I have no clue…”

The song Ebert refers to is Coyote, it follows an interview with the members in which they talk about women on the road. The two together are a glorious coupling.

Here are the lyrics to Coyote, (sung clearly and beautifully by Mitchell I might add)

No regrets, Coyote.
We just come from such different sets of circumstance.
I'm up all night in the studios
And you're up early on your ranch.
You'll be brushing out a brood mare's tail
While the sun is ascending,
And I'll just be getting home with my reel to reel...
There's no comprehending
Just how close to the bone, and the skin, and the eyes, and the lips you can get -
And still feel so alone.
And still feel related
Like stations in some relay.
You're not a, a hit and run driver, no, no,
Racing away.
You just picked up a hitcher,
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway.

We saw a farmhouse burning down
In the middle of the road,
Where in the middle of the night,
We rolled right past that tragedy
Till we pulled into some road house lights
Where a local band was playing.
Locals were up kicking and shaking on the floor.
The next thing I know
That Coyote's at my door.
He pins me in a corner and he won't take "No!".
He drags me out on the dance floor
And we're dancing close and slow.
Now he's got a woman at home.
He's got another woman down the hall.
He seems to want me anyway:
"Why'd you have to get so drunk and
Lead me on that way?'".
You just picked up a hitcher,
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway.

I looked a Coyote right in the face
On the road to Baljennie near my old home town.
He went runnin' through the whisker wheat
Chasing some prize down.
And a hawk was playing with him.
Coyote was jumping straight up and making passes.
He had those same eyes just like yours -
Under your dark glasses,
Privately probing the public rooms,
Peeking through keyholes in numbered doors
Where the players lick their wounds,
And take their temporary lovers
And their pills and powders to get them through this passion play.
No regrets, Coyote,
I just get off up away.
You just picked up a hitcher,
A prisoner of the white lines on the freeway.

Coyote's in the coffee shop.
He's staring a hole in his scrambled eggs.
And he picks up my scent on his fingers
While he's watching a waitresses' legs.
He's too far from the Bay of Fundy
From appaloosas and eagles and tides.
The air conditioned cubicles and the carbon ribbon rides
Are spelling it out so clear:
Either he's going to have to stand and fight,
Or take off out of here.
I tried to run away myself,
To run away and wrestle with my ego -
And with this flame you put here in this Eskimo -
In this hitcher -
In this prisoner -
Of the fine white lines -
Of the white lines -
On the free, free way.

A thoughtful man, a writer about art is befuddled and dumbfounded at the prospects of what this song is about, commented in a way that would infer that to him the song is nonsensical and without meaning? This is really astonishing to me, are the veins of music and movie that different, a man who can be enveloped and deeply moved by the script of No Country For Old Men, dismisses this song as if it were an unknown mathematics?

Ebert also comments that Clapton seems in the right place. Of all the performances his seems to me to be the most uninspired. Did Ebert see the same thing I did, Van Morrison belting out Caravan, or he sees a joy in a Rod Stewart film from the same era that he does not see in Levon Helm’s delivering of a historic vocal on The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down?

For me this is a damning death nail to Ebert’s credibility. I can’t imagine taking to heart his reviews again…

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bob Dylan Album Rankings #24 Thru #21

24. Planet Waves
23. Nashville Skyline
22. The Basement Tapes
21. Bob Dylan

On the edge of the top twenty. I think someday the Basement Tapes will really reveal themselves to me and will climb the mountain. Recently had that happen with The Band, always kind of liked them but now I love 'em.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bono on Bob Dylan's Singing

Rolling Stone put together a list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. The following is Bono's comments about Bob Dylan's voice. everyone knows about the "Dylan can't sing" arguement and I have never heard a counterpoint better articulated than this:

"Bob Dylan did what very, very few singers ever do. He changed popular singing. And we have been living in a world shaped by Dylan's singing ever since. Almost no one sings like Elvis Presley anymore. Hundreds try to sing like Dylan. When Sam Cooke played Dylan for the young Bobby Womack, Womack said he didn't understand it. Cooke explained that from now on, it's not going to be about how pretty the voice is. It's going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth.

To understand Bob Dylan's impact as a singer, you have to imagine a world without Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, Lucinda Williams or any other vocalist with a cracked voice, dirt-bowl yelp or bluesy street howl. It is a vast list, but so were the influences on Dylan, from the Talmudic chanting of Allen Ginsberg in "Howl" to the deadpan Woody Guthrie and Lefty Frizzell's murmur. There is certainly iron ore in there, and the bitter cold of Hibbing, Minnesota, blowing through that voice. It's like a knotted fist, and it allows Dylan to sing the most melancholy tunes and not succumb to sentimentality. What's interesting is that later, as he gets older, the fist opens up, to a vulnerability. I have heard him sing versions of "Idiot Wind" where he was definitely the idiot.

I first heard Bob Dylan's voice in the dark, when I was 13 years old, on my friend's record player. It was his greatest-hits album, the first one. The voice was at once modern, in all the things it was railing against, and very ancient. It felt strangely familiar to an Irishman. We thought America was full of superheroes, but it was a much humbler people in these songs — farmers, people who have had great injustices done to them. The really unusual thing about Bob Dylan was that, for a moment in the Sixties, he felt like the future. He was the Voice of a Generation, raised against the generation that came before. Then he became the voice of all the generations, the voices in the ground — these ghosts from the Thirties and the Dust Bowl, the romance of Gershwin and the music hall. For me, the pictures of him in his polka-dot shirt, the Afro and pointy shoes — that was a brief flash of lightning. His voice is usually put to the service of more ancient characters.

Here are some of the adjectives I have found myself using to describe that voice: howling, seducing, raging, indignant, jeering, imploring, begging, hectoring, confessing, keening, wailing, soothing, conversational, crooning. It is a voice like smoke, from cigar to incense, where it's full of wonder and worship. There is a voice for every Dylan you can meet, and the reason I'm never bored of Bob Dylan is because there are so many of them, all centered on the idea of pilgrimage. People forget that Bob Dylan had to warm up for Dr. King before he made his great "I have a dream" speech — the preacher preceded by the pilgrim. Dylan has tried out so many personas in his singing because it is the way he inhabits his subject matter. His closet won't close for all the shoes of the characters that walk through his stories.

I love that album Shot of Love. There's no production. You're in a room hearing him sing. And I like a lot of the songs that he worked on with Daniel Lanois — "Series of Dreams," "Most of the Time," "Dignity." That is the period where he moves me most. The voice becomes the words. There is no performing, just life — as Yeats says, when the dancer becomes the dance.

Dylan did with singing what Brando did with acting. He busted through the artifice to get to the art. Both of them tore down the prissy rules laid down by the schoolmarms of their craft, broke through the fourth wall, got in the audience's face and said, "I dare you to think I'm kidding."

Dead on, just absolutely dead on.

Bob Dylan Album Rankings #28 Thru #25

28. Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid
27. Empire Burlesque
26. Good As I Been To You
25. Under The Red Sky

28 kind of lumps in with the bottom four for me. There is a significant jump up to 27 with Empire Burlesque. 28 and below are just kind of bad albums. 27 and up are actually good albums to me but are low on the Bob scale.

Springsteen Speech for Pete Seeger

There was a recent 90th birthday celebration for Pete Seeger at Madison Square Garden. Bruce Springsteen had the following to say about Pete:

"As Pete and I traveled to Washington for President Obama's Inaugural Celebration, he told me the entire story of "We Shall Overcome". How it moved from a labor movement song and with Pete's inspiration had been adapted by the civil rights movement. That day as we sang "This Land Is Your Land" I looked at Pete, the first black president of the United States was seated to his right, and I thought of the incredible journey that Pete had taken. My own growing up in the sixties in towns scarred by race rioting made that moment nearly unbelievable and Pete had thirty extra years of struggle and real activism on his belt. He was ao happy that day, it was like, Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man!...It was so nice. At rehearsals the day before, it was freezing, like fifteen degrees and Pete was there; he had his flannel shirt on. I said, man, you better wear something besides that flannel shirt! He says, yeah, I got my longjohns on under this thing.

And I asked him how he wanted to approach "This Land Is Your Land". It would be near the end of the show and all he said was, "Well, I know I want to sing all the verses, I want to sing all the ones that Woody wrote, especially the two that get left out, about private property and the relief office." I thought, of course, that's what Pete's done his whole life. He sings all the verses all the time, especially the ones that we'd like to leave out of our history as a people. At some point Pete Seeger decided he'd be a walking, singing reminder of all of America's history. He'd be a living archive of America's music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends. He would have the audacity and the courage to sing in the voice of the people, and despite Pete's somewhat benign, grandfatherly appearance, he is a creature of a stubborn, defiant, and nasty optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won't let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country's illusions about itself. Pete Seeger still sings all the verses all the time, and he reminds us of our immense failures as well as shining a light toward our better angels and the horizon where the country we've imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us.

Now on top of it, he never wears it on his sleeve. He has become comfortable and casual in this immense role. He's funny and very eccentric. I'm gonna bring Tommy out, and the song Tommy Morello and I are about to sing I wrote in the mid-nineties and it started as a conversation I was having with myself. It was an attempt to regain my own moorings. Its last verse is the beautiful speech that Tom Joad whispers to his mother at the end of The Grapes of Wrath.
"...Wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there."
Well, Pete has always been there.

For me that speech is always aspirational. For Pete, it's simply been a way of life. The singer in my song is in search of the ghost of Tom Joad. The spirit who has the guts and toughness to carry forth, to fight for and live their ideals.

I'm happy to report that spirit, the very ghost of Tom Joad is with us in the flesh tonight. He'll be on this stage momentarily, he's gonna look an awful lot like your granddad who wears flannel shirts and funny hats. He's gonna look like your granddad if your granddad could kick your ass."

- for Pete it's simply been a way of life. That is one hell of a compliment I think. Seeger can come off as hokey but sometimes I wonder if he has been right the whole time... fuck being cool, be FOR something...