Friday, May 2, 2008

Number 9 My Life

# 9 My Life
Artist: Iris Dement
Released: 1993

Track Listing

Sweet Is The Melody
You've Done Nothing Wrong
Calling For You
Childhood memories
No Time To Cry
Troublesome Waters
Mom and Dad's Waltz
Easy's Gettin' Harder Every Day
The Shores of Jordan
My Life

Standing barefoot on a cold wood floor. Staring out the window of my back door. If it keeps on raining I think the whole damn house is gonna' blow away.

So there I was sitting in my chair, channel surfing when on CMT of all places I was introduced to Iris Dement. This just had to be some level of fate; I can only guess that the video was aired at the most half a dozen times. The song was Our Town from her debut album Infamous Angel. It's hard to catch a song in one listen but there was something about her voice that I couldn't get away from. I went that very day and purchased the only copy that the local record store had. Infamous Angel was fantastic but it was her follow up My Life that moved my mountains.

Of all the albums on my list this one is the most obscure. It was well received by critics but for the most part flew far under the radar. So what is it about My Life that has elevated it to such a lofty place in my mind and spirit? A short answer would be its honesty both lyrically and vocally. Most of my favorite music, or any art for that matter comes from that far away planet called straight shooting honesty. But this work stretches that idea to its breaking point and comes across so damn frank and sincere that it can sometimes seem too personal somehow. When I hear No Time To Cry (an all time great song) I feel a damn near sense of guilt as if I were eavesdropping on this person named Iris Dement. Staggering work, like Townes Van Zandt's live recordings and the best of Johnny Cash's American Recordings swim in this water but there is something so full of integrity about My Life that to me lifts it even higher or at least takes this "honest approach" even further. It's like this is an Alan Lomax field recording in the form of a well-produced record. I have never been so thankful after hearing an album. As corny as I am sounding to myself, after I heard My Life, my thoughts were.

"Well damn, thank you Iris Dement for sharing this very fragile, beautiful, and thoughtful music with me."

I wanted to thank her personally when she told me about memories of her Dad

"I remember every night what we would say and do. If you've forgiven me, then I've forgiven you".

And about her own life

"I gave joy to my mother and I made my lover smile.
I can give comfort to my friends when they're hurting.
And I can make it seem better for a while."

"I'm gonna' let my feet go dancing to my very favorite songs, for I know my time for leaving is bound to come before too long."

And on and on………………..

I like the fact that this album is out there and peacefully sitting on shelves in hip record stores. Somebody will see it and think, "So and so mentioned Iris Dement to me maybe I'll check this out." And they'll go home and have Iris share the same personal stories with them that she did with me. They will sway when Sweet is the Melody begins and walk the floor like Hank himself did when Calling For You plays and will fall through the floor when they hear her take on Lefty Frizzell's Mom and Dad's Waltz. Some of them may even say to themselves

"Thank you Iris Dement for this album My Life."

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