Category Archives: country

Badlands = Good Listen

Finding new music that hits me viscerally is sublime. Recently, No Depression introduced me to Eric Tingstad and his take on Americana instrumentals.

Eric Tingstad, BadlandsWhen my copy of Badlands arrived, it stayed in the CD player in the car for over two weeks, playing over and over again. Nearly every track is on my all-night music list (I never sleep without music playing. I’ve heard some people do. Seems odd to me.)

Instrumentals are hard to write. (continued)

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Better a Kansas City Star Than an Omaha Nobody

I love singing along with Kansas City Star. It’s one of those silly songs Roger wrote that leaves out all the struggle and heartache, and puts in everything that’s right with our hearts and heads.

Besides, how often do you get a trombone solo and scat vocals in a country song? Yeah, Roger had a hard time coloring inside the lines. (continued)

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Words by Roger Miller. Lyrics by Love.

Love is, even in the best circumstances, a complex thing. Good songwriters find the words to sing about it.

Great songwriters know there are no words for it. (continued)

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Happy Heartbreak #2: It Takes All Kinds to Make a World

Pretty sure Roger never meant us to take this one seriously.

My friend and I went to the picture show in town
They called his name and said his house and just burned down
I took his hand and offered him my sympathy
When suddenly, I remembered that he lived with me
(continued)

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How Many Kids Love Their Hometown?

If you ever want to get depressed just come to this town

Hard to top that as an opening line. Nice internal rhyme with the next line (continued)

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Not in Nottingham

One of Disney’s greatest soundtrack triumphs was getting Roger Miller to write and record the soundtrack to their animated version of Robin Hood.

The film doesn’t hang entirely on a single star. I can’t imagine the list of movies these folks have made: (continued)

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Happy Heartbreak #1: Engine, Engine #9

A hallmark of Roger Miller’s songwriting is what I call his happy heartbreaks: the saddest stories, told with wit to cheerful music.

Just as Hitchcock makes pokes us with the incongruity of life by making us laugh during a terrifying scene, Roger reminds you that life isn’t the events, but our reactions. Even the poor guy standing in a train station somewhere 110 miles from Baltimore sounds more resigned than heartbroken when he says “I don’t think she loves me any more.” (continued)

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Doughnut Holes and Roger Miller

Jazz musicians occasionally highlight a melody by playing all the notes around it, leaving a hole where it should be. If you’re paying attention, you’ll “hear” it.

Some smart doughnut shop decided to stop rolling all the doughnut holes back together to make more doughnuts, and just started frying up doughnut holes to sell. (continued)

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USSS: Ross Durand

takes a lot of songwriting confidence to take on the challenge of writing an entire song for each line in Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall. Takes a lotta songwriting chops to pull it off.

This year it looks like Ross Durand is going to finish this seriously ambitious and musically satisfying project. (continued)

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USSS: Phil Norman

Newgrass: it’s what’s for dinner. Okay, maybe that’s not how it goes, but I’ll have Phil Norman‘s take on American bluegrass and folk any day. (continued)

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USSS: Phil Henry

Simply the finest story-telling songwriter I know, Phil Henry will make you cry, guaranteed. (continued)

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USSS: Nicole Ponder

Voices like this are made for country, and Nicole Ponder knows it. Not syrupy or overblown, just powerful and honest.

(continued)

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