California Stars

I spent the evening on the back patio Sunday, looking at the stars (and a few planets.) Like rudy says, the grandeur of the universe sure puts our petty problems in perspective. It’s nice to live at the back side of town, near an estuary and the ocean, where the city lights don’t do as much damage to stargazing.

Mermaid AvenueAnother batch of California stars are addressed by Wilco and Billy Bragg on “Mermaid Avenue“, an album of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie songs. Put to music by Bragg, Jeff Tweedy, and Jay Bennett in various combinations, the albums (volume II was released in 2000) are a combination of the folk songs we’d expect from Woody, and the folk/rock/punk we’d expect from Bragg and Wilco.

Mermaid Avenue“California Stars” has unusually sensitive lyrics compared to much of Guthrie’s catalog; beautifully poetic. The music, in this case by Bennett and Tweedy, is more traditional. Mostly acoustic, it also includes some slide work by bluesman Corey Harris which is reminiscent of Tweedy’s days as a nephew of Uncle Tupelo. Rolling Stone did a nice writeup of the first album when it was released, including some background information and comments from the band.

Let’s hope Nora Guthrie continues to find voices for her father’s unrecorded lyrics. Like a Beatles reunion or finding a lost Gilbert and Sullivan opera, resurrecting Woody’s words is a music lover’s dream come true.