Not Short, but Definitely Sharp, Shocked

very Sunday, I listen to Meg Banta’s “Sunday Morning Unplugged” on KPRI (you must not forget KPRI, Best Beloved.) This past Sunday, I was dismayed to hear that Michelle Shocked was appearing at the BellyUp Tavern in Solana Beach; dismayed, because there was no way I could make the 500-mile drive in time to see her.Not only does Michelle have a reputation for spectacular live performances, but the BellyUp is a marvelous venue, with lots of wood and curved surfaces nurturing and bouncing the music around the room ’til it lands in your ears.

[l1]E[/l1]very Sunday, I listen to Meg Banta’s “Sunday Morning Unplugged” on KPRI (you must not forget KPRI, Best Beloved.) This past Sunday, I was dismayed to hear that Michelle Shocked was appearing at the BellyUp Tavern in Solana Beach; dismayed, because there was no way I could make the 500-mile drive in time to see her.

Not only does Michelle have a reputation for spectacular live performances, but the BellyUp is a marvelous venue, with lots of wood and curved surfaces nurturing and bouncing the music around the room ’til it lands in your ears.

As I lay on the floor in the fetal position bemoaning this tragedy, my own Best Beloved read from her Sunday paper, “Thursday night at Harlow’s in Sacramento: Michelle Shocked.” And my own Best Beloved took me to see her.

The Hackensaw Boys, who opened the show, were a hoot. Bluegrass run riot, in fact. I’d drive a ways to see them again. (One word to the management of Harlow’s: chairs. Cheap folding chairs, even. There were huge expanses of open space, and very few places to sit. So we didn’t.)

When Shel walked onstage with nothing but an acoustic guitar, I wondered how her more aggressive works would take to being stripped down like that.

They took just fine.

my autographed copy of 'Short Sharp Shocked'Having just re-released “Short Sharp Shocked” (a much extended version, by the way) she was dedicated to playing most of the tunes from the album. In fact, she covered every tune from the original release except “Black Widow” (wonder why?), and most of the extras from the second CD of the new release. Rockers like “If Love Was A Train” (now, where have I heard that name before?), “Gladewater”, and even the bizarre-but-lovable “When I Grow Up” seemed right at home with their treatment. Being limited to an acoustic guitar and voice doesn’t limit Michelle’s range or genre. She jazzed; she rocked; she swung. And, yes, she played straight folk, a traditional Irish tune, and a bit of blues.

“Grafitti Limbo”, with its ending reference to ‘that midnight special line’ flowed easily into “Midnight Special.” By now, inhibitions forgotten, the audience was chatting with the performer, singing along, and generally becoming participants instead of spectators. And somehow I knew, when she started “Anchorage” (to a standing ovation during the opening notes) that when she got to the reference to ‘that love song you played’, she’d finally tell us what it was. And she did.

 The water is wide, I cannot get o'er  Neither have I wings to fly  Give me a boat that can carry two  And both shall row, my love and I 

“The Water is Wide” bears a strong resemblance to “Carrickfergus”; not unusual in traditional songs.

Michelle has long known the value of audience contact. The between-song storytelling and reminiscences are as endearing as the music itself—which is mighty indeed.

After the show, she came out to sign albums or shirts or bald heads, and contrary to my usual reticence in public, I managed to be the first to talk to her.

 Me: "Last time I heard a single acoustic guitar sound that big, it was Michael Hedges." Herself, lowering my half-signed CD and shaking my hand: "Now, that's a real compliment, especially since I haven't played acoustic much in the past ten years and I'm a little rusty!" Me: "Oh, you did just fine. Like Nanci Griffith says, if the songs work stripped down like this, they work."

I try to act like normal people, but it just isn’t me.

She didn’t seem to mind.

Water Song

‘ve gotten over the urge to completely deconstruct, analyze, and understand every song I enjoy. It’s easier to skip right over d, a, and u, and just enjoy. Moments ago, I had the marvelous experience of hearing a beloved tune from years ago, from a completely new perspective.As a teen, I was heavily influenced by my older brother’s musical taste. That’s because he was bigger than me, and considered himself in charge of our record player. One of the many bands I was forcibly exposed to in this manner was Hot Tuna, a conglomeration as unusual as it sounds.

[l1]I[/l1]’ve gotten over the urge to completely deconstruct, analyze, and understand every song I enjoy. It’s easier to skip right over d, a, and u, and just enjoy. Moments ago, I had the marvelous experience of hearing a beloved tune from years ago, from a completely new perspective.

As a teen, I was heavily influenced by my older brother’s musical taste. That’s because he was bigger than me, and considered himself in charge of our record player. One of the many bands I was forcibly exposed to in this manner was Hot Tuna, a conglomeration as unusual as it sounds.

Hot Tuna's 'Burgers'Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen, like Robin Trower when recording with Procol Harum, preferred blues to straightforward rock. Working with Airplane bassist Jack Casady, Jorma formed Hot Tuna in the late 60s as a side thing to the Airplane, but early in the 70s he and Casady formally abandoned the Airplane and concentrated on Hot Tuna and solo efforts.

Their third album, “Burgers“, sports their usual electric grunge blues, but tucked in the middle is a gorgeous bit of joy which sounds as fresh today as it did the first time I heard it 30 years ago. “Water Song”, an instrumental featuring Jorma’s acoustic guitar in a mesmerising ebb and flow, is exuberant in the extreme. Casady’s bass is deep and rich, and serves as a comfortable foil for the high, shimmering splashing notes from the guitar. Sliding, running, spinning in circles, Kaukonen displays the fiery prowess which makes him a formidable presence in the electric blues world, and a joy to behold in an acoustic setting like “Water Song.”

Sometimes, it’s enough just to sit back with my eyes closed and remember how beautiful some things are.

Parting Glass for a Fisherman

lottery winner dies of the shock of winning, and, in a dream, tells his friends to collect the winnings and divide them among all 52 residents of the village. Along the way, we meet a romantic pig farmer and his olfactory-sensitive love interest; a boy who may or may not be his; the witch, the fiddle, and a flying phone box; nearly all the colorful characters who inhabit the quaint Irish village of Tullymore. Along the way, we hear marvelous Irish music, old and new, and in one brief scene, a rarely heard verse from one of the best Irish songs ever recorded.”Waking Ned Divine” isn’t for everyone; the humor is subtle, the accents are thick, and the climax of the story bizarre. I love the movie, but for those who might not, the music transcends the story line (and is available on CD so you don’t have to watch at all.)

[l1]A[/l1] lottery winner dies of the shock of winning, and, in a dream, tells his friends to collect the winnings and divide them among all 52 residents of the village. Along the way, we meet a romantic pig farmer and his olfactory-sensitive love interest; a boy who may or may not be his; the witch, the fiddle, and a flying phone box; nearly all the colorful characters who inhabit the quaint Irish village of Tullymore. Along the way, we hear marvelous Irish music, old and new, and in one brief scene, a rarely heard verse from one of the best Irish songs ever recorded.

Waking Ned DivineWaking Ned Divine” isn’t for everyone; the humor is subtle, the accents are thick, and the climax of the story bizarre. I love the movie, but for those who might not, the music transcends the story line (and is available on CD so you don’t have to watch at all.)

The star of the soundtrack is “Fisherman’s Blues” by The Waterboys. I still remember the moment, driving up the Silver Strand to cross the Coronado Bay Bridge to San Diego, that I heard the opening guitar strums, the fiddle joining, then the whole band: drums, mandolin, bass, settling back down into a deceptively simple folk tune about yearning for a simpler life away from the complications of modern things. Steve Wickham’s fiddle is irresistible, and Mike Scott’s singing as ardent as ever.

 I wish I was a fisherman tumbling on the sea, far away from dry land and its bitter memories. Casting out my sweet line with abandonment and love, no ceiling bearing down on me save the starry sky above; with light in my head and you in my arms.

One quibble with the credits on the soundtrack: Shaun Davey, brilliant Irish composer that he is, was only 11 years old the first time the Clancy Brothers recorded “Parting Glass” in 1959, and I’ll bet with digging I could find earlier recordings of it. It seems unlikely, then, that it was written by Davey, as is credited on the album.The final verse holds out hope:

 I know I will be loosened from the bonds that hold me fast; that the chains all hung around me will fall away at last and on that fine and fateful day I will take me in my hands I will ride on the train I will be the fisherman with light in my head and you in my arms

Light in my head, you in my arms—there’s a dream worth chasing.

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem In Person At Carnegie HallOne of the first recordings I ever heard was the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 1962. They closed the concert with what is my favorite version of a great Irish song, “The Parting Glass.” Sung in two different places in “Waking Ned Divine”, it’s the farewell of a dying man.

While the closing scene of “Ned Divine” uses the song in the traditional way, to pay respects to a comrade who has passed, in the middle of the movie, Finn the pig farmer sings the middle verse, which I’ve never heard before:

 If I had money enough to spend, and leisure time to sit awhile. There is a fair maid in this town, that surely has my heart beguiled. Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips, I own, she has my heart in thrall; Then fill to me the parting glass, Good night and joy be with you all.

Taken on its own, out of the context of the lament, it makes a good love song, which is how Finn sings it, loudly, in the middle of main street as he makes his way home from the pub. You’ll have to watch the movie to see whether his dream

Getting Jiggy the Celtic Way

[l1]L[/l1]Lúnasa's 'Lúnasa'únasa — another reason for that Irish/English dictionary. I don’t know if it can be translated, but I know what it means: three albums worth of great Irish music. Well, I’m taking the third on faith; I only have their self–titled debut, and the follow–up, “Otherworld.” Both are fantastic, though, and I’ll be surprised if “The Merry Sisters of Fate” is any less.

Lúnasa's 'Otherworld'Lúnasa plays almost traditional Celtic music. Along the way, they manage to give it a spin and a nudge, and suddenly, it’s sounding extremely modern without losing its venerable age. This is a natural evolution of a living art form, and it’s marvelous to see. Fiddles and whistles and flutes and bass, one minute sounding O so traditional; the next, sounding like the intro to the latest U2 single. The band is purely acoustic, and technically there’s really nothing ‘rock’ about them, but there’s a currency in the performances which is more than just the youthful vigor elementary to Celtic music.

Lúnasa's 'The Merry Sisters of Fate'Their website is a mixture of information and fun, and is well worth browsing. As are, of course, the albums. My special favorite: “Laura Lynn Cunningham” from “Otherworld” — first, a mournful flute, all alone, then joined by others. Finally, when the song is more than half over, the fiddle and guitars take over, dispelling the pensive mood with a finish bright and cheerful as their album covers.

Before the Gravel Road

llison loaned me her copy of “Lucinda Williams” a few weeks ago. She casually mentioned that she and Lucinda used to play together as children. I’m still waiting for a photo good enough to post, but even in the copy her dad faxed to her, it’s pretty obvious which one of the group is Allison, and which one’s Cindy.It’s also pretty obvious when the one singing is Lucinda Williams. Her last two albums, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and “Essence” are both award winners. Her third album, eponymously entitled, is just as much a winner, despite academia’s failure to recognize it officially.

[l1]A[/l1]llison loaned me her copy of “Lucinda Williams' eponymous albumLucinda Williams” a few weeks ago. She casually mentioned that she and Lucinda used to play together as children. I’m still waiting for a photo good enough to post, but even in the copy her dad faxed to her, it’s pretty obvious which one of the group is Allison, and which one’s Cindy.

It’s also pretty obvious when the one singing is Lucinda Williams. Her last two albums, “Lucinda Williams' 'Car Wheels on a Gravel Road'Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and “Lucinda Williams' 'Essence'Essence” are both award winners. Her third album, eponymously entitled, is just as much a winner, despite academia’s failure to recognize it officially.

If you’ve only heard Lucinda on the radio, you probably think of her as a blues singer. “Can’t Let Go” got plenty of air time, and deservedly so. Lucinda is a blues singer, and a good one. But she’s also that incredibly rare phenomenon: a country artist I actually enjoy.

After her first two albums, “Lucinda Williams' 'Ramblin'Ramblin’“, recorded in a single afternoon in 1979, and 1980’s “Lucinda Williams' 'Happy Woman Blues'Happy Woman Blues” Lucinda waited nearly a decade to come up with the album bearing her name. In fact, the shortest hiatus after that initial frenzy was the three years between “Car Wheels” and “Essence”, released last year. From a purely chronological perspective, she appears to be a careful artist. Her recordings don’t suggest anything less.

Mixing country ballads, alt

Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For? (2)

Search review time again:

  • ‘hendrix’—Only mention so far is “The Watchtower, All Along”
  • ‘white potatoes’—This led me to the PBS special “The Irish in America” which I’ve seen twice. I don’t remember this tune, and I’ll have to track it down. If you get the opportunity, this is a must-see. In the meantime, more info at PBS’s site, including some of the words to “White Potatoes” in various audio formats. If you’ve never heard Gaelic spoken, give it a listen; it’s one of the most mysterious, evocative, and romantic languages on earth.
  • ‘white sandy beach’, ‘israel kamakawiwo ole’ and ‘bruddah iz’—Hopefully you found “Finding Iz”
  • blank query—Gotta write some form validation to prevent this. If you’re searching for nothing, you won’t find it here. I think.
  • ‘allison krause’—Forget About It. No, I mean, that’s the only Alison Krauss I’ve written.
  • ‘and the morning sun has yet to climb my hood ornament’—The only mention of Neil Young’s “Roll Another Number” is in the little quotes under the KnowYourMusic logo which change every time you load a page. Randomly chosen from my mental stockpile, they’re links to a little more information.
  • ‘david gray’—This should have returned a flood of possibilities, with more on the way. It’s no secret to regular readers (or anyone within earshot of me) that David Gray is one of my all

[l1]S[/l1]earch review time again:

  • ‘hendrix’—Only mention so far is “The Watchtower, All Along
  • ‘white potatoes’—This led me to the PBS special “The Irish in America” which I’ve seen twice. I don’t remember this tune, and I’ll have to track it down. If you get the opportunity, this is a must-see. In the meantime, more info at PBS’s site, including some of the words to “White Potatoes” in various audio formats. If you’ve never heard Gaelic spoken, give it a listen; it’s one of the most mysterious, evocative, and romantic languages on earth.
  • ‘white sandy beach’, ‘israel kamakawiwo ole’ and ‘bruddah iz’—Hopefully you found “Finding Iz
  • blank query—Gotta write some form validation to prevent this. If you’re searching for nothing, you won’t find it here. I think.
  • ‘allison krause’—Forget About It. No, I mean, that’s the only Alison Krauss I’ve written.
  • ‘and the morning sun has yet to climb my hood ornament’—The only mention of Neil Young’s “Roll Another Number” is in the little quotes under the KnowYourMusic logo which change every time you load a page. Randomly chosen from my mental stockpile, they’re links to a little more information.
  • ‘david gray’—This should have returned a flood of possibilities, with more on the way. It’s no secret to regular readers (or anyone within earshot of me) that David Gray is one of my all

Link Death

ink rot is a web phenomenon whereby links from one site to others begin to fail over time due to changes in the target sites.I’m about to introduce link assassination. Since I have to remove all my CDNow links, but haven’t had time to get all the Amazon.com links, I’m going to just kill them until I have the time.

[l1]L[/l1]ink rot is a web phenomenon whereby links from one site to others begin to fail over time due to changes in the target sites.

I’m about to introduce link assassination. Since I have to remove all my CDNow links, but haven’t had time to get all the Amazon.com links, I’m going to just kill them until I have the time.

So, if you read back through older articles (anything prior to the first of December) the links are about to unceremoniously cease to function. I’ll do what I can to get them replaced quickly. In the meantime, you can find everything you need at Amazon.com, which is where we’ll be buying our music from now on, right?

Still Haven’t Found What You’re Looking For?

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while: I’ve gathered up all the searches done here at KnowYourMusic recently. Maybe we can incite a dialog; I’ll see if I can figure out what you were looking for, and you see if you can figure out what I’m talking about.

  • What does egbdf mean? — The notes of the musical scale, when written on a musical staff, fall either into the spaces, or onto the lines. In normal melody notation, the spaces are easy to remember — the notes are F, A, C, and E — FACE. The lines, however, aren’t as simple; so throughout history, we’ve come up with endless mnemonics to remember the obscure and arcane pattern of the notes on the lines. The Moody Blues did an album with a common UK version, “Every Good By Deserves Favour.” EGBDF — the notes on the lines of the scale. (This musicblog was once at EGBDF.info.)
  • black sabbaths iron man — In case you didn’t find it, I posted Iron Man back in June.
  • Don Wahlberg — New Kids on the Block? No; that would be Donnie Wahlberg. Probably not here.
  • Little Feat — Closest I came was “Ride of the Tarzana Kid” back on September 1st. But they’ll show up in greater detail eventually.
  • Norah Jones — . . . sigh . . . Norah Jones, indeed. You couldn’t have missed “Come Away with Norah Jones”, also in September.
  • Rising Of The Sea — Anything to do with OB1? If so, tell me more; the clips I’ve heard are very interesting.
  • Steven Oliver — Pleasant relaxing jazz guitar. Not familiar enough to offer a real opinion.
  • Three Two One Let’s Jam — Still one of my favorite entries, “Jumping Japanese Jazz” should fill the bill.
  • Wild Wood Flower — If there were only two folk guitar songs, they would be “Wildwood Flower” and “Under the Double Eagle.” Written by A.P. Carter and originally sung by ‘Mother’ Maybelle Carter, mother of June Carter Cash (Johnny’s wife), this is an eternally beautiful song. I like John Sebastian’s cover on “Tarzana Kid”, but nothing approaches the scratchy old 78 RPM record of Maybelle Carter’s equally scratchy voice and AP’s stunning guitar.
  • 1990 groups — Um; which ones?
  • A Little Touch Of Heaven — Nothing comes to mind. Are there more details?
  • Alison Krause Let Me Touch You Awhile — I love Alison Krauss. Not sure if I’ve heard this one, though, so I’ll have to track it down.
  • alley — As in, “Loading Dock Dark Alley Swing”? Or maybe Stevie Ray Vaughan’s incredible “Tin Pan Alley” from “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” I’m overdue for a review of a complete SRV album; that was my first, so watch for it sometime soon.
  • Blood On The Tracks — Bob Dylan — Mr. Zimmerman has made numerous appearances, but the most direct was “Shelter from the Storm” in October.
  • boy bands — Nope.
  • i know how he feels — Thank you; he appreciates your concern for his welfare. Wait; isn’t that a song by Reba McIntire? After 30 years, I’m coming into my second ‘country’ period. We’ll see about this one.
  • All Along The Watch Tower — “The Watchtower, All Along”
  • Angelo Debarre — Ah; anyone who records Django Reinhardt songs gets my attention. Further investigation is indicated.
  • Coldplay — My daugher Cheyenne has both albums. I’ll get around to these talented guys eventually.
  • granted you one final wish — Would you ask for something like another chance? “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, whether you mean the song and the album, is one of the pinnacles of modern music; a focal point about which entire genre revolve. If Steve Winwood had never played an instrument, had never recorded another thing, the vocals on this album would secure his place on a very short list of truly great jazz vocalists. On my vacation back in May, I wrote “While I’m Far From Home” about another Traffic tune.
  • Heavy Blinkers – I had never heard of the band. The bio at CDNow sounds intriguing. Have a CD you want to share?
  • homeworld — Yes. As in the group, Yes. First song on “The Ladder”, a wonderful album my oldest son Tristan has tried many times to steal from me. Maybe I’ll buy him his own copy (and maybe he’ll buy me my own copy of the PC game “Homeworld” designed around the song.) This got pretty thorough treatment in “Mountains Come Out of the Sky” back in July.
  • iz — Searching for Iz? “Finding Iz” back in June.
  • limbo song — Chubby Checker. Had the 45 when I was a kid.
  • Michael Nesmith — See “Tropical Campfires” below.
  • Michael Smith — Steve Goodman’s cover of Smith’s “The Dutchman” was more popular than Smith’s version, but Goodman’s tunes “Banana Republics” and “The City of New Orleans” gained wider circulation in the hands of Jimmy Buffett and Arlo Guthrie, respectively. Odd how things work out sometimes.
  • Michelle Branch — Performed ‘Game Of Love’ on Carlos Santana’s newest album “Shaman.” Nice work. Not too familiar with her own music, but I know it’s nice solid listenable stuff.
  • Route 66 — “If You Ever Plan to Motor West” — Well, I plan to motor east on my vacation next week, but this song will be along in multiple versions. They will all be played loud.
  • Tropical Campfires — When granting permission to use their graphics, the official Mike Nesmith website (in the guise of Neffie, the main character in Nez’s book “The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora”) included a link to “Laugh Kills Lonesome”, my review of what I’ve read of the book, and of the marvelous song, “Laugh Kills Lonesome.” Well, almost; they included a link to the home page. So in a day or two, it won’t be there any more. As of right now, this search won’t even find the article, so I’m re-indexing the search engine so folks can find it. I’ve also added what I hope is a really obvious link below the search tool. It’ll probably be with us for a while.

[l1I]/l1]’ve been meaning to do this for a while: I’ve gathered up all the searches done here at KnowYourMusic recently. Maybe we can incite a dialog; I’ll see if I can figure out what you were looking for, and you see if you can figure out what I’m talking about.

What does egbdf mean? — The notes of the musical scale, when written on a musical staff, fall either into the spaces, or onto the lines. In normal melody notation, the spaces are easy to remember — the notes are F, A, C, and E — FACE. The lines, however, aren’t as simple; so throughout history, we’ve come up with endless mnemonics to remember the obscure and arcane pattern of the notes on the lines. The Moody Blues did an album with a common UK version, “Every Good By Deserves Favour.” EGBDF — the notes on the lines of the scale. (This musicblog was once at EGBDF.info.)
  • black sabbaths iron man — In case you didn’t find it, I posted Iron Man back in June.
  • Don Wahlberg — New Kids on the Block? No; that would be Donnie Wahlberg. Probably not here.
  • Little Feat — Closest I came was “Ride of the Tarzana Kid” back on September 1st. But they’ll show up in greater detail eventually.
  • Norah Jones — . . . sigh . . . Norah Jones, indeed. You couldn’t have missed “Come Away with Norah Jones“, also in September.
  • Rising Of The Sea — Anything to do with OB1? If so, tell me more; the clips I’ve heard are very interesting.
  • Steven Oliver — Pleasant relaxing jazz guitar. Not familiar enough to offer a real opinion.
  • Three Two One Let’s Jam — Still one of my favorite entries, “Jumping Japanese Jazz” should fill the bill.
  • Wild Wood Flower — If there were only two folk guitar songs, they would be “Wildwood Flower” and “Under the Double Eagle.” Written by A.P. Carter and originally sung by ‘Mother’ Maybelle Carter, mother of June Carter Cash (Johnny’s wife), this is an eternally beautiful song. I like John Sebastian’s cover on “Tarzana Kid”, but nothing approaches the scratchy old 78 RPM record of Maybelle Carter’s equally scratchy voice and AP’s stunning guitar.
  • 1990 groups — Um; which ones?
  • A Little Touch Of Heaven — Nothing comes to mind. Are there more details?
  • Alison Krause Let Me Touch You Awhile — I love Alison Krauss. Not sure if I’ve heard this one, though, so I’ll have to track it down.
  • alley — As in, “Loading Dock Dark Alley Swing“? Or maybe Stevie Ray Vaughan’s incredible “Tin Pan Alley” from “Couldn’t Stand the Weather.” I’m overdue for a review of a complete SRV album; that was my first, so watch for it sometime soon.
  • Blood On The Tracks — Bob Dylan — Mr. Zimmerman has made numerous appearances, but the most direct was “Shelter from the Storm” in October.
  • boy bands — Nope.
  • i know how he feels — Thank you; he appreciates your concern for his welfare. Wait; isn’t that a song by Reba McIntire? After 30 years, I’m coming into my second ‘country’ period. We’ll see about this one.
  • All Along The Watch Tower — “The Watchtower, All Along
  • Angelo Debarre — Ah; anyone who records Django Reinhardt songs gets my attention. Further investigation is indicated.
  • Coldplay — My daugher Cheyenne has both albums. I’ll get around to these talented guys eventually.
  • granted you one final wish — Would you ask for something like another chance? “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys”, whether you mean the song and the album, is one of the pinnacles of modern music; a focal point about which entire genre revolve. If Steve Winwood had never played an instrument, had never recorded another thing, the vocals on this album would secure his place on a very short list of truly great jazz vocalists. On my vacation back in May, I wrote “While I’m Far From Home” about another Traffic tune.
  • Heavy Blinkers – I had never heard of the band. The bio at CDNow sounds intriguing. Have a CD you want to share?
  • homeworld — Yes. As in the group, Yes. First song on “The Ladder”, a wonderful album my oldest son Tristan has tried many times to steal from me. Maybe I’ll buy him his own copy (and maybe he’ll buy me my own copy of the PC game “Homeworld” designed around the song.) This got pretty thorough treatment in “Mountains Come Out of the Sky” back in July.
  • iz — Searching for Iz? “Finding Iz” back in June.
  • limbo song — Chubby Checker. Had the 45 when I was a kid.
  • Michael Nesmith — See “Tropical Campfires” below.
  • Michael Smith — Steve Goodman’s cover of Smith’s “The Dutchman” was more popular than Smith’s version, but Goodman’s tunes “Banana Republics” and “The City of New Orleans” gained wider circulation in the hands of Jimmy Buffett and Arlo Guthrie, respectively. Odd how things work out sometimes.
  • Michelle Branch — Performed ‘Game Of Love’ on Carlos Santana’s newest album “Shaman.” Nice work. Not too familiar with her own music, but I know it’s nice solid listenable stuff.
  • Route 66 — “If You Ever Plan to Motor West” — Well, I plan to motor east on my vacation next week, but this song will be along in multiple versions. They will all be played loud.
  • Tropical Campfires — When granting permission to use their graphics, the official Mike Nesmith website (in the guise of Neffie, the main character in Nez’s book “The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora”) included a link to “Laugh Kills Lonesome“, my review of what I’ve read of the book, and of the marvelous song, “Laugh Kills Lonesome.” Well, almost; they included a link to the home page. So in a day or two, it won’t be there any more. As of right now, this search won’t even find the article, so I’m re-indexing the search engine so folks can find it. I’ve also added what I hope is a really obvious link below the search tool. It’ll probably be with us for a while.

It is my heartfelt desire for this site to become truly interactive. Until recently, I believed I was on a first name basis with both of my readers. Instead, a perusal of the server logs indicates that, over the last month, nearly a thousand different readers have spent an average of thirteen minutes each here at KnowYourMusic. You can’t imagine how exciting that is.

So, tell me about yourself. Who are you? Where are you? What do you like? What am I doing wrong?

Let’s talk.

(If that link doesn’t work for you, you can use the ‘Comment’ link below.)

Pacing the Cage

wo years ago I heard what I thought was a new song by guitar wizard Leo Kottke. This means it had an intricate bass-treble alternating bounce to the acoustic picking style, and unadorned but earnest vocal accompaniment. Eventually I learned that it was instead a great Canadian artist named Bruce Cockburn.”Pacing the Cage” is chock full of ‘what am I doing here?’ imagery. This pacing is what happens when we’ve gone down a path we didn’t scrutinize closely enough, to a place we’ve realized we don’t want to be. Lines like I never knew what you all wanted So I gave you everythingbespeak a certain weakness; succumbing to external pressure rather than maintaining fidelity. But the final verse seems to offer a reason, if not an excuse: Sometimes the best map will not guide you You can’t see what’s round the bend Sometimes the road leads through dark places Sometimes the darkness is your friendinvoking the belief that, essentially, we’re all making our best guess and can’t always know where it will lead. My head says that it’s possible to live without regrets, to look ahead and make the right choices. My heart doesn’t always agree.

[l1]T[/l1]wo years ago I heard what I thought was a new song by guitar wizard Leo Kottke. This means it had an intricate bass-treble alternating bounce to the acoustic picking style, and unadorned but earnest vocal accompaniment. Eventually I learned that it was instead a great Canadian artist named Bruce Cockburn.

Bruce Cockburn's 'Anything Anytime Anywhere'Pacing the Cage” is chock full of ‘what am I doing here?’ imagery. This pacing is what happens when we’ve gone down a path we didn’t scrutinize closely enough, to a place we’ve realized we don’t want to be. Lines like

 I never knew what you all wanted So I gave you everything

bespeak a certain weakness; succumbing to external pressure rather than maintaining fidelity. But the final verse seems to offer a reason, if not an excuse:

 Sometimes the best map will not guide you You can't see what's round the bend Sometimes the road leads through dark places Sometimes the darkness is your friend

invoking the belief that, essentially, we’re all making our best guess and can’t always know where it will lead. My head says that it’s possible to live without regrets, to look ahead and make the right choices. My heart doesn’t always agree.

Cockburn’s guitar work is deceptively simple, his singing warm and direct. If you’ve ever seen Leo Kottke play the guitar, you’ve seen his distinctive picking style; this song has that sound to it. Each verse closes with a different sentence ending with ‘pacing the cage’ and each gets a slightly different phrasing and timing. At first listen, it seems simple; but when you try to sing along it’s evident that this is a man who knows how to get the most out of a moment’s silence, an unexpected pause. This thought-provoking piece is well-written and beautifully performed.

Shelter from the Storm

ebster’s defines it as ‘a position or the state of being covered and protected.’ Sometimes some of us reach a place in life where, if we can’t have love, at least we hope for a shelter from the storm.From the opening verse ‘Twas in another life time, One of toil and blood. When blackness was a virtue And the road was full of mud. I came in from the wilderness, A creature void of form. “Come in” she said, “I’ll give you Shelter from the storm.”it’s not completely clear whether the shelter is real or imagined.

[l1]W[/l1]ebster’s defines it as ‘a position or the state of being covered and protected.’ Sometimes some of us reach a place in life where, if we can’t have love, at least we hope for a shelter from the storm.

From the opening verse

 'Twas in another life time, One of toil and blood. When blackness was a virtue And the road was full of mud. I came in from the wilderness, A creature void of form. "Come in" she said, "I'll give you Shelter from the storm."

it’s not completely clear whether the shelter is real or imagined.

Later, “Dylan sings

 Try imagining a place Where it's always safe and warm

but if he’s reassuring us, why use the word ‘imagine’? It’s as if his life has become so bleak that he’s blind to the cost of her ‘shelter.’ Too late, he learns.

 I bargained for salvation And she gave me a lethal dose. I offered up my innocence And got repaid with scorn

Perhaps ‘learns’ isn’t the right word; still hopeful at the end,

 Beauty walks a razors edge, Someday I'll make it mine. If I could only turn back the clock

but clocks don’t turn back; the past is irretrievably gone.

Bob Dylan’s “Bob Dylan's 'Blood on the Tracks'Blood on the Tracks” is a treasure of an album. “Tangled Up in Blue” hits me just as hard today as it did the first time I heard it 27 years ago, but “Shelter from the Storm” has taken on a whole new meaning over the years.

Musically sparse, as Dylan often is, one thing that struck me when I rediscovered “Shelter” a few years ago was how stong the bass-playing is. It reminds me of Rick Haynes on some of Gordon Lightfoot’s early albums; strong, melodic, not content to stay in the background, but never quite competing with vocals or guitar. It’s a link I thoroughly enjoy.

Comment: Finding Iz

From Leogennaro8:”I too was mesmerized and stopped dead in my tracks as the credits began to roll, when I heard that voice and rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I didn’t even realize he was singing the timeless song because I was so moved by the voice and, although I am not a musician, I know when something is good. I was blown away and didn’t want the credits or this song to end. I skimmed through the bio and wanted to share my same feelings immediately because I, too, was blown away by the clarity of the voice, and reading the bio you say he is dead? What an absolute shame for such a talent that can move emotions to be gone. I am a bit confused though. Didn’t Finding Forrester come out after 1997? When did he record this?”

[l1]F[/l1]rom Leogennaro8:

“I too was mesmerized and stopped dead in my tracks as the credits began to roll, when I heard that voice and rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I didn’t even realize he was singing the timeless song because I was so moved by the voice and, although I am not a musician, I know when something is good. I was blown away and didn’t want the credits or this song to end. I skimmed through the bio and wanted to share my same feelings immediately because I, too, was blown away by the clarity of the voice, and reading the bio you say he is dead? What an absolute shame for such a talent that can move emotions to be gone. I am a bit confused though. Didn’t Finding Forrester come out after 1997? When did he record this?”

I wish it weren’t true, but Iz died in 1997 at the age of 38; it really affects my perspective that we were almost exactly the same age.

“Facing Future” was released in 1993, and Iz’s cover of “Over the Rainbow” was first popularized in the US when a portion of it, the intro of Iz humming the tune, was used in a commercial for eToys (they’re gone too, but it doesn’t make me as sad.) Even then, Iz was already gone. “Finding Forrester” was released in 2000.

Tip: If you submit a comment and give me your complete address, I promise a personal response direct to you, rather than the impersonal method of posting it here first.

Extra credit: What other movie used Israel Kamakawiwio’ole’s version of “Over the Rainbow” on its soundtrack?

Come Away with Norah Jones

hile we’re on a “Norah Jones’ roll, we might as well make it a clean sweep. I got my copy of her debut album “Come Away with Me” on Thursday, and I’ve listened to it almost constantly.”You’ve probably heard “Don’t Know Why” on your favorite radio station. The first time I heard it on KPRI here in San Diego, it was arresting. Norah’s voice is smoky sweet and subtly powerful, but just as powerful was the piano accompaniment. I’ve long been a fan of country pianist Floyd Cramer, who played with such luminaries as Chet Atkins. The piano on “Don’t Know Why” sounds so much like Cramer; his style and grace, a musical maturity not found in many keyboard players today. I was astonished to learn that the sultry singer was also the accomplished pianist. But then, “Come Away with Me” is full of surprises; surprises, but no disappointments. It is a delightful collection from start to finish.

[l1]W[/l1]hile we’re on a “Norah Jones‘ roll, we might as well make it a clean sweep. I got my copy of her debut album “Come Away with Me” on Thursday, and I’ve listened to it almost constantly.

Norah Jones' 'Come Away with Me'You’ve probably heard “Don’t Know Why” on your favorite radio station. The first time I heard it on KPRI here in San Diego, it was arresting. Norah’s voice is smoky sweet and subtly powerful, but just as powerful was the piano accompaniment. I’ve long been a fan of country pianist Floyd Cramer, who played with such luminaries as Chet Atkins. The piano on “Don’t Know Why” sounds so much like Cramer; his style and grace, a musical maturity not found in many keyboard players today. I was astonished to learn that the sultry singer was also the accomplished pianist. But then, “Come Away with Me” is full of surprises; surprises, but no disappointments. It is a delightful collection from start to finish.

Jones studied music in Texas, and while her country roots are audible in much of “Come Away” she’s certainly not going to be pigeon-holed as a country artist. Not exactly a surprise from the daughter of the most famous sitar-player ever, Ravi Shankar, major influence on George Harrison of the Beatles. A vocal chameleon, she runs the gamut from country to jazz, blues, and torch songs (one sounds like a cut from “Rare Django”, songs recorded in French jazz clubs in the late 20s), a slow klezmer tune (if there is such a thing), with plenty of soul along the way. Of the fourteen songs on the album, Jones wrote or co-wrote three, bassist Lee Alexander four, and lead guitarist Jesse Harris five. Sixpence None the Richer's eponymousThe three songs not written by band members were culled from the best of Norah’s roots: one by Hank Williams (the real Hank Williams, not the pseudo-performer currently using his name), one by John D. Loudermilk, and one by Hoagy Carmichael.

Norah’s voice reminds me somewhat of Edie Brickell‘s, and of Leigh Nash of “Sixpence None the Richer“, but with a huskiness more appropriate for the genre she’s chosen to include on this album. Refreshing and relaxing, “Come Away with Me” has style.

  • “Don’t Know Why” — An obvious single, this is a simple song about the confusion that often surrounds what we think is love. Jones’ piano sparkles, her voice seduces, the entire effect is like dancing alone in a darkened room with your eyes closed. Very Patsy Cline, which is a very good thing. Perfect torch song.
  • “Seven Years” — Musically more focused on guitars and Norah’s voice, this includes a dobro solo which lends a feeling of an early Carter Family recording, but with that same honey-smoked voice.
  • “Cold Cold Heart” — This Hank Williams classic has never been in better hands. It’s not easy to take a song so completely identified with one genre and transform it completely to another, but Norah does it beautifully. An extremely sparse arrangement, leaning heavily on rhythym and blues bassline, some brushes on the drums, and bits of piano to accentuate Norah’s vocals. She manages to completely ignore the natural cadence of the tune and either push the lyrics out just a little early, or leave them just a bit late, making for some perfect jazz phrasing. It’s a tribute to her musical sensibilities.
  • “Feelin’ the Same Way” — This one would be at home with Reba McEntire or Bonnie Raitt; it’s an almost-country pop tune which, without noticeable effort at uniqueness still manages to be memorable among so many memorable tunes.
  • “Come Away with Me” — The title song makes you want to do just that; a seductive tune about the simple joys we associate with being in love — walking through fields of grass together, the intimacy of unashamedly kissing where the whole world can see you, the warmth of just being with someone you love, and who loves you. Delicate multi-layered guitar work and Norah’s piano in just the right places merely emphasizes the intimacy of the piece.
  • “Shoot the Moon” — While the music to many of these tunes sounds like they should have sad lyrics, most don’t. “Shoot the Moon” is an exception; an indefinite poem of love leaving, undisturbed by the musical accompaniment.
  • “Turn Me On” — One of my favorites, a gem among gems, Norah seems especially inspired by blues great John Loudermilk’s lyrics. This is the one tune where she nearly lets her voice out of the box; more than once, we get a glimpse of the barely restrained power behind that softness. Reminiscent of Aretha Franklin, a long time ago. I’d love to hear more; not that there’s anything wrong with the way Jones uses her voice, but there’s plenty of room for more of the soulful intensity of “Turn Me On.”
  • “Lonestar” — Simple honest country tune. Every instrument sounds like they’ve gone home to Texas; even Norah’s piano chording is traditional 1-4-5 with the bass runs I remember so well from my father’s piano playing. Mournful lyrics, aptly suited to this homage to her home state.
  • “I’ve Got to See You Again” — Probably actually a rhumba or samba, this has all the earmarks of klezmer, the joyous music of Jewish festivities, but slower, more passionate. Jenny Scheinman’s violin adds just the right touch of mystery to an unusual arrangement. A standout, even among so many outstanding tracks. Fascinating vocal harmonies provided by Norah herself, which makes me wonder how some of these tunes would fare in a live setting, without the ability to overdub her own harmonies. More on that below.
  • “Painter Song” — This would fit right into so much of the jazz from the 20s and 30s. Unusual climbing chord progressions, a meandering melody not quickly grasped, and friendly accordion make this shorter song fun.
  • “One Flight Down” — Like a m