Tag Archives: Dave Rawlings

Dave Van Ronk

Another gem I snagged at Deep Groove’s sidewalk sale last weekend: Dave Van Ronk’s No Dirty Names LP.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw it, in large part because I spent a couple of weeks recently binge-listening to “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me.” I’m not sure how that started, but Inside Llewyn Davis must be involved on some level, given that Oscar Isaac performs the song in the film. Then again, I didn’t know until, like, right now that the movie was partially inspired by Van Ronk’s autobiography.

Looking through DVR’s discography I see that No Dirty Names came out in 1966, two years after he released a pair of albums in the same year: Inside Dave Van Ronk, which I’m assuming led to the film’s title, and Just Dave Van Ronk, which I pulled out of my dad’s collection a few years back. I’m not sure whether that was before or after the movie came out — just that the album had some value on Discogs and looked interesting.

I’ve come to admire his voice a great deal. You’ll often see the word “growl” associated with how he sang, and No Dirty Names is full of examples why. Opening track “One Meatball” is outstanding in that respect — so much attack in his voice. Same with “Keep It Clean,” which immediately sounded familiar, probably because of Willie Watson’s version. If memory serves, Watson may have even performed it with the Dave Rawlings Machine at the National in Richmond in 2015. Can’t wait for their show there in December.

I digress… but isn’t that what’s great about folk music? You bring up one album and next thing you know you’re three degrees of separation away with a whole mess of amazing music in between.

Dave Van Ronk — “Keep It Clean” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Friday News and Notes

A few Friday notes for you — another person who has made it through another week in this weird world in which we find ourselves.

  • Very excited for the Chris Thile/Brad Mehldau album that was just announced. Quick story — when Bob Dylan’s Tempest album was announced and I saw “Scarlet Town” on the track list, I desperately hoped it would be a cover of the Gillian Welch song from The Harrow & The Harvest. It wasn’t. So when I saw that a “Scarlet Town” was on this Thile/Mehldau album, I braced for disappointment… but I needn’t have. Check out their excellent take on the Welch/Rawlings tune above.
  • In other album announcement news, Matthew E. White has a collaborative cover album (with Flo Morrissey) coming out in January called Gentlewoman, Ruby Man. Psyched for that. You can hear their cover of Little Wings’ “Look At That The Light Did Now” here.
  • I haven’t listened to the first Gillian Welch bootlegs album yet, but I’m gonna.
  • I have been working my way through Ennio Morricone’s new collection, Morricone 60, where he revisits some of his classic works. Read this article to learn more about the album and to see what it looks like when zero fucks are given during an interview.
  • File this Amanda Petrusich article about M. C. Taylor under “Two of My Favorite People in One Place.” It’s actually the second time she’s written about Hiss Golden Messenger — I wrote about the first time she wrote about him a little while back. And if you were to write about the time I wrote about the first time Amanda Petrusich wrote about M. C. Taylor, the universe would fold in on itself and 2016 would be over early, which would be delightful.
  • I hadn’t heard of Washington Phillips before Pitchfork wrote about a compilation of his that was recently released, but he sings exactly the kind of gospel that warms my heart, even (or especially) during difficult times. You know, like times when you’re joking about how the destruction of the universe would be delightful.

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Guy Clark

Guy Clark

I was lucky enough to see Gillian Welch at Maymont on Sunday night. The show was excellent, aside from cicadas trying so hard to drown out the music that Welch and Dave Rawlings actually commented on them. Seeing her sing “Hard Times” was incredibly meaningful, but what’s stuck with me most is a cover they played.

“Stuck with me” might not be strong enough language. It’s more like I’ve been haunted. It’s been stuck in my head, I’ve been singing the chorus to my daughter, I’ve missed out on some sleep because my brain has decided that bedtime is when I should try to run through the lyrics… It’s a little nuts.

I’m talking about “Dublin Blues,” a Guy Clark song. Welch played it as a tribute to Clark, who died in May of this year, finishing with “We love you, Guy!” and a story about Clark championing her music early in her career. I took a video of it (I try to keep my phone in my pocket as much as possible at shows these days, but hearing “This is a cover of…” causes involuntary reflexes to kick in) and I watched a few times when I got home, then found Clark’s studio version, and haven’t really stopped listening since, if you count the intra-cranial plays.

It’s hard to put a finger on why “Dublin Blues” managed hijack my brain, but if I had to guess, I’d say it has something to do with the way it plays with the idea of sophistication. By singing “I have been to Forth Worth, and I have been to Spain,” Clark upends the notion that people who drink Mad Dog margaritas have no culture, while simultaneously elevating the everyday experiences of those who may not have the means to visit Europe. He does the same by finishing a list of wonders he’s seen — Michelangelo’s David, the Mona Lisa — with seeing Doc Watson play “Columbus Stockade Blues,” a wonder that, ironically, will never be seen again. (For a sillier take on the same idea, try “We’re Not The Jet Set.”) And the whole story is couched in heartache — something that can strike anyone at anytime. All that nuance, just three chords, as best as I can tell.

Speaking of just three chords, hey band guys — if you’re reading this, wanna cover it? I’ve been working on the lyrics…

Guy Clark — “Dublin Blues” [Spotify/iTunes]

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Dawes

Dawes

I really liked “All Your Favorite Bands” when I first heard it, though I have to admit it felt a tad sentimental. Then I saw the video, at which point shit got real.

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