Tag Archives: Gillian Welch

Friday News and Notes

Lots to catch up on since my last news and notes post. To be honest, I’m having trouble posting these days because the world seems so grim, but there is still so much good music worth celebrating, and I’m trying to let the light in. Here are a few things that have been shining particularly bright for me lately:

  • This is almost a month late, but I’d recommend Amanda Petrusich’s thoughts on the Mariah Carey NYE debacle. After reading it, my first thought was that it’s a pleasure to read along as Petrusich makes sense of things. It reminds me of one theory about dreams — that they help you process and file away the things that are happening around you. That’s Petrusich’s writing to me.
  • While I’m tempted to say the outfits are the best part of this hour-plus video of Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters performing in Germany in 1974, the groove is too damn good. Cheers to Aquarium Drunkard for posting it.
  • I included Spencer Tweedy’s Geezer Love in my best EPs of 2016 post, and just weeks later, his brother Sammy released his own EP, called Canoe Country, comprised of looping synth sounds and guitar. Really neat. Jeff Tweedy has some talented kids.
  • How’s about a recent Daniel Bachman live set recorded in Richmond? While you’re at it, check out the Liza Kate set from that same show that starts with the following joke:
    “What do you do when you see a fireman?
    “Put it out, man.”
  • This Phantogram cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes” is precise and wonderful and I don’t know how you repeatedly and consistently arpeggiate guitar chords like this without your name being Jonnie Greenwood.
  • I didn’t go too crazy for Conor Oberst’s Ruminations album, but hot damn am I psyched for this upcoming Salutations album. (This NPR write-up had me at “Guests on Salutations include Gillian Welch…”) I’ve listened to this updated version of “A Little Uncanny” more than a dozen times and counting. Fuck Ronald Reagan. Seriously.
  • So Ryan Adams is coming to The National here in Richmond, and I’ve managed to snag my ticket for the Sunday (3/5) show. Tickets for that one and the next night’s show are on sale now, unless they aren’t because they’ve already sold out. This might be my favorite pairing of artist and venue since Landlady came to Hardywood last year. (Oh yeah, they’re coming to Richmond — to The Camel — on the second night Adams is in town, so I get to see him and them on consecutive nights. Pretty sure I’m going to happy cry at one or both.)

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2016 in Review: Blasts from the Past

Easing into the numbered lists with Blasts from the Past — the reissues and archival releases I had the most fun with this year.

1. John Prine — In Spite of Ourselves

john-prine

I once found myself outside a recording studio talking to a very large and friendly stranger about how much we both loved “In Spite Of Ourselves,” trading the verses we could remember off the tops of our heads and laughing hysterically. The power of John Prine’s songwriting, y’all. I think about that dude every time I hear the song. I think about you too, Mrs. YHT, just [adjusts collar nervously] not just you. I’m going to stop typing about this now.

John Prine — “In Spite Of Ourselves” [Spotify/iTunes]

2. Allen Toussaint — Live In Philadelphia 1975

Allen Toussaint

The Last Waltz introduced me to Allen Toussaint The Arranger, and Matthew E. White’s interviews and Spotify listening feed helped me get to know Allen Toussaint The Influence, but I hadn’t really met Allen Toussaint The Performer until Record Store Day, when this live set was reissued. Predictably, that part of his personality is like the other parts — charming, entertaining, and close enough to flawless that you find yourself wondering if he ever makes mistakes. (Just a few months later, when I grabbed a copy of American Tunes while in Chicago for a wedding, I got to meet Allen Toussaint The Technician-Historian — he’s pretty great, too.)

Allen Toussaint — “Last Train” (live) [Discogs]

3. Gillian Welch — Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg

gillian-welch

If you buy into the Gillian-Welch-as-self-styled-Southern-person narrative, you’d probably call this album evidence of a crucial turning point in her persona definition. I tend to think we’re all constructs of the people we want to be, with varying degrees of consciousness about the whole deal. Having grown up in Norfolk — large military presence, friends’ families moving away and moving back, not all that rednecky but right near the North Carolina border — I understand how it feels to embrace Southern-ness consciously, selectively, and gradually, and I tend to feel a little defensive when people talk/write about her origin story. It’s weird, and I can’t tell whether I like this Boots album because of or in spite of that defensiveness. Probably a little of both.

Gillian Welch — “Dry Town” (demo) [Spotify/iTunes]

4. Various — Why the Mountains Are Black – Primeval Greek Village Music: 1907-1960

why-the-mountains-are-black

Spooky tunes compiled and analyzed by legendary 78’s collector Chris King? Check. Cover art by R. Crumb? Check. Release party at Steady Sounds with King spinning 78’s from the second floor? Check. Something to play whenever we want to make Greek food and/or remember our trip there? Check.

Kalamatianos” (“Dance of Kalamata”) [Spotify/iTunes]

5. Jack White — Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

jack-white

[knock, knock, knock] “Hi, I’m here for the alternate version of ‘Carolina Drama,’ and I’m not leaving until I understand the critical plot points.”

Jack White — “Carolina Drama (Acoustic Mix)” [Spotify/iTunes]

BONUS: Bob Dylan — The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert

bob-dylan

I hadn’t planned on buying this, but that giant 1966 box set has been looking more interesting by the day, and a used copy popped up on BK Music’s Instagram feed. I figure this’ll keep the box set at bay. For now.

Bob Dylan — “Tell Me, Momma” (live) [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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Friday News and Notes

Avers

A few quick notes heading into the weekend:

  • CD Monday update: CD Monday is on the ropes, y’all. Once again, I didn’t get to listen much to the week’s album — this time it was because Toddler YHT has started requesting “Video Killed The Radio Star” the moment any other music starts playing. As repetitive as it may be, The Buggles are 1000% preferable to Daniel Tiger singing about his feelings. It reminds me a little of when I worked at Buffalo Wild Wings one summer: I thought I’d get sick of chicken wings — I went home smelling like one every night — but I ended that summer more hooked on Bdubs than ever. I think the same thing is happening with “Radio Star,” as my daughter calls it.
  • Avers Note #1: My vinyl copy of the new album came in the mail earlier this week, and it’s excellent. Can’t wait to write a longer thing about it.
  • Avers Note #2: Congrats to the band on the Billboard advance stream! Love thinking about how many new ears they’ll be reaching.
  • Avers Note #3: Tonight’s the big release show at the Broadberry! I’ll be gigging tonight, but y’all should all go and get your faces rocked off. And be sure to hit the merch table while you’re there — Omega/Whatever is a must-have.
  • This is very random, but I brought a VCR to the Corolla last week, and one of the movies we watched was Disney’s foxy version of Robin Hood. While it was playing I found out that the Watkins Family Hour album from last year has a fantastic cover of “Not In Nottingham.” Did y’all know Roger Miller wrote that? And the “Oo De Lally” song? How cool is that?
  • Ryan Adams writes a lot of spontaneous mid-concert throwaway songs, but this has to be one of his best. By the way, if you haven’t heard his set from Newport — the one he did with The Infamous Stringdusters –it’s definitely worth a listen.
  • Next week’s Off Your Radar will cover Gillian Welch’s Time (The Revelator), and I am so damn excited that I have no idea what to write. Tune in on Monday to see what happens when that confused excitement collides with my Sunday submission deadline!

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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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Old Crow Medicine Show

Carry Me Back

So we just found out on Tuesday that Bob Dylan is releasing a new album, entitled Tempest, on September 11. I don’t know about you, but album announcements don’t usually get me too riled up. It’s hard to get excited about a press release accompanied by a list of out-of-context song titles, especially when the payoff can be so far away. I mean, September is like a year away (delayed gratification and I are not friends). This announcement was different though, and not just because it’s Bob Dylan, and that’s reason enough to get one’s undies in a bunch. My undies bunched double because I got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, the “Scarlet Town” that’s included on the track list was a cover of the “Scarlet Town” Gillian Welch released on her 2011 album The Harrow & The Harvest. I even spent like 30 minutes drafting unsent Tweets about it:

“Part of me is hoping that “Scarlet Town” from Bob Dylan’s upcoming album is a cover of the @gillianwelch tune. The other part of me thinks that’s wrong.”

Other drafts were less circumspect, focusing on how I’d probably pee my pants if my theory were to hold true. (Does anyone else routinely spend half an hour writing tweets they don’t send? Anyone? Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

But all that excitement and subsequent guilt over rooting for a cover from the greatest songwriter of all time vanished into thin air when I actually took the time to read the whole press release, which states clearly that Tempest features “ten new and original Bob Dylan songs.” Well, then. There goes that. Guess I should know better than to try to predict Bob Dylan’s behavior. After all, this exists.

My Tempest gratification may be delayed until September, but Tuesday was kind enough to balance things out by dropping a brick of pure, uncut, instant gratification in my lap via a text from my friend Tex (say that 5 times fast) asking if I’d heard the new Old Crow Medicine Show album.

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