[Editor’s Note: American Tunes is a series of posts dedicated to songs that address America’s social and political challenges. For more information on the series, click here.]
On Tuesday, The Spacebomb Sound hosted a really candid and informative roundtable on race that aired on Red Bull Music Academy Radio. Tiffany Jana, Reggie Pace, Kelli Strawbridge, Devonne Harris, Cameron Ralston, and Matthew E. White participated, and while I’m not sure if audio is available to be replayed, RBMA just posted a fairly extensive transcript of the discussion. I hope you’ll read it and share — read to absorb the ideas and experiences that were relayed on Tuesday, and share to keep the momentum going so honest, substantive discussions like this one keep happening all over the country.
One song they played during the show was Sharon Jones’ version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” I hadn’t heard her version until recently, but I’ve grown very attached to it in that short time. It’s amazing how much gravity her voice adds. Growing up, I didn’t realize how political the song was — depending on which verses people choose to include, it can still seem apolitical and/or downright hypocritical — but I had a conversion experience last year when Dave Rawlings Machine closed their November show at The National with it. The verse about the signs and private property and how signs say nothing on the back… I don’t know whether I hadn’t heard that verse before or if I just wasn’t listening intently, but when Dave Rawlings sang it, it felt powerfully subversive. Got goosebumps and everything.
Here’s how Jones sings it:
As I was walking, they tried to stop me
They put up a sign that said “private property”
On the back side, it said nothing
That side was made for you and me
Sharon Jones — “This Land Is Your Land” (Woody Guthrie cover) [Spotify/iTunes]
Filed under #features, #rva
A few quick notes before the weekend. Just a warning: Things will likely get political on here next week, so let’s enjoy this carefree* moment while we can.
- I’m not crying at this video of First Aid Kit singing to Emmylou Harris, YOU ARE.
- Hell yeah, new Daniel Bachman album. And a First Listen sampling of that huge Bob Dylan live box set. Fun stuff over at NPR.
- I hadn’t listened to Delicate Steve in a while, and I hadn’t listened to his 2015 live album at all, but I spent some time with it earlier this week. Hot damn, it is good. Really makes me wish I’d caught him a couple years back at The National. Come back to Richmond plz!
- More fun Spacebomb news: Foxygen just released a super fun video for their new single, “Follow the Leader.” The song sounds incredible, and there is, according to Matthew E. White, “a huge dose of Richmond” stirred in. Excited to hear the rest of the new album.
- Speaking of doses of Richmond, be sure to check out Heartracer’s new Eat Your Heart Out EP. It’s wonderfully clean and intentionally constructed. Really well done.
- Did some crucial prep work this morning by spinning Animal Collective’s Live At 9:30 album while getting Toddler YHT ready for daycare. Very psyched for tonight’s show at the National, as I am for Kikagaku Moyo and Helado Negro at Strange Matter on Monday. (And Truckers at The National later next week!)
*I’m an anxious train wreck right now and Wednesday can’t come soon enough.
Happy Halloweekend, y’all! Pictured above is Toddler YHT is dressed as your classic tiger-panda-fairy hybrid. Can’t wait for trick or treating. Until then…
I’m off to have a semi-serious conversation with Mrs.YHT about whether we should do the Jimmy Kimmel thing where you pretend you ate all your kid’s candy and videotape the reaction. I’m not that mean… am I?
Fancy a few Friday news and notes thingies?
- Today’s an awesome release day (hello there, Hiss Golden Messenger), but I left two crucial releases off last week’s list: White Laces (wrote about No Floor yesterday) and Moses Sumney. Lordy, is Lamentations good. I pretty sure I remember “Worth It” from when he opened for Sufjan Stevens at the Altria Theater — it went straight on my “That’s My Jam” playlist after I heard this version. “Lonely World” is also outstanding, with an assist from Thundercat. Well worth a listen, if you’re not already a Sumney fan. Or if you are. And since everyone on Earth falls into one of those two categories, there’s no excuse for not listening.
- Some really great Spacebomb news — their newest roster addition, Georgie, just released a song called “Company Of Thieves” and a corresponding video that looks like it was really fun to make. This is some seriously punchy stuff, both in terms of the strength of her voice and the oomph the horns provide. More plz thx.
- Next long run I go on I’m listening to the Bruce Fresh Air interview. Can’t wait. Also looking forward to reading his book. There need to be more hours in the day so I can do that like… now.
- Goodwill scores this week include Wynton Marsalis’ debut album, the soundtrack for The Empire Strikes Back, and two spoken word Star Trek albums, which include three or four narrated episodes each. I’m not all that into Star Trek, but they looked too campy to walk away from.
- Too much good music this weekend. Lucy Dacus (with My Darling Fury and Spooky Cool) at The National tonight and the Richmond Folk Festival all weekend. Here’s hoping the weather doesn’t act up too much — Stephen Lecky and the whole Folk Fest machine put in so much work each year, and it’s such a gift to the city. Stop by early and often, and be sure to throw a few bucks into an orange donation bucket. You’ll probably get a sticker, and you can wear it like a badge of honor.
I whined a little about the weather earlier, but if you’re in Florida/Georgia/South Carolina and you’re reading this, be safe. Here’s hoping the storm heads east and doesn’t circle back around.
At some point last year, I stopped writing about the shows I was going to. I’ve still been taking notes on my phone — quick bullet point observations of songs and performers — but I haven’t been committing them to blog paper lately. Last night’s Natalie Prass show was one hell of a wake-up call, however, and I can’t resist sharing this time around. Here are my notes as they would have looked if I’d been able to pull a Zack Morris and pause the show to wax rhapsodic about what I was seeing. (As a side note, I once told my parents during an episode of Saved By the Bell that I wanted to change my name to Zack. They didn’t oblige, which seems like the right call in retrospect.)
Damn. It’s December? Who let that happen?
It’s hard to believe, but year-end lists are starting to appear. I just saw Rolling Stone’s, which placed the U2 album at #1. OK then. My top-10 is in the works… sort of. I’ve been keeping a list of every new album I’ve listened to in full — first time I’ve done that — and I’ve made a spot in my living room for the albums released in 2014 that I bought on vinyl so I can give them a few extra listens. I’m certain this means they’ll get preferential rankings, but whatever.
While I’m in the process of making lists and checking them twice, I thought it would be fun to preview a few of the albums I’m looking forward to in 2015. You know what? “Looking forward to” is putting it mildly. I’m like a cat staring at a printer, impatiently waiting to grab what comes out. Here’s why: