Sunday, October 04, 2009

Listening Post

Here are nine songs I've downloaded over the past week:

* "People Who Died", The Jim Carroll Band. Carroll's death last month makes this a bittersweet listening experience.

* " Jesus", Glen Campbell. The song from the Velvet Underground's third album sounds like a prayer, although, in the context of this particular band, it's maybe more of a character study. The Velvets always sang about dead-end characters: whores, junkies, pushers, etc., and this sounds like a prayer offered up by one of them. Glen Campbell takes it out of that world and makes it his own. He plays it straight and sincere. A moving performance that shows how two people can play a song the same way and have two different perspectives.

* "Over At Tom's House", Blue Ridge Mountain Entertainers. I came across this number while doing a little Internet research following a recent family reunion in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. We were all sitting around one evening talking about our old home place in Elizabethton, Tennessee, located in an area of town allegedly known as Cat Island. It got it's name following the 1901 flood, when the local constable, Tiger Merritt -- father of my late great uncle Earl -- came back to report that the area was full of nothing but dead cats. The name stuck. Thirty years later, there was this song in which Cat Island is prominently mentioned. This song is a thrown-together mountain jam session where a guy named Tom keeps welcoming new musicians into his home; somewhere along the way a fellow named Clarence Greene walks in and says he's been over to Cat Island in Elizabethton, where he and another shady character named Hog Moore drank and fiddled. Tom has a wife named Katie and a dog that won't shut up and his house is apparently the place to go when you're in the mood for some picking and fiddling and a good swig of liquor. The song was written just before Prohibition died out, so liquor was still a forbidden pleasure. Anyway, better heard than described.

* "It's My Life" and "Spill the Wine", The Animals. Nostalgia.

* "Children of the Revolution," T. Rex. I fell in love with this song after hearing it in the movie Breakfast on Pluto, a terrific gem from a few years ago.

"Too Drunk to Fuck", The Dead Kennedys. Some titles just beg to be heard.

"You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", sung by Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Roseanne Cash. This was one of the highlights of Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Show in Madison Square Garden, about which few people remember anything except that Sinead O'Connor was booed off the stage for having insulted the Pope a week before on Saturday Night Live. This is a great song sung by three great voices. Watch it. It's fantastic.

* "Baby I Need Your Loving", The Four Tops. A soul classic, on sale for 69 cents.

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