The other day I was reading Dave Van Ronk‘s autobiography The Mayor of MacDougal Street. In the chapter I was reading Dave was recalling fellow folksinger Paul Clayton. Clayton was a graduate of the University of Virginia, where he earned a master’s degree in Folklore. Clayton was a true folksinger studying and singing traditional music mostly New England seas shanties and ballads and Appalachian songs. At the point of his career in the mid to late 1950s, that Van Ronk was writing about Clayton had already recorded dozens of albums and most of them revolved around a theme like Songs of Love and Marriage, Songs of Hate and Divorce. and Waters of Tyne: English North Country Songs & Ballads. Van Ronk writes that any time Clayton needed money, he would head to the library and look through an obscure folklore collection. He would then visit Moe Asch at Folkways Records and say “You know Moe. I was just looking through your catalog and I noticed that you don’t have a single album of Maine lumberjack ballads”
So on the left sidebar there is a playlist of some of my favorite songs from a variety of albums, most of which were released in July August and September of 2014. There are a couple that I’ve added from earlier months basically albums that I didn’t get around to writing about but still really enjoyed! So here’s the list of the albums that the songs were taken from to make the playlist!
1. Milltowns - Mark Erelli – September 2014
I have only listened to this album of covers of Bill Morrissey songs once, and I had problems with it, mainly because Bill’s voice was so distinctive I have trouble hearing anyone else sing his songs
2. Haven’t Got the Blues (Yet) - September
I missed this song from Loudon Wainwright III last Christmas. The first time I heard the song “I’ll Be Killing You This Christmas” was last night on my way to work at Target, and as I listened I first thought, OK? As the songs, continued I soon was smiling and then laughed out loud! The song is included on Wainwright’s new album I Don’t Have the Blues (Yet) and it’s one of the several new treasures , from the folksong master! I have written before that I have never been a big fan of Wainwright but after his last several albums, I have changed my opinion. Of course another reason may be that at 68 years old, Loudon is just slightly older than I am. and many of the songs in his last few albums have dealt with aging, songs like the title of his last album “Older than the Now” which talks about when you become older than your father ever was, and on this album “Brand Ne Dance”. Anyway, I’ve only listened to the album once and I don’t know that I made it all the way through, but as of right now, the Grade for the album is a B+ and rising!!
Otis Gibbs’ latest release Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth has been in my rotation for about a week now and the Indiana native, East Nashville resident has crafted another fine album. For my money, Gibbs is one of the best songwriters out there today and this collection of songs may be his best effort yet! Gibbs’ songwriting talents rank right up there with the best, comparisons have been made to Woody Guthrie, TomT.Hall, Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt. His story-songs tell tales of everyday life.
On Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth one of the best tracks is “Ghost of Our Fathers” in the song tells the story of a neighbor who was a bare knuckle boxing champion, but the toughest loss was that of his son who was killed in Vietnam. I love the simple chorus….
Ellis Paul (born Paul Plissey; January 14, 1965) is an American singer-songwriter and folk musician. Born in Aroostook County, Maine, Paul is a key figure in what has become known as the Boston school of songwriting, a literate, provocative and urbanely romantic folk-pop style that helped ignite the folk revival of the 1990s. His pop music songs have appeared in movies and on television, bridging the gap between the modern folk sound and the populist traditions of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Read More
Most times I can pretty much tell if I am really going to like an album, after the first few seconds of the first track. This method of assessing a record did not work with David Crosby‘s latest release Croz. The first time I listened to the album, I was not impressed by the opening track, so I really didn’t continue to listen. If today August 14th was not the 73rd anniversary of David’s Los Angeles birth, I may not have listened to the album again, and have missed out on a pretty damn good album!! I have followed David’s career since it began with the Byrds in the early 60s. But like most of my music listening, I became a real fan in the late 60s and early 70s after he left the Byrds and teamed with Graham Nash and Steven Still to form Crosby, Stills, Nash. I can still remember when I purchased the album Deja Vu in the Moorestown Mall, being told by the clerk that I was the first one to purchase the album!! Crosby was born and raised in Los Angeles, California the son of Aliph Van Cortland Whitehead and Bing Crosby, Bob? no, Floyd Crosby, who appears to have no close relationship to the other Crosby’s. Although, Floyd did make a name for himself in Hollywood, as an academy award-winning cinematographer. Both his parents have genealogical roots going back to early New York. His mom is a descendent of the Van Cortland family and Floyd was a descendent of the Van Rensselear family. After an undistinguished academic career, Crosby moved to New York to make his way in the music business. Arriving in Greenwich Village in and around 1963 David joined Les Baxter’s Balladeers a group in which Bob Dylan was also a member. Fred Neil who was already a friend and mentor to Dylan also took Crosby under his wing. Now since I don’t know or remember as much about The Byrds as I do his later bands, here is a little info from Wikipedia….
So back in 1971 I found the music of John Prine. The liner notes on his début album were written by Kris Kristofferson whose music I knew and whose opinion I respected, I had also read great things about the album, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the album. That album started a 42 year and still continuing love affair with John’s music. A year later, I read the following on the back on another début album:
I been listening to the radio since I was three years old. I figured by now I could see songs better than most people listen to them. The first time I heard Steve Goodman on the radio, I knew I was listening to a tall skinny cat with a little beard singing the best damn train song I ever heard.
Two months later in the backroom at The Earl of Oldtown, I met a short stout fellow with no beard who wrote and sang the best train song I ever heard. His name was Steve Goodman. The Lord works in Mysterious Ways – John Prine, 1971
Over the last few weeks, I’ve made reference to listening to David Wilcox’s new album blaze, today I listened to it again and I think it’s time i write something about the album! For me David Wilcox has the whole package, he is an intelligent and thought songwriter, a great singer and a terrific guitar player. What more could one ask for? I’ve been listening to David since the late 80s when I heard him on the radio singing and discussing the titled track of his first album “The Nightshift Watchman” Which is a song about those people, who sit in underground bunkers watching the skies for a missile attack knowing full well that if they do their job, their job and the world as we know it may be over!! You can read the lyrics here. Many of David’s eighteen releases can be found in my music library and I feel that blaze is one of his best albums.