Thursday, 29 January 2009

Twenty-First Century Hank



Hank Williams died seven months before Elvis set foot inside Sam Phillip's Sun Studio. Which of them was the most rock'n'roll? No contest.

Listening to The Raveonettes' cover of I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry last weekend set me scouring the shelves for more. These are five Hank Williams covers I found in my collection - all recorded this decade. You can hear and download the originals at the bottom of the post.

MP3: The Raveonettes - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

I always imagine the Danish duo playing at The Roadhouse in Twin Peaks if Julee Cruise ever wanted a night off. Their modern take on 50s music and snappy dress sense chime perfectly with David Lynch's world. Lynch must be a Hank fan - he made a movie called Lost Highway.
More Raveonettes: MySpace | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Beck - (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle

"Hank had a voice that cut through wood" Beck wrote in an appraisal of his hero for Rolling Stone's Immortals issue. This is from a 2000 session for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic.
More Beck: MySpace | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Ramblin' Man

The most inspired and unlikely duo in recent memory combine to create what's probably the sexiest Hank Williams cover ever recorded; a point not lost on whoever directed this video.
More Campbell & Lanegan: MySpace | Amazon | 7digital



MP3: Clem Snide - Lost on the River

This track sits so perfectly alongside the others on Clem Snide's first album, You Were A Diamond, that I doubt I realised it was a cover on first listen. Banjo aficionados take note - it features some very tasty picking.
More Clem Snide: MySpace | Amazon 7digital

MP3: Neko Case - Alone and Forsaken

The only song written by an American on Case's Canadian Amp EP. It's a pretty straightforward rendition but Neko Case's remarkable voice makes it something really special.
More Neko Case: official site | Amazon | 7digital

And the orginals...

MP3: Hank Williams - I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry


MP3: Hank Williams - (I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle


MP3: Hank Williams - Ramblin' Man


MP3: Hank Williams - Lost on the River (with Audrey Williams)


MP3: Hank Williams - Alone and Forsaken

Sunday, 25 January 2009

State Songs #4: Arkansas


Photo: StuSeeger @ Flickr

After an easy musical run through the first three states of the journey I admit to struggling slightly with Arkansas. The state's tourist office promotes it as a fine destination for hunting and bird watching but these activities have inspired few visiting songwriters.

MP3: The New Lost City Ramblers - The Arkansas Sheik

The NLCR were pivotal in the late 50s and 60s folk revival and Mike Seeger and John Cohen remain excellent raconteurs of that era. This is from their 1966 album Remembrance of Things to Come. The original liner notes sum up the song's subject: "A version of a popular theme in mountain music, ie that Arkansas is the worst place of all".
More New Lost City Ramblers: Wikipedia | Amazon

MP3: Hayes Carll - Little Rock

Carnival Saloon favourite Hayes Carll is less down on Arkansas. In the title track from his first album he's travelled through most of the States looking for his woman before heading down to Little Rock.
More Hayes Carll: Carnival Saloon | official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell - A Little Girl From Little Rock

A gem from an Oxford American compilation. Monroe and Russell perform the song in Howard Hawks' film 1953 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
More Monroe: official site | Amazon | 7digital



MP3: REM - Texarkana

There are plenty of songs about Texas so I'm favouring Texarkana's Arkansas side. Although there's no mention of the town in the lyrics at least one person who's been there reckons it "captures the mood of the city". Some REM trivia - this is one of two Out of Time tracks that bassist Mike Mills sings lead vocal on (the other's Near Wild Heaven).
More REM: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Bruce Springsteen - Mary Queen of Arkansas

The Boss makes his debut on the trip with a wordy track from debut album Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ. Bruce doesn't seem keen to stay in Arkansas for long - he knows a place in Mexico where they "can get a good job and start all over again clean". Is this the first of Bruce's many Marys?
More Bruce: official site | Amazon | 7digital

Further suggestions of Arkansas songs most welcome. There are no American states that begin with B so next time we're goin' out west where the wind blows tall...

Related Posts
State Songs #1: Alabama - Cat Power, Billie Holiday, Jim White, Joan Baez, Shelby Lynne and, of course, Lynryd Skynyrd.
State Songs #2: Alaska - Michelle Shocked, Johnny Cash, Port O'Brien, Dan Bern, The Velvet Underground
State Songs #3: Arizona - Wilco, Glen Campbell, The DeZurik Sisters, Dimitri Tiomkin and Public Enemy

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Obamarama!



Paste magazine have marked the inauguration of Barry H Obama by giving away this cute song by Clare Muldaur and the Reasons. You can download it from Paste's website. Enjoy!

Clare and the Reasons - Obama Over The Rainbow



Related Posts
Super Obama
Thank You George W Bush

Related Links
Paste Magazine
BBC - Full Obama Inauguration Coverage

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Chicken: Anyone For Seconds?


Carnival Saloon regulars will know that my first post of the new year was about chicken songs and the second was the start of my musical tour of every American state which began in Alabama. So, imagine how I felt yesterday when I discovered I actually own a song called Alabama Chicken and didn't mention it in either post!

I believe there's always room for more chicken so here's that song plus some more premium poultry.

MP3: Sean Hayes - Alabama Chicken

I found this on one of the wonderful Crowd Around The Mic compilations my favourite American radio station WNCW sends out to its supporters each year. On his MySpace Sean Hayes says, "I like the sound of claw hammer banjo". Amen to that.
More Sean Hayes: official site | Amazon

MP3: Charles Mingus - Eat That Chicken

Pete Marsh (a vegetarian) recommended this after my previous chicken post. I'm a jazz novice and know next to nothing about Mingus. This is from his 1961 album Oh Yeah which after two listens I rate as both "excellent" and "bonkers in places".
More Mingus: official site |Amazon | 7digital

MP3: The Magnetic Fields - A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

One of the 69 Love Songs Stephin Merritt and co released in 1999. In the accompanying booklet Merritt writes, "There's not that many clich├ęs left to be used as titles of country songs. So I was jokingly scraping the bottom of the barrel".
More Magnetic Fields: MySpace | Amazon | 7digital

MP3:
Howlin' Wolf - The Red Rooster

I don't know how I could have omitted this from my first chicken post. The Rolling Stones had a number one hit with this in 1964 but the Howlin' Wolf original is still preferable in my mind.
More Howlin' Wolf: Unofficial site | Amazon | 7digital

More Chicken Song Posts

Chicken Songs For The Soul - Joe Ely, Hayes Carll, Hellwood, McGee Bros, Bill Thomas
Clucking Brilliant - The Meters, Rufus Thomas, Uncle Dave Macon, Link Wray
Thighs, Wings, Legs & Breasts - Big Joe Turner, The Hillbillies, Dr Alimantado, Cab Calloway

Other Related Posts
State Songs #1: Alabama Cat Power, Billie Holiday, Jim White, Joan Baez, Shelby Lynne and, of course, Lynryd Skynyrd

State Songs #3: Arizona


Photo © Adamos Maximimus @ Flickr

I spent a few days in Arizona in 1996 mainly to see the Grand Canyon. A tip if you're planning to visit. There's a sign at the top that advises against descending unless you have plenty of water. Take that advice. I genuinely thought there'd be a Wendy's at the bottom.

MP3: The DeZurik Sisters - The Arizona Yodeler

One of the joys of rooting through my record collection seeking songs about specific topics is chancing upon hidden gems like this I barely knew I owned. The DeZurik Sisters, Mary Jane and Carolyn, were Grand Ole Opry stars in the 30s and 40s famous for their yodeling, which, as you can hear, is quite spectacular.
More DeZurik Sisters: Wikipedia

MP3: Glen Campbell - By The Time I Get To Phoenix

The only time I ever got to Phoenix I spent the night on the "Sky Harbor" floor, sharing a corner of carpet with my friend James and an American who I recall was an unexpected Des Lynam fan. This won't be the last you'll hear of Glen Campbell on our journey through the States.
More Glen Campbell: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Wilco - Hotel Arizona

There's more than a nod to 70s rock'n'roll on Wilco's second album Being There so this I suppose is their 'tribute' to the Eagles. You can visit the Hotel Arizona if you're ever in Tuscon.
More Wilco: MySpace | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Public Enemy - By the Time I Get to Arizona

The original version is on the album Apocolypse 91... The Enemy Strikes Back and was written in response to Arizona's reluctance to acknowledge Martin Luther King Day in the early 90s (a stance supported by the state's senator John McCain by the way).
More Public Enemy: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Dimitri Tiomkin - Gunfight at the OK Corral Theme

The actual gunfight at the OK Corral was over in about 30 seconds. It's now recreated at 2pm each day in Tombstone and lasts about an hour. Three-time Oscar winner Dimitri Tiomkin composed dozens of other classic western themes and songs including High Noon and Rawhide.
More Dimitri Tiomkin: IMDb | Amazon

Next time we return to the South with a musical tour around Arkansas.

Related Posts
State Songs #1: Alabama - Cat Power, Billie Holiday, Jim White, Joan Baez, Shelby Lynne and, of course, Lynryd Skynyrd.
State Songs #2: Alaska - Michelle Shocked, Johnny Cash, Port O'Brien, Dan Bern, The Velvet Underground

Saturday, 17 January 2009

State Songs #2: Alaska


Our musical tour around the United States takes us to the country's most northern point. Until Sarah Palin made her unwelcome entrance into my consciousness pretty much all of my impressions about Alaska came from Northern Exposure, a whimsical 90s TV show that was actually filmed in Washington state.

This was my favourite programme as a teenager. What was not to love about the eccentric small town of Cicely and its residents that included Martin Scorsese's pen pal, a sexy female pilot and a well-read DJ who still played 78s?


I digress. There are more than 500 miles between Alaska and Seattle and the state averages just one person per square mile. With that in mind it's unsurprising that in most of these tracks Alaska seems to be a metaphor for remoteness. Wrap up warm...

MP3: Port O'Brien - Fisherman's Son

The song that inspired our musical trip across America. If I'd got round to making a list of my favourite albums of 2008 Port O'Brien's All We Could Do Is Sing would have have been on it.
More Port O'Brien: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Michelle Shocked - Anchorage (live)

One of my favourite songs of all time - I'm not quite sure why. This version was recorded for Dutch radio and appears on disc two of the Short Sharp Shocked re-release.
More Michelle Shocked: official site | Amazon

MP3: The Velvet Underground - Stephanie Says

It's debatable whether this song is actually about Alaska but it's a beauty nonetheless and one of only two tracks on VU that feature John Cale. Lou Reed re-wrote it as the much darker Caroline Says II for his Berlin album.
More Velvets: Wikipedia | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Dan Bern - Alaska Highway

Regular visitors through these doors will be familiar with Dan Bern. The Alaska Highway runs 1,522 miles through Canada, connecting Alaska with the rest of the US. The song also mentions Kodiak, home the famous bear.
More Dan Bern: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Johnny Cash - When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)

At last a song that wallows in Alaskan clichés. Johnny Horton's lyrics mention blizzards, freezing temperatures, grizzly bears and caribou. I have found no evidence to suggest that the "Eskimo Hop" is a genuine dance.
More Johnny Cash: official site | Amazon | 7digital

I hope you've enjoyed our trip up North. Things will be warmer next time as we head southwest to Arizona.

Related Posts
State Somgs #1: Alabama - Cat Power, Billie Holiday, Jim White, Joan Baez, Shelby Lynne and, of course, Lynryd Skynyrd.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

State Songs #1: Alabama

A Southern start to an epic musical journey


Last October Joanne and I were driving back from a weekend away with friends listening to the brilliant Port O'Brien album All We Could Do Is Sing on the stereo. Track 3, Fisherman's Son, opens with the line, "I'm doing fine in Alaska" which got us talking about the potential of a great '50 States, 50 Songs' playlist we could lovingly compile for a future road trip.

The more we discussed songs about places in America the more I thought this subject had blog potential. So here we are - 50 states, 50 blog posts* - starting in the "Heart of Dixie" and finishing, who knows when, in Dick Cheney's home state of Wyoming.

The selections will be a mixture of what we already own and songs I'll be seeking out (the Musical Map episode of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour has already sown some inspirational seeds). Feel free to suggest tracks I've omitted or should include in future posts.

There are no shortage of songs about Alabama (Wikipedia even has an entry on them) and I've missed out obvious ones by Neil Young and the Grateful Dead but I hope you enjoy what I have posted.

Okay, seat belts on, let's go.

MP3: Lynryd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama

A predictable start to our epic journey I know but it's easily the most famous song about Alabama and I'd get complaints for not including it. You may recall it being put to amusing use in the film Con Air.
More Lynryd Skynyrd: fan site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Shelby Lynne - Where I'm From

Shelby Lynne grew up in Alabama and this song is a wonderful evocation of the laid-back Southern way of life although, as she sings, "This ain't no Margaret Mitchell". In fact some of Lynne's biography is sadly Faulknerian.
More Shelby Lynne: MySpace | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Cat Power - Stuck Inside of Mobile (With the Memphis Blues Again)

This is Cat Power's contribution to the I'm Not There soundtrack. You can hear the Dylan original on Blonde on Blonde. Some trivia - Mobile is twined with Havana, Cuba and Malaga, Spain.
More Cat Power: MySpace |Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Billie Holiday - Stars Fell on Alabama

This jazz standard was written in 1934 and has been recorded by hundreds of people. I've gone with a populist choice. The title refers a meteor shower observed in Alabama in 1833.
More Billie Holiday: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Jim White - Alabama Chrome

I've previously recommended the film Searching For The Wrong-Eyed Jesus. It features a great sequence with Jim White talking about "Alabama chrome", i.e. duct tape used for car repairs.
More Jim White: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Joan Baez - Birmingham Sunday

My dad wouldn't forgive me for not including this in a post about Alabama songs so I'm afraid we're ending on a downbeat note. The song was written by Baez's brother-in-law Richard Farina in response to the KKK bombing that killed four school girls in Birmngham in 1963. If you've not seen it, Spike Lee's documentary 4 Little Girls is a brilliant account of the atrocity and its aftermath.
More Joan Baez: official site | Amazon | 7digital

I hope you've enjoyed the start to our journey. All comments welcome. Next time we'll be wrapping up warm and heading north to Alaska.

*Actually, it'll be at least 51 blog posts because there are some excellent Washington, DC songs I'd be remiss to leave out and Texas and Tennessee probably warrant at least two entries each.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Chicken Songs For The Soul


Last year I saw Hayes Carll and Tom Russell in fairly quick succession at the Luminaire. Both performed excellent sets; both sang songs about chickens - one a fighting cock, the other of barnyard-to-plate variety. Which got me thinking...

MP3: Joe Ely - Gallo Del Cielo

I think Joe Ely's version is better known than Tom Russell's original. Like so many Tom Russell songs this is a wonderful evocation of borderline lawlessness.
More Joe Ely: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Hayes Carll - Chickens

For some reason this song got the loudest cheer at Hayes Carll's Luminaire gig last year. I guess everybody loves chicken.
More Hayes Carll: official site | Amazon | 7digital

MP3: Hellwood - Chicken Shack

Hellwood is the rip-roaring collaboration between Johnny Dowd and Jim White. This is their love song to the finger-lickin' favourite. "When I eat fried chicken I need lots of room." Amen to that.
More Hellwood: Amazon

MP3: Bill Thomas & The Fendells - Southern Fried Chicken Pt. 1 & 2

I know nothing about Bill Thomas except that he evidently loves fried chicken as much as I do. Instead of his "good ol' southern recipe" I highly recommend Matthew Fort's. It takes time but the results are incredible.

MP3: McGee Bros - C-h-i-c-k-e-n Spells Chicken

A gem from the Ghost World soundtrack no doubt culled from director Terry Zwigoff's own collection of old records.

One final recommendation - the photo on this page is from Mark Lewis' brilliant film The Natural History of the Chicken. Watch it!

More Chicken Song Posts

Chicken: Anyone For Seconds?
Clucking Brilliant
Thighs, Wings, Legs & Breasts
Related Posts with Thumbnails

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