February 16, 2005

Soundtrack of my life

Brandon had a nice post on his soundtrack, a soundtrack that includes Patty Griffin which made me happy. Those of you who haven't heard her stuff should. It is good stuff.

I grew up with two older brothers who introduced me to a lot of music that was, well, older than most of the crap my contemporaries listened to. I listened to Pure Prairie League, Fleetwood Mac, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, while my friends were listening to disco. I won.

No one in my family seemed to like loud music or electric guitars, so I was pretty convinced that I only liked folk or country music. In high school, I listened to a lot of stuff that makes me wince now. Def Leppard (though the first album was decent) Rush and a few others. After high school, I returned to my folky roots and listened to Bonnie Raitt, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and others.

My experience with the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) occurred really in college. I was an Amy Grant fan and saw her in concert a few times. I still like her voice, and we listen to her Christmas album every year. I liked Wayne Watson's voice and really liked him until I met him at a Christian Music camp in Estes Park. What an ass! Michael Card was another one I listened to a lot until I saw him in concert and listened to a 20-25 minute sermon. He wasn't a bad guy, just got on my nerves a bit. Don Franscisco still stands out as one of the few folky Christian writers that I kind of liked.

Ken Medema came to our church in Houston and just blew me away. His music was fine, but it was his frustration with contemporary Christian music and discussion that really spoke to me. He talked about the pabulum of churchese and I knew exactly what he was talking about.

I stopped listening to CCM pretty much in the late 80s. My music stagnated a bit, really. I added Neil Young's vast repertoire to my collection (or much of it) and his Freedom album helped me survive doctoral exams. In the last few years, I have discovered so much great music that really keeps me going. So, what is playing in the soundtrack now?

Steve Earle is my muse. His politics are as liberal as mine, and his writing is great. Plus, he works in the mandolin in some amazing ways. Transcendental Blues is one of my top 10 albums, and usually the album I reach for when things feel out of control and frantic. I am not sure why, but it helps. (If anyone is interested, there is a dvd of this album that includes an amazing live version of Copperhead Road. I am trying to learn that on mandolin right now.)

Kasey Chambers. Perhaps the most unique voice in country today, I am in love with her albums. We recently purchased Wayward Angel and it is playing in our car constantly.

Scott Miller and the Commonwealth. This guy is Southern, and probably conservative (or more so than myself) but what a great voice and talent. He was in a band called the V-Roys and their stuff is great as well.

Ryan Adams. What can I say. I suspect this guy is a real tool in person, but that voice! His voice can soothe me in a way that others cannot. Amazing stuff, as is his old band, Whiskeytown.

Wilco. This may be one of the best bands that I have ever heard. Jeff Tweedy was originally in a band called Uncle Tupelo, and Wilco is his second band. What a band! From the poppy sound of A.M., to the really interesting rhythms of Summer Teeth and Being There, or the thoughtful and political Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, or personal and reflective A Ghost is Born. It is all great.

The Jayhawks, Old 97s and Slaid Cleaves round out the soundtrack, at least for now. There are others: Chris Smither and Keb Mo for blues, Alison Krauss and Tim O'Brien for bluegrass, and Emmylou is one of the constants over the years. I still love U2 and REM, and have been listening to Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City" recently.

Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty and
meet me tonight in Atlantic City


Wasp Jerky said...

Hey Streak. Nice post. I'll have to do one of my own now.

Scott Miller is from Knoxville, where I used to live. Very amazing indeed. I don't know if you're aware, but he and the Commonwealth are the house band for Blue Collar TV.

Also, there's a lot of other music in Knoxville that you might be into. If you have some spare time, check out www.lynnpoint.com and www.disgraceland.com/listen.asp. There's a lot of good stuff there available for free download. Lynnpoint has several entire albums. I recommend Todd Steed, Nug Jug, The Opposable Thumbs, Mustard, Dixie Dirt The French Broads, The Ghosts, Stateside and Mic Harrison (also of V-Roys fame).

jape said...

Can I take credit for Old 97s too or just Robbie Fulks? And what's this about listening to jazz? One of these days you're going to have Miles, Dizzy, Coltrane and Sun Ra on your list. Dig?

Streak said...

Jazz? What jazz?

Robbie Fulks is all you, man. Old 97s I picked up from someone else, but that doesn't mean your music tastes aren't great.

Anonymous said...

Streak- we have been listening to some very cool music this year because of your recommendations. Steve Earle and Whiskeytown, to name a few.

Just wanted to thank you for that!

Kristen M

Streak said...

Kristen, you are too nice. Thanks for the comment. I have more books to read from your blog, maybe that is my trade!