Saturday, February 27, 2010

He's My High and Holy Lover

Artist: Diane Kolby

Album: Diane Kolby

Song: "Nah-Me-Nah"

The small couch, shoved against the wall, cradled my tired, sprawling body. Steel-gray clouds drew their heavy curtain across the afternoon sky. A steady percussion of rain drops collided against the window; a cyclical drop echoed in the chimney like an amplified cowbell. I struggled from my prone position to put Diane Kolby's record on the turntable. The needle slipped into the groove, and an audible dawn swept from the speakers and filled the room. Was this an LP or a choir of sweet-voiced birds? Soon Diane began singing in tongues, her joy palpable in the nonsensical words. When the song reached its ecstatic peak, I looked outside. A phalanx of nourishing God rays streamed through the storm clouds.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Sweets of the World

Artists: The Bernie Leadon + Michael Georgiades Band

Album: Natural Progressions

Song: "How Can You Live Without Love?"

Yacht rock as a genre designation has only one flawthe concept identifies the millionaire musicians, not its blue-collar audience. Who would have been listening to Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers, and Loggins and Messina and buying their records in copious quantities? The florists, chefs, and secretaries of 1970s America. For these nubile fans, a yacht would have been a dream docked beyond the fence of an exclusive marina. Water wouldn't have been a dominion to own, but rather savor as a refuge from the week's monotony. These individuals would have turned to a more affordable means of aquatic transportationthe catamaran. Much like the boogie van on land and the hang glider in the sky, the catamaran created enough of a craze in the 1970s that clubs formed wherever an inviting body of water and a sweet breeze could be found. The men would wear OP cord shorts and the women bikini tops and Daisy Dukes. After the day's rigorous sailing had come to a satisfactory end, the randy participants would unfurl blankets on the shore and watch the pink and violent sunset as they cuddled and sipped wine. Perhaps their transistor radio would be dialed to the one local station cool enough to be playing "How Can You Live Without Love?" And all would be righteous in their world.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Is It Pretty? It's Pretty

Artist: Bubba Fowler

Album: ...and Then Came Bubba

Song: "Louise (My Cajun Woman)"

Your resume couldn't have been more impeccable: the acerbic talking political blues; a recording contract with Columbia records and production by Bob Johnston; a credited spot on Bob Dylan's underrated Self Portrait album. Bubba Fowler, you could have been the new Dylan. Hell, even your initials are almost the same. Only one problem. Any new Dylan's best song mustn't be an instrumental, even when the bayou romp is so funky that Jerry Reed may have turned his head and yipped, "Son!" But thanks for applying.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm Going to Roam No More

Artist: Jeanie Greene
Album: Mary Called Jeanie Greene
Song: "Going Home"

Someone named RomeoSidVicious wrote an entry at the Nine Bullets blog about funeral songs. As in what songs you would have played at your funeral. A morbid playlist to be sure, but being someone who plans to micromanage the set list at his wedding, selecting the soundtrack for my great sendoff doesn't seem unreasonable.

The Nine Bullets post directed readers to choose five songs, and the first four I chose were:

"Meet Me in Heaven" by Johnny Cash
"Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground" by Willie Nelson
"When I Cross Over" by Tift Merritt
"Shooting Star" by Bob Dylan

I knew the fifth song would be "Going Home," which has an entire backstory that can be read here. Annie Haslam's bombastic performance is my favorite, but I want to share another version I found during a recent rummaging of dollar bins. Jeanie Greene, wife of Marlin Greene, used "Going Home" as the caboose track to her lone LP, and this rendition befits the album's substantial Muscle Shoals roots.

Monday, February 1, 2010

When You Go Away, That'll Be Too Soon

Artist: Steve Young

Album: To Satisfy You

Song: "The River and the Swan"

For hours, for days, for weeks I packed. Record crates, poster tubes, cartons of books, hangers full of jackets, suitcases crammed with clothes, piles of photographs, stereo equipment, towers of compact discs, bed, dresser, and nightstand. The night before the move to California I still found myself playing God with stray belongings, what to bring and what to leave behind. When the bric-a-brac became too minute, my knees buckled and I collapsed on the staircase leading to my mom's basement, a barnacle-crusted anchor colliding with water's sandy bottom. I heaved heavy tears into the crook of my arm. Appearing in the frame of the staircase, my mom wanted to know why I was crying. Was I OK? I wondered how I would find homes for the last details in these dwindling minutes and was I insane for deciding to move so far west, a plan that still carried the fragrance of wet paint?

Mom had found a few issues of Playboy in a gym bag the first time we talked on the creaky and carpeted stairs. That incident was a dozen years prior. I felt embarrassment then; now I felt doubt's tugging undertow. Sitting at my side, mom reassured me that I was making the right decision to try something bold, to see another place in this world. If the noble adventure ever stopped being fun or meaningful, she would still be here to welcome me in her arms.

Perhaps I cried enough for mother and son. Mom remained of resolute voice even as she helped send her only child out into the great expanse. I'm sure her tears fell hard after I set out the next morning, car and trailer rumbling for parts unknown and future unimagined. This particular Steve Young song, "The River and the Swan," reminds me of the stoic facade a parent must have when the nest becomes too small, but the love remains unconditional.