Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What Music Is At The Cool Folder?

You might know that this site has a very active sister site on Tumblr called "The Cool Folder".  It's very active and full of super interesting stuff.  But what kind of music is posted there?  Dig on these selections - they're all kick ass or they wouldn't be in the Cool Folder, you guys.

The Bleachers - "I Wanna Get Better"
The Violent Femmes - "Black Girls"
The Barbarians - "Moulty!"
The Police - "Tea In The Sahara"
Mary Clayton's backing vocals on the Rolling Stones' "Give Me Shelter"
The Meat Puppets - "Magic Toy Missing"
Gloria's cover of Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"
Horace Silver 5tet - "Song For My Father"
Neil Young - "Revolution Blues"
Peter Gabriel's cover of the Magnetic Fields' "The Book of Love"
Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3 - "I'm Falling"

 . . . and there's tons more where that came from.  So check it out, yo.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Songwriting 101/Sociology With Steve Earle!

There's so much more to Steve Earle than "Copperhead Road" (click here and here for example), but let's face it:  his biggest hit kicks much ass.  The songwriting is evocative and blunt, and just about everyone I knew at my high school could've been John Lee Pettimore even if I didn't grow up in the Vietnam era.  If a song resonates with me, there's an extremely high chance I'm going to like it.

Another appealing thing about Steve Earle's song wrting - not just on "Copperhead Road" - is that it manages to paint a vivid picture that jibes with the cold, hard objective reality of a given situation.  To me, it's almost like he took a sociology course somewhere, then sought to write songs and put faces to the conclusions he drew from his studies.  In this way, Earle skillfully uses his story telling ability to expose you to his point of view, almost without you knowing.  Look at this example from "Copperhead Road" - this is an excerpt from probably one of my all time favorite verses of any song:

I volunteered for the army on my birthday
they draft the white trash first round here anyway

I did some light Googling and found this statistic from the Veterans of Foreign Wars:

  • 76% of those drafted were from lower/working class backgrounds.
Now, there's some questions about the source and some problematic language in that "fact" - what constitutes lower class?  working class?  why are they combined?  - but while the statement itself is sad, I doubt few readers would find it shocking or untrue.  The poor have always fought wars for the interests of a oligarchy; an oligarchy which seldom represents their interests.

Though those lines jump out at me, the whole song is amazing.  To me, it's a quintessntially American epic for better or worse.  So without further adieu:

Well my name's John Lee Pettimore 
Same as my daddy and his daddy before 
You hardly ever saw Grandaddy down here 
He only came to town about twice a year 
He'd buy a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line 
Everybody knew that he made moonshine 
Now the revenue man wanted Grandaddy bad 
He headed up the holler with everything he had 
It's before my time but I've been told 
He never came back from Copperhead Road

Now Daddy ran the whiskey in a big block Dodge
Bought it at an auction at the Mason's Lodge
Johnson County Sheriff painted on the side
Just shot a coat of primer then he looked inside
Well him and my uncle tore that engine down
I still remember that rumblin' sound
Well the sheriff came around in the middle of the night
Heard mama cryin', knew something wasn't right
He was headed down to Knoxville with the weekly load
You could smell the whiskey burnin' down Copperhead Road

I volunteered for the Army on my birthday
They draft the white trash first,'round here anyway
I done two tours of duty in Vietnam
And I came home with a brand new plan
I take the seed from Colombia and Mexico
I plant it up the holler down Copperhead Road
Well the D.E.A.'s got a chopper in the air
I wake up screaming like I'm back over there
I learned a thing or two from ol' Charlie don't you know
You better stay away from Copperhead Road
Copperhead Road
Copperhead Road
Copperhead Road

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fun Time Is Over/Back To The Mines

Vacation is over for this blog - back to regular updating.  Let me get started by telling you some things that have been going on since I last posted anything.

Three On The Tree is pretty much done.  This is kind of a drag as we were picking up steam and generating some interest.  Leslie Newton (our very talented singer) is moving to Colorado.  As you can imagine, this makes getting together for practice and gigs pretty difficult.  Still, if we had to break up, this is as good a reason as any.  Life moves forward, and this is a positive development for her.  

Speaking of TotT, I've been meaning to share the helpful advice I got in the tip jar from the Easley Winery gig.  It is below.  Despite that feedback (Full disclosure:  I know the culprits.  They were trying to take the piss out of me.)

My trusty upright bass - an Englehardt EM-1 - is about to go on the market.  I love this bass but I think I'm ready to upgrade to a better plywood bass.  I'll post something once I get it on Craigs List.  If I can't get out of it what I need to get out of it, I'll be hanging onto it, loving it "warts and all".

Trowar has been staying busy with rehearsals.  We try to get together every two weeks or so.  We're really putting the songs under a microscope, trying to make sure everything is tight.  It's a little stressful, but these songs should sound pretty amazing the next time we play them out.  We're also moving our "headquarters" from Redmond, WA to Nashville, TN.  This is a bit more centrally located and at least for me, it works out great.  I don't have to burn time off to fly out west for rehearsals.  We will still get together from time to time at Ghost Train studios, but the bulk of our practicing should now happen in Nashville.  We've had one rehearsal there with another coming up next weekend - I'll let you know how it goes.