Tuesday, September 20, 2005

In Praise of Delbert

The good folks at HickoryWind.org asked me to join their group blog and since I'm so emotionally needy and desperately crave the approval of strangers (aka "a blogger"), I said yes immediately. This is my first ... thingy for them (us!).

In his exuberant band introductions, Bruce Springsteen, in a revival tent preacher character, introduces Nils Lofgren as the "Keeper of All Things Righteous on E Street." It's a description that always makes me think of Delbert McClinton. Sure, there are others keeping the blues 'n' twang heart beating, mixing up all the styles the People's Republic of Texas (and beyond) has given us, 'til its all just one great stew, not country or blues or rock or soul, just that elusive genre I like to call, "Bloody Great Music." Well, I guess it's "Americana" officially these days but I like my term for it better. Think of a Ray Wylie Hubbard or a Lee Roy Parnell and oh, any number of others. But Delbert has the iconic leading role for me, he just keeps pumping out records regular as a Charlie Watts backbeat and is just as reliable.

His new one Cost of Living (New West) is tearing up the Americana charts last I looked and is a familar (in a good way) blend, a great Saturday night collection of raunchy blues shufffle/rockers and creeping heartbreakers. I like him best actually on these slow-burning soulful numbers, his distinctive whiskey voice rolling around the lyrics and cracking in all the right places. The best here is "Your Memory, Me and the Blues", nothing radical about the subject matter or execution but he mines the familar ground expertly. "Down in Mexico" is a jailbait-gone-wrong story song which seemed a little thin first off but sneaks up on you thanks to a snaking guitar line. "I Had a Real Good Time" is a ready made eulogy for a whole lot of people I know:

I been around the block a time or two
'Round every corner there's something new
I had a real good time
I just love the wine
I love the women and the song and the carryin' on
I had a real good time

There's a big world of opportunity
For a man that sings the blues
You learn a whole lot more about life
From the things you're not supposed to do

"Hammerhead Stew" even has a rather killer singalong chorus, I hope it getting some radio play over there.

My only complaint? More harp, Delbert! This is after all the bloke who inspired John Lennon to play.

Oh and while I'm on the topic, do catch up with his 2001 release Nothing Personal, his best recent one if only for the stone cold classic "When Rita Leaves." One of my songs of the century thus far.

No comments: