Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Heart of America

Picture stolen from my sister's blog.

The new Tom Russell, Wounded Heart of America, which is a collection of ogher folks covering him from over the years plus a few new ones from Tom himself. I got it from the best shop in Sydney Yesterday and Today -- go buy stuff.

Veteran's Day -- Johnny Cash Recorded on "Boom Chicka Boom" in the Mercury interlude between being dumped by Columbia and crossing paths with Rick Rubin, although Veteran's Day was left off the original and included on later editions as a bonus track. True to the album name it has That Sound, but unfortunately with a follow-the-bouncing-ball quality. Nothing wrong with the vocals though, and Cash and Russell are made for each other.

Gallo del Cielo -- Joe Ely Tom's greatest song? The greatest cover of a Tom song anyway. It's on Ely's "Letter to Laredo", but this is a live one from "Live at Antones." A truly exhilirating song.

Acres of Corn -- Iris deMent
The Outcaste -- Dave Van Ronk

These are from The Man from God Knows Where and I swear the amount of time I spent evangelising this album bores even me. Just get it.

Manzanar -- Laurie Lewis
Don't know who Laurie Lewis is but a solid version of this song, about the wartime interment of Japanese-Americans. Tom Paxton also does a good version.

St Olav's Gate -- Doug Sahm
In my memory from hearing it before I thought this was a much faster rocking sort of version, maybe there's another one? Anyway, that steel guitar makes it nice and woozy, like you really are drunk in Oslo.

Outbound Plane -- Suzy Bogguss.
Something of a hit. The chorus has never quite made sense to me, but sining along is irresistable anyway.

Canadian Whiskey -- Ian Tyson and Nanci Griffith.
Sentimental song about a crazy drunk woman. A bit slight lyrically, but undeniable beautiful in execution.

Navajo Rug -- Jerry Jeff Walker. Ai yi yi. Tom's famous song about sex in public places. His most covered song? A bit jaunty for me, this version.

The Sky Above, The Mud Below -- Rambling Jack Elliott.
Duet with Tom. Excellent! A long western character and story song Tom does better than just about anyone else, ever.

Haley's Comet -- Dave Alvin. I have a very strong aversion to songs, books or TV shows -- and the telly is the worst offender -- which have some pun in their title based on the name of a character. Like, "Grey's Anatomy." They only used that character name so they could have a stupid pun in the titlle. And so I think the conceit here-- it's about the death of Bill Haley ("Haley's comet hit the ground") -- extremely iffy. But it is otherwise a great song, and Alvin's performance on this version is suitably energetic so I like it.

Stealing Electricity -- Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
Heh. What can you say? I ragged on Steve's beat poetry in the below review, but if you're going to do performance poetry you want to be Lawrence Ferlinghetti to pull it off.

Walking on the Moon -- Elilza Gilkyson. Eh, never liked this song so much. It's alright (and this is a lovely version) but a bit sugary. Tom can do sentiment as well as crusty cynicism, which is why he's so great.

The Cuban Sandwich -- Barrence Whitfield.
I don't have the record this is from, but I've been intrigued by descriptions of it for years (not least because it covers a couple of my favourite songss.) This is also a duet with Tom. Impossibly cool, fun and a bit weird. I want the rest of the album.

There follows a few new Tom songs which are all great, including "Who's Gonna Build your Wall." See, Steve, so there's how you write a political song about immigration:

We've got fundamentalist Muslims,
We've got fundamentalist Jews,
We've got fundamentalist Christians
They'll blow the whole thing up for you.

But as I travel around this big old world
there's one thing I most fear
and that's a white man in a golf shirt
with a cell phone in his ear.

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