elmergantry

' I've lost the power I had to distinguish between what to ignite and what to extinguish' – Rowland S. Howard

Category: Randy Travis

New and Recent Albums

In the last month or two , have been playing a small number of albums in rotation – a few of these are by a select group of excellent contemporary songwriters (Jason Isbell, Jamey Johnson and Mary Gauthier), while the others are by more established artists like Randy Travis and John Anderson.

To start with, Jason Isbell’s Southeastern stands out as one of the very finest albums of recent times. At its best (on songs like ‘Travelling Alone” and ‘Elephants’, it has an emotional candour and raw honesty, which bears comparison with Mary Gauthier’s finest work. Here is one of the other fine songs from that album:

Have only recently discovered Jamey Johnson’s work, but it already seems clear to me that he is one of the best ‘real’ country songwriters in a long, long time. The best of his work combines the emotional candour which was/is central to the work of great country songwriters like Hank Williams and Merle Haggard with a contemporary edge – ‘the smell of tofu’, ‘depression pills’ and ‘cocaine’ in this fine song, for example:


While Mary Gauthier’s new album, Trouble and Love may not be up to the standards of her very best work, there are, nonetheless, some fine songs on it. This one stands out for me:

In recent times, have also been listening a lot to two fine compilations. The first,’ Three Wooden Crosses, showcases Randy Travis skills as a country gospel singer. The title track which could have been merely mawkish in other hands is magnificently performed here:

To finish up here is that superb country vocal stylist John Anderson’s great environmental song, Seminole Wind – one of the very few great songs in that vein which this avowedly ‘conservative’ form of music has produced. Go figure, as they say…

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‘‘Time’s Revenges and Revenge’s Time’: A Theme Time 45 Minutes (or thereabouts)’ – Part 2

1. Randy Travis, “Its just a matter of Time”;

2. Morrissey, ‘Used to be a Sweet Boy”:

3. Marvin Gaye, ‘Time to get it Together”:

4. Al Green, ‘Old Time Lovin’:

5. George Jones, “Time changes everything:

6. Bruce Cockburn, “Lovers in a Dangerous Time”:

7. The Dubliners, ‘Will you come to the Bower?’:

8. Eric Andersen, ‘Time Runs like a Freight Train”:

9. Smog, ‘Cold Blooded old Times’:

10. Eric Bibb, ‘The Needed Time”;

11. Lucy Kaplansky, ‘Today’s the Day’:

Will finish with two ‘Closing Times’:

12. Leonard Cohen, “Closing Time”:

And my favourite of the two…

13. Lyle Lovett, ‘Closing Time”;

Surnames and Placenames: More Songs about Cities, Towns & People – 2

There are so many songs on these topics have decided to add a second post.

So here goes:
1. Randy Travis, ‘What have you got planned tonight, Diana’?

2. Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson, “My Mary”;

3. Wilbert Harrison, ‘Kansas City”:

4. Hoagy Carmichael, ‘Georgia on my Mind”;

5. Van Morrison, ‘Cyprus Avenue”:

6. Lyle Lovett, ‘One Eyed Fiona’:

7. Bing Crosby, ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’:

8. Paul Robeson, ‘Joe Hill”:

9. Phil Ochs, ‘Joe Hill”:

10. Al Green, ‘Belle”;

11. The Kinks, ‘David Watts’:

12. Lou Reed, ‘I Love you, Suzanne”:

‘Time’s Revenges and Revenge’s Time’: A Theme Time 45 Minutes (or thereabouts) – Part 1

This is the fourth ‘theme time’ instalment. In it, I have included those songs with a substantial historical element under the ‘time’ label. Unlike in earlier instalments, I have also included two songs from those artists who, in my opinion, have handled such themes particularly effectively

So, here goes

1. Phil Ochs, ‘Changes”:

——-, ‘Links on the Chain”:

Apparently ‘Changes’ was one of Drake’s favourite sings

2. Nick Drake, “Time has told me’

—–, ‘Time of no reply’:

3. Bob Dylan, ‘Blind Willie McTell’:

—–, ‘Girl from the Red River Shore’:

http://www.pandora.com/bob-dylan/tell-tale-signs-bootleg-series-vol-8/red-river-shore-736-unreleased-time-out-of-mind (sample only)

4. The Kinks, ‘Victoria’:

—–’Days’:

5. Howlin Wolf, ‘The Natchez Burning”;

6. John Lee Hooker, ‘Tupelo’:

7. Bert Jansch, ‘There comes a time”

——, ‘The Ornament Tree’:

8. Merle Haggard. ‘When times were good’:

8. Dick Gaughan, ‘The World Turned Upside Down’:

9. Pete Seeger, ‘Turn, Turn, Turn”:

——, ‘Guantanamera’:

10. Woody Guthrie, ’1913 Massacre”;

11. The Clash, “Spanish Bombs”:

12. Edwyn Collins and Frank Roussel, ‘Time”:

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Randy Travis & Kevin Coyne

Two instant classics from CD’s I bought recently.

The first is Randy Travis’ superb version of ‘What Have you got planned tonight, Diana’. To my mind, Travis is easily the best country singer of his generation and possibly the best since George Jones. Unlike his early work, Travis also brings a weight built on experience and, perhaps, disappointments to the song:

For comparison’s sake, here is Merle Haggard’s fine version:

Although I often disagree with Robert Christgau, this is probably the best piece I have read on Travis’ work:

http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/rock/travis-02.php

Second up is Kevin Coyne’s ‘Hypnotism’ from the recently released cd of home recordings from the early ’70s. Coyne is one of the few rock songwriters to have written convincingly about genuinely ‘marginalised’ people – the mentally ill, the homeless, loners and outcasts generally. To my mind, he is one of the greatest and most honest English songwriters:

Little Sadie, Doc Watson, Bill Monroe, Randy Travis

Here is another version of ‘Little Sadie’ – again far superior to Dylan’s perfunctory and off-hand version. This is by the late great Doc Watson:

Dylan’s version seems very close, indeed, to Clarence Ashley’s version. However, while Ashley’s off-hand approach works in his case, in Dylan’s it comes across as something close to indifference to the song:

Will add Doc Watson’s & Bill Monroe’s great version of the ‘The Banks of the Ohio’ here:

Will round this off with another great gospel performance by Randy Travis. This is his remarkable version of ‘Amazing Grace’. There is a case to be made for Travis being the last great ‘pure’ country singer, standing in a line that runs through from Hank williams to Lefty Frizell through to George Jones & him: