Friday, February 17, 2017

Songs of Place: Blues for Dixie

There's something about the South. There must be, with so many songs having been written about it over the years. There are occasional songs about Maine, say, or Vermont, even parts of Massachusetts, but about the entire region called New England, not so much. What does it take for a region to be frequently glorified in song? It takes many people longing to go back, which means of course that many people would have had to have left it. In other words, it takes economic dislocation, with associated mass exodus. Then you get songs like Blues for Dixie, written by Cindy Walker.

So Cindy Walker was a prolific songwriter. She wrote Flying South to Dixie on the same theme: where I am ain't where I ant to be.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

3 Things

  • These words describe a lost America, I think, but here's wishing it was still true. 
“Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball, the rules and realities of the game — and do it by watching first some high school or small-town teams.” Jacques Barzun -- God's Country and Mine (1954) [Found here.]
  • James Madison: “The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.”

Songs of Place: Biloxi

We featured Jesse Winchester's Misssissippi On My Mind not long ago. Is Jesse the official songwriter for the State of Mississippi? Anyway, there are many nice versions of this song, Biloxi, not only Jesse's original but also Jimmy Buffett's, but I'm going with Roseanne Cash's lovely rendering. A wistful recollection of the seaside at Biloxi, with Jesse's typical deft lyrical touch.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Song's of Place: Pacheco (and a couple more)

I've been listening to a lot of Kate Wolf this evening. I was only vaguely aware of a few of her songs during her lifetime (she died back in the 80s).She was a year younger than Joan Baez, a year older than Joni Mitchell. In other words, she came of age in the 60s folk revival, just like these her peers.

Many of her songs are songs of place: "Carolina Pines,","Across the Great Divide," "Pacheco," and "The Golden Rollin' Hills of California," among them.

Those last two are featured in the following video. Nobody wrote about the countryside of California better than Kate Wolf. Her music was grounded in the contours of the mountains, the smell of the woods and fields and the sound of birds.

And because I just can't get enough of her music this evening, let's listen to "Like a River" while we're at it, but this time covered by a string band called Front Country. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Songs of Place: Mississippi You're On My Mind

Songs of a certain place are usually written by folks who are far from that place and longing for them(like "Georgia on my Mind," for example). As I've said many times here, I love writing that conjures a place with vividness, and Jesse Winchester's "Mississippi You're On My Mind" does just that. The particular details of each verse seem utterly authentic. Winchester knew the place of which he speaks, with its fields covered with flecks of dirty cotton, and just where the mint leaves can be found. I really love this song, but I couldn't find a decent live version, which I would have preferred. Enjoy.