Soundtrack to November

Music post even later this month.  I seem to have lost the last couple of weeks somewhere along the way.

Oh well, the seasonal listening continued in November with more of the artists that I tend to associate with winter.  I’m still working my way through Johnny Cash’s Unearthed (2003) collection, mainly focussing on the second disc, Trouble in Mind, a collection of covers which ends with a quite sublime version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Bird on a Wire’.

Speaking of Cohen, I listened to the Live at the Isle of Wight concert album.  Cohen was praised for calming down the fractious crowd at the Isle of Wight Festival.  Perhaps it was the intimacy of his music, the way he sounds like he’s singing to each individual, that did the trick; perhaps it was his request that everyone light a match to show him where they were that created a sense of community, or perhaps he was just so stoned that he didn’t realise he was being sent out to face a crowd on the verge of riot.

There was plenty of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds this month (another winter warmer), with the intense personal disintegration (and epic man-pain) of Let Love In (1994), the reinvention of Nick as a soul/gospel singer in Abbatoir Blues  (2004) which a lot of hardcore fans (and some members of the band) hated. Then I returned to origins with the first disc of his B-sides and Rarities which has some great accoustic tracks, and in which Nick has much woman-trouble (warning: feminism deficit!) and the more recent Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! (2008) which seems to be an attempt to get back to basics and perhaps challenge those “gone soft” rumours.

Some of the americana albums getting an airing included Steve Earle’s Townes (2009) in which Steve pays tribute to one of my favourite country artists, Townes Van Zandt.  Then there was Neko Case’s live album The Tigers have Spoken (2004) which has a fantastic cover of Buffy Sainte Marie’s ‘Soulful Shade of Blue’, a storming version of ‘This Little Light’ and a really moving cover of country staple ‘Wayfaring Stranger’.  Also in americana, we had Ballad of the Broken Seas (2006) from Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanagen, an album full of different styles which somehow works as a whole.  Then there was Kristin Hersh’s, Murder, Misery and then Goodnight (1998) a collection of appalachian songs about murder and death, recorded with the help of her kids; it manages to be creepy, sweet and funny at the same time.

Where’s the woman rock? Well, I got into Kate Bush’s Aerial (2005), an album that I didn’t initially like but which is now growing on me and which seems to have converted my partner.  It’s different to Kate Bush’s other work and has to be accepted on its own terms.  The Real Ramona (1991) by the Throwing Muses is always worth a listen.  It’s their last album with Tanya Donelly in the line-up and I might say it was their best album if it wasn’t for the fact that I change my mind on that score all the time.  Patti Smith’s Trampin‘  (2004) is an album  that I tend to forget about and then get surprised by when I lsiten to it again. It’s as political as you might expect and full of the kind of songs that only Patti Smith can get away  with – songs that rhyme the word Ghandi with the word candy, for example, and a 12 minute epic called ‘Radio Baghdad’.  P J Harvey’s Uh Huh Her (2004) is not her best work, but I like the punky (fuck you, I’ll do what I want to) sound.  I also felt like a total lesbian sterotype sitting around listening to The Indigo Girls, Retrospective while drinking tea and wearing a sweater that I bought from the “men’s” section.

On a more poppy note, there there was Blondie’s Parallel Lines (1978) one of my parents’ favourites that always takes me straight back to my childhood and still sounds so sharp and fresh.  It’s full of shiny pop classics and when Debbie Harry sings ‘One way or another, I’m gonna find ya’ , I’m gonna get ya’, get ya’, get ya’, get ya’,  I believe her.

Tracks – with links to You Tube videos

Leonard Cohen, Bird on a Wire live at the Isle of Wight
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Let Love In live at the Albert Hall
Steve Earle, Loretta
Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Revolver
Neko Case, Soulful Shade of Blue
Kristin Hersh, Down in the Willow Garden live
Throwing Muses, Not Too Soon
Patti Smith, Cash
P J Harvey, The Letter
The Indigo Girls, Closer to fine – this footage would suggest that The Indigo Girls are not entirely comfortable making videos – I love the turtlenecks and ironic religious imagery
Blondie, One Way or Another

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2 thoughts on “Soundtrack to November

  1. It’s such a shame, they don’t produce the epic Unearthed collection any longer… Thanks for the link to the leonard cohen video. This version is great aswell!

    • A couple of my friends got it for me for my birthday when it came out – a good thing too, as I never would have bought it for myself.

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