I’m a bit seasonal about music, so now that it’s gettting colder and darker, I’m playing more of the artists that I associate with the winter months. This usually means a lot of folk and americana. Johnny Cash always heralds the beginning of winter for me. I’ve been listening to his Murder anthology, which I think is the best of the ‘Love, God Murder‘ set. There are not many tracks I find more moving than his cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Highway Patrolman’. There was also the wonderful American III: Solitary Man (2000) and ‘Who’s Gonna Cry’ the first disc in the monumental posthumous collection, Unearthed (2003).
There’s been a fair bit of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy too, especially I See a Darkness (1999) and The Letting Go (2006), which are probably my two favourite albums from BPB, the first is a dark, understated masterpiece which hooked me onto Will Oldham, and the second, a chilly affair recorded in Iceland and featuring some beautiful melodies and vocal harmonies. Also in the folk vein, the Cowboy Junkies’s Trinity Session (1987) got an airing and Gillian Welch’s first album, Revival (1996), which astounds me every time. I cannot wait to see her live later this month. And from a Britain, we had a listen to Fairport Convention’s Leige and Lief (1969).
Leonard Cohen is another winter staple, and I’ve been listening to the early albums Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) (agreed with some twitter friends that we especially like the bit at the end of ‘One of us cannot be wrong’ where he sounds like he’s being dragged screaming away from the mic) and Songs from a Room (1969). I’m glad to say my partner finally seems to be coming around to Cohen. I’ve been using the same approach that I took (with success) in relation to olives, that of just keeping up the exposure until she gives in.
In terms of woman in rock, I listened to Patti Smith’s cover album Twelve (2007), Kate Bush’s shimmering Hounds of Love (1985) and, in preparation for last week’s gig, the swirling rage of Throwng Muses Hunkpapa (1989).
Tracks of the Month – with links to You Tube videos
Johnny Cash, Highway Patrolman (the bit where he sings ‘And I hit the lights’ gives me chills down the spine everytime)
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Black
Cowboy Junkies, Sweet Jane
Gillian Welch, Orphan Girl
Fairport Convention, Crazy Man Michael and I just came across this live version by Natalie Merchant
Leonard Cohen, The Stranger Song (live on the Julie Felix show in 1967)
Patti Smith, Smells like teen spirit
Kate Bush, Hounds of Love (Official video – always fun!)
And finally, Throwing Muses performing ‘Mania’ live in 1988, supported by The Pixies apparently – can you imagine that gig?!