I picked up a stack of CDs from the library to study like homework. Here’s how we came out:
- Jacob Dylan, Women and Country (produced by T Bone Burnett)
- Justin Townes Earle, Midnight at the Movies
- Justin Townes Earle, Harlem River Blues
- Waylon Jennings, Greatest Hits
- Josh Ritter, the Animal Years
- Roy Clark, Greatest Hits
- Loretta Lynn/ Patsy Cline on Tour
- Loretta Lynn, Still Country
- Bon Iver, For Emma Forever Ago
- Blake Shelton, Red River Blue
- Kris Kristofferson, Kristofferson
- Alan Jackson, 34 Number Ones
- Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, The Swell Season
- Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
- Eric Church, Sinners like Me
The fist thing I was curious about was how good the non singles on Blake Shelton’s latest album would be. And how many songwriters would make the album. I didn’t count, but I’d guess around 20. Usually three per song, never Shelton, with one writer only occurring on two songs. One of them, a huge single, “God Gave me You” was actually written by the pop singer I mentioned yesterday, Dave Barnes. As for how good the non singles on the album were, no comment. At least not from the elitist here who has never once submitted anything himself to anybody.
I put in the Jacob Dylan album first, believing that anything produced by T Bone Burnett would be amazing. Sometimes a good pedal steel takes me away from the song and into a daydream. I’ll have to come back to this one. We were still on the first track arriving home from the library, but I was lost.
The Springsteen album “Born to Run,” I used to have and I lost it. I wanted to hear it again and think about how it played line by line in the mind of whoever wrote Eric Church’s single “Springsteen.” I picked up an older Eric Church album too, wondering what he wrote before he was a megastar and gave us “Drink in my Hand.” Church co writes every song.
I rounded out the night with a second listening round in the truck by myself. Five tracks of Kristofferson and about half of Earle’s “Midnight at the Movies.” I wasn’t ready for Kristofferson, judging by the songs I vaguely remember and the flowing silk white shirts. The vocals are rough, terrible oftentimes, and my preference was when he just talks. Despite that, his writing is powerful. I may have a favorite here.
Justin Townes Earle is already a top pick of mine, I just don’t own it. He’s an oddball guy writing country songs about Harlem, struggling in Brooklyn, and “Workin’ for the MTA” (at the exact same time Ashley and I were making our run). My friend Knox left his iPod at a paint job one time. He played the album, saying it was all the country he had. I laughed and called it hipster country. But I played it seven times the next day by myself.
Ashley picked out the Loretta Lynn. I love her too. We have Loretta’s Jack White produced album and the hardcover “Honky Tonk Girl, My Life in Lyrics” is on our kitchen table. White calls her on the book jacket, “The best female songwriter of the Twentieth Century.” Agree.
Gotta run for now. I’ll have a thorough review on all 15 selections, new song charts written, and all the Telecaster solos transcribed by the end of the week. But don’t wait for it.