Combs Spouts Off

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Posts Tagged ‘music’

Story songs

Posted by Richard on June 22, 2013

Miss me? I’m not even going to try to explain my long absence; it would sound like whiny, self-absorbed psychobabble. I’m just going to ease back into things with some weekend music.

Some time back, I heard Blake Shelton say what sets country music apart from other genres is that country songs tell stories. Of course, that’s an over-generalization. There are country songs whose “story” is something like “let’s go drinkin’, honey.” And there are plenty of rock songs that tell stories. Dylan, Seger, and Springsteen come immediately to mind. But it’s true that country music is more often story-based than other genres. Here are some examples I really like.

Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy” is, IMHO, the quintessential story song, complete with a wonderful twist at the end. The first time I heard it, I laughed out loud.


[YouTube link]

 Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying” is way more serious, but another great story song.


[YouTube link]

Bob Dylan half-wrote “Wagon Wheel” (mostly just the chorus) back in the early 70s, but never finished it. Thirty years later, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show wrote some verses, and it became the folk/bluegrass/string band’s signature song. Last year, they invited Darius Rucker to perform it with them at the Grand Ole Opry, and he’s recorded a more country version (with Lady Antebellum) that’s become a huge hit. Here’s the music video — if you’re a Duck Dynasty fan, you’ll especially get a kick out of it.


[YouTube link]

(BTW, I saw Darius Rucker at Red Rocks a couple of weeks ago on a perfect June night. Imagine 9000 people singing the chorus of “Wagon Wheel.” Yeah, it was awesome. For more Darius Rucker, who I think is the finest singer and songwriter of any genre working today, see my earlier posts here and here.)

A popular theme for story songs is reminiscing about the old days, and at my age I can get into that. The Boss reportedly really likes this one by Eric Church.

Funny how a melody sounds like a memory
Like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night
Springsteen


[YouTube link]

Toby Keith’s “Beers Ago” is a reminiscing song with a bit more of an edge to it — and an interesting way of keeping track of time.


[YouTube link]

That’s it for now. Hope you liked those.

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London Homesick Blues

Posted by Richard on August 12, 2012

America’s athletes have done us proud at the London Olympics, and I’m sure they’ve had a wonderful time over there. But after two weeks, I’ll bet most of them can’t wait to get back to the land of the free and the home of manly footwear. So I figured I know just the little ditty to honor them.

In this Texas Connection video, Gary P. Nunn explains how he came to write “London Homesick Blues” and then performs it with the help of Jerry Jeff Walker and his band. Enjoy!


[YouTube link]

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Jerry Jeff Walker

Posted by Richard on July 28, 2012

That Toby Keith lyric about “singing Jerry Jeff songs” brought back memories and made me want to listen to some Jerry Jeff. And share.

Back in my misspent youth, we sang along to “Jaded Lover” a lot when we were drinking (and whatever).


[YouTube link] 

We sang along to this one a lot, too.


[YouTube link]

Here’s a delightful surprise I stumbled across: Jerry Jeff performing Guy Clark’s “LA Freeway” on the Dinah Shore show in 1978. The video is 1978-quality, but the sound is pretty good and the performance is terrific. Another great sing-along song.


[YouTube link]

Now for a change of pace. “Hank Williams Tonight” is one of the best songs of heartbreak ever.


[YouTube link]

Another change of pace. “Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits” is about one of Jerry Jeff’s favorite places, Belize.


[YouTube link]

I’ll finish with “Mr. Bojangles,” undoubtedly one of Jerry Jeff’s finest songs and the one that’s been covered by more artists than any other. This is the original recording. If you hit the YouTube link and expand the description, you can read how he came to write it after a brief stint in jail in 1968.


[YouTube link]

 

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“Beers Ago”

Posted by Richard on July 28, 2012

This morning I was reminded that I haven’t posted any country music in a while. (Actually, I haven’t posted any kind of music in a while.) So here’s a real toe-tapper by Toby Keith that I like. It’s your basic reminiscing about your youth song, but with an interesting way of accounting for the time. Enjoy!


[YouTube link]

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More Darius Rucker

Posted by Richard on February 12, 2012

I’ve got music on my mind, and while driving around running errands Saturday, I heard two Darius Rucker songs, so I’m thinking it’s time to post some more of him. As songwriter and lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish, he was very good. Since launching his solo career as a country artist, he’s become great — absolutely great.

No one writing and singing today, IMHO, expresses and evokes emotions as well as Rucker. Here are a couple of songs that are guaranteed to move anyone who can relate to them (and I suspect that’s many of us). First, the heartbreaking “I Got Nothin’.”


[YouTube link]

 Next, the regret-filled “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It,” with the great lyric:

Don’t think it don’t get to me
Between the work and the hurt and the whiskey


[YouTube link]

 Quite a bit more positive is the bittersweet and beautiful paean to daughters, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long.”


[YouTube link]

 And finally, one I’ve posted before (this time, the music video; last time, I posted the album version, with lyrics— even better, IMHO). “This” is my absolute favorite Darius Rucker song. In fact, I think “This” is the best song of any genre in at least the last 10 or 20 years.

At this stage in my life — old, divorced, living alone, and grateful for the affection of a sweet cat named Coco — I can’t really relate in any direct way to this song. But it’s such a joyous song, such a glorious celebration of life, that every time I hear it, my heart wells up. Rucker is happily married with a daughter and son, so I think “This” is an expression of the joy he feels in his own life. Listening to it is an opportunity to share in his joy. Envy is foreign to me (I hope it is to you, too), so his happiness makes me happy. I can’t listen to “This” often enough. I hope you feel the same way (and buy some of his music).


[YouTube link]

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Marshall Tucker Band

Posted by Richard on October 15, 2011

Time for another weekend trip down musical memory lane. The second-best southern rock band ever (right behind the original Allman Brothers Band) was the 70s-era Marshall Tucker Band, with brothers Toy and Tommy Caldwell. Their unique blend of rock, country, jazz, and blues changed rock 'n roll forever, and it saddens me that they're largely forgotten and under-appreciated. That they haven't been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is unforgivable.

I hope you enjoy the following songs as much as I do. If so, you may want to pay a visit to Original Marshall Tucker Band.  

The first song on the first Marshall Tucker Band album (self-titled, 1973), "Take the Highway," showcased what made MTB special: the marvelous song writing and guitar playing of Toy Caldwell and the signature flute riffs (by Jerry Eubanks), unique and unexpected from a southern rock band, and yet so perfectly fitting.


[YouTube link]

"Can't You See" is the second song from that album. Here's a live performance featuring a young Toy Caldwell. He was one of the finest thumb-picking guitar players ever. 


[YouTube link]

"This Ol' Cowboy" may be my favorite MTB song. It's from their third album, Where We All Belong (1975), and it has a great foot-tapping Western swing flavor to it that always puts a smile on my face. Toy Caldwell sings lead (and wrote it, of course) and does some great guitar work. I especially like the way the guitar and flute follow each other note for note. Charlie Daniels contributed some fine fiddling, and I think that's Paul Hornsby on the piano. 


[YouTube link]

The other strong contender for my favorite MTB song is "Fire on the Mountain" from their fourth album, Searchin' for a Rainbow (1975). It was written by rhythm guitarist George McCorkle — one of the few songs they recorded that wasn't by Toy Caldwell. Dickey Betts provided the guitar solo on this one.


[YouTube link]

I'll end with a hard-rocking live version (from the Carolina Dreams Tour '77 DVD) of another great MTB song, "24 Hours at a Time." I generally prefer the somewhat slower-tempo studio version, but this one's a must-see. Don't let the slightly muddy sound and photo montage at the beginning turn you off. The first two minutes of the original recording were damaged and had to be reconstructed for the DVD, but the remaining 12 minutes of this extended jam are live footage, and excellent quality considering the age. Starting at around 3:00, it features about five minutes of simply amazing guitar work by Toy Caldwell, with his brother Tommy on bass next to him, matching him lick for lick (watch their thumbs fly!). I'm worn out just from watching!


[YouTube link]

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Glen Campbell

Posted by Richard on August 24, 2011

Glen Campbell has Alzheimer's. And that makes me very sad. I, like millions of other ordinary people, always liked Campbell's music, although critics were never kind to him. Which is ironic, since he was one of the top interpreters (along with the 5th Dimension) of the songs of Jimmy Webb, whom the same critics generally consider one of the best songwriters of his generation (and rightly so).

Here's a live performance of his first great Jimmy Webb song, "Wichita Lineman": 


[YouTube link]

Campbell is also a much under-appreciated guitarist. Check out the fine picking starting about 1:15 on this live performance of my favorite Glen Campbell song, "Gentle On My Mind" (a John Hartford song): 


[YouTube link]

And here are Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb together performing a slow, hauntingly beautiful version of Webb's "Galveston":


[YouTube link]

I hope you like those. If so, check out Campbell's farewell album, "Ghost On the Canvas," when it's released August 30th. It sounds like it's going to be pretty wonderful. 

UPDATE: Speaking of fine picking, here's a video I watched after posting this — Campbell playing "William Tell Overture": 


[YouTube link]

Wow.

UPDATE2: I'm still checking out Glen Campbell videos on YouTube, and I found this one, and just I have to share it. "MacArthur Park" was certainly Jimmy Webb's most complex and enigmatic composition. Actor Richard Harris did the classic performance back in 1968. But here's a 2002 Glen Campbell live version that blew my socks off. Check out his guitar work:


[YouTube link]

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Weekend music, part 3: Live Like You Were Dying

Posted by Richard on July 3, 2011

Now for something newer (this century, at least). Here's a Tim McGraw song I really like. It makes me feel real good every time I hear it. I hope you like it, too.


[YouTube link]

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Weekend music, part 2: Colorado Kool-Aid

Posted by Richard on July 3, 2011

Back in the 70s, when I was living in Knoxville, TN, Coors was a regionally distributed beer with a national reputation. It had such a mystique about it that people would bring a van or pickup load of it back from Oklahoma (or maybe it was Arkansas) and sell six-packs for three times the price of Budweiser. The late, great Johnny Paycheck's "Colorado Kool-Aid" is from that era. Enjoy!


[YouTube link]

Paycheck didn't just speak, he sang too. "I'm the Only Hell (My Mama Ever Raised)" captures the outlaw image he cultivated.


[YouTube link]

Here's a fine live performance of "Lefty Was Right After All," a tribute to the great Lefty Frizell. 


[YouTube link]

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Weekend music: NRPS

Posted by Richard on July 3, 2011

When a song keeps running through your head and won't go away, some people call that an earwig. I hadn't heard "Lonesome L.A. Cowboy" in ages, and all of a sudden there it was — an earwig. Been hearing it in my head for several days now. So I've found it on YouTube, listened to it several times (great song!), and now I'm posting it. Maybe that will get it out of my head — so something else can take its place. 🙂


[YouTube link]

Aw, heck, if I'm going to post some New Riders of the Purple Sage, I really should include "Panama Red," shouldn't I? 


[YouTube link]

And as a bonus, here's a nice live performance (1972) of "Hello Mary Lou," with some sweet pedal steel guitar work by Buddy Cage.


[YouTube link]

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Darius Rucker

Posted by Richard on June 12, 2011

Darius Rucker was the lead singer for Hootie and the Blowfish before he became a country music star (2009 CMA New Artist of the Year). I liked him then, and I like him now. So I thought I'd post some Darius Rucker for your weekend entertainment. Hope you like it. 

 The first cut on his fine second album, Charleston, SC 1966, is a truly wonderful song called "This":


[YouTube link]

Here's the second cut from that album, "Come Back Song":


[YouTube link]

From the same album, here's the awesomely politically incorrect "Southern State of Mind"


[YouTube link]

From his first country album, Learn to Live, here's "History in the Making":


[YouTube link]

Here's another great one from that first album, "Forever Road":


[YouTube link]

If you don't like those songs, there's something wrong with you. If you do, visit his website. And buy his music.

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Save the wight bulb

Posted by Richard on March 6, 2011

If you were to mash up Richard Wagner, Elmer Fudd, and some scruffy Greenpeace activist, the result might be something like this. Enjoy!


[YouTube link]

HT: Legal Insurrection via American Digest (where you can read an excerpt from Ayn Rand's Anthem that's quite apropos)

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JaneDear Girls

Posted by Richard on March 4, 2011

Here's some tasty music for your morning: the JaneDear Girls performing "Shotgun Girl" live at the 2010 Deerhunter's Broadcast.


[YouTube link]

Here's the album version.


[YouTube link]

And here's "Wildflower" live on Jimmy Kimmel Live. I hope you've got good speakers (or headphones) — turn it up!


[YouTube link]

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Aaron Lewis – “Country Boy”

Posted by Richard on March 2, 2011

A little country music to accompany your morning coffee. Sounds like a Tea Party anthem to me. "I said it before, and I'll say it again, I never needed government to hold my hand." This is the album version. Turn it up and enjoy!

[YouTube link]

Here's the "Official Video" version with some special guests, including a nice vocal from George Jones.

[YouTube link]

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Best songs about pot

Posted by Richard on February 3, 2011

Brainz recently posted the "Ten Best Songs About Pot." I think those 20-somethings missed badly. Any list of best pot songs that doesn't include "Panama Red" by the New Riders of the Purple Sage is just not credible. Here, judge for yourself — compare this to the entries on their list:


[YouTube link]

That ought to be in the top 3, IMHO.

And, from the same band, there's "Henry" (check out the awesome pedal steel guitar by Buddy Cage):

 Here's another glaring omission from their list: John Prine's "Illegal Smile":


[YouTube link]

If that doesn't make you sing along, there's something wrong with you.

I could continue, with Arlo Guthrie, Neil Young, Commander Cody, etc. But I'll stop now and ask: What are your favorite pot songs? 

UPDATE: Jeez, I almost forgot the New Riders' "Lonesome L.A. Cowboy." I'm sure I'm not the only member of my generation who, more than once, belted this one out at the top of our lungs. Awesome pedal steel. Enjoy!


[YouTube video ]

And I should note that NRPS founder John "Marmaduke" Dawson passed away in 2009. Such a shame.

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