If you haven’t seen it before, watch this VH1 documentary about Warren Zevon’s final year when he lived with terminal cancer while recording a final album, awaited the arrival of his twin grandchildren, turned in a great final appearance on Letterman (the whole hour), and felt deep sorrow and deeper love.
It doesn’t make for easy watching. I played it in the background at work earlier this week, and that may have been a mistake. His reaction to learning that his grandchild would have the middle name “Warren” is priceless, really something special. Reading his diary entries can be particularly heart-wrenching.
I hadn’t realized “Keep Me in Your Heart for a While” was his final song. That’s just… wow. Wow.
Enjoy every sandwich, friends. Enjoy every sandwich.
R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy.
Picture from We Hate Pop Country. While Bones was always the TOS character I personally identified with most, Nimoy probably had the most talent as an actor. There was something special – and challenging – about the way he portrayed Spock. My favorite TNG episode was always “Unification.” And since this IS a music blog…
He also covered Kenny Rogers, but I like the Cash clip more.
I got a new toy – a portable turntable! My best friend, a real audiophile in Seattle, recommended three, and I picked the one with the best ratio of five-start to one-star reviews on Amazon.com: a three-speed model from Jensen.
The inaugural record, playing as I write this quick post: Jamey Johnson’s “Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran” from 2012, featuring duets with Alison Krauss, Merle Haggard, George Strait, willie Nelson, and more.
I’ve got a much bigger record player at home in Idaho that looks like a giant chest, with huge built-in speakers, an AM/FM radio, and a busted 8-track player – there’s no hauling that out to D.C., but mentioning it does give me a chance to give a shoutout out to the annual KPBX Recording and Video Sale! If you’re in the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area this winter, be sure to check it out – tons of cheap used records and gear every January/February. Last I knew, all discs were $2, but that may have increased to $3 or $4 in the years since I’ve been for all I know.
I had two dreams about music last night.
In one, I dreamed that George Strait had an album called “Personal,” similar to Johnny Cash’s posthumous “Personal File” – different versions of his famous hits, covers of favorite songs, traditional gospel and folk classics, etc. One of the tracks I dreamed was on “Personal” was a stripped-down, slower version of his #1 hit, “Wrapped.” When I saw Wrapped’s songwriter, Bruce Robison, in concert earlier this year, he explained that the song was supposed to be a sad one – he’d written it at a point when he and his then-ex-gf now-wife were broken up and it was tearing him apart. But Strait made it sound like a happy upbeat song about just being in love. Robison said he likes the happy version more, but when I stop and read the lyrics thinking of it in the context of an ex rather than a current love, it makes a lot of sense as a sad song too, yearning for that one love you can’t escape: “It feels like ages since you laid down in my arms // I see no good reason but still I’m tangled in your charms // My God, you’re smilin’, you catch my eye // My heart is pounding deep inside.”
It’d be very interesting to hear Strait sing it that way.
My other dream was less country/roots, but still about music. I was sitting on the floor in front of a piano with eight pedals, kind of drunk, and discovered that I could play simple tunes with just the pedals. That was weird.
Earlier this week, I wrote a review of the new George Strait album, which was completely ruined by overuse of autotune (not as a T-Pain-style instrument, but turned up so high the voices didn’t sound human anymore). When I mentioned this, a friend wondered if maybe Strait is losing a step and needed the help to bolster his voice. No.
I’m sure this was justified in a loud, crowded arena to help the voices carry, but it was a terrible decision for a recording – and in response to my friend’s question, completely unnecessary. Check out this video I found from earlier this year of Strait picking up a guitar and singing a couple impromptu bars at a charity auction with no sound equipment – the voice is perfect!
Basically, shame on you, MCA.
Check it out… there’s a new Hank Williams biopic in production, and they just cast Loki from the Avengers to play Hank. I don’t know if it will be any good, but I’ll see it!
Anyway, real point of this post is to say I’m traveling through the weekend, then have a John Fullbright show on Monday night. So posts are on hold until Tuesday night or Wednesday. I know about half the folks who like this page on Facebook came by way of King Street Bluegrass (thanks y’all), so I will note that while things have been heavy on the country lately, I’ve got reviews coming of at least two new bluegrass albums, maybe more. The new one is probably more country though – Carlene Carter.
Talk to you soon, friends!
George Strait is, without a doubt in my mind, the absolute greatest country artist who has EVER lived. 60 #1 hits without every giving up the cowboy image or neo-traditional sound. He’s been my favorite artist for nearly 2/3 of my life, and I have been blessed enough to see him four times live. I would have killed, literally killed, to be at last night’s George Strait concert in Arlington, Texas. I almost went, too – even just six days ago I still didn’t know I was going to do, but in the end, couldn’t quite swing it.
I knew I would absolutely lose it during the final “The Cowboy Rides Away” if I made it in person. But I didn’t expect to lose it just watching the clip on my laptop.
I should have gone to Dallas. I should have thrown every last bit of caution to the wind and gone to Dallas. And yet, he’s only retired from TOURing, not PERFORMing… he promises a few more one-off shows are still to come… my best guess is that that means some San Antonio area concerts and a few more shows at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo… something tells me I’ll get to the see king once or twice more yet, the good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise.
Video via Saving Country Music
As you can tell, this blog is pretty new. Stay tuned, and in the coming days and weeks I’ll have reviews of new albums from the one and only Sturgill Simpson, Parker Milsap, Old ’97s, Willie Watson, and Nikki Lane!