"Our music should contain multitudes as well," writes Leesa Cross Smith in an essay about Sturgill Simpson in the Oxford American's 2017 music issue. The annual issue returns to its state-by-state look at some notable music (last year's focus was a departure from that usual format with Visions of the Blues). For 2017, here are the notes on the songs from the 19th Southern Music Issue CD featuring Kentucky. [more inside]
Outlaw songs are at least as old as popular music itself. The image of a gallant loner battling a rigid and unyielding legal establishment has proved irresistible for generations of songwriters. In 1959, Texan Sonny Curtis wrote one of the best, "I Fought The Law." Intended as a vehicle for himself and the post-Buddy Holly Crickets, their single went precisely nowhere.That is, until it was covered -- the first hit cover was by The Bobby Fuller Four in 1965, then another major version came out 14 years later, from The Clash who revived the "oldie" into what is now a "punk anthem." From there, the covers start piling up.... [more inside]
In the wake of the tornados and armageddon, perhaps some happy news is in order. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band have released the third volume in their Will the Circle Be Unbroken series. This series which began 30 years ago and continued with Volume 2 in 1989, features the boys in the Dirt Band getting together with country legends like Johnny Cash, members of the Carter Family and Vassar Clements and inheritors like Emmylou Harris and Ricky Skaggs and doing some astonishing versions of old traditional tunes, hymns and a few originals. I'm listening to Vol. 3 right now, which features first timers like Dwight Yoakam, the lovely Iris Dement and even Tom Petty, and I'm tellin' ya, it's a worthy addition to the tradition, my freinds. Traditional music is enjoying a revival right now and that's great, but these folks have done an enormous amount to keep it alive and vital between the vogues and created some music for us in the bargain.