Random Notes on Music and Musicians

An episode in the first season of HBO’s Deadwood ends with an instrumental version of Michael Hurley’s great song “Hog of the Forsaken” playing over the end credits. I hadn’t heard it without words, but the song is unmistakable. A sample of the missing lyrics:

The Hog of the Forsaken he ain’t like you and I,
With bones always breakin’ and no place to go an’ lie,
He’s in the box so dark and wet, he got so much time,
He ain’t even worried yet, the Hog of the Forsaken,
He is the Pork of Crime.

Here’s the video:

I have a huge LP record collection, but mostly listen to digital files on my computer. With that cold fact staring me in the face—and the growing value of LPs—I decided to see what I could raise from some vintage jazz (which I have doubled on CD) at the Princeton Record Exchange.

It turned out all right. Two grocery bags of LPs yielded $178 and a nice pile of unheard music on CD. Still, I’m going to miss a few of them, irrational as it seems. I probably haven’t specifically listened to that copy of Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage on Blue Note for 20 years or more, and I’d painstakingly digitized my vinyl copy of Dizzy Gillespie on Bluebird, but it had such a beautiful cover. And who can resist the song “In the Land of Oo-Bla-Dee,” with music by Mary Lou Williams, lyrics by Milt Orent and vocal by Joe Carroll?

I met a beautiful princess in the land of OoBlaDee
She smiled and said OobaDidela meaning you appeal to me
I said Oobadideaabendue with pride
Oobadideaabendue let’s take a ride
In the land of OoBlaDee OoBlaDee

She drove me straight to her castle in the land of OoBlaDee
And there I met her two sisters Blooeyda and Dooeyblee
Blooeyda without a doubt was twice my size
Dooeyblee the other sister had three eyes
And the two had eyes for me Oobladee

Here’s the video:

One of the CDs I picked up in Princeton was a gospel album by the diminutive Little Jimmy Dickens. I tend to buy bluegrass gospel albums when I find them, because they often contain their author’s most expressive singing. Dickens was pint-sized, but he had a big, and very country, sound that went instantly out of fashion when Chet Atkins and others started with the modern Nashville “countrypolitan” (strings and horns) sound.

Dickens didn’t go out of fashion with me, though. Here’s a great video. He’s little but he’s loud, and he’s “countrified” and doesn’t care who knows it:

A new album that arrived in the mail yesterday is making quite an impression. It’s Tugboats, an EP by the Brother Brothers, David and Adam Moss, whose music I enjoyed at the Summer Hoot last year. I’m a twin, so it’s nice to see twin acts. Do their voices blend? Do you have to ask? They’re both monster talents as songwriters and singers, and collectively play fiddle, guitar, cello and more.

The only thing wrong with the EP is it’s too short, and doesn’t have enough of their songs on it. Here’s “Cairo, IL” on video:

Other new things I’ve heard and really like:

  • The Maja and David fiddle duo. She’s Danish; he’s French Canadian, and their music seamlessly combines the two folk traditions.
  • Saturn’s Spell, the new album by the Organic Trio on Jazz Family. They take the familiar soul-funk organ trio—organ, guitar, drums—and bring it into the 21st century with, as the notes say, “just the right amount of grease.”
  • The Jason Anick (violin) and Jason Yeager (piano) record United (Inner Circle Music). I don’t know Yeager’s work, but Anick is a brilliant, fiery fiddler, and these two have a solid bond. Also check out Anick’s work with the Rhythm Future Quartet.
  • The hushed music of Allysen Callery, a Providence-based chanteuse.
  • Rayna Gellert’s Workin’s Too Hard (StorySound). Like the Brother Brothers EP, this one should be longer. I loved Gellert’s fiddle playing and singing in Uncle Earl, and was frustrated by her mostly instrumental albums, great as they might be. This one is starting to show her true potential in front of a band. It sounds better every time I hear it.

Robbie Fulks should have won that Grammy for Upland Stories.

Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon by Peter Ames Carlin is well-written, and it paints a none-too-nice picture of the brilliant auteur. Why couldn’t he just enjoy his success, be nice to people, and give credit where it was due?

A more amiable read was Neil Young’s book about cars, Special Deluxe. Wouldn’t Long May They Run be a better title? The book is so Neil Young, rambling, anecdotal, funny, obsessional. He likes old rides, buys them compulsively, and only occasionally fixes them up. The rest go to a kind of vintage junkyard at his northern California ranch.

I’d love to talk old cars with Neil Young some time. We could talk about music, too.