Posts Tagged ‘Lucinda Williams’

“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?”

Rob Gordon, the protagonist in “HIgh Fidelity”, had it right.  So many songs of heartbreak, the breakup song being the most poignant of them all.  Here are my top five.

1. The Righteous Brothers-You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

Recorded in 1964 this monster hit in both the UK and the USA was co-written and produced by Phil Spector.  Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield were no one hit wonders however, and had a number of other big hits including “Unchained Melody”, perhaps the emotional bookend to this tune.

2. Lucinda Williams-Those Three Days

This is heavy going, grabbing your heart and making you feel Lucinda’s pain as if it were your own.  I love this song, but then, I love Lucinda.

3. George Jones-A Good Year For the Roses

This was recorded in 1971 and has been extensively covered, Elvis Costello doing a notable version.  There is scant little information around about this song or its origins, despite it reaching number 2 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart in 1971.  Great tune, great imagery and of courses George’s one of kind voice.  RIP.

4. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers-You Got Lucky

An “it’s your loss” variant on the break up song and a very good one at that.  The 1982 Mad Max style video is wonderfully dated and an added bonus.

5. The Beatles-Run For Your Life

Off 1965’s “Rubber Soul” this is without doubt the meanest Beatles’ song ever.  One has to wonder who John Lennon (who is widely thought to have written it) was thinking about, and was it really that bad?  Love the riff.

I am back after an absence I will attribute to my day job but which might be attributed to any number of distractions.   As promised however, I bring you my picks for the Top Five Live at the Fillmore albums.  I have included all three establishments bearing the Fillmore name which were established and had been owned by the impressario and promoter Bill Graham:  The Fillmore, at Fillmore and Geary in San Francisco; the Fillmore West, at Market and South Van Ness, also in San Francisco; and, the Fillmore East, in the East Village in NYC.

Why is there so many fine live albums from these venues?  I think credit goes not only to the various artists who turned in so many sublime performances but also to Bill Graham who promoted the shows and provided the wonderful venues for music to be made in.

1. Live at the Fillmore East, Jimi Hendrix

Recored on the evenings of December 31, 1969 and January 1, 1970, and released posthumously in 1999, this album captures Hendrix at his creative zenith.  Accompanied by the Band of Gypsys (Buddy Miles on drums and Billy Cox on bass), it displays Hendrix’s improvisational best: who can argue with two versions of “Machine Gun”?

2. Live at Fillmore Auditorium-Chuck Berry

This is a 1967 release.  What sets it apart is the “pick up” band, which was the Steve Miller Blues Band, later to become simply the Steve Miller Band.  The finest band ever to accompany Chuck, save the outfit Keith Richards put together for “Hail Hail Rock and Roll”

3. Live at The Fillmore-Lucinda Williams

This is, as far as I know, Lucinda’s only live album.  Never released on vinyl, it contains equal measures of Lucinda’s sexually and emotionally charged lyrics and performance, and Doug Pettibones’s outstanding guitar work.  I couldn’t find a Youtube clip from the show, but this one gives the idea.  My oh my.

4. At Fillmore East-The Allman Brothers Band

This album is often said to be not only the finest album by the Allman Brothers, but also the finest live album ever.  Whether correct or not, this double album gem was recorded over two nights in March, 1971 and still sounded pretty fine this morning.  It appears on numerous lists attesting to its influence and my list would not be complete without it.

5. Fillmore West 1969-The Grateful Dead

An expansion of the classic album Live/Dead released in 1969 (rock’s first 16 track live recording)  into a three cd set released in 2005, these recordings showcased the Dead as only live music can: as free form, psychedelic rock.  The track here, “Dark Star” is one of the finest examples.

I saw Elvis Costello last night at the Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver.   It was once again an enormous treat. The two and a half hour show, with no opening act, came complete with audience participation, a spinning song picker, a cage dancer or two, and Diana Krall.

An ex girlfriend,  who has been a Bob Dylan fan forever, once remarked that Elvis was my Dylan, in part because of the length of time I had enjoyed his music and in part because of the many musical shifts in his career.  These were keen observations.  From the first note of “Welcome to My Working Week” on his debut album “My Aim is True” in 1976, I have been a fan.  I have followed him from the early “songs of sneer” as he now describes them,  through his embrace of any number of genres of music including country, pop, bluegrass and indeed classical.

Along the way Elvis has collaborated with many musicians including such unlikely candidates as Bill Clinton and Smokey Robinson.  My list of his Top Five collaborations are:

1. Nick Lowe

Elvis and Nick go way back, Nick having produced Elvis’ first five albums.  They here performs Nick’s song made famous by Elvis “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace Love and Understanding”, turning it into a county music ballad.  Having no less than James Burton on guitar helps to achieve that vibe considerably I should think.

2. Lucinda Williams

Elvis and Lucinda have recorded together a number of times.  This clip is from a CMT (Country Music Television) series called “Crossroads” which brings together rock and country artists.  It debuted with an Elvis and Lucinda episode in 2002.  The two songs here, the Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses” and Lucinda’s “Blue”, are a display of combined artistry that is nothing short of magical.

3. Paul McCartney

Elvis and Paul recorded a album together in 1998 (not released on vinyl so far as I know and rare on disc) called “The Studio Collaboration”.  “So Like Candy” is one of the gems off it.  Cool song.

4. Alan Toussaint

Alan Toussaint is a New  Orleans writer, producer and musician of enormous influence.  He and Elvis met at a benefit for Katrina victims.  In 2006, they released to wide acclaim “The River in Reverse” which came out of the first major recording session in New Orleans after the storm. I saw and heard them in Vancouver around that time.  They played for three hours with palpable joy at sharing their gifts.  One of my all time favourite concert experiences. This track is called “Ascension Day” and is illustrative of the theme of the album.

5. Burt Bacharach

Elvis had been a long time Burt fan when he recorded an album of entirely original co-written material with him in 1998, a busy year apparently.  This famous Burt tune (performed by Elvis and Burt), “Never Fall in Love Again” is from the Austin Powers’ soundtrack. It is worth a watch and a listen even if you don’t like Heather Graham.