Friday, April 07, 2006


Inexplicable loves

Another one of mine is old western swing music, real country and western, of the Bob Wills variety. I know this is unrelated to things bookish, but I've got the new Willie Nelson cd playing today at the shop, and it's infectious and wonderful, and I suppose I could connect it to literature by saying that these fine songs were written with all the artistry, charm, and pathos of a good short story or poem - You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker, from Lost Highway records (if you click, you can listen to song samples). Cindy Walker passed away recently, and a well-written obituary from the Guardian is here.

When you open the jewel case and take out the cd, underneath it is a great photograph of Walker's old Royal typewriter, which is pink and has a basket of flowers painted on the side - a beautiful relic, like these songs made new by Willie's unique voice and the sheer bravado of the musicianship evident on the record. Favorite songs, after a few listens straight through: Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age, You Don't Know Me (I've always loved the Ray Charles version and Willie's is different but just as moving), Sugar Moon, Cherokee Maiden, The Warm Red Wine, and Miss Molly. But the best, I think, is the dust-bowl cowpoke campfire ballad Dusty Skies. A sad sad sad cowboy song. So good, if you like that kind of thing, which I do.

Sample lyric, from the swinging Miss Molly (1944):

"Oh, have you seen Miss Molly
Her cheeks are rosy, red
Her lips are soft as satin
And they taste like gingerbread"

This makes me smile! Boy, if someone had told me twenty years ago (when I was listening to Joy Division, The Smiths, and Black Flag) that I'd become a country music lover, I wouldn't have known what to think (most likely How could such a thing ever come to pass!). Although I shouldn't be surprised in retrospect, because one of my parents had Hank Williams records, which I loved to listen to. Still do. And now I wouldn't have it any other way. Willie's in town next month, I think I'm going to go... Back to books soon, I promise.

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