Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Singing the Blues...and Folk...and Country...

Eric and I had a little debate the other day about music. He claimed that there hasn't been any really good pop music since the 90's. I told him he was becoming one of those old people who gets stuck in the trends that were popular during their youth - like those women who are still curling their bangs in two different directions and sporting banana clips.

That conversation got me thinking about how my musical tastes have evolved over the years. In high school my favorite musicians were along the lines of The Smiths, The Cure, The Stone Roses, Depeche Mode, Oasis, Nirvana, and Tori Amos. I went through a brief period of listening to country music - I really liked Suzy Bogguss and Alison Krauss and Union Station, but got so sick of the poppy stuff ("Achy Breaky Heart" anyone?) that I gave up on the genre pretty quickly. I have never really gotten into rap or hip-hop, with a few exceptions (like the classic, "Hot in Herre". (Just kidding. It does remind me of when we got married though, because that song was on the radio at least once every 5 minutes in May 2002. And actually, the cover by Jenny Owen Youngs* is super awesome, and includes dancing people dressed as penguins.)) *warning: contains adult language and references to "asses bodacious"

So, my favorite singer/band now? Well, it's a hard choice, but if you were to put a gun to my head and make me decide, I'd probably say Ryan Adams. Chances are even if you don't recognize him by name, you've heard his stuff in the background of a movie or TV show. Soundtracks love him. It's hard to describe what his music is like because it's so eclectic - his songs range from rock to blues to country to bluegrass to folk. Here are a few (OK, several) of my favorites to give you a taste.

New York, New York

One of his most mainstream sounding songs, and probably his most famous song, since it was released shortly after 9/11, although it was written much earlier. He says the song is actually about an ex-girlfriend, not about New York - he often uses place names instead of names for girls in his songs, hence titles like "Dear Chicago," "Oh My Sweet Carolina," "La Cienega Just Smiled", and "My Blue Manhattan."

Oh My Sweet Carolina
This is one of my favorite songs of all time. It shows his country background, and his ability to write a song that is both simple and expressive. The album version features the incomparable Emmylou Harris on backing vocals. This song has been covered all over the place, including a great version by Elton John (the things you learn on YouTube.) There's an interview at the beginning, the song starts around 2:30.

Pearls on a String
A bit of bluegrass. This is such a pretty little song, I just love it. I would love to be described this way: "Glorious kind, always on time." (But a more accurate line would be "Pretty nice, perpetually late.") This clip is two songs - the first one is great too, but feel free to skip to 3:40.

You Will Always Be The Same

This was filmed in the middle of an open market in Jamaica. I was listening to this album pretty much nonstop during our first year of marriage, so it still reminds me of our basement apartment, walking to class, and driving to campus to pick Eric up from work in the middle of a snowy night. A sad song for one of the happiest times of my life.

Touch, Feel, & Lose
The boy knows how to sing the blues. Cry, cry, cry.


Ryan Adams + Oasis? Yes please!

Another dream team - Ryan + Beth Orton, one of my favorite female singer/songwriters. They dated for a while and he wrote a song for her album "Daybreaker" as well as singing backing vocals on a couple of her songs. His song "English Girls Approximately" is about her - he even calls her by name in it. I couldn't find a clip, but I'm sure if you've read this far you've had more than enough Ryan Adams for the day.

So now it's your turn - who is your favorite musician right now?

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I agree with Eric a bit, that the 90s were the best era of music - but that also was the time in my life when I was most into following music. There are lots of great artist today too. My recent fav is Blue October.


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