Like the Deserts Miss The Rain (June 12th, 2018, Columbia, MO)

The day’s music began as Nicole and I rode in my truck to go pick up her car after a seven-mile hike. She hadn’t heard Willie King, so (yeah–after 26 years of marriage) I was trying to impress her. She digs North Mississippi Hill Country blues and juke joint music in general, but King’s an Alabaman with a more locked-in backbeat and few more musical tricks in his bag that do not hamper the boogie or over-polish the attack. She quietly dug it, as did I, as I hope the reader will.

 

 

Speaking of vehicles, Trio Da Kali’s spectacularly good 2017 album Ladilikan has been rocking in Nicole’s for a week, and we didn’t change the selection when we motored to and from breakfast. I liked it a year ago when I first heard it; on my two most recent reps, it has deepened its hold on me. Powered by a tremendous Malian singer, Hawa ‘Kassé Mady’ Diabate, traditional balafon and bass ngoni to lift her higher, and the Kronos Quartet’s striking strings to dramatize and (fruitfully) complicate the ascension, it’d be in my top 10 for last year if I could vote again. Tranquil–but not a sedative.

 

 

After a much-needed shower and a news peruse, I set out to finish Tracey Thorn’s great 2010 memoir, Bedsit Disco Queen. I don’t like reading in silence, but Thorn’s sharp, funny, and often caustic voice brooks no “cross-talk,” so I needed something…easy. I didn’t intend to “stay” in Mali (honestly, in terms of listening, I reside there much more frequently than the average American music buff), but dude-who-listens-to-twice-the-music-I-do Tom Hull, via a Tweet, apprised me of a new album by another desert chanteuse, the great Fatoumata Diawara. He’d given it a moderately positive review, which I inferred might mean it probably goes down a little too easily to trust (Diawara is very seductive). That turned out to be the case, though Fenfo has some surprises in store midway, and that was just what I needed: I read nearly 200 pages like drinking a cold glass of water after mowing a midsummer lawn.

 

 

Finally, just before I headed down here to knock out this post, after reading about it in Bedsit Disco Queen, I laid ears on Todd Terry’s 1995 (or was it 1994?) remix of Everything But the Girl’s “Missing” for the first time in my life! Yes, embarrassing–especially since, besides being an aural force to be reckoned with, it’s just a damn great piece of writing, as great as any in Tracey’s impressive repertoire (which I am just learning about, but I already discern that fact). I wasn’t clubbing then–Nicole and I preferred honky tonks and house parties–but had I been, I hope I would have been driven willy-nilly to the dance floor, though it’s probably more likely I’d have been distracted by the lyrics.

 

 

A Goods Train Running Through My Mind (June 7th, 2018, Columbia, MO)

Another day of mostly being inspired to expand my musical horizons by good memoirists–a brief side trip to West Helena, Arkansas.

Sad to say, especially being a pretty strong Wu-Tang Clan fan, but I’d never explored Method Man’s tracks. I’ve dug his leads on Wu rekkids and his guest spots on other Clansmen’s, and I am a long-time deep admirer of his team-up with Aunt Mary, but that’s as far as it’s gone. In U-God’s memoir Raw, we learn that Meth was a teenage compadre of the author, and stories of their exploits sent me to 2009’s Best of Method Man, which I enjoyed aside from some hard wincing at flying misogyny. Great production, honed style and flow, always goosed by Redman.

I am also reading Tracey Thorn’s terrific memoir from last decade, Bedsit Disco Queen, which her terrific (and AOTY candidate) Record led me to in the first place. Due to unfortunate prejudices and youthful ignorance, until today I had never listened to Everything But the Girl (well, I had, on the benefit comp Red Hot and Rio, but I hadn’t paid attention). Reading the book, I’d have been a stubborn fool to continue holding out, so I spun the bottle and started with Amplified Heart, which I very much enjoyed–especially the lyrics. Every song seems to have an aching line, and nearly every song traces the struggle of women in this here time. I’m gonna have to be in the right mood when I listen again, and it’s not the most dynamic attack in the world, but…I’m sold. And regretful. My fave (and I now know what a goods train is!):

By the way? Read the book. And check the gal’s track record!

Last but not least, Nicole and I listened to one of our stone-cold heroes, Sonny Boy Williamson, while buzzing ’round town. Besides being a master harmonica blower, the man was a sly and funny singer, and quite a writer–in fact, a kind of poet of the close call, the futile plea, the learned lesson, the sideways seduction, and the not-so-veiled threat. His known for his Chess label work, but his work prior to that (especially on Trumpet) is rawer, funnier, and often more powerful. Listen to him saunter, moan, stutter, and almost whisper through this one: