My review of Rich Kienzle’s new biography The Grand Tour: The Life and Music of George Jones, is in Sunday’s Washington Post. There’s probably some other stuff in there that would be good to read, too, I bet.
Here’s a paragraph I had to cut for space.
Amid his dutiful, carefully sourced recounting of booze-lubricated recording sessions and singles, Kienzle highlights some amusingly unexpected sides of Jones, like when he told his ex-wife Tammy Wynette in a 1980 interview in Country Music (a magazine Kienzle contributed to for 24 of its 31 years) that if he had to find a second career he would enjoy being an interior decorator. He might fare better than he did as the proprietor of three outdoor country music parks, which he opened at three different points in his life and quickly abandoned. He was also wanton enough with his brand to lend it to random products: George Jones Country Sausage and, also, troublingly, George Jones Country Gold Dog Food and Cat Food. Kienzle notes that a TV spot for the latter was called “George Jones Talks About His Greatest Lines.” If a TV commercial has to have a title, that’s either an unfortunate one or a brilliant one for a pitch from a man whose life and career were so damaged by an eight-year dalliance with cocaine.
I wouldn’t ordinarily be so flip discussing something as serious as an addiction problem, but that ad beggars belief.
I spoke with the great singer-songwriter (and Ke$ha song-improver) Lydia Loveless for the Washington City Paper’s Arts Desk in advance of her show at the 9:30 Club Saturday night in support of Old 97’s, (sic) one of my favorite bands. Read a gently edited transcript here.
When the 97’s last came through town, in October 2012, I had a really good talk with their frontman, Rhett Miller. In 2008 I talked to their second singer-songwriter, Murry Hammond, too.
Hayes Carll's devotion to the songwriter's art entails contemplating sex with Ann Coulter if necessary.
I’m a big fan of Austin singer-songwriter Hayes Carll
, whose work I have written about before
. I talked to him last week for Washingtonian; you can read that here
. In honor of his appearance at the Birchmere tonight, I’d like to share a question I asked him when last I interviewed him, in June of this year. I wasn’t able to use what he said in the piece I wrote then
, so here it is now for you enjoyment and/or edification. Take it away, Me. Continue reading
Photo: Marina Chavez
So Saturday, me and my pal @HeatherMG went to see the guy who wrote “Me and Bobby McGee.” This short review is kinda buried in today’s Paper of Record, and split over two pages web-wise, so I’m posting it here to make things easier. For all of us.
Kris Kristofferson is no hurry, but he doesn’t like to waste time. At the Music Center at Strathmore last night, he marched onstage in his customary black-shirt-black-jeans-black-boots regalia at exactly the announced go-time of 8 p.m., launching with little fanfare into a generous 30-song solo acoustic revue of his bone-deep body of work. A hardy 74, the Rhodes Scholar and former Army helicopter pilot moved lightly from one coiled, economical story-song to the next, punctuating each tune with an abrupt “Thank you!” or better still, “True story!” rather than allow the last note to hang in the air — as they can, within the Music Center’s sound-abetting walls. His tectonic growl would be frightening if it didn’t let it break so freely into laughter, or if you couldn’t see that beatific smile. Continue reading
So Elvis Costello is playing in town tonight. I am a fan. I admire a lot of things about Elvis besides the fact that he’s written hundreds of songs, a very high percentage of which I find listenable, dozens I think are pretty great, and at least a handful I don’t know how I lived without. (Not ’til I was 22 did a pal give me a copy of the The Very Best of Elvis Costello & The Attractions, if you can believe.)
Admittedly, my can’t-live-without E.C. playlist does not include anything from, say, the album he made with Anne Sofie von Otter, or the one he made with Burt Bacharach. But I commend his adventurousness and versatility, and especially his work ethic: He’s always giving songs away, interviewing Lou Reed or Bruce Springsteen or Bill Clinton on premium cable, singing on other people’s records, teaching himself musical notation 20 years into his career, composing a ballet, making unaccountable cameos in movies like Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, writing an opera, and here and there tossing off another perfectly nasty rock song like it’s nothing. Dude always has four projects cooking and and nine more on the back burner, and he seems to pay for his collection of funny hats by flying around playing concerts that seldom repeat a setlist and regularly clock in around two-and-a-half hours. So: Respect.
Of course, Elvis’s productivity and idiomatic wanderlust are the selfsame qualities that can make him seem like an annoying magpie, especially to listeners who only want to hear him spit venom about Liv Tyler’s mom while keyboardist Steve Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas open up the throttle. Continue reading
Just how retro is the strain of handmade country-blues peddled by Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs? During their ramshackle hour-long set at IOTA last night, the guitarist/percussionist/singer Lawyer Dave introduced two different tunes as “a song about domestic abuse,” and in neither case did he follow-up with a Chris Brown joke.
Violence between lovers has always been one of the major themes of this music, of course. No one goes to counseling in the blues! Continue reading
No matter how many Will Ferrell flicks or Stephen Colbert Christmas specials Elvis Costello turns up in, the circa 1978 image of him as the logorheic and self-immolating Angry Young Man endures.
But in the latter two-thirds of his wildly eclectic career, he’s evolved into something more like the Martin Scorcese of music, as much a historian and curator as he is an original artist. Continue reading
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Tagged Bluegrass, country, Elvis Costello, Loretta Lynn, Lou Reed, Merle Haggard, music, Post Rock, roots, songwriting, The Washington Post, Wolf Trap