Old 97s play their best album, 1997’s “Too Far to Care,” at the 9:30 Club tonight. Miller is second from the left.
Formed in Dallas in 1993, the alt-country act Old 97s combines the heart-tugging wordplay of Townes van Zandt with the attack of The Clash. After a couple of indie releases in the mid-90s, the group were the beneficiaries of a bidding war, signing with Elektra Records. Their major-label debut, 1997’s Too Far to Care, remains their best and best-loved album. Despite retaining a substantial following — their show at the 9:30 Club tonight is sold out — the group never reached the level of stardom their big label demanded. Since 2004, they’ve been recording for the New West label.
Their current tour supports a 15th anniversary reissue of Too Far to Care, which they’re playing in its entirety in sequence, along with a selection of other songs. I spoke with singer-songwriter Rhett Miller (whose career as a solo artist runs parallel to that of his band) by phone about the quest for perfect setlist, the excesses of major label recording contracts and the perils of singing songs you wrote at 25 when you’re 42.
This interview appears today on the Washington City Paper’s Arts Desk. Continue reading
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Tagged 9:30 Club, David Bowie, Exene Cervenka, interviews, Linda Ronstadt, music, Neil Young, Old 97s, Rhett Miller, The Pixies, The Wedding Present, Washington City Paper, X
Bruce Springsteen announced U.S. tour dates this morning. He’ll be here in DC on April Fool’s Day. So I’ll just get this over with: Bruuuuuuuce!
Thank you. And now, let us proceed.
When The Boss announced the title and release date of his forthcoming album Wrecking Ball last week, I just couldn’t see past its abysmal cover, an area in which he has been a career offender. I noted that Wrecking Ball is also the title of a very fine Emmylou Harris album from 1995. Dana Stevens, Slate’s superb film critic, noticed that too.
(When I was on the Filmspotting podcast the week after Stevens, I tried to say how much I admire her writing and how honored I was to follow her on the show, but it came out wrong. I apologize for that, Ma’am.)
Anyway, we exchanged a few Tweets about that title. “Title re-use doesn’t infringe copyright, but it’s crass,” Stevens wrote. I pointed out that Emmylou got the title from Neil Young, whose song “Wrecking Ball” (from his 1989 album Freedom) Emmylou covered on her album Wrecking Ball. Got all that?
“If Bruce covers the Neil Young song on this record, then the nab is vindicated,” Stevens concluded. Continue reading