I ran across the following quote attributed to Kristian Bush (of Sugarland) in an article in the U.K. newspaperThe Independent, frankly titled: “Far from the old country music: Nashville is making yet another attempt to conquer the UK charts with artists who have crossed over so far they are virtually mainstream.”
Bush can barely hide his impatience at alt.country’s arrogance. “The songs that will survive 40 years from now will have to do, not with their excellence at how they interpreted post-modern Appalachia, but how they interpreted the human condition. And in the end, as much as I’m a huge Wilco fan, no one’s going to remember them. They’re going to remember Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” – because that story is true. There’ll be another girl sitting at a window who’s kissed someone and that song speaks to her. And really, [Wilco and ex-Uncle Tupelo singer-songwriter] Jeff Tweedy singing about being lonely and poor and dumped, all these things which he is not…
“There are only so many thirtysomethings who’ll emotionally connect to style over substance, which a lot of [modern] Appalachian stuff is. I’m a huge Gillian Welch fan, but she’s from Malibu, California. I’m from Dolly Parton’s hometown Sevierville, Tennessee. I should be playing what she’s playing, according to our histories. Our song “Baby Girl” deals with some sort of human archetype, anyway, a story of the hero. It just rings differently in your bones. Country music is unafraid of that human substance.”
Without intending to pick on Bush (and still disbelieving that Katy Perry has a tag on Country Universe), do you agree with him?
I was listening to The Band’s album Music From Big Pink earlier this week, and something struck me about the song “The Weight.” Trust me, you know the song. It goes a little like this: “I pulled into Nazareth / Was feelin’ about half past dead / I just need some place / where I can lay my head.” Ring a bell yet? No? Try this:
In the song, The Band, originally consisting of Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Levon Helm, draws from a familiar cast of characters and American mythology to tell a universal story set in the town of Nazareth, PA. First released in 1968, “The Weight” only reached #63 on the U.S. charts, but has since achieved iconic status. It has become an American standard in a way few songs have accomplished. Indeed, Rolling Stone lists it as the 41st greatest song of all time.
Further cementing its iconic status, check out a very small sample of the artists – across genres, of all ages – who have covered the song:
The Black Crowes
Old Crow Medicine Show
The Staple Singers
Lee Ann Womack
Cross Canadian Ragweed
Diana Ross, the Temptations and the Supremes
The Allman Brothers Band
The Marshall Tucker Band
Panic at the Disco
Songs with enduring power like “The Weight” are few and far between, and seem to be even more so nowadays. So tonight’s discussion asks:
What songs of the past decade have enduring power? What songs will we be listening to and hear covers of in the next 50 years?
Folks, don’t even think twice about this one. If you are a country fan and don’t own Gillian Welch’s wonderful, rootsy debut album, you have no excuse for not clicking the box below and dropping 2 bucks on it. Don’t just take my word for it: listen to the clips and hear for yourself. Entertainment Weekly writer Chris Willman recently named Revival one of the “25 Country Albums You Need to Hear (Even if You Hate Country Music)”, if you need yet another opinion. Unless you’re worried about your little expenses adding up or you don’t like MP3s, you really have nothing to lose and much to potentially gain at this price. But the deal is only good today, so get going!
Buying instructions: click on the big “Play” symbol to play the clips. When they start playing, a little box with information about the track will appear at the bottom of the box. Click where it says the album’s name (Revival) to reach the full album. Alternatively, you can click the yellow “Buy MP3″ button to go to the page of the individual song that’s playing, from which you can also reach the full album’s page.