A few thoughts about country music.
First off, what a thrill it was to DJ Saturday night ahead of my new country, psychedelic, electronic favorite, Sturgill Simpson, but also the legendary Gregg Allman!
Since my childhood days of watching Hee Haw, The Grand Ole Opry, The Glen Campbell show, I’ve loved country music.
And, by country I mean old time country, bluegrass, folk, cowboy songs – just straight up American Music.
I love the twists and turns country took through the 70′s.
I’m hardly an expert, but I know what I love and getting my set together for the Annenberg show Saturday night was not only a trip down memory lane (Bobbie Gentry, Glen Campbell, Sons of the Pioneers), but also a time to discover deeper songs from artists I’ve always loved (Willie, Hank, George, Tammy, Loretta, Patsy, Gram, Emmylou).
I also was so happy to dig into my modern favorites (Ryan Adams, Shelby Lynne, Wilco, The Jayhawks) plus that side of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds.
I have to confess that I’m not a giant fan of pop country. Country seems to have adopted so many pop sensibilites, that it’s kind of lost me for now.
But that’s OK, I’ve discovered new favorites and re-discovered old friends and I wanted to share them with you.
Some a few of my favorites below. Click Hank’s pic for a spotify playlist!
KCRW’s Country Playlist – by DJ Anne Litt
Link Wray – Fire & Brimstone
George Jones – White Lightning
Willie Nelson – Mr. Record Man
Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay
Linda Martell – Color Him Father
Patsy Cline – San Antonio Rose
The Byrds – Hickory Wind
Kris Kristofferson – Me & Bobby McGee
Bobbie Gentry – Ode To Billy Joe
Loretta Lynn – I’m A Honky Tonk Girl
Gram Parsons – Return of the Grievous Angel
Emmylou Harris – One Of These Days
Whiskeytown – 16 Days
Steve Earle (w/ Allison Moorer) – Days Aren’t Long Enough
Shelby Lynne – Revelation Road
Wilco – I Am Trying To Break Your Heart Hank Williams – Honky
Sons Of The Pioneers – Cool Water
Glen Campbell – Gentle On My Mind
Tammy Wynette – Woman To Woman
The Jayhawks – Nevada California
The Rolling Stones – Sweet Virginia
SONGS ABOUT LA - Over the July 4 weekend, I started this compilation. I wonder what your ideas are…
I love holiday weekends in Los Angeles. It’s the closest we ever get to tumbleweeds blowing down any LA thoroughfare. Over the July 4 weekend, I found myself taking different ways to and from KCRW – staying off the freeway and driving through my deserted city thinking about music.
It may sound strange, but I sometimes think about music without listening to it.
I’ve been compiling this list of songs about Los Angeles for some time. It’s a daunting task and, honestly, I’ve only just begun it. This place has inspired so much music, in so many different genres, through so many years that I could never come up with a definitive list, but this is a start.
Susan Raye – “L.A. International Airport”
I don’t know of any other airport that has been immortalized so descriptively in a song about a break up. “L.A. International Airport, where thee big jet engines roar. L.A. International Airport, I won’t see him anymore.”
Randy Newman – “I Love LA”
This song has become the de facto anthem for Los Angeles. Like it or not when you’re at a Dodger game or Laker game and you hear it start, you know it’s been a good day!
Ray Davies – “Celluloid Heroes”
The melancholy in this version of the song (from “The Kinks Choral Collection” By Ray Davies and The Crouch End Festival Chorus) is truly overwhelming. Perhaps it’s the choir or Ray Davies perspective on the song now. Either way, the cautionary tale is powerful and, at the end, uplifting.
George Stanford – “Meet Me In Los Angeles”
I love this song about the essence of what drew all of us transplants here in the first place. Makes me love my adopted hometown even more every time I hear it.
Ice Cube – “Today Was A Good Day”
From 1993, this song came out soon after I moved to LA and was on his album “The Predator” which came out right after the 1992 LA Riots. There’s something about it’s easy nonchalance, West Coast groove and Isley Brothers sample juxtaposed with the true meaning of the lyrics.
Elliot Smith – “Alameda”
This song about the desolation and dark loneliness of this vast city.
Thee Midnighters – “Whittier Blvd”
Coming out of East LA in the 60’s, Thee Midniters created a surf rock sound with horns unique to the urban culture of Los Angeles.
X – “Los Angeles”
This is one of the songs that made it apparent I had to come here (even they are talking about leaving!). I’ve never listened to it quietly. Ever.
Ryan Adams – “Goodnight Hollywood Boulevard”
Ryan is an artist who has been inspired by Los Angeles and now calls it home. I just love this one.
Art Brut – “Moving To L.A.”
Any song by an English band that can barely play their instruments that talks about wanting to “hang around with Axl Rose” and “drinking a Hennessey with Morrissey” is an instant classic.
The Beatles – “Blue Jay Way”
When I first moved to LA, I actually went looking for Blue Jay Way. I found it up in the mythical hills above LA and pictured George Harrison writing it, inspired by those foggy summer LA mornings.
Johnny Mathis – “Christmas In Los Angeles”
Christmas can be a strange time in Los Angeles for me. Johnny Mathis makes it the most perfect place and only place to spend Christmas in the entire world. The best Christmas song EVER!
Jonnie Davis, Francis Langford, and The Benny Goodman Orchestra – “Hooray For Hollywood”
This is the quintessential Hollywood song, from the 1937 movie Hollywood Hotel, lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The true classic of them all.
Here’s a list of a few more!
Joni Mitchell – “California” “Ladies Of The Canyon”
The Decemberists – “Los Angeles, I’m Yours”
The Byrds – “Bad Night At The Whiskey”
Dawes – “Time Spent In Los Angeles”
Grateful Dead – “West LA Fadeaway”
Take – “Los Angeles Is Outside”
Gilberto Gil – Samba De Los Angeles”
The Standells – “Riot On The Sunset Strip”
Rival Sons – “Burn Down Los Angeles”
Gene Clark – “Los Angeles”
Father John Misty (and a great cover by Tashaki Miyaki) – “Hollywood Forever Cemetary Sings”
Band of Skulls – “Hollywood Bowl”
Ryan Adams – “La Cienega Smiled”
Patti Smith – “Redondo Beach”
Ry Cooder – “3rd Base, Dodger Stadium”
Unbelievable. Bobbie Gentry & Billie Joe.
THE ACID - ARTIST YOU SHOULD KNOW
Sometimes the internet really works.
I met artist Steve Nalepa through Twitter. He sent me some music that I loved and I began to play it on the radio. A month or so ago, he sent me his new project, The Acid.
The first song I heard, which you can hear below, is “Fame.”
What I heard is a baseline of electronics, with sweet melodies performed with a present rawness, and a decidedly organic feel. It’s sexy. Because of the people and talents involved the end result, rather than a mish-mash, is a beautifully conceived, deftly executed balance of songs, instruments, machines and soul.
The three players are: Steve Nalepa – Californian, producer, composer and professor of music technology, Adam Freeland – a Grammy-nominated English DJ, remixer, and composer, and RY X – an Australian singer songwriter now based in Berlin.
This is definitely a case of the sum being greater than the parts. Serendipity brought these three artists together (which is a whole other story about, in their words, nerding out over music) and each one has brought a different expertise and set of experiences to the table. The result is gorgeous.
Here’s how the band approached it, from Steve himself:
“Since we all had history and careers, we decided to just float it out there on Soundcloud anonymously and not tell any of our friends it was us.
We wanted the music to speak for itself, not be perceived as someone’s side project or get viewed through the lens of their other work. We changed where we were from every week or so. First we were a band from Santiago, Chile, then Norway, then Mozambique, then Iceland, Australia, Berlin, etc. We had fun with it.
Soon enough, people started finding it and we actually starting getting hit up by labels.”
They ended up signing with Infectious out of the UK, who partnered with Mute for the North American release. Their full length “Liminal” is just out.
If you click the photo above it takes you to the KCRW website, where I originally posted this and you get “Fame” as a free download!