Been looking around on this site and I hear a lot of mentions of different artists and there's that great songwriters thread and all, but I'd like to find out more specifically what are some of the greatest songs, in your opinion? A handful at a time would be nice so we can stay real selective and only hear about your top choices. For me when I think about it a few songs have stood out over the years as strangely ageless, unique, maybe haunting or they have some other quality which just connects. Anyway I plan on listening to as many as possible...

Here's what comes to mind for me without scouring my collection or anything:

Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground - Willie Nelson
Pancho and Lefty - Townes Van Zandt
Levelland - James McMurtry
Not a Drop of Rain - Robert Earl Keen
The Front Porch Song - Robert Earl Keen & Lyle Lovett

Tags: great, songs, songwriters

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Could list multiple great songs from each of the following, but here's a few standouts (to me, anyway):

"The Sky Above, The Mud Below" - Tom Russell
"Cave Man" - Chris Smither
"Windfall" - Jay Farrar
"Dry River" - Dave Alvin
"Just Getting By" - Pat McLaughlin & John Prine (same song is called Taking A Walk on Prine's Fair And Square record, prefer Pat's version on his Next Five Miles record, both are good versions of a great tune)
Sounds like a good list and I haven't heard any of them! I'll try and listen to them all if I can get my hands on them.
A few more:

"The Dutchman" - Michael Peter Smith
"Can't Stop A Train" - The Derailers
"Rough God Goes Riding" - Van Morrison
"Private Conversation" - Lyle Lovett
"City of New Orleans" - Steve Goodman
I'm enjoying Cave Man, Dry River, and starting to listen to The Sky Above, The Mud Below.

Have you heard Dave Alvin's version of "California Bloodlines"? I like that one a lot too.
An excellent version. I also really liked his version of Redneck Friend; that whole record is really well done. Which reminds me, speaking of songs he's covered, Tim Hardin's "Don't Make Promises" off Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women is simply gorgeous start to finish.
I'm going to have to give that another go i think . I must admit to being pretty disappointed with Dave's output since "Blackjack David" . I consider that album to be an all time classic and i looked forward to lots more but he's only really given us one album of his own songs since and it was merely OK , Dave by numbers (Ashgrove) . The two covers sets were good but don't blow me away and the Guilty Women one only got about 2 plays .
I would say he's never put out anything i dislike but i don't think he'll ever top "Blackjack David" , it's a masterpiece.
Blue Blvd. had strong material, good musicianship, but distractingly poor production. No bass apparent, oddball drum sound. It deserves someone going back and remastering properly, or maybe being re-recorded from scratch. That's the closest he's come to recording something I dislike, but I still play it here and there.

Dave's catalog, is long and deep, and I agree, of all that, Blackjack David is his masterpiece. King of California is right behind that, don't you think? I would imagine that sustaining his high standards over time is tough to pull off, which might partly explain the two records of mostly covers and the multiple live records, all of which sound spectacular. West of the West is a fine selection of tunes exceptionally well played and superbly produced, but I still prefer his own material.

Am with you on Ashgrove. The rock/folk/rock/folk pacing for one thing threw me off and some of the songs, Black Sky and Sinful Daughter in particular, sound like someone else trying to write like Dave and missing. They don't sound bad, but the lyrics to those two are not up to his usual snuff. On the other hand, the title tune is a rockin' autobiography and Somewhere In Time is perfect.

What an amazing guy.
Couldn't agree more and i'll be going back to re-listen to Somewhere In Time , i'm sure i'll get into it .
Oh yes , King Of California is brilliant and i love his solo debut (two titles , one for USA , one for Europe !).
It's a pity his brother Phil hasn't done more with that super voice of his !
A roommate intro'd me to the Blasters in 1985, brought home a copy of Hard Line. In 1987 I went to see Los Lobos and Dave walked out on stage. I was excited to think the Blasters were opening, not realizing he'd quit and that this was his first solo tour. He had a great band and I recognized most of the songs, but his singing was barely passable, he wasn't even a good shouter. It sounded better on Romeo's Escape (US title) than in person, that's for sure. Flash forward a few years, he not only figured out how to sing but his vocals became a highlight. I'm guessing I've seen him live 35-40 times since, and am catching him with the Guilty Women in a month or so. Always a major treat.

Yeah, Phil. Talk about golden pipes. If you can find a copy of his solo record County Fair 2000, grab it. Very good, mid 90's release I think. He had an older solo record, name escapes me, and I wish I had a copy. The current version of the Blasters put out a very worthwhile record a couple of years back called 4-11-44, if you don't have that, you can probably find it on line. Just saw the Blasters play again twice over the 4th of July weekend. Dave was a featured guest and they were great shoes.
You make me so jealous , the nearest i've got to seeing Dave live is the Austin DVD , great as it is it can't compare to the real deal i bet . He rarely comes to Scotland unfortunately.
Hard Line was one of the very first "Americana" lp's i ever bought and i still love it to this day , i was into stuff like THe Cure , The Smiths , Cocteau Twins etc but i started reading in the UK music press about all these bands in USA like The Blasters , Los Lobos , Green On Red so i took a chance with Hard Line and....never looked back really it's been anything touched by the hand of "Country/Folk/Americana" ever since .
I've got the Phil one you mention , pretty good but that last Blasters one left me pretty underwhelmed , it was OK but......
maybe Dave should do a new album with them.......
The Phil Alvin record you are referring to is Unsung Stories. It's waaaay better than the County Fair disc. Check it out here:
I think Dave used more than one drummer throughout BLUE BLVD but "Haley's Comet" on there is drummed by none other than Donald "The Clock" Lindley (PBUH) who adds real bite to that song. I'm a major Tom Russell fan but Dave Alvin's version of that song takes the cake. I was lucky enough to see Lindley with Lucinda Williams (Sweet Old World tour) and he was a force to be reckoned with.



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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.