10 Things Grant Wants You To Know
In no especial order…
(1) I finally put the Courtyard Hounds album in the CD player in the little red truck, though it wasn’t what I was listening to when I backed into the football player this afternoon. It leaves me wondering what Natalie Maines might do should she have a solo album in process somewhere. And reminds me that Jesse Havey, one-time lead singer of the Duhks, has a solo EP out. Or she did. Or I thought she did. And I should go get it now, except I have nine more things to type.
(2) I was listening to the Phil Ochs demos CD when I blindly reversed into that Ohio license plate (sorry, really). I realize it’s already been written about here, but I was struck immediately by the opening song lampooning the American Medical Association, and how many of those barbs might still stick, how little has changed since the early 1960s. A pity, all around.
(3) Inevitable political digression, borrowed from a Facebook comment I made when somebody else simply printed the First Amendment and got a wee bit of flack for it. How do the strict constructionists of the right justify not extending the notion of religious freedom to Islam. And why do we allow sham arguments — like the siting of a mosque or whatever the correct word for the proposed structure might be — to dominate our political discourse.
(4) There is nothing quite like learning that your chickens have learned how to fly when trying to catch one. I’m sure there’s karmic justice in that mouthful of feathers, but, still…
(5) I’m right proud of Barry Mazor and the attention his book, Meeting Jimmie Rodgers: How America’s Original Roots Music Hero Changed the Pop Sounds of a Century, is getting. It does me proud to see our writing alums out there working.
(6) I’m also right proud of Kurt Reighley’s new book, United States of Americana. Even though I haven’t seen it yet.
(7) Speaking of books, which is sort of what I sat down to do…some months back I meant to commend to your attention Hard Luck Blues: Roots Music Photographs from the Great Depression by Rich Remsberg. I am a sucker for documentary photography, for Walker Evans and Margaret Bourke White and all the other early black and white artists. This is the culmination of a many-year project culling images from the Farm Security Administration’s Depression-era project documenting rural America. Evans is represented here, as is Dorothea Lange and some other names less familiar to me. I tend not to read words which surround photo and art books because they tend generally to be attempts to justify tenure or some such. Remsberg does a stellar job setting the context for these images; indeed, I like his words almost more than the photographs. Which are sometimes…less…than one might hope for. And yet, revealing. I also wish the photos had been better reproduced, but budgets are tight.
(8) Speaking of books and ND alums…Maggie and I had a splendid few evenings reading the latest from Laurel Snyder, who was an occasional stringer for us in the early days. It’s called Penny Dreadful, written for I’d guess fourth through sixth grade readers, but beautifully written nonetheless. The story concerns a young girl raised in affluence in a big city, transported by the magic of transformative events in one’s life to a small town and an intentional kind of community in rural Tennessee. It’s smart and kind and gentle, and made my wife cry at the end. Hell, I even choked up reading it to Maggie. So there.
(9) If ever you were tempted to attend the America Music Association’s Honors & Awards (thanks, Dick Clark, for that easily repeated name), this is the year. And not simply because it’s my third final year working on them, although I mean it, man. Because it promises to be worth the trip. And that’s absolutely all I can say, in public or in private.
(10) My title references a brilliant punk fanzine called 10 Things Jesus Wants You To Know that was started by a guy who worked in the back room of the Backstreets shipping department. Kind of like Sub Pop and grunge hatching in Muzak’s tape duplication rooms.