A pity about Lucinda and the AMAs
The thing was, I really wanted Maggie — who is now officially six, and has mastered the wagging index finger — to listen to the Tractors new album, Trade Union (Koch). She claims to love rock ‘n’ roll, by which she presently means it’s fun to jump off her tiny trampoline and onto her bed whilst listening to a childrens’ remake of “Wipeout.” Repeatedly. But I figured since her grandfather and her father were both spending a certain amount of time with farm equipment, and since both J.J. Cale and Leon Russell make more than guest appearances on the latest Tractors album, maybe she’d see the fun in it. Plus the opening track is called “Up Jumped The Boogie,” which seemed like a pretty good kids song all around.
Now, to be clear, I don’t hold any particular brief for the Tractors, who hail from Oklahoma and have had a country career, best I can recall, that I can’t really recall. But my friend Al pressed a copy on me and told me it was a fun record, and I guess it is possible to make a Texas swing version of Harlan Howard’s “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down” and have it play for fun, but that wouldn’t have been my choice. But it was the only new CD in the truck when I picked Maggie up from school and so…
…but, NO! We must listen again to the newest Lucinda Williams album, to Little Honey one more time. She asks for the tracks by number, cutting certain songs off midway when she’s heard her favorite bits. She is, after all, six.
That was, I guess, a day or so before official announcements of the Americana Music Association’s assorted nominees, a process in which I have some kind of obscure ghost role as a past president and whatever. And so I was struck by the complete absence of Lucinda from the nominee list.
She was, I believe (Peter will doubtless correct me if I’m wrong) the only artist to appear on our magazine’s cover three times. Which isn’t to say that ND was Americana, exactly, because we weren’t. Not exactly. But Lucinda and Steve Earle and John Prine and Guy Clark and a goodly other handful of artists certainly were both, and important to both realms.
So it seems odd to me, odd that Lucinda made a fun, gleeful (and, I would argue, courageous, given her reputation for perfection and gloom) album about being in love and gotten no love from the AMA. A really good album. An album I can still listen to despite the fact that my daughter has obliged me to wear it out.
The argument, I suppose, is that she has given the AMA no love, having declined repeated invitations to perform, to be honored, to join us. Doubtless she has her reasons, and her priorities, and I begrudge her none of that. And I do think the AMA has earned the right not to go begging to artists of her stature; and that she has more than earned the right to do whatever the hell she wants.
Past that, it is quite possible those nominating for these awards simply didn’t like her record as much as Maggie and I do.
But it still seems a list made incomplete by her absence.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Real Animal, by Alejandro Escovedo
Written in Chalk, by Buddy & Julie Miller
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, by Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
Midnight At The Movies, by Justin Townes Earle
ARTIST OF THE YEAR
Justin Townes Earle
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
NEW & EMERGING ARTIST
Band of Heathens
Justin Townes Earle
SONG OF THE YEAR
“Chalk,” written by Julie Miller, performed by Buddy Miller & Patty Griffin
“Country Love” by the Gourds
“Homeland Refugee,” by Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and Butch Hancock, performed by the Flatlanders
“Rattlin’ Bones” by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, performed by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
“Sex And Gasoline,” by Rodney Crowell, performed by Rodney Crowell
DUO GROUP OF THE YEAR
Buddy & Julie Miller
Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson