Box Full of Letters from Issue #36
I usually don’t take issue with critical reviews. I find aesthetics arguments pointless. I try to take what I can from a review and leave it at that. But you guys lost me on the Ryan Adams deal [ND #35, Sept.-Oct. ’01]. Did he get too drunk at a show and piss in your drinks?
Gold is an awesome work. Several songs do seem to be works-in-progress, as does Ryan seem to be himself. Newsflash: We are all works-in-progress, even those of us with a more polished exterior. I feel lucky to be privy to the process. How much more revealing can an artist get? You want polish? There’s certainly no lack of that in Nashville. These songs are an exploration. Like a good impressionistic painter, Ryan leaves us room to find our own perspective. He offers us the opportunity to walk with him through his experiences and stories without spelling everything out for us. This record feels like talking with a close friend over a few beers at 3 a.m. The world’s problems are never solved, but it feels good to air things out. Few and far between are friends that dear.
You suggest that he sounds like a bad impersonation of himself, and that he explores too many styles. I’m not sure what you mean by this. I imagine that he can sound however the hell he wants to sound. I am blown away by the multitude of voices he manages to conjure.
Thanks for letting me air things out. You guys rock.
— Ken Payne
Take away the Tanqueray
I think Nick Lowe has even more to say than you think he does [ND #35, Sept.-Oct. ’01]. He’s not referring to Tanqueray in “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide”, but to his “untouched takeaway,” more than likely a nice curry replete with mango pickle, a naan bread and perhaps a popadum or two. That’s not to say he wouldn’t wash it down with gin, mind…
— Mark Hagen
“When I Was A Cowboy”:
Giving western music a good name
Oh God, say it ain’t so! Can it be that “The Bimonthly Journal of Alt-Country” et al. didn’t know any better than to print the foolish statement contained in David Hill’s review of Katy Moffatt’s CD Cowboy Girl [ND #35, Sept.-Oct., ’01]? An assertion so glaringly ignorant it made me, and I’m sure many others, wince from embarrassment!
First, from his characterization of it, it’s painfully obvious that Mr. Hill has never heard of “When I Was A Cowboy”. While no one expects a reviewer to know every fact, this song with its admittedly unusual chorus is one of the blues and folk legend Hudie Ledbetter’s most famous songs! Also known as “Out On The Western Plains” and “Lead Belly’s Chisholm Trail”, the song has been covered dozens of times by prominent artists such as Eric Darling and Ian & Sylvia. And since the song was among those collected on Edison cylinder by the great folklorist and writer John A. Lomax, not only does such a song not “give western music a bad name” as Mr. Hill maintains in print, it comes from a tradition of songs that helped give western music its identity in the first place!
Finally for Mr. Hill’s enlightenment, western music does not have “a bad name” despite the existence of songs he terms “trite.” In fact, its name is getting better and better if we use the favorable national press it’s now receiving as a barometer. Contemporary western music as a format stands ready to inherit legions of disenfranchised rock-sickened country listeners who are also bypassing roots-rockabilly as being still too close to rock.
Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but ignorance cannot go unchallenged. Before posting reviews containing such statements, Mr. Hill had better get some schooling in the area, or another reviewer with credentials in western music should be assigned. Putting more blunders of this kind into print and allowing them to be stated as absolutes may put “The Journal of Alternative Country” on the alternative side of credibility.
— Rick Huff
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Really enjoyed the letter from Paul Jancsik [ND #34, July-Aug. ’01] expressing his excitement over hearing the band Blood Oranges for the first time.
I was introduced to the kind of music your magazine covers in 1995 when my son played the Son Volt song “Windfall” for me. Within weeks I owned Trace and the four Uncle Tupelo albums. This so-called “No Depression/Alt Country” music has touched me more than anything I’ve heard since those great Stones albums of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
From one music lover to another, chalk up another sale for Blood Oranges.
— George Crabb