Box Full of Letters from Issue #67
“Church of human connection”:
A Hallelujah chorus
“Hallelujah!” Greg Brown is right, that’s one of those rare, beautiful words. I’ve always associated hallelujah with Bono of U2, when I hear it being sung — whether it is in the song “Jesus Christ” from Folkways: A Vision Shared — A Tribute To Woody Guthrie And Leadbelly, or in the U2 song “Hallelujah, Here She Comes”. I find myself a disciple of Bono’s every time I hear “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. Talk about an arresting song that has the power to move you and completely imprison your soul. It is also a song that carries a very versatile message other than the spiritual.
However, it is that same uplifting charisma that Bono is gifted with, that I found radiating through the pages of the new issue of No Depression [#66, Nov.-Dec. 2006]. I admit that Joe Pernice, Mindy Smith and Solomon Burke were names I’m familiar with but never heard much, if any, of their music. After reading each of their stories, I felt a healing process had begun. Through these three stories I could feel or relate to the sense of longing that each has inside. Be it love, trust or just that gnawing in your soul, to feel welcomed. An ache or emptiness so real, yet sometimes so hard to describe or find solace for. When you read such stories so well written, you feel that you just sat and talked to each of them in the flesh.
Which brings me to the Greg Brown interview. It was not only intimate but very animated. Greg Brown not only gave an interview, he let his aura bleed through. I felt I not only met the singer-songwriter that Greg Brown is, I met the educator that he is. The real person and not some arrogant celebrity or pretentious fake. He enlightened me to not only check out more of his work, he sent me purchasing Henry Miller’s Air Conditioned Nightmare. What a terrific read and find that was as well.
So, I thank you again No Depression, for your little church of human connection. My soul needed that resurrection.
— Scott M. Anderson
Windsor, New York
Begging to differ
The writing in No Depression is mostly as rewarding to read as it must be to edit and to design. But Rich Kienzle needs to live up to his contributing editor status and refrain from being condescending and downright insulting about CDs that he’s entitled not to like.
Fair enough, Alan Jackson’s Like Red On A Rose is not to Mr. Kienzle’s taste. Fair enough, it’s a departure from what Alan Jackson has done to date.
But at least have the decency to respect the fact that he took the chance to step outside the mold with an artist who has proved her talent over more Grammy Awards than any other female artist. And ponder the fact that they may have got it right.
Mr. Kienzle, try it one more time without taking the nasty pills beforehand and when you have time in your busy schedule to give it the consideration it may deserve.
I can cope with the review having a different opinion; that’s what No Depression is about. I won’t take the review being destructive.
— James Gould
Old Crow Medicine Show:
“The joie de vivre”
Thanks for the extended Old Crow Medicine Show feature [ND #65, Sept.-Oct. 2006]. It managed to convey the joie de vivre of their shows as well as painting some interesting background to Big Iron World. One small point of issue, though: the Strawbs’ “Part Of The Union” wasn’t as Barry Mazor suggests “a fighting anthem…for the British labour movement in the 1970s.” It was actually a sarcastic attack on organised labour from the heart of the Margaret Thatcher/Rupert Murdoch press right-wing populism then gearing itself up to, ultimately, take power at the end of the decade.
— Richard Parkinson
“I am indebted”
As a fan of Waylon Jennings for two-thirds of my life, I’ve always felt that he was a bit underrated. The reason may have been that he was not as prolific a songwriter as some of his pals, though he wrote some excellent songs. However, he was one of the best country singers, period. Furthermore, he had an excellent choice for material outside country to cover. And he did it brilliantly. Thanks to his covers of “Do It Again”, “Will The Wolf Survive”, “Clyde” and “He Went To Paris”, he introduced me to Steely Dan, Los Lobos, J.J. Cale and Jimmy Buffett. (OK, Buffett was not uncountry, but clearly outside the country mainstream.) For that I am indebted to Waylon. I am glad to hear that finally a serious box set is released and am looking forward to it.
I want to point out, however, that, with respect to Wayon’s tribute to Hank Williams, the 1985 recordings have been released previously, as Ol’ Waylon Sings Ol’ Hank, on his own label in 1992 (WJ-1001 CD). As I understand it was only sold at his concerts, but it was also available from a German mail-order catalog. I just wanted to clarify this point. Otherwise, I agree with Barry Mazor’s review. Surpringly, most of the covers don’t sound very inspired.
— Jochen Mezger
“Keeping the tradition of soul music alive”
On his most recent release Nashville, Solomon Burke sings country-soul like no one else can. “That’s How I Got to Memphis”, “Tomorrow Is Forever”, “Atta Way to Go”, and “Til I Get it Right” are re-created into soulful masterpieces. Solomon’s majesty is further evidenced by the way he can sing the out-of-control “Ain’t Got You” and then immediately segue to the sadness that is the “Valley Of Tears”. Thank you to Buddy Miller for including the conversation among the musicians between the two songs on the album — worth the price of admission alone.
Solomon Burke is keeping the tradition of soul music alive and making it better than ever. He acknowledges not only soul music songs, but artists of the past, and gives them solid recognition. I was able to see him at the 2005 Bayfront Blues Festival in Duluth, Minnesota. His performance and singing stole the show that weekend. He sang his new and classic songs while also covering songs by (and acknowledging each of them) Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, and others. The late, great Sam Cooke was honored with a musical tribute at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that Solomon participated in and sang a duet with Aretha Franklin. I can only wish that a CD of performances from that weekend will be released.
This album should win Solomon Burke the Grammy for Country Album of the Year and Buddy Miller for Producer of the Year. I would imagine these two will win countless awards at the Americana Music Awards as well. I can only hope that Buddy and Solomon will release the remaining tracks recorded during that week of March 28 to April 6 in the near future.
— Joseph Greget