Box Full of Letters from Issue #74
Critics’ & readers’ polls:
On the banks of sweet Dundee
After years of searching around for the latest issue, my daughters gave me a subscription to No Depression for Christmas. The new issue arrived (very promptly, well done). Upon reading the polls for 2007 I note out that I have 34 of the critics’ and 35 of the readers’ choices in my CD collection. This begs the question, where are the missing items! No doubt the next few weeks will be devoted to tracking these down.
On the subject of record stores, Americana has not been easy to find in my part of the world, and sad to say the best store for this has recently had to close its doors as they cannot compete with the download market or Amazon. Whilst these avenues may be cheaper, I personally feel that nothing beats going into a store and arriving home with a gem of a CD recommended by the staff which over the years turns into a real favourite.
— John Ridley
Broughty Ferry, Dundee, Scotland
Critics’ & readers’ polls:
Where’s Ry Cooder?
ND #73 is yet another superlative issue, but I’d like to note a couple of things.
First, in Edd Hurt’s otherwise excellent profile of Otis Taylor, it is stated, “James Blood Ulmer’s 1983 album Odyssey, a drummerless work” — perhaps Edd needs to replace the batteries in his hearing aid, and I can only imagine Warren Benbow’s reaction if indeed that fine percussionist reads your mag!
Second, both the critics’ and readers’ Top 50 Album lists contain many worthy and interesting selections, but I don’t see Ry Cooder’s My Name Is Buddy anywhere. The street date in March ’07 was a while ago, but it seems a shame to ignore (or forget) a primo release from a gentleman who arguably created the Americana genre (if such a thing exists). My disappointment is somewhat tempered by the inclusion on both lists of Mavis Staples’ excellent We’ll Never Turn Back, which in some respects is a Cooder album (albeit with a much better vocalist!).
— Norm Westbrook
Kamloops, BC, Canada
Critics’ & readers’ polls:
No Wilco for me, please
It’s probably an indication that the Wilco love fest is beginning to irritate me, but lately I can’t seem to get Uncle Tupelo’s “We’ve Been Had” out of my head. While my love of the latter band remains undiminished, something about the former has always kept me at arm’s length.
Maybe it’s the increasingly nebulous and precious nature of Jeff Tweedy’s songcraft. Maybe it’s his embarrassing tendency to gush over his own music in interviews, or the fact that he’s been the critics’ darling for so long now while his erstwhile partner Jay Farrar has been given short shrift. Certainly Wilco’s Faustian deal with Volkswagen hasn’t helped.
Whatever it is, I just feel that this band has worked too hard at alienating me for me to let them down by giving Sky Blue Sky a try. Maybe it really is one of the best albums of 2007, but I think I’ll save my money for the forthcoming Drive-By Truckers disc, which is much less likely to disappoint.
P.S. From a marketing standpoint, putting Miranda Lambert on your cover makes sense, but why insult our intelligence by attempting to sell her trifling album as one of the best of the year? Obviously your readers know better.
— Shawn Cote
Fort Fairfield, Maine
Westerberg and Davies:
Together again, for the first time
Reading Allison Stewart’s article on the Replacements [ND #73 book review] left me bound with afterthought and comparison between Ray Davies and Paul Westerberg. Two great writers, both underrated. Why would I draw these two together under the same microscopic microphone spotlight? Maybe Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner or Whiskeytown’s Ryan Adams might seem more logical than Mr. Davies. However, I see twin sons of different mothers here.
Paul Westerberg tells it like it is, straight forward, like scotch or whiskey, while Ray Davies comes at you with truth, employed in a clever, sometimes dry, sense of humor. Both slap you in the face, with reason and with a grasp for the stinging obvious.
Even though many miles fall between Minneapolis and Muswell Hill, Westerberg and Davies have a distinct yet common theme in their inkwells. Their subjects seem to be the common man and the struggle with the daily routines of life and love.
Neither one it seems, could ever catch a break. The Replacements and the Kinks each seemed to have an edge to their music in the early stages. As time and artistic differences tore at the core of these bands, the solo careers of both Davies and Westerberg began to blossom.
There is a mental kind of duct tape within my head that holds these two writers and their bands together — both having the knack as proficient and clever songwriters, and none of it getting the credit or airplay they deserve.
— Scott M. Anderson
Windsor, New York
“Keep on keepin’ on!”
I am writing regarding the John Fogerty article [ND #72 cover story]. This is sort of unusual, but I am going to go on anyway. I have twins with autism (Asperger’s Syndrome to be exact). Music is their calming influence, and the “oldies” have been their genre since age 3. They are now 10. Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the first bands to get their attention! They have been the biggest John Fogerty fans I have ever seen since. They have every CD he has made, even the real early stuff; they have all the CCR music as well. They have his new music and are getting his newest for Christmas.
One of my twins has to know the history of artists as well, so he looks up online all he can find on them. He did that with Fogerty as well. I would just like for Fogerty to know that he has a whole new generation of music lovers who are tuned in to his music. That his music has helped when things in my house have been really tough at times. I want him to keep on keepin’ on! And to thank him for using his talents!
— Linda Collins
“The joy of listening to music”
I picked up the latest issue of No Depression (#73) and immediately started reading Screen Door.
William Michael Smith has captured the essence of the brick and mortar record store, which is the experience of hunting, choosing and finalizing the transaction.
We in Charlottetown have one indie store that also trades used vinyl and CDs. We also have a chain CD store that caters to a Top 40 mentality. The indie store does cater to the roots/Americana music scene and the experience is very enjoyable.
I feel sorry for the younger generation who will massacre their hearing by age 25 and who think music is basically background noise. The joy of listening to music is tightly entwined with the buying sensation — the realization that that CD is yours and yours alone. Your magazine provides a vital link between artist and consumer. I thank-you for that.
— Alan Callaghan
Stratford, Prince Edward Island, Canada
(Or at least a close second or third…)
You are my favorite magazine of all time.
Except, of course, for the nekkid pictures in National Geographic.
And the George Booth cartoons in the New Yorker.
Keep up the incredible sonic support.
P.S. — Thanks for the top 50 lists in the new issue. I learned some important stuff.
— Wayne Bowman
Congratulations to Tess Mangum Ocana, winner of the drawing for a Gibson guitar in our recent reader survey. And thanks to all others who took the time and effort to respond to the survey….A transcription error in last issue’s MVP interview with Mickey Raphael incorrectly identified the film Blue Collar as being a Hal Needham movie. The text should have read that Raphael had done soundtrack work on “Blue Collar AND a Hal Needham movie”. If you’re in Austin for South By Southwest, come see our No Depression official showcase at Pangaea on Wednesday March 12, with Daniel Lanois, Bonnie Bramlett, Bruce Robison, the Felice Brothers, and Blue Mountain.