The “Field Notes” history of alt.country
Last night the first radio show I cut for WMKY (ahem, “Grant Alden’s Field Notes”) finally aired. It was (though I didn’t know it) my audition piece, cut back in the fall. I’ve had trouble finding regular time to write and produce shows, but, for the moment, a good half dozen are in the can and they’re scheduled to run at 7 p.m. on the last Friday of each month. A pace I can probably manage to keep up with, especially with some already done.
Which, for the most part, I wouldn’t trouble readers here with. But the first couple shows ended up being history lessons of a sort, of a distorted kind, warped by my inaccurate memory of things, and my taste. All that. (Licensing rules and payments preclude WMKY, a small station at a small university in eastern Kentucky, from leaving shows up as podcasts. Which is a pity. I believe the station would like to syndicate them, but hasn’t time. So if anybody’s interested, it can be done. I’m just not going to be the one doing the syndicating, and if you want to make Kyla’s head pop off…ah, nevermind…)
So, by way of sharing a list, as much of anything, below are the tracks I selected to illustrate the early days, movers, and shakers, in alt.country music. Two caveats. First, the show runs an hour, which comes to 56 minutes of music and me talking. So much did not get in which might have, and you’re welcome to quibble if that proves entertaining. Second, this show intentionally ignores everything which was going on in Nashville in the mid-1990s. The next show handles that; it gave me more time to mess with this stuff, and it reflects my sad ignorance in 1995-6 of the good music actually being made in Music City.
The list, then…
(1) “The Death of Country Music,” The Waco Brothers, Cowboy In Flames (1997).
(2) “Do You Fancy Me,” Tarnation, I’ll Give You Something To Cry About (1994).
(3) “Hands Off,” Courtney & Western, Diesel Only single, 1992.
(4) “Good Good Wife,” The Picketts, Euphonium, 1996.
(5) “She Took A Lot Of Pills (And Died),” Robbie Fulks, from the Hellbent: Insurgent Country Volume II Bloodshot compilation, 1995.
(6) “Why I Drink,” Go To Blazes, from the Diesel Only Rig Rock compilation.
(7) “Hippie Hotel,” Blue Mountain, Dog Days (1995).
(8) “No Depression,” Uncle Tupelo, No Depression (1989).
(9) “Welfare Music,” Bottle Rockets, The Brooklyn Side (1993). We snuck out the night we finished producing the first issue of the magazine to see the Bottle Rockets at the Tractor Tavern.
(10) “Shot At A Bird, Hit Me A Stump,” The Bad Livers, Horses In The Mines (1994).
(11) “Time of the Preacher,” Johnny Cash, Twisted Willie tribute (1996).
(12) “Georgia On A Fast Train,” Billy Joe Shaver, Tramp On Your Street (1993).
(13) “My Mind’s got A Mind Of Its Own,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore, After Awhile (1991).
(14) “Faithless Street,” Whiskeytown, Faithless Street.
(15) “If You Talk To My Baby,” Backsliders, Throwin’ Rocks at the Moon (1997). I wanted to play “Hey Sherriff,” but it was too long, so I picked the shortest song.
(16) “Windfall,” Son Volt.
There was meant to be an Alejandro Escovedo track on this, “One More Time,” but it didn’t fit.
My iTunes file went several hours longer, winnowing down and all.
Anyhow. That’s how I remember the beginning of this thing.