Yesterday’s Tracks

"Please Read The Letter"

I thought this was a live Mike Doughty track.  It had an intimacy studio work normally does not possess.  But I was looking at the XM readout instead of the Sirius window as I drove west into the sun.  Turns out this is from "Raising Sand", the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss album.

"Gone Gone Gone" turned me off.  It was a ditty.  But this was more exciting than a Zeppelin reunion.  And when Robert started doing his vocal histrionics at the end, I said THIS IS ZEPPELIN!

Turns out it truly is.  It was originally on the "Walking Into Clarksdale" album that Robert & Jimmy did ten years ago.  But that take, which I didn’t even remember, didn’t do much for me when I downloaded it.  Sure, the same song, but it was about Jimmy’s guitar more than Robert’s vocal.  There was thunder, but no rain.

Is T-Bone Burnett a better producer than Jimmy Page?  I haven’t been enamored of T-Bone’s solo work since "Truth Decay", but he elicits a certain humanity from others in their performances.  He brings out what we can connect with as human beings.

You’re not going to drive around with your buddies in your Pinto getting drunk to the Plant/Krauss rendition…  But, if you’ve ever reflected on life, needed a track to get you through, this is the one you want to listen to.

Please Read The Letter


I don’t hate John Mayer, but I wouldn’t listen to one of his albums.  But this isn’t saccharine like the execrable "Daughters".
 And I don’t see him wincing as he’s performing guitar histrionics.

I like the way it breaks down, with the acoustic instruments.  I like the intimacy.  If I didn’t know the guy’s history, I’d say this guy’s got something.  Maybe this is what got all those guys at CIMS hooked to begin with.
An enigma.  A twenty first century artist.  Overexposed, all over the Web, yet still talented.

Say – John Mayer

"Now That You’re Gone"

Unlike the other tracks, which I heard on XM’s Loft or Sirius’ Spectrum, a friend e-mailed me this.

Sheryl Crow’s "Globe Sessions" was great.  But after that, she lost her way.  Either too obvious, or too obscure.  But although the verses are pedestrian, the transitions and the choruses hook you, make you want to hear the track again.  And there’s that great line:

Now that you’re gone I can BREATHE!

Shit, I had that relationship, haven’t you?

I wish she weren’t overselling this in the media.

And, listening today, I realize this is a Bonnie Raitt track.  Bonnie would KILL IT!  But, Bonnie’s vocals have been a bit too controlled recently…


I wasn’t even sure how to spell the guy’s name!

This is Joe Bonamassa singing the phenomenal final song from Bad Company’s debut.

Covers are a cheap shot.  Look at Sheryl’s cover of "The First Cut Is The Deepest".  But most people don’t even know this Bad Company track.  So for a youngster to pick it out, to hear it on the radio, put a smile on my face.


"Everybody Knows"

This is the best track of this collection.  And it’s by the artist everybody hates most.  Ryan Adams.

Funny about music, you know instantly, whether something is good, certainly if it’s great.  "Easy Tiger" does not live up to the hype (and Ryan worked this album as much as Sheryl did hers).  It’s not "Gold", certainly not "Heartbreaker", but this KILLS!

Each and every Ryan Adams record has at least one gem.  And you should search for it.

I could quote the lyrics, but with truly great tracks, they’re irrelevant, an afterthought, a dollop of whipped cream on top of the sundae.  A great track grabs you, takes you somewhere immediately, a place you know well, but may not have thought of in a long while.  Listening to this reminds me of floating down a river in a rubber raft in the Sierras years back, checking out the scenery.

The laconic intro, the lazy groove, the sudden intensity in the vocal…

A manager would restrict Ryan to one album a year.  They’d tell him never to speak to the press, not even to the audience.  They’d try to control him.  But as soon as you control someone, you squeeze the art right out of them.  With the Internet, we’re exposed to every foible.  And Ryan Adams has had many.  Because he’s too cute and too talented, he’s been able to get away with too much.  And it’s not a pretty picture.  But this is a pretty song.

Everybody Knows

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