May 20, 2008

micro music review

Almost a month ago at probably the best yard sale ever - fancy little bowls, champagne flutes, lamps for $2, and two weeks later a free Kitchen Aid - I bought a box of tapes for the last tape player in the country, which lives in the dashboard of my car. One of them was Lucinda Williams Lucinda Williams, from 1988. She's up there on my list of all time favorite musicians (and in fact is my stock answer when my students ask, on the bet that they haven't heard of her and in the hope that maybe someone has) and the whole album is great because you can hear where her sound is going but it's more straightforwardly country, not how she sings now. Also it turns out that she wrote two songs I first heard other people sing: Passionate Kisses, which is on Mary Chapin Carpenter's Come On Come On and is a staple of family road trips, and Crescent City, which Emmylou Harris sings on Cowgirl's Prayer and which I have always loved. I love it even more now - partly because the way Lucinda sings it you're practically living the whole song, Crescent City and zydeco right up ahead and the first thing you do is go to your mama's house in Mandeville and then your brother takes you out to the bar and the weather's hot but the beer is cold. Emmylou sings it more like a party, no homesick ache underneath to tell you that even if you make it home, it's never really the same. And that's the other reason I love Crescent City more than I did when I was a teen-ager itching to get out of town.

Everybody's had a few,
Now they're talking about who knows who,
I'm going back to the Crescent City,
where everything is still the same.

I go home to the Midwest on Friday. I know exactly how Lucinda feels.

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