July 6: Happy 66th Birthday Nanci Griffith

I got to know Nanci Griffith through the seminal music paper Beat (norwegian music magazine), this music magazine has been extremely important in my musical upbringing. They made it ok to say that you loved country music. This was a big step for us rock/punk youth. Anyway, they praised Nanci Griffith very early and we listened and we agreed, this was very special indeed.

Her voice, her way of singing, especially other people’s’ songs, it was and is beautiful. My first entry into her world was John Prine’s The Speed of The Sound of Loneliness, it is still the best song in her catalogue. Hell, it would be the best song in almost anybody’s catalogue!

Speed of the sound of Loneliness (with John Prine who wrote this masterpiece):

Nanci Griffith, (born Nanci Caroline Griffith, July 6, 1953, Seguin, Texas) is an American singer, guitarist, and songwriter based in Austin, Texas.

Straddling the fine line between folk and country music, Nanci Griffith has become as well-known for her brilliant, confessional songwriting as her beautiful voice. A self-styled “folkabilly” singer, Griffith began as a kindergarten teacher and occasional folksinger. The country scene took her to heart in the mid-’80s, giving her a reputation as a quality songwriter through hit covers of Griffith’s songs by Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss. Finding no luck with commercial country radio however, Griffith recorded several pop-oriented albums and then returned to her folk roots by the mid-’90s.
-John Bush (allmusic.com)

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July 4: Happy 81st Birthday Bill Withers

I feel that it is healthier to look out at the world through a window than through a mirror. Otherwise, all you see is yourself and whatever is behind you.
~Bill Withers

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, It’s not warm when she’s away, Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, And she’s always gone too long, Anytime she goes away.
~Bill Withers (Ain’t No Sunshine)

Ain’t No Sunshine (Live 1971):

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50 years ago today Nick Drake released “Five Leaves Left” – July 3, 1969

Said she hadn’t heard the news
Hadn’t had the time to choose
A way to lose
But she believes.

Going to see the river man
Going to tell him all I can
About the plan
For lilac time.
(River Man)

Nick Drake’s debut album is as gentle as the singer-songwriter himself. Sensitively plucked acoustic guitar and pensive lyrics make for a deeply resonant, emotionally effecting album. At turns haunting (‘River Man’) and quietly confident (‘Cello Song’), it’s Brit folk at its best.
-NME: 20 best folk music albums of all time

River Man:

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July 3: Muddy Waters At Newport was recorded in 1960

muddy waters at newport 1960

For many back in the early ’60s, this was their first exposure to live recorded blues, and it’s still pretty damn impressive some 40-plus years down the line. Muddy, with a band featuring Otis Spann, James Cotton, and guitarist Pat Hare, lays it down tough and cool with a set that literally had ’em dancing in the aisles by the set closer, a rippling version of “Got My Mojo Working,” reprised again in a short encore version.
~Cub Koda (allmusic.com)

A stomping live document of the period when Waters’ Chicago blues started reaching a wider pop audience. Newport has his classics – “Hoochie Coochie Man,” a torrid “Got My Mojo Working” – delivered by a tough, tight band anchored by harp genius James Cotton.
~rollingstone.com

Got My Mojo Working (part 1 & 2)

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July 2: Elvis Costello released “Imperial Bedroom” in 1982

It may not have been a commercial blockbuster, but it certainly earned the respect of legions of musicians and critics who would have previously disdained such a punk rocker. And, perhaps, that’s also the reason that he abandoned this immaculately crafted style of work on his next album, Punch the Clock.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)

Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom is really a mansion, each of whose rooms is decorated with painstaking care and detail by the artist. In every aspect of this masterfully wrought, conceptually audacious project, he’s managed to bulwark his emotional directness with vision and clarity — and to make an album that lingers and haunts long after the last note has died out. Like a long, episodic novel — or a long, episodic relationship — you can look back when it’s over and measure how far you’ve traveled.
-Parke Puterbaugh (rollingstone.com)

Man Out of Time:

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July 1: The Band Released “Music From Big Pink” in 1968

This album was recorded in approximately two weeks. There are people who will work their lives away in vain and not touch it.
-Al kooper

Bob Dylan contributed “I Shall Be Released” and co-wrote two other tunes. But it was the rustic beauty of the Band’s music and the drama of their own reflections on family and obligations, on songs such as “The Weight,” that made Big Pink an instant homespun classic.
rollingstone.com

Over time, Music from Big Pink came to be regarded as a watershed work in the history of rock, one that introduced new tones and approaches to the constantly evolving genre.
allmusic.com

..the debut album from the Band made roots music sound as impressionistic and idiosyncratic as any other kind of rock’n’roll. It was revolutionary.
pitchfork

The Weight:

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