Jan 09: Happy Birthday Joan Baez

And Joan Baez means more to me than 100 of these singers around today. She’s more powerful. That’s what we’re looking for. That’s what we respond to. She always had it and always will, power for the species, not just for a select group.
~Bob Dylan (to Neil Hickey, Sept. 1976)

“I’ve never had a humble opinion. If you’ve got an opinion, why be humble about it?”
― Joan Baez

I went to jail for 11 days for disturbing the peace; I was trying to disturb the war.
~Joan Baez (Pop Chronicles interview – 1967)

Diamonds and Rust – Live, 1975:

baez & dylan

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January 1: Hank Williams died in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt died in 1997

Hank Williams (September 17, 1923 – January 1, 1953), born Hiram King Williams, is regarded as one of the most important country music artists of all time. Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that would place in the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one.Hank Williams died in 1953 and Townes Van Zandt died in 1997

John Townes Van Zandt (March 7, 1944 – January 1, 1997), best known as Townes Van Zandt, was an American Texas Country-folk music singer-songwriter, performer, and poet. Many of his songs, including “If I Needed You,” “To Live is to Fly,” and “No Place to Fall” are considered standards of their genre.

 

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Townes Van Zandt to be inducted in Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame

Townes Van Zandt have been chosen, along with Bob Morrison, Beth Nielsen and Aaron Barker, to be included in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame 9th of October this year.

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was founded in 1970 and have 199 inductees today.

We think Van Zandt’s inclusion is long overdue and here are 11 reasons why. There are many more, but these gems really shine.

Marie she didn’t wake up this morning
She didn’t even try
She just rolled over and went to Heaven
My little boy safe inside

I laid them in the sun where somebody’d find them
Caught a Chesapeak on the fly
Marie will know I’m headed south
So’s to meet me by and by

Marie will know I’m headed south
So to meet me by and by

– Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt is one of the greatest songwriters in music-history. To narrow down my choice to just 11 songs is a pain. His 9 studio albums, and some compilations released after his death in 97 are so full of great songs that my task has been nearly impossible. I could pick 11 other songs in his songbook that are just as good, but today this is my list.

Marie:

Kurt Wolff (allmusic):
Townes Van Zandt’s music doesn’t jump up and down, wear fancy clothes, or beat around the bush. Whether he was singing a quiet, introspective country-folk song or a driving, hungry blues, Van Zandt’s lyrics and melodies were filled with the kind of haunting truth and beauty that you knew instinctively. His music came straight from his soul by way of a kind heart, an honest mind, and a keen ear for the gentle blend of words and melody. He could bring you down to a place so sad that you felt like you were scraping bottom, but just as quickly he could lift your spirits and make you smile at the sparkle of a summer morning or a loved one’s eyes — or raise a chuckle with a quick and funny talking blues. The magic of his songs is that they never leave you alone.

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July 27: Happy Birthday Bobbie Gentry

bobbie gentry

 

July 27: Bobbie Gentry is 71 Happy Birthday

 Can a song be so perfect, so successful, that it eclipses its creator? It can if it’s Bobbie Gentry’s Grammy-winning 1967 chart-topper Ode to Billie Joe, one of the most elegantly powerful pieces of storytelling ever to travel the airwaves.
~Dorian Lynskey (The Guardian)

Ode to Billie Joe:

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July 23: Tony Joe White is 73 Happy Birthday

tjw

Tony Joe White (born July 23, 1943, Oak Grove, Louisiana, United States) is  best known for his 1969 hit “Polk Salad Annie”; “Rainy Night in Georgia”, which he wrote but was first made popular by Brook Benton in 1970; and “Steamy Windows”, a hit for Tina Turner in 1989. “Polk Salad Annie” was also recorded by Elvis Presley and Tom Jones.

“Elvis’ producer Felton Jervis was a good friend of mine during the early days in Nashville. All of a sudden I released ‘Polk’ and it was a big hit single and then Felton called and invited my wife & me out to Las Vegas to see Elvis perform. He flew us out just to let us see Elvis do it live on stage! He did a good version of it, which of course he recorded for the live album. We hung out with Elvis for 2 or 3 days and just sat back in the dressing room and talked. We played a little guitar together – he really liked music. Elvis said, “Man, I feel like I wrote that song”. I said “You know, the way you do it on stage, it feels like you wrote it”. Elvis always treated me real good.”
– Tony Joe White

Here is another gem from the The Johnny Cash Show, Polk Salad Annie (w/ Johnny Cash):

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July 14: The late Woody Guthrie was born in 1912

“Take it easy, but take it.”
― Woody Guthrie

“The most important thing I know I learned from Woody Guthrie”
~Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan liner notes)

From Wikipedia:

Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Guthrie (July 14, 1912 – October 3, 1967) was an American singer-songwriter and folk musician whose musical legacy includes hundreds of political, traditional and children’s songs, ballads and improvised works. He frequently performed with the slogan This Machine Kills Fascists displayed on his guitar. His best-known song is “This Land Is Your Land.” Many of his recorded songs are archived in the Library of Congress. Such songwriters as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Joe Strummer, Billy Bragg, Jeff Tweedy and Tom Paxton have acknowledged Guthrie as a major influence.

BBC Documentary on the life of Woody Guthrie, the travelling songwriter and singer who paved the way for the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, this is great stuff! :

Guthrie traveled with migrant workers from Oklahoma to California and learned traditional folk and blues songs. Many of his songs are about his experiences in the Dust Bowl era during the Great Depression, earning him the nickname the “Dust Bowl Troubadour.” Throughout his life Guthrie was associated with United States communist groups, though he was seemingly not a member of any.

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