Townes Van Zandt – All Your Young Servants
In this song, TVZ presents us the dark side of the faded glory of the selfish and lonely wealthy elitist who seems to have spent a lifetime lording over others while looking down on them. His “has been: lost power leave an emptiness and sadness that can’t be undone. He discovers that the entourage he had is leaving him, exposing the fallacy that they were there for him, and not for the power and wealth that tends to produce hangers-on. I am reminded of a sound clip I heard on a preview for the upcoming Showtime series, Billions, in which a prosecutor warns a powerful billionaire related to the sycophants that surround him that, “they may be cheering now, but believe me, they are dying to boo..” As ever, the eerie quality of Van Zandts music and his powerful lyrics draw me in.
Phox – Noble Heart
I love this band. Their eponymous album, Phox, does not have a single song that I don’t enjoy immensely. This song tells the tale of a tragically flawed and insecure woman that seemingly follows too many passions and can’t get past her own insecurities to keep a relationship. Lead singer Monica Martin’s sultry doesn’t hurt.
Sturgill Simpson – Voices
There has been much made of Sturgill Simpson’s powerful ability to “save country music” with his powerful sound, authentic lyrics, and his general awesomeness (he stopped one of his concerts to throw out a couple of drunken idiots fighting in the back). Simpson has drawn a tremendous amount of comparisons to the outlaw country of Waylon Jennings. I love Waylon Jennings, but I feel that the depth and richness of Simpson eclipses that of the outlaw country music. Simpson’s range of topics and ability to explore a higher range of human emotions is arguably a bit more than the artists of old. Voices is a prime example of this. The first stanza is a great example:
There’s a voice that I can hear sometimes out here on the mountain
When it’s dark and the sky is pouring acid like a fountain
And the Memories like coal dust stain the window of my eyes
So ask them no more questions they can’t sell you no more lies
The implicit question to the listener is why do we continue to put trust in or believe in people in which it is obvious that we have no reason to do so? Ask them no more questions, don’t put your trust in them, and we won’t be hurt anymore. The implications are that we can be gluttons for punishment in our relationships.
Elmer Bernstein – The Magnificent Seven, Film Score
Lately, I have become fascinated with great film scores. Old westerns possessed some of the most sweeping and epic music, befitting the narrative of the pioneering and dangerous culture of the old west and the ruggedness of the men and women that settled the American heartland and western states (even if the movies themselves were prone to a bit of hyperbole and stereotyping). Elmer Bernstein was easily one of the all-time greats with film scores. Plugging him into my Pandora station has provided a good pace-setting “theme” music to keep me churning through desk work.