Big Sound Saturdays: Pussy Cat Rag

Say fellers, I lost my little pussycat! Can you help me find it?

Thus spake Zarathustra, and the Lord saw It, and he said that It was good. This week’s mix is all about pussy! I do love a thinly veiled innuendo. Even though slant-songs like these do abound in old-time music, songs that are plain and simple About The V are a much smaller sub-genre. And lieu of a full-blown write up—I don’t want you to feel jet-lagged before you soak in every word of these goofy ass tunes—I’ll leave you with a few fun facts and, this time, a playlist. These titles are too good to hide. Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Pussy Cat Rag”

Big Sound Saturdays: Tired Man, Vol. 1

Welcome, pals, to the dustbin of history; the never-ending tale of the Tired Man! The story of men being “fed up with it” is just called “History:” “Make it new!” quoth irate facist Ezra Pound, and modernism gets an audience! Fuck capitalism!, quoth Marx, and the dancing table becomes commodity magic! I know it’s glib to refract a broad moral history through the single lens of male fatigue, but what I’m saying is that these songs of men feeling bored and agitated and sleepy—mostly, obviously, because of a woman—cast a broader, and deeper, line when they get all shuffled together.

Punchin’ cows sure don’t arouse me anymore

I’m getting’ tired of listenin’ to the coyotes snore

Oh, sleepin’ on the Rio Grande is makin’ him snore –

I’m a tired cowboy

Just a tired guy!

Welcome, pals, to the dustbin of history; the never-ending tale of the Tired Man! The story of men being “fed up with it” is just called “History:” “Make it new!” quoth irate facist Ezra Pound, and modernism gets an audience! Fuck capitalism!, quoth Marx, and the dancing table becomes commodity magic! I know it’s glib to refract a broad moral history through the single lens of male fatigue, but what I’m saying is that these songs of men feeling bored and agitated and sleepy—mostly, obviously, because of a woman—cast a broader, and deeper, line when they get all shuffled together. Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Tired Man, Vol. 1”

Big Sound Saturdays [Guest Post]: Throwing Caution to the Wind

We are deep into a strange winter in Asheville, my neck of the woods, and it’s about this time of year that we all could use a pick-me-up…a reminder that, yes, the trees will leaf out again and yes!, in a matter of months we will be swimming and grilling. For this particular motivation I’m calling on some angels – specifically, the sassy darlings of 90s pop country – to bring in some light. Whether it’s hitting the open road or getting over some jerk, these ladies belt out the collective message of “I am moving on.”

Ready for an uplifting, fresh start? LeAnn Rimes’ “One Way Ticket (Because I Can)” and Martina McBride’s “The Time Has Come” are both such positive post-breakup songs that have you dreaming about new adventures and forgetting about the past—and the LeAnn Rimes video is pretty great, think pop country meets Clueless. In one of her more upbeat singles of this decade, “How Was I to Know?,” the great Reba McEntire reminds us with her commanding voice to put our faith in ourselves because we are tougher than we know.

“How was I to know I would be this strong, I had what it takes all along…

What I was so afraid of?

Turned out to be my freedom in disguise. Now I know what I’m made of.”

Or would you rather hear a sassier take on moving on? In the karmic “Blame It on Your Heart,” Patty Loveless uses perhaps the most adjectives ever to describe a scoundrel in a song:

“Hey blame it on your lying, cheating, cold deadbeating, two-timing, double dealing, mean mistreating, loving heart.”

Deanna Carter calls bullshit in “Did I Shave My Legs For This?” and harkens back to early (equally sassy) Loretta and Dolly songs that tell their fellas to shape up. And if you had any doubts about if these ladies were serious, Lorrie Morgan tells her man after he took her for granted one too many times, “Cab on the street, Hand on the door, Bag at my feet, Need I say more, Oh, watch me…Oh, just watch me walk away.”

 


The only thing I like more than a feisty “done me wrong” song is one about the escape of the road. Jo Dee Messina’s “Heads Carolina, Tails California” is so dang catchy and seriously has me craving those long summer drives with the windows down. With the same vibe, but a different sound, the late 90s hit from the Dixie Chicks, “Ready to Run,” does the country/pop “crossover” that really took off during that decade.

 

I threw a couple romantic songs onto Throwing Caution to the Wind for good measure, like Pam Tillis’s “Maybe it was Memphis,” a tune about summer love that will have you swooning from her serious powerhouse vocals. And I really couldn’t help putting Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version of Lucinda Williams’ “Passionate Kisses.” I dig a love song that exclaims “Give me what I deserve, ’cause it’s my right.” The finale is Wynonna’s “Girls with Guitars,” to celebrate all these badass artists.

 

These songs tackle heartbreak, call people out, and celebrate the good times with a particular audacious vibe – one of freedom, letting go, and praising your own strengths. So let’s escape this cold winter, channel some of this sass, and imagine throwing your hands up to the sunny skies and singing, a la Faith Hill, “I’m a wild one – runnin’ free!”

 

Keep cozy, y’all. Spring is right around the corner.

Track List:

  1. Faith Hill – Wild One
  2. Patty Loveless – Blame It On Your Lyin’ Cheatin’ Heart
  3. Pam Tillis – Maybe it was Memphis
  4. Jo Dee Messina – Heads Carolina, Tails California
  5. Reba – How Was I to Know?
  6. Shania Twain – Whose bed have your boots been under?
  7. Leann Rimes – One Way Ticket (Because I Can)
  8. Trisha Yearwood – She’s In Love With The Boy
  9. Dixie Chicks – Ready to Run
  10. Deanna Carter – Did I Shave My Legs for This?
  11. Suzy Bogguss – Drive South
  12. Mindy McCready – A Girl’s Gotta Do (What a Girl’s Gotta Do)
  13. Martina McBride – The Time Has Come
  14. Mary Chapin Carpenter – Passionate kisses
  15. Terri Clark – Better Things To Do
  16. Lorrie Morgan – Watch Me
  17. Wynonna – Girls with guitars

 

 

Big Sound Saturdays: Valentine’s Day Blues

 

What’s everyone doing this weekend? I, personally, spent Friday night in The Pit trying to figure out how to make a condensed and an expanded version of blues Valentine’s Day that captures the elation, the bummer, the prickliness, and the hilarity that is this made-up holiday. On Sunday, I’ll play the longer version on the radio and potentially get one of the phone calls I used to get in my New York radio days when I had a V-Day show, a mouth-breather asking if he could pick me up from the studio and take me out to dinner. See what I’m talking about? Alone, together? Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Valentine’s Day Blues”

Big Sound Saturdays: Good Morning Blues

Good morning, sweet dreams ~

Tom Waits, harbinger of Good Morning Blues, was so delicate in the nineties. Like Blind Willie Johnson, he threw his voice in multiple directions, dug underground for the Mad-Meg-style scratchy gorging sound that definitely doesn’t owe, entirely, to the cigarettes, and rose above the surface for the croon that he sustained throughout his early years. “Blue Skies,” a sweet, lovesick prayer for the morning, is Waits at his upper-register prettiest.

It’s not really a “pretty mix,” though; Jimmie Rodgers’ “Sleep, Baby, Sleep” is lovely (and, I admit, something I’ve used before), The Beatles’ 1966 instrumental warm-up of “I’m Only Sleeping” has a lounge-y xylophone thing that’s very pleasant, Leadbelly’s “Good Morning Blues” is a peripatetic affront of an instruction book—how to fight the blues—and the song of my youth, Belle & Sebastian’s “Sleep the Clock Around,” is kind of aggressively nice, but the rest are much more unsettling. Sticking mostly within the late 1960s to the early 1990s, this mix is meant for the all-powerful and totally movable witching hour: can’t go to sleep, can’t wake up, early old morning and late late night.

Lee Hazelwood, whose music’s is so disorienting in the morning, all sexy and string-y and smarmy and full, sings back and forth with David Bowie (RIP): “The Bed” to early Bowie’s mono version of “Let Me Sleep Beside You.” Then across to Randy Newman—famed LA-lover and composer of one of the greatest cartoon movie theme songs ever—Randy Newman (“Last Night I Had A Dream”), and back out to the vibing and sufficiently wobbly Incredible String Band’s “No Sleep Blues.” Anchored by Rolf Harris—a comedian in Australia, once famous for being funny and for imitating the didgeridoo with his voice in “Sun Arise,” track 7—and rounded off with Marvin Pontiac, John Lurie’s very talented and “very elusive” alter ego, Good Morning Blues charts the sun in orbit. Good morning, sweet dreams ~

Big Sound Saturdays: Lonely Saturday Night

A thing I wondered about as I combed through 1960s girl groups, gris-gris, freak folk, regular folk, prewar blues, classic blues, The Basement Tapes, the Lomax collection, and the big 1970s—all in the service of making your Saturday night sadness (definitely a thing) into something soothing—is this: how best to listen when you’re feeling kinda low? Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Lonely Saturday Night”

Big Sound Saturdays: Rats in Paradise (New Year freak out!)

Did any of you go to the deep sea Oracle disco two nights ago? Who rung in the new year kicking and screaming to the dulcet tones of twanging, freak-out guitar “experiments” by three men in tox-screen space suits, did you take a picture that me and mine can sit in? Did your main squeeze serenade you with “Losing My Religion”? What kind of special drink did you make, can I try it! Is there a better holiday than New Year’s eve?

Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Rats in Paradise (New Year freak out!)”

Big Sound Saturdays: Cosmic American Christmas

To spread some friendly holiday cheer, I spent what felt like a very long while thinking about what kinds of Christmas songs aren’t an abomination to listen to. Some might, and very frankly have, argued that Country Christmas is not the exception to the mall music rule, but I get it, I get it, goofy moralizing and cheeseball sweet songs aren’t for everyone. It’s fine. I do get it. But blues and jazz Christmas have been done very well without me, R&B Christmas has also been mixed and re-mixed…and then! Like a beacon of light from Yonder Star, a regular Thursday Facebook k-hole bottomed out into the Texas Tornados’ version of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” a Christmas miracle, the day is saved!

Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Cosmic American Christmas”

Big Sound Saturdays: Winter Sun

It’s been a minute since our last Big Sound Saturday, but we’re back with a mix of chilly winter sunlight, cold bones, and ache-y tunes!

There’s this episode from the third season of the Twilight Zone where the sun never sets. Like a relentless fever dream, it gets closer and closer to the heroine’s high-rise apartment window, until her paintings of cool water begin to melt, her thermometer breaks, and—spoiler!—she wakes up, trapped, instead, in eternal winter, crying with relief. This is s u c h a dramatic thing to think about when it’s sunny out, but it’s all just to say that El Nino is really freaky on the west coast—same for global warming, everywhere—but I love California in the Blue Ridges. So, here! A toned-down twilight mix for that. Continue reading “Big Sound Saturdays: Winter Sun”

Acro Collective Bookshelf : November

acro bookshelf logo

Editor’s Note: Hey friends! I’m pleased to bring you our new feature, Bookshelf. Each month we’ll hear from Acro Collective creators on what they’re reading. For November, our creators delve into a diverse mix of texts. As we all head off into holiday season, remember to set aside some time for yourself—perhaps with one of these good reads? Continue reading “Acro Collective Bookshelf : November”