I discovered music in 1982. I was ten years old, and "Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix came on the stereo.
It stopped me in my tracks.
I walked over and sat down on the floor right in front of the speakers. I was in love. The song was courtesy of my dad's reel to reel player. Years before, he had recorded a "top 100 rock-n-roll songs" type of show while he was in the military. There was no radio station to speak of in the little town I grew up in, and my parent's music collection, and the music I heard in church, were the only music I ever heard. Usually, my parents would play things like Ann Murray, or the Carpenters.
He was unlike anything I had ever experienced (pun intended). He was vital. Alive. Dripping with emotion.
By the late 80s my town had a radio station, and hair metal was large and in charge. I liked Guns-N-Roses, but everyone else, (the Poisons, Warrants and Great Whites of the scene) left me cold. They just didn't seem to feel anything at all. They put on a show, but there was no substance behind it. That's when I discovered the Ramones, and through them, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, and eventually skate punk. The endless hours I spent listening to the piles of mix tapes in my room are etched way down deep inside.
Over the years, I have given a lot of thought to why I love the music that I love, and I have come to the conclusion, that it all gets down to the emotion of it. I need to feel that the musician is feeling... I don't care if it is sappy, angsty, angry. I don't care.
As long as it is genuine. This knowledge has freed me up in what I listen to. These days I spend as much time with Hank Williams and Muddy Waters playing as I do the Clash.
With that in mind, I would like to share with you my favorite album of the year, It's a country blues record with a drop or two of psychedelia thrown in.
Sturgill Simpson's "Meta-Modern Sounds in Country Music" is a revelation. Sturgill feels what he sings. He believes it. More importantly, he communicates it with razor sharp musicianship, and a stunning voice. I heard an interview with him this year in which he tells the story of his wife getting him off his ass and moving forward with his music. She told him, "You don't suck at this Sturgill." Boy was she right.
"There's a gateway in our minds that leads somewhere far beyond this place, where reptile aliens made of light cut us open and take away all the pain..." When was the last time you heard lyrics like that in a country song?
My favorite track off the album is "Living the Dream."
Oh, and that old man upstairs wears a crooked smile, staring down at the chaos he created. He says, "Son if you ain't havin' fun, just wait a little while. Mama's gonna wash it all away and she thinks mercy's over-rated!"
There are so many good lines on this album. Sturgill's lyrics are clever, poignant, and emotional. To make sure that those lyrics are communicated with full force, he has surrounded himself with some crazy talented musicians. These guys can fucking play.
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