Thursday, October 23, 2008

this is the hammer that killed john henry, but it won't kill me

Spent some of the day today working on cleaning up and improving the Wikipedia page for Harry Smith's fantastic illegal masterpiece of curatorial preservation, the Anthology of American Folk Music... the page is still imperfect, but a lot better than it was when I got there.

Anyway, it gave me the opportunity to go back and listen through a few of the Anthology discs, and since I'm trying the annual experiment of posting more frequently to this blog, I thought I'd pick out a track to pass along... so here's Mississippi John Hurt's "Spike Driver Blues," sung from the perspective of a railroad worker who, (understandably!) reluctant to end up like the great (but dead) John Henry, quits the spike driving business and heads back home. This slice of back-roads Americana dates back from 1928, but aside from the old vinyl noise I think it could pass for a contemporary piece of blues-inflected folk. Enjoy.

Listen: Mississippi John Hurt, "Spike Driver Blues"

Friday, October 17, 2008

you seemed so nice

This Dodos track (from their very fine album Visiter) could, with only a few minor stylistic tweaks, be a an outtake from the Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs project. It's one of those songs that seems on first blush to be a rather standard love song, but as the lyrics begin to develop, the song's relationship towards the beloved one descends into ambiguity, and finally it settles into a very Stephen-Merritt-ish form of infatuated contempt.

Listen: The Dodos, "Winter"