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A few days ago there was a discussion over at Craig Burrell’s blog, All Manner of Thing, about whether “Down By the Salley Gardens” is a folk song, a poem by Yeats (he published it as his own), or a folk song modified by Yeats (my supposition, and here is the post and ensuing discussion ). This reminded me of an American murder ballad, “Down By the Willow Garden,” which begins with a similar phrase and which I know from one of Ian and Sylvia’s albums. And it occurred to me that I had never looked for any of their work on YouTube. A quick search was quickly rewarded. Although I bought Ian and Sylvia’s records in my teens and listened to them over and over again, I never saw them perform in their heyday, the early-to-mid ‘60s.
In a recent conversation a friend mentioned that she had difficulty listening to a particular musician (someone whose music she liked and admired) because of the violence and generally destructive behavior that characterized his life. And I thought about that. It's hardly a new phenomenon.
I've always been partial to music that is... sedate. Dreamlike. Cerebral. Contemplative. Soothing. Elegant, stately, pretty, "ethereal," sweatless, tender, "sophisticated," poised, thoughtful, "literate," mood-driven, demure, "mellow."
Peace Piece ( Everybody Digs Bill Evans , 1958): Just prior to his association with Miles Davis, Evans recorded an unrehearsed modal composition entitled “Peace Piece” for his LP Everybody Digs Bill Evans . Recorded in December 1958, four months before Miles Davis’s album Kind of Blue .
Great music is everywhere for those with ears to hear. In other words, you have to be listening. My wife and some of our best friends had the unexpected treat of being as affected by an opening act as the headliner when we went to see local Dallas/Denton singer-songwriter open for Bill Mallonee, formerly of the Vigilantes of Love.
Although it's all but unknown outside of a devoted cult following, Terry Allen 's second album, 1979's Lubbock (On Everything) , is one of the finest country albums of all time, a progenitor of what would eventually be called alt-country. This is country music with a wink and a dry-as-West-Texas-dust sense of humor, but at heart, Lubbock (On Everything) is a thoughtful meditation on Allen 's hometown. Recorded in Lubbock after Allen hadn't lived there for close to a decade with a small group headed by local legends Don Caldwell and Lloyd Maines , the songs alternate between biting character studies like "Lubbock Woman" and "The Great Joe Bob (A Regional Tragedy)," about a high school football star who ends up robbing a liquor store, and more loving tributes like "The Thirty Years War" and "The Wolfman of Del Rio."