I'm not a technophobe, but I don't have much use for many recent innovations. Yes, I do use a computer (though my last novel got lost, through no fault of mine) and I realize that cellphones can be handy (though I don't have one), and I don't play computer games. But I love my iPod. Thanks again, Parris!
Here"s 10-6 on my most played list. Rest to follow when I find the time.
10. "Santy Anno/Coal Tattoo" John Stewart and Buffy Ford: John Stewart and Darwin’s Army (1999)
And I’ve been a coal miner all of my life,
Laying down track in the hole.
Got a back like an ironwood bent by the wind,
Blood veins blue as the coal.
John Stewart is one of America’s great neglected songwriters, though he had his share of fame as a long-time member of the Kingston Trio. Buffy Ford, who was asked to be the vocalist for Jefferson Airplane before Grace Slick joined the group, is his wife. This is a beautifully blended duet of the traditional sea shanty "Santy Anno" and "Coal Tattoo," written by Billy Ed Wheeler, the greatest coal mining song ever. Buffy Ford’s voice is still sweet. Stewart’s is gruff with age, but well-suited to this tough, uncomplaining song about the life of a coal miner.
9. "Song for a Winter’s Night" Quartette Beautiful: A Tribute to Gordon Lightfoot (2003)
The fire is dying now, my lamp is growing dim
The shades of night are liftin'
The morning light steals across my windowpane
Where webs of snow are driftin'
If I could only have you near
To breathe a sigh or two
I would be happy just to hold the hands I love
Upon this winter night with you
And to be once again with with you
Quartette is four Canadian women singers/songwriters, including the fabulous Slyvia Tyson, who was once part of the great Canadian folk duo of the 1960's-1970's Ian and Slyvia. This is a beautifully lush arrangement with four beautifully lush voices of an unabashedly romantic Lightfoot ballad. The winter imagery is quite powerful for someone, like me, who grew up in snowy country.
8. "Rainy Night In Georgia" Brook Benton (1970)
Hoverin' by my suitcase, tryin' to find a
Warm place to spend the night
Heavy rain fallin', seems
I hear your voice callin' "It's all right."
A rainy night in Georgia,a rainy night in Georgia
It seems like it's rainin' all over the world
I feel like it's rainin' all over the world
An authentic rarity – a pop blues song with soul. "Rainy Night in Georgia" was written by Tony Joe White in 1962, and was a hit for Brook Benton in 1970. His semi-sweet, semi-rough voice is perfect for this melancholy ballad.
7. "Abraham, Martin, and John" Dion (1968)
Anybody here seen my old friend Bobby?
Can you tell me where he's gone?
I thought I saw him walkin' up over the hill,
With Abraham, Martin and John.
Something rarer than a pop song with soul – a pop song that is an explicit political statement. This song was written by Dick Holler (who also penned the immortal "Snoopy Versus the Red Baron") and recorded by Dion in 1968 upon his comeback from heroin addiction. It made it to number four on the pop charts.
6. W*O*L*D* Harry Chapin: Anthology (1974)
I am the morning DJ on W*O*L*D
Playing all the hits for you wherever you may be
The bright good-morning voice who's heard but never seen
Feeling all of forty-five going on fifteen
The drinking I did on my last big gig made my voice go low
They said that they liked the younger sound when they let me go
So I drifted on down to Tulsa, Oklahoma to do me a late night talk show
Now I worked my way back home again, via Boise, Idhao
That's how this business goes
Another character study masquerading as a pop song by the wonderful Harry Chapin – another great like Steve Goodman, Townes van Zandt, and Richard Farina who died way, way too young. The juxtaposition of age in a youth-oriented society strikes harder and harder as I work my own way through the calendar. Besides that, it’s just a great song, though it only made it to number 36 on the pop charts. Considering the subject matter, I guess that’s something of a miracle.
John Jos. Miller
Now Reading: After taking out a few minutes to read HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, I"m now back to Susan Cooper's THE DARK IS RISING sequence (Currently on: GREENWITCH)
Now Writing: It's a secret until the official announcement at the end of August.
In the Publisher's Pipeline: A graphic adaptation of George R.R. Martin's "In the House of the Worm" for Avatar Comics. But "Mortality's Strong Hand" is also knocking at the door.