Posts Tagged ‘Dixie Chicks’

It’s early morn on Thanksgiving Day as I write and, all through the house, not a creature is stirring – aside from the feline who’s stalked me since his breakfast at dawn. Just now, he poked his head up beside me and bellowed a mew. It’s his version of “please, sir, may I have some more?” but instead of “sir” it’s “serf,” and he’s added and subtracted a few other words, too. “Serf, I want seconds. Now!”

I jest, of course.

Thanksgiving is, as its name makes clear, a time for giving thanks, and there’s much to be thankful for this year, as there is every year, even though – as a whole – 2017 will go down in the history books as one of the all-time worst. It sometimes feels as if horrors from a parallel universe are bleeding into ours.

But here’s one reason (of many) to give thanks: Tomorrow, sisters Jessica, Camilla and Emily Staveley-Taylor, aka the Staves, release a new album, a collaboration with the chamber sextet yMusic titled The Way Is Read. The three tracks they’ve released to promote the project are breathtaking. “Silent Side,” which they shared last week, is aural beauty personified:

Their show at the World Cafe Live in March, I should mention, was a highlight not just of this year’s concert slate, but of all my years’ concerts. It was akin to stepping through a portal to a magical, mystical land where everything’s groovy and everything’s alright. In other words, it’s in the running for the Old Grey Cat’s esteemed Concert of the Year Honors.

One of the things I like about them, aside from their songs and vocals, is their knowledge of music past, which they obviously use to inform their music present. One can hear it in the borrowed tunes they sometimes sing – as I’ve written before, a well-chosen cover song is like a glimpse into the soul of the singer(s); and the sisters’ picks, which range from the sublime to silly, are illuminating.

Here’s today’s Top 5: The Staves – Borrowed Tunes.

1) “After the Gold Rush” (Neil Young)

2) “These Days” (Jackson Browne)

3) “A Case of You” (Joni Mitchell)

4) “I’m on Fire” (Bruce Springsteen)

5) “Long Time Gone” (Dixie Chicks)

And two bonuses…

6) “Helplessly Hoping” (Crosby, Stills & Nash)

7) “Afternoon Delight” (Starland Vocal Band)

wtc82Every other day of the week, month, year and decade began the same as it did that Tuesday morning. I rolled out of bed, communed with the cat, made and drank coffee, and hopped online for a spell. That meant, at the time, checking my email, reading the latest digests from the Rust List and Lee Shore (Neil Young and CSN email groups), and then scanning the headlines on MSNBC (now NBCNews), CNN and the Philly Inquirer. It’s a routine I still keep, actually, though the email groups have been replaced by Facebook and, some days, Twitter.

Weather-wise, it was a nice late-summer/pre-fall day in the Delaware Valley; by the time I left for work, a few minutes before 9am, it was in the mid-60s. The car radio was tuned to KYW-1060, the all-news radio station; I hadn’t even backed out into the street before learning that a plane had crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was thought to have been a tragic accident involving a small plane. Minutes later, news broke that another plane had crashed into the south tower.

My main memory of the day: watching the tragedy unfold on a TV in the high-walled cubicle office of TV GUIDE’s chief assignment editor. It was beyond comprehension. It still is.

For today’s Top 5: #Remember911. The first four videos come from the America: A Tribute to Heroes broadcast, which aired 10 days later. The last comes from U2’s halftime performance at the 2002 Super Bowl.

1) Bruce Springsteen – “My City of Ruins”

2) Alicia Keys – “Someday We’ll All Be Free”

3) Dixie Chicks – “I Believe in Love”

4) Neil Young – “Imagine”

5) U2 – “Where the Streets Have No Name”

And two bonuses (also from America: A Tribute to Heroes)…

6) Mariah Carey – “Hero”

7) Sheryl Crow – “Safe and Sound”

Memorial Day is much more than the unofficial start of the summer season or a day devoted to buying discounted TVs at the big-box stores. It’s a day of remembrance, of honoring those brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. I tend to think of the soldiers who stormed the beaches at Normandy, myself.

I also think of all those men and women, including my father, who served in direct-combat support in any war; and those who find themselves in war zones as contractors. My dad spent time during the Korean War as the former; and spent time during the Vietnam War as the latter while employed by RCA. (He helped set up and maintain a communications system.)

This next video features photos he took while in Korea set to Rumer’s version of “Remember (Christmas)” (taken from a radio broadcast); the two that follow it are from Super 8 footage he shot while in ‘Nam and are set to Nanci Griffith’s “Traveling Through This Part of You” (written for her ex-husband Eric Taylor, who served in Vietnam) and Natalie Duncan’s rendition of the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

And here are a few songs about the cost of freedom:



Last week, I picked up tix to see the Dixie Chicks – on June 18, 2016. Which means, when the date finally rolls around, it will have been almost a decade since the first, and only, time Diane and I saw them in concert. That was July 25, 2006, at the Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) Center in Philadelphia, on their “Accidents & Accusations” tour, which found them still facing fallout (i.e., cancellations and poor sales in some parts of the country) from 12 words uttered by lead singer Natalie Maines on the eve of the Iraq War in 2003.

Oddly enough, it was the overwrought reaction to that comment that led me to give the Chicks a serious listen. I owe a big thank you to all the jingoistic burn-the-book Reich types, in other words; if not for them, I’d have missed out on some damn good music. (I should mention, I have no issue with folks who stop supporting acts for any reason, be it political, personal or artistic. But there’s a big difference between jumping off the bandwagon and threatening the driver of said wagon with bodily harm.)

Anyway, prior, I knew of them because they’d covered Maria McKee’s “Am I the Only One (Who’s Ever Felt This Way)” on their mega-selling Wide Open Spaces album, a move that meant the Little Diva could – as she said at the 1998 show we saw – do what she wanted for a little while, thanks to the royalty checks.

I’d also heard them because Diane played them on occasion; we owned their first two albums. But I didn’t pay them much mind – there’s only so much listening time in the day, after all, and in 2002 most of mine was spent on Neil Young’s seriously underrated Are You Passionate?, which was my Album of the Year that year. If I’d heard it at the time, however, Home likely would’ve displaced it; their feisty cover of Patty Griffin’s “Truth No. 2,” which foretold the controversy that followed, and the heartfelt rendition of Bruce Robison’s “Travelin’ Soldier” are worth the price of admission alone, but the entire album is excellent.

As was their 2006 effort, Taking the Long Way, which featured a streamlined, SoCal/Eagles-like veneer. By the time of their Wachovia barn shindig, I was primed. We had good seats – first level to the left of the stage with an excellent view – when the lights weren’t blinding us, that is. (The lighting was apparently designed without a sideview in mind.)

They opened with the rollicking kiss off to small-mindedness, “Lubbock or Leave It,” followed with a stellar “Truth No. 2.”

But my main memory of the show is one song from the middle of the set: “Not Ready to Make Nice,” which was Natalie’s defiant response to the threats she faced a few years before. Simply put, it’s jaw-dropping performance.

The video cuts off immediately after the song ends, but – those explosive cheers you hear at the end? They continued for near 10 minutes (at least, it felt that long), with everyone on their feet and clapping, clapping, and clapping some more. It’s the longest mid-show ovation I’ve witnessed, I think, aside from – and Diane’s chiming in here – at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

The first song of the encores was another highpoint: “Travelin’ Soldier.”

And another one followed: Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi.”

The only slight gripe I had with the night: no “Am I the Only One” – but, then again, this night, it’s safe to say I wasn’t. Everyone in the building left feeling the same way. It was a great show.

The set: “Lubbock or Leave It”/”Truth No. 2″/”Goodbye Earl”/”The Long Way Around”/”Landslide”/”Everybody Knows”/”I Like It”/”Cowboy Take Me Away”/”Lullaby”/”White Trash Wedding”/”Lil’ Jack Slade”/”Not Ready to Make Nice”/”Easy Silence”/”Long Time Gone”/”Some Days You Gotta Dance”/”So Hard”/”Top of the World”/”Wide Open Spaces”/”Sin Wagon”//”Travelin’ Soldier”/”Mississippi”/”Ready to Run”