Archive for the Americana Music Awards Category

Americana Music Awards: Past Album of the Year Winners

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Buddy and Julie Miller, Buddy Miller, James McMurtry, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Patty Griffin on September 17, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, then you know that the Americana Music Honors and Awards Show will be held tomorrow night in Nashville and will be broadcast live on XM Radio’s X-Country channel beginning at 8:oo Eastern Time. This is just one more post celebrating the event and its past winners. I’ve written about most of this year’s nominees over the past month or so. You can read those posts here… a few of the songs have expired, but most of them are still there.

Anyway… today we’ll take a look at the recordings that have been honored as Album of the Year at past awards shows.

2002:
Buddy & Julie Miller from Buddy & Julie Miler
Buddy & Julie Miller: The River’s Gonna Run (Buy Album)

Buddy Miller is the most nominated artist in the history of the awards, and this was his first win. This album is a fine collection of duets with his wife Julie Miller. In fact, it was Julie’s unique voices (both her singing and songwriting voices) that initially drew me in to this album, and it has become one of my favorites. The song I’m sharing here is the first song I heard from the album, and the first time I heard Julie’s voice.

2003:
American IV: The Man Comes Around from Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash: Give My Love to Rose (Buy Album)

Johnny Cash swept all the major awards this year, winning Artist, Album, and Song of the Year. Johnny’s late career collaborations with producer Rick Rubin are among some of my favorite Cash recordings, and he was well deserving of winning at the 2003 awards. This is a re-recording one of Cash’s classic songs.

2004:
Van Lear Rose from Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn: Portland, Oregon (Buy Album)

2004 was my first Americana Music Conference and the first time I got to attend the Awards Show. I was so excited because Loretta Lynn was nominated for three awards, and I just knew that she would be there and I would have the chance to meet her. She is from my hometown, but I’ve never had the chance to see her in person. Lynn won for Artist and Album of the Year, but accepted her awards via videotape… she was out on the road. Nevertheless… Van Lear Rose is an amazing album, that despite some new-school production from Jack White, is purely classic Loretta Lynn.

2005:
Universal United House of Prayer from Buddy Miller
Buddy Miller: With God on Our Side (Buy Album)

Buddy was the big winner in 2005… taking Album and Song of the Year honors. Universal United House of Prayer is a country-soul study on faith and religion that spoke directly to the souls of award voters. The album was released just as the 2004 Americana Conference was being held, and the highlight of the entire 2004 conference was Buddy’s performance of Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side” at The Mercy Lounge. More than a few people were moved to tears listening to this thirty-year-old song that sounded as though it had been ripped from the headlines of the day.

2006:
Childish Things from James McMurtry
James McMurtry: Childish Things (Buy Album)

I still remember listening to this album for the first time and falling in love with it immediately. Above all else, James McMurtry is a storyteller… likely a trait he gets from his father, novelist Larry McMurtry. The stories on this album are about family vacations, young men preparing for war, a country losing its way, and just general tales about coming of age. The title track is one of those coming of age stories about the things we keep with us as we grow older, and the things we must leave behind. By the way, I think we all know someone like Aunt Clara from this song… I know I do.

2007:
Children Running Through from Patty Griffin
Patty Griffin: Heavenly Day (Buy Album)

I have seen it written that this album is Patty Griffin’s masterpiece. While I love each and every one of her albums and recommend each of them as “must own” records… it is hard to disagree with the previous statement. Children Running Through finds Patty equally at ease with the wisful folk ballad “Trapeze” as she is with the acoustic rocker “No Bad News.” There are even some hints of jazz and R&B in “Stay on the Ride.” The song I’ve offered up here, “Heavenly Day,” was nominated for Song of the Year. Patty says it’s a love song written to her dog.

Americana Music Awards: Past Song of the Year winners

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, James McMurtry, Jim Lauderdale, Johnny Cash, Ralph Stanley, Rodney Crowell on September 15, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

The Americana Music Honors and Awards show is this Thursday night in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium. I have gone through most of the nominees and honorees at this year’s event in this space over the last month or so. As we lead up to the event this week, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the previous winners.

Today… song of the year.

2002:

Jim Lauderdale & Ralph Stanley: She’s Looking at Me (Buy Album)

For the first year of the award, voters chose a perfect blend of old and new. Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley joins songwriter Jim Lauderdale, an artist known for preserving old-time sounds while updating them for new audiences, on a fun little bluegrass romp, “She’s Looking at Me.” The album, Lost in the Lonesome Pines, won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2002.

2003:

Johnny Cash: Hurt (Buy Album)

Last week’s theme at Star Maker Machine was “Johns,” and poster, Autopsy IV, put up this track for a Johnny Cash post. As he says in his post, I really believe history will remember this as a Johnny Cash song… not a Nine Inch Nails song. Watching the video makes this song that much more heartbreaking.

2004:

Rodney Crowell: Fate’s Right Hand (Buy Album)

I’ve posted this song before, and it is one of my favorites. Rodney takes us through a stream of consciousness rant against several of society’s ills. Sex, drugs, disasters, murder, Ken Star, womanizing, government excess, global warming, and war are all covered in just over five minutes.

2005:

Buddy Miller: Worry too Much (Buy Album)

Written by the late Mark Heard, this is the leadoff track to Buddy’s gospel-soul flavored album, Universal United House of Prayer. The Steeldrivers’ Tammy Rogers plays fiddle on the track with sisters Ann and Regina McCrary providing backing vocals straight out of a Sunday morning service.

2006:

James McMurtry: We Can’t Make it Here (Buy Album)

Here’s another one I’ve posted before. This song just becomes more and more true every time I hear it. From the factory workers who’ve seen their jobs sent overseas, to the veterans living on the streets, to the pregnant teen cast aside by society… We can’t make it here anymore.

2007:

Darrell Scott: Hank Williams’ Ghost (Buy Album)

I first heard this song at the 2005 Americana Music Conference as part of a panel where new music was played for DJ’s and radio programmers as a sort of focus group. We all immediately fell in love with the song, and it received the highest ratings of anything we heard that day. No surprise it picked up this award two years later.

Americana Music Awards: Nominees Super Post

Posted in Alison Krauss, Americana Music Awards, Drive-By Truckers, Hayes Carll, James McMurtry, Jim Lauderdale, Kane Welch Kaplan, Levon Helm, Robert Plant, Steve Earle, The Avett Brothers on September 11, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

It’s been a while since I posted anything about the upcoming Americana Honors and Awards Show. Since it’s coming up next week, I thought I’d better get back on the ball. You can find my previous posts on the Awards here. A full list of this year’s nominees can be found here (scroll down).

Last month, I started this whole series on the awards nominees by listing the five songs nominated for Song of the Year. Four of the five nominated songs come from albums nominated for Album of the Year. Since I wrote fairly extensively about the artists in that post, I’m not going to write about them again. Instead, here is a list of the nominees with another track from each album.

The nominees are…

Raising Sand from Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Just Us Kids from James McMurtry
Trouble in Mind from Hayes Carll
Dirt Farmer from Levon Helm

Robert Plant and Allison Krauss: Fortune Teller (Buy Album)
James McMurtry: Bayou Tortous (Buy Album)
Hayes Carll: Drunken Poet’s Dream (Buy Album)
Levon Helm: Feelin‘ Good (Buy Album)

Out of these four… my vote probably goes to Hayes Carll. If I were betting, however, I would place my money on Levon Helm. I think the fact that he’s making a return from throat cancer, coupled with the fact that Dirt Farmer is truly a killer album will be enough to carry him here. He’s probably the favorite for Artist of the Year as well.

Speaking of which… the nominees for Artist of the Year are…

Levon Helm
James McMurtry
Jim Lauderdale
Steve Earle

John Prine won this award a few years ago when he was making his return from cancer. Levon should take this in a walk. Competition comes from tireless performer and Americana Ambassador, Jim Lauderdale. Lauderdale released two albums during the nomination period (2007’s Bluegrass Diaries and 2008’s Honeysongs), is the long-time host of the Americana Honors and Awards Show, and recently took up hosting duties for the Tennessee Shines radio show. Earle and McMurtry will always get a few votes for their outspokenness and activism. I’ll be shocked, however if Helm doesn’t win this one.

We’ve heard from Helm and McMurtry… here’s a taste of what Earle and Lauderdale were up to over the past year.

Jim Lauderdale: Honey Suckle Honey Pie (Buy Album)
Steve Earle: Sparkle & Shine (Buy Album)

The final group I’ll look at here is Duo/Group of the Year. The nominees are…

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
The Drive-By Truckers
Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch, & Fats Kaplan
The Avett Brothers

Judging by the fact that Plant & Krauss were also nominated for Album and Song of the Year, I’d say this award is theirs to lose. The Truckers put out another stellar album this January called Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. My favorite Trucker, Jason Isbell, left the group before the recording of this album, but the Truckers still deliver with another epic effort. Kane Welch Kaplan continues the trio’s signature sound of bluesy acoustic folk. The Avett Brothers didn’t release anything new during the nomination period, but they continue to tour relentlessly with their high energy show, pushing the limits of their sound and bringing their music to new audiences. The Avetts won this award last year, the first year the award was presented.

The Drive-By Truckers: Two Daughters & a Beautiful Wife (Buy Album)
Kane, Welch, Kaplan: That’s What I’ve Got (Buy Album)
The Avett Brothers: Tear Down the House (Buy Album)

There you go… the nominees for this year’s Americana Honors and Awards Show. The show will take place September 18th at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The ceremony will be broadcast live on XM Satellite Radio’s X-Country Channel.

Americana Music Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award for an Executive

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Austin City Limits, Dave Alvin, Steve Earle on August 23, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

This week, we’ve been focusing on the Lifetime Achievement Award winners at this year’s Americana Music Honors & Awards. The honors will be handed out less than a month from now at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award for an Executive goes to Terry Lickonia from the long-running television series Austin City Limits. Lickonia took over ACL in 1978 and has produced more than 800 episodes of the show in the last thirty years. Under Lickonia’s guidance, ACL became the only television program to ever be honored with the National Medal Arts.

For those who don’t know, Austin City Limits is television’s longest running live concert program and, in my house, is must see viewing on Saturday nights. Since I’ve started watching regularly over the past few years, ACL has brought a wide variety of artists into my living room. Nickel Creek, Robert Randolph, My Morning Jacket, Tift Merritt, Patty Griffin, Rilo Kiley, Alejandro Escovedo, and R.E.M. just to name a few. Some were old favorites I’ve seen again and again. Others were artists new to the scene or just new to me.

A few years ago, Austin City Limits and New West Records began releasing a series of CDs and DVD from the ACL archives. You can find out more about them at http://www.acldvd.com/

Here are a couple of tracks from the live Austin City Limits CD series.

Steve Earle: Guitar Town (Buy Album)
Dave Alvin: Dry River (Buy Album)

Americana Music Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy and Julie Miller, John Hiatt, Patty Griffin, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash on August 20, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

On Monday, I featured the group the Americana Music Association will honor with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance… Jason and the Scorchers.

Today, we feature the recipiant of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting, John Hiatt. I was going to wait to do the Hiatt post next week, until I realized that today is actually Hiatt’s birthday. The Master of Disaster turns 56 today.

I wrote about Hiatt last month when he played a show in Maryville just outside of Knoxville. In that space, I mentioned just a few of Hiatt’s songs that have been recorded by other artists. In my view, one of the highest honors you can pay a songwriter is to record one his songs. If that’s true, Hiatt has been honored many, many, many times.

A list of some of the artists who have covered Hiatt’s songs includes Patty Griffin, Buddy & Julie Miller, Ronnie Milsap, Jeff Healey, Bonnie Raitt, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Eric Clapton & B.B. King, Jim Dickenson, Chuck Prophet, Suzy Bogguss, Ry Cooder, Kenny Rogers, Delbert McClinton, Joe Cocker, Emmylou Harris, Conway Twitty, Maria Muldour, Sam Bush, Carl Perkins, Aaron Neville, Willie Nelson, Chris Smither, Gregg Allman, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, Three Dog Night, George Thorogood, The Wailin’ Jennys, Steve Earle, Asleep at the Wheel, Joan Baez, David Crosby, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Kevin Welch, Linda Ronstadt, Buddy Guy… even Paula Abdul. Pop, blues, country, folk, rock, punk, bluegrass… artists from all genres and backgrounds have found something in the music of John Hiatt.

John Hiatt is certainly one of my favorites, and no one is more deserving of this honor than he. Hiatt joins past recipiants Billy Joe Shaver, John Prine, Cowboy Jack Clement, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Willie Nelson as winners of the award.

Below, you’ll find one track from Hiatt himself… the title track from his 2000 release Crossing Muddy Waters… and a few Hiatt songs performed by other artists.

John Hiatt: Crossing Muddy Waters (Buy Album)
Rosanne Cash: The Way We Make a Broken Heart (Buy Album)
Rodney Crowell: She Loves the Jerk (Buy Album)
Bonnie Raitt: Thing Called Love (Buy Album)
Patty Griffin: Take it Down (Buy Album)
Buddy & Julie Miller: Paper Thin (Buy Album)
Rosanne Cash: Pink Bedroom (Buy Album)

Americana Music Awards: Lifetime Achievement Award for Performance

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Jason and the Scorchers, Jason Ringenberg on August 18, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

As I’ve mentioned here a few times already, the Americana Honors and Awards Show will take place September 18th at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN. I’ve been profiling some of the nominees in a few of the different categories and will continue to do so in the days leading up to the awards.

In addition to the annual awards to honor the best music and musicians of the previous year, the Americana Music Association also hands out several special honors and lifetime achievement awards. Today, we take a look at this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achivement Award for Performing… Jason and the Scorchers.

Although Uncle Tupelo’s 1990 album, No Depression, is widely regarded as the opening salvo of the alt-country movement, Jason and The Scorchers released their debut EP, Reckless Country Soul, eight years earlier in 1982. Like Uncle Tupelo, The Scorchers blended the fiery energy of rock and punk with an earnest country twang. The Scorchers did it first, and they did it in Nashville.

Original members Jason Ringenberg, Warner Hodges, Jeff Johnson, and Perry Baggs will be on hand at the Americana Honors and Awards Show. The original members will also perform together for the first time in a decade at the show and again later that night at The Mercy Lounge.

As I’ve mentioned here before, I never had the chance to see Jason and the Scorchers live, but their live exploits are the stuff of legend. They helped lay the groundwork for what is now referred to as alt-country, Jason Ringenberg’s hat and jacket are on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and now The Scorchers join Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Chris Hillman, Marty Stuart, Alejandro Escovedo, and Joe Ely as winners of this Lifetime Achivement Award. It’s a well deserved honor.

Here’s a taste of The Scorchers’ body of work.

Jason & The Scorchers: Aboslutely Swee Marie (Buy Album)
Jason & The Scorchers: Harvest Moon (Buy Album)
Jason & The Scorchers: Golden Ball & Chain (Buy Album)
Jason & The Scorchers: 19th Nervous Breakdown (Buy Album)
Jason & The Scorchers: Cry By Night Operator (Buy Album)

Americana Music Awards: Best New/Emerging Artist

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Justin Townes Earle, Mike Farris, Ryan Bingham, The Steeldrivers on August 15, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Above, you’ll find a picture of The Avett Brothers. The Avett’s were the winners of the Best New/Emerging Artist Award at the 2007 Americana Honors and Awards Show. They joined past winners Mindy Smith (2004), Mary Gauthier (2005), and The Greencards (2006) as winners of the award. 2004 was the first year for the award, as it was created after Kathleen Edwards’ stellar 2003 debut Failer was swept in all categories it was nominated for by Johnny Cash and “Hurt.”

This is one of my favorite awards because it highlights the future of the Americana genre. These are artists who are brand new to the scene or, in some cases, artists who have been struggling for years and are finally garnering some support on a large scale. This year features another solid group of performers.

And the nominees are…

Justin Townes Earle
Mike Farris
Ryan Bingham
The Steeldrivers

Justin Townes Earle is the son of Steve Earle, and is named for Townes Van Zandt. That’s not too much to live up to is it? Justin understandably developed a love for music and was playing in a couple of bands in Nashville by the time he was a teenager. He also spent some time playing in his father’s touring band, The Dukes, but was kicked out of the group due to his growing dependence on alcohol and drugs. Justin’s fifth overdose landed him in the hospital for several days and came at the tender age of 21. He decided it was time to clean up his act. Clean and sober, Justin self-released the EP Yuma in 2007. His debut album The Good Life followed in 2008.

Justin Townes Earle: Hard Livin’ (Buy Album)

The story of Mike Farris is similar to that of Justin Townes Earle. Like JT Earle, Farris had a promising career sidetracked by his addictions and has now put his life back together and found salvation in his music. Farris fronted the blues-based jam band Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies in the 1990’s and also spent time as the singer for Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s old rhythm section. Farris’ demons kept holding him back, however, until he attended a friend’s funeral in 2004. There Farris decided it was time to turn a new page before he ended up in a coffin himself. His 2007 album, Salvation in Lights, is proof of his salvation, and a fine offering of rocking gospel blues.

Mike Farris: Can’t No Grave Hold My Body Down (Buy Album)

Ryan Bingham follows in the footsteps of all the other great Texas songwriters who have come before him. Bingham was born and raised in rural Texas where he worked for years as a ranch hand and rode on the competitive rodeo circuit. At age 17, he learned to play guitar from a neighbor who worked as a mariachi musician. He eventually started writing his own songs and began entertaining friends after rodeo shows. The songs on Binghams’s debut are often described as “road-weary,” and the 25-year-old songwriter comes by that label honestly. He’s certainly lived his share of “Hard Times.”

Ryan Bingham: Southside of Heaven (Buy Album)

Of course, The Steeldrivers, are my favorite in this category. I’ve mentioned them previously here and here, but I’m always happy to mention them again. Even if I hadn’t graduated from high school with lead vocalist/guitarist/songwriter, Chris Stapleton, I’m sure The Steeldrivers’ rough-edged bluegrass songs about hardened characters behind jailhouse walls would have still caught my ears. On the whole, The Steeldrivers are a tight band featuring songwriter Mike Henderson on mandolin, Tammy Rogers on fiddle and vocals, Richard Baily on banjo, and Mike Fleming on bass. All members of the group are Nashville session and songwriting veterans who are getting the chance to shine on their own here.

The Steeldrivers: Blue Side of the Mountain (Buy Album)

I’ve already said who I’m pulling for in this category, but listen to the tunes and decide for yourself. Leave comments below or vote in the poll to the right.

Update: It looks like Tift Merritt’s “Broken” was the winner in your voting for song of the year. Voting was pretty close with Hayes Carll’s “She Left Me for Jesus” leading most of the way. At the eleventh hour, however, Tift Merritt’s fan website found the poll and put her over the top.

Americana Music Awards Nominees: Song of the Year

Posted in Alison Krauss, Americana Music Awards, Hayes Carll, James McMurtry, Levon Helm, Robert Plant, Tift Merritt on August 5, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Above is a picture of Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller taken at the 2007 Americana Honors and Awards Show in Nashville. For the last few years, Jim has served as the host of the awards while Buddy has led the house band. Both gentlemen will reprise those roles again this year.

This June, the Americana Music Association announced the nominees for the Seventh Annual Americana Honors and Awards Show to be held September 18th at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Between now and September, I’ll highlight most of the awards categories and honorees here on the blog. Today, we’ll start with the nominees for Americana Song of the Year.
And the nominees are…

Hayes Carll: She Left Me for Jesus (Buy Album)

Tift Merritt: Broken (Buy Album)
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss: Gone, Gone, Gone (Buy Album)
James McMurtry: Cheney’s Toy (Buy Album)
Levon Helm: Poor Old Dirt Farmer (Buy Album)

Hayes Carll – “She Left Me for Jesus” The first song on the list is also the one that generated the most controversy. Hayes Carll’s “She Left Me for Jesus” tells the common story of a man who lost his girl to another man. What makes this song different is that the narrator knows his girl’s new beau is named Jesus, and that he wears sandals and has long hair. He is not aware, however, that Jesus is really JESUS. He doesn’t even seem to know who the Biblical Jesus is. He also is not aware that his girl has not really left him for another man. She has just found a higher calling in doing the Lord’s work. Confused, our hero just doesn’t understand her decision and vows to find Jesus and have his revenge.

The humor of the song comes from the total obliviousness and ignorance of the narrator. We laugh at him the same way we laughed at Archie Bunker. We don’t laugh at the awful things he says. We find the humor in the total lack of awareness and misguided beliefs that lead him to say those things in the first place. Understandably, certain religious groups have had problems with the song (We haven’t played it at WDVX for that exact reason), but I find it to be all very tongue-in-cheek and quite hilarious.

Tift Merritt – “Broken” I wrote about Tift Merritt’s latest album Another Country recently here before her show in Knoxville. When I wrote that post, I left out the second nominee for song of the year because I knew I would get to share it with you here.

Tift Merritt’s “Broken” is an uplifting song that reminds the listener that the clouds always have silver linings.

“I wish I were a freeway
Laid out clearer than a bright day.
Run wide open down this causeway.
Like brand new.
But I’m broken.
And I don’t understand
What is broken
Falls into place once again.
And the kindness
Come and gather me in like a rainstorm
Again and again and again.”

A common theme, but given a fresh life here by Tift. She says the metaphor of “Gather me in like a rainstorm” comes from spending time on the coast of North Carolina. When the daily storms would move in toward the coast, families would gather together for comfort and safety from the storm. No matter how broken she gets, others gather her in with kindness and remind her that we’re never truly broken as long as we have a support system of friends and family to fall back on.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: “Gone, Gone, Gone” The third nominee comes from an unlikely combination of one of the sweetest voices in bluegrass and one of the most legendary voices of Rock & Roll. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss seem as mismatched as a musical pair could be. Listen to them sing together, however, and it all somehow makes sense. The two combined to deliver one of the catchiest and best sounding songs I heard over the last year with their cover of The Everly Brothers’ “Gone, Gone, Gone.”

The sessions were produced by T-Bone Burnett (O Brother Where Art Thou?), so there is no surprise that the record sounds amazing. The surprise is in the sound itself. Plant, known for his Rock & Roll wailings, did things with his voice on this record that he had never done before and says he didn’t know he could do. He pulls back just a bit, using restraint and playing a complimentary role. He taught himself to harmonize with Krauss and the lesson paid off.

James McMurtry: “Cheney’s Toy” The next nominee is another controversial track. James McMurtry’s scathing indictment of President George W. Bush is the most politically charged song on this list, and like Hayes Carll, that controversy has hurt airplay for this track.

The controversy, however, doesn’t stem from McMurtry’s political angst. He’s mined this territory before on tracks like the brilliant “We Can’t Make it Here” from 2005’s Childish Things. In fact, this sort of vitriol directed toward the White House is almost expected from him these days. The controversy, rather, came when some misunderstood (misunderestimated?) the song as an attack on the American Soldier instead of an attack on “W.”

“Keep smiling for the camera.
Keep waving to the crowd.
Don’t let up for an instant.
Stay the course and make your mama proud.
You’re the man.
Show ’em what you’re made of.
You’re no longer daddy’s boy.
You’re the man.
That they’re all afraid of,
But you’re only Cheney’s toy.”

By using Bush’s pet phrase of “stay the course” and referring to the subject as “daddy’s boy”… a reference to George H.W. Bush… McMurtry says he thought he made the subject of the song quite clear. One thing that is clear is that topical songs like this one seem to do well with many of the liberal leaning Americana voters.

Levon Helm: “Poor Old Dirt Farmer” Levon Helm’s Dirt Farmer is his first solo album in 25 years, and an album that almost never got made. Helm underwent surgery for throat cancer in 1998. After surviving 28 radiation treatments and a fire that destroyed over 80 percent of his barn studio in Woodstock, NY, Helm spent a few years rebuilding his studio and regaining his voice. Dirt Farmer was recorded in that rebuilt barn studio and provides a fitting showcase for Helm’s unique vocal instrument.

Like many of the songs on the album, “Poor Old Dirt Farmer” is a traditional tune like the ones Helm learned to play many years ago with his family. He didn’t learn this particular song until years later while working in Gatlinburg, TN on the set of the movie, The Dollmaker. If you get the feeling from listening to this song that Helm may know something about the life of that poor old farmer… you’re right. Helm grew up on a cotton farm in Arkansas. It was on that farm that he learned many of the tunes that would comprise most of his latest record.

Who should win? I honestly can’t decide, but you can leave a comment if you want to vote.

Edit: I’ve added a poll on this topic to the right of the screen. Feel free to vote in that as well.