I thought that Friday’s conversation in the threads about country music was interesting, so I asked brendancalling if he could put together a little something about country music to go along with our postcard thread. He did a stellar job. Just amazing! Here’s his playlist: Balloon Juice Country
POSTCARDS / WISCONSIN ELECTION April 4
There’s going to be a lot of money flying around for these races because there’s so much at stake. So this time around, postcards are where we can make a difference. (Though we will likely put up a donation link for Wis*Dems because I imagine some of you will want to donate anyway.)
Just a few postcard things so postcard peeps can get started, and then we’ll get to the music. We have all the addresses for the Wisconsin Senate race (SD-8), which is 1,000 addresses, and for the Wisconsin Supreme Court race we have addresses selected especially for us by Voces de la Frontera – Latino and African American folks who vote Democratic 80% of the time.
If you want to write postcards, or if you have an Indivisible or other group that writes postcards, please send me an email (my nym at balloon-juice.com) and I’ll get you set up with addresses to write. You can start writing any time. First date to MAIL the postcards is March 10. More details in the post linked just below.
Wisconsin Election Returns Tonight & Postcard Effort for the Spring Election (Open Thread)
If you have any postcard questions, chime in with a comment, or send me email. And if you have postcards pictures to help inspire the rest of us, send them to me by email, and I’ll add them in the comments!
Hello fellow jackals. Longtime commenter brendancalling here. Yesterday, I got into a long subthread on country music in the TGIFriday Morning Open Thread: Slava Ukraini! Post. Big surprise—a lot of people hate country music, or at least THINK they do.
I can understand that sentiment. To make an imperfect analogy, if your only experience with beer is Budweiser, yeah—I can’t blame you for hating country music. There’s a lot of crap out there, especially if all you’ve been exposed to is modern country music. Heck, if modern country music was beer, it wouldn’t even come close to Bud—it’d be more like warm Hamms.
Budweiser, to continue the analogy, represents a certain kind of beer. But it doesn’t taste anything like, say, a Guinness, or a Flanders red ale, or a Belgian sour, or West Coast IPA or a Pennsylvania porter. It’s the same with modern country—sure, you’ve got your modern country (aka “bad rock with a fiddle” to quote Tom Petty) but you’ve also got western swing, the Bakersfield sound, straight up honky tonk, Texas country, zydeco, Cajun… the list just goes on and on and on. Just as there’s a lot of different beer out there that actually tastes good, there’s a LOT of good country music too. It just doesn’t get on the big stations that dominate the industry.
I’ve been playing music for a long time. As a teenager, I was obsessed with hardcore punk and metal. By the time the 1990s and “grunge” hit, I had already moved on other stuff—all those bands from the 1990s like Nirvana and Pearl Jam and the rest sounded like punk rock with better production. And good grief, the lyrics didn’t appeal to me at all. It was just so bummed out and sad and self-pitying. My hippy housemate had turned me on to Phish, another band people tend to love or hate. Whatever you might say about that band, they are truly eclectic, and incorporated a couple of jammed-out bluegrass songs into their sets—which is how I discovered Bill Monroe, and went down a rabbithole. I don’t think I listened to anything but bluegrass and old country music for… I wanna say five years at least. And then of course I lived and played music in Nashville (Music City USA, baby!) for about 4+ years until the pandemic ruined everything. So you could say I know a good bit about the genre.
Anyway, long story short, WaterGirl asked that I make a playlist for one of the regular postcard writing events, and I was happy to do so. In this list, I primarily chose country songs from my persona (and very long) Apple Music playlist. I have a thing for bands and artists that fly under the radar, although some of the artists I have here are not that. The vast majority, I suspect, are bands the average listener hasn’t heard, whether old or new. And I tried to choose songs that weren’t hits: I skipped Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” as great as that song is, and instead chose her version of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee.” I guarantee it’ll make you weepy.
I also tried to include black, Latino, and LGTBQ artists—because the genre is seen (justifiably) as almost entirely white people. So please enjoy Yola, Howdy Glenn, Willi Carlisle, Johnny Rodriguez, and Mercy Bell. I wish I had a deeper knowledge of Black and Latino country, TBH: there’s a lot I’m still discovering. I also threw in some old weird stuff and country from places you wouldn’t expect (like Scruffy the Cat, a 1980s Boston band). I included both old songs and songs by newer bands. Some bands have more than one song in my list—The Royal Hounds, Scruffy the Cat, Charles Hager, Andrea and Mud, etc—mainly because I like them so much. Or, for real, they’re friends of mine who work really hard, and merit a larger audience. Also, I’m in at least two of these videos. I won’t tell you which though.
WaterGirl asked for 20 or so songs—I wound up with 82, and the only reason I stopped is because I have to go to a jam session. I hope you enjoy the tunes, and I apologize if I left a favorite artist out. There’s just so much! I’ll try to drop by the post tonight to engage in comments. Peace out y’all!
In case you missed it up top, here’s the playlist that brendancalling made for us: Balloon Juice Country
Shake the dust off your wings.
@Omnes Omnibus: I meant to add him too. I love TVZ. Dangerous music. You get depressed, Townes will put you in your grave.
@brendancalling: I had never head of him until Omnes posted that, but I like it a lot. Too late to add it to the playlist?
@brendancalling: I really like your song #4. Pat Reedy. I had never heard of him, either. Not a big country fan, but there’s definitely stuff here I like.
A couple others I didn’t remember to add include Carolina Chocolate Drops. Danny Paisley, the Supersuckers (who play mostly hard rock but put out 2 or 3 country albums), Resonant Rogues, and Goddam Gallows. Oh well…
I listened to music a lot all through the 1980s and 1990s but it wasn’t main stream rock or country, and now I feel like I was living in a cave the whole time as far as relating to popular culture.
Oh well. My 71 year old sister had never even heard of ABBA until about 5 years ago.
This is his most famous song.
@brendancalling: Some things can never be finished.
@WaterGirl: Pat’s best album is “That’s All There Is,” but it’s not on YouTube. Check your music platform of your choice for tunes like “Funny Little Thing About a Hammer,” Pennsylvania Hills,” and “Conversation With Jesus.”
Pat is one of my best friends. Very left wing. Very working class. Solid dude.
@Omnes Omnibus: Now you’ve sent me down the youtube rabbit hole. Guy Clark does a nice version too.
@Omnes Omnibus: I like “Better Than Waiting around to Die.” That song kills me.
Grassland Jam is so not for me. Guessing there are sort of sub-genres of country music?
@WaterGirl: I will when I get home (add TVZ that is). In standard country fashion, I’m at a bar right now.
BTW, anyone interested in the history of 20th century country music should listen to the first season of Cocaine and Rhinestones, a podcast hosted by Tyler Mahan Coe. His vocal style takes a little getting used to—he kind of talks like a robot for the first few episodes—but the history he shares is AMAZING. Trigger Warning for the Spade Cooley episode, though. Cooley brutally abused and murdered his wife. Coe shares the details (with the warning).
@brendancalling: Thanks for putting this together for us.
Late to the thread, as I just got home but I’ll be doing postcards after we get settled.
Thread timing question – I think we’re planning on Tuesday nights around this time, and either Saturday afternoons or evenings. Any preference?
Personally, my Saturdays are unpredictable, but I can try to at least be around for answering questions, if needed.
I haven’t listened to #13 yet, but just based on the name, I think “Try Not to Be a Dick” should be the BJ theme song.
@Mousebumples: I was just about to add the comment “no one doing postcards here yet?”
@brendancalling: Thanks for putting this playlist together! Rarely listen to country music but when I do, prefer the more “traditional” music. Really liked the Leo Rondeau song-will continue listening to the list.
I threw on Hank Thompson’s “Honky Tonk Town” because if you listen to the band, it’s basically jazz players. HT is a good example of (very polished) Western swing. That whole album is heavy on the jazz. Bob Wills (did I include Bob) is the King of Western Swing, and equally (if not more) jazzy, but nowhere near as polished. Bob, especially, takes his cues from Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. So does Hank, but w/more slick and less improv.
@delphinium: Leo is awesome. Check out his “Here’s a Heart” album. It’s one of his best.
@WaterGirl: Remember the veteran woman beaten up by the National Park Police in Philly several years ago, for protesting the Iraq War?
That’s her singing. She’s great.
@Omnes Omnibus: He has a beautiful smile. He died so young!
@WaterGirl: Might be a sign that Saturday nights aren’t great for postcards… If no one else comes by to postcard, we can always just ask about timing again on Tuesday?
@delphinium: Curious… is this the more traditional country, or is the stuff they play on the radio what you mean by traditional country?
@brendancalling: I did not remember that. Police need to get it tougher and remember their job is “to serve and protect”.
@Mousebumples: Sounds good.
@WaterGirl: I liked that song too by Pat. As for postcard writing, I need to order more and then will get started on the WI races and any of the other ones coming up.
@delphinium: We need you for Wisconsin! Get those cards ordered. :-)
I like the politics of the song at #17. Wave that flag.
* Yeah I know what country music is, couldn’t resist the pun.
@WaterGirl: Maybe that isn’t the right term, like I said I don’t listen to a lot of country, but songs from the playlist by Lou, Pat, and The Daiquiri Queens (listening now) seem more straight up country to me and not so much the “bad rock with a fiddle” that Brendan noted. Also thinking along the likes of Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn type of country. Does that make sense?
@delphinium: It does!
@brendancalling: Thank you so much for putting this together. As I said in the previous thread I know zip about country and the bits I’ve heard mostly disliked intensely, I suspect it’s the stuff you’d describe as
I’ve heard of hardly any of the artists listed, don’t think I know any of the songs.
This is great! I’m so looking forward to going through the list, it’s all new to me! Don’t expect I’ll like it all but I’m sure I’ll like some.
Once again, thanks
ETA basically I share Tom Petty’s ( who I loved) opinion
@kalakal: Try Bitter Tears,
Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian
Album by Johnny Cash
I really liked #23 Arm’s Length Away. I had never heard of Izaak Optaz.
@schrodingers_cat: will do thanks.
All suggestions gratefully accepted.
OT. Because of an openly racist YouTube rant by Scott Adams, the Dilbert comic strip has been cancelled in nearly all newspapers. Gift WaPo link to story. Pity, the strip used to be funny.
First Aid Kit – Emmylou
Good ol’ country music from good ol’ …………… Sweden.
@kalakal: It’s a really nice way to be introduced to music, I think.
Hear the first little bit, doesn’t grab you, go on to the next one. I have really liked some of them.
@MattF: Oh, ugh. Off to read. I knew he had turned into a right-wing guy, but openly racist? In his comics or in real life?
I guess I’ll find out as soon as I click the link.
edit: All that was missing was “young bucks buying steaks”… and the n-word.
They sang it in front of Emmy Lou Harris and brought her to tears.
Holy shit, Yola! Wow, beautiful voice. #27
I added two Townes songs
@brendancalling: thank you!
@Anoniminous: Swedish country: The Country Side of Harmonica Sam
@WaterGirl: He is SO SO SO good. I discovered him by accident. “Hot and Heavy Handed” is him doing 90s country, but stripped down and all of sudden they’re not cheesy songs.
I cleaned my office today and found the postcard stamps I thought I’d lost. I’ve emailed WG for addresses and would be here for a Tuesday night write-a-thon.
@Kristine: Yay! Glad to have you on the postcarding team! 🤩
Okay, this thread is gonna be a challenge for me. I’m mostly into the alt, punk, post-punk kinda stuff.
Here’s some mid 80’s post-punk country. Lone Justice:
@WaterGirl: Yes, just like rock or jazz. Jazz: big band; bepop; post bop; hard bop; fusion; and so on. Rock: blues-rock; metal; pop; prog-rock; folk-rock; hardcore and punk; yacht rock; funk; soul; r&B.
Same thing with country. It’s a big genre, and it’s unlikely you can’t find something to like for either lyrical and musical reasons.
If all you heard of jazz was Kenny G, you’d think jazz sucks! If all you heard of rock was Nickleback, you’d never come back! Same with country.
BTW, y’all better be writing postcards…
@SpaceUnit: I grew up on that stuff. I’m a still a punk rocker at heart.
@Mousebumples: I dropped the ball for the WI primary, so I have some catching up to do.
And here’s The Jayhawks, circa 2003:
Save It For A Rainy Day
@MattF: The strip got pretty repetitive years ago in my opinion. But that’s hardly a cardinal sin for newspaper comics; how many times has Garfield eaten some lasagna? This week’s meltdown and (appropriate) cancelation was something quite different to be sure.
@SpaceUnit: A lifetime ago, I played bass for a bluegrass/speed metal crossover band called Uncle Fucker. We had a troupe of dancing girls called the Fuckerettes.
Here’s a video of our version of Bill Monroe’s instrumental Wheel Hoss.
Since the other thread is dead I thought I’d put this here: unfortunately valued commentator Mnemosyne is no longer with us. Am I allowed to post a link?
Mnemosyne Dailykos death notice (no doxxing)
edit; NOT THE SAME MNEM. ~WaterGirl
@hervevillechaizelounge: Oh man. That’s sad to hear.
my wife was playing some music one day on Pandora and had gone out the room. I listened to a track and when she came back I said “never heard of the guy that was just on but he’s one hell of a guitar player ”
Doc Watson – Windy and Warm
@hervevillechaizelounge: Oh dear. Mnem was one of the smart ones, she will be missed.
40-plus year career in radio, part of the generation who put rock on FM. helped redefine what adult music radio is. Did news and talk stations on the local and corporate levels. I never did a country station until I got my first job as a VP/GM. The company handed me a dead in the water AM (fixed it with a solid news and local talk format) and a 100KW FM. The FM was running a syndicated oldies format. The number 2 station in the market was a sloppy old line country station. Hmm, I talked to a friend of mine who owned a successful “‘cowboy station” and went to work. We blew up the oldies format, put a country station on with a modern attitude and formatics. It worked! The station went from a 1.6 share to 12.9 in 3 months. I was going through a nasty divorce at the time and Garth got me through it. https://youtu.be/nIHWhUVxJh8 (Much Too Young to Feel this Damn Old”)
I plumb forgot Doug Kershaw!
@Anoniminous: I can see why.
Goddamn that is some wild shit. Whoop!
@Kristine: Just sent you the addresses. See you on Tuesday!
@WaterGirl: “Shake the dust off of your wings and the sleep out of your eyes” has been in my email signature since I retired.
@SpaceUnit: Then you’ll have a lot to say if we do a thread like this on those!
Kickass Orange Blossom Special.
And just across the border from country, strictly for funsies,
Them Hillbillies Are Mountain Williams Now
Old Man Mose.
@brendancalling: I’m not sure there’s any postcard-writing going on tonight. :-)
@Kristine: Janet P won, no harm, no foul! :-)
@WaterGirl: If I have any say, we totally will.
@SpaceUnit: I like it! (Never heard of them.)
Personally, I think that Merle cut I posted is a real banger. I’d love to hear a woman do it as “A Workin’ Mom Can’t Get Nowhere Today.” That one steel line—you’ll know it when you hear it— is just… chef’s kiss. Its so good.
@hervevillechaizelounge: I believe I said this last time you posted that, but I don’t believe that is the same person.
Haven’t checked out the playlist yet—it looks good—but you misspelled “balloon” in the title.
James E Powell
Are you sure that’s the same person?
@brendancalling: Pretty sure the person who does the work gets a say. :-)
@James E Powell: I am certain that is NOT the same person.
@Jager: Holy cow-ski!
@hervevillechaizelounge: Pretty sure that is the wrong Mnem. Ours is not that old, does not live in North Carolina, did not pine to live in France and would not be described as a kind gentle person (particularly in respect to trolls).
@WaterGirl: Yeah, no way that’s our Mnemosyne. She is about half that age.
@WaterGirl: I promise I won’t subject anyone here to Slayer.
@brendancalling: That was fun!
Sounds more like it’s the late MaryG, except IIRC she was a mite younger.
@NotMax: Yes, she was younger, in her 60s I think.
@brendancalling: I don’t listen to that music at all, so that flew right over my head.
That was fun.
@kalakal: Your wife is correct!
Not much mention of “Ya’llternative” so I’ll point you to this book
“Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks: The Countercultural Sounds of Austin’s Progressive Country Music Scene”
That’s not our Mnemosyne. That woman was 82. Ours is in her early 50s.
ETA: In fact, Mnemosyne once said that her birthday was June 15, 1969. (Checked the BJ Stasi files.)
Since this was the morning post today, here’s the update:
”Former agriculture secretary Nikki Fried will be in charge of the state party as Florida Democrats attempt to pull themselves out of their worst political position in years.”
“Fried, 45, rebounded from her Democratic primary loss to Charlie Crist in the governor’s race last year to become state party’s new chair, taking in 52% of the vote in what had become a heated campaign to succeed former chair Manny Diaz.
Fried, of Fort Lauderdale, was a late entry to the race, announcing her bid less than two weeks ago.”
In Champaign-Urbana most of my crew turned away from rock in the early 70’s and went to music like Commander Cody, Asleep at the Wheel, the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Old and in the Way and the Dead. Jerry Garcia loved to play bluegrass and the “Pizza Tapes” with David “Dawg” Grisman and Tony Rice is phenomenal.
@Jackie: I don’t know enough to know if that’s good news or not?
Steve in the ATL
1. That is not the same Mnemosyne, as others have noted.
2. Love Scruffy the Cat. Also check out “you dirty rat” though “mybabyshesalright” was their best song.
3. How about Jason and the Scorchers? Their cover of Dylan’s “absolutely sweet Marie” was the best it was ever done. Great originals include “harvest moon”.
4. Maybe a little love for Billy Strings? Dude can pick the ol’ gitfiddle.
@Steve in the ATL: I love the first two, but as talented as Billy is, he’s just not my taste. Highly recommended though!
@raven: I love Asleep at the Wheel. My current band does one of their tunes. Genuinely nice people too. Their drummer used to hang at my local in Nashville.
@raven: I’m sure I have asked you before. Did you used to go to Panama Red’s?
@raven: “Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Doug Sahm”
Absolute legends. Jerry Jeff’s “Viva Terlingua” is a masterpiece.
Steve in the ATL
@brendancalling: how about Todd Snider covering a song co-written by every songwriter in Nashville, including my old friend George Lucas?
@WaterGirl: One of the early giants of speed metal. Even the slow songs are fast. One of my favorite bands even today, but as someone who prides himself on reading the room, it’s nothing I’m posting here. Ever.
@Steve in the ATL:
That one’s good. So is “Alright Guy,” which I think Todd wrote. Todd is so fun. He was hanging with Prine til the end, i believe.
@WaterGirl: BettyCracker was sorta rooting for her.
I’m impressed she won so handedly after only jumping into the race two weeks earlier. That doesn’t say much good about her competitor, I’m thinking.
One more blast from the past.
Steve in the ATL
@brendancalling: From a high school friend:
Todd snider forced his way on stage at 616 [venue in Memphis ] when my band Martini Age was playing. We opened for cracker and he snuck in a 5 song set. He was artfully sneaky. He’s good but what a goob.
Thanks for the list of songs! I have been browsing through it and found Leo Rondeau. I got curious about him and googled him. He has a website, FB, instagram etc—nothing posted since 2020. No shows. No FB postings, Nothing. I hope he didn’t die of covid. Or maybe the shut down just ruined his career. It/s a shame. I like his unpretentious thoughtful songs.
Great fiddle player. Legitimately one of the worst human beings to ever walk the face of this earth. He brutally abused and later murdered his wife in front of their children. I will not go into the full details, which sadly I know thanks to the Cocaine and Rhinestones podcast. He was sentenced to life in prison. Reagan pardoned him, and Spade died the very next day.
@Jackie: If Betty Cracker was for her, then that’s a win for the good guys. The Democratic Party in FL needs all the help it can get.
@wonkie: I’m seeing shows from December 2022, but yeah: it’s been a minute.
heh, he did a gig with my old pal Jennie Parrot. She’s good too.
James E Powell
@Steve in the ATL:
One the bar bands I was in did Absolutely Sweet Maries & White Lies. Warner Hodges is one of my under-appreciated guitar heroes
Another band that never really got noticed that fits in tonight is The Gear Daddies.
@James E Powell: Those guys are new to me, gonna look them up now.
@James E Powell:
This reminds me, I don’t know how I forgot the Beat Farmers, who were so so good.
All too true but chose to focus only on music in this case and not despoil the listening with his sordid history.
Steve in the ATL
How about this one from DBT? Reminds me if Steve Earle (who named his son after Townes Van Zandt).
Steve in the ATL
@James E Powell: agree completely
After learning about it, I can’t listen to him anymore. I just can’t. Kinda like w/Clapton, once I learned what a truly shitty person he is with the racism, it just ruined him for me.
How about some Texas Jim Lewis then?
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@Steeplejack: Since she’s being talked about, but not so much downstairs, I’ll repeat that our Mnemo posted a pointer to a site with links to her books and other projects in July 2022. It’s still live.
This is the all time best version of Pancho and Lefty: Willie and EmmyLou.
(57) Emmylou Harris “Pancho and Lefty” – YouTube
Good night kids, I’m melting into classic Doctor Who on Pluto and drifting off to sleep.
I’ll be diving into this list for a while! Another from that album back in the 00s of soul/country duets: “Since I Fell for You,” Reba McEntire and Nayalie Cole.
@prostratedragon: Holy crap. What a cut. And the rest of that album looks great, too.
I vote for Tuesday. Saturday evening took me by surprise. :-)
Postcards To Voters is also providing addresses for Judge Janet – here’s the link from their Twitter account.
ETA: Gorrammit, the link didn’t post the first time. My apologies.
@SpaceUnit: Ah, Maria McKee. Lovely woman, lovely voice.
Not the Jayhawks!
The last time I listened to them I had that song Tampa to Tulsa stuck in my head for a week
That’s a damn fine music list.
Thank you, Brendan!
Also, there are few better things than threads that get into the weeds on the music folks have to share. That and books (other than sic fi) have me jotting down names and albums, always leads to gems.
@brendancalling: Love it!
And thanks much for the compilation. Some old favorites and some new folks to explore.
Nice list but needs more Garfunkel And Oates.
@WaterGirl: Our softball team “The High n Mighty” was the first long haired team in C-U and most of the teams hated us. It started as a goof and we ended up being really good. Many of the guys on the team were part of the Record Service and eventually we had really nice uniforms and Reds was one of our sponsors.
We’d go there, the Red Lion and Ruby Gulch for music but we were mostly housed in the House of Chin. George Chin was a madman and fit right in. Here’s George and a Champaign cop one 4th!
@raven: What a great name. High and mighty turned out to be a pretty accurate description!
I was on a volleyball team with a bunch of people who worked for the city of urbana, and we called ourselves the BureauCats. The Cats, for short.
I was just listening to Radney Foster’s “Del Rio Revisited: Unplugged and Lonesome”. Now that there’s some real honky-tonk music. You got cheatin’ and somebody done wrong and drinkin’ to ferget, and that’s just the first three songs. You also got lost love and bad hombres and singin’ Folsom Prison Blues along with Johnny Cash on the AM radio. 5 stars on Amazon, check it out.
But seriously, great list, for people whose hatred of country music as heard on iHeartRadio is mostly justified.
@brendancalling: Totally missed this thread last night, but thanks for sharing the playlist. I’ll check it out today. One thing I love about streaming is playlists.
Gotta have a shout out for Waylon Jennings’ record of songs by Billy Joe Shaver, “Honky-Tonk Heroes Like Me”
@brendancalling: Same is also true for rap and hip-hop.