Nightly Song
Musings on Songs that Strike a Chord Tonight

Archive for the ‘Folk Music’ Category

Songs for Independence Day and the Fourth of July

July 4, 2010

Songs for Independence Day and the Fourth of July

It’s the Fourth of July and here’s a pack of songs you might want to check out. You can find the patriotic songs elsewhere and the songs perfect for your backyard BBQ abound on the web. This list includes songs that make a direct reference to the 4th of July or Independence Day or speak about an Independence Day. Some do both.

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Radical – Catie Curtis

July 2, 2010

In a day when so many make sure they express their stand in the loudest way possible, a whisper can be powerful. The world is loud enough already and filled with dire arguments. Personal anecdotes become mere fodder for arguments and political stances. Sometimes we need stories that are personal and tender.

Catie Curtis delivers just such moments on her 1996 song, “Radical.” I imagine this song as the singer responding to her lover after an argument: meditative, generous and heartfelt. Arising from a lesbian relationship, the song avoids stridency and large political statements in favor of intimacy, a stripped down performance that centers on the voice and delivers lines that get to heart of this relationship.

Birches – Bill Morrissey: A Married Couple’s Love Song

June 16, 2010

Birches – A Married Couple’s Love Song

Written and performed by Bill Morrissey

In his song, “Casey, Illinois,” Bill Morrissey sings, “Now I’m not young in a young man’s game,” a sad truth; playing and listening to rock music favors the young. The quintessential rock music still flows from Elvis’s braggadocio and broken heart rhythm and blues and Chuck Berry’s car songs. We grow excited about that new young band (Kings of Leon, anyone) and often forget or shake our heads over the Stones in their 60’s still trying to rock and roll. Many of the best artists have continued to produce as they enter their senior years and their audience ages too.

Yet much of the best music comes from older artist dealing with themes of maturity and much of the audience has aged too. Think of Dylan’s recent work – perhaps more resonant that anything he has ever written. Neil Young still thrashes about trying to make sense of the world as he sees it while Van Morrison still seeks his vision, only not as a young man would. Springsteen’s movie song, “The Wrestler,” grapples with finding victory in accepting one’s fate. Dylan’s song “Red River Shore” – arguably one of his best ever – may make no sense for the 20-year-old college student who lacks the experiences to understand, but it resonates with sadness and recognition to the older listener.

Bill Morrissey’s “Birches,” a love song as moving as any you will hear, stands as an example of a song that the young man or woman may not comprehend, but will rivet the middle age man or woman as it captures the small defeats and victories that infuse a marriage. Those familiar with Morrissey know the intricate craftsmanship that goes into his story-songs: concise, rich and telling details. Others have likened him to minimalist short-story writers like Raymond Carver, though the better comparison seems to be Andre Dubus given the New England settings, the deep empathy for their characters and the underlying spiritual dimensions in their work.