It was the time of the preacher in the year of ’01/ now the preaching is over and the lesson’s begun.
The words are from The Time Of The Preacher the opening track to Willie Nelson‘s seminal 1975 album, ‘Red Headed Stranger.’ I found myself thinking about that song this week. It formed a significant part of the soundtrack to the brilliant Edge of Darkness when a grieving Bob Peck finds himself trying to unpick what might have led to the death of his daughter. A compelling political conspiracy ensued. It’s still worth watching too.
In these highly charged times of national soul searching it seems appropriate to flag up a few political songs in this week’s blog. Maybe it’s the atmosphere or perhaps it’s simply desperate times but I’m encountering a few country records where some significant artists are wearing their country hearts on their checkered shirt sleeves
I have a deep love of the music of Son Volt and the voice of lead singer Jay Farrar. I missed his earlier output but since I saw him deliver a great set of re-imagined Woody Guthrie songs with mono syllabic intros to a rather bemused Celtic Connections audience I’ve been a fan. Anyone who can keep an audience teased without ever telling them they were great or beautiful deserves our full respect. On the new Son Volt album Jay has turned his attentions to the state of play USA. “These songs are songs of turmoil,” Farrar said in a release. “Questioning what’s going on.” He’s taken his inspiration from Woody himself and it’s potent stuff.
We have played protest songs before and one of the veterans of the Civil Rights struggle has come back with a fresh set of anthems. Kicking off with Change (there’s a title) Mavis Staples new song (written and produced by Ben Harper) is a glorious hymn of inspiration and liberation. On a country tip too Charley Crocket is telling an old story on his forthcoming album – ‘I would stay here and keep on working but there’s no more water in the well,’ sings Charley. You can hear the full song ‘A Life of Sorrow’ on this week’s show when we’ll also remind you that Ry Cooder still has the powerful in his sights on his 2018 album, ‘Straight Street‘.
Elsewhere we’ll use our two hours of radio time fruitfully. There are some great new records out by Mandolin Orange (on vinyl too), Midlake’s EB The Younger, Eleni Mandell and Yola. We will tell you that Steve Earle did indeed make that Guy Clark tribute record and we see it only right to play something from the record and something great from Guy himself.
Is that it? Oh there will be so much more. Look out for some classic cuts from Lanco, Bobby Wood and Dustin Lynch. And, if that’s not plenty to be getting on with we’ll introduce you to a new band from Scotland called King Of Birds.
It’s Another Country, it’s on BBC Radio Scotland and it all starts at five past nine this coming Tuesday evening.