There are many funny aspects about performance which make it a particularly individual art form. On the brilliant, Miles Of Aisles, Joni Mitchell answers a song request with an instant appraisal of the nature of the song. ‘That’s the thing about the difference between the performance arts and being a painter; no one ever said to Van Gogh, ‘Paint a Starry Night again, man.’
I’ve thought about that a lot since I first heard Joni saying it about 45 years ago and it’s only today I’ve realised that she’s probably wrong. I’ll bet loads of people said that very thing to Vincent.
I pondered on this when I got a Facebook message to inform me about a song we didn’t play on the weekend. It always strikes me as a very weird thing to make your only point of contact a gripe about what you didn’t enjoy. But hey…they pay the money and all of that. I also thought about it when I went to see Patty Griffin then Nick Lowe a couple of months back. I knew for a fact that the set lists I’d love to hear from Patty and Nick differed enormously from the ones these artists chose to play on the night. However, and this is really the important bit, hearing the show Patty Griffin (particularly) put together that evening was a joy and a brilliant insight into the core of what is important in her own music. It was great to hear how much she invested in each song and why they were all essential parts of a quite gorgeous ninety minutes. Before you ask; Nick’s show was wonderful too.
Patty’s night involved her talking about ‘disappearing down a YouTube rabbit hole one night’ chasing (I think) Lightnin’ Hopkins. There’s no doubt that blues forms a big influence on the new Patty record and hanging out with Robert Plant with The Band of Joy (he was in the audience in June too!) must have helped the blues seep in.
On this Tuesday’s show we’re going to explore these roots a little and try, once more, to show how genres of music really all stem from a common source. Jimmie Rogers, Howling Wolf, Bessie Smith, Hank Williams, Big Mama Thornton, Elvis Presley, The Louvin Brothers…work your own way to The White Stripes and keep going.
As well as that trip we’ll catch up with Justin Townes Earle a man who has carried on his own particular family/musical tradition. Justin has been a guest on Another Country a few times over the last eleven years or so. How well has the life of a troubadour agreed with him? To what extent is he keeping back the demons that haunted his earlier life? Having spent a bit of time in his company, I’m not really sure. You can make up your own mind when you hear the conversation we recorded and listen to the tracks from his current album, ‘The Saint Of Lost Causes.’
Elsewhere in a packed two hours you’ll hear more from The Highwomen, Hiss Golden Messenger, more Mattiel and a mini celebration of The Stanley Brothers. Finally, on the subject of set lists: a song The National didn’t play under a beautiful moon at Kelvingrove a couple of weeks ago.
We’re on BBC Radio Scotland FM from five past nine this Tuesday evening.