Tag Archives: Tom Petty

The New Folk XIV – Got That Mojo Workin’…

There are some great new releases ready to drop in the next couple of weeks. This Lost Shark is particularly excited about the new album from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Mojo. This is the first new album from Petty with The Heartbreakers since 2002’s The Last DJ, so there is a great deal of anticipation. Here’s a taste of what to expect as well as a couple of other songs to ease you in to your Saturday night.

I Should Have Known It – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Petty is one of those artists who is truly timeless. He has been knocking out classic songs for over three decades and has a sound that is completely his own. Back with The Heartbreakers, Petty is scintillating. The band sound (and look) energised, Mike Campbell’s is at his blinding best; the rhythm section of  Ron Blair & Steve Ferrone are air tight; Scott Thurston chugs away in the background and Benmont Tench… well, he is without a doubt, one of the best piano/keys men going around. I Should Have Known It is common territory for Petty & The Heartbreakers. Tom has written some incredible songs of rejection/lost love over the years and this is up there with his best. When Petty snarls into the mic, ‘It’s the last time you’re gonna hurt me’, rejection never sounded so good. Mojo is out on June 15.

Cocaine and Ashes – Son Volt

‘I’ve had strychnine, I thought I was dead / I snorted my father and I’m still alive / I did it because that’s how it’s done / I’m the same as everyone, just kinda lucky’

So starts Cocaine and Ashes, the opening track from Son Volt’s forthcoming album, American Central Dust. The song pays homage to ‘the human riff’, Keith Richards, who once claimed to have snorted his father’s ashes (later denying it). The sound here is sleepy, at times desperate… Gone are the more raucous guitar sounds of Farrar’s previous band, Uncle Tupelo, but found is the graceful playing of newcomer Mark Spencer (piano, pedal steel). I hope this new line up has a few albums in them, as American Central Dust, has the lazy brilliance and raw confidence that we have come to expect from Farrar & co.

Destroyer of the Void – Blitzen Trapper

Destroyer of the Void blends sweet country, pop and psychedelia in epic proportions. It is an ambitious song to open an album, but where would we be without ambition? Destroyer tips its hat to The Beatles, Queen, Dylan with The Band and countless others, while remaining completely original. It is great to see the band re-expanding their sonic scope after the focussed folk-rock of previous album Furr. Don’t get me wrong… I love their acoustic narratives but the space rock of Destroyer opens up the astral plane and demands further exploration.

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Bob Dylan – 69 years young

I believe we all have artistic beacons… those shining lights that guide us through the years and soundtrack the highs and lows of our lives. For me, Dylan has always shone brightly. His words have circled me for my entire 39 years and I have to say, I cannot imagine life without Dylan. Sharing a birthday with him, well that’s just icing on the cake!

In 1985 I saw my first ever concert, it wasn’t Bob, but it was a man inspired by him – Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band. I still remember the sheer exhilaration of that show, the incredible feeling of having music flood over me in the live arena. The following year, I had my second concert experience… this time it was Bob, backed by the legendary Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

When I look back on this, I cannot help but thinking I was spoiled. It’s an almost unbeatable one, two punch (three including Petty!). I have since seen Bob five times and live in hope that I have not had my last live Dylan experience. Each time, Bob has shifted shape and delivered set lists that have left audiences guessing. I never would have imagined Cat’s in the Well from Under the Red Sky being the opening number when I saw him last in 2007 (here’s the full set list from the show). But that’s part of the magic…

So to celebrate my 39th and Bob’s 69th, I have dug up a link where you can download a concert from Bob’s ‘Together and Alone’ 1986 tour with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. My memory of this show includes Bob adorned with big bauble earrings and leather vest, Tom smoking one of the biggest joints I have ever seen, Mike Campbell’s shredding solo in So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star and rousing versions of Rainy Day Women #12 & 35, When the Night Comes Falling, Ballad of a Thin Man and Positively 4th Street.

This concert recorded live in New York on the 4th of July, 1986 features many of those songs… and has stripped back the years and filled me with the same sense of wonder and awe. So here it is in its entirety:

Bob Dylan w/ Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers live in New York

And as a thank you to everyone who posted their favourite tracks on my recent Dylan post, here’s a treat for you… I have rummaged around to come up with clips of ten of the songs as a way of saying thank you.

Enjoy,

Ballad of a Thin Man
Tangled Up In Blue
Series of Dreams

Things Have Changed
Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
Subterranean Homesick Blues
 (w/ Neil Young)
Highway 61 Revisited
Romance in Durango

Brownsville Girl
Lonesome Day Blues

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Songs of Defiance

Defiance is a personal characteristic that often gets a bad wrap, but let’s face it, there are times when we need to stand strong in the face of popular opinion and hold our ground. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little defiant, wanting to bare my teeth at the world and some of its inhabitants; wanting to lower my horns and meet the day head on. So here’s a clutch of songs from three men who aren’t afraid to make a stand… each song, shiver-inducing in its own way. Hope they help you carry the fire.

Room at the Top – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty is one of those rare artists, unflinchingly honest in his approach and able to tell it bullet-straight, while still sounding sweeter than sugarcane. When Petty sings, I’ve got a room at the top of the world tonight and I ain’t coming down, he does so with a quiet ferocity. Petty, the perpetual outsider, stakes his claim and is prepared to go down swinging in its defence.  This is the sound of a band, who never once believed rock was dead…

Hurt – Johnny Cash

While the NIN original is brilliant in its own right, Cash owns this song, his dying body and thinning voice giving these lyircs an otherworldly poignance. Cash stands at the threshold of life and delivers the closing lyric, If I could start again/ a million miles away/ I would keep myself/ I would find a way, with such certainty… there is no resignation here, just a man and the knowledge that everyone goes away in the end. And this is quite possibly one of the greatest clips ever produced.

Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen

Everything here is stripped back to the core… the line between an honest man and a criminal blur, as does the line between life and death. Springsteen’s voice is at its harrowing best, but at the same time defiant, triumphant in its declaration, Everything dies baby that’s a fact/ but maybe everything that dies someday comes back/ Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty/ and meet me tonight in Atlantic City. This is the truth told simply… and death, theft, loneliness are part of that truth.

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The New Folk pt III

Right now, the Spring sky is as wide open as the weekend. And as always, I’m colouring my Saturday morning with a burst of that new folk sound. Hope it paints your sky as big as you like…

 

the-gin-club

Ten Paces Away – The Gin Club

The belting first single from Brisbane’s folk/country/rock collective The Gin Club’s last album Junk. These guys are something to see live, with four (or is it five?) vocalists/lyricists, leading the band through country rave ups, folk ballads and staright up rock ‘n’ roll. Personally, I love it when Ben Salter (also of Giants of Science & Wilson Pickers fame)  takes the wheel as he does here on Ten Paces Away. He is without a doubt, one of Brisbane’s best singer/songwriters. You can catch them live at The Zoo in Brisbane on November 27!

 

old-crow-medicine-show

Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show

Drawing on the long history of hillbilly, bluegrass, folk & country, Old Crow Medicine Show, have gone from busking on street corners to playing sold out shows with the likes of Merle Haggard, The Felice Brothers & Dolly Parton. They are one of those bands that makes you want to drink good whiskey and sing loud… ‘rock me mama like a wagon wheel…’

 

Mudcrutch

Lover of the Bayou – Mudcrutch

This is Tom Petty’s pre-heartbreaker band and man do they rock. Their debut album from last year (that’s right… it took em over thirty years to get around to making it) is raw and filled with some of the best guitar playing you will ever hear. And just check these lyrics…

‘I was raised and swam with the crocodile/snake eyes taught me the mojo style/suckled and weaned on chicken bile/I’m the lover of the bayou’

Tom has always been the master of southern-fried rock and this rave up of The Byrds classic is up there with his best.

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Poetry and the Song Lyric

My recent post about The Wrestler featuring Springsteen’s lyrics, the interview with Max Ryan – Chains of Flashing Images and my ticket to tomorrow night’s Neil Young Concert at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre have got me thinking about song lyrics as poetry.

I like many others feel that songs are the first exposure we get to the use of poetic language, but take the lyric from many of the songs that you love and slap them on a page sans the music and they are often found wanting. Some even develop a contrivedness and lose the tone with which they are delivered by the author. In short, without the music, most lyrics lose their explosive nature.

That said, there are exceptions to the rule. Bob Dylan is the obvious example. Take the opening lyrics to Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands:

With your mercury mouth in the missionary times,
And your eyes like smoke and your prayers like rhymes,
And your silver cross, and your voice like chimes,
Oh, who among them do they think could bury you?
With your pockets well protected at last,
And your streetcar visions which you place on the grass,
And your flesh like silk, and your face like glass,
Who among them do they think could carry you?
Sad-eyed lady of the lowlands,
Where the sad-eyed prophet says that no man comes,
My warehouse eyes, my Arabian drums,
Should I leave them by your gate,
Or, sad-eyed lady, should I wait?

Here, the imagery and power of the words remain true to the authors vision. None of the magic is lost.

Other songwriters who have been called poets include Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young & Tom Petty. All rightlfully so. I would certainly love to lay claim to any of these lines:

Even before my fathers fathers
They called us all rebels
Burned our cornfields
And left our cities leveled
I can still see the eyes
Of those blue bellied devils
When Im walking round tonight
Through the concrete and metal

(Tom Petty, Rebels)

The ragamuffin gunner is returnin’ home like a hungry runaway
He walks through town all alone
He must be from the fort he hears the high school girls say
His countryside’s burnin’ with wolfman fairies dressed in drag for homicide
The hit and run, plead sanctuary, `neath a holy stone they hide
They’re breakin’ beams and crosses with a spastic’s reelin’ perfection
nuns run bald through Vatican halls pregnant, pleadin’ immaculate conception
And everybody’s wrecked on Main Street from drinking unholy blood
Sticker smiles sweet as gunner breathes deep, his ankles caked in mud
And I said “Hey, gunner man, that’s quicksand, that’s quicksand that ain’t mud
Have you thrown your senses to the war or did you lose them in the flood?”

(Bruce Springsteen, Lost in the Flood)

And then there are the many Australian artists including Archie Roach, Kev Carmody, Nick Cave, Steve Kilbey and David McComb to whom the label poet has been assigned.

The lyrics to Wide Open Road lose none of the fire and yearning with which McComb delivers them:

I lost track of my friends, I lost my kin
I cut them off as limbs
I drove out over the flatlands
hunting down you and him

The sky was big and empty
My chest filled to explode
I yelled my insides out at the sun
At the wide open road

(The Triffids, Wide Open Road)

And Kilbey’s opening lines from Aura continue to damn and probe:

We all came back from the war
I wish somebody would tell me the score

(The Church, Aura)

So just what is it that elevates a lyric to poetry?

For me a lyric establishes itself as a poem when the words on the page create their own music. When they have the intensity and distance that Wordsworth so beautifully described as ’emotion recollected in tranquility’. When they make my head spin and my body sigh.

So what are some of your favourite lyrics? What makes a lyric really sing?
Love to hear from you…

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