The elegiac Grouper has just released a new video for her song “Hold the Way”. Directed by Weston Currie, the hazy, black and white cinemascope and the horror imagery lull one into a trance. A very scary trance.
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Rosanne Cash performed for a sold-out crowd Saturday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn to celebrate the release of her latest album, The List. The album, like Ms. Cash’s own repertoire, spanning both genres and epochs, is a selection of songs from a list of 100 that her father, Johnny Cash, presented to her in 1973 as a rudimentary syllabus of country, or rather American, songs. Her set drew heavily from the new re-interpretations while mixing in her own classics as well. The crowd (equal parts inebriated yuppies and nostalgic boomers) was excitable yet polite, holding their collective breathes for poignantly delicate numbers like “Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow,” where her guitar danced and curtsied with John Levinthal’s, and “500 Miles.” Other numbers like “Ode to Billie Joe” and “Motherless Children” became haunting spirituals over guitar, Ms. Cash’s strong vocals beguiling each with gentle vibrato. However her set wasn’t all downbeat dirges and laments: “Heartaches by the Number” possessed country-twang and “Radio Operator” imbued both her father’s ruggedness and army career. The best song of the evening—and Ms. Cash’s proclaimed favorite on the The List—was “Long Black Veil,” its underlying darkness ruefully exhumed. During the encore Ms. Cash drew from her father’s songbook, playing “Tennessee Flat-Top Box” and forgetting the third verse while her band vamped behind her. It wasn’t a tell of her own age, but revealing her daughter’s request for a list of 100 essential songs was.
In 2008, Entertainment Weekly conducted an online poll of the 25 most controversial movies of all time, and Natural Born Killers ended up at number eight. Copycat killers linked to Natural Born Killers surfaced, even leading to a lawsuit against director Oliver Stone and Time Warner. Natural Born Killers seeks to expose the sadistic nature of media by glorifying two pitiless murders, Mickey (Woody Harrelson) and Mallory (Juliette Lewis). The provocative film will be re-released on DVD tomorrow.
Last Wednesday, Wyatt Cenac interviewed Dirty South rapper Slim Thug on the effects of the economy on his lifestyle. Wyatt plays the role of accountant as Slim Thug lists how his life has been shaken up, devastated by the loss of key members of his crew. Watch both the hellaciously funny interview and Slim Thug’s music video for “Still a Boss” below.
I’ve always believed that the best songwriters have a bit of a shaman in them. They journey into dangerous emotional and spiritual terrain, engage with the darkest aspects of the human condition, and return with hard truths, insight, wisdom, and of course, sometimes more questions. True masters of the power of song are able to negotiate their shamanic gifts and write songs which resonate with listeners at the deepest, most personal level.
Rosanne Cash fits that description well; she is a deeply soulful and gracefully powerful artist. In her life’s journey, she has encountered the kinds of struggles that everyday folks deal with (divorce, substance abuse, unforeseeable medical issues), as well as struggles unique to being the child of Johnny Cash, a veritable legend. The work she has crafted out of these experiences is thoughtful, heartbreaking, fierce, and truthful.
In my opinion, Cash’s sonically inviting and emotionally cathartic 2006 release Black Cadillac is a good place to start for newcomers to her work. From there, it’s easy to navigate back to previous albums and find lots of other great work.
// Moving Pixels
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