Here is the playlist for the May 31 Wavelength show.
This show featured songs by three of my favorite songwriters, Johnny Cash, Van Morrison, and Bruce Springsteen. Because of the legal restrictions I could only play three songs by each of these. The rest were covers by other people.
Quite a few came from some of the numerous tribute albums that have been put together for all three artists. One of my favorite tribute records for all artists is a pretty obscure one. Vanthology: A Tribute to Van Morrison, released by Evidence Music in 2003. It features numerous classic soul singers whose careers date back to the 1960s including Little Milton, William Bell, Freddie Scott, Bettye Lavette, and Dan Penn–as well as several younger but similar artists. I played Scott’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” and Lavette’s sizzling “Real Real Gone.” This recording is the first of Lavette’s I had heard. I since have become a big fan and have been delighted at the attention she has received for two recent albums.
I have also greatly enjoyed the 2 CD Springsteen tribute, One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, from 1997 on The Right Stuff label. This album includes a number of Springsteen’s like-minded peers such as Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers, Dave Alvin, John Hiatt, Richie Havens, and David Bowie. On the show I featured Syd Straw’s take on “Meeting Across the River” and Kurt Neumann of the BoDean’s on “Atlantic City.” As well, I played a great version by Ben E. King of Bruce’s early song, “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).”
A few of my other favorite covers from the show include Patty Griffin on Springsteen’s “Stolen Car,” Linda Ronstadt’s “I Still Miss Someone,” a much-covered Cash song, the Waterboy’s extended jam on Morrison’s “Sweet Thing,” Richard Shindell’s intense version of Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” that gets to the heart of that song beyond the bombast of Bruce’s original version, Patti Smith’s classic version of Springsteen’s “Because the Night,” John Lee Hooker’s Grammy-award winning duet with Morrison on the latter’s “The Healing Game,” Solomon Burke’s exquisite “Fast Train,” a song Morrison wrote for him, and Billy Don Burns’ heart-rending take on Cash’s “Give My Love to Rose.”
I did play one song each from my favorite albums of the featured songwriters.
When I was a teen-ager, I was not a big country music fan. But I had a friend who was, and he insisted I listen to Johnny Cash. At Folsom Prisonhit hard the first time I heard it and still does now 40 years later. And “Folsom Prison Blues” is the best imaginable opener to the show.
I discovered Bruce Springsteen when I was still mainly listening to folk music when he released his classic acoustic record, Nebraska. He followed Nebraska up with one of the greatest rock and roll records ever, Born in the U.S.A.. This record made a rock and roll fan again. The song i chose, though, “My Hometown” would have been at home on Nebraska. So I guess I still prefer the mellower Springsteen, especially when he tells such a powerful story.
I was somewhat familiar with Van Morrison’s music going back to “Brown-Eyed Girl” in the mid-1960s. However, I never really listened to Van until the late 1980s when I experienced some difficult times. A friend loaned me Poetic Champions Compose and the test, as they say, is history. I fell in love with Van Morrison’s music and until very recently when I believe he has been overtaken by Tom Waits, he was my favorite. I played “I Forgot Love Existed” from this record on the show. It may have been the most healing of the several healing songs on Poetic Champion’s Compose for me twenty years ago–and it still touches the soul.
Springsteen’s Born in the USA may be heard in its entirety here.
Cash’s At Folsom Prison is here.