I have some qualms with mp3 blogs. They can create (or ride on) unjustified waves of hype. They can be so transitory in spirit. I could even argue that they are a negative symptom of this hyper-postmodern technological world and its constant pouring of indiscriminate content into the void. But I won’t.
Instead I’ll point towards an oasis that I found amidst the milieu: Setting The Woods On Fire. In a digital landscape where everything seems to fly from the screen at warp speed, impossible to juggle or parse, STWOF (named after the Hank Williams song) makes wonderful sense. Often taking on classic country, rock and jazz, the blog always offers an accessible, knowledgeable and comprehensive perspective.
Paul, the man behind all of this, has his music history down and puts in the research and footwork to make his posts less like jotted song suggestions and more like chapters out of an uber-cool American music textbook. It’s somewhat akin to what Julian Cope has done in his Krautrocksampler and Japrocksampler.
Lately, STWOF has offered compilations of the original versions of songs that Gram Parsons and his various groups covered. As a big Parsons fan, I love being able to listen and make connections between Gram and the traditions and inspirations that he drew from. In addition to putting together such wonderful listening pleasures, Paul also sums up his work nicely:
So have we learned anything from this exercise? I guess we can conclude that Gram Parsons–the avatar of country rock, if you will–had four basic influences: (1) the honky tonk country of Merle Haggard, George Jones, and Buck Owens, (2) the close harmonies of country-pop brother groups like the Everlys and the Louvins, (3) the sixties soul music from the likes of William Bell, Aretha Franklin, and James Carr, and (4) good old rock’n’roll from the likes of Elvis Presley, Larry Williams, and the Rolling Stones.
Paul also has a compilation for Yo La Tengo’s Fakebook. This stuff just makes me giddy.
…And since I mentioned Julian Cope, I must also recommend his Hardrocksampler, which comes coupled with a great playlist. Go forth and listen, please.