Things are still very strange for me at present, and I haven’t been able to come up with a new theme for this week’s set of tunes. So this seemed to be a good time to return to the mega list of favourites that I compiled a few months ago, and from which I have previously shared some selections. In no particular order, and with no links between them other than the fact that I like them, here are some more for you to enjoy.
I’m starting, as I usually do, with something rousing. I’ve played several John Hiatt songs previously but not this one. That feels strange, as I think it is one of his best, so it’s about time it was here:
That was the title track on John Hiatt’s album Perfectly Good Guitar, which was released in September 1993. It was his eleventh album of a career which has so far seen twenty four of them. He has a loyal following and has achieved respectable sales without ever setting the charts alight. This one gave him his best placings in both the US, where it reached #47, and in the UK, where it got to #67. He writes superb songs, many of which have been covered by others, and whilst his growling voice may not be to everyone’s taste I love it. I have all of his studio albums, and there are so many favourites among them, some of which I’ve shared before. This is probably, on balance, the one I like best – after all, who couldn’t like an album which includes a song called The Wreck Of A Barbie Ferrari?
As befits a band I regard as one of my all time favourites I have played several Jethro Tull tracks over the years and I’ve managed not to repeat my selections, as they have a large back catalogue to choose from. I have previously played She Said She Was A Dancer from the album Crest Of A Knave, and this epic also features on that record – two very good reasons for me to like it:
I saw the band live in 2013 and they played both of those songs. This was absolutely superb – a real hairs on the back of the neck moment, and this performance is equally good. The album was released in September 1987, reaching #19 in the UK and #32 in the US. It has been a steady seller, though, and has probably shifted more than a million copies in total. It was one of the early albums to take advantage of the CD format, which allowed for longer records: the vinyl version of the album contained seven tracks, with a total running time of around 39 minutes, whereas the CD version had nine tracks, coming in at over 48 minutes. I bought it on CD as soon as we acquired a new hifi system a couple of years after that, and have always loved it.
I’ve played this next one several times before, and have even built a post around it. But I love the song, the video is great, and the band has a special place in my heart, so I’m playing it again as part of this collection of my favourites:
Great Lake Swimmers are a Canadian band and released Easy Come Easy Go on their album New Wild Everywhere in April 2012. Wikipedia doesn’t show any chart placings for this or any of their albums, and the only singles listing it gives is for this song, which apparently made it to #28 on the Canadian Alternative Chart. Who cares? I love their music regardless of that. The reason that this band will always be special to me is a very personal one. Before my spell of depression I used to love going to live gigs, usually at least once a month. I went through a period of nearly two years when I just didn’t feel like going to one – Great Lake Swimmers at Bush Hall in London, 26th November 2012, was my first after all that time. Being able to overcome my apprehension at going, on a horrible wet Monday night, to be part of a crowd and to enjoy losing myself in the music again is something that will stay with me forever. To round that story off – on the tube home I tweeted the band and thanked them for a great show. Most bands don’t reply to fan tweets like that, but GLS did – I had a very nice message back from Miranda, the rather lovely red headed one, saying how much they appreciated that. The perfect end to my first show after the long break!
Another song that I have have played before, though not this performance of it, is by a guy you will also recognise as being a favourite of mine:
This track was originally released on Steve Earle’s album Transcendental Blues in June 2000. The album peaked at #66 in the US, at #5 on the US Country chart, and at #32 in the UK. The song was written while Steve was in Ireland and was one of two songs on the album that he recorded there with Sharon Shannon, who can be seen playing accordion here. Sharon included the track on her album The Diamond Mountain Sessions, also released in 2000. This performance was recorded during a special gala evening of Irish music at the Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C. in 2001. Apart from Steve, all of the musicians are Irish and they bring such joy to the song. I’ve seen it played live both by Steve and by the Sharon Shannon band, and it is a highlight for both.
This next one is another that I have played before, but as that was well over two years ago I think it is due a return visit:
Not the most imaginative of videos, but it does at least have the merit of giving you the song at full length, unlike some others on YouTube. Poco released the Rose Of Cimarron album in May 1976, and it reached #89 in the US and #54 in Australia. As a single, this song made #94 in the US and #51 in Australia. It was also covered by Emmylou Harris as the title track of her 1981 album Cimarron: unsurprisingly, her version is lovely. It was inspired by lead vocalist Rusty Young’s reading of an Oklahoma tourist brochure about a beautiful lady called Rose Dunn, who was given this nickname during her younger years, at the end of the Wild West days. Think ‘milkshakes bringing the boys to her yard,’ and you won’t be far off the mark. The band has been long running but retired after the death of founder member Rusty in 2021. They have never had any chart success in the UK but I think we’ve missed out. They began as an offshoot from Buffalo Springfield in 1968, and in their earlier days they included both Randy Meisner and Timothy B Schmit, who went on to join The Eagles.
I’m completing the run of four songs that I have played before, now, after which I’ll even things up by making it a four-all draw with two new ones. This is from another of my favourite bands, who I have been lucky enough to see live a couple of times but before they released this song, sadly. I think this is fantastic:
Oysterband were formed in my East Kent homeland, and have been a major feature of the English folk music scene for forty years or so. They are also very popular throughout Europe, but have, as far as I know, never achieved much in the US – you guys have really missed out! Spirit Of Dust was a track on their Diamonds On The Water album, released in 2014. I don’t think the Oysters have ever dented the charts, here or anywhere else, but their gigs are always sold out and they are a brilliant live band. The female singer on that one is Rowan Godel, who wasn’t a band member but occasionally lent her powerful vocals to their songs, as well as having her own band. The counterbalance between the two voices really makes this one for me. Sadly, Rowan passed at the age of just 50 last February, which makes this one especially poignant for me at present.
My penultimate tune for today is a first, not only for the song but also the band. I’m not sure why I haven’t played them before, as I had all three of the albums Lloyd Cole and the Commotions made in their short time together, all of which were excellent, and Lloyd has since made some great solo records. There are so many I could have chosen from them, but this one is up there with their best:
Brand New Friend was first released as a single in September 1985, and then featured on the band’s second album, Easy Pieces, which came out two months later. This was the album that did best for them in the UK, reaching #5. It also made the charts in Australia, Sweden, and Canada, and the single got to #19 in the UK and #11 in Ireland. They never had any US chart entries, which is a shame, as they were a talented bunch and Lloyd Cole is a very good songwriter, with a pleasing voice. This is very typical of their work, so if you enjoyed this you can check out the rest of their music with confidence. And any band that goes down the jangly guitars route is likely to find favour with me!
Today’s final offering is another from a band I really like but have underplayed here. They get a regular airing for one of their songs at New Year but apart from that I’ve only played them a couple of times. Time to put that right. This is another one with so much joy and fun in the video:
Counting Crows released American Girls as a single in May 2002, and it was then a track on their fourth album, Hard Candy, which came out in July of that year. The album peaked at #5 in the US and #9 in the UK, while the single made it to #33 in the UK but didn’t make the main American chart, perhaps ironically, given its title, though it did feature in two of their sets of airplay listings, including a #1 on the Adult Alternative one. It is a great album, probably my favourite of theirs, and this video is wonderful in the way that it evokes feelings of happiness – which I really need at present. It is a little hard to pick her out in the mix but I think I managed to find Sheryl Crow in the backing vocals: the only track on the album that she sang on.
That’s all for today, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this trawl through my musical memories. Tuesday Tunes will be back in two weeks: next Tuesday is my father’s funeral and whilst my health issues will prevent me from attending, I want to spend the day in quiet reflection. Posting a music piece on such a day just doesn’t feel right for me. You will see me again for Song Lyric Sunday, though, and I have a cracker lined up for that. Stay well and warm 😊