Sunday, March 21, 2010
You Got Nothin' To Fear About Drinkin' A Beer If You Share It With The Son Of God
One of the unexpected joys about putting more years in the rear-view mirror: I've got enough music in my collection now that I can apparently go a few years without even thinking about an old favorite. Then when I happen upon that old favorite's albums while looking for something to throw on in the car, it's almost like a new discovery. This doesn't always work out for either party -- a recent reappraisal of "Century Days" reveals that it sucks -- but when it works out, it's tons o' fun.
I've been listening to Terry Allen a lot lately, for the first time in years. He sounds great -- he sounds better than he did when I first heard of him, on a review copy of the "Smokin' the Dummy"/"Bloodlines" reissue. first heard of Terry Allen in my previous life as a music reviewer, when Sugar Hill sent me the CD reissue of "Smokin' the Dummy"/"Bloodlines". In the way things come together afterwards, it turned out I was really familiar with at least one of his songs -- "Amarillo Highway," which I knew through the Robert Earl Keen version. Country with a wise unaffected feel, with nasal smartass and regretful lyrics by a guy that I'd say may be the best storyteller of the field. None of the all-American innocents of corporate Nashville, none of the hard men of outlaw country, Allen's tales are populated by lonely and desperate dreamers, drunks and speed freaks and pillheads. They hope for happy endings but don't get them.
I don't really have a feeling for how well he's known in music circles. He certainly doesn't cultivate a following; He rarely plays out (and if he goes beyond Texas/the American Southwest, it's news to me) and hasn't released a studio album since 1999. Plus, he's got theater and art pursuits to keep him busy (long, long ago I posted a pic of one of his sculptures here). I dunno if he's producing anything new or plans to in the future. Regardless: he's put out several good albums, and two that I'd just say hands down are great ("Lubbock (On Everything)" and the aforementioned "Smokin'"/"Bloodlines" double-up). If you've got any interest in the style, you owe it to yourself to check him out. So go to it!