This week’s Voices to Hear is going to be a bit different than pervious ones. Instead of one voice to highlight in this week’s column we’re going to talk about an entire album’s worth of voices. The album is Song of America and it features 50 artists different artists. (What? You didn’t think an album would have a MySpace page? Everyone and everything has a MySpace page nowdays.)
If you’ve heard of this album at all it’s due to the identity of the executive producer of the record, Janet Reno. Yes, that Janet Reno, the former Attorney General of the United States. Most of the press has focused on that point, which at least gives it a chance to get out there and maybe be heard.
The genesis of the album started ten years ago when Ed Petterson, a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn New York wrote a song about the American cowboy. He brought the song to his Aunt to listen to. His Aunt just happened to be Janet Reno. She liked the song, but suggested that he should go farther than just one song about one point in America’s history. She suggested that he record a collection of songs that would reflect American’s history.
What they ended up envisioning was a collection of songs that would trace the events that shaped our nation’s history. The album became a collection that could be used as a tool to help teach the youth of our country about their history through song. The album was divided into five broad themes from America’s history:
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
War and Peace
Families at Home and on the Move
Faith and Ideals
The performers interpreted these songs in their own style for the listeners of today. In some ways it was the same idea that was behind Wilco and Billy Bragg’s updating of Woody Guthrie song’s from Mermaid Avenue. They took the words but made the music their own.
The performers came from all sorts of musical genres. The album opens with a Lakota Indian song and ends with a Woody Guthrie song. To list all the performers on this album would stretch this column out too long, but such performers as The Blind Boys of Alabama, John Wesley Harding, Freedy Johnston, Marah, Janis Ian, Elizabeth Cook, John Mellencamp, Old Crow Medicine Show and a host of others. In keeping with the theme of this column almost all of the performers were not well known. John Mellencamp is probably the biggest name on the album.
The album is divided into three cds: red, white and blue. The red disc starts with songs from the American Revolution and each disc moves the songs through the history of our country. Some of the songs on these two discs you’ve probably heard a million times and may not have thought of since you were in school. Harper Simon (Paul Simon’s son) does a version of Yankee Doodle, The Mavericks do Dixie, Joni Harms does Home On The Range. The blue disc brings us up to the modern era and has songs that most listeners will be more familiar with, at least from radio. This disc has Kim Richey doing the Rascals “Get Together,” Anthony David doing Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” Martha Wainwright doing Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman.” Only one artist is represented by two songs on the album, Bruce Springsteen: Matthew Ryan does “Youngstown” and Bettye LaVette does “Streets of Philadelphia.”
This is one of those albums that I was absolutely fascinated with, after listening to it it will make you proud to be an American. And it does it without resorting to the sort of jingo posturing you usually find in these type of projects.
As one final note, with the kind permission of Miss Heather, I’m going to include two songs with this column. There was so much great stuff to chose from it was a really tough decision, but I went with both ends of the timeline. The first song is Harper Simon’s “Yankee Doodle” and the second song is a heart breaking rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bettye LaVette. But I could have easily picked any of the other forty eight songs to showcase, they’re all that good.
Harper Simon "Yankee Doodle"
Bettye LaVette "Streets of Philadelphia"
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Featured Post and Blog of the Week
You Are Here
by Amie from MammaLoves...
You did well in school to get into college. You tried to get by well enough in college to be attractive to an employer or graduate program, and along the way you may have opened your heart a time or two. Maybe you even found true love.
With a foot in the door, the first years of work were the time to
prove your mettle once again. Promotions, raises all with the goal to secure your future will allow you to settle down, buy a house, travel, commit to a relationship, have kids or not. In what feels like a blink of an eye, your future is here.
And now what?
Chance Favors Only Those Who Court Her
After a less-than-friendly divorce, I was on the market again. Seizing the opportunity, my friends scoured their address books and Palm Pilots for single men and set me up on blind date after blind date. My reaction to most of those dates was, "I call these people my FRIENDS?" One of my real friends suggested Match.com, and given how much I love the Internet, I gave it a go.
A couple months of e-dating passed by in a blink. It was fun, but so far nothing meaningful had hit my radar, and my match inventory was starting to run low. You see, Match.com "matches" you to people based on a list of your requirements, and I'd pretty much run through all my existing matches who didn't seem psycho or stoned, based on their profiles.
Then, one day, I got an email from a guy who was not a match by my standards...
Read the full post...
A Lost Opportunity
by John from Altjiranga Mitjina
Trying to break in as a writer in the comic book industry can be a bit like the one legged man in a butt kicking contest. Every step forward you make means you land on your butt after your kick forward. Comic books are a visual medium. An artist can bring a portfolio to an editor at a convention and said editor can sit there and look at it within minutes and decide if this artist is worthy of working on the newest issue of Stupendous Man or not. Trying being a hopeful writer handing over a script to this same editor at a busy comic convention. You’ll be lucky if the editor agrees to take the script and promise that they’ll look at it later. Most times the hopeful writer is told to send for their submission guidelines and mail in their proposal.
Read the full post...
by Karen Rayne from Adolescent Sexuality Today with Karen Rayne, Ph.D.
This weekend I went out of town, leaving my family to fend for themselves. On Saturday, my darling husband took my two darling daughters – 6 and 3 years old – to what he heard was a fun new toy store in town. Great, right?
They walk in the door, and the 6-year-old pipes up with “Look, Daddy! Jesus toothpaste!” He takes one look, puts one hand on each girl’s shoulder, and does a 180 out of the store. It may be a fun new toy store, but it’s intended clientele does not include the under-13 set.
When I got home on Sunday, the first thing the 6-year-old says to me was, “Guess what! We saw Jesus toothpaste!” I blinked, figuring I hadn’t heard her correctly. Regrettably, I had...
A biker, a green thumb, a cracked hand, and a Queen.
A random biker on a Harley-Davidson took my picture last week. What I wanted to do was take his picture, but I hesitated. Now, instead of a photo of some random biker holding an i am bossy.com bumper sticker, all I have is a lame photo of me holding the bumper sticker and the mental picture of him riding off into the sunset, never to be seen again.
Okay, it wasn’t as romantic or dramatic as that. It was nine in the morning and there was no sunset.
This is not the first time that I have hesitated to seize an opportunity. I don’t expect it will be the last. However, I hope with each lost chance for something intriguing, I will lose a shade of that hesitation for next time...
Read the full post...