There’s a place I know where the train goes slow where the sinners can be washed in the blood of the lamb there’s a river by the trestle down by Sinner’s Grove down where the Willow and the Dogwood grows down there by the train down there by the train down there by the train down there by the train down there where the train goes slow Tom Waits
Last time on Great River Radio, I played the Tift Merritt version of Tom Waits’ “Train Song” and I’ve been listening to that thing a lot in the last couple of weeks. It is the great lyrics and the wonderful guitar playing of Eric Heywood that keep me coming back. Then it had another effect on me, and that was to ponder why there are so many songs about trains in American music. You could do hours and hours of train songs, even if you just limited yourself to the good ones. But why? Is it the lure of escape? “My daddy told me, looking back/’best friend you’ll have is a railroad track'”… or is it the sound of the whistle and that lonesome sound of steel wheels on a steel track, long after the engine has passed? Is it because they are going to take us to paradise? “This train is bound for glory”?
I’m not doing train songs today – there are too many. In some ways, it is too easy a project. But I will be sprinkling some train songs by Tom Waits into the list, including a return of that Tift Merritt cover. It is also Halloween tomorrow and though most of you are probably not going to be dressing up and going out trick or treating, I’ll slip a couple of ghostly songs into the mix.
I’ve also got new music from Polica, The 1975, Linda Thompson (with son Teddy) and Goldfrapp (this one is awesome.) You’ve probably heard some of the new Paul McCartney by now, and I’ll have a typically McCartneyesque track from that one. There is new music from The Head and the Heart and something amazing from the 2013 release by Ben Harper and the great Charlie Musselwhite.
It’s a nice mix on this gloomy day – listen in live this afternoon or later on the blog.
On The Road-Tom Waits
Cecil Taylor-Jonathan Wilson
Shake-The Head And The Heart
You Can’t Be Told-Valerie June
Oh, The Joy-Trixie Whitley
Down There By The Train-Tom Waits
Three White Horses-Andrew Bird
Chain My Name-Polica
Werewolves Of London-Warren Zevon
I Scare Myself-The New Standards
In A Graveyard-Rufus Wainwright
Won’t Be Long Now-Linda Thompson/Teddy Thompson
Persuasion-Richard Thompson/Teddy Thompson
Train Song-Tift Merritt
Bottom of the World-Tom Waits
We Can’t End This Way-Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite
Cause ladies love outlaws Like babies love stray dogs Ladies touch babies like a banker touches gold Outlaws touch ladies somewhere deep down in their soul Ladies Love Outlaws (Lee Clayton)
Yes, as through this world I’ve wandered I’ve seen lots of funny men; Some will rob you with a six-gun And some with a fountain pen Pretty Boy Floyd (Woody Guthrie)
Today Great River Radio devotes an entire show to outlaws, whose bad behavior seems to have inspired the many songs in blues, country and rock and roll that take murder, robbery and incarceration as their subject. Many outlaws have been romanticized and glorified over time as Robin Hoods, while others both horrify and fascinate us and the artists among us. Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate’s killing spree in Nebraska in 1958 inspired at least four movies and Bruce Springsteen’s song “Nebraska.”
Furthermore, there is a whole category of country music identified as “outlaw country,” characterized most notably by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, who were, in some cases, outlaws in every sense of the word. Is there something about music that attracts bad boys and girls? We’ll explore that possibility today on GRR, with songs from those outlaws, as well as Woody Guthrie, Joe Ely, The Clash, Warren Zevon, John Hiatt and, for some gender balance, Bettye Lavette and Fiona Apple.
Join Great River Radio today at 4:15 p.m. (CST) for 90 minutes of great music and occasionally thoughtful conversation. Or listen later via our show archive.
Ballad of Easy Rider-The Byrds
Ladies Love Outlaws-Waylon Jennings
Pancho and Lefty-Willie Nelson
San Quentin-Johnny Cash
Cops and Robbers-Bo Diddley
Tennessee Plates-John Hiatt
The Road Goes On Forever-Joe Ely
King’s Highway-Joe Henry
King of the Jailhouse-Aimee Mann
Before the Money Came-Bettye LaVette
Bad Reputation-Joan Jett
All Hands on the Bad One-Sleater Kinney
Frank and Jesse James-Warren Zevon
Jesse James-Bruce Springsteen
Outlaw Blues-The Morning Benders
Pretty Boy Floyd-Bob Dylan
I Fought the Law and the Law Won-The Clash
And this ain’t no place for the weary kind
And this ain’t no place to lose your mind
And this ain’t no place to fall behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try
Ryan Bingham “The Weary Kind”
It is a busy Tuesday on campus in Saint Paul. How to explain these periods when all heck seems to break loose and there is one thing after another that requires our attention? When all situations seem complicated? If this is one of those days for you, the kind of day that can make you weary, we have something for you to look forward to.
Without revealing too much of the mystery behind Great River Radio, let’s say that the playlist gets developed over the course of a week, as we make selections that seem interesting and which catch our attention for any number of reasons. There is a point at which it kind of settles into something and even begins to look like it has a theme or personality of its own. How that happens, neither of us knows. But most of the time, the show turns into a kind of response to the days that lead up to it, and it can be medicine for the soul.
If today is one of those February Tuesdays that looks complicated, if you are feeling some stress, consider dipping into the magic of GRR, where serendipity and chemistry come together to create two hours of surprises. This afternoon, we’ve got lots of new music from artists like Joanna Newsom, Yeasayer, She and Him (Volume Two!), Owen Pallett (he used to be known as Final Fantasy), and Suzanne Vega. We have Peter Gabriel covering Bon Iver and a pair of Gainsbourgs. We’ll also be remembering a few musicians that we’ve lost in the last few weeks: Bruce Allen of the Suburbs, Vic Chesnutt and Kate McGarrigle.
All this and the sparkling conversation between Brian and Dan, coming to you completely free of charge! If we can help you make it through this Tuesday by giving you the anticipation of two hours of music and talk, we’ll consider our day completely successful.
Wish You Well-Katie Herzig
The Work Song-Kate McGarrigle
Credit In Heaven-The Suburbs
Flirted With You All My Life-Vic Chesnutt
The Indifference of Heaven-Warren Zevon
The Weary Kind-Ryan Bingham
July Flame-Laura Veirs
Never Grow Old-Patty Griffin
Nothing Like you-Frightened Rabbit
In The Sun-She and Him
Lewis Takes Off His Shirt-Owen Pallett
Giving Up The Gun-Vampire Weekend
Anna-Taken By Trees
Crack The Shutters-Snow Patrol
King of Spain-The Tallest Man On Earth
The Book of Love-The Magnetic Fields
I Learned the Hard Way-Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Master’s Hand-Charlotte Gainsbourg
Couleur Cafe’-Serge Gainsbourg
Queen of Tomorrow-Twilight Hours
My Sharonna-The Knack