2006-09-18 : Music blogging: Dog songs 1
Let's try something new and illegal for the next few Mondays.
The first time I heard a Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer song I was driving to work, listening to ... Mount Holyoke's radio station, probably. I was on 116 in South Hadley, merging onto 202 toward 91 South. It was "Gentle Arms of Eden" and friends I cried like a little child. Dealing with the merge and the stoplight with tears pouring out of my eyes.
That would have been the spring of 2002. I bought the album (Drum Hat Buddha) off Amazon, foiling Meg's scheme to give it to me as a birthday present. Dave Carter died that summer in Northampton, on tour, on know what day? My birthday. I didn't know that he'd died until I heard it from my friend Keet that fall, and I didn't know he'd died on my birthday until I looked it up just now.
He was the best lyricist I've ever heard. The man had a way with words. Here's him rhyming "orange":
Professor come to burst my bubble
says that girl is bound for trouble
Serves me solace in a paper cup
But it looks a bit like agent orange
and when he leaves he slams the door and
Just about that time she phones me up
When he died, he and Tracy Grammer had released three albums, When I Go, Tanglewood Tree, and Drum Hat Buddha. Since his death, Tracy Grammer has released an album of his previously unrecorded songs, Flower of Avalon, and an album they made together years and years ago but never finished, Seven is the Number, as well as a short album of non-Dave Carter songs, The Verdant Mile.
Meg and I saw Tracy Grammer in Greenfield a couple of years ago. She was playing with Jim Henry and sharing the bill with Slaid Cleaves, who's for next monday. She played most of my favorites and left many of my favorites out - she doesn't perform his "lonesome man songs," on account of how he wrote them for himself, not for her. She drew a little heart on When I Go when I asked her to sign it for me.
Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer are the definitive Dogs in the Vineyard soundtrack. I wore holes in my CDs while I was writing the game. They're wall-to-wall Christianity, death, mysticism, guns, murder and the West (with, yes, some lonesome men thrown in. Lancelot rode on a swayback mare). If you're looking for the top five Dog songs, they're "41 Thunderer," "When I Go," "Farewell to Bitterroot Valley," "Snake-handlin Man," and "Preston Miller." One each from the five albums, by coincidence.
If you like the songs, buy the albums. They're among the very best albums I own.
If you represent Dave Carter and/or Tracy Grammer and you'd prefer that I take the mp3s down, email me and I'll do so immediately.
1. On 2006-09-18, Vincent said:
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