Saturday, June 7, 2008

Four Folk Tales for the Modern Age

1. I met Utaph Phillips (R.I.P) at the Kate Wolf Festival last year. I told him to wait around, I was going to sing him a song. I opened up with his great tune "Rock, Salt and Nails." After I'd sung one line he turned his golf cart around and sped away with an angry look on his mug. What the hell? Six monthes later somebody wrote me an anonymous email: "Utah hates that song! He wrote it about his ex-wife." Solved.

2. Rain Perry, who wrote the great little song "Yosemite," has a folk opera out about growing up with "bohemian nomad" parents. It's called "Cinderblock Bookshelves" and it's out on her own label, produced by Mark Hallman. Check it out at or Quiet masterwork.

3. Penny Lang's "Stone+Sand+Sea+Sky" has tracks that haunt me - like John Herald's "High Muddy Water." Chilling - especially knowing John killed himself a few years ago in upstate New York. This song is worth the price of admission. She also does Dylan's "One too Many Mornings."

4. And speaking of Dylan, I just finished Suze Rotolo's "Freewheelling" book about her days as Dylan's girlfriend in Greenwich Village. Interesting, but no new revelations. I think so many hundreds of people (like John Herald) were marked and moved by their association with Dylan - but they never quite knew what hit them. And they never recovered. She seems to still be searching for her "artiste soul"...well, you know what somebody told me once? "The store is open where you can buy the same colors that Van Gogh used...ya know?" Get with it. Get to work.
There is one revelation: she claims Ian Tyson turned Dylan on to Marijuana. Well, then if Dylan went on to turn on the Beatles to weed...that makes Ian Tyson a cultural (or cult) icon of the 20th century. The rise of the poetic lyric. He's coming here tomorrow to hang out so I'll ask him.
All the news that fits. TR


Nigel Smith said...

Nice one Tom. I met Utah Phillips in a book shop in Nevada City, CA some years ago. I'd have played him Goodnight Lovin' Trail.

dynawebb said...

There's just so much great music waiting to be heard. Especially pleased to see the John Herald mention ("the country Stevie Wonder" as Dylan described him. Roll on John has been a regular visitior since it came out in 2001...

Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . .

I concur with Nigel. Steve Earle stated on his Sirius program unequivocally that Utah Phillip's
" The Goodnight - Loving Trail " was the best cowboy song ever written. This was before Utah's passing.
Tom, I am sure that you felt like you had ahold of a rattle snake with heads at both ends. A kick in the teeth for showing respect. " What the hell " for sure.
Death settles all debts. A deadman's pass if you will.
As in : Exit 228 ( I-84 Oregon )
Deadman Pass

Regarding Steve Earle, Ian and yourself have been absent so far on his songwriters program ( unless I missed it ). If not , I hope he has it in mind. Better yet, you need to have your own. Maybe " Cowboy Real from the Borderland ". You are qualified as anyone and then some. Steve states that it pays his NYC rent, exactly. A one hour program. Might help with your kitchen payments and geese feed. The follow me technology allows him to travel the world on tour and still do the show. Get your agent on it. Yes, the XM / Sirius merger was approved but looks like it will continue in bifurcated format. Oh, and who turned on Ian? TR , perhaps.

From Laramie, WY

P.S. Tom, the truckers are on strike in Spain right now.
please respect their plight.

Saddle Tramp said...

Double P.S.

TR . . . Forgot to mention. I lived on the Llano Estacado for eight years. Your song of same as well as the album " Cowboy Real " is a classic and a favorite. I spent many weekends exploring Palo Duro Canyon. Goodnight's mud hut is down there. I also worked for the brother of the owner of a big portion of the old Goodnight Ranch ( Texas )
You don't have to go far for musical history. Stumbled onto Stubbs Barbeque monument in Lubbock by accident. So much more . . .

-ST Amorado put me on the road. I got the road , she got the rest . . . I came out ahead ( so far )

editor said...


Mr. Earle is given to overly definitive statements, but that one isn't too far off.

For a while back in the late-90s SE was covering Ian's "Summer Wages" occasionally in shows.

I second the motion on the radio show. Dave Alvin has 9 Volt on XM 12 X country

Saddle Tramp said...

Editor . . . Agreed. As I have said. Quality in art is an impossible metric. " Llano Estacado "
" We Ride Tonight " and so many others work equally well for me. Exactly what I intended to flesh out. Like choosing your favorite child. Solomon Tom does a good job.

P.S. Tom , it was great to hear you close out Dallas Wayne's Deep in the Heart of Texas the weekend before last with your " A Pugilist at 59 "

From North Platte , NE with thoughts of Teddy Blue

Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . . ALL THE NEWS . . .
Just listened to a incisive hour long program on Lawrence Ferlinghetti on CBC Radios " Ideas " program. For the most part CBC kicks most light assed programming available with U.S. fare anymore. If a man is measured by the friends he keeps then . . . Tom is immeasurable.
If you can get archives of this you will have insight into the pure source Tom draws from as well as Ferlinghetti's. We are so far from the source, no one knows it exists. Tom does. and brings it forth.. I also heard Ian interviewed some time back revealing Tom's arm twisting to join up on the train ride. Tom won!


From Neilsville, WI and a safe distance from the floods for now. A long way from City Lights.

Saddle Tramp said...


The title of the program on Ferlinghetti is:
" The Last Bohemian "
Aired today on CBC 137 / Sirius Radio

Tom Russell said...

Ferlinghetti drew my picture on a paper place mat in Japantown San Francisco a few years ago. I sent him a Bukowski print a few months ago and he wrote back that it's up in City Lights book store. He rages on. On the front of the card was that 1960's photo of Dylan, Ginsberg,Michael McClure and Ferlinghetti on the SF street. Tough company. The last Bohemian. TR

Albert said...

So tom those music chics don't seem to add any value do they? i read her story and thought it was hers and didn't portray dylan as half the asshole we all know he was in those days.
we were smopling pot way beofe any of you stars were beofe i gew up and didn't really give a damn about who turned on who. but i guess its different with your star machiner. or are you still trying to fit in? give the girl a break it is a good story.

Saddle Tramp said...

Honestly ( and obviously ) TR's blog was my first and is still the only blog I participate in with comment. I view with enjoyment, Village Notes. I am just glad to see TR lay it out there to us free of charge. It is worth paying for. I would be the last to deny the counter point, but I am more than willing to accept ( deserved ) self promotion in order to get all this great ( and free ) insight. Dylan's obtuseness is legendary and self evident. Chronicles opened the door as much as anything to date. We all know who is cashing in by riding the coat tails. I just browsed, but didn't buy. There is your choice. All the success TR. The dues were paid in full. All you have to do is look at the company TR keeps. Tough company.

-ST I can't go another mile . . .
I'll go 750