Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Long Time Rider

I was walking through the streets of Oslo, Norway one night and chanced to run into Steve Young. It was the early 1980's and I was singing seven nights a week in the oldest Honkytonk in Oslo. Steve Young I had known from his groundbreaking records; I'd also met him in Greenwich Village. He was, and remains, a pioneer who invented cross pollinations of country-folk-rock-blues-gospel music in the late '60's. Gram Parsons gets most of the credit for early country rock thing, because he died young and used to hang out with The Rolling Stones.
But Steve Young was there, and he drew from the same deep Southern Well that Gram had drawn holy water from. That night in Oslo Steve handed me a cassette of "new things" he'd been working on. "I don’t know," he drawled. "I've been writing these things on the synthesizer and I don’t know how people are going to take it." I went back to the nunnery we were staying in and listened. Hair raising. Chilling art. Steve sang about his divorce, his conquered drinking problem, and death. It was messianic. But it also had that "hearts of space" musical backdrop that a lot of folk-nazi's were not ready for. The Folk Club protégée's of Pete Seegar and the Lomax family were always waiting with the raised hatchets to cut synthesizer cords. And so it went - Steve tried to perform these classics on synth and was soundly told it didn’t work. Fast forward to yesterday in El Paso, when I received "Long Time Rider," in the mail from Steve Young. A signed and numbered re-released copy. Recorded in the 80's.
"In that bottle I have been a long time rider…" It shook me back to that midnight meeting on the streets of Oslo. The only thing missing on this cd is a song I heard that Oslo night called "Look Homeward Angel," about Steve meeting Thomas Wolfe at the pearly gates of the Promised Land. Fellow southern souls.
Let us now praise the folk music pioneers, madmen, and those with the artistic "cojones" to see deep into the future. This sound ranks with Leonard Cohen and Van Morrison: ethereal, deep hearted folk. Heavenly. Amen.
Available from


dynawebb said...

Good call Tom. This sounds exactly like the sort of thing I can never resist. I guess the 'get it here' may be - villagemusic seems to have ceased to be (great shame\). But you need to take care with Bill and all his wonderful stock at VR or you could end up with a considerably lighter wallet (but a greatly enhanced music collection!!)

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Tom,
Cheers for the heads up. Will source this recco out asap. Coming from yourself, and putting it with Van, reads like a must listen.
ka kite ano,

Tom Russell said...

Saddle Tramp said...

TR . . . Thank God for these sources. A visit to Borders Books & Music in Modesto is not far from dropping the
(Music) from it's name. Oh what a slaughter! A wholesale slaughter of the music section took place since my last visit in June. Only a sliver left. Bakersfield no better. It's been coming for some time. Still not easy to witness. No one wants to be the last buggy whip manufacturer. I still had no luck with Art Pepper or Savage Art. Will have to order and wait. Months before I get to my mail.
Dylan during his performance and audience with the Pope said that John Paul 2 told him that he believed that angels walked amongst us. Your post is more evidence of this.

-ST from Earp, California near where Wyatt spent his
winters at his Happy Days Mine. I have a relic from
It that I got from a Tombstone museum owner. On
On my way from Tempe and on through Joshua
Tree, Yucca Valley and angling up to Visalia to

KCS said...

Became aware of Steve Young's incredible talent back in the seventies but Kinda lost track of him until I heard a few of his song on VILLAGE RECORDS juke box. You have convinced me that I need to add a real Steve Young CD to my collection as my Steve Young vinyl records are all in my attic with about a 1,000 others and too hard to get at...