The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Honky Tonk Weegee

The Weegee photos reminded me of this great album cover by the modern day sweetheart of the rodeo Neko Case, who wraps her velvet torch of a voice around some of the most gut wrenching tunes you're likely to hear around these parts. She's Chicago-based, although she came of age musically in Canada, playing drums in the punk band Maow before recording her solo debut The Virginian (with a few pals of mine in her band The Boyfriends), a straight-up indie rock barndance that was a lot of uptempo fun with a few soul-melting ballads thrown in for good measure. But it was on this album, and it's follow-up Blacklisted (which has a cover that's just as dark) that Case found her real voice, somehow connecting all that country pain with the feel of a film noir, sung in a voice that's pure and unaffected.

Case also sings with the fabulous art pop band The New Pornographers and is a member of The Corn Sisters with Victoria twang mistress Carolyn Mark, whom I shall be hoisting many a glass to on Saturday night at the atmospheric, below-street-level Seahorse Tavern.

If you've already heard Neko, then I'm preaching to the choir, but if you care anything for what can be done today with the "roots" of American music, then I'd rate Case's recordings a must-have.


Rob said...

Yes, she is awesome! Why don't we have more like her? She's a bit outside the mainstream, but what a wonderful voice.


swac said...

A bit? She's in a stream all by herself...

Seriously, I'm now convinced that having actual talent is a surefire way not to become commercially successful.

Bill said...

I subscribe to Rhapsody, which has several of her CDs for listening and burning. Great stuff. Thanks for the recommendation.