Thursday, February 19, 2009

Trains: Last Train to Clarksville

Cassandra Wilson: Last Train to Clarksville


Let me introduce a new term: guilty displeasure. A guilty displeasure is a something a person once liked, but know longer does, and now finds completely embarrassing. Case in point: I remember watching the Monkees TV show when it originally aired.

In my defense, I was about 7 at the time. I also remember, from around the same time, carefully clipping a 45 by the Archies off the back of a box of Honeycomb cereal. Yes, you could do that with vinyl. I got over the Archies too.

Of course, Last Train to Clarksville was a big hit for the Monkees. As such, I had lumped the song in with all the other trivial and shallow songs of the Bubblegum genre. That is, until Cassandra Wilson covered it. The album Full Moon Daughter was actually my introduction to her music. I had read an intriguing review, but track 8 had me very anxious. Well, the first seven songs are good. But why would an artist like this cover the Monkees? Then the song started, and my jaw went to the floor. Cassandra Wilson has completely reimagined the song. Lo and behold, she actually finds depth in the lyric. What had been nothing more than a piece of pop fluff is now a powerful song of yearning. And I have been a Cassandra Wilson fan ever since.

Announcement: One of the most remarkable train songs I have heard in a long time is called God’s 9:05. It’s by J Shogren, who was new to me as well. I posted the song with my review of his latest album on Oliver di Place. Come have a listen, and let me know what you think.

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