John Wesley Harding: To Whom It May Concern
[purchase] (scroll down to New Deal)
In August 1997, I began an e-mail relationship with someone through the Dar Williams discussion list - by virtue of our shared love for Dar's music, our correspondence escalated to in-depth cyber-conversations about books, movies, parenting, marriage, and of course other musicians... which led to us sending each other mix tapes through the mail... and, in his first one to me, my new friend included John Wesley Harding's Infinite Combinations. I completely fell in love with the song, and of course had to buy the CD, by an artist I'd heard of but never listened to - I also discovered To Whom It May Concern, another tune that described our long-distance connection. Over 12 years later, we are still in each other's lives, albeit less frequently than before... and we've met up twice (once in 2000 and again six months ago) - never underestimate the power of the written word..
Dar Williams: If I Wrote You
Speaking of Dar, I would be remiss if I didn't include this song for our weekly theme - I've heard her say it was semi-inspired by the passing of Townes Van Zandt. In her words:
"I started writing this song in Austin, Texas, and to me the influence of the area is obvious. There's more open space than in many of my songs, and there is an insinuation that the narrator is clean and sober now, which would describe many Texan songwriters I know today. Larry Campbell's guitar parts and Richard Shindell's harmony made me very emotional for a while, but I'm getting over that."
We‘re About 9: Writing Again
We're About 9 is a twenty-something trio (Katie Graybeal, Pat Klink and Brian Gundersdorf), home-based in Maryland, with literate lyrics (who uses the word concatenate in a song?!?) and stunning harmonies - this tune, written by Brian, underscores the theory that one's best writing is done after experiencing great pain ("this is my letter to tell you the truth, I can't tell if I'm better, I've been thinking about the way most things are difficult to open and easier to close"). I especially love the way the tapping on the guitar simulates a beating heart - reminds me of the quote: "Writing is easy. Just sit at the keyboard and open a vein."...