Monday, February 2, 2015

Jukebox: Jukebox On My Grave

From the stock of Maine potato farmers, Ellis Paul moved to Boston, studied music, connected with the folk genre, then developed a signature singer/songwriter sound incorporating pop, rock and contemporary stylings. Ellis Paul's wise perceptiveness and charisma have built him a strong fan base. He's also a hardworking, resilient touring artist who has garnered numerous awards for at least a dozen album releases and music, some featured in soundtracks for the films, Shallow Hal and Me, Myself, & Irene.

In 2005, "American Jukebox Fables" was Ellis' first solo CD since 2002's "The Speed of Trees." His voice has character, and his songs understand the bond between land, life, heart and soul. I think he chose that as the title for his CD because it has considerable variety much like a jukebox would, and Paul is definitely a storyteller. 

The CD begins on an up-tempo note, but Ellis can also create an intimate and familiar feeling with songs like "Time" and "Goodbye Hollywood." Keyboards and percussion provide the primary instrumental excitement that serve to increase the emotional impact of his material. Ellis possesses all the fundamental elements for success as a singer/songwriter. His messages are profound, and they make us think. 

"Jukebox On My Grave" leaves us with his simple wish to mark the music man's final resting place. His jukebox songs also reference some of his influences - Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Rolling Stones, Hank Williams, Buddy Holly, and others. It takes a lot of imagination and skill to be both polished and fanciful all in one. Ellis Paul shows us how to do it in a distinctive, masterful fashion. 

I notice that the album’s cut of this song mentioned Johnny Cash “singing Ring of Fire upon my grave,” but the video linked above references the song “Boy Named Sue” instead. Perhaps Ellis Paul had second thoughts about Johnny singing “I went down, down, down as the flames went higher” upon his grave. 

In any case, it‘s a noble, auspicious thought to want a jukebox on one’s grave after you’re gone. I wouldn’t mind having a music machine six feet above me, and I'd even bequeath each of my friends a few rolls of quarters to keep the music coming. We don’t need tears or headstones, but music will keep memories vivid.  As Ellis Paul sings,

And all my friends, when they drop by,
can drop a quarter down,
and hear Robert Johnson's cry.
A flood of memories,
come wave by wave,
carried by the voice,
inside the jukebox,
on my grave.

You can hear Hank Williams,
and some George Jones,
some Beatles songs,
a little Dylan,
some Rolling Stones,
Joni Mitchell and Marvin Gaye,
and Johnny Cash he’s risen,
from the ashes on my grave, my grave.
That's Johnny Cash there,
singing "Boy Named Sue" upon my grave.

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