Friday, November 29, 2019


Well, I couldn't possibly say whether this post is a reflection on esteemed turkeyfest Thanksgiving, normally featured at this time of year, or not, being no celebrant, turkey being next month for us over here in Blighty, and, anyway, aren't you celebrating your freedom from "us"? (Which begs the question as to whether, in exasperation over the Greenland snub, your guy elects to take up our tousle-headed lookalike leader's offer to flog us off, or our health, lock, stock and barrel. Give or take an election in a fortnight, or two of your weeks, which ever is shorter.)

Drunk By Noon

So, the Handsome Family, or Mr and Mrs Sparks as they are known to friends, a little known institution until a recent stroke of luck, courtesy the first series of 'True Detective', launched into every living room in the land with the song that opens each episode. In these days of streaming, downloads, legal and otherwise, and youtubetomp3 software, money in music biz land is tight, the only real resource being touring, with then the merch table as profitable as the tickets. But you need money to tour too. Luckily, although they may dislike the concept and deny the vanity, the Handsome Family are cheap, basically husband and wife Rennie and Brett, she on bass, banjo and lyrics, he on guitar, keys and tunes. Both sing, but it is Brett's basso profound that is their main calling card. Over about a quarter century they have built an enviable body of work, with 11 albums, plus compilations, built on the back of solid touring, in the US and overseas. I first caught them back in about 2004, when they were part of a rolling roadshow, with and organised by venerable agitprop UK folkies Oysterband. The bleak mix of dark country and murder ballad that they revel in had me hooked.

When the Helicopter Comes

Always sort of a hidden gem, a secret passion, it must have been a huge boost to their profile and, I hope, to their income, to have the kudos of a boxset bonanza. (Here is an interesting article about the economics of such.)

Far From Any Road

Above is the song in question, but go search the back catalogue, there are myriad equivalent gems. As to 'Drunk By Noon', Rennie's lyrics are broadly unhelpful in interpretation of the absolute meaning or circumstance, but, if you are having the family over, and need to be, be my guest. To some decent music, of course......


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