Song of the Day: “Rock Salt and Nails” Sung by Tyler Childers

Chimesfreedom previously wrote about Tyler Childers’ wonderful voice on his excellent debut album Purgatory (2017).  The Kentucky native is not only an outstanding songwriter, he is great at interpreting songs too.  And his interpretation skills show in his take on “Rock Salt and Nails,” which was written by Utah Phillips.

As we noted in a previous post, the Phillips classic is a song about heartache and pain.  Then, it adds a touch of anger with the reference to filling a shotgun with rock salt and nails.

“Rock Salt and Nails” has been covered by a number of artists, such as Joan Baez, Waylon Jennings, Bob Dylan, Steve Young, and Buddy and Julie Miller.  The version by Tyler Childers is a worthy interpretation that stands with the best.  And it is one of my new favorite covers.  Check it out.

What is your favorite Tyler Childers song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Joan Baez in Concert

    Singer-songwriter-activist Joan Baez was born on January 9, 1941 in Staten Island, New York.  In many ways, Baez is the voice of the 1960s.  She started out as an important part of the folk movement in the early part of that decade, recording many popular songs throughout the decade.  And in 1969, she performed at Woodstock.

    Baez also became one of the early and most vocal artists working for social justice issues. She continues to be a voice for important causes. For example, she marched next to Martin Luther King, Jr. and went to jail for supporting the draft resistance. And, she sang in the first Amnesty International tour.

    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    Baez is still making music and doing other important work as she nears the end of her professional career.  On April 7, 2017, Jackson Browne inducted her into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During her induction speech, she noted the current political climate and made the following appeal to the people:

    “Where empathy is failing and sharing has been usurped by greed and the lust for power, let us double, triple, and quadruple our own efforts to empathize and to give of our resources and our selves. Let us together repeal and replace brutality, and make compassion a priority. Together let us build a great bridge, a beautiful bridge to once again welcome the tired and the poor, and we will pay for that bridge with our commitment.

    “We the people must speak truth to power, and be ready to make sacrifices. We the people are the only one who can create change. I am ready. I hope you are, too. I want my granddaughter to know that I fought against an evil tide, and had the masses by my side.”

    “When all of these things are accompanied by music, music of every genre, the fight for a better world, one brave step at a time, becomes not just bearable, but possible, and beautiful.”

    For 2018, Baez has planned the “Fare Thee Well Tour 2018.”  And in 2018, she also plans to release her first album since 2008 when she released Day After Tomorrow.  Joe Henry is producing the new album, Whistle Down The Wind.

    1965 Live Performance

    Celebrate Baez’s birthday by going back to 1965 as you watch her perform a televised concert that year.  June 5, 1965, she performed at the BBC Television Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush, London.  Watching her perform does make the world a little more bearable and beautiful.

    What is your favorite Joan Baez song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Was Kurt Russell’s Voice in “Forrest Gump” as Elvis Presley?

    In Forrest Gump (1994), there is a scene where the young Forrest Gump is dancing while a young man staying at Gump’s mom’s house plays the guitar and sings. The viewer immediately recognizes the singer character as Elvis Presley, who learns some of his dance moves from the kid. But did you recognize the voice of the actor playing Elvis? It was Kurt Russell.

    Kurt Russell is not credited with the role, but many observers have recognized his voice for the actor Peter Dobson. While some have debated whether or not it is really Russell, IMDb lists Russell as providing the voice. Also, reportedly, the DVD commentary to the film confirms Russell’s participation.

    Below is the Elvis scene from Forrest Gump. Do you recognize Russell’s voice for the young Elvis? By the way, the later scene of Elvis on television is of course the real Elvis with his real voice.

    Russell as Elvis in Other Movies

    Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis knew that Russell had played Elvis in the 1979 made-for-TV film Elvis, directed by John Carpenter. So, he concluded that Russell, who was by then too old to appear as the young Elvis, would be ideal to provide the Elvis voice in Forrest Gump.

    In this scene from Elvis, Russell plays the young Elvis. Interestingly, Carpenter did not use Russell’s voice for the singing Elvis in the movie. Singer Ronnie McDowell, whose first hit was the 1977 song “The King is Gone,” provided the voice for Russell’s Elvis when he was singing.

    Russell would reprise his Elvis skills in the Las Vegas heist film 3000 Miles to Graceland. In that 2001 film, Russell works with Kevin Costner to plan a Las Vegas robbery during an Elvis Presley impersonators convention.

    Besides dressing as an Elvis impersonator in 3000 Miles to Graceland, Russell also portrayed Elvis in the music video for Presley’s “Such a Night,” which was featured on the soundtrack for the movie.

    Russell With Elvis

    Those movie appearances as Elvis (or an Elvis impersonator), however, are not Kurt Russell’s only connection to Elvis. When Russell was a child actor, he briefly appeared in It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963).

    In that movie, Russell appeared onscreen to kick the King. In the film, Elvis had paid the young boy to kick him so he could meet the nurse at the fairground.

    It Happened at the World’s Fair was Russell’s first movie appearance. At that time, Elvis was 27 years old; and Russell would later be 27 years old when he portrayed Elvis in Elvis.

    In this segment from Turner Classic Movies, Russell tells the story about meeting Elvis and about portraying him on film.

    And that is the story behind the movie and Russell’s connections to Elvis Presley, who was born on January 8, 1935.

    Do you think it is Russell’s voice in Forrest Gump? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Johnny Cash’s Concerts at San Quentin

    On January 1 in 1958, Johnny Cash gave his first performance at San Quentin Prison.  It would not be his only prison concert, as prisoners often wrote the singer following the 1955 release of his hit song “Folson Prison Blues.”  At the time of his first San Quentin appearance, Cash had already played at Huntsville State Prison in 1957.

    A little over a decade later, with his career not doing well, Cash went to Folsom Prison for a concert to be recorded for an album.  He also then returned to San Quentin on February 24, 1969 to record another live album At San Quentin.  That album and At Folsom Prison became two of the best-selling live albums of all time.

    The 1969 San Quentin Concert and “San Quentin”

    One of the highlights of At San Quentin was Cash’s performance of the song he wrote about the prison, “San Quentin.”  Cash performed two new songs for the prisoners, with one being “San Quentin” and the other being “A Boy Named Sue.”  He performed “San Quentin” twice.

    Cash’s most famous prison song, “Folsom Prison Blues” conveys sadness and hopelessness, despite the boast about shooting a man in Reno.  But “San Quentin”is a harder song, reeking of anger: “San Quentin I hate every inch of you.” Below is Cash’s performance at San Quentin in 1969.

    The 1958 Performance and Prisoner A-45200

    Although the 1958 concert at San Quentin did not yield an album, it did significantly affect music history. A year earlier, an 18-year-old man had been arrested for burglary and, after an attempt to escape from jail, he was sent to San Quentin Prison. Although a judge sentenced the man to fifteen years, the prisoner only ended up serving two. But during those two years, the young man attended the 1958 Johnny Cash concert. And it helped inspire the young prisoner, whose number was A-45200 and whose name was Merle Haggard. The prisoner worked to change his ways, joined a prison band, and devoted his own life to country music.

    Haggard later recalled Johnny Cash’s performance at the prison. “He had the right attitude. He chewed gum, looked arrogant and flipped the bird to the guards—he did everything the prisoners wanted to do. He was a mean mother from the South who was there because he loved us.”

    For more on Merle Haggard, the following documentary tells about the singer’s early life. The video addresses Haggard’s stint at San Quentin around the 13:40 mark.

    What is your favorite prison song? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Christmas in Washington: A Song About Heroes

    Merry Christmas to our readers who celebrate the holiday.  Today’s Christmas song is “Christmas in Washington” by Steve Earle.  The song first appeared on his El Corazón (1997) album, which is one of my all-time favorite records.

    As Earle explains in this Austin, Texas performance from 2000, the song is about some of his heroes.  Written in the wake of President Bill Clinton’s election in 1996, Earle explains his longing for real progressive change.  He invokes the names of people like Woody Guthrie, Emma Goldman, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

    It has been more than twenty years since Earle wrote the song.  But it seems even more timely this holiday season.

    There’s foxes in the hen house;
    Cows out in the corn;
    The unions have been busted,
    Their proud red banners torn;
    To listen to the radio
    You’d think that all was well;
    But you and me and Cisco know
    It’s going straight to hell.

    Happy holidays.

    Leave your two cents in the comments.

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