In September, Patty Griffin will release her ninth studio album, Servant of Love. Chimesfreedom is a big fan of all of Griffin’s albums, so we are excited to be getting another CD from Griffin.
Not surprisingly, with an album title about “love,” some are reporting that the album is an accounting of Griffin reflecting on her break-up with Led Zepplin singer Robert Plant, who had worked with her on her 2013 album American Kid. The press release for the album, however, explains that on the album Griffin follows “the transcendentalism of writers like Emerson and Whitman.” Thus, the album is grounded “in the natural world” and finds “patterns there which speak both to human experience and to the call of the spirit.” Hmmm… sounds deeper than “screw-you-Robert-Plant.”
Two of the tracks from the album have hit the Internet, so you can get a sense of the album yourself. Below is “Rider of Days.” Consistent with the talk of transcendentalism in the press release, NPR noted that the song is “more impressionistic than literal, but Griffin’s deceptively simple lyrics locate the emotional core of her bicycle-riding narrator.”
Another song from Servant of Love is “There Isn’t One Way.” Like NPR’s statement about “Rider of Days,” the Wall Street Journal noticed some vagueness in the song even though Griffin has revealed that she wrote the song after a seven-hour conversation with a friend. In the song, she explains, “There isn’t one way, isn’t one way/ There’s just you and your heart and a part you’ve got to play.”
Introducing Darlene Love is her first album of secular songs in three decades. Listen to one of the tracks from the album,”Forbidden Nights,” in the video below. It sounds great, and the video filmed in Asbury Park, NJ also features appearances by Van Zandt, Joan Jett, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, and Bill Murray.
The album includes songs written by Van Zandt, Linda Perry, Joan Jett, Bruce Springsteen, and Elvis Costello. It also features a cover of “River Deep — Mountain High,” which was originally recorded by Ike and Tina Turner with Love’s former producer Phil Spector. Introducing Darlene Love goes on sale on September 18.
On August 31, 1945, George Ivan Morrison was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, although we came to know him as Van Morrison. So today is a great day to listen to some Van Morrison music, even though I never need much of an excuse to hear songs such as one of my favorite all-time songs, “St. Dominic’s Preview.”
The song “St. Dominic’s Preview” is the title track from Van Morrison’s 1972 album. It is a song of images, beginning with a line about cleaning windows, a reference to Van Morrison’s working class roots and an early job as a window cleaner. The song describes the streets of Belfast during the Troubles, while also dashing across the ocean at times to check San Francisco, Buffalo, and “every Hank Williams railroad train,” but always returning to gaze out on Saint Dominic’s Preview.
In the excellent book about the album, Saint Dominic’s Flashback: Van Morrison’s Classic Album, Forty Years On, Peter Wrench writes that he sees the title song “[a]s a series of largely autobiographical shards from a young man who has travelled the world and achieved a great deal, but doesn’t feel nearly as settled or satisfied as people might expect.” By another account, Van Morrison’s idea was to center the song around “a church called St Dominic’s where people were gathering to pray or hear a mass for peace in Northern Ireland.”
In many ways, the sound of the song is more important than any specific image, as I loved the song long before I had any idea about what a “St. Dominic’s Preview” might be. In the music, you hear the sound of seeking life, familiarity, and comfort. So it does not matter whether or not you pray to St. Dominic or live in Belfast, we all need more songs that hope for peace and comfort. “I think it’s about time, time for us to begin.”
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast near New Orleans, Louisiana. The hurricane and its after effects devastated the city and surrounding areas along the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
The following year, Bruce Springsteen visited New Orleans and performed his version of the song “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live.” He used the first verse from the original by Blind Alfred Reed. But then he added three new verses that focused on the situation in New Orleans.
Springsteen’s lyrics criticize the federal response to the emergency, invoking President George W. Bush‘s trip to the area: “He took a look around, gave a little pep talk, said ‘I’m with you’ then he took a little walk.” At his performance in New Orleans, he introduced the song with a reference to the “Bystander-in-Chief.”
Reed, who lived from 1880 to 1956, recorded his version in New York City on December 4, 1929, less than two months after the stock market crash. Check it out.
Ry Cooder also recorded a variation on Reed’s original version, releasing it on his self-titled album in 1970. Musically, one can hear how Cooder’s version apparently influenced Springsteen’s version. Check out this video of Cooder’s 1974 recording of “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” at The Record Plant in Sausalito, California.
Unfortunately, it seems like we will always need songs like these. Fortunately, we have artists like Reed, Cooder, and Springsteen to keep challenging us.
Photo of Hurricane Katrina via NASA (Public Domain). Leave your two cents in the comments.
Segel has received a lot of well-deserved praise for his sympathetic portrayal of Wallace, and Eisenberg also gives one of his best career performances. The main focus on the film is on the conversation of the two men. As in movies like My Dinner With Andre (1981), it is imperative that the actors engage us with the dialogue, and the actors pull it off, aided by director James Ponsoldt and screenwriter by Donald Margulies.
The effectiveness of the film depends not on major action and not even on a major revelation. Instead, the movie engages us as we listen and try to learn more about Wallace, the genius who wrote Infinite Jest. We do learn about Wallace, but the movie does not overshoot, staying anchored in Lipsky’s memoir where he only had five days of access to Wallace. But the movie features smart dialogue and is revealing, both about Wallace and about Lipsky, as we watch the reporter do what reporters do as they invade a person’s privacy.
Viewers do not need to know much about Wallace, who killed himself in 2008 (as revealed at the beginning of the movie). The film works on a number of levels and is entertaining to anyone seeking a thoughtful movie about an interesting man. But for fans and those interested in Wallace, the movie is especially revealing, as Segel’s portrayal allows us to feel we have Wallace back, even if for a short while. While there is no big revealing scene that tells us all we want to know about Wallace, the final shot of Wallace before the end credits is quite beautiful. There is an additional cute short scene after the main end credits (although one might have preferred that the director would have let the earlier final scene stand).
Conclusion? The End of the Tour is thoughtful entertainment for those who enjoy interesting conversation and can be satisfied with a well-made film that features no major action sequences or a surprise ending. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 92% critics rating and an 87% audience rating.
The End of the Tour Trivia: Fans of the TV show Freaks & Geeks will be happy to see Becky Ann Baker playing a bookstore manager onscreen with Segel. Both Baker and Segel were regulars on the TV series.
The End of the Tour Unimportant Mistake: In an early scene in the film where Wallace and Lipsky are in a convenience store, the two walk past a shelf where Heinz mustard is prominently displayed. It is unclear if it is a paid product placement, but Heinz mustard is a new product that was not around in 1996 when the movie is set. Of course, only mustard fans will notice.
What did you think of The End of the Tour? Leave your two cents in the comments.
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