I'm always digging for new music. Rounder, it seems, is pushing out some of its artists. You see it in magazines. Web sites. Suddenly you start seeing the same names, ads, records. I mean, Steeldrivers and Amanda Shaw suddenly show up on big pretty pages in No Depression, and on the Gather.com site for their Rounder Records sing-a-long or whatever it is their marketing people brainstormed.
I just don't go for that bluegrass sound though. And I didn't think No Depression did, either. But that's fuel for another blog.
There's a big PR machine at work out there. With YouTube and every other rich media site, what's a poor musician to do?
But Rounder and Gather also were pushing Carrie Newcomer. And not to diss Steeldrivers or Amanda Shaw, Newcomer soars above them all.
Beautiful voice. Deep, poetic, beautiful, thoughtful lyrics. Her site's pretty cool, too. Simple, and you learn a lot about her, which is so cool. You can hear her songs on her new album, The Geography of Light. You can watch videos of her playing a bit of each song, then explaining where she got the idea for the song.
I love knowing what's going on inside the singer. I want to know where they came from. Where their ideas come from. And while it seems that a lot of Newcomer's muse is rooted in the Lord (well, hell, she is from Indiana, what do you expect?) like the Bible her songs don't have to be taken that way. Just like a good Bible story, you can say, wow, that's a nice little story. Or you can say, oh, that's what it means!
A favorite download is Where You Been. Sounds like a song about a good friend. But she explains she wrote it because she began wondering where great prophets come from.
Here's a bit of text from her:
I come to expect holiness in unexpected places and that it is best not to limit where and within whom we look for the Sacred. A true compassionate and radical love has always been counter culture. Hope has always been an audacious act of belief in the possibility for something better. As Jim Wallis and others have stated, “We are the prophets we’ve been waiting for.
So, knowing that, here are the lyrics:
He was driving in to Chicago in a borrowed El Camino,
On a hazeless day in springtime I think the Cinco De Mayo.
Maybe it was St Paddy's Or the Gay Pride parade,
But I've never seen nobody light up the street that way.
Chorus:Brother/ Sister where you been? Hold on if you can.
Just do your best then
Called in sick and spent the weekend, drinking St Paulies in Wisconsin.
I'd been fishing with my buddies most of Sunday afternoon.
And there beneath the halo of the Old Milwaukee sign,
He said, There's big ones in the shallows I see them all the time.
I stopped into the Seven-Eleven, I was buying an Aquafina.
He was wearing knock-off sneakers I was nursing a hangover.
He said, “You're worth a lot more baby than you've ever dared to dream of.”
Like he knew all the secret sketchy places I'd been looking for love
A tall skinny guy with dread locks said they're giving' out free bagels & lox.
So I took the kids and all my plastic bags and walked the seven blocks.
There were joggers and commuters, skate board kids and Goths.
There were drunks and dogs and meter maids in that downtown vacant lot.
He said, “The universe is unfolding and the center still is holding,
There’s enough if we just share it, now ya'all don't forget to pass the basket.
Blessed are all the good hearted, the poets and the dreamers,
And all us crazy holy hungry ones who believe in something better.”
I saw Jesus on talking shop, with Buddha at the Starbucks,
I saw Gia and Ganesh, doing double Dutch in the park,
And Mohammad was throwing popcorn to the pigeons and the sparrows.
And all us crazy holy hungry ones still believe in something better,
Pretty cool, huh?