Cincinnati Babyhead

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Quick Hit Album : Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue

download (38)

You ever hear something and instantly like it. Hang on a second, not just like it but are moved by it. Well that was the case with Mermaid Avenue. Nora Guthrie came across some of her dad’s lyrics and got Billy Bragg and Wilco to make this fantastic  music with them.

I always liked Bragg and Wilco and this made me like them more. They take Woody’s words and they do a number on them and vice versa. There is some magic happening here. No apologies folks, I just dig what they came up with. Woody was working on them or with them on every song. So many highlights (the whole album is a highlight). The first three cuts, ‘Walt Whitman’s Niece’, ‘California Stars’ , ‘Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key’ let you know what you’re in for. CB is a Woody Guthrie guy and he’s all over this (Of course he is , he wrote the words you dumb shit). Natalie Merchant adds some nice touches.

download (39)

There are more than a couple songs that are my favorites. I already mentioned ‘California Stars’ (Neil at yeahanotherblogger did a shot on this tune). Another is ‘At My Window Sad and Lonely’, ‘The Unwelcome Guest’ (Can hear The Band all over this one). CB is moved to the core. So enough of me. Give it a listen if you haven’t already and if you have enjoy it again. This is a listening album.

.If I was running out of the house to the old desert island and had time to grab only one album and this was it, I wouldn’t be disappointed. CB loves musical surprises and this was one. It was shithouse luck that I found it. A great collection. It has celebration, respect and love all over it.

(There is a Vol 2 and its a continuation of this great music. And check out the documentary)

 

 

 

41 comments on “Quick Hit Album : Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue

  1. Vinyl Connection
    August 26, 2018

    You make me want to play it again!

    Liked by 2 people

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      August 26, 2018

      It’s a long way away from the more instrumental workouts we like but there is something beautiful in this record without being all sappy. They really do bring these songs to life. Woody was one of the more interesting characters in this music thing we get so much out of. That’s what we do to each other Bruce “make each other want to listen and try old/new/different music”. I like this thing we do.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Yeah, Another Blogger
    August 26, 2018

    Like you say, a fantastic album. Bragg and Wilco came up with great melodies for Woody’s lyrics. I never get tired of this album. I have Volume two and need to listen to it again. I don’t know it nearly as well as I do volume one.
    Have a great day, CB. My wife and I are going to New Hope, Pennsylvania today to a theater there to see Million Dollar Quartet. It’s a play about Elvis and Cash and others at Sun Studios.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      August 26, 2018

      I’d like to hear Neil’s take on that show. I have that album. Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee also. Enjoy the day!
      Yeah this album is “fantastic”. Such beautiful music they made with Woody’s words. And good for Nora for choosing Wilco and Billy. I go through Woody periods and I’m in one right now. Something coming up in a take that is more of his vibe. i think you might dig it if you haven’y already.

      Like

      • Yeah, Another Blogger
        August 26, 2018

        Hello there, CB. The show was very good. It’s well-written and probably is pretty accurate about Sam Phillips’ relationships with these musicians. The cast was very talented. They played and sang really well. Nothing was pre-recorded.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 26, 2018

        That’s great Neil. Nice when the show pulls through. I could ask more questions cause that’s the kind of guy I am. I love all that history from that era and how it was pulled off. I think it’s a pretty important piece of music history but what do I know, I’m a hillbilly. If I remember what I know of that story I think Sam was banking on Jerry Lee the most but we know how that went.

        Like

      • Yeah, Another Blogger
        August 27, 2018

        Sam for sure was a huge part of rock and roll’s history. What he did was amazing. See ya’ —

        Liked by 1 person

  3. catchgroove
    August 26, 2018

    One of my favorites

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      August 26, 2018

      Took a drive down to Victoria yesterday. My son, Big Earl had on ‘Being There’ said it was his favorite Wilco album. I told him about this big Wilco (Tweedy) fan that lives in Minnesota.
      ‘Mermaid’. Special music for me also.

      Liked by 1 person

      • catchgroove
        August 29, 2018

        I love Being There. Seeing Tweedy solo here in Minneapolis 9/21.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 29, 2018

        Big Earl (and me) like the guys style. You see some good ones.
        Have been listening to quite a few of your recommendations. Magpie Salute yesterday. really dig it. I turned Eral onto Cameron Graves. He’s already a Washington fan. Later.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. J.
    August 26, 2018

    Excellent write-up, CB… I haven’t played this in a while, but you’ve put me in the mood. Amazing stuff. Never been big on Bragg, actually… this and the recent album with Joe Henry are as far as I go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      August 26, 2018

      Yeah you got me onto the Henry collaboration. I was telling Big Ear (2nd son) about it yesterday. I like Billy but ‘Mermaid’ is beyond what i heard from him before.
      I think I’ll spin the Henry one later today.

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        August 26, 2018

        That Henry collaboration is ace. Really strikes all the right chords.

        Mermaid is the first Bragg stuff I heard. Didn’t really get into the solo stuff… guess I was spoiled. I like him, though… seems like a real ace fella. Just haven’t found an in when it comes to the music.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 26, 2018

        I’m listening to it right now. CB is an old Railroad Guy. I listened to Joe Henry on your recommendation and digging him. Perfect music when I’m in the mood. I have been listening to Billy for a long time but on ‘Mermaid’ he hit it, I agree.

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        August 26, 2018

        Joe is one of my all time favourites. I’ve just turned on Tiny Voices right now. Love that one… splashes of Miles and Coltrane in there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 26, 2018

        I’ve been listening to ‘Fuse’ and various other songs. I will give ‘Voices’ a go especially with the references you used.

        Liked by 1 person

      • J.
        August 27, 2018

        Fuse is great. Joe can just slip into different zones and vibes and he does so regularly. I don’t think he has a bad album. I honestly don’t.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Aphoristical
    August 26, 2018

    Yup, this is great. Felt like 2 was a step down, but loved Remember the Mountain Bed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      August 26, 2018

      I think we touched on this before. Vol ll for me is justa continuation on the same path minus the initial impact. Sort of speaks to your “When does a band peak?’ take. Bottom line,it was a great musical idea that worked for us.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        August 29, 2018

        Have you heard number three?

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 29, 2018

        No. I guess it’s time. Have you heard it?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Aphoristical
        September 1, 2018

        Nope, not yet. I assume it’s on Spotify or something.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        September 1, 2018

        Sometimes too much of a good thing can be overwhelming. Some artists are so prolific that I give up trying to keep up. The music will be there when I’m ready or in the mood. The whole thing about this album was the discovery of the new Woody songs and what a great job Bragg/Wilco did with them. I’m the same way with writers I will hold off for a later day because you know it will be a treat.

        Like

  6. greenpete58
    August 27, 2018

    Woody’s a legend, of course, and I also admire Bragg. Don’t know much about Wilco, but I will definitely check out this album, CB. Gracias!

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      August 27, 2018

      I think I remember you saying that you were delving into more country, roots, folk music these days. Well Wilco fits that bill. I won’t bore you too much but they formed from an alt country band ‘Uncle Tupelo’. Jeff Tweedy the main songwriter is a treasure.. I think you watched the doc ‘Mavis’ He shows up in that. He produced one of her newer albums. He’s the real deal Pete. I love ‘Mermaid’ and Wilco is a huge part of it.

      Like

      • greenpete58
        August 27, 2018

        Yeah, an old schoolmate of mine who’s a deejay and music obsessive loves Wilco. I’m an old fart and always leery of anything new (“new” for me being the last 40 years), but I’ll check them out.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 27, 2018

        Can’t go wrong on any choices with Tweedy. Any Tupelo . Maybe try ‘Being There’ by Wilco to start.
        The other half of Tupelo, Jay Farrar formed another really good band, Son Volt. None of it’s mainstream commercial. I think you might find some good listening.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 27, 2018

        Actually try ‘Mermaid’ it will give you a real good idea what Wilco does.

        Like

      • greenpete58
        August 27, 2018

        Ok!

        Like

  7. Jim S.
    August 28, 2018

    I know Bragg and Wilco but was unaware of this album’s existence. Not exactly in my wheelhouse but good stuff. This reminds me of the album I talked about a while back where Dylan gave some lyrics to Elvis Costello and some others and they made an album (and TV show) about it. We talked about it recently I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      August 28, 2018

      Here’s more your style Doc. Bruce’s version of Woody’s ‘Vigilante Man’ off Folkways A Shared Vision. Little more edge.
      Yes and we did talk about the Dylan thing.

      Like

      • Jim S.
        August 28, 2018

        I’ll check it out later 2nite after the Sox get done crushing the Marlins.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 28, 2018

        You sound like Fred Flintstone. Setting yourself up for a kick in the ass.

        Like

      • Jim S.
        August 29, 2018

        Heh! More like his “live” counterpart, Ralph Kramden. They won, but barely. Thanks for the Bruce song. Dug it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 29, 2018

        I was watching the Blue Jays get spanked by the mighty Orioles. Yeah i like that Bruce cover a lot.

        Like

      • Jim S.
        August 29, 2018

        I thought you guys only liked hockey. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • cincinnatibabyhead
        August 29, 2018

        Curling, smoking, drinking and listening to Woody Guthrie and Stompin Tom Connors.

        Like

      • Jim S.
        August 29, 2018

        That’s a full plate right there.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Tony
    September 8, 2018

    Hmm. I like Wilco a fair bit but for some reason never bothered with this. I shall give it a spin, your recommendations haven’t steered me wrong yet

    Liked by 1 person

    • cincinnatibabyhead
      September 8, 2018

      Tony, I go way back to Uncle Tupulo with Tweedy. Then onto Wilco. We all have our own tastes. This album hit me at the right time with so much. I think I put my thoughts down on the take. Sometimes these kinds of projects have good intentions. This goes way beyond that for me. The doc on this is a good watch if you can find it. Woody, Nora, Billy and Wilco were on the same page creatively for this one.
      (I have take coming up on a record that hits on some Ellroy land type stuff. You might find it interesting).

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2018 by in 1998 Album, Billy Bragg, Folk Rock, Wico, Woody Guthrie and tagged , , , .

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