Debuting higher on the charts than any previous album from the National, High Violet deserves the attention: these are some of the most pensive, most beautifully orchestrated tracks they’ve released (particularly on the second half of the album), even if they do threaten to lull you into a forlorn stupor by the end.
In the political spirit we’ve all been in recently, I thought you might enjoy this one…
You know, this is one of those songs that first came to me in elementary school, as part of a string of patriotic songs that I had to learn and sing for one of our big assemblies. What I cared about then was more learning the words, and less what they meant. What I most cared about was putting on a good show for my parents and grandparents. But now, a decade and a half later, I’ve come back to this song and found more depth than I remember previously.
For instance, the final verse of the song (which was conspicuously absent from the version my classmates and I sang for our parents) refers to the narrator seeing “his people” in the line outside the relief office. The final line of the final verse deals with those people asking “Is this land still made for you and me?”
Wow. I can see why my elementary teachers stuck to the parts about the “redwood forests and gulf stream waters.” Much less controversial to deal strictly with geography. Once you start to deal with the issues taking place between “California and the New York islands” — now, that gets sticky.
And, in my opinion, much more interesting! I definitely like Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” much more after learning the full version. It’s not even so much that I like it more, but I find it much more interesting. And I can’t believe I haven’t introduced Guthrie — one of the classic American acoustic guitar players and songwriters — to the Laptop Sessions. I realize that we focus more heavily on the sixties and forward (and on rock), but Guthrie is the original hero of my own musical hero, Bob Dylan. Anyway, I’m glad I could fill that gap.
I don’t think there’s much of a market for replica Woody Guthrie acoustics — unlike, say, the Eric Clapton Fenders… [drool…] — but I always liked how Guthrie’s guitar bore the slogan, “This machine kills fascists.” You never know…
Well, that’s about it for me for now. If you haven’t done so already, you need to listen to Jim’s Original Wednesday for this week. I usually try to hold my tongue, as there are only so many times a close friend and collaborator can say “Awesome song, man” before the credibility wears off. But I’m not holding my tongue this time. I didn’t really know what to expect, since it seems it was written in a quick burst and recorded directly after. But it’s catchy and has some interesting lyrics. So, go ahead, get over to that post and join the latest conversation starter at the greatest acoustic rock cover song music blog on the Internet!