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About John: On My Ipod

A few years ago, I commandeered my wife's old Ipod when she got a new one, despite having been somewhat phobic about the whole thing in the past. I found it to be an invaluable source of inspiration. It's amazing how productive filling up dead time (like sitting on the train) can be! I've been listening to a lot of my old, forgotten favorites, and digging in to all that new music I hadn't gotten around to getting obsessed with yet. What fun! I'm having trouble remembering why it took me so long to take the plunge...

Here's what I've been listening to most recently:

  • 06/14/2019: Tyler Childers, Purgatory
    Perhaps the most perfect country music record I've ever heard. The mix of material, the incorporation of tradition and innovation, the storytelling, the brutal honesty and pain, and the glimmer of redemption and hope all there. Sounds like country used to sound, without sounding like a dated throwback. Perfect.
  • 02/06/2019: Shooter Jennings, The Other Life
    While I think his old man was a better songwriter, Shooter Jennings has got some great material. I particularly enjoyed Wild & Lonesome, and it's deep echoes of Waylon's voice and sound.
  • 01/20/2019: Dawes, Nothing Is Wrong
    My wife got me tickets to a Dawes show. We'd seen Taylor lead a backing band behind Jackson Browne one time and I remembered liking their sound a lot. She kept an eye on them over the years and knowing I'd dig it sent me to the show. The day before I downloaded their new album Passwords. I liked it so much I downloaded this one. I went to the show and had such a good time that I bought two more after that! These guys are amazing songwriters and performers, and the live sound was amazing.
  • 01/10/2019: Cowboy, 5'll Getcha Ten
    Listening to the Gregg Allman autobiography audio book reminded me about a bunch of Duane's old session work, and how much I loved the track Please Be With Me off the Duane Allman Anthology. I went back and found the original version on this album and it turns out there's a ton of great stuff on here.
  • 01/01/2019: Peter Gabriel, So
    This one was so far ahead of its time. The use of synths created sonic landscapes that were so much more sophisticated than the electronic drivel that came after. They served purpose, supported the music, created a sense of space and added physical dimension that was not possible by micing instruments and amps. These songs are truly fantastic and the electronic color pallete was just Peter's way of getting them across. I spent about a week listening to That Voice Again on repeat!
  • 12/08/2018: The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo
    Inimitable. Between McGuinn, Gram, and Chris Hillmen, (not to mention guest appearances by Clarence, John Hartford, Jay Dee Maness, and others), this may have been the best collection of Americana songwriters and players in one place at one time, and it changed the music world forever. The remastered version with all the alternate takes is spectacular.
  • 11/15/2018: NRBQ, Scraps
    There are no words that adequately describe the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet's sound. Listen for yourself!
  • 10/31/2018: New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Adventures of Panama Red
    This 1973 gem features a pair of Peter Rowan classics, some country standard tunes, and a whole lot of Nelson / Torbert / Dawson goodness. the NRPS catalog goes deep, but I always come back to this one.
  • 08/08/2018: Buck Owens, All Time Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
    The king of the Bakersfield Sound, Buck and Don Rich made some lovely sounds back in the day. Many of these tunes are difficult to swallow from a political correctness point of view today, but the album is nonetheless a stellar collection. including such greats as Streets of Bakersfield, Foolin' Around, and Under Your Spell Again..
  • 07/06/2017: Jason Isbell, The Nashville Sound
    Since leaving the Drive By Truckers, getting clean, and teaming up with his wife Amanda Shires, Jason Isbell has produced some incredible music, and his latest effort is another gigantic leap ahead. The songs are masterfully crafted windows into the reality of responsible adulthood without losing sight of some gritty history and reality, or feeling sappy or overly sentimental. The arrangements traverse genres comfortably and easily, from driving rockers, to country twang, to fingerpicked ballad, to Bright Eyes-esque acoustic pop. Not a moment is wasted. Don't waste another moment of your time, go buy this album!
  • 07/06/2017: Jason Isbell, The Nashville Sound
    Since leaving the Drive By Truckers, getting clean, and teaming up with his wife Amanda Shires, Jason Isbell has produced some incredible music, and his latest effort is another gigantic leap ahead. The songs are masterfully crafted windows into the reality of responsible adulthood without losing sight of some gritty history and reality, or feeling sappy or overly sentimental. The arrangements traverse genres comfortably and easily, from driving rockers, to country twang, to fingerpicked ballad, to Bright Eyes-esque acoustic pop. Not a moment is wasted. Don't waste another moment of your time, go buy this album!
  • 06/18/2017: Dan Auerbach, Waiting on a Song
    Black Keys bandleader Auerbach assembled an incredible cast of characters including Mark Knopfler, Kenny Malone, Jerry Douglas, Duane Eddy, John Prine, and many more. Very short record, but every song is packed with tasty treats.
  • 05/31/2017: Quincy Jones, The Dude
    Quincy's pre-Thriller epic. Amazing stuff, and a breeding ground for lots of the musical ideas and themes that ultimately made it into Thriller. Great stuff.
  • 04/14/2017: Margaret Glaspy, Emotions and Math
    I saw Margaret interviewed through Reverb.com (where I buy and sell a lot of gear), and was immediately hooked. Her crunchy Fender sound is right where I love to hear a guitar, and she does the singer songwriter bit with that tone. Then, she adds a very minimal bass and drum to the record to open things up and round out the sound, but it's still very much driven by her songwriting and solo performance guitar arrangements. Great stuff!
  • 02/17/2017: Warren Zevon, Warren Zevon
    Warren's self titled album is pure genius top to bottom. I'm a little embarrassed that my very young children can sing along to Carmelita in the car, but a little proud, too...
  • 09/08/2016: Tom Petty, Anthology
    This incredible collection of Tom's greatest work is stellar from beginning to end. It spans his career and includes incredible gems and forgotten treasures, along with the usual suspects. I can't stop listening!
  • 08/15/2016: Little Feat, The Last Record Album
    I'm basically obsessed with Little Feat and Lowell George. The songs, the arrangements, the interplay, the SLIDE! Waiting for Columbus is probably the best live rock album of all time, but this later Lowell-era studio album has always been one of my absolute favorite pieces of recorded music. I recently got a new car with a great sound system and Long Distance Love cranked up to max really knocks the socks off!
  • 02/02/2016: Sting, Bring on the Night
    Sting's earth shattering return after the Police broke up -- a huge series of shows in Paris without even releasing an album first. The live double album featuring Sting on guitar, with jazz/fusion heavyweights Omar Hakim (Miles Davis, Weather Report), Kenny Kirkland (Miles Davis, Winton Marsalis, Weather Report, Michael Jackson), and Darryl Jones (Miles Davis, Rolling Stones), and Branford Marsalis (everyone!) is mind numbingly awesome. Listen to it now. On repeat. The DVD documentary following the formation / rehearsals / shows is incredible, too (thanks to Tim Fisher for turning me on to this in high school -- Unbroken Chain forever!!!).
  • 07/21/2015: Rhett Miller, The Traveller
    Rhett Miller -- the primary songwriter and singer from the Old 97s -- has a new album out and I can't stop listening to it! The songs are spectacular (as usual) and the instrumentation and musicianship are truly astounding. He enlisted the help of backing band Black Prairie, which includes a number of sometimes-Decemberists. Makes me want to check out the Decemberists...
  • 06/28/2015: Kacey Musgraves, Pageant Material
    Kacey is back with a new album -- another whip smart, sassy, hilarious set of tunes with ace Nashville session playing all over it. I can't get enough!
  • 07/15/2014: Hayes Carll, Trouble In Mind
    Saw Hayes on a double bill with Bob Schneider in Napa for our 10th anniversary. Was a name I'd heard a lot, but never really dug into. Bought a couple albums before the show to get acclimated and didn't stop listening to this one for months!
  • 01/12/2014: Bob Schneider, Lovely Creatures
    I've been a big Bob Schneider fan for a while but hadn't heard this one until recently. Can't put it down. Same thing with The Californian.
  • 12/15/2013: Big Star, #1 Record + Radio City
    Without ever really gaining commercial success, Big Star heavily influenced a whole generation of artists, including some of the folks that inspired and influenced me the most over the years. It was not until much later that I actually got turned on to them directly, and could hear how their sound was a common thread in a lot of the music I loved. This album (a remastered combination of their first two) is really hard to put down.
  • 01/12/2011: Sarah Jarosz, Song Up In Her Head
    I cannot stop listening to this album. It is quite simply the best new artist album I can ever remember hearing. Sarah has been on the scene as a mandolin wunderkind, as well as an incredibly talented player of the mandocello, guitar, and clawhammer banjo, for many years now, but at 18, finally laid down a record. Her voice is spectacular, and her songs are mature and sophisticated well beyond her years. It is full of her age peer players, as well as some of the icons of the genre, from Jerry Douglas to Tim O'Brien to Chris Thile, to Stuart Duncan and on and on. Top it off with a couple of tasty covers, and I'm all in!
  • 07/11/2010: Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here
    One of those albums that makes me wish I had seen Pink Floyd in the 70s. After the long synth intro and buttery guitar licks that start the album, the lead in riff to Shine On You Crazy Diamond gives me chills every time. Just writing about it gave me chills... It's also always great to hear insider commentary on the music industry. "And by the way, which one's Pink?"
  • 12/20/2009: Grateful Dead, Dead Set
    Live from the early 80's, in the Bay Area. This is classic stuff, and reminds me of what the shows were like when I first started seeing the Dead. It's also one of the first albums I bought (the first was its "sister album", Reckoning).
  • 06/04/2009: Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger
    stellar album. only ryan can get away with a chorus like "oh, my god. whatever. etcetera."
  • 01/15/2009: Hot Buttered Rum, Live in the Northeast
    A stellar live album by my friends, Hot Buttered Rum. My favorites are Summertime Girl and California Snow and Rain.
  • 12/31/2008: James Taylor, Greatest Hits
    James is the man. His hits are shockingly good and never lose their appeal. His deep catalog has tons of great tunes too. This is the kind of stuff that made me want to sing and write songs.
  • 12/16/2008: Forest Sun, So Nice
    To be fair, I've just been listening to the one song Forest sent me over and over in preparation for the NKCC III songwriter circle we'll be doing together. I cannot get this incredible tune out of my head. Come to the show and see it go down. Support Forest and buy the CD. UPDATE: Forest gave me a copy of the record at the show, and the whole thing is incredible.
  • 10/04/2008: Peter Gabriel, So
    Peter Gabriel has made some incredible music over the years, starting with his tenure at the helm of prog-rock supergroup Genesis. His material from the 80's (unlike some others...) is no exception. I've been putting together a solo acoustic arrangement of In Your Eyes, and it got me back into listening to this whole stellar album.
  • 08/28/2008: Infamous Stringdusters, Infamous Stringdusters
    A hot new record by the hottest new bluegrass supergroup. An excellent followup to their transcendant first release, Fork In The Road.
  • 08/16/2008: Bonnie Raitt, Streetlights
    Bonnie really settled in to a groove on her fourth album. Some great soul music and singing, wonderful songwriting, including stellar selections from James Taylor ("Rainy Day Man"), John Prine ("Angel From Montgomery"), Joni Mitchell ("That Song About The Midway"), and Allen Toussaint ("What Is Success?").
  • 06/14/2008: Pink Floyd, Animals
    Bringing back a classic from my college days, I've always loved how they painted different archetypes of people as different animals. Also, stellar lead guitar work charactierized by ENORMOUS patience, including huge stretches of silence (leading to Dogs clocking in at roughly 17 minutes). Dave Gilmour is my hero.
  • 05/02/2008: Alison Krauss, Lonely Runs Both Ways
    Another tour-de-force from the golden voiced diva that seems to do no wrong. An incredible collection of songs (where does she find this material?!?!), some gorgeous arrangements, stunning production value, and truly breathtaking vocals. Dan Tyminskis songs are outstanding, too but I admit that I am soaking up Alison's lead numbers a little more voraciously. Jerry Douglas is a superstar, as usual...
  • 04/12/2008: Joni Mitchell, Blue
    Joni Mitchell has an uncanny knack for capturing transcendant performances of her inspired songs. Blue is truly the inimitable epitomy of a dynamite singer songwriter album. It literally gives me chills and brings me to tears.
  • 03/01/2008: Blue Highway, Midnight Storm
    As my friend who turned me on to this album says, it's the gold standard for bluegrass and acoustic music. I really love their mid-tempo bluegrass numbers, and there's some stellar a-capella cuts as well.
  • 12/02/2007: The Infamous Stringdusters, Fork In The Road
  • 11/25/2007: U2, The Joshua Tree
    I had sort of let U2 fall off my radar until a friend reminded me of them. I had completely forgotten how much I loved a lot of the tunes on this album whose names I had forgotten. There are the obligatory mega hits (what U2 album doesn't have any?!), and a bunch of other gems that are brilliant in their own right. I particularly love hearing albums like this one where a band really start to turn the corner and tap into their raw and honest powerful roots while learning how to present a more complex and engaging package!
  • 11/12/2007: The Samples, The Samples
    The Samples were one of my favorites in early college. It's always nice to get back in touch with an old favorite.
  • 10/19/2007: Tom Petty, Damn The Torpedoes
    After watching the new Tom Petty documentary the other night, I had to get down with some classic tracks... Damn the Torpedoes is an incredible album with a handful of classic cuts like Refugee, Here Comes My Girl, and Even the Losers. This album was made while Tom was declaring bankruptcy and asking a court to release him from his record contract (which basically every major label tried to prevent). The song Century City is about having to go there all the time because "that's where the lawyers live." Apparently afraid that the court would sieze the tapes, Tom had the producer and manager remove them from the studio and hid them every day, so that he could honestly answer that he didn't know where they were if asked on the stand. Apparently they even had drills to see how quick they could get the reels off the machined and boxed (in pizza boxes for disguise!), and out to the hiding place, in case they ever got word that someone was coming!
  • 08/15/2007: The Seldom Scene, Live at the Cellar Door
  • 07/04/2007: Greyboy, Freestylin'
    My wife put this on the stereo today and got me hooked. It hearkens back to the old days in San Diego of seeing the Greyboy Allstars at little bars and sharing the stage with them all over town. This is the album that D.J. Greyboy put out, pulling in local "acid jazz" talent (which barely had a name back then) including Harold Todd, Marc Antoine, and Karl Denson. Karl went on to pull together some of the "all stars" from those sessions to turn that music into a full blown genre, but this is the record that started it all. Groovy.
  • 06/24/2007: Wilco, Sky Blue Sky
    I finally got this album and I've been loving it -- it's much more subdued and comfortable than some other Wilco albums. I have noticed several prominent and interesting tips of the hat to their influences, where they'll momentarily adopt a spot on rendition of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the Beach Boys, etc. Very interesting overall and a real pleasure to listen to.
  • 05/21/2007: The Little Willies, Self Titled
    The slightly suggestive name is actually intended to conjure Lubbock's famed Nelson of the same name, not to tittilate. The music, on the other hand is tittilating, to say the least! Guitar wizard Jim Campilongo (picking a wonderful hybrid of classic country licks and unique riffs that are pure Jim C on his road-worn 1959 Telecaster) teams up with the seductive Norah Jones and the inimitable Lee Alexander to produce one of the most innovative country albums in a long time (leave it to New Yorkers to make country cool again...). With covers of Willie, Hank Sr., Kris Kristofferson, and Townes Van Zandt songs, along with a handful of inspired originals, this album really satisfies.
  • 04/27/2007: Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
    My favorite Wilco album (although, one of the great things about Wilco is that every album has a totally different flavor, so each one might be a "favorite" depending on the mood). I know they have a new album out, so I'm getting back into the Wilco mood before I pick it up and check it out. There's a great story with a lot of drama that goes along with YHF, which is captured in the movie I Am Trying To Break Your Heart that has a ton of live and studio footage in it as well. Worth picking up and watching over and over.
  • 04/15/2007: AC/DC, Highway To Hell
    Sometimes I'm in the mood for straight ahead rock, and no one does it better than AC/DC. This was the last album Bon Scott recorded before he died, and it's hot. Great rock, some smokin' blues, and the band's first ever radio hit.
  • 03/27/2007: Lucinda Williams, West
    Another masterful creation from the godmother of alternative country. This album feels more open, sparse, and truly connected than some of her other recent work has. Like all her albums, you feel like you can listen to it for ages and get something new out of it every time.
  • 03/10/2007: Townes Van Zandt, Be Here To Love Me (DVD)
    OK, so it's not on my iPod, but I just watched this documentary about Townes and it's incredible. It made me want a video iPod so that I could watch it all the time. I've been listening to all the Townes I've got on my iPod instead.
  • 02/22/2007: Genesis, And The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
    Released in the year of my birth, this album really put Genesis on the map. It's a genius combination of psychedelic, progressive, and pop rock that was very influential on me when I first discovered it in the early 90's. Peter Gabriel's exploration into his own psychological demise (this was his last effort with Genesis) is very compelling, and the songwriting and musicianship are completely mind blowing. This is album oriented rock at its finest, and if you've got a couple hours, sit down with the record and the liner notes. You can read the whole story that the album traverses, in excruciating (and occasionally incomprehensible) detail.
  • 02/07/2007: Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colosus
    When the subject of quintessential jazz albums comes up, the conversation inevitably centers around selections like Kind of Blue, Take Five, and Giant Steps. I love all those albums, but I think Saxophone Colosus is my favorite jazz album of all time. This week it is, anyway.
  • 01/11/2007: John Hartford, Aereo-Plane
    Every time I pick this album back up it's like hearing it for the first time. Aereo-Plane is the most incredible mix of Americana roots with 70's hippie freak music, from the album cover right down to the closing strains. John Hartford -- an absolute musical and satirical genius -- is joined by the inimitable Norman Blake, Tut Taylor, Vassar Clements, and Randy Scruggs in unabashedly taunting the Nashville mainstream of country music. The result is perfection.
  • 01/05/2007: Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
    Listening to Furnace Room Lullabyes recently reminded me that Neko has a new album (well, one I hadn't gotten yet anyway). FCBTF is steller from the first listen, and I can tell that there are layers and layers left to unravel each time through.
  • 12/26/2006: Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, Real Live Roadrunning (with DVD)
    This is the best thing I've heard from either of these two in a long time... A few old classics (Red Dirt Girl, So Far Away, Romeo & Juilet, etc.), and a bunch of new stuff from their recent collaboration. The audio is on the IPOD, but the live performance DVD is stellar as well -- check it out!!
  • 11/24/2006: Whiskeytown, Pneumonia
    The post breakup masterpiece from the band that launched Ryan Adams's stardom. An alt-country masterpiece.
  • 11/19/2006: Neko Case, Furnace Room Lullabyes
    Unique, Loretta Lynn-esque alt country. Incredible songwriting, haunting vocals, excellent musicianship all around. What more can you ask for?
  • 11/01/2006: Old 97s, Satellite Rides
    Another classic album by one of my favorites, the Old 97s.
  • 10/25/2006: Nirvana, Nevermind
    Kurt Cobain just passed up Elvis in "Dead Rock Star Earnings," so I decided to give this one another listen. For some reason its brilliance escaped me when it came out in 1991, but I caught up eventually. This album is really one of the best rock albums of all time.
  • 10/23/2006: Old Crow Medicine Show, O.C.M.S.
    Great young folk/bluegrass band. Their tune "Take 'em Away" was featured nicely in Transamerica, which was a great movie...
  • 10/10/2006: Bob Schneider, I'm Good Now
    Mixes of pop, rock, folk, country, and hip hop really just don't get any better. These songs are incredible, and the arrangement and production is unstoppable. This is follow up to Lonelyland, which is also good...
  • 09/15/2006: Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way
    Rick Rubin turns everything he touches to gold, from heavy metal to hip hop, to Johnny Cash's most recent work. Under Rick's guidance, the Chicks really shine on this one, a rocking departure from the acoustic bliss of "Home."
  • 09/01/2006: Greg Brown, Further In
    Deep soulful vocals layered on top of perfect songs and matched with top notch playing, including some tasty slide work by Kelly Joe Phelps.
  • 08/15/2006: Wailin Jennys, 40 Days
    There's just something about basic, sparse acoustic instrumentation and stunningly gorgeous harmony vocals.
  • 07/25/2006: Slaid Cleaves, Broke Down
    A friend of mine introduced me to this album late one night after a long picking. Instrumental genius provided by Lucinda Williams's former collaborator Gurf Morlix.
  • 07/22/2006: Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
    This one comes around again and again -- I just can't shake it.
  • 07/15/2006: eastmountainsouth, eastmountainsouth
    eastmountainsouth was also on the bill the night I got to play with Lucinda Williams at the Fillmore. I fell in love with them that night.
  • 06/29/2006: Lazlo Bane, 11 Transistor
    This is one of the best collections of pop rock songs you'll ever hear, and I can't stop listening once I start. Apparently "Superman" is the theme song to Scrubs, which I still haven't seen.
  • 06/28/2006: Old 97's, Fight Songs
    These guys just plain rock. Great songs, tons of fun.
  • 06/04/2006: Steve Earle, The Revolution Starts . . . Now
    Easily Steve's best album, and my favorite since El Corazón came out in 1997.
  • 06/01/2006: Steely Dan, Katy Lied
    Sometimes I just get an itch for the classics. "Your Gold Teeth II" was my favorite song for about 3 years after I first heard it...
  • 05/20/2006: Ricky Skaggs, Bluegrass Rules
    This and Ancient Tones have been in heavy rotation. You've gotta love that Ricky is the least talented player in the band... Brian Sutton has some mind blowing parts -- check out Amanda Jewell!
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