Friday, January 8, 2010

Year Two

Over on Star Maker Machine this week, we’re celebrating the arrival of the new year by posting songs with 10 or the word ten in the title. Let me hasten to add my best wishes to all for the new year. So I started the week rifling through my collection, and a funny thing happened: I kept finding songs with the word two in the title instead. Then it occurred to me that this marks the beginning of my second year of Oliver di Place, the way I wanted it. Now you may know that this blog actually went up in December of 2008, so what gives? You see, I started with every intention of posting album reviews regularly. But who is going to send albums for review to something that doesn’t exist? So I started the blog to have something to show, and went to the reviews as soon as I could. I was very lucky. I had enough material to begin the reviews in only a month’s time. So, for me, Oliver di Place as I meant it to be started a year ago. And I would like to thank again the artists and labels who took a chance on me back then, and made it all possible.

The number two occupies a special place in popular song. Often, it denotes a couple. Probably every songwriter who ever lived has written at least one love song. So there may well be more songs for two than any other number. But, of course, I am more interested in unusual two songs.

Bonnie Raitt: Two Lights in the Nighttime


Speaking of two, Bonnie Raitt is one of my two favorite slide guitar players. Two Lights in the Nighttime shows off this aspect of her work beautifully. It is also one of her great bluesy vocals. It is a love song, but this one is about the joys of a mature relationship. Not only are the lovers in the song older than usual, but so is their relationship. Raitt does this kind of song better than anyone else.

Eliza Carthy: Two Tears,


Two Tears is not a love song at all. The relationship has ended, and the two tears in the title are all she allows herself to cry. But those two tears say everything. This is also a remarkable piece of music. Eliza Carthy plays fiddle here as part of a string quartet. There is also a booming drum, a melodeon, and whatever an organetta is. Put it all together and Carthy gets this sorrowful carnival sound. I’ve never heard anything else like it.

Dixie Chicks: Truth No. 2


Truth No. 2 is a love song, perhaps the most normal one here. It’s about feeling threatened by the level of honesty that can occur as a relationship deepens. There is also a certain retrospective irony in the Dixie Chicks having done this song when they did. The song comes from their album Home. Having toed the line and made it as a mainstream country act, the Chicks decided to stretch out on this album, and go for a folkier sound. I would have loved to hear them go further in this direction. But, before that could happen, too much honesty got them in trouble. Natalie Maines made her famous remark at a performance in France, and suddenly the Dixie Chicks were no longer welcomed on country radio. Their music took a turn towards alternative rock at that point, and something good was lost. I’ll keep an ear out, however; I have to think the Chicks still have some great music left to make.

Los Lobos: Two Janes


And then there is Two Janes. This certainly is no love song. Perhaps the two Janes here actually the same person, and then this would be a song about a split personality. Or maybe this is a veiled reference to child abuse. I would love to hear other suggestions in the comments. In any case, this is a fine piece of music from a great band. I saw Los Lobos live a few years ago. They were doing a short set at a festival. If an entire show of theirs is like that, go see them when you can. They were one of the most exciting live performers I’ve ever seen.

Little Feat: Two Trains


I like the way this sequence of songs works. But I must admit that I couldn’t resist rhyming Two Janes and Two Trains to finish. Here is my other favorite slide guitar player, Lowell George. Once again, the song is a fine showcase for his talent. This time, the two in the title refers not to lovers but to rivals.


Curt Shannon said...

Great songs - thanks for posting! I've always thought Two Janes was a fantastic song, and your interpretation of the lyrics sounds good to me.

I'll respectfully disagree about your top choices for slide guitar, though both are (were) good. But Duane Allman and Ry Cooder top them, IMHO. But it's good to have them all!