Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Record of the Month - Classic

Another installment of a disk I have enjoyed over the years. I'm trying to keep the Record of the Month posts to be fairly new releases. Classics are going to be ones that are at least 5 years old.

Is Home, arguably the Dixie Chicks' best release? Yes, arguably.

I really like Taking the Long Way, but to be honest, half of that album is excellent and the other half is just good. Technically, so is Home (released in 2002).

But Home contains one of my all-time favourite songs, a "cover" of Patty Griffin's "Top of the World", so it might edge out their other release for top dog. I say "cover" because the Chicks released it a few years before Patty released her own version.

Originally released as a big middle finger to Sony, the Chicks abandoned the hit formula of their first two major releases after they took Sony to court for unpaid royalties and for treating them unfairly.

Home is, for closest categorization, a bluegrass record, basically in terms that there are no drums, which are traditionally not used in this genre. I don't think anyone is going to argue that it is deep in the weeds bluegrass music though. It's not, but they sure do put some great elements in there that make it not as accessible to the folks who bought those other disks.

Still, it is a good disk, though there are some mines they don't dodge. Let's start there. "Landslide". Ugh! It was great in 1975 and some of the 1,873,418 times Fleetwood Mac played it live....but there is a lifespan to some songs, and it had long since passed before DCX put it on tape. There was zero need for it, though that being said, it was a huge radio and sales hit. So, while the rest the public ate it up, I did not. I'm not a fan of their sappy "Traveling Soldier", which was their last hit before the statement regarding Bush that really put the brakes on their career. Sappy doesn't do it for me. Slapping Bush down, does.

But DCX still comes out strong with "Long Time Gone", with it's wordplay on current and classic country music. "Truth No. 2" (also written by Griffin) is good and I like "White Trash Wedding", if nothing else for the lyric "I shouldn't be wearin' white and you can't afford no ring...".

I also really like "I Believe in Love", though to be honest, they performed it much better live, a year earlier, at a benefit right after 9/11.

But it is "Top of the World" that always draws me in - and keeps doing so. Also released as a single, it was too late after 'the incident' for radio to take a chance on it. That it is over six minutes long didn't help matters. But it shows what a great songwriter Griffin is and what great interpreters of music the Chicks are.

I like the video too. It's very much like The Hours, which came out a little before the video. If you didn't see, read or like The Hours, you won't see the similarities or like them, I suppose.

Of course, if you don't like country or bluegrass music either, then you might be dead in the water with this disk.

Just for the hell of it, I've embedded the video for "Top of the World".


Unknown said...

This is where our Frostian road diverges in the forest. I am no fan of the Chixk. Neither musically, unless they cover SN or politically. Finally, a way to tell us apart at the gates of hell.

RJ March said...

Griffin recorded TotW on her unreleased Silver Bell album. This video completely reminds me of The Hours. Oh, the silence is broken. Leave it to Patty Griffin and the DC.