Here are this week’s five songs worth listening to.
Tyler Childers–Long Violent History
My boy from eastern Kentucky dropped a surprise album on us this week. I have a queue of songs to include in this here column, but Timothy Tyler jumps the line anytime he wants. And boy does he bring the social commentary fire on this one. Long Violent History, the album, is nine songs. The first eight are some mighty fine fiddlin’ that would make Kyle Nix proud. But the headliner is the finale, the title track. He addresses racism and repercussions, ponders what if it was us and seeking the right way to voice the issues.
Now what would you get if you heard my opinion
conjecturing on matters that I ain’t never dreamed
In all my born days, this white boy from Hickman,
based on the way that the world’s been to me
It’s called me belligerent, it’s took me for ignorant
but it ain’t never once made me scared just to be
Could you imagine just constantly worrying,
kicking and fighting begging to breathe?
Tyler Childers–A Message From Tyler
Doubling up with Childers, and doing a first here on FFF. For this is not a song, but a explanative primer from Tyler about Long Violent History, just in case the music was not clear enough. Tyler leaves no room for interpretation. There have been many songs about social injustice, civil angst and such. I would consider this one of the more important ones, not because it’s message shines above others greatly (although, yeah, kind of), but the perspective it comes from and the audience it should reach–his Appalachian brethren. And i use Appalachian in the sense of stereotype, not a location. Southern Illinois is nowhere near the mountains, but, well…you know.
In a related note, I have had to update my mancrush rankings:
1. Tyler Childers
2. Justin Timberlake
3. Russell Wilson
4. Rickey Henderson
5. Wendell Pierce
6. Stop listing names, it’s getting weird Weez.
Yes, we have a new number one. Sorry, JT.
Humming House–Sure Hope We Survive
This song from the Nashville folk quintet was written back in 2017, a response to the overwhelming news cycle of the political tapestry. The repetitive “Are you going out of our mind” is a legitimate question.
“The song is not just a lament, it’s a call to action. Even when things are utterly bleak, there are glimmers of hope in this mess. If there is anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s that collective action on a global scale is possible. We can change how we do things. If we listen to science, care for those around us conscientiously and equally, preserve our environment, and hold our elected leaders accountable, massive change can happen. Here’s to coming together and collective action,” they posted on Facebook with the release.
Public Enemy–Fight The Power (2020 remix)
Remember above when I mentioned I have a queue I work my way down? I don’t normally try to theme these posts or group in any way. I just work my way down chronologically from when I added it to the list. (With the aforementioned exception for Childers). So, I would like to say it is just a coincidence that this is another song firing both guns at social justice and unrest. But in a greater sense, it probably is not a coincidence, as these are the songs that are speaking to me the most right now.
Fight the Power, released in 1989, is one of the all-time great hip hop anthems. For this remix, Public Enemy recruits Nas, Rapsody, Black Thought, Jahi, YG and Questlove for a powerful updated. It serves a reminder that while the movement has picked up steam, it’s also a slow moving train.
Charley Crockett–Blackjack County Chain
Charlie renews an old late 60s country tune written by Red Lane that was controversial in its time. Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings had a version that much of country music refused to play. Charley adds an especially harrowing tone to the tune, with a spacious soundscape. For me, it is the highlight of his seventh album, Welcome To Hard Times, released in late July.
Plus, Charley once had the pleasure:
We’ll be back with five more next week. Until then, remember the immortal words…
“Songs are really just interesting things to be doing with the air.” Tom Waits