Thursday, April 12, 2007

John Anderson- A Honky Tonk Saturday Night

Sunday morning.

There were two great new voices on mainstream country radio in the '80s- Randy Travis and John Anderson. Anderson's 1982 breakthrough release, Wild & Blue, signaled the format's short-lived return to traditional sounds. Not only does that album's "A Honky Tonk Saturday Night" showcase Anderson rich voice, it's a near-perfect country song. Steve Goodman would appreciate its laundry list of topics- drinking, dancing, casual sex, and best of all, Merle Haggard on the jukebox.

And it was going so well... I auditioned Djin Djin, the new release by African star Angelique Kidjo, last night. It's front-loaded with guest spots by pop stars. Alicia Keys, Branford Marsalis, Joss Stone and Peter Gabriel make constructive appearances in the first twenty minutes. After hearing the fifth song, which features the sublime Amadou & Mariam, I was ready to make room for Djin Djin in my best-of list for 2007. Then came Josh Groban and Carlos Santana. It's excruciating. Can one song ruin an album? I'll have to wrestle with that question. And guess what song is featured in the label's electronic press kit?

I devoured Kurt Vonnegut's paperbacks while in high school. And I'm still thrilled at the memory of lobbing him a softball question at one of his lectures. I lost my taste for Vonnegut soon after, but there's little doubt that his work affected my world view. The author died yesterday.

Kansas City Click: John Anderson plays the VooDoo tonight. It wasn't long ago that Anderson appeared at extremely sketchy dives. This is another case of casinos altering the live music scene. In this case, it's for the better.


Anonymous said...

Can you please explain why you didn't enjoy the duet Pearls? I personally feel it was the best song on the album. A story of a Somalian woman and her troubles. I think that Josh Groban and Carlos Santana were amazing attributes to this beautiful song, so i was wondering f you could elaborate.

Happy In Bag said...

While I love Santana and there's no denying Groban's beautiful voice, both men sound completely incongruous within the context of "Pearl." Groban particularly seems overwrought. (And in turn, Kidjo oversings.) The song's message is spoiled by this approach. In his guest spot, Peter Gabriel is used to provide color and texture; his voice becomes one with the song. It enhances Kidjo. By contrast, both Groban and Santana are positioned front and center. I'm willing to place the blame on producer Tony Visconti (who has worked on many of my favorite albums, and who otherwise is masterful here).

Clay Eals said...

Good to see your passing reference to "You Never Even Call Me by My Name" by Steve Goodman. As you imply, he often doesn't get his due. Thought you might be interested in an eight-year project of mine that is coming to fruition -- a biography of Goodman that will be published in May. Please e-mail me at if you would like me to e-mail you a background sheet on the book. Or check my Internet site below for more info and how to pre-order, if you like. Just trying to spread the word. Feel free to do the same!

Clay Eals
1728 California Ave. S.W. #301
Seattle, WA 98116-1958

(206) 935-7515

bgo said...

RE: Vonnegut

I recommend this short opinion piece from a few years ago (2004)

bgo said...

damb. here's the full link, i hope