Today’s itinerary: beaches and a long drive through South Carolina to Georgia.
For today’s music selection I’m taking a break from the road trip playlist to pay tribute to two states that have some of our richest musical cultures (and some of our most odious laws, but we’ll deal with that another time). Countless artists have called Georgia home over the years, including Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, the Allman Brothers Band, and REM, so we’ll get a few classics from them.
North Carolina, meanwhile, has a rich tradition of country, ragtime, and Piedmont blues. I’ve already discussed the wonderful Carolina Chocolate Drops. Today I’m going to bust out one of my favorite albums from high school: the under-appreciated alt country classic, Faithless Street by Whiskeytown. This is Ryan Adams before he made it big, and flew off to Coketown. (OH! THAT IS GOLDEN! YOU ARE ON FIRE, MR. UNIVERSE!)
Later albums by both Whiskeytown and Adams had a little more polish; the edges were wiped a bit cleaner. This album, though, is often recorded live in the studio. The guitars are louder, the vocals are rougher, and Adams makes sure everyone knows that the Replacements and Gram Parsons made their mark. Kudos also to Caitlin Cary for excellent fiddle work and a gloriously bitter rejection of the married life on “Matrimony.”
For those who reflexively recoil from country like they’ve just seen a cockroach take flight (HINT: It’s a waterbug!), give this a shot. There’s not much twang from the steel guitars, Ryan Adams has a unique passion and yearning to his voice, and he never tries to copy Garth Brooks’s cadences and vocal stylings, as every Nashville-based country singer has tried to do for the last 20 years. In short, this is clearly music made by people, not some machine six feet under the secret headquarters of country music in Nashville. (I will find that machine. I will destroy it.)
Here’s three classics from the album. I’ll see y’all in Georgia.