I've been hiding almost entirely among female sonic standbys lately. If you find yourself soured by a stormy, pornographic presidency or malevolent dicks elsewhere, Emmylou Harris and a plethora subsequent modern angelic crooners like Tift Merritt or Neko Case provide a fine antidote.
I have punks to thank, naturally. I adored Social Distortion's cover of Making Believe.* It took an embarrassing amount of time to finally hear Harris' version (thanks SB). It was transmogrifying. I don't have the data to confirm this, but I reckon all punk enthusiasts eventually find country. I submit John Doe as the model.** We're just looking for honestly sung songs. It's the same reason we're enraptured by Otis Redding and Chuck D.
(An aside: Emmylou Harris once paused onstage to check baseball scores. I was impressed.)
I'll take country in all shapes & sizes & genders. I miss the friendly yodeling of Don Walser and his Big Texas Band*** (thanks PC) and I adore the kinetic tendency that drove Gram Parsons, Uncle Tupelo and This Bike is a Pipe Bomb...
(That song turned the dank of the Parkside into a joyful ruckus a few years ago.)
And, like everybody, I pledged my allegiance to Cash... even at his most verbose (yeah, even that train record). If I were teaching American history I'd start & end with "The Ballad of Ira Hayes." But no one does country better than women. Further evidence, First Aid Kit's latest...
* An OC show with Social Distortion was my first real run-in with neo-nazis. I got an inadvertent boot in the neck... maybe not entirely inadvertent. Still, they were more discrete and shadowy back then... before, you know.
** Since he's been mentioned, everyone that reads this here fine print oughta give John Doe's collaboration with The Sadies a listen.
*** I introduced myself to Walser in Austin and Berkley, he and his wife struck me as genuinely sweet humans.