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If You Want it That Much

Your ears will be ringing like mine.

I have collected a few songs here that I cannot stop listening to. I find a lot my music on XM Satellite Radio’s Channel 12 Cross Country station. It feels like some of my kindred spirits are there spinning the tunes. Here goes. Songs are listed in no particular order.

“Haley’s Comet” by Tom Russell

This is a delectable treat from Tom Russell, very simply one of the best songwriters you don’t know. Often mentioned in the same breath with Dylan, Russell scores with this song about the end of Bill Haley’s life. It is funny at times, sad at others but terribly well written.

“How to Get Old” by Elliot Randall

I don’t even know what I don’t know about Elliot Randall but heard this song several weeks ago and it stopped me in my tracks. Randall captures Ryan Adams a la Gold and if this tune is anywhere close to the rest of what he has done, I found another favorite.

“Abilene” by Dave Alvin

This is nothing new but it was new to me and resonated with my spirit. Alvin demonstrates here why is so highly regarded as a songwriter; this could be a Nashville hit too but it isn’t cliche so it probably won’t make it.

“Big Cheeseburger” by Blaze Foley

Blaze Foley is another new artist to me. He passed away a few years ago and this is one of his best known songs from the 70’s. He toured around with the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark and was a nomad by all accounts. He also penned the oft covered “Snowing on Raton” (Van Zandt and Robert Earl Keen).

“Claude Dallas” by Tom Russell

Tom appears on my list again here with a story of stories about Claude Dallas, the famed last outlaw who in 1981 killed two game wardens in Idaho. This reminds me of Todd Snider’s D.B. Cooper and is well worth checking out.

“Bad Liver, Broken Heart” by Hayes Carll (songwriter Scott Nolan)

“In this line of work no one retires/ You come in clean and leave torn apart/
Bad liver and a broken heart”

The song captures the essence of traveling around the country and Lost Highway artist Hayes Carll delivers it to a much broader audience than Nolan had previously. Look for this one and for the entire Carll album.

“Your Sister Cried” by Mary Gauthier

Mary is another songwriter few could match. This song stood out to me but check out “Camelot Motel” too.

“Bible and a Gun” by Jason Ringenberg (Jason & The Scorchers) and Steve Earle

Jason & The Scorchers are credited with inspiring such bands as Forty Twenty and the Old 97’s and their influence on the genre of alternative country music is as heavy as anyone’s according to much of what I have read. Ringenberg is the father of Cow Punk and purveyor of alt-country. This is one of his finest tunes, a Civil War tale underscored with Earle’s vocal takes.

“Drinkin’ Days” by Slaid Cleaves

Listen. Slaid relates the end of the road for a drinker in this tune following a bar fight where the narrator flattens a cop. “My drinkin’ days are over/ No more nights at the Carousel”

“Wishbones” by Slaid Cleaves

Here is another tune by Cleaves and this, along with “Broke Down,” would be well worth the time to find it and listen.

“Cry Lonely” by Cross Canadian Ragweed (songwriter Chris Knight)

While I liked this song as Knight released it, the sound Ragweed captures with their take on it, engineered by Mike McClure of course, adds to what Knight had.

“Prozac Made Her Stay” by Antsy McClain and the Trailerpark Troubadours

If you are looking for something a little less serious, McClain delivers here. This is tongue in cheek comedy in the style of Ray Stevens and so true, so true.

“Ruby and Carlos” by James McMurtry

I was fortunate enough to hear this tune live last Friday in Fayetteville, AR. McMurtry isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but he is mine. This tune particularly combines some of the most vivid imagery with a melodic tune to create an awesome platform for storytelling.

“Hurricane Party” by James McMurtry

While McMurtry scored with his political anthem “Cheney’s Toy,” he doesn’t get any better than this tune. While the entire album Just Us Kids is worth your money, try this one out first and tell me this guy isn’t a genius.