Archive for Rodney Crowell

Live: Rodney Crowell, Houston

Posted in Rock Moment with tags , on January 31, 2011 by 30daysout

Rodney Crowell, singing in his hometown at Cactus Music & Record Ranch.

It was a typically low key homecoming for one of Houston’s favorite musical sons – Rodney Crowell walked in the front door of Cactus Music & Record Ranch on Monday, guitar case in hand, and asked, “Are you ready?”  With little fanfare, one of the greatest songwriters of the past few decades sat on the record store’s small stage and started picking a blues tune.

“That one was by Lightnin’ Hopkins,” said Crowell afterward.  “How about another one from a Houston songwriter?  Townes Van Zandt.”  Then he did one by Guy Clark, then he did one of his own songs.  More covers, from Tom T. Hall and Willie Nelson (“He’s an honorary Houston songwriter, I suppose,” Crowell said) before Crowell played another of his compositions, “Banks of the Ol’ Bandera.”

About that song, he said he was staying in a hotel near the Texas town of Bandera when he wrote that song.  He played it fresh out of the wrapper for Bee Spears, Willie Nelson’s bass player, and after only hearing it once Spears turned around and played it for someone else.  “Before you know it, Jerry Jeff Walker was recording it,” Crowell said, “after it was only heard once removed.”

That’s not surprising, considering the prowess of Rodney Crowell, who became one of Nashville’s top talents in the 1980s and 1990s.  He hit first as a songwriter, penning “Shame On The Moon” for Bob Seger and “Ain’t Living Long Like This” for Emmylou Harris.  Then he was a producer, working on a number of albums for his wife at the time, Rosanne Cash.  Then Crowell became a bonafide country singing star with the 1988 album Diamonds and Dirt, which spawned an amazing five No. 1 country singles.

On this afternoon, Crowell’s intent was to promote not only the evening’s gig but also his new book, Chinaberry Sidewalks.  The book is an autobiographical look at Crowell’s upbringing in Houston by his hard-drinking, country-singing father and his Bible-thumping mother.  Apparently the book stops before it can get into Crowell’s musical career; the heart of the story is the turbulent but loving relationship he had with his dysfunctional parents.

Crowell wrote the book – without the help of a ghost writer – over a 10-year period.  “You know me,” he said, “I gotta do it all myself.  If I’d used a ghost writer it would have been finished a long time ago.”  This in-store was supposed to have a little music and some reading of passages from the book, but Rodney Crowell got lost in the music and forgot about the prose.  No complaints.

MP3: “Moving Work Of Art”

MP3: “Earthbound”

MP3: “Sex and Gasoline”

MP3: “Ain’t Living Long Like This”

Rodney Crowell official website

Chinaberry Sidewalks at

YouTube: Rodney Crowell at Cactus, performing “Long Hard Road” (thanks to Ludachris56)

Rodney Crowell at BookPeople, Austin, performing Guy Clark’s “Stuff That Works”

“Telephone Road” at Gruene Hall, Texas, on 1-29-11

Hello from Our Hometown

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 9, 2010 by 30daysout

Big fun in our hometown over the weekend: we went to the annual Art Car parade, which I’ve attended with my son for who knows how many years.  Just the other day the New York Times did a story where they spent 36 hours in our hometown, and needless to say they missed a lot of the good stuff.  How can you spend any time in our hometown and not mention the music?

Our little town is an American cradle of blues, country, folk, jazz and hip-hop, all seasoned by our neighbors to the south (Mexico), the east (Louisiana) and the west (Austin).   You can look up some of the cool musicians who have called our little town home, and the many more who recorded their hits here.  Of course the NY Times mentioned an art museum, some swanky restaurants and hotels and – naturally – a gay bar.

Screw the New York Times.  We still run that damn space program from here, and there’s still no better place to get your damn heart fixed.  And did I mention we have a lot of great music here: guess who was here over the weekend?  Elwood Blues.  Ha ha ha ha!

MP3: “Telephone Road” by Rodney Crowell

MP3: “Struggle Here In Houston” by Lowell Fulsom

MP3: “Orphan Of The Storm” by Mudcrutch

MP3: “Fannin Street” (live) by Tom Waits

MP3: “Houston” by Dean Martin

MP3: “Houston Is Hot Tonight” by Iggy Pop

MP3: “Seeds” (live) by Bruce Springsteen

MP3: “Houston” by the Deadstring Brothers

MP3: “Houston, TX” by Deer Tick

MP3: “Houston” by Bun B, Slim Thug, Mike Jones, Paul Wall &  Chamillionaire

MP3: “If You Ever Go To Houston” by Bob Dylan

MP3: “Home To Houston” (live) by Steve Earle

MP3: “Heaven, Hell or Houston” by ZZ Top

The Houston Press‘ take on the New York Times article.  Nice photo!

Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders, Part 12

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by 30daysout

CollectusInterrupt pumpingvinyl

There was just no denying it, by 1978 two things were obvious: one, the Loss Leaders had definitely gone uptown.  And two, our buddies in Burbank were definitely in denial over the Disco Monster, at that time raging on radio stations across the country.

Check out this copy from Collectus Interruptus, the only sampler from ‘78: “This is unequivocable party music.  Danceable R&B by some of its premier practitioners – none of them, curiously, traversing the well-traveled terrain of disco.”  This was to introduce artists like Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, the husband-wife team who wrote monster hits for Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross before jumping to Warner Bros. in the early ’70s.  Despite the denial, “Don’t Cost You Nothing” from Ashford & Simpson sounds suspiciously like disco.  And you can’t blame ‘em; pretty much everyone from the Bee Gees to the Rolling Stones to Kiss at least dipped their toes into the disco waters in 1978.

Collectus Interruptus also featured funk from Bootsy’s Rubber Band and the definitive “Bootzilla”, a tasty “Night People” from the great New Orleans master Allen Toussaint and selections from franchise players Gordon Lightfoot, Gary Wright, George Benson and Seals & Crofts.  But it’s an interesting sampler in that you can hear the first stirrings of a few contenders that would soon rise to tame the disco monster: there’s “Soft and Wet,” from the debut LP of an 18-year-old named Prince, the brothers Van Halen introduce themselves with “Runnin’ With The Devil” and this little band outta New Yawk, the Ramones, going to “Rockaway Beach.”

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