Death Don’t Have No Mercy—Rev. Gary Davis
There are a handful of recordings and versions of Rev. Gary Davis doing this song out there—two of which are probably most notable. The first is a studio recording for his album Harlem Street Singer, and the second is his performance at the Newport Folk Festival.
It is this latter version I’ve chosen to recommend here. I say, without exaggeration, that this performance is one of the most moving, chilling, hypnotic, and powerful pieces of music I’ve ever heard in my decades of passionate music listening.
I first heard the recording on a…
Those who dismiss The Ramones tend to do so on the grounds that they’re one-dimensional—that they, essentially, only ever wrote one song, and then just repeated themselves over and over again.
Even those who count themselves as being on the positive side of the Ramones ledger often inadvertently write them off by cataloguing them as “important” without really listening.
Unquestionably, it’s all too common to see them understood as pioneers of the intentionally stupid.
The Ramones were, in fact, smart as all get out, and masters of social satire.
No song better showcases this than “We’re a Happy Family.” Who…
I am one of those who subscribes to the theory that Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja is, in fact, Banksy.
I am also one of those who subscribes to the maxim that one cannot choose a single “best” female vocal performance on a Massive Attack song. Certainly Shara Nelson on “Safe from Harm” is up there. Elizabeth Fraser’s performance on “Teardrop” would have to be as well.
And then, of course, there is Tracey Thorn on “Protection.”
I’m not sure it’s the best vocal performance, but I would make an argument for it being the best combination of vocal performance…
We’ve delivered a new song recommendation every day of 2021. We’re up to 63 songs now. You can hear them all on our #365Songs playlist, and you can check out the list to-date below. How many have YOU heard?
Pete Seeger — Go Tell Aunt Rhody Billy Bragg — Island of No Return Blind Willie McTell; Kate McTell — Dying Gambler John Coltrane — A Love Supreme, Pt. IV — Psalm XTC — Dear God Leonard Cohen — Democracy Skip James — Washington D.C. Hospital Center Blues Bonnie Prince Billy — I See A Darkness The Cure — Disintegration —…
The life and legend of John Fahey have become every bit as folkloric as he intended them to be. Fahey was engaged in myth-making from the start, and his journey became a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy as he ultimately ended up as tragic a figure as he once mythologized himself to be. That said, perhaps not in quite the way he intended.
“Dance of Death” isn’t a particularly well-written book, but it’s comprehensive, and I encourage you to read it if you want to know more about what happened to this brilliant but troubled troubadour.
As to my recommendation today…
I’m on a bit of a saint thing, having already written about saint songs here and here . But truth be told, this little saint theme of mine isn’t the real reason I’m writing this recommendation. I’m just using the theme as a mechanism for writing about Kiko.
If you don’t know Kiko, Kiko is an album. Kiko is, in fact, a perfect album. Los Lobos was already a great band, but with Kiko, they created a masterpiece. Co-founder Louie Perez reflected on creating Kiko in an extraordinary interview conducted back in 2012:
I’ll tell you, every day in the…
Continuing on with our “saints” theme from yesterday, we present you today with Saints in Hell.
To build our argument, let’s get a few things straight:
Judas Priest is one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time.
Stained Class is one of their greatest albums, from a career that currently spans more than 50 years.
Saints in Hell is one of the greatest songs on the album.
Ergo, Saints in Hell is great.
Now, let’s deal with the other stuff.
Stained Class is regrettably probably more known for the song Better by You, Better than Me, originally recorded…
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. It’s Fat Tuesday, and I’m recommending … When The Saints Go Marching In???
Uh huh. That IS what I’m recommending. ‘
Cuz you ain’t NEVER heard it done like this before.
Just listen. Just dig. Just … get in the mood.
Hear this, and ALL the #365Songs so far, on our exclusive Spotify playlist!
It’s raining as I write this, and something about a rainy morning at home always takes me back to the years we lived in the west of Ireland. We lived in a 200-year-old stone house about a mile outside of a little fishing village, right on the southern tip of Galway Bay. The house used to be the parochial house for the village, and it was heated by a pair of peat stoves.
It was while we were living there that I first heard The Town I Loved So Well, as sung by Luke Kelly.
If it wasn’t for Dolores…
Jacques Brel is, of course, the writer of the song, and his performance is, in my mind, second only to one—Nina Simone.
Nina Simone doesn’t just sing songs. She possesses them. She inhabits them as a ghost does a house. As the spirit does a soul.
This is one of those songs that transcends geography, and as such, translation isn’t required to feel the feeling.
That said, the lyrics should be understood, for they’re remarkable.
As a native English speaker who also speaks a bit of French, I try to understand the song in both its original language and my…
Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist , poet, writer. Vintage guitars, vintage typewriters, new Moleskines.