10 songs showing how the human spirit deals with illness

Before free and easy access to doctors and medical care, many people struggled to understand disease. This is where folk and popular songs of the day played an important role in public awareness. The birth of the recording industry in the ’20s meant that the reliance on song for medical information was captured for posterity. Below are 10 songs about illness and they give an insight into how the human spirit can respond to Continue reading “10 songs showing how the human spirit deals with illness”

Pick of the Political Pops: Townes Van Zandt “Waiting Round To Die”

This week down in the bunker we have been ruminating on the possibility that we are in some sort of ‘end of days’ scenario. Every time we put on our cathode ray 14” black and white TV there seems to be another news broadcast which looks like it’s been lifted more or less directly from a Hollywood disaster movie and we are constantly thankful that the door to the bunker is three inches thick and has innumerable locks. Lots of places are taking all sorts of precautions in this regard – Donny John had told the Europeans to do one (except the Brits presumably on the basis that someone told him we are no longer Europeans), The Italians have told everybody to not do one – i.e. stay in your homes until further notice. The Irish and many others have told school kids and other students to be neither seen nor heard and we UKers have been panic buying toilet roll. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Townes Van Zandt “Waiting Round To Die””

Video: Merle Haggard & Willie Nelson “Pancho and Lefty”

This week’s retro video is a true classic written by the legendary Townes Van Zandt.  If you watch closely, you might spot Van Zandt making an appearance or two in the video!  As you would expect, the characterful vocals from Nelson and Haggard are excellent.  Legend has it that the character of Lefty was based on Daniel Antopolsky, who toured with Van Zandt back in the day…read my interview with him here.

Townes Van Zandt Albums for 50th Anniversery Reissue

One of the troubadour voices that define Americana, Townes Van Zandt, saw the release of an album -‘Sky Blue‘ – of “lost tracks” at the start of the year.  And here, at the back end of 2019, comes news of the release of two of his original albums.  To call them influential would be a gross understatement. Continue reading “Townes Van Zandt Albums for 50th Anniversery Reissue”

What Is This Americana Thing Anyway…?

This week in our occasional series in which we ask the Americana UK staff writers and contributors to give us a handle on the what, whys and wherefores that got them into the genre, Tim Martin goes up before the beak to explain himself to the gathered hoard. Apparently he’s not a punk or a heavy metal drummer (at least not anymore if ever he was). Read on to find out exactly where he does stand… Continue reading “What Is This Americana Thing Anyway…?”

Interview: Daniel Antopolsky

Daniel Antopolsky is a storyteller. He weaves narratives in and out of his songs and, when you watch him perform, the stories and songs merge. Antopolsky was a contemporary of the likes of Guy Clarke and Townes Van Zandt, one of the original outlaws, often referred to as the ‘missing outlaw’ thanks to the famous photograph taken on the porch at Guy Clark’s house. Legend has it that the character of ‘Lefty’ in Van Zandt’s much loved ‘Pancho and Lefty’ is based on Antopolsky; indeed, Antopolsky was present when the classic song was written and was the first person ever to hear it. Continue reading “Interview: Daniel Antopolsky”

What Is This Americana Thing Anyway…

Here’s another voyage into the psyche of our writers and contributors in which we interrogate the (often) unfathomable reasons why we are all such junkies for this Americana stuff. This week self-confessed needle dropper Andrew Frolish documents his journey from the unfashionable to the deeply unfashionable (or fashionable to the uber fashionable depending on who you talk to). As a needle dropper we’re not sure if he’s a junkie, a vinyl junkie or just a rubbish seamstress (but we could probably find out). Continue reading “What Is This Americana Thing Anyway…”

Here’s 10 americana songs with great lyrics

Given the way in in which people typically consume music nowadays, all too often the lyrics are sidelined, if not completely overlooked. But great lyrics are often what make the best songs truly memorable. The following is the first in an occasional series about songs with great lyrics. Mark Underwood explains what makes the following 10 tracks so special. Continue reading “Here’s 10 americana songs with great lyrics”

Listen to new Townes Van Zandt album in full

Well that’s it for this week dear readers, and what a wretched one it’s been in various ways. We leave you anyway with something decidely not-wretched. The lovely people over at NPR Music are currently streaming a new Townes Van Zandt record on their site which comes out a week today. Continue reading “Listen to new Townes Van Zandt album in full”

RS on the songwriter who saved Townes Van Zandt’s life

Really interesting piece up on RS today about an americana legend and a slightly less well known musician: “A lot of lore surrounds the brief but colorful career of Townes Van Zandt, the gifted songwriter who died in 1997 from a heart attack at age 52, with much of it dedicated to his unbridled substance abuse. His biographies invariably note the heroin overdose he survived in the early 1970s, but the untold story is how Van Zandt’s life was saved that day – by musician Daniel Antopolsky. Continue reading “RS on the songwriter who saved Townes Van Zandt’s life”