Follow by Email

Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Muscle Shoals Recordings

The next in my ongoing series of Grammy-winning records that most people don't care about is Best Bluegrass Recording, and that went to The Steeldrivers for The Muscle Shoals Recordings. Just what is "bluegrass?" It's a kind of American roots music that developed in Appalachia, brought over from English, Scottish, and Irish immigrants. Invariably it will have a banjo, fiddle, and mandolin involved. It's nice to listen to, but only for a short time.

In the song "Too Much," Gary Nichols sings, "too much music it all sound the same." Hmm. I don't what he's listening to, but there's plenty of different types of music out there, while bluegrass, as it's defined, is extremely limited, and, well, it all sounds the same. There's a bluegrass channel on Siriux/XM and I listened to it once and could take only about fifteen minutes. Bluegrass is acceptable in small, small doses.

That being said, The Muscle Shoals Recordings is a fine record, with everything you would expect in a bluegrass record. Fiddle, banjo, mandolin--it's all there. Many of the songs deal sound as if they were written a hundred years ago, especially my favorite, the closing track, "River Runs Red," which is about the Civil War, and nicely incorporates "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Dixie." But other songs, like the aforementioned "Too Much," discusses modern issues in a somewhat trite way for 2016:

"Too much anger, too much caffeine, too much violence on my TV,
Too much commercial on the radio, too much traffic everywhere I go."

Basically this song is like Grandpa complaining about how life used to be much better in the old days.

I also found a rhyme in the song "Day Before Temptation" that seems incredibly overused:

"I know playing with fire will get you burned
You think that'd be a lesson I'd have learned."

Suffice it to say, the lyricist is no Bob Dylan.

To me, bluegrass music is like a garnish, to be listened to sparingly. It has very little range--usually the songs are in one key (Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion used to do a bit taking famous songs and turning them bluegrass by putting them all in one key) so it can be disconcerting to listen to too much of it. It's like making a meal out of parsley.

No comments:

Post a Comment