Tres Songs

If you’re planning on contributing to the mighty, mighty blogger’s playlist – or you’ve already told me you want to and haven’t yet sent me any tunes – there’s still time. But time, to misquote John Lennon, is “flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup.” See here.

Tres Songs is a periodic post where I feature three songs that I like and want to share. Simple as that.

First up – It would be impossible as a rock or even blues fan to not know the name, Jack White. Ever since the White Stripes dissolved in 2011. he has been something of a one-nation army and like Dave Grohl, a musical force of nature.

But even prior to the demise of the Stripes, White was dallying around with other bands, trying to make things happen. In 2005 he joined up with singer/guitarist Brendan Benson, bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler, the latter two of the Greenhornes.

Together they called themselves the Raconteurs. (Not so in Australia as in Queensland there was already a band with that name. That band tried to charge the White-led Raconteurs a lot of money just to see what would happen. What happened is that they called themselves the Saboteurs in Australia.)

Here’s a rockin’ little tune called “Steady, As She Goes:”

Spotify link

Richard Thompson, OBE (pictured on top of post) is a British singer-songwriter who seems to play just about every stringed instrument there is (including hammered dulcimer.) He first came to renown in the British folk-rock band Fairport Convention back in the Sixties. I liked Fairport but overall that wasn’t really my thing.

Where I really got to know Thompson better was as a solo artist, especially via his and his then-wife Linda’s critically acclaimed 1982 album Shoot Out the Lights.  I haven’t followed Thompson’s career very closely but I always liked his songwriting and especially his guitar playing.

This song, “Why Must I Plead,” is from Richard’s 1991 solo album, Rumor and Sigh. Per Wikipedia, “The American spelling of the word “Rumor” is due to the fact that Thompson took the title of his album from a posthumously published poem by Archibald MacLeish: “Rumor and sigh of unimagined seas/ Dim radiance of stars that never flamed.””

Spotify link

In June 1997, an elderly married couple named Lela and Raymond Howard from Salado, Texas left home to attend something called the Pioneer Day Festival in nearby Temple. Lela had Alzheimer’s and Raymond had recently recovered from brain surgery so one can imagine it was perhaps not the best idea to head out alone.

But head out they did and not only never made it to the festival but in fact, according to Wikipedia, “were discovered two weeks later, dead, at the bottom of a ravine near Hot Springs, Arkansas, hundreds of miles off their intended route.”

A band from Texas named Fastball, who appear to be very much still around, read about this tragedy and invented their own narrative using the story as a starting point. “It’s a romanticized take on what happened,” the band advised, “picturing them taking off to have fun like they did when they first met.”

The resulting tune, “The Way,” was a pretty big hit in 1998. When I first heard it, I would have sworn it was Elvis Costello.

Spotify link


17 thoughts on “Tres Songs

  1. Nice choices. I think my favorite among the three is The Way. I still remember when that tune came out and have always liked the guitar sound. I no idea about the back story.

    Regarding Richard Thompson, I actually saw him as the opening act to Bonnie Raitt in 2016. While I had heard of Fairport Convention, I had never heard of him before. His guitar playing was definitely quite impressive. The tune you chose here has a nice soul touch.

    As for Jack White, he’s one of those artists I’m well aware of but somehow haven’t gotten to. Any particular tip where I should start?


    1. Yeah, I’d heard the story of The Way and knew it was reality-based. Wikipedia filled in the gaps. Boy, Raitt and Thompson, there’s a show. Yeah, I really like that tune by Thompson. Nice feel. As to Jack White, any of the first handful of White Stripes albums is worth a spin. Try “Elephant” with the great “Seven Nation Army” and if you like that. “White Blood Cells.” Jack is a blues-rocker by way of punk so it’s an interesting, compelling sound. Love their stuff. Rolling Stone had White on the cover of the mag once with Mick and Keith, idea being that he was the heir apparent.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, I’ll check out Jack – should have done it a long time ago. At least I finally have gotten to Little Feat. Now here’s a truly awesome band, at least based on what I’ve heard thus far!


  2. I need to dig into Thompson’s catalogue, cause I know it’s rich. I only have two albums that a good friend recommended (a favourite of his). I’m very familiar with Jack White, though… and I dunno if it’s courting controversy to say that I prefer his non-White Stripes stuff. Raconteurs have a lot of great tunes, but I think his solo stuff is consistently brilliant and I also really rate the Dead Weather.


    1. I know a smattering of White’s solo stuff but with all the other distractions it’s hard to keep up. He’s one of those guys, though, that when they play him on the radio I always listen. It’s by no means always blues but when he does blues it’s shot through with punk sensibility. When I wrote about White Stripes before, I noted that he was a big fan of the punk band Gun Club and that he wondered “why they don’t teach their songs in schools.” Hmmm.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Could you imagine schools teaching Gun Club songs? Yikes! But yeah, White’s solo albums are worth exploring. Particularly the second effort. I believe he has his third on the horizon…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Every where CB turns these days I’m being followed by Jack White. Him and T Bone Burnett have been teaming up in some real cool projects. Thompson is a no brainer what a beautiful tune. Sounds like Garth hudson on the keyboards. I love a good story song and ‘The Well’ fills the bill. I’ve heard it somewhere in my travels. Amazing how many times that scenario happens with people heading off never to return.


    1. There’s definitely a Band-ish quality to that Thompson tune. Interestingly, the keyboard player is Mitchell Froom who has produced a lot of artists from Los Lobos to Elvis Costello to Suzanne Vega. And yeah, ‘The Way’ is a terrific tune based on a sad event. I don’t know how many people knew that but it was fairly common knowledge at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There have been a few stories from up here where Mom and Pop head off in the RV and meet with the same fate.
        Froom is a familiar name. He seems to get around. Good tunes! I actually know a real good musician who plays the “dulcimer’, he calls it his “Electric Snowshoe”. I might have mentioned that before.


  4. I discovered Richard Thompson belatedly, around 1992, after a co-worker turned me on to Fairport. It was the “What We Did On Our Holidays” album that did it. The whole band was talented, but he and Sandy Denny stood out, and it’s no surprise he’s had such a highly regarded solo career.


    1. Yeah. Fairport and that ilk aren’t really my bag but they are a nice change of pace. And Denny, of course, sang with Robert Plant on ‘Battle of Evermore.’ Great singer, tragic life.


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