Nice warm day today and what better use for it than to crank up the tunes and go for a top down drive in the Miata. I started out with some John Hiatt who has made a lot of great driving songs (Drive South, Tennesee Plates, Memphis in the Meantime) and who, even though it was Bonnie Raitt covering it that made it a hit, was the genius who was able to rhyme "Queen of Sheba" with "amoeba" in "Thing Called Love". I like John's version of his song better than Bonnie's but her's ain't bad at all.
This probably being my last top down drive hereabouts I thought I should be more mindful of place and put on some music having something to do with Baltimore. And when you think Baltimore you think crab cakes but I don't have any CD's about crab cakes, so I went with songs about heroin instead, because when you think Baltimore you also think heroin. And nobody writes better songs about heroin than Neil Young.
I had a real gem of a CD with me - "The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young", which is covers of Neil's songs by some unlikely folks who's work I like a lot: David Lindley, Henry Kaiser, Nick Cave, and others. I love covers. The Grateful Dead at a certain level were just a rock and roll band that did a lot of covers, and I even like Dead cover bands doing a cover of the Dead doing a cover.
The Bridge has some low points, but it's the absolute brilliance of the high points that make this disk one that I keep coming back to. Getting straight to the hair-ron, David Lindley and his daughter Rosanne team up with Henry Kaiser to do a smokin' hot "Needle and the Damage Done/Tonight's the Night". Victoria Williams does a great "Don't let it Bring You Down". Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's version of "Helpless" is dirge-like and completely appropriate for the material. Returning to the Junk, Kaiser comes back with Williams to do an amazing version of "Words".
Henry Kaiser is one of those few guitarists who have developed a unique and identifiable sound. Others have done it as well, but not many - Jerry Garcia certainly, Richard Thompson, and Buck Owens come to mind. Kaiser's playing has a freneticism coupled with a precision of attack that is utterly unique. Williams matches that with her unusual and extremely spirited vocal performance on "Words" that manages to both keep up with Kaiser's over the top playing while at the same time letting us hear that she's getting worn down in the effort. At the end of the song, we hear her in the background as she complains in a weak voice to one of the sound guys that she is "feeling a little squizzy".
"Words" is the high point to a great CD, and a perfect accompaniment to me getting worn down and squizzy flogging the Miata through twisty roads on a warm winter day. Next stop: the mountain roads of Idaho and the Les Bois Miata Club.