Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Musical Tuesdays: Buddy Miller

An Americana Icon

Whenever someone asks me or Tim what kind of music we play, we stumble over some terms like country, rock 'n' roll, folk, bluegrass, and trail off into some sort of gesture (usually a shrug) that indicates our uncertainty. We usually get the nod and "alright!" reply from the asker.

What we want to say is Americana, but alas, I guess the world isn't ready for us because in the few instances where we've possessed the bravery to come forward with that kind of terminology, the replies are much more confused and usually loop us back to our collection of stock answers anyway.

But there are some artists that have so solidly developed an association with the term that one is lead to believe it is only a matter of time before the Americana genre won't need a bandwagon of subsidiary, explanatory descriptions.

One such artist is Buddy Miller.

Mr. Miller was born in Ohio and currently lives and works in, appropriately, Nashville, where he continuously pumps out album after album like some sort of American Music Factory. Whether he's producing, playing, writing, or performing, he is involved in what seems to be an inhuman amount of projects. His music, when forced into our prefab stock answers, covers everything from straight up rock 'n' roll to gospel to blues to country to folk and back again.

Right, Americana.

I am compelled to share artists such as Mr. Miller in an attempt to shine more spotlights on him and similar musicians, musicians interested in making music that has deep American roots.

As a personal aside; I think it is becoming more and more important to foster this type of healthy patriotism, the kind that highlights our strengths, reminds us of our faults, and reinterprets our history again and again.

History is like good dirt. It's one thing to know it's there, but it must be worked to make something beautiful.

Here is a video of Mr. Miller's project, The Majestic Silver Strings, in which him and a heavy hitter group of his peers reimagine the song Dang Me, originally by Roger Miller.

I am in love with this rendition because country music has a reputation of singing about heavy subject matter in a light-hearted way. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I hear songs like this and sometimes I long for an arrangement that mirrors the subject. For "country folk", and folks everywhere, really, alcoholism is a serious matter that destroys lives. Similarly, subjects such as violence, divorce, separation, and the afterlife are often approached with upbeat styles.

Sometimes I'm just looking for something that sits a little heavier. In this case, I got an old classic, re-imagined with the proverbial emotional weight appropriate for the topic. It's an artistic masterpiece.

In this video, Mr. Miller and his wife Julie sing a song for Mrs. Miller's album, Written in Chalk. This little number is called Gasoline and Matches and is the penultimate kick-ass couple anthem. A song that two musicians like Tim and I can really get into...

I hope you'll consider exploring the Millers' discography. They've created a library of music that is contributing to the Americana soundscape by helping to define it and refusing to fall into any other categories.

And when you share your findings with friends and they ask you, "So what kind of stuff do they do?"...

Good luck.

No comments:

Post a Comment