Guitar Slide Wednesday: Whiskeytown Version

I buy a lot of music. And sometimes, it takes a while to get around to listening to it. However, two recently released albums required immediate listening: (the ever dreamy) Rhett Miller’s The Dreamer and Kelly Hogan’s I Like to Keep Myself in Pain. While listening to the former, the pedal steel work on the album as a whole, but specifically on the song “Long Long Long,” reminded me of Whiskeytown. So then I listened to all of Faithless Street (1995) and felt a little old and nostalgic, and also remembered what a freaking great band they were. And then I listened to all of Strangers Almanac (1997), and well, you get the picture.

I have mentioned Ryan Adams around here before, but never Whiskeytown. The Raleigh, NC band has legendary status in alt.country lore, despite, or maybe due to its (relatively brief) five-ish year existence (three full-length albums and one EP). Although I’ve seen Ryan Adams live many times and Caitlin Cary a couple of times, I still hate it that I somehow never saw them live, er, back in the day.

I love the ALL of the guitar work and tones on the song “Everything I Do” (not to be confused with Bryan Adams’ song “Everything I Do I Do It for You”), and it even has a few lovely slides. Unfortunately, the video is nowhere to be found on the magical internets, and/or has been completely removed. Here it is on Spotify: Whiskeytown – Everything I Do (you really should check it out, or heck, go buy the whole album). Great, great song, and there’s a perfect subtle slide at the beginning of each chorus (and a few other places), but the best one, I think, is at the beginning of the second chorus (around 2:05).

But for the purpose of the post today (and for those Spotify-averse), here’s another fine Whiskeytown song. “Tennessee Square” features pedal steel and is a pretty good representative of Whiskeytown’s sound in general.

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Guitar Slide Wednesday: Lovesick Blues Version

Yet again, I’m venturing away from guitar slides here on Guitar Slide Wednesday. I was hoping to feature the pedal steel today, but when the song “I Saw the Light” came up in our service planning meeting at the church this morning (seriously, it did), I knew today had to be a Hank Williams song.

“Lovesick Blues” features Hank Williams’ noted vocal abilities. Throughout the song, he veers into yodeling territory by using his falsetto to embellish certain words, and he also uses his trademark vocal breaks regularly. My favorite occurrence of this is on the word “sigh” around 0:20 when the instrumental accompaniment stops and we hear a true sigh in Williams’ voice. This song was originally a Tin Pan Alley popular song that Williams covered in 1949 and made it a hit.

I have admitted elsewhere that I prefer a cover version of a song to the (legendary) original. I’m not going quite so far here, but this video of Ryan Adams singing “Lovesick Blues” is one of my very favorites. It’s from the Hank Williams tribute album Timeless that features a nice assortment of artists, such as Bob Dylan, Beck, Emmylou Harris, and even Hank III. This is clearly a lo-fi affair, but I think it’s a fantastic version of the song. The song even features a couple of violin/fiddle portamentos!