Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Big Iron World

I just bought Old Crow Medicine Show's Big Iron World, and it's really good. I was awaiting this album for months because of "I Hear Them All", which I heard once at SXSW in March. The song wasn't available anywhere until yesterday when the album came out, so I was going nuts trying to figure out where I could get it:

I hear the crying of the hungry
in the deserts where they're wandering
hear them crying out for heaven's
own benevolence upon them
hear destructive power prevailing
I hear fools falsely hailing
To the crooked wits of tyrants when they call
I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all

I hear the sounds of tearing pages
and the roar of burning paper
All the crimes in acquisition
turn to air and ash and vapor
And the rattle of the shackle
far beyond emancipators
and the loneliest who gather in their stalls
I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all

So while you sit and whistle Dixie
with your money and your power
I can hear the flowers a-growin'
in the rubble of the towers
I hear leaders quit their lying
I hear babies quit their crying
I hear soldiers quit their dying, one and all
I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all

I hear the tender words from Zion
I hear Noah's waterfall
hear the gentle lamb of Judah
sleeping at the feet of Buddha
and the prophets from Elijah
to the old Paiute Wovoca
Take their places at the table when they're called
I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all
I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all
I hear them all, I hear them all, I hear them all

Old Crow is a string band from North Carolina. At SXSW they had two banjos, a fiddle, a stand-up bass, and a guitar. I've gone sort of anti-drum over the last few months -- to put it strongly, what's the big deal about this instrument that contributes nothing to melody and can't make any actual notes? So the fact that drums only appear on four tracks, and most of the rhythm always comes from the strings makes me happy. Their cover of Woody Guthrie's Union Maid is particularly energetic. On the other side of things, "James River Blues" is the loveliest song about being an out-of work boatman that I'm ever likely to hear.

Well, it's time to get to sleep so I can write more dissertation tomorrow and hopefully respond to Ponnuru's response to my review. If I can tear myself away from this...


Anonymous said...

I heard them on Prairie Home Companion and really enjoyed them. So did Mr. Keilor, I think. I remember they sang "Wagon Wheel" and "CC Rider," two very fine songs, and something else that slips my mind but that also good. I should look for a CD. Can't remember if they had a drummer. Maybe you're not in a percussive frame of mind.

What's your dissertation on? Maybe you describe it somewhere on your blog? I may as well confess that I went to UT, once upon a time, and wrote a practically unintelligible dissertation there (on the foundations of ethics), which Tom Seung was kind enough to supervise. I'd guess he's not there any more. I'm sure yours will be very clear. Good luck with it.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Wagon Wheel is great! It was the first of their songs that I've heard.

Tom Seung is still there -- in fact, his office is right next to the grad student office I'm sitting in right now. He's around all the time.

My dissertation defends the Humean theory of motivation. I haven't really described it in any detail here, but some people thought this excerpt was funny.

Robin said...

Neil, you definitely have the highest dance-enjoying to rhythm-caring-about ratio I have ever seen. I am the inverse.

Anonymous said...

If the department is still in Waggoner Hall, I know exactly where you are. I'm glad to know Seung is still there. He's something of a maverick, and a character; rubs some people the wrong way, and mystifies others, but I found him very helpful in sorting out my views on ethics (mainly because of an important insight he had about the place of intuition in moral theory). He was also very kind to me when I needed it. I wonder if he still invites grad students who venture into his office to do push-ups with him.

Whose sense of humor are you entrusting your supervision to? I'm a fan of Hume, but not a scholar of him. His essay on the standard of taste is useful in understanding some oft-misunderstood points about moral subjectivism, and his idea that reason is a slave of passion (no doubt related to what you're up to) is one I still think about the implications of.

Anonymous said...

Here is a Prairie Home Companion that they appeared on. They play, amongst other things, the anti-war song "Big Time in the Jungle"
I just got 'Big Iron World' today and I'm completely blown away. Great stuff.