Here’s a clip of radio-friendly singer-songwriter and Hoosier roots rock hero formerly known as ‘Cougar’ John Mellencamp with his 1991 hit that out-Stoneses the Stones. It’s “Get A Leg Up” as taken from Mellencamp’s Whenever We Wanted. This album is his first not to feature the ‘Cougar’ moniker, as given to him without his permission by the record company when his first album came out.
R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, and pop music is rife with stage named artists from Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters, to Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Elton John, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Sting, Flea, Lady Gaga, and on and on. These artists created and wore their names to suit their music, and their personas on stage. Mellencamp would spend the rest of his career fighting for his name. And here, he claims it, with a knock-it-out-of-the-park rock ‘n’ roll tune that brings it all back home.
Listen to this song by alt-country and singer-songwriterly roots-rock maven Lucinda Williams with her 2007 track ‘Mama You Sweet’ as taken from her album West.
I love the way this song builds and builds, starting off pretty unassuming, and yet becoming something of a deluge of imagery. There is a sense of the overwhelming in the lyrics, of being overcome by feelings which are not easily articulated. And yet because Williams builds momentum, and with an astounding sense of how to pace the song, we as listeners are bound to every word.
This is not even to mention how beautifullly lived-in Williams’ voice is, a study in how to explore and utilize the boundaries of an instrument. This is so much more interesting, so much more connected to humanity than an American Idol-approved idea of what a ‘good voice’ is. This is an old horse to flog, maybe. But, it’s still an important point to make.
For me, the best word to describe this tune is elemental. There are images of the ocean, which stands out the most for me as a means of capturing something that is both beautiful and frighteningly all-encompassing all at the same time. And if that’s not a great way to describe love, I don’t know what is.
For more information about Lucinda Williams, you’d best catch her at the official Lucinda Williams website.
And this is not to mention the Lucinda Williams MySpace page, folks, as a great place to hear more music!