Morning Music: Cowboy Junkies

The Trinity Session - Cowboy JunkiesI’ve always thought of Cowboy Junkies as the band who did a cover of the original “Sweet Jane” off 1969: The Velvet Underground Live. But I’ve liked all their slow and sensual music. I’ve listened to The Trinity Session to exhaustion. But it is a really long time since I’ve even thought of the band.

I was surprised to find that the band is still together. This is doubtless because Cowboy Junkies is a family band composed of siblings Michael, Margo, and Peter Timmins along with Alan Anton on bass and Jeff Bird on pretty much everything. It’s nice to think that the band being as conflict free as its music. There is a fine performance of the band at the Newport Folk Festival in 2008 available on YouTube that is very much worth checking out. But let me just present “Blue Moon Revisited (Song for Elvis)” here, which is a remarkable fusion of original material with one of my favorite songs, Rodgers and Hart’s “Blue Moon”:

6 thoughts on “Morning Music: Cowboy Junkies

  1. They’re great. Punk seems to have come out of areas really hit hard by stupid policy, Britain and New York and LA. Then you have grunge, which is its own regional thing; it’s hard to put into words what dying logging towns like the ones Cobain came from are like.

    Then there’s “Trinity Session” from Canada. Oh, Canada. Gave us Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and The Band. Always on their own speed, Canadians. In addition to the Junkies I’d suggest Gordon Lightfoot, whose songs are overproduced but they are much, much darker than his buttloads of sales indicate. “If You Could Read My Mind,” one of his biggest hits, is one of the most dismal songs about human relationships ever recorded. Just sayin’.

    This structure with anniversary posts and music posts and politics is working really well, IMHO. It seems like I learn something new from the anniversary posts every day.

    • My mother was a huge Gordon Lightfoot fan. So I grew up listening to him. He would make a good morning music selection. There is a sense in his music that (as Woody Allen put it), “Soon the music will stop and we’ll all be dead.” Think of “Sundown,” where the singer experiences happiness as an omen of bad times to come. That’s pretty much my approach to life. I don’t think that “If You Could Read My Mind” is any more dark than Wuthering Heights — although that is admittedly pretty dark. But the bridge highlights one of my favorite song topics: a relationship where the people are not able to communicate with each other. Examples: Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” and Paul Simon’s “Train in the Distance.”

      Thanks for the kind words. I’m very pleased with the anniversary posts too. They are a lot more fun to write than the old ones about birthdays.

      • Yeah, I grew up with Lightfoot in the house, too. And Bob Dylan, bizarre enough. And Joan Baez, and most of the post-folkies. They were considered easy listening, because they sounded gentle. The lyrics were a little more complicated than that. (Weirdly, our home’s Dylan stopped with the awesome “Greatest Hits, No. 2” — it didn’t go on to “Blood On The Tracks,” which I first heard as an adult.)

        “Never thought I could act this way, and I’ve got to say that I just don’t get it” is one of the better lines ever put into a pop song. Or any song. Or any collection of associated words in English. It’s an amazing line.

        It’s pretty clear the anniversary posts are more fun to write. They’re terrific. I dunno how you bottle that ability to make writing seem like a joy, but if need be I’ll come over to your house and shoot you in the face just to steal it. Great work.

        • Oh, stop! But for the record, I would prefer to be shot in the side of the head…

          I think Blood on the Tracks was my first Dylan album. A hippy guy I was doing some recording for gave me a tape of it and I destroyed the tape through listening. Then I bought the first album. And then I bought Blonde on Blonde. If I had to live with one period of Dylan, up until Blood would be pretty damn good. I mean, that includes so many great albums.

          • Well, maybe I’ll just sneakily promise to give you money and then steal your writing skills while giving you no money. That would be more my speed. I’m a better con man than thug, that’s just how I roll. I’m sure thugs are people, too.

            It’s amazing what Dylan did through BOTT. It’s like listening to three different musicians at the top of their game. Or more than three. I can’t even wrap my head around how the same person recorded “Chimes Of Freedom” and “Desolation Row” and “Tangled Up In Blue.”

            • You might try voodoo. I think I’m particularly susceptible to it.

              Blood seems pretty consistent to me. But it is also so distinct from his other work. At this point, I’m obsessed with “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts.” I’ve been meaning to write an article about it for a long time. But every time I do, I find there are deeper mysteries to it. Someone ought to make a Rashomon-like film about the song.

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