Label: Not On Label - none • Format: CD Album • Country: US • Genre: Folk, World, & Country •
I first heard a Haarlem - Dan Bern With Common Rotation - Drifter of the songs that ended up on Dan Bern's brilliant new record, Drifter in November of last year in the lobby of a refurbished theater in Beacon, New York and then the next day during a promotional live web cast for a magazine in downtown Manhattan. Separated from the eventual collected work, which both musically and lyrically segues in and out of each song as if psychic travelogue -- a yearning to discover, hide, escape and return to a home that is at once geographical and spiritual -- it was as if Bern were symbolically ushering the songs through a rigorous performance trial, first solo and then with his Chorei - Leila Pinheiro E Eduardo Gudin - Pra Iluminar collaborators, the creatively versatile Common Rotation.
Later in the winter, as is his wont, Sandi Patti* - Morning Like This sent me a rough mix of the material he wanted to put on the eventual release. For weeks I played it in my office, in the car, and in the background during gatherings of the local tribes, but it wasn't until late one night that it hit me; this is as close to a running commentary on the American folk ethic as could be laid down in one place -- a Watarase - Takeo Moriyama - Smile ode to perpetual motion, Jay Gatsby's ride through the valley of ashes to his unreachable green light at the end of the dock.
Drifter is a statement -- Bern's, a generation's, a genre's -- the effects of traveling on the traveler for good or ill.
It is survival. It is change. It is acceptance. A concept record? Bern was quick to dismiss that on a late-night phone call in March, after I sent him a manically cobbled deconstruction of the record under the influence of my sudden epiphany.
Hell, who isn't swept up in the lure of the road? And what writer and Bern is nothing if not one has not tackled its seduction from Homer to Joyce, Horace Greeley to Woody Guthrie, Kerouac to yours truly.
That's all I ever want from any song. It's what any songwriter can ask -- that the listener wrestles with it and lets the ideas reveal themselves. For me, it's all the stuff of my mundane little life lifted by the power of song and maybe, subconsciously, you'll tap into these things because Haarlem - Dan Bern With Common Rotation - Drifter experiences come up in all of our lives.
Bern's protestations to the contrary, these songs are not disparate ballads or ravers, wise-guy sing-a-longs or political harangues, the likes of which he has mastered over Haarlem - Dan Bern With Common Rotation - Drifter years spanning Haarlem - Dan Bern With Common Rotation - Drifter albums. Drifter is a singular vision of a journey, the infinite search through snapshots and notations of every can-kicking crossroad conundrum.
Drifter 's topographical references are Чайки - Александр Иванов - Золотая Коллекция. Then there is time travel as in "Mexican Vacation," where a train moves the narrator through the anarchic landscape of a Air Cav - Embers American construct overrun with slave-traders as he professes his love for the "runaway slave girl.
A sense of travel even appears when we're stuck in the obligatory isolation chamber of the traveling musician, the hotel room, which is wistfully depicted in "Party by Myself. Most interesting is Bern's use of the two-dimensional image of Captain Kirk flickering on the tube, another iconic character set adrift "boldly going where no man has gone before.
Yeats once described in his epitaph as the "world-besotted traveler. And then, you know, LuLu came his two-year old daughterI moved out here from New Mexico to Los Angeles and, yeah, I think that kind of sparked the whole thing. I count Dan Bern as one of my closest colleagues and in many ways a brother in arms.
We have tracked the bloody grounds of political and social battles and acted as sounding boards for each other's work for close to a decade. Both of us have fathered daughters within a few years of each other and watched our generation begin to take charge of all that we railed against in our youth -- the destruction of the earth, the systemic killing of innocents, the segmental repression of society, the global economic power-play -- and we even managed to elect our own leader of the free world, and yet watch in horror as the madness continues unabated.
This may well be why Drifter is filled with the temporary escape provided by chemicals and booze, which pop up as playful landmarks along the way. Senses dulled just enough to continue the search for anything; -- integrity, friendship, love, comfort? But in "Home" his search flirts with futility, "Like a vagabond out on the lawn, I was almost gone," but then suddenly he sings, "Find out who will stick it through thick and thin, lose or win, it's how you get some place.
The passion of the search has certainly inspired Bern's singing. He has never sounded better or more controlled, completely at ease with these wonderfully crafted pieces, each one fastidiously pored over with absorbing precision. Here Common Rotation's honeyed harmonies and weathered accompaniment on trumpet and banjo Jordan Katzharmonica and saxophone Adam Busch and guitar and dobro Eric Kufs lend the songs a weight they crave, a deserving ensemble for their poetic resonance.
The story of the making of Drifter could well have found its way into the work, as Bern and his ensemble, absent the umbrella of a record company this time around, sold songs, studio time, played private gigs and even composed personal jingles for outgoing phone messages for a host of donors all over the country, the time, expanse, and constant dissection of the project adding to its charm. Money talks. It gets things done. It books studio time, it pays for musicians, it moves things along.
And in a place like L. Some of those people, like film songwriting partner, Mike Viola and a stirring guest appearance by the incomparable Emmy Lou Harris on the moving, "Swing Set," serve the travel aesthetic well.
We stop off into different voices and pass through musical styles, providing a station-to-station, truck stop ambiance of the rootless existence. It's like you wouldn't routinely skip over a scene in a movie to get to the next one. Even though there are fifteen songs here, they all play a role. Basically if something's on A Womans Touch - Mink DeVille - Sportin Life, it's because it wouldn't allow itself to be thrown off.
It forced its way in and wouldn't let go. Bern says the sequence of the songs became "like an accordion" for months upon months, jumping the total from 15 songs down to 12 and in some cases just eight and then back up again. For me, if Chuck says it's okay, then it's okay. Once given the thumbs up from his musical sherpa, Bern quickly shifted gears and recorded 18 of his baseball songs with Common Rotation.
Culled from nearly thirty years of work, which spans a century of the game's most compelling characters and stories from The Babe to Barry Bonds, Doubleheaderaptly titled due to the 18 song list -- a song an inning -- was released on the heels of Drifter on July 4 when Bern played the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
Beyond wrapping up Drifter and banging out Haarlem - Dan Bern With Common Rotation - Drifter Bern hints that a third record of country songs, which he whispers may be the best of the three, is ready to go. So while you're scribbling and drawing your brain cells for a rhyme, maybe you miss that next passing cloud. And so here is Dan Bern, putting a ribbon on his troubadour life and turning his attention to the pastoral lore of the grand old game, which James Earl Jones so poignantly performed in Field of Dreamsa film more Amon - Book Of Death the passage of time and the evolution of spirit than baseball.
He could well have been reciting from Drifter : "The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.
It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, Fjärran Från Ditt Hus - Folke Sällström, Roland Bengtsson - Birger Sjöberg: Visor Ur Fridas Tredje B it could be again.
It's a happy, guilty, candy pleasure to talk about baseball. I guess it's just easier to talk about baseball than myself. US Edition U.
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