Various: Wounded Heart of America; Tom Russell Songs (Hightone)

 |   |  <1 min read

Tom Russell: Who's Gonna Build Your Wall?
Various: Wounded Heart of America; Tom Russell Songs (Hightone)

Some weeks ago I was invited to give a talk about some of my favourite music to a group of people in someone's home.

It was a very pleasant night and the first few things I played were either by the American singer-songwriter Tom Russell or his songs sung by others (notably Joe Ely covering the dramatic Gallo Del Cielo which I said I could envision as a film by John Huston).

Russell is a hard-edged writer whose style is often cinematic. He conjures up a sense of location and mood through simple but resonant imagery -- and he has a raw voice which brings the songs alive.

This collection pulls together others covering his songs (Johnny Cash, Dave Alvin, Ely doing that epic Gallo del Cielo, Doug Sahm, Ian Tyson with Nanci Griffith, Eliza Gilykson and others) with some tracks by Russell himself.

Given the calibre of those who have covered Russell's material it's fair to say he is one the finest songwriters around, and here is further evidence.

The poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti says this of Russell: "[He] is Johnny Cash, Jim Harrison and Charles Bukowski rolled into one. I feel great affinity with Tom Russell's songs for he's writing out of the wounded heart of America".

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Benjamin Booker: Benjamin Booker (Rough Trade)

Benjamin Booker: Benjamin Booker (Rough Trade)

Although he had some considerable advance hype, this New Orleans-based punk-edged rocker lives up to the claims being made on this debut album, simply by delivering gutsy rock'n'roll with a tight... > Read more

Diana Krall: The Girl in the Other Room (Universal)

Diana Krall: The Girl in the Other Room (Universal)

Krall has been among the more anodyne of "jazz" artists and while her lightweight stylishness has undoubted appeal for less demanding listeners there has often seemed an emotional vacuum... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

KHOMEINI'S GHOST by CON COUGHLIN (2009): The spirit of the departed

KHOMEINI'S GHOST by CON COUGHLIN (2009): The spirit of the departed

Within weeks of Ayatollah Khomeini returning to Iran in 1979 after almost 15 years in exile, the Islamic Revolution he had envisioned and agitated for was complete and a ruthless, fundamentalist... > Read more

A FAST 15 MINUTES: The ones that got away

A FAST 15 MINUTES: The ones that got away

Well known artists can deliver great songs, but they don't often find an audience. This 15 minute audio programme introduces some that unfortunately went right past most people. For more of these... > Read more