Saturday, December 31, 2011

Adventures in Lo-Fi

I had been looking for a cheap AM transistor radio for listening to Giants games when I came across this Sony TR-1829. It was designed in 1967 and produced in Japan between 1968 and 1970. About the size of a beer can, the design can't be more elegant. There's a large dial on top that controls the tuner, a small display on the side shows the station, and a small dial below the display that turns it on and controls the volume. The speaker is located on the bottom. Radial fins raise the speaker above the surface on which it sits. This allows the tabletop to amplify the sound. The radial fins disperse the sound. Neat!

The radio runs on 3 AA batteries. I wasn't sure it worked when I bought it, but for $3 it didn't matter. When I opened up the battery compartment by twisting off the bottom, I found a hard coating of green battery acid on one of the contacts. I sanded off the dried acid, applied an electronic contact cleaner I had on hand, and placed in new batteries. Voila! It works like a charm. The Giants station comes in strong. Now, I just need some baseball games to listen to.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Album Cover Gallery: Changing Dirty Covers

Obviously the banned cover is on the left and the replacement on the right.

What's wrong with a photo of a topless adolescent girl playing with a phallic plane? Apparently Atlantic Records didn't have a legal department

Guns N' Roses didn't win over many people by trying to raise public awareness of the problem of robot rape in this world

Nudies OK in England and Germany, but not so in the USA. Hendrix reportedly hated the nudie cover for Electric Ladyland.

A different kind of raciness: Miles was livid when he saw the cover of Miles Ahead had a white woman on it. He demanded the cover be replaced, but a few thousand of the first run made it to the public. All subsequent women on Davis's album covers were black, including his wife on Someday My Prince Will Come and his friend actress Cicely Tyson on Sorcerer. I like this juxtaposition of the two covers--it looks like an angry Miles is trying to blow the white woman off the boat with his trumpet.

rocky's favorite album of 2011

Wooden Shjips, West (Thrill Jockey 279). There's really nothing new under the sun in terms of rock music. West is derivative as all get out. The drone-like guitar riffs, the simple organ lines, the fuzzed-out guitar solos, and echo-laden vocals remind you of the VU (electric White Light/White Heat era), The Doors and other psych bands of the 60s, and The Jesus and Mary Chain. Wooden Shjips mines the same rock territory as The Black Angels, but is heavier on the boogie factor. (One song on West even sounds like early ZZ Top covered by VU.) That counts for a lot in rocky's book. It ain't original, but it's really catchy, blissed-out stoner rock.

(Note: The sound quality is overly compressed like a lot of modern recordings, but it does come on orange vinyl.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hit Repeat

With so many albums to listen to, I rarely listen to an album more than once in a short period of time. Here are a few that got repeated spins at Chez Rocky recently:

Diana Krall, Live in Paris (45 rpm ORG LP and cd). Krall isn't the most adventurous jazz musician to put it mildly, but what she does she does well. My main problem with her studio albums is their overall listless pacing. No such problem with this live show recorded at the Olympia in Paris. She keeps up a nice pace throughout. A thoroughly enjoyable set. And the sound quality is topnotch.

Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 (Karajan '62, Karajan '77 LPs). I've become a little obsessed with this symphony lately. Listen to it and you become convinced of the immense grandness of life. In college I read a poem by Adrienne Rich that reduced Beethoven's music as an expression of sexual frustration. I suppose you can view anything through the lens of gender politics. But why would you? Don't be such a downer, Adrienne.

Bobby Hutcherson, Happenings (45 rpm Music Matters LP and Blue Note cd). A while ago I realized that Hutcherson was a sideman on some of my favorite jazz albums. So I started picking up albums he led. Happenings is one of the few in which he doesn't play with horns; it's just him and a rhythm section including Herbie Hancock. If there is such a thing as lyrical free jazz, Hutcherson would be the master.

There must be a German word for this

For the first time in years I listened to Born to Run, one of the formative albums of my youth. From the opening notes of "Thunder Road", an unusually strong feeling overwhelmed me. It wasn't like the strong reaction I had to the album in the distant past, shrouded in the untouchable romanticism of youth. Forty years makes a difference on how one perceives things. But I had the memory of that feeling. At the same time, I was listening to the album in current time in which the album means something different. It was as if I was simultaneously experiencing the album from two separate perspectives simultaneously, not one dominating the other.

Monday, October 31, 2011

You're Only as Interesting as the Albums in Your Collection

Girls is essentially a two-member band. Can you tell who's the creative force by the albums they buy?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Girls - Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Christopher Owens could have walked out of a Gus Van Zant movie, except he's real and his life seems more remarkable than any character Van Zant could have invented. Owens is a slight, wisp of a man, with stringy blond hair. He's a self-confessed opiate addict and bi-sexual. Born into a family belonging to the Children of God cult, he traveled from country to country as a child without ever leaving the bubble of the cult. He was cut off from the outside world, never went to school, and didn't discover pop music until his teens (he cites Michael Jackson's Dangerous as opening his ears to non-Christian music). Owen eventually ran away from his mother and the Children of God when he was 16. He ended up Texas, working menial jobs and hanging out with punk rockers who seemed as alienated from family and world as he and started a drug habit. His life turned around when a Texas millionaire named Stanley March 3 took him under his wing. (The same Stanley Marsh 3 who created the Cadillac Ranch artwork.) By all accounts this seemed like an idyllic period in Owens' life, spending his time painting and making music and having long conversations with Marsh about art and life. Owens eventually found his way to San Francisco and started the band Girls.

Girls' latest album Father, Son, Holy Ghost conveys the excitement of someone who just discovered rock-and-roll. It's about as traditional of a rock album as any I've heard recently. There are obvious nods to the Beach Boys, the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, the Everly Brothers, Pink Floyd, and classic R&B. The centerpiece of the album is the song "Vomit" which encapsulates the two main themes that run throughout the entire album, a sense of loneliness and sadness and the hopeful, redemptive power of love. Owens didn't find love in the Children of God. It may be in the music, as he sings in the song that follows "Vomit": "Love, it's just a song." But you sense he's searching for something more. In one interview I read, Owens says he someday hopes to get married and have a daughter that he can take to the ice cream shop. It's that kind of earnestness that pervades the album. For a listener who's had the privilege of a normal life, such sentiment might seem banal and even slightly embarrassing. Given where Owens came from, you feel a need to reassess seemingly ordinary pleasures.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Virgil Thomson, Symphony on a Hymn Tune

Thrift stores are like cultural graveyards. They're full of literally discarded artifacts that have been judged to hold no value. That's where I buy the bulk of my classical LPs. Even Amoeba Records has reduced its classical section by more than half. The number of people in this country who listen regularly to classical music is probably comparable to the number of people in the twelfth century who knew how to read. Or at least that what I fancy to be the truth.

After going months without seriously listening to classical music, I jumped back on the bandwagon recently. The work that got me back on was Virgil Thomson's Symphony on a Hymn Tune, picked up at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store for 50 cents along with a number of other seemingly unplayed classical LPs. Thomson is better known as a music critic and writer, who was an active member of the Modernist movement of the 20th century. He hung out with the likes of Gertrude Stein and T.S. Eliot. I had never heard any of his musical works. So I was surprised when I listened to Symphony on a Hymn Tune. I was expecting a Modern (i.e., dissonant) work along the lines of Charles Ives, an American contemporary of Thomson's. Instead, the Symphony is tonal and melodic, almost Romantic. More importantly, it is moving and strangely comforting in the way the best classical works are.

Those few in the Middle Ages who knew how to read probably also listened to complex, polyphonic music of the time. They probably found in the notes strung together a salve to the soul that did/does not exist in other earthly delights. Thomson's work makes that connection to the past and the profundity of a hymn and makes it more relatable to a modern, agnostic mind (at least mine).

In my relatively brief lifetime, I've never seen a society celebrate ignorance and kitsch more than it does now. Whether the demise of classical music is symptomatic of this general trend is debatable. I fear it is, which is unfortunate, because classical music can endow us with a sense of humanity. It's heartening to discover a new piece of music that can stir the soul, and on a personal note, that the soul is still receptive to others calling.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Swedish Pop Music Break: Moneybrother

When life's harshing on you, it's time for a Swedish Pop Music Break.

In the mood for darker humor? Combine one part Swede, one part Brit, and some cake

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fuckin' Genius

I wonder when J Mascis and his bandmates came up with their band name, they'd realize the irony of it 20-some years later. I wonder if they thought about it when they reformed 16 years after releasing their last album. Probably not. Despite his sad sack image, J Mascis doesn't strike me as the introspective type or one who relishes ironies. He just wants to thrash his ax. That's fine by me.

Band reunions usually are a bad idea, unless you look at it from the economic perspective of the band. Dinosaur Jr proves to be the exception. This reunited power trio have released the two best albums of the noughties, certainly the two best rock albums of the noughties. Listening to the first of the two, Beyond, reminded me of the pure visceral power of rock music. We seem to be in a baroque state of popular music, with prog and other cerebral genres back in vogue. No one seems to be making stupid rock music anymore. Not that Dinosaur Jr are stupid. They're inspired in a way. What separates Dinosaur Jr from other good bands is J Mascis' soaring guitar solos, which belie his lovable loser's voice. Mascis reminds me of Art Pepper in this way. They're both sad miscast geniuses of their instruments. Neither men are particularly articulate in person. But when they play, it seems they become conduits for some celestial voice. I imagine this is personal to a certain extent. You can judge for yourself.

The vinyl pressing of Beyond only has eight tracks, compared to the CD, which has twelve. The vinyl record comes with a 7-inch "single" that has the four extra tracks found on the CD. The 8-track album is just that, an album. I can't imagine anything following the eighth track, "We're Not Alone". I haven't listened to the four bonus songs yet. Someday.

Nostalgia for Juvenile Stupidity

I recently picked up the Replacements' Stink EP. Love the track list:

"Kids Don't Follow"
"Fuck School"
"Stuck in the Middle"
"God Damn Job"
"White and Lazy"
"Dope Smokin' Moron"
"Gimme Noise"

The first verse and chorus of "God Damn Job" is about as good as rock lyrics can get:

I need a God damn job
I need a God damn job
I really need a God damn job
I need a God damn job

God dammit
God dammit
God damn, I need a God damn job

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Worth Revisiting: Simon and Garfunkel-Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

It's hard to write pretty songs without going over the ledge into triteness. Simon and Garfunkel did it well, especially on this album. This song, especially the last verse, reminds me of the Kurt Vonnegut line;"Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be." It's not a coincidence that one starts connecting their lyrics with other writers, because the songs are so literate. One is reminded that it was possible to be literate and popular back in the day. Now it's a lot of gaga that captures the popular imagination.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Grammys and Me

Last night, I finished Janet Malcolm's excellent biography of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. It's not so much a biography in the conventional sense, but rather an exploration of a long-term relationship through investigative journalism and close reading of text. It was around eleven in the evening when I finished the book. I was ready for a late night snack and a little TV to lighten the mind before bed. As I flipped through the channels, I came across the Grammy Awards show. At first, I didn't realize it was the Grammys, because Arcade Fire was performing. What were they doing on the Grammys?

My impression of the Grammy Awards was formed at an early age. My first and strongest memory of the show was watching Christopher Cross win multiple Grammy awards. Even as a 15-year old I could recognize the artistic black hole that was Christopher Cross. No doubt I was a pretentious 15-year old given to reading Esquire magazine (when it was good) and pretending to enjoy European films. But this wasn't about being pretentious. How could anyone recognize "Sailing" and "Ride Like the Wind" as artistic achievements? Sure, the songs are pleasant enough as long as you don't have a strong reaction to insipid shit. From the perch of a teenage music-snob-in-waiting, the Grammys represented the worst in American culture--a celebration of the middle-brow, uninspiring, and money-making facets of "art". Since the Christopher Cross awakening, the Grammys have been the subject of mockery and derision from me.

It turns out Arcade Fire was on the Grammys because The Suburbs had been nominated for album of the year (see previous post where I laud the album). They were competing against Eminem, Katy Perry, Lady Antebellum (who I had never heard of), and Lady Gaga (I think). All I was thinking was, God I hope Arcade Fire loses. Then all would be okay in the world. Of course, Arcade Fire won, which immediately brought on an existential attack. I kept thinking, the joke's on me, the joke's on me, the joke's on me. I'm not sure what that meant, but it wasn't a good feeling.

So, the only conclusion is the Grammys have changed or I have changed. Perhaps both. I'll be listening to The Suburbs again soon to begin my evaluation. Now about my favorite album of 2010, the Black Keys' Brothers, winning the Grammy for best alternative rock album... Shit... the joke's on me again, the joke's on me, the joke's on me...

Sam Rivers

Thanks, Stoner, for turning me on to Sam Rivers. I've been playing Contours pretty much every day for a week. It's a used out-of-print CD on the BN Connoisseur label. I've been hesitating buying other Rivers albums because the only ones that are available are RVG Editions, which are not very good from a sonic perspective. As luck would have it, I came across this Mosaic box set (CDs again) of The Complete Blue Note Sam Rivers Sessions. It was expensive, but totally worth it to hear this excellent music in the best possible (digital) sound quality. I'll be on the lookout for vinyl copies, especially of the Impulse titles, which I haven't heard yet.

Before my Sam Rivers binge, I'd been listening to a lot of Ornette Coleman, Jackie McLean, and Grachan Moncur III. So, Rivers is a logical extension of those fine, exploratory musicians.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Recent Acquisitions: Smiley Smiles

It wasn't conscious, but you can spell the most recent batch of records f-u-n.

The Beach Boys, Wild Honey (Capitol, original stereo pressing, $9). This album and Smiley Smile are the last two Beach Boys albums I wanted. For some reason, they've been elusive until now.

The Beach Boys, Smiley Smile (Brother Records, original stereo pressing, $9). The sound is pretty bad. I think it's because the stereo effect is fake, what they call reprocessed stereo. The only way to find out for sure is to compare it to a mono pressing. It never ends.

Ramones, Ramones (Sire, original pressing, $9). Gabba gabba score! This fills a big void in my punk library.

Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Blank Generation (Sire, original pressing, $9). See above.

Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington, Ella & Duke at The Cote D'Azur (Verve, original stereo pressing, 2 LPs, $9). This wasn't even on my radar until I read about a recent Mosaic Records 3-LP box set that includes this album and Ellington's Soul Call with no extras. Mosaic puts out interesting jazz compilations, but the Ella-Duke set costs $100. I'd rather pony up a tenner for a clean original. I've never heard Ella so exuberant than on this record, although her voice isn't in top shape. Ellington's band swings as usual, although there aren't any special moments like Paul Gonsalves's miraculous solo on the Newport record. Overall, it's just a fun listen.

Gabor Szabo, The Sorcerer (Impulse!, black-and-orange label original stereo pressing, $7). Tell me: How could I pass up this minty original pressing for the price even though I have a perfectly fine second pressing? You just don't understand.

Love, Forever Changes (Elektra, gold label original stereo pressing, $5). You are right, I shouldn't have bought this copy when I have a perfectly fine second pressing of the album. You're right only because this copy looks like it got into a fight with a feral cat and sounds all wounded and shit.

From the dollar bins:

Stanley Turrentine, Sugar (CTI, original pressing). I think this record got abused by the same feral cat, but for some reason, it still sounds good. You just never know.

Modern Jazz Quartet, Concorde (Prestige, yellow label, original pressing). These old 50s jazz pressings on heavy vinyl can look thrashed, but with a good cleaning on the ol' vacuum record cleaning machine, they can sound pretty swell.

Johnny Griffin, Grab This! (Fontana/Riverside, Dutch pressing). A new Johnny Griffin album for my collection and a new catchphrase for rocky to confuse the folks at work. On second thought, it could lead to trouble with HR.

Pat Metheny, Rejoicing (ECM, original pressing). I'm not really into Pat Metheny, but he's backed by Ornette Coleman's rhythm section and plays tunes by Coleman and Haden. It could be interesting.

Casino Royale soundtrack (Colgems, original stereo pressing). Believe it or not, this is the most valuable record of the lot. Or it used to be. It was on The Absolute Sound's list of the best audiophile records. A few years ago, insane audiophiles were paying upwards of $200 for a mint copy of this relatively rare record. The price has come down dramatically though. Do you really want to listen to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in high fidelity? Yes!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Alternate Worlds: Musical Points of Interest Off the Beaten Track

Dave Alexander, Dirt on the Ground - Amazing blues piano from this little-known blues man from Texas by way of Oakland, CA. Recorded a couple of albums on the Arhoolie label in the early 70s, before he changed his name to Omar Shariff. Which gives me an idea--from now on, I will only answer to the name Dr. Zhivago.

Johnny Griffin, The Kerry Dancers - If jazz musicians from Chicago had joined the Axis powers to conquer the British Isles, all English folk songs would sound this awesome.

And we would've had Amon Duul II instead of The Grateful Dead

Amon Duul II, Yeti - If they ever make a horror movie about hippies taking over the world, this should be the soundtrack. Two thumbs up!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Happy Thought

There seems to be a lot written these days about happiness. There's a burgeoning cottage industry in happiness studies and guides. The underlying premise is that happiness is a goal of life. You're not happy? Well, you gotta do something about it.

Yesterday I was driving home from a trip to Berkeley and put Jackie McLean's Destination Out! in the car CD player. Although, McLean is the nominal leader on this set, it's really a Grachan Moncur III album. Three of the four songs are penned by Moncur. I've become a real Moncur fan lately. It's too bad he didn't play a different instrument. It had to have been hard to make it as an avant-garde trombonist.

The first song on Destination Out! is Moncur's "Love and Hate". It is the most plaintive song I've heard in a long while. While I was listening to it, I heard a message as clear as if the song had lyrics, maybe even clearer considering how deeply I understood it. It was this: "Sadness is a part of life. You just have to accept it." That thought filled me happiness.

While happiness studies and psychological guides to happiness tend to have the opposite intended effect by filling you with anxiety as you worry about and focus your energies on achieving a perhaps unobtainable goal, music, especially the blues, by focussing on the sadness of life, can relieve you of it, if only momentarily.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Goodbye, Scout

Down to two turntables and no microphone (sad face).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Craigslist Tale

This was the turntable I bought in the late 90s when I returned to playing vinyl. It's a Music Hall turntable made in the Czech Republic, maybe it was still Czechoslovakia then. It was considered an entry level audiophile deck. It sold for $299 when I bought it. I don't remember if I paid full price. The stylus had been replaced once. The anti-skate counterweight was lost when I took the turntable to work for a Halloween skit involving me playing a DJ. It plays fine without the counterweight. Still, the 'table was unused over five years, except for the Halloween gig.

Somehow I had ended up with four turntables in the house. I decided to sell two of them. I placed an ad on Craigslist for the Music Hall 'table. The asking price was $90, which I knew was an attractive price, even for a 12 year old table with a missing counterweight (which can be replaced for $15 from Music Hall). Try selling a 12 year old CD player for any amount of money. They usually end up at Goodwill or the dump. Digital technology is based on planned obsolescence. Analog provides a much longer life span. Some of the most sought after turntables today are vintage makes from the 1960s.

Within a few hours of posting the ad I got three offers. I called the first guy back, Robert, who said he could show up that night to pick up the 'table. We agreed to meet the following day. Robert turned out to be interesting guy. He could identify my other turntables and the rest of my audio gear. When I asked what kind of music he liked. He answered that he mainly listened to 70s German rock and listed some bands he enjoyed, about half of which I recognized. He told me I should pick up anything on the Brain label. I thought that was good advice, based on the few albums I had on the Brain label. This was the music he listened to growing up in Bosnia. I asked him whether he was there during the civil war. He had been. His face grew dark and he told me how horrible it was. He changed the subject to myself and asked where I was from. When I told him I was from Michigan, he said, "Wow, that's a big change." I had to laugh out loud. He laughed too when he realized how absurd his statement was considering his own history.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Recent Acquisitions: 1-6-11

A new year and new records!

Tegan and Sara, The Official Vinyl Collection (box set containing 5 of their albums plus an exclusive album of home recordings, WB/Sire, $85). Just call this my personal Lillith Fair.

Waylon Jennings, Are You Ready for the Country (RCA, tan label, original pressing, $2). Waylon looks real bad ass on the cover. I kind of had to get this at the same time as the Sara and Tegan box set to salvage my manhood at the cash register. It turned out the clerk, with a shaved head and black leather vest like the one Waylon's wearing on the album cover, who rang me up got all excited seeing the Sara and Tegan box set. I can't figure these kids out.

The Rolling Stones, Now! (London, boxed red label, mono pressing, $2). See above.

The Temptations, Psychedelic Shack (Gordy, original pressing, $4). The Temptations liberated from the Motown factory sound. More great early 70s R&B.

Duke Ellington, Duke's Big 4 (Pablo, white label promo, $2). I really enjoy Duke Ellington playing with a small group. Even if the group includes Joe Pass, who usually plays too many notes and annoys me. Where was Kenny Burrell for this date?

How Google, Wikipedia, and the Web Kill Conversations Before They Start

Last night after work I stopped by the thrift store on the way home, where I came across this album, Rock 'N Roll with "Scat Man". The back cover confirmed what I thought--it's "Scat Man" Crothers. Then I was stumped. I knew he was on a television show back in the 70s. That's how I knew him. But I couldn't think of which TV show. Twenty years ago, I would've had to call a friend to get the answer to such confounding questions. It's one of those trivial things that would gnaw on your mind. You had to get the answer if you wanted your mind to move on to other things. Now, there's Google and Wikipedia and the rest of the worldwide web to answer all your questions. You don't have to rely on the collective knowledge of your friends to put your mind to ease. I could just go home and look it up. I realized that this is not such a good thing. I remember such questions about trivia were launching pads into longer conversations. For example, the "Scat Man" question might raise the story of how we all went to see The Shining together and one of us (not me) screamed like a little girl during the scene where "Scat Man" gets an axe in the chest. Thanks to Google and Wikipedia, we get all the facts, but none of the colorful personal details that a call to a friend may have raised.

And how is the "Scat Man" album? It's rollicking fun. He reminds me of Louis Jordan, although "Scat Man" doesn't quite have Jordan's vocal range. He makes up for it with joyous exuberance. I'm constantly amazed at how these 50s records sound. (This one was recorded in 1956.) The sound is so full and alive. Last night I was listening to a CD from Ornette Coleman's Beauty Is a Rare Thing box set (absolutely great by the way) and was impressed by how good it sounded for a CD. I played it again after listening to the "Scat Man" LP, but this time it sounded thin and washed out. Do I have to get original pressings of Ornette's Atlantic albums now? I think we all know the answer.

Oh, the TV show was Chico and the Man in case you didn't know. Now you don't have to Google it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Album Cover Tragicomedy

One music genre that's not been subject to the inflation of used record prices is country and western. Hardly any country albums sell for more than $10 and a lot of gems can be had for a couple of dollars, like the Loretta Lynn album pictured above. I'll snap up classic country albums by the likes of George Jones, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, and Loretta Lynn when I come across them in good shape and priced cheap. Although country music isn't challenging or progressive, some of it possess excellent, expressive singing and musicianship. It's essentially a conservative genre. The same can be said about the blues.

When I came across this Loretta Lynn album, I just inspected the vinyl to make sure it was in good condition and tucked it under my arm without giving it much thought. It wasn't until I got it home that I started to think about it. This album was released in 1967 in the middle of the hippie movement, but Lynn looks completely oblivious to it on the cover. It was a seminal year for rock music with the release of Sgt. Pepper, Are You Experienced, The Doors' first album, The Velvet Underground and Nico, and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Judging by the cover Loretta had larger, more personal issues to confront than the cultural revolution taking place.

First, the title of the album is bold and intentionally or unintentionally funny: Don't Come A Home Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind). This is a universal feminist statement if ever there was one. The idea of a woman withholding sex--one sure power women have over men--to assert her will on a man goes back at least to the classical Greek era, as shown in Aristophanes' play Lysistrata. Perhaps, Lynn isn't oblivious to the cultural revolution after all, or at least the feminist movement at the time. The title, though, couches the feminism in homely country rhetoric. "Stand by Your Man" it ain't.

Then you look further down on the album and you see a list of featured songs. Those song titles begin to raise doubts about whether it's a countrified feminist album. Each of the listed songs could be the chapter of a psychological melodrama. After reading the title, your eyes glance down at "There Goes My Everything", "I'm Living in Two Worlds", "I Can't Keep Away From You", and finally "I Really Don't Want to Know". Oh no. So much for feminist enlightenment. The album cover contains an entire drama. That perhaps is the point. Lynn expresses personal conflict. She's not making a statement or a manifesto. In the end, this is what separates art from politics.