This is quite probably my favourite guitar solo - Robert Fripp playing on Brian Eno's song St. Elmo's Fire. It starts at the words "rested in the desert" and never fails to give me goosebumps. When I first heard it I asked, 'what is that sound?' and somebody said it was a guitar and I was hooked. I'd already been playing acoustic for a few years but it was a bit depressing because of all those horrible hair bands from L.A. that were dominating the scene. Then I heard this and I felt okay about playing guitar again and dived into electric. :-)
(Originally published in Rhythms Magazine Jan 2022)
Karen Dalton’s song comes out of the dark night of experience, singular and alone and very human and speaks directly to our souls. We hear every emotion, not a performance, just a song being born every moment. The song of authentic experience.
If only we could hear more voices like this.
If so, perhaps humanity might slow down and take more of a reckoning of the truths of existence - the heart, the soul, the implications of one life upon another life.
If only we could hear more voices like this.
But how can we? Everywhere we go we hear the sound of shallow. The supermarket, the gas station, even the garden beds at the Nashville Malls spew the ugly sounds of bro country at our victimized ears.
The sound of so-called popular music attacks us everywhere. Shallowness rises to the top and clangs like an ugly bell, “Look at me, look at me!”
Empty vessels making the most sound and rising to the top of those playlists clanging in our ears, “Look at me, look at me!” Not truly popular, but actually enforced.
Karen Dalton’s voice. If only we could make the space for more voices like this.
Real voices, true voices, women’s real voices.
The voices of humanity, not music business.
A music business that historically has told women to put down their instruments and just sing… and dance and wear brightly coloured clothing.
And to sing “perfectly,” not like true perfection, but like wonder bread, which dissolves in an instant because it is hardly there. A business that celebrates copies rather than originals.
Karen Dalton’s voice, not separated from her instrument - guitar or banjo - but the same one sound, the same one song. Not one apart from the other but interwoven, threading and plaiting.
At age 32 her voice is a kind of ancient. She sounds like a woman who has a thousand years of experience singing a song of all ages.
If we could hear more voices like this with the silence in between. Imagine if humans were comfortable with the truth and with the silence.
But the vacuous clang clang clang of contemporary existence fills our ears so that we forget what a song is meant to be - that human being aliveness.
Imagine if people only made records when they had something to say and something to sing?
That is, real people living genuine lives and every now and then making a record. Not dressed by stylists, tuned by engineers and photoshopped by graphic artistes. Imagine if the goal wasn’t fame and fortune?
Heroin, hard drugs, amphetamines. There but for the grace of the goddess go many of us who thought we were immortal when we were young, or who didn’t care whether we lived or died, who were on that quest for an interesting life, who would try who knows what to feel that next experience. And while upper class opioid addicts called their doctors for a prescription, artists like Karen Dalton and Kurt Cobain grubbed around the streets only to find black gunk to shoot into their veins. Imagine if they could have just got good quality drugs and continued with the rest of their lives?
Saw a friend the other day
He was sorry I’d gone astray…
My sin was the sweetest love ~ Karen Dalton
The soft voices are there. It’s just a matter of dulling out that clang clang clang of the mainstream and listening, really listening. Searching out and finding that new music from the past.
The reluctant performers play best around a backyard fire when hardly anyone is there. Reluctant performers shy away from the light and seek the darkness. They do not crave the spotlight and all the attention, they do not crave the praise of shallow star fuckers…
Karen Dalton is the kind of artist who was drowned out by loud people with big elbows. But her beauty is infinite and now we can hear it.
All that shines is not truth
All that glitters does not shine
Real beauty rarely glitters
Real beauty rarely glitters
So I find ~ Karen Dalton
The film Karen Dalton - In My Own Time is out now.
They said that aliens had not been seen in these parts for some years.
They said that the giant crop circle appeared sometime overnight in Nashville on February 22nd 2022 near the corner of Someplace Street and Nowhere Lane.
That date: 22-02-2022 is auspicious, they said.
Because of the 2s and the 0s, they said.
They said that no-one heard any strange noises.
They also said that no-one saw a spaceship or any kind of alien machinery whatsoever.
Apparently, someone remembered a similar crop circle appearing in their (giant) yard some fifty years ago or so, they said.
But no-one was sure who it was that remembered this, they said.
They are sure that the mysterious crop circle will inspire curiosity from all parts of the globe, they said.
Was it true that a giant dog was seen peeing on the giant crop circle, they were asked.
‘Yes, this is true!’ they said.
And who were ‘they,’ the ones who said so much?
No-one knows exactly, but someone said they were small folks, with very large eyes.
Is this true? they were asked.
No way of knowing for sure, they said.
Anne co-produced the album and now has made one of the videos. Anne and Jesse will play City Winery, Nashville February 11th 2022 to launch the album, Inner Shibori. Tickets here.
Anne will join Jesse Correll for a show at City Winery, Nashville. Anne has co-produced Jesse's new album, Inner Shibori and both artists will play this show on the release day - February 11th at City Winery, Nashville. Buy tickets here.
Being able to watch this documentary at this time has felt the most like Christmas to me for many a long year. Maybe since I got the white album when I was 15 and I listened to it all summer - I was in Australia and December 25th is hot! I listened to it quite meticulously, each side listened to several times before I went on to the next. Listened to it between beach swims and shoreline walks, games of 500 and Hemingway, Beckett and Joyce. The Beatles were a part of the great unfolding of the universe of art, literature, music and poetry. Every song captured my imagination in a different way and I knew I wanted to be in a band but I was too afraid to say it out loud for fear of derision. I knew I wanted to be an author, too. In fact, I think I had an inkling that I wanted to lead an interesting life and try and do it all. I didn’t know yet that I would have to catch that train and keep going. And strangely, now, I have arrived at a place where I must stop and get it all down. You never think you are going to get old and then when you start to feel old, after the shock, you hope and pray that you will be able to get older, much older, so you can get it all down - all that living you did so you could have something to say about it.
Watching the first episode of Get Back was hyper real. I felt like I was on some drug that takes you into someone else’s dream and you are there but not there. You say “Tucson, Arizona” but they don’t hear you. You feel like you know them (but you don’t.)
Anne has co-produced a beautiful album with Jesse Correll. Here's the first single - An Icy Cold by Jesse Correll featuring Anna Tivel - on Spotify
Join Anne for her radio shows on WXNA Nashville - Songs On The Wire and Nashville Express. Listen live or catch up on the archives! Tuesdays 10 am Music City Time.
Please join Anne at https://www.facebook.com/annemccuemusic