Jason Isbell Playlist
I studied piano up to grade 8 Royal Conservatory and stuck around for level 3 theory, all so that decades down the road when someone asked where my children got their musical talent from, I could confidently say, “me”. I haven’t touched a piano in years, except to dust it. I doubt that I would recall so much as “Chopsticks” and all I know about diminished sevenths is that I used to know something about them. My children’s interest in music grew out of our interest in music. We figured that music lessons were as important as swimming lessons or math class. And we played all sorts of music in our house – classical, jazz, blues, rock, reggae, pop, dance, devotional, hip hop, disco, funk, metal, opera, alternative, folk, R&B, punk, new wave, big band, ska, grunge, bluegrass – all from own collection or the library. It seems to me that the only genre of music we didn’t expose our kids to was country, because I thought I didn’t really like it. But of course we loved and listened to Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Alison Krauss, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, and so on. Why do so many people hate on country music (or think they do)? You know why. Country music is gendered, simplistic, excessively patriotic, redneck, overly religious, glorifies outdated stereotypes, and is generally depressing. Not true. Listen to Jason Isbell. No tractors, dead dogs or deceitful women here. This guy sings about urban sprawl, mental illness, homelessness, poverty, isolation, white privilege, remorse, love and loss (of course), among other things. Sure there’s obvious country riffing happening here and more than one standard crutch (please, no more songs about Tupelo!). You can hear shades of Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Neil Young, Ron Sexsmith, and even Bon Iver, so that bodes well, right? I think this is a really great album. Really great. Lovely tunes, thoughtful lyrics. I like “The Nashville Sound” so much I even told my kids about it. Now you know too.