A.A. Bondy: Further illustrating why I started this blog

Action Bondy!

As mentioned in the christening post, I love A.A. Bondy. My friends have had an earful of just how much these past few months, and I finally decided to put my proverbial money where my mouth is by putting together a collection for them of Bondy gems from around the internet, like his sessions with Daytrotter and HearYa.

I was listening to the collection on the way to work this morning, and even though I have heard all of these songs – and sometimes these very recordings – hundreds of times now, I find that they can still surprise me. On the surface of A.A. Bondy’s songs, they seem very simple. Sometimes just guitar, bass and drums. Many times, even less than that. But it’s, as I’ve often said, a deceptive simplicity. On one hand, literally, there’s his deft finger-picking on songs like “Mightiest of Guns”. But beyond the technical aspects, the practical aspects, there is the emotional depth of the songs. Listening to the version of “World Without End” contained in this collection as I rolled down the snowy highway this morning, it struck me how the harmonica wail toward the end is so plaintive that it sounds like someone crying, like the sounds I have made when crumpling under the weight of heartbreak. The next song along was Bondy’s cover of Hank, Sr.’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”, a song which, given its longevity, I am even more familiar with than any of Bondy’s originals. I have always found it a lovely song, but I never felt the emotion where it surely originated until I was there, alone in my car, surrounded by Bondy’s voice as he asked if I had ever heard a Robin weep. Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, this song that I knew so well was, for the first time, bringing tears to my eyes. Then, as if I had somehow unknowingly arranged these songs to allow each successive song to build on the emotion of the one before (I did not – I am not that clever in creating playlists), came the most recent rendition of “Mightiest of Guns” with the wonderful addition of Ben Lester’s pedal steel wrapping me in a melancholy that was, at the same time, as beautiful and warm as a hand-sewn quilt.

“This is why I’m starting a music blog,” I thought. This kind of music. This sort of musician who is less about any fortune-driven ideas of success (because Bondy has chased that golden ring, and it left him hollow) than he is about the art of music, about pulling himself inside out and playing his heart across his guitar strings, through his harmonica and, most tellingly, through his voice. “I just don’t know how to write for anybody but myself. The idea is that if it does something for me then hopefully it will do something for somebody else, you know?” he said in a recent interview. And it does, Mr. Bondy. It does.

The major impetus for the gathering of the collection was HearYa’s posting of a second session with A.A. Bondy and his accomplices, Macey Taylor and Ben Lester. Great to hear Bondy bringing a bit of his live-show noise and power into the studio. I hope this is a taste of things to come on his next album.

Now This Sound Is Brave: The Inauguration

A few things about me:

  • I have been told that my taste in music has a wider range than it has any business having.
  • My favorite bands are the Afghan Whigs and Morphine.
  • I am currently loving on A.A. Bondy so hard that it makes my eyeballs roll back in my head.
  • Other favorites include a range from Cab Calloway to Shudder to Think to Paolo Conte to Modest Mouse to Hank Williams, Sr. And, obviously, the Clash.
  • It is difficult to recommend music to me because my taste is idiosyncratic, but I love it when people try.

Why start yet another music blog when the internet is positively glutted with music blogs? Partially for myself, partially for my long-suffering friends. Music has long been one of my top obsessions. I love to listen to it, to go to shows, to find new music, to discover old music, to fall in love with artists and to write about it all. Endlessly. So much so that I could almost feel the metaphorical pushing and boots-to-the-ass of friends when the idea of concentrating my music mania into a central blog first came about. “Do it!” they said. “You love music more than anyone we know.” And though they didn’t say it directly, I could see them light up with the idea that my communications with them in our various social venues would no longer be 90% music talk. To paraphrase an idea from Rainer Maria Rilke, I am writing this music blog because I must.

Taking a page from the Book of Aquarium Drunkard, I will note that the focus of this blog is likely to shift as my interests shift. For the past year or so, I’ve been heavy into the whole folk/roots/Americana/guys-with-raspy-voices-who-record-their-albums-in-out-buildings genre, but I could go head-over-heels into the rapping-over-indie-rock genre or the loud-angry-shouting genre tomorrow. I will, however, always strive to focus on good music, whatever genre, sub-genre or sub-sub-genre it’s in. Unless I’m posting some sort of “guilty pleasures” entry. Then it’s every man, woman, child and mid-career Hall and Oates fan for him or herself.

I will likely not include album reviews or year-end lists in NTSIB. I have nothing against blogs who do have these, but I have rarely found them useful in my music-listening/purchasing decisions and an informal poll confirms that I am far from the only one thus unaffected. I find a listener’s relationship to music too personal a thing to trust to anything but one’s own ears.

I appreciate everyone who stops by and takes a step or two in this journey with me. Comments, recommendations and, of course, music are always welcome.