Bad news has a way of finding you, or maybe you have a way of finding it. If you're not careful, it can crawl under your skin, and slowly devour you from inside. There's always enough bad news to go around, or so it seems, and it's sometimes easier to latch onto and recognize and welcome into your home than good news; it's a familiar face that you've somehow grown attached to. Good news, now, that's a different thing. Good news walks with just a little too much spring it its step, and smiles just a little too wide, so that you always suspect that it's up to something, or maybe after something that you don't have enough of anyways. And besides, where has it been all this time? Bad news may make you miserable, but at least it doesn't make you nervous.
Fortunately, despite the bad news and sometimes because of it, there's music. Music won't make the bad news go away and it isn't supposed to, it's just one of those coping mechanisms for the human condition that helps remind you that there's actually some bold, defiant beauty in a world that keeps trying to convince you of how ugly it is. Don't let it fool you.
The funny thing is that while I'm writing this, I'm not thinking about Brahms' concertos, or gospel choirs singing some Moses Hogan arrangement about my home being over Jordan, though those are wonderful things indeed. No, I'm a low-brow plebeian from the Great American Middle West, and right now I'm just talking about popular music.
The 8th installment of Bob Dylan's "Bootleg Series" is being released in less than a week, and you can listen to the whole thing online here. It's incredibly good. I can't wait to have it in my car's CD player. No, I don't have an especially impressive sound system or anything in my 10-year-old Accord, I just do my best music listening in there. The Bootleg Series Volume 8 (entitled Tell Tale Signs) is a collection of various studio outtakes and live recordings spanning from 1989 to 2006, a period in which Dylan has made six albums that are among his best work, including two with producer extraordinaire Daniel Lanois. I'm incredibly grateful to Columbia for continuing to release these collections; the stuff Bob Dylan throws away is better than what most people ever make. They do serve as something of an indictment of Dylan (or his people) though, because several of the tracks he's nearly left in obscurity over the years are among his best recorded work. Christmas is only five days away!
Also on the fast-approaching horizon are new albums from the british klavierpop trio Keane, Las Vegas' own The Killers, and country rocker Lucinda Williams. I've been a fan of Keane since their debut record in 2004, and they have yet to make a record that isn't both great and quite different than what came before it. Of course, this is only their third record. The same goes for The Killers, who are probably one of the most ambitious acts out there right now. If their third album (fourth, if you count last year's B-sides collection) fails, it won't be because they weren't trying hard enough. The lead-off single for the new record can be heard on the band's official site. Williams probably lacks the appeal of both of those bands, but at her best is very good indeed.
I also understand that Mates of State and Calexico both have released records this year that I have yet to hear. I'm going to have to start selling crack if I want to buy all of this stuff.
Happy fall, and happy landings!