Friday, September 12, 2008

Jay Farrar Friday

This is the first in a series of posts where I will start to explore and celebrate the musical career of Jay Farrar. For the last two decades Farrar has been at the forefront of the Americana/Alt Country musical genre. Starting with his seminal band Uncle Tupleo in the early 1990s, which essentially launched the modern alt country musical movement, to the more traditional folk/country band Son Volt, to his solo recordings, and his many side projects. Let's start with some basics.

From Uncle Tupelo's first record, the title coming from the Carter family classic. This album combines rock, punk, and country, and describes the desperateness of growing up broke, bored, and disillusioned in the rural Midwest. This landmark album launched a new chapter in Americana music.

A long way from happiness, in a three-hour-away town.
Whiskey bottle over Jesus, not forever, just for now.

Uncle Tupelo - Whiskey Bottle.mp3
Buy: No Depression (1990, reissued in 2003)

Son Volt's first album was released shortly after the breakup of Uncle Tupelo. It was a minor commercial success, and the track "Drown" got some radio air time on modern rock and college stations (I remember hearing it on St. Louis radio). It was praised by many critics as one of the best releases of 1995, and many consider it a classic Americana record.

Catching an all-night station somewhere in Louisiana.
It sounds like 1963, but for now it sounds like heaven.

Son Volt - Windfall.mp3
Buy: Trace (1995)

This track is from Farrar's latest version of Son Volt (2.0 if you will), where none of the other original members who recorded Trace are still in the band. However, this record is more in the style of the 1995 recordings than anything he has done since. In my opinion, the below track is song of the year for 2007.

Now it's another weekend and I'm lonely at home.
Late night TV evangelist drone.

I'm healthy now but I really don't know if I'll ever be free.

Son Volt - Methamphetamine.mp3
Buy: The Search (2007)

1 comment:

Paperdoll said...

I know it's been almost a year since you posted this, but I only recently started reading your blog. So I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this post (and your blog in general). My dad is a big fan of Jay Farrar and of Midwest alt-country, and although it took me a long time, eventually I came to see the beauty of it too. The lyrics you chose to quote from "Methamphetamine" reminded me of what a great, heartbreaking song it is. Just for that, I wanted to say: thanks.