Heartworn Highways, a film by James Szalapski and Heartworn Highways Revisited, a film by Wayne Price:
At the close of 1975 into 1976, James Szalapski filmed some of the second-generation Outlaw Country performers, including memorable glimpses of David Allen Coe’s tour bus and Townes Van Zandt performing “Waitin’ Around to Die” for a misty Uncle Seymour Washington, the “Walking Blacksmith” of Austin, TX. Weaving these vignettes together in free-form anti-narrative, the product, Heartworn Highways, is a testament to the scope and resilience of that music.
Now, forty years later, Wayne Price gives us Heartworn Highways Revisited; a much more explicit paean to Outlaw Country authenticity focusing on the contemporary alt-country scene in Nashville. It’s intimate and caressing — at worst, a little darling, at best, a powerful testament to musical community and legacy. Just a few of the highlights include a younger generation of songwriters interviewing Guy Clark in his living room, for the backyard collaboration of Shovels & Rope, and for the brief, startling performance by Nikki Lane.
Da Backwudz - "You Gonna Love Me":
Da BackWudz were a Decatur, GA rap duo from the mid-2000s, who released the admittedly uneven debut Wood Work. “You Gonna Love Me” is a standout though: the Kanye West-esque sampling of Dream Girls torch song “And I Am Telling You”; the rolling hi-hat and the flow that flexes round it; the video that transposes the tropes hip hop into local Southern context. This is Dirty South perfection. If only contemporary country was this tasteful.
Nick Tosches - Where Dead Voices Gather:
Looking for some beach reading on American music? Look no further than Nick Tosches’ 2001 biography of blackface minstrel Emmett Miller, Where Dead Voices Gather. I first heard Emmett Miller on an Okeh comp of Western swing recordings, and his “Lovesick Blues” (the inspiration for Hank Williams) grabbed me immediately. Miller sings deftly and unnervingly. Tosches book does an equally unsettling and insightful job with teasing the complexities of race and history in American music.