Crazy Heart and a country playlist

February 8, 2010 at 11:07 pm (hear)

This past weekend I saw the movie Crazy Heart, about a down-and-out country singer who, despite being an alcoholic and having a penchant for leaving his belt buckles constantly undone, possesses a grizzled warmth that attracts both Maggie Gyllenhaal and the audience. Jeff Bridges is favored to win the Oscar for Best Actor, and “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” is up for Best Song.

I’m woefully under-informed about classic country, and the much-mocked form (“What kind of music do you like?” “Oh, everything. Except country.”) got a playful ribbing in my home, where my mom would sometimes drawl her imitation of a country song: “I lost my wife, I lost my truck, and then I lost my dog.”

But that mix of hardship and humor is what gives country music its heart, and it turns out that some of my favorite musicians have a country twang. Here, then, is my country playlist:

1. The Dixie Chicks, “White Trash Wedding”

This song has a rapid-fire, bouncing fiddle melody, plus it cracks me up. The chorus:

“You can’t afford no ring
You can’t afford no ring
I shouldn’t be wearing white and you can’t afford no ring”

2. Ryan Adams, “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.”

Adams puts out too many albums to keep up with, but I loved 2007’s Easy Tiger. A taste of that country sadness:

“If I could I’d fold myself away like a card table
A concertina or a murphy bed, I would
But I wasn’t made that way, so you know instead
I’m open all night and the customers come to stay
And everyone tips but not enough to knock me over
And I’m so tired, I just worked two shifts.”

3. Wilco. Pick a song, any song. I love them so much I forget how alt-country they can be. But a few recommendations: “Outtasite (Outta Mind)” and “Forget the Flowers” from Being There, “Hummingbird” from A Ghost Is Born, and “Jesus, Etc.” from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

4. Kathleen Edwards, “In State” (in which she tells a failure of a boyfriend that she “know[s] where the cops hang out” and “maybe 20 years in state will change your mind”) and “Back to Me.” I’ve heard her newish album, Asking for Flowers, is really good, but don’t have it yet.

5. Julie Roberts (this woman really should have picked a stage name), “You Ain’t Down Home” and “No Way Out” (“Fell in love and there’s no way out, sometimes you just gotta laugh about it.”)

6. Rilo Kiley, “I Never”

I’m counting this as country because Jenny Lewis’ solo album was country-ish. I love the opening.

Also, pretty much the only radio-play song this year that I liked (ok, loved) was Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” So sue me.

Happy listening!

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1 Comment

  1. musicmissionary said,

    I can definitely identify. I spent most of my youth trying not to like country music. I had my work cut out for me, living in Texas. Finally I had to give up and admit I liked the stuff. Some of it anyway. Not what they play on the radio, usually, but I’ve got a growing stack of country CDs amongst all my indie, alt-rock and etc. Also loved Crazy Heart, which I just saw last night. Bridges sings pretty well. Who woulda thought?

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