Friday Five: Books
Banned Books Week is coming to a close. Books are pretty cool (so is having the freedom to read them), so today we’re paying tribute to a few, along with a couple of authors.
- 5. “Storybook Children” – Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
Taylor wrote this one with Billy Vera, and recorded it with Rodriguez for Let’s Leave This Town. Now, when Taylor and Rodriguez wonder “why can’t we be like storybook children,” they’re probably not talking about the characters in Grimm’s Fairy Tales that are far more gruesome than the Disney versions would have you believe. Nancy Sinatra, Don Williams, and a handful of others have recorded their own versions of “Storybook Children,” should you wish to give those a listen as well.
- 4. “L.A. County Blues” – Band of Heathens
Writer Hunter S. Thompson, about whom this song was written, has been quoted as saying “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” He’d have made a fine country songwriter.
- 3. “Hemingway’s Whiskey” – Guy Clark
It’s no secret that American literature’s manliest man loved his booze. And as Clark sings, “If it was bad enough for him/It’s bad enough for me.” That’s probably as far as a person should go in his desire to emulate Papa Hemingway: he was quite the troubled feller.
2. “Sylvia Plath” – Ryan Adams
Before he became Mr. Mandy Moore, Adams wished for a Sylvia Plath, a woman with a “busted tooth and a smile” who’d get loaded on gin and then give him a bath. He doesn’t mention that whole head in the oven thing, but it’s still a pretty good song.
- 1. “Tom Joad Part I and Tom Joan Part II” – Woody Guthrie
Why read all 300 pages of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath when you can listen to his pal Guthrie’s seven-minute recap? Answer: because Steinbeck is one cool dude, and a helluva writer. What were his thoughts on the song? Ed Cray’s Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody Guthrie cites a 1978 interview where Steinbeck complained “that [expletive deleted]! In 17 verses he got the entire story of a thing that took me two years to write!”