Friday Five: Books

Juli Thanki | October 2nd, 2009

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.

  • children5. “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.
  • heathens4. “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.
  • guy-clark3. “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.
  • adams2. “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.
  • guthrie1. “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!”
  1. Truersound
    October 2, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Great Post. I think a good mention would be the Entire solo EP “Last Pale Light In The West” from Lucero frontman Ben Nichols. The whole EP is about Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian”.

  2. TimeO
    October 2, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Rosanne Cash: The Summer I Read Collette

  3. Rick
    October 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    I’d like to add Ramblin’ Jack Elliot’s signature song “South Coast” which is based upon a short story about Spanish California prior to the 1849 gold rush. That is one powerful story…

  4. Steve Harvey
    October 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Do songs about The Bible count?

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