Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Road trip music: American west

western snowfall copyright kerry dexter
The Great American Road trip winds its way from the southwestern desert of Arizona, up through the Front Range and the Wasatch, through Colorado. Utah, and Wyoming, from the turn of autumn into the depth of winter. For listening, folk, country rock, songs of the west, and a cowboy Christmas.

Linda Ronstadt is an icon of pop music, whose work as spanned rock, country, Spanish, and big band music, just to mention a few of the musical avenues she’s explored. She is an Arizona native. To begin our western soundtrack, there’s Hand Sown Home Grown / Silk Purse, a CD reissue of two of her early albums. Check out He Dark the Sun and Life Is Like a Mountain Railway to hear how singing should be done. That's something Ronstadt was still a master at decades later when she returned to her hometown to record an album with long time friend Emmylou Harris. It is called Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions.

R. Carlos Nakai has collaborated with classical musicians, artists from Japan, and created all manner of other works. He too is from Arizona, and is a master of the Native American flute. A good place to hear his work is on the album In Beauty, We Return.

Gretchen Peters and Judy Collins both spent years that were important to their music in Colorado. Collins wrote a song called Mountain Girl that really gets that transition between mountain and city. A gifted songwriter in her own right, Peters recently looked at her western connections through the work of other writers on the album One to the Heart, One to the Head.

It is turning toward winter. In the coming weeks the focus here along the music road is on seasonal reflections and connections. Connecting the road trip with that, and with songs of the western states, take a listen to Michael Martin Murphey’s Cowboy Christmas, which comprises songs lively and reflective, in a thoroughly western take on the season.

you may also wish to see
Music Road: holiday gift list: American harvest
Music Road: music for Thanksgiving
Music Road: Ian Tyson: Yellowhead to Yellowstone
more music from the road trip

This is part of The Great American Road Trip, in which I’m partnering up with A Traveler’s Library to add musical ideas to the book and film suggestions for journeys through the regions of the United States which you’ll find there. Stop by and see what the Library has in mind to inspire travels through the west.
For more about the road trip (and a look at some great road songs) see Great American Road Trip: Music begins

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Anonymous Vera Marie Badertscher said...

You know you usually are introducing me to people I know nothing about, but I'm proud to say I know 3 of your 4 musicians this time. I love Carlos Nakai, and am so glad you included him on the day of the Arizona stop on the road trip, because I agonized over not using a Navajo writer. And we heard Michael Murphy sing years ago and were enchanted. And despite the scorn she has heaped on Tucson, I love Linda Ronstadt's voice and her creative approach. Thanks!!

6:21 PM  

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