Friday, June 20, 2008
We Can't Make it Here Anymore
DEL MCCOURY AND FRIENDS PAY TRIBUTE TO THE STRUGGLES OF RURAL AMERICA
Del McCoury has put out a compilation project that sings about the plight of rural America. The album enlists a stellar group of artists to tell this story. Moneyland, which is also the name of the title cut, invokes the spirit of FDR and his New Deal to tell this story. The first and last cut on the album are excerpts from a couple of FDR’s famous fireside chats, which makes this the first and likely last album review I will do which includes tracks by a dead president. Speaking of dead presidents, money is really the central subject on this project. Every song is really about either the lust for or lack of money, as the greedy are pushing the less fortunate to the margins, especially in rural America.
The songs and musicianship are as compelling as concept. The Del McCoury Band brings two original songs to the table. The first is the title cut "Moneyland" and the other is the hilarious "40 Acres and a Fool," about a new money poser. Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard supplies the 1973 classic "If We Make It Through December" and the more recent "What Happened?," which appeared on his McCoury Music bluegrass debut of last year. The project also includes Emmylou Harris's and Rodney Crowell's glistening take on his "Mama's Hungry Eyes," Dan Tyminski's 2001 recording of "Carry Me Across The Mountain," based on a true Depression era story and Haggard and Marty Stuart's searing "Farmer's Blues." Chris Knight's "A Train Not Running," a more recent tale of economic devastation, is almost painful to listen to but is too compelling to skip.
The album will release on July 8th. The best way to sum it up is in Del's own words. "It's sad to me that country kids can't stay in their hometowns any more. There's no opportunity, there are no jobs, there's just nothing. And at the other end of life, there are a lot of people losing the pensions they worked for-that happened to my wife, Jean-and there are more people relying on Social Security than ever. You know, we have a little fun on this album with that Beatles song, 'When I'm 64,' but really, it's no joke. It used to seem like 60 was really old, but nowadays, it feels more like middle age, and to have a lot of years ahead of you without being sure that what you spent a lifetime working for, like a pension or Social Security, is going to be there-well, that just doesn't seem right... That hillbilly boy in Appalachia and that farm boy in the midwest and that black kid in the inner city, they're all looking for the same thing: a way out and up. One of these days, those kids are going to start working together on their common problems-and when they do, they'll fix them." I hope so Del.