midweek music: “The Weight”

Here’s another from Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band in 1989: a lovely version of “The Weight.” Besides Levon Helm and Rick Danko doing their vocals, just like on The Band’s original, we’ve got Dr. John playing fabulous piano (and also singing a verse) and a beautiful guitar intro by Nils Lofgren. Oh, and for this particular concert, another former Band member, Garth Hudson, plays the accordion!

midweek music: “Women with a Y”

One of my absolute favorite songs by one of my absolute favorite bands, Uncle Bonsai is a folk trio I first learned of through Vin Scelsa’s “Idiot’s Delight” radio show in the 1980s. I got to interview them when they came to New York and played at the Bottom Line, and then they gave a great show where they double-billed with Christine Lavin.

This song, “Women with a Y,” has one of the greatest verses ever written:

Mary was a martyr
Mary must have been a martyr
‘Cuz her God in all his wisdom couldn’t look her in the eye
So he took her and he left her
With some jackass in a stable
While he boasted of the conquest to the other holy guys
So the man takes his position
With the woman in submission
‘Cuz the Bible says that’s how they do it here.
And the women fall from favor
All because some horny savior
Showed that men can come just once and disappear

I’m incredibly jealous of Andrew Ratshin for writing that verse. Just brilliant.

Anyhow, here’s the whole thing….

midweek music: “Nil S’en La”

I have long loved the Irish band Clannad, and here are two very different versions of one of their standards, “Nil S’en La,” an Irish drinking song. The first is from their early live album Clannad in Concert, recorded in 1978, and which is entirely acoustic. The second is from a 1993 performance on Jools Holland’s show, and is more electronic (plus with a sax added). Both are superb.

midweek music: “Sweet Sir Galahad”

Sarah Lee Guthrie, one of Arlo Guthrie’s children, has a magnificent singing voice. I first heard it when she was a teenager in the early 1990s when she joined her father and Pete Seeger on stage and belted out an amazing rendition of “Sailing Down that Golden River.” She’s gone on to an excellent musical career of her own, and this is her a year ago providing a cover of Joan Baez’s “Sweet Sir Galahad” in honor of the latter’s 80th birthday.

midweek music: “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her”

Mary Chapin Carpenter was part of a wave of women country music stars in the 1990s along with Nanci Griffith, Roseanne Cash, Shawn Colvin, and many others. One of my favorites of hers is “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” from her 1992 album Come On, Come On.

This live performance is superb, as she’s backed up by Emmylou Harris, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, and Suzy Bogguss. The harmonies on the last chorus are just amazing.

midweek music: “Love at the Five and Dime”

Nanci Griffith has always been one of my favorite singer-songwriters, and she was a great storyteller as well. Here’s one of my favorites, as much for the introduction as the song itself: “Love at the Five and Dime,” a love letter to Woolworth stores all over the world. (Also “Unnecessary Plastic Objects” is the name of my next band….)

midweek music: “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”

In 2015, Carole King was honored at the Kennedy Center, and one of the performers was Aretha Franklin who, at 73 years old, came out in a fur coat, sat down at the piano, and belted the ever-loving shit out of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” a song King and her writing partner Gerry Goffin wrote for Franklin in 1967. King is completely verklempt, not having had any idea that this would be happening, and then there’s the great moment three minutes in when Franklin throws off the fur coat, and everyone — including President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama — give her a standing ovation. If you get through this without tearing up, you have no soul. One of the great performances you’ll ever see by one of our best.