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jan2017SOUNDTRACK: BRENT COBB-Tiny Desk Concert #591 (January 17, 2017).

brentI don’t like country music.  I’ve found I’ve grown less fond of it in the last few months because a lot of country artists are crossing over but still bringing that twang that is like nails on a chalkboard to me.  I initially bristled against Cobb because he’s got that country twang in spades.

But he proved to be such an engaging and likable fellow–a funny storyteller and genuinely nice guy–that I found that I enjoyed his songs a lot more than I expected.

“Solving Problems,” is a song about a Sunday-afternoon bull session.  It’s an uptempo song with some enjoyable lyrics–the lyrics are what won me over, especially in his delivery: “Conversation covers everything and in between, from Grandpa’s health to marrying good girls.”

When the song is over he notes: “Y’all been having a lot of Southerners on here lately, whats up with that?”

The second song “Down In The Gulley” is a funny song–but not, you know, comical or anything.  He introduces it with a story about his uncle and his daddy.  When they were kids they were putting down pipes from a stream to head towards the pump house.  A few years ago (as in decades later), the sheriff saw these pipes and thought that they were running moonshine.  Well, he says, his Uncle Bubba is a great guy but her can be a little orn’ry, especially if you wake him up first thing in the morning accusing him of having a moonshine still.  So for the song he imagined what it would have been like if it was a moonshine still.   I really like the guitar work ion this song–really interesting melodies.

When the song is over he says “you were really listening.  Listening crowds make me nervous–all as you want as an artist is for people to listen to you but when they do it freaks you out.”

The third song “Country Bound,” is one that he didn’t have anything to do with its creation.  His family members were writing this song when he was 5.  It reminds me a lot  of John Denver and it’s my favorite song that he plays.  It’s his my favorite of the set.  It features a bouncing solo from J Kott, whom Cobb jokingly calls “our bass player/lead guitarist.”  In addition to Cobb and Kott, there’s Steve Smith on the drums.

He was only planning to do three songs, but he says “we can do more or not.”  Someone says one more.  He smiles and says “it’s up to you [presumably whoever introduced him] if we have time.  I don’t even now who the guy [who said “one more”] is, he might not even work here.

The final song is the sobering “Shine On Rainy Day.”  It’s a slow ballad and a thoughtful one.  “While he weaves plenty of wit into his lyrics, Cobb can devastate just as easily: ‘Ain’t it funny how a little thunder make a man start to wonder, ‘Should I swim or just go under?'”

[READ: January 15, 2017] “The Sad Fact”

This is an excerpt from Cusk’s novel Transit.

This story begins in a very modern way: “an astrologer emailed me to say she had important news concerning events in my immediate future.”

The spam message went on to say that the information was causing her great excitement and for a small fee, she would share this with her. But “the sad fact was that in this era of science and unbelief we had lost the sense of our own significance.”  The narrator knows it is spam: “it seemed possible that the same computer algorithms that had generated this email had generated the astrologer herself:  she was too obviously based on a human type to be human herself.”  And yet…

A friend of hers has said that so much of our language has been culled by computers that faux humans often feel more substantial than the original. (more…)

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