On a recent chance to take the road trip of a lifetime, I packed up my things and headed out west. I was introduced to a different way of life. An awe inspiring landscape that I’ve wanted to experience in person ever since I was a child growing up in a blue collar rural town in the eastern Missouri Ozarks. Growing up within a musical family during the 70’s was a favorite blessing of my childhood and I spent many nights inside my home watching musicians sit around our kitchen table having a good time playing music and putting on a better show than most people would have to give a weeks pay to see today. On this trip I met the wonderful Miss Gracey, who introduced me to several people who it was an honor to meet, including Naomi who offered me an opportunity to write for this site. I went to check out Ronnie Fauss while he was in town. He has a great sound with good honest lyrics, not to mention he is a very down to earth, friendly, family man who puts on a very entertaining fun live show. I truly enjoyed both nights.
Before taking off and heading north towards South Dakota, I spent my Sunday at Gracey’s swapping stories, spending the day talking about music, family and life. She introduced me to the documentary Heartworn Highways. I was immediately consumed when I heard Guy Clark belting out a near perfect version of “LA Freeway”. From the infectious groove of Larry Jon Wilson’s “Ohoopee River Bottomland “to the one of a kind performance of Big Mack McGowan & Glenn Stagner’s “The Doctor’s Blues”, it reminded me going to Old Roy’s barber shop as a kid and watching as Old Roy would play the fiddle, drink beer, tell stories and cut hair, usually in that order. The minute the documentary introduced Uncle Seymour Washington offering up his wisdom on drinking whiskey, I was hooked. It was easy to see Uncle Seymour had a lifetime sitting behind those eyes of his. When the lonesome sound of Townes and his guitar began to play “Waiting Around To Die”, the recollections the song bought back to Uncle Seymour is when you understand what music is meant to be. The look and feel of the film during David Allen Coe’s “I Still Sing the Old Songs” brought back so many memories of my childhood, when it was a much simpler way of life. The movie captured so many wonderful moments from an era that sometimes seems so long ago.
The biggest treat for me from the film were the moments showing a young Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle, along with several others, sitting around Guy Clark’s kitchen table in Nashville on Christmas Eve. With a ton of extra footage, including an intimate version of Guy singing “Desperados Waiting for a Train” and Townes proclaiming to do a ‘medley of his hit’, “Pancho and Lefty”, this DVD is for anyone who has ever been lucky enough to know the feeling of being surrounded by great musicians playing during their most stripped-down, soulful, intimate moments. I would highly recommend you take a trip to a different time and place. Heartworn Highways is a treasure that I would recommend to anyone who can appreciate a great song and a quick look into the lives of songwriters who did it very well. If you can find a copy of it, that is. — Brazzman
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