Listening to “A Nod To Bob” from Red House Records, I started retching. It was kind of a post traumatic stress reaction caused by the hours I spent at the Cedar Cultural Center looking for authentic music.
A lot can and has been said about the sick, awful things done to Country/Americana by animatronic monkeys like Shaina Twain and Garth Brooks. That rant is ably provided by Jack Sparks.
This CD made me realize that the folk/non-commercial side of that spectrum is just as sick and empty. The same spirit that moved people to boo Bob Dylan is alive and well on the folk circuit. In a twisted irony, they assembled a bunch of folk musicians to record utterly unimaginative Dylan covers. There are a few enjoyable moments on the CD, but most of the songs are rendered with fawning precision, as if respect can only be shown by exact reproductions of the originals. (except, for some ungodly reason, they felt the need to replace “she” with ‘he’ on any songs where a girl is singing). This, of course, was the big sin of the 60′s folk revival, to try through religious exactitude to capture some imaginary American past. It is almost like Merton’s god as object argument. Bob Dylan blew up the folk revival, blew it to smithereens and these people threw Dylan up on a pedestal in its place. You can hear it in the songs, it’s like listening to a minstrel from the society for creative anachronism picking away at a lute.
The country music association has gone for banality and big white teeth to try and sell pickup trucks. They carefully cropped blues and gospel out of the picture and made a whole genre of perfectly awful music. The folkies have hurt county/americana just as much. They are the girl in second grade who is so good at coloring in the lines and whose desk and arm you had to dry off with a paper towel after coming back from the drinking fountain with a mouthful of water only to start laughing and spray it everywhere. You know that girl?