Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Listen to Albuquerque by Neil Young.
Listen to Texas 71 by Magnolia Electric Co.

Today's songs highlight what might be called "Master & Apprentice" examples of our "Kings of the Road". Neil Young needs little introduction as he was a member of the Buffalo Springfield (and did a few good tunes on his own!). Magnolia Electric Co., on the other hand, is a bit more obscure. The band is the brainchild of frontman Jason Molina, formerly of Songs: Ohia. Molina hails from Ohio (Ohia?) and basically writes one kind of song: road songs. Not only that, the guy is really prolific. Over the summer, Magnolia Electric Co. released a four disc set entitled Sojourner. Now, four complete records of road songs may sound a little tedious, but you really have to admire the singleness of this guy's vision! The songs are all empty prairie skies, two-lane highways and an ethos that movement and the road provide one with meaning and redemption. Bill and I saw them live this past autumn and it was a bit tedious. Molina was wearing a weird sort of Crocodile Dundee hat and that kind of ruined it for me.

I'm including both songs today because Molina is so often compared to Neil Young. But where "Texas 71" is rather oblique, "Albuquerque" is beautifully straightforward (if a little megalomaniacal) and, basically, a perfect road song. As usual, Young is fed up with the Canyon scene in L.A. and decides to ditch the whole thing and hit the open road. I can't tell if Santa Fe or Albuquerque is his intended destination, but it doesn't really matter--The beauty of this song lies in the details along the way (rolling "a number", "fried eggs and 'country ham'"). A strange turn of events for a guy who, just a few years before, was singing about screaming girls and limousines. "Texas 71" strikes an essentially similar tone, with Molina questioning what's been sold to him as "a bargain" and wondering if there are horizons out there that he can ultimately outrun.

Photo: Booze 'n Sushi.


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