Not all Americana songs are about trucks and trains, but the same subjects do pop up over and over again. So here's some suggestions for thematic CD samplers. The list is in no particular order and is, of course, entirely subjective and primarily based on the contents of my CD collection. Click below the list to make your own suggestions. Or submit an entire list for future publication here.
Rhyming Orange with Rosalie
This is a list of rhymes to make you cringe, or laugh out loud in the middle of a song. Some of them are writers being daring, or deliberately obstreperous, but sometimes the problems with the rhymes are cultural, being mostly about accent – clipped British accents can’t handle them but a southern drawl does the trick – try Tom T. Hall’s line that way. Maybe that can also explain the two entries on this list for rhymes with the word “mirror” – or maybe not.
In case you think Rachel Harrington can be forgiven on grounds of cultural differences, do bear in mind that she’s referring to the city in the West Midlands, not in Alabama! Todd Snider is a false entry on this list, but worth mentioning in terms of the importance of rhymes – or in this case lack of them – in expressing the thoughts of a song. Gordon Lightfoot’s and Bob Dylan’s songs are remarkable for containing at least a dozen rhymes each that could have ended up on this list, though it doesn't change the fact that they're great songs. But the prize for most inspired or ridiculous rhyme – and the inspiration for this entire list – goes to Rodney Crowell.
The title of this list comes from Guy Clark’s “Cold Dog Soup”.
1. The Sky Above, the Mud Below – Tom Russell
Their hair was long and black, tied up behind their ears ...
Their faces were identical, like one man beside a mirror
2. I Love – Tom T Hall
Birds of the world
3. Goodbye Amsterdam – Rachel Harrington
Goodbye Barcelona, goodbye Birmingham
Goodbye to Vienna, goodbye Amsterdam
4. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll – Bob Dylan
With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him
And high office relations in the politics of Maryland
5. America’s Favorite Pastime – Todd Snider
I took a look all around the world one time, I finally discovered
You can’t judge a book
6. Stained Glass – Danny Schmidt
And some folks prayed in reverence and some folks prayed in fear
As all the shades and chaos in the glass became a mirror
7. The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Gordon Lightfoot
When they left fully loaded for Cleveland ...
Could it be the North Wind they'd been feeling?
8. Time to Go Inward – Rodney Crowell
It’s time to go inward. Hmmm
I don’t know if I can do it after all that I’ve become