I don't know how I did all those dog walks in the years before I had an iPod. Lately my father has been coming along on my morning walks. He walks his dog and I walk mine. What I have realized since I made this change is that when I walk the dogs alone I go into a state a bit like a trance, listening to the music.
So what have I been listening to a lot of lately?
Mississippi John Hurt -- the Library of Congress Recordings, vol.1 and 2 He's one of those singers, like Leabelly, who inhabits that region between blues and folk. He plays guitar sweetly and he has this deep conversational gentle voice, sort of musing. And yet it takes hold of you. These recordings sound like they could have been made last week, his singing has that timeless quality. And you can tell that he was a nice man. An interesting life story too.
Trio Los Panchos -- Los Esenciales Trio Los Panchos is one of those odd outfits that for a while was a huge craze and then just sort of vanished. My father loves them and when I was little he played them on the record player all the time. But then like all these years went by and I never heard anything of them. He mentioned them the other day and I found a CD and then I found some more and I really can't tell you whether it's the nostalgia effect or if they are fun. They are sort of mariachi music meets the Platters with just maybe the teensiest hint of Perry Como. But it's more suave than that, and it's really Latin, and they do have lovely voices.
Lila Downs -- La Cantina If you are entering a Latin Craze Phase you might as well start with this singer. She has managed to turn Mexican traditional styles into something quite new and original. She has this big rich hearty voice and one hell of a pair of lungs, which I think are required for all female Mexican singers. This album is mostly her own version of Norteno music (the stuff with the polka beat) and Ranchero. I'm not sure how to describe Ranchero. It includes that one school of Mexican singing that I like to think of as the "When I'm Finished Throwing Your Clothes Into the Street I'm Going to Find the Bitch and Tear Her Hair Out" style, and the sort where the man is a total skunk and shatters her illusions and steals her innocence and leaves her shedding tears for the rest of her life after a betrayal that she could never have imagined but she forgives him and hopes God blesses him and leaves him happier than he has left her -- this song would be after the neighbors calmed her down of course and she had a good fit of crying. Yolanda Del Rio is the great name among female Ranchero singers. It is the style with a lot of sobbing in it. One of the great things about Downs is that she has this terrific band AND a sense of humor. These songs are all about either eating or drinking away your sorrows, some are pathetic, but "La Tequilera" is just funny, funny lyrics and funny music. If you also get her album "La Linea" you'll be even more impressed with the range of her musical inventiveness.
Desmond Dekker -- King of Kings Probably needs no more explanation, given what I've written here before.
A little more oil in my lamp keeps it burning;
A little more oil in my lamp I pray
A little more oil in my lamp keeps it burning
Keeps it burning till the break of day