For a month that few people like--it's approval rating greatly trails May, June and July, according to government statistics--January has some swell songs. As you will see, January offers up the chance to discuss musicians who don't get a whole lot of play otherwise. Sure, you'd like it if I could somehow work in a gratuitous reference to Kanye West or Hannah Montana or those kids with the bedhead who sing in perfect harmony, but I must stand for the great individualist tenets that this great country was founded on and in the words of the Fleetwood Mac "go my own way."
Now in the words of Johnny's Rotten and Denver, "Follow me."
January In The Halifax Airport Lounge"--Bruce Cockburn: If a musician can be said to own a season, it's Bruce Cockburn and his virtual lock on winter. Being from Canada where it's winter 10 out of the 13 months they celebrate, he's mighty familiar with the machinations of the snow plow. It's no surprise that he's written so many songs about cold weather, since he's had a lot of snow days to sit around and do nothing else. Here's one I'm guessing he wrote at the airport while his flight was delayed thanks to the inclement weather. What else can a man do? How much hot chocolate can one man drink, after all?
"January Man"--Bert Jansch: If you ever want to befriend the Smiths' Johnny Marr, bone up on your Bert Jansch trivia. Johnny absolutely adores Mr. Jansch and you can hear why if you take the trouble to check him out. He plays the guitar really well. He uses all his fingers and then he sings with all three notes in his range. That may not sound like much, but Johnny Cash gets by with two, which makes Bert a virtuoso!
January Man"--Nick Heyward: Haircut 100 were one of the 300 most important groups to release an album the year they released their debut album. With odds like that, you gotta figure there's a solo career in there somewhere for at least one of the members and why not a guy named Nick? I mean, we have Nick Cave, Nick Lowe, Nick Currie (though he changed his name to Momus--great move, dude), Nick Jagger. Fact is, people love performers named Nick. And this one is further proof.
"Eighth Of January"--Arkansas Barefoot Boys: Around here, the eighth of January is when the rent is officially overdue. Could that be why these Arkansas boys are barefoot? They have sold their shoes for rent money? No spare children? Listen, any chance to mention the Arkansas Barefoot Boys in this column will be shamelessly exploited. They have spent too long in the shadows of silence, victims of a vast Yahoo! conspiracy to keep their voices unheard! Rise up and step to the music you shall hear! (I hope it doesn't suck.)
January"--Pilot: The only tune I've ever known by these guy is "Magic" and that one is so good I look forward to every commercial it's used in. I've bought more useless junk on account of being a consumer loyalist than I care to admit. If you can't get Pilot to sell you a bamboo steamer, who can you really count on?