I wasn't expecting much when I first thought about what songs I might find for Arkansas, but then the image of Jim "Dandy" Mangrum came to me in a dream and his band Black Oak Arkansas promised to save me with their insightful, insanely essential rock n' roll. If you've never listened to a Black Oak Arkansas album, you haven't lived the life you've imagined. Thoreau would be ashamed. Arkansas, it turns out, has a great musical legacy and one that will now be exposed to readers of this fine blog. Don't thank me, just send cash.
When Electricity Came To Arkansas"--Black Oak Arkansas: Well, it must have been a momentous occasion, just as I'm sure it was a big deal when electricity came to New York City or California or Beaumont, Texas. I know I was psyched when hi-speed internet finally came to my house! So, yeah, this was a big deal. Black Oak were able to take their washboard and make it an electric one and be even louder and more annoying than ever. I admit, I love electricity.
"Arkansas Blues"--The Goofus Five: I'd never heard of these guys until I went deep into research mode and saw they had a recording back in 1926, which you know what that means! The sound is all scratchy and everyone automatically will love it because it's old and weird and people don't make music like that anymore. And that name! The Goofus Five. Was that a way of distinguishing yourself back then? Was "Goofus" an affectionate term that meant "Cool"? Like, hey, I'm Laughing Bob Goofus!
Mary, Queen Of Arkansas"--Bruce Springsteen: Before Bruce Springsteen mastered the art of being the voice of the workingman, he tried a few other techniques to make himself seen more interesting. First, he bought a rhyming dictionary and put it to great use, then he bought an acoustic guitar since his voice was as bad as Bob Dylan's and then he went and met up with the guy who signed Bob Dylan--John Hammond--and impressed him and got a recording contract. By this logic, since I sound like a talentless idiot with no sense of timing or pitch, I should probably find the guy who signed Tiny Tim or Devendra Banhart and see what he can do for me!
"Arkansas Traveler"--Jerry Garcia: Someone mentioned to me recently that I wasn't featuring the Grateful Dead enough in my columns. They apparently still have a large fan base who enjoy reading anything about their heroes. And I have to say I've always been impressed with that single-minded devotion to any one thing, whether it's Jesus, hard drugs, baseball cards, Sudoku, bingo...It's nice to see people take something to an obsessive level. Which reminds me, I have to tend to my Battlestar Galactica action figure collection. It needs me now.New Lost City Ramblers: I had an album by these guys once. Then someone borrowed it and promised to bring it back. And that was the last time I ever saw the album or them. Think of how my life could have been different if I'd held on to that album and learned the musical complexities that awaited me. I still might some day. But today I'm due for my monthly Yahoo! bath. You should see all us bloggers soaping up together, discussing the fine art of writing these complex columns. The more elite among us back up their assertions with real facts. Now that's impressive. I hope it doesn't catch on.
- Black Oak Arkansas