Just yesterday I was discussing the tough road female artists have had in Round One of Montauk Madness, thanks to the luck of the draw in the matchups. Here’s another example, where two very talented women have to face off against each other (the first such battle, unless you count Lucinda Williams taking on the Shirley Manson-led Garbage).
Dar Williams is a relatively obscure artist who has quietly released almost a dozen albums of literate folk pop. She is a master lyricist and knows her way around a melody, and she’s responsible for one of my very favorite songs, ‘When I Was a Boy.’
If somebody asked me to recommend a musical artist they’d never heard of, my first answer would be Tift Merritt. She’s the best.
This assumes, by the way, that people have heard of Ben Folds and Belle & Sebastian.
My second answer might be Josh Rouse or Ron Sexsmith. Or it could well be Dar Williams, the writer and singer of today’s random iTunes selection. She’d be in the top five, no question.
Enjoy ‘The Blessings,’ another great songs from Dar Williams’ greatest album, 1996’s Mortal City.
That record falls into the rare genre of albums that are close to perfect but for one glaring, horrible misstep. In this case, it’s the title track, a 7-plus minute half-spoken, half-sung short story about a couple that meets during a power failure.
My third most-read SOTD blog entry is Dar Williams’ ‘When I Was a Boy,’ my 83rd Song of the Day post.
This one owes most of its 1,089 page views to YouTube. I uploaded a copy of the song, along with a link back to my blog, when I couldn’t find it on the site. So fans of Dar Williams, or at least of this song, have stumbled upon my post after finding that video.
Today’s SOTD is one of my very favorite songs. I’ve already featured it on the blog in its studio form so today I’ve chosen a live version that mirrors the original.
The first three songs I’ve written about this week discussed adolescent romance, adult romance and married life. Today’s song has many meanings but it fits into the narrative I’m going for this week because it focuses on children.
Initially I wasn’t sure if I should include Dar Williams in the set of artists I’m examing for the musical genome project. I own most but not all of her albums, and I know only a couple of them by heart. She has released her share of generic Lilith Fair soft rock snoozers.
But she has also written and recorded some of the best songs I’ve ever heard. ‘When I Was a Boy,’ for example, is a song I would list among my very favorites, not just for its musical and lyrical qualities but because it speaks to me on a deep emotional level. She can do that, and has, more than a few times.
My latest Random Weekend selection is the opening track of Dar Williams’ 2000 album The Green World.
As a follow-up to the sublime Mortal City and End of the Summer, The Green World falls a bit short but does contain a few great tracks. The best of them is ‘After All,’ one of my favorite songs.