[Note: I am forgoing my usual April Fools’ Day post this year, in part because I’m in the middle of a Decades countdown and in part because the world seems to have turned into a giant, cruel prank without me needing to pile on.]
Elvis Costello’s Punch the Clock followed what may be his best album, Imperial Bedroom, by just a year, and in that context it can’t help but be a bit of a letdown. But it’s plenty good enough to land at #3 on my list of the best albums of 1983.
The Elvis Costello Weekends have ended, but I’m asking Mr. Costello’s help in introducing his successor. Ladies and gentlemen, the series nobody saw coming: Ron Sexsmith Weekends.
Why, you ask, on the heels of weekends dedicated to such luminaries as Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, The Beatles and all of Motown, would I choose to shift my focus to a little-known Canadian singer-songwriter?
For a couple of reasons.
Recently there was a comment thread on this blog about the merits of country music. The question came up of whether the “country’ is in the song or the treatment of the song.
In other words, can you take a pop or rock song and turn it into a country song just by using different instruments? Or is there some fundamental quality in the construction of a country song that transcends its musical treatment?
I lean toward the former explanation. I think country music as it is commonly understood has everything to do with instruments, production and vocals. Add a slide guitar and a southern twang to just about anything and you have a country song.