July 12, 2009

on overthinking rock 'n' roll

Yesterday we saw Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers play a great set of rock and roll in the plaza in front of the National Museum of the American Indian. They rocked. But what bothered me a little was that it seemed that many of the songs were so close to other artists' stylings that they could have come from their records - one song could have been left out from Neil Young's _Harvest_; another from Lucinda Williams _Car Wheels_; one even from Bowie's _Diamond Dogs_... So I asked myself if I was being unfair to this singer-songwriter, in thinking that perhaps such strong echoes of others lessened the originality of her work. Then I remembered how closely Dylan studied "the classics" (meaning Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music), thought about the relationship of Maggie's Farm to Penny's Farm, and decided to stop being bothered and just enjoy the words, music, unique personalties, and special treat of great live rock and roll in an intimate setting on the National Mall.

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