New Music For Old People: The Orange Peels, Ryan Adams, Merle Travis

Al Kooper

Al Kooper

This column is like the title says — its intention is to fill the gap for those of us who were satiated musically in the ’60s and then searched desperately as we aged for music we could relate to and get the same buzz from nowadaze. iTunes was the answer for me in 2003 and I have been following the new releases every Tuesday ever since I realized there was an endless stream of music I could enjoy there.

I also include older items that I felt were obscure originally and might not have been heard back then. The reason I am writing this column is to make sure others don’t miss this wonderful music. These are not top ten items; but they SHOULD’VE been!

1. The Orange Peels – “I Don’t Wanna Shine”

If ya wanna take a Byrd-bath, then this is your tub! This Bay Area band was originally formed in 1994 by leader Allen Clapp. However, they have a built-in band member turnstile that prevents you from knowing who is in the band at any given moment. But they ALWAYS have “the Clapp.” He is the principal singer and songwriter. This track is from their third album Circling the Sun from 2005 and sounds totally authentically ’60s, with all musical and lyrical details intact. That’s a compliment, by the way.

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2. Ryan Adams – “Gimme Something Good”

Short of an early death and a coalition with Keith Richards, it would seem that Ryan did his best to live life like one of his heroes, Gram Parsons. While he is 30 years younger than me, he has released almost three times as much product as I ever put out by age 70. I wavered on his material — I liked some things and passed over others. His self-titled solo album is his best yet. Here’s my current favorite…

3. Merle Travis – “Merle’s Boogie Woogie”

Merle is a legend in the country, blues, and folk idioms and a style of finger-picking the guitar called Travis-picking is still widely used in those three genres. Merle appeared in the 1953 film From Here to Eternity singing and playing “Reenlistment Blues.” In 1955, Merle’s song “Sixteen Tons” was covered by Tennessee Ernie Ford and clung to the the number one position for many weeks. Most people today have never heard him, but rather those influenced by him like Chet Atkins or Les Paul. The latter used to slow down the recording tape to “imitate” what Travis could do at regular speed and then put the tape back to regular speed to compete with Travis’ facility. This track is a great example of Merle’s abilities and is still jaw-dropping in 2016.

This column originally appeared on The Morton Report. Click for more great selections from Al Kooper! As always, show some love to the Morton Report!

Photo Credit: Joe Mabel [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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