Musings & Music

Currently Listening

Allison Russell - Outside Child


I have been taken with Allison Russell’s Outside Child (https://allisonrussell.bandcamp.com/album/outside-child) since I first heard it on a list of folk singers to watch. Then, it was on a list of country singers to watch. Outside Child is both and neither. Whatever, genre seems to matter much less anymore, as genre is really arbitrary anyway. What this album is is beautiful music with powerful lyrics.


It brings you in with beautiful vocals in both English and French on Montreal, but then it hits you with the tragedy of a child abused by her parent, like these from Persephone (https://youtu.be/-EHHbwzgvGg):


Blood on my shirt, two ripped buttons

Might’ve killed me that time oh if I’d let him

He’s slow when he’s drunk, and he lost his grip on me

Now I’m running down la rue St. Paul

Trying to get out from the weight of it all

Can’t flag a cop ’cause I know he won’t stop

I’ll go see Persephone











Past Listening

Tuareg Desert Blues

As a student of the guitar, and especially as one from the land of Blues and BBQ, I've got a love of jammy, grooving guitar. And the Tuareg music of West African Sahara resonates at such a core level that I instinctively start dancing every time I hear it.

There are so many great bands to check out. The first I was introduced to was Tinariwen, who rocked out an Austin audience for well over 2 hours while saying "Welcome to the Desert" between each song. To study the licks, I've been going through the YouTube channel of Ovace Siddiqi, who also has a Patreon page worth contributing to.

In reading The Roots of the Blues: An African Search, I began to think of the interconnected nature of music and specifically with regards to the Tuareg. Here's modern music in the tradition of West African Griots, which influenced the Delta Blues and upon which the Blues is now having an influence.

And here I am in Memphis studying the music from a Pakistani guitarist in Europe. Thank you, YouTube!

Currently Reading

Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature

Norton canceled their Anthology of Latino Literature, so I was forced to pick a new book. While I spent several month's reading and prep on that and was freaking out when I realized everything had to be redone for my class, this work and its companion site (https://latinostories.com/) are so much better than what I was planning to work with previously.

Past Reading

Norton Anthology of Latino Literature

This is consuming my work life as of late, as I have been given the honor of creating my college's first Latinx Literature class. Unfortunately, this is not a class I've previously taught or studied, so I'm diving in. Though I've been able to rely solely on the Norton guides when teaching a World Literature class, it doesn't seem a good idea for this class, as there are no texts in Portuguese, French, or any of the indigenous languages of the American continents. This is after an introduction that discusses the importance of including Latino literature and voices and acknowledges that there are multiple layers of identity.


How to Write One Song

I'm enjoying writing exercises and some perception changes from Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. He focuses on getting lost in the process of making a single song, not thinking beyond that to songs. While he hasn't solved the lyrical problems I've been having with a couple of songs I've been working on, that single change in perspective resonated with me. If I'm working on any aspect of a song consistently and if I get to enjoy getting totally lost in time while working on it, then I've got everything I could ever want and I don't need to worry about the direction that may (or may not) take shape.