Steve Rector first heard about it in the coffee room at work. He was putting some squirrel heads into the microwave for lunch, he remembers, when one of the guys mentioned the mad cow disease story in the Owensboro paper. "I figured that if it was really bad, like the bubonic plague, it would be on TV," Rector says. So he started to watch the evening news, scan the local obituaries, and look for signs of strange behavior in local squirrels. Though he never saw or heard anything more, he was spooked enough to lay off brains for the first time in thirty years. But that was last year. Like most of the squirrel hunters I interviewed, he couldn't stay away for long. "I just thought, You gotta die of somethin'," he says. "First it was cigarettes cause cancer, then pesticides, and then the water you drink. But I been eatin' squirrel brains since I was six years old, and I ain't dead yet."
--From Noodling for Flatheads: Moonshine, Monster Catfish and Other Southern Comforts, by Burkhard Bilger
Apparently the final chapter to Desperados, by John Einarson and Are You Ready for the Country, by Peter Doggett is "Rainy Day Music", by our own beloved Jayhawks. If you're willing to indulge the author in a flight of fancy, dig deep into your record collection; when I first read the above books, like any hillbilly who was alive but still soiling himself, giggling to Bert and Ernie, when the music was originally recorded, I went out and through means both legal and otherwise, augmented my music collection so I could listen along to the authors' theories, stories, and anecdotes. So I got caught in a shit storm of Cosmic Cowboy LA rock, with Bernie Leadon banjo Linda Rondstadt whine Sneaky Pete bent string pedal wah wah madness. You know what I'm talking about; the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and Flying Burrito Brothers started this weird hippie doper Cowboy music which David Geffen somehow managed to trade in for a sumptuous estate, more money than God, and a band full of terminal headcases, that all the original members of the scene wanted to kill, called the Eagles.
So anyway, if you imagine the whole thing as a great big layer cake, the top two layers being the hired bullshit and the shallow VH1 "Behind the Scenes" pap, you can lift those off and be left with the music; which, from about 1968 to 1973 was pretty damned good. If you haven't ever done it, I highly encourage you to downl...er, I mean go out and buy the complete early albums of bands like Poco, Pure Prairie League, The Eagles, Dillard & Clark, etc. Just be careful of Timothy B. Schmidt; that fucker ruined everything. But that's another blog.
So anyway, if you're me, Ethan Johns, or Steve Graffunder, you can open your copy of MusicMatch Jukebox and load these songs into your player:
Falling in And Out of Love, Pure Prairie League
Madman, The Jayhawks
Bitter Creek, The Eagles
Tampa to Tulsa, The Jayhawks
A Child's Claim to Fame, Buffalo Springfield
Tailspin, The Jayhawks
You might just shit your pants, or, if you've got more Brittney Spears CD's than you do fishing poles, the whole thing might go right over your head.
So anyway, if you live in Minnesota, you have your own personal suitcase of issues created by any combination of your older brothers' abuse, the long winters, and the lakefront home you don't own yet, that you project onto just about every Jayhawk album you own. On this effort though, in addition to all of that fine Northern kharma, Johns seems to have channeled the old man into an addendum that is both anachronistic and geographically misplaced, yet stunningly effective and sonically beautiful. Bernie Leadon doesn't just play banjo on "Tailspin," his spirit and those of his peers haunts this entire record. Funny, too, it almost all seems completely fortuitous, like Glyn through Ethan plus Gary & Tim, and about 30 years of roots insurgence and State Fair sweet corn, with ghosts like Leadon floating around like Nearly-Headless Nick, converged to make this record.
So anyway, I'm an alt country DJ that's been listening to the Eagles since I was 8 years old and I ain't dead yet.