Sunday, January 01, 2006


Smog "A River Ain't Too Much To Love" (Drag City)

About a year ago at The Bowery Ballroom there was a special Drag City Christmas show, with Weird War, Smog, and Joanna Newsom, each playing nine songs broken into three separate sets, kind of a three-way tag team approach. Of course everyone was there to see Joanna Newsom, who of course was amazing. Weird War gave me people a chance to visit the bar or the restroom. For me, though, the evening belonged to Smog.

With just an acoustic guitar (and some surprising chops to boot), he started his first set with a new song, about a bird that's stayed north too long. Jason and I exchanged blown-away expressions, both thinking his might be the best song he's ever written. Then he played another new one ("bury me in fire, and i'm gonna phoenix"). I could feel my jaw hitting the floor. . . this one was better than the first. The third song was like an out-of-body experience; I was floating above myself, hanging on every lyric like my life depended on it. He sang "I love my father, I love my mother, I love my sister too. I bought this guitar to pledge my love, to pledge my love to you." The back-of-my-neck hairs reached for the sky in complete surrender.

A few months later when this record came out, I learned the names of these songs: Palimpsest, Say Valley Maker, and Rock Bottom Riser. And each spin of this disc still feels like the first time. Thank you, Bill.

Oh, and the rest of the record is great, too.

p.s. See here for some new year's eve pictures (scroll down).


Blogger ben said...

say valley maker is such an amazing song. I hope to see smog live again, because when i did so in 2001 it wasn't very great. I fell asleep and felt retarded.

12:44 PM  
Blogger ben said...

okay, so the suspense is killing me - what's #1?

6:15 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

alright, alright. . . here's your #1, ben. i don't know how much you would like it compared to the rest of the list, but it didn't make sense anywhere except at the top.

10:11 AM  

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