Another man done gone: a song that has come full circle.

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“Another man done gone” is a traditional chain-gang song first recorded in 1940 that is just as timely in today’s world as it was 75 years ago. What is going on in our country right now with the killing of unarmed black men and the rise of openly racist and fascist political candidates can cause a sensitive soul to lose hope in humanity. I’d like to believe we have come far and in many ways we have. However, we cannot heal and rise from our collective traumatic history unless we are willing to acknowledge, accept, learn from our past and all do our part to break the cycle of systemic racism and violence.

“Another man done gone” was first recorded by folk singer Vera Hall in 1940. Vera Hall was recorded by ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax and she is most well known for her song “Trouble so hard.” You might recognize that song as sampled in Moby’s “Natural blues”.

Hall’s rendition of “Another man done gone” is so haunting in describing the casualness in the killing of black men for minor (if any) infractions. New Orleans Soul Queen Irma Thomas recorded a version/remake of it on her 2006 Grammy-winning album, “After The Storm” chronicling the trauma and wretchedness of the Hurricane Katrina disaster aftermath. I’ve posted the original and the remake below. Folk singer Odetta and folk band Our Griffin also recorded versions, as well as Johnny Cash and many other musicians over the years.

Please pass this post along if it so moves you and let us all contribute to our collective healing of the trauma of the horrific violence of the past and present in our country and world. Let us love each other and have reverence for human life. #BLACKLIVESMATTER

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Traveling the Americana music highway with Sturgill Simpson, John Fullbright, & Jason Isbell

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Every generation talks about the dearth of genuine, good music being made by “real musicians” as compared to days gone by. However, I find that premise a fallacy. When I was a kid, I just had to dig a little deeper to hear some great music being made (usually being played way left of the dial on college radio), and I escaped the vapid pop of the day. Today is no different. I present to you some talented, soulful, creative, real-deal musicians making real-deal music. Hailing from Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Alabama respectively, Sturgill Simpson, John Fullbright, and Jason Isbell are some of the most lauded roots musicians making music today.

Sturgill Simpson has been gaining a lot of popularly lately with his old-school country sounds and soulful vocals. He recently played an NPR Tiny Desk concert and was nominated for a Grammy Awards for best Americana album for his Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. His sound harkens back to the likes of Waylon Jennings while still sounding new and original. (I found out that I am not the only one that makes that comparison). Here he is with “Life of Sin”:

 

John Fullbright was born and raised on a 80-acre farm in Oklahoma. His debut album, From the Ground Up, was an homage to the farm house he grew up in and it was nominated for a Grammy in 2013. He was a critical success. And his latest album, Songs has also been well-received. Here is “Gawd Above” from the first album:

 

Jason Isbell, a former band member of southern rock band Drive-By Truckers, made one of the most acclaimed albums of 2013. After several solo albums, Jason Isbell hit big with his fourth solo album, Southeastern. This song really choked me up. Here is “Traveling alone”: