Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ear Candy Update Musicology Vol. 2 - Wreck of the Old 97

This edition of Ear Candy Update Musicology is about the legendary train wreck at the heart of a classic song.

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Wreck of the Old 97.mp3


Old 97 was a Southern Railway train officially known as the Fast Mail which ran from DC to Hot 'Lanta. On September 27, 1903 while en route from Monroe, Virginia, to Spencer, North Carolina, the train derailed at Stillhouse Trestle near Danville, Virginia. The wreck inspired a famous railroad ballad, which was the focus of a convoluted copyright lawsuit but became legendary in the country music world.

The wreck of Old 97 occurred when the engineer, a 33 year old Joseph A. ("Steve") Broady, was operating the train at high speed in order to stay on schedule and arrive at Spencer on time. You see Fast Mail had a reputation for never being late. Old 97 was behind schedule when it left DC and was one hour late when it arrived in Monroe, Virginia. When the train pulled into Lynchburg, Virginia there were 18 men aboard. Eleven of them died and seven were injured.

At Monroe, Broady's bosses instructed him to get the Fast Mail to Spencer. The normal running time from Monroe to Spencer was four hours, fifteen minutes at 39 mph. The train's would have to average 51. Broady's plan was to maintain speed through Franklin Junction, an intermediate stop normally made during the run. This is literally a train, speed, time algerbra equation. Dammit!

The route between Monroe and Spencer was rolling terrain packed with danger from a combination of grades and tight curves. Posted signs warned engineers to watch their speed. However, in his quest to stay on time, Broady rapidly descended the heavy grade that ended at the 45-foot high Stillhouse Trestle, which spanned Stillhouse Branch. He couldn't reduce speed as he approached the curve leading into the trestle. The entire train derailed and plunged into the ravine below.

The wreck of the Old 97 served as inspiration for balladeers, the most famous being the ballad first recorded commercially by Virginia musicians G. B. Grayson and Henry Whitter. Vernon Dalhart's version was released in 1924 and is sometimes cited as the first million-selling country music release in the American record industry. Since then, "Wreck of the Old 97" has been recorded by numerous artists, including The Statler Brothers (feat. Johnny Cash), Charlie Louvin of The Louvin Brothers, Pink Anderson, David Holt, Flatt and Scruggs, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Johnny Cash, Chuck Ragan, Hank Williams III, Patrick Sky, Nine Pound Hammer, Boxcar Willie, Lonnie Donegan, The Seekers, Bert Southwood, Ernest Stoneman & Kahle Brewer, Carolyn Hester and Hank Snow, as well as Portland, Maine Celtic punk band The Pubcrawlers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stand Up and Holler - Strange Tales of Country Funk

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Country Funk.mp3

The period of musical growth from 1966 to 1969 was and remains unmatched in the realm of popular music. The landscape was changing at a feverish rate throughout the rock and roll world. Country music however is a traditional form and traditionalists didn't get the name for nothing. That's exactly why the outlaw country movement gets the attention it does.

That's also why none of these songs did well on the country charts. They were either too funky, too modern, or frankly, too black. The time wasn't right. That was then. Here we are right now though, about to go headlong into music you've probably never heard anything like.

I hope you have as much fun down the rabbit hole as I did.

-Jason Thompson, August 2013

 The tracks:
  1. L.A. Memphis Tyler Texas - Dale Hawkins
  2. Hello L.A., Bye-Bye Birmingham - John Randolph Marr
  3. Georgia Morning Dew - Johnny Adams
  4. Lucas Was A Redneck - Mac Davis
  5. Light Blue - Bob Darin
  6. I'm Gonna Make Her Love Me - Jim Ford
  7. Hawg Frog - Cray Fox
  8. Fire And Brimstone - Link Wray
  9. Street People - Bobby Charles
  10. Funky Business  - Cherokee
  11. Stud Spider - Tony Joe White
  12. Piledriver - Dennis the Fox
  13. Ohoopee River Bottomland - Larry Jon Wilson
  14. He Made A Woman Out Of Me - Bobbie Gentry
  15. Bayou Country - Gritz
  16. I Walk On Gilded Splinters - Johnny Jenkins

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Authentic Material

Dedicated to J.J. Cale. Requiescat in pace

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Stream online here:

Download for iTunes here:
Authentic Material.mp3

If you have any suggestions, bitches, gripes, complaints or praise, email Duke right here:


The idea was to do a show about cover songs. The problem with that is there are far too many stone cold brilliant covers out there to make this show come in at a reasonable time. During my preparations for Hari Kari I had an insight. How about I do a show during which I blast the original versions of fantastic covers. So then I began the research. I had NO idea Istanbul (Not Constantinople) was a cover by They Might Be Giants. Stunned. And Jet Airliner? Who knew? This was an absolutely brilliant time to put together. I hope you're still capable of awe and I certainly hope you turn all these up. Maybe even dance a little bit.


The tracks:

  1. Good Lovin' - The Olympics    
  2. Do-Wah-Diddy - The Exciters    
  3. The Twist - Hank Ballard    
  4. The Tide is High - The Paragons    
  5. Police & Thieves - Junior Murvin    
  6. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - The Four Lads    
  7. I've Got My Mind Set On You - James Ray    
  8. Hanging On the Telephone - The Nerves    
  9. (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me - Sandie Shaw    
  10. New York Groove - Hello    
  11. I Love Rock 'N Roll  - The Arrows and Friends    
  12. Cum On Feel The Noize - Slade    
  13. Jet Airliner - Paul Pena    
  14. Me And Bobby McGee - Kris Kristofferson    
  15. The Long Black Veil - Lefty Frizzell    
  16. Piece of My Heart - Erma Franklin    
  17. Time Is On My Side - Irma Thomas   
  18. Hard To Handle - Otis Redding    
  19. Mambo #5 - Perez Prado Orchestra    
  20. Kitty - Racey    
  21. (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding - Brinsley Schwarz    
  22. Louie Louie - Richard Berry    
  23. I Want Candy - The Strangeloves    
  24. I Think We're Alone Now - Tommy James & The Shondells    
  25. Hound Dog - Big Mama Thornton    
  26. Downtown Train - Tom Waits     
  27. After Midnight - J.J. Cale