Well, it's Friday and you know what the means. Despite having been bloggered by Blogger for lo these many hours, my Oriental Callista Flockhartist Fah Lo Suee and I are off to the lovely campus of the University of West Georgia. Seems the University Players are staging a production of The First Wive's Club in honor of the just announced presidential bid by former UWG professor Newt Gingrich [R-Enormous Gasbag]. It is also rumored that after the performance, Gingrich himself will be on hand for a ceremony at University Stadium, during which he will donate his ego to the alumni fund.
That being the case, and because things will most likely be somewhat quiet around here until our return, here's yet another fun little project to help us wile away the hours and give some meaning to our otherwise shriekingly empty lives:
Best Post-Beatles (Live or Studio) Vocal Performance By a Guy or Gal With Just Their Own Guitar for Accompaniment!!!
No arbitrary rules whatsoever, you're welcome very much. The guitar in question can be either an electric or an acoustic, and I'm willing to stretch the premise to include performances in which the artiste occasionally makes noise with a harmonica.
Also -- post-Beatles in this context means after their initial appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.
And my totally top of my head Top Seven is:
7. Leo Kottke -- Louise
Kottke is, plausibly, the best non-classical acoustic guitar player of the last several decades, and despite the fact that he's famously compared his singing to "geese farts on a muggy day," I also like what comes out of his mouth, as a rule. This 1972 studio version of the Paul Seibel folkie classic illustrates both my points; let's just say that when that mournful 12-string slide solo comes in after the "Good night, Louise, good night" at the song's finale, I usually lose it big time.
6. Peter Case -- Ain't Gonna Worry No More
Just a guy and his guitar walking around Los Angeles in 2007. I stumbled across this clip a year or two ago and it still floors me. Pardon the cliche, but if this doesn't give you chills seek medical atention.
5. Billy Bragg -- She Smiled Sweetly
I'm not sure exactly when this was done -- I first heard it on a MOJO sampler of Stones covers -- but it's an utterly charming version of one of Mick and Keith's overlooked gems.
4 Joni Mitchell -- Marcie
From her first (1968) album; gloriously melodic, rapturously sung, and a great example of how she managed to make non-traditional guitar tunings sound utterly natural and graceful. If you want to be pedantic, she's actually playing two guitars here, via discrete overdubbing, but essentially she's just doubling the part to fill out the sound a bit, so I'm going to let it go. When she did it live, it sounded just as gorgeous, frankly.
3. Robyn Hitchcock -- Broken Heart
The Skip Spence song, from the Oar covers album, and if memory serves actually recorded in Hitchcock's backyard garden. In any case, it's one of the two or three standout moments from that (worth looking for) tribute collection; Hitchcock totally gets the song's quite remarkable mix of droll wordplay, regret and madness.
2. Bob Dylan -- Visions of Johanna
Live, Down Under, in 1966, and I first heard it in the early 70s via the fabulous bootleg LP pictured above. Dylan's speeding his brains out (or so it sounds to me) in the tuning-up and intro part of the track, but once he lights into the song it's magesterial and mesmerizing; for my money it's the most genuinely haunted vocal performance of his entire career.
And the Numero Uno wandering minstrel performance of them all clearly has to be....
1. Paul Westerberg -- Answering Machine
A Replacements track, technically, but it's really just Westerberg, an electric guitar and the titular tape recorder. In any case, the most wrenchingly lonesome song in rock history, with the possible exception of about a zillion other Westerberg tunes.
Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?