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Billy Bragg / Wilco  
Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions (3CD/DVD) (2012)

Billy Bragg / Wilco
Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions (3CD/DVD)
Album release: April 21, 2012
Record Label: Nonesuch
Runtime: over 180 min.
Recorded: Boston, Chicago, and Dublin
Producer: Billy Bragg, Grant Showbiz, Wilco
Track listing:
All lyrics written by Woody Guthrie. Music by Billy Bragg and Wilco.
Volume 1
01."Walt Whitman's Niece" (Bragg) – 3:53
02."California Stars" (Tweedy / Bennett)– 4:57
03."Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key" (Bragg) – 4:06
04."Birds and Ships" ft Natalie Merchant (Tweedy) – 2:13
05."Hoodoo Voodoo" (Tweedy / Bennett / Bragg / John Stirratt / Ken Coomer / Harris) – 3:12
06."She Came Along to Me" (Bragg / Tweedy / Bennett) – 3:26
07."At My Window Sad and Lonely" (Tweedy) – 3:27
08."Ingrid Bergman" (Bragg) – 1:50
09."Christ for President" (Bragg) – 2:39
10."I Guess I Planted" (Bragg) – 3:32
11."One by One" (Tweedy) – 3:22
12."Eisler on the Go" (Bragg) – 2:56
13."Hesitating Beauty" (Tweedy) – 3:04
14."Another Man's Done Gone" (Tweedy) – 1:34
15."The Unwelcome Guest" (Bragg) – 5:09
Volume 2
01."Airline to Heaven" – 4:50
Words: Woody Guthrie 1939. Music: Jay Bennett and Jeff Tweedy 1997.
02."My Flying Saucer" – 1:45
Words: Guthrie 1950. Music: Billy Bragg 1995.
03."Feed of Man" – 4:08
Words: Guthrie. Music: Tweedy 1998
04."Hot Rod Hotel" – 3:17
Words: Guthrie 1949. Music: Bragg 1996.
05."I Was Born" – 1:50
Words: Guthrie 1950. Music: Bragg 1996.
06."Secret of the Sea" – 2:42
Words: Guthrie 1939. Music: Bennett/Tweedy 1999.
07."Stetson Kennedy" – 2:39
Words: Guthrie 1950. Music: Bragg 1997.
08."Remember the Mountain Bed" – 6:26
Words: Guthrie 1944. Music: Tweedy/Bennett 1999.
09."Blood of the Lamb" – 4:16
Words: Guthrie 1955. Music: Tweedy/Bennett 1999.
10."Aginst th' Law" – 3:03
Words: Guthrie 1947. Music: Bragg 1995.
11."All You Fascists" – 2:43
Words: Guthrie 1942. Music: Bragg 1997.
12."Joe DiMaggio Done It Again" – 2:31
Words: Guthrie 1949. Music: Bragg 1995.
13."Meanest Man" – 3:46
Words: Guthrie 1945. Music: Bragg 1997.
14."Black Wind Blowing" – 3:00
Words: Guthrie. Music: Bragg 1997.
15."Someday Some Morning Sometime" – 2:53
Words: Guthrie 1948. Music: Tweedy 2000.
Volume 3
01."Bugeye Jim"
02."When the Roses Bloom Again"
03."Gotta Work"
04."My Thirty Thousand"
05."Ought to Be Satisfied Now"
06."Listening to the Wind That Blows"
07."Go Down to the Water"
08."Chain of Broken Hearts"
09."Jailcell Blues"
10."Don't You Marry"
11."Give Me a Nail"
12."The Jolly Banker"
13."Union Prayer"
14."Be Kind to the Boy on the Road"
15."Ain'ta Gonna Grieve"
16."Tea Bag Blues"
17."I'm Out to Get"
Volume 4
Man in the Sand documentary
Songs featured in the film:
The following songs appear in the film (in order of performance):
"Way Over Yonder in Minor Key" (Words Woody Guthrie 1946. Music Billy Bragg 1997.)
"California Stars" (Words Guthrie. Music Jeff Tweedy / Jay Bennett 1997.)
"This Land Is Your Land" (Words and music Guthrie.)
"Pastures of Plenty" (Words and music Guthrie.)
"I Ain't Got No Home" (Words and music Guthrie.)
"Here Comes the Train" (Words and music Corey Harris 1998.)
"Ingrid Bergman" (Words and music Guthrie 1950. Music Bragg 1996.)
"Ideology" (Words and music Bragg 1986.)
"Between the Wars" (Words and music Bragg 1983.)
"She Came Along to Me" (Words Guthrie 1945. Music Bragg / Tweedy / Bennett 1998.)
"Go Down to the Water" (Words Guthrie 1945. Music Bragg 1997.)
"Feed of Man" (Words Guthrie. Music Tweedy.)
"Birds and Ships" (Words Guthrie. Music Tweedy 1997.)
"All You Fascists Bound to Lose" (Words Guthrie 1942. Music Bragg.)
"When the Roses Bloom Again" (Music Tweedy, Bennett.)
"The Unwelcome Guest" (Words Guthrie 1940. Music Bragg 1996.)
"I Was Born" (Words Guthrie 1950. Music Bragg 1997.)
"At My Window Sad and Lonely" (Words Guthrie. Music Tweedy 1997.)
"Another Man's Done Gone" (Words Guthrie 1939. Music Bragg 1998.)
"Hoodoo Voodoo" (Words Guthrie. Music Tweedy / Bennett / Bragg / John Stirratt / Ken Coomer / Harris 1998)
Five "bonus" tracks were also included on the DVD
"Birds and Ships"
"She Came Along to Me"
"I Guess I Planted"
"Eisler on the Go"
"The Unwelcome Guest"
(Words by Guthrie and music by Bragg.)
Official website: http://www.palmpictures.com/film/man-in-the-sand

•  Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions is a 2012 box set album featuring the lyrics of American folk musician Woody Guthrie set to music by English folk rock guitarist Billy Bragg and American alternative rock band Wilco. Elektra Records released the album for Record Store Day to commemorate Guthrie's 100th birthday. In addition to the three albums, the box set includes the documentary Man in the Sand about the making of the Mermaid Avenue project.
•  Billy Bragg – guitar, vocals
•  Jay Bennett – organ, bouzouki, clavinet, piano, drums, background vocals
•  Ken Coomer – percussion, drums
•  Bob Egan – slide guitar, pedal steel
•  John Stirratt – piano, bass, background vocals
•  Jeff Tweedy – guitar, harmonica, vocals
Additional musicians:
•  Corey Harris – guitar, lap steel guitar, vocals
•  Natalie Merchant – vocals
•  Peter Yanowitz – drums
•  Eliza Carthy – violin
By Stephen M. Deusner; April 27, 2012
•  With the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations reviving interest in American protest music over the last six months, it seems inevitable that Woody Guthrie would enjoy a resurgence in popularity and relevance-- and just in time for what would have been his 100th birthday. The Okie folkie's example has guided many musicians as they set the 99% to song: Tom Morello wandered Zuccotti Park strumming "This Land Is Your Land", which won something called the Occupy Wall Street Award from MTV. Others, including Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen, have debuted starkly acoustic, highly rhetorical songs squarely in the Guthrie vein, suggesting that the OWS generation (or, more precisely, the pre-OWS generation with closer ties to the 1960s folkies like Dylan, who considered Woody a secular saint) equates Guthrie strictly with protest music and protest music strictly with Guthrie. On one level it might seem like a colossal failure of imagination: By devising a form of dissent music that relies exclusively on historical examples rather than on the leader-less ethos of OWS, these artists not only dilute their dissent but grasp only one facet of the multi-faceted Guthrie. If you weren't familiar with him, you might think Guthrie was some humorless scold who spoke only in grand pronouncements against The Man.
•  In fact, Guthrie was a complicated and contradictory artist who explored many subjects and displayed a ribald sense of humor to temper his guiding sense of outrage; in other words, he could be just as silly as he was serious. Crucially, he understood the effect of a constructed public persona, adopting a faux rural accent not only onstage but in his famed autobiography Bound for Glory as well. No other posthumous reconsideration has captured Guthrie in all his compelling contradictions as precisely or as affectionately as Billy Bragg and Wilco's Mermaid Avenue did in 1998. At the behest of Guthrie's daughter Nora, the UK folk singer and the U.S. rock band, along with Natalie Merchant, took scribbles of lyrics and filled in the melodies, arrangements, performances and ultimately our understanding of the man himself. As Nora writes in the liners to this new anthology collecting the three instalments of Mermaid Avenue sessions, "The lyrics exposed him so absolutely it was like walking into a shower and finding him naked. Or like finding his little black book where every confession, every desire, every fantasy, every love, every pain, every hate, every hope poured out through purple and brown fountain pens…. Guess what. Turns out he's just the like the rest of us fools."
•  So the man who famously penned "This Land Is Your Land" and "Grand Coulee Dam" also waxed bawdy about Ingrid Bergman and Walt Whitman's niece (who reads aloud from Leaves of Grass in bed). He wrote nonsense verse for his kids and penned a sympathetic ode to exiled Austrian composer Hanns Eisler. He missed California and understood that a movement is only as good as it treats its womenfolk: "Women are equal and they may be ahead of the men," Bragg sings on "She Came Along to Me"-- and that Eisenhower-era proclamation remains remarkably relevant during an election that makes gender such a divisive issue.
•  The liveliness of Guthrie's lyrics precludes any deadening reverence, and Bragg and Wilco rise to the occasion with music that respects the source material but never sounds beholden to any particular conception of Woody Guthrie. The loping melody and longing vocals by Jeff Tweedy turn "California Stars" into an especially wistful West Coast reminiscence as well as one of Wilco's best songs. Opener "Walt Whitman's Niece" and "Hoodoo Voodoo" sound rambunctious and loose, while Bragg turns "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key", a duet with Merchant, into a bittersweet reverie about the boldness of youth. "Ain't nobody that can sing like me," Bragg boasts as Eliza Carthy's delicate fiddle colors in the years between adolescence and adulthood.
•  Mermaid Avenue was such a deeply nuanced and humanizing portrait of a larger-than-life character that it significantly shifted how listeners thought of Guthrie, especially at the end of the decade that produced the criminally reverent alt-country movement. It was almost impossible to follow up such a project, and Mermaid Avenue, Volume 2, arriving in 2000, lacked the impact and import of its predecessor. Musically, however, it might actually be more expansive, with the hootenanny country of "Joe DiMaggio Done it Again" and the somber doom folk of "Blood of the Lamb" jostling elbows against the proto-punk of "All You Fascists" and the spry rural blues of "Aginst th' Law" (sung by Corey Harris).
•  There's a sense of diminishing returns on Volume 2, as well as on the third volume that fills out the new Complete Mermaid Avenue Sessions. But that's only natural: Of course you put your best material on the initial release. What's remarkable is the wealth of material available to these artists and the number of gems these sessions produced. Taken together, the collected, reissued Sessions may not have the same impact as Mermaid Avenue did 14 years ago, but they suggest a group of musicians emboldened and excited by their shared undertaking and their proximity to Guthrie himself (in reality, the sessions were rumored to be contentious).
•  And of course, there are a great many songs about the powers that be, about facing down the hypocrites and fascists, the totalitarians and even the Klan. In this context-- alongside so many songs about family, movies, baseball, sex, drugs, and other everyday concerns-- "All You Fascists" and "The Jolly Bankers" and the Swiftian "Christ for President" resonate more powerfully than they might on their own or even sung from a podium before likeminded citizens. By presenting a more rounded portrait of Guthrie in which politics is only one subject among so many, The Complete Mermaid Avenue Sessions shows just what Guthrie was fighting for and provides a persuasive rebuke to anyone who might whittle the man down to just one dimension. 
Fortaken: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/16518-the-complete-mermaid-avenue-sessions/
If You're Looking at This, You Already Know You Want it April 25, 2012
•  By A. Woodley /  *****
•  Here's the deal: the majority of this material has been available for years now. If you're looking at this, then you probably already own Mermaid Avenue volumes one and two. You may even own the documentary Man in the Sand, but there is no way you own Mermaid Avenue Volume Three. I won't go into depth about Volumes one and two. They are awesome, but you already know that. The documentary is truly entertaining. It follows Billy Bragg as he tries to track down the real life of Woody Guthrie and starts to work to create music for the already penned Guthrie lyrics. The lyrics are amazing. It is easy to forget that Woody Guthrie was such an amazing lyricist and truly ahead of his time, but this set will drive that point home. I know what question you're asking: Why the heck should I buy a box set where I already own 2-3 of the disks? The answer is Mermaid Avenue Volume Three. This volume is filled with out takes from the Mermaid Avenue sessions. Some of the tracks like Bug-Eyed Jim, My Thirty Thousand, and When the Roses Bloom were maid available on an EP years ago. They are some of the stronger tracks on the album, but there are still 14 tracks you've never heard. All 17 tracks are worth your time though. Like me, you might resent having to pay thirty bucks to rebuy albums you already own. I get it. I really do wish they sold Volume Three as a stand alone album too, but that's the nature of the music biz. Sell you the same stuff over and over at inflated prices. We all resent it, but if you're a fan of the Mermaid Avenue stuff, you'll want this album. I do believe Amazon offers Volume Three as a stand alone purchase but for download only. I'm outdated. I don't mind downloading, but I truly would rather own a hard copy. Plus, I don't mind supporting Billy Bragg or Wilco a little more. The set itself it pretty nice. It does come with a hefty booklet with photos, lyrics, an essay by Woody's daughter Nora, and little hand written sayings/ notes from Woody himself sprinkled throughout. This was originally released on Record Store Day 2012, but I hope they keep it in print for much longer. Since it was released on RSD 2012, I wish they would have pressed it on vinyl as well, but that doesn't really belong in a review of the music. If you're looking at this, you're probably just trying to decide whether or not to drop thirty bucks for a set full of tracks you already own. If you're contemplating that though, you are probably a huge fan, which means in the end, yes, you'll want to drop the thirty bucks.

The A.V. Club


•  “The blues is a chair,” John Lennon once told Rolling Stone. “Not a design for a chair, or a better chair… it is the first chair. It is a chair for sitting on, not for looking at or being appreciated. You sit on that music.” The music and legacy of Woody Guthrie is another kind of chair. Too many singers, songwriters, would-be troubadours, and wannabe martyrs to name have sat in it and made indelible (or forgettable) impressions; others have stared at it reverently and tried to replicate every last creaky contour. The latter approach tries to conjure the sepia-tinged Guthrie of the collective imagination into reality. But the former, at its most successful, makes old songs breathe again in newer, different times.
by Steven Hyden April 17, 2012 / More on: http://www.avclub.com/articles/billy-bragg-and-wilco-mermaid-avenue-the-complete,72497/File:Woody Guthrie 2.jpg

Woody Guthrie with guitar labeled "This Machine Kills Fascists" / WOODY GUTHRIE:
Birth name: Woodrow Wilson Guthrie
Born: July 14, 1912, Okemah, Oklahoma, United States
Died: October 3, 1967, New York City, New York, United States
Notable instruments:
Martin 000-18, Gibson Southern Jumbo, Gibson J-45File:Billy Bragg, May 2010 2.jpg Billy Bragg, British musician and activist, at a protest in Smith Square, London, calling for electoral reform following the United Kingdom general election, 2010. / Author: Ben Sutherland /
Birth name: Stephen William Bragg
Born: 20 December 1957, Barking, Essex, England
Website: http://www.billybragg.co.uk/File:Billy Bragg on After Dark.JPG Billy Bragg on TV discussion programme After Darkon 12 June 1987, (c) Open Media Ltd 1987

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