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I am stress personified. And when I am stressed, music helps. So it’s Music Friday today. I have decided that we now have Music and/or Storybook Day on Thursday and/or Friday.

So, as always, if you like something, buy the album and support the artists.

As promised last week, I will post MP3s from my favorite artists. First up, Uncle Tupelo.

Criminals : in the KUSF studios

We’ve Been Had : Mississippi Nights

The first is a live song from March 16-20, 1992 and is lyrically brilliant. The recording is a little scratchy, but those lyrics hold it together. The second is from their final show in May of 94. It’s a Tweedy tune from Anodyne.

On to Son Volt. Which is an offshoot of UT that Jay Farrar started up.

Last Time Around : Straightface EP

Medicine Hat : Bowery Ballroom

Jay Farrar again, is the most beautiful lyricist ever. And he can rock out, which the first song illustrates even if it is a cover. In concert he’s amazing. Always notorious for being silent on stage (just a hello and thanks, usually) in the last couple of years he has really become talkative. Which is great.

The second song is from Wide Swing Tremolo, the last Son Volt album (they recently got together for the Alejandro tribute). Medicine Hat is lyrically one of my favorite Jay songs. He can create a spot-on perfect turn-of-phrase.

Next up is Wilco, the other half of UT. I mention them chronologically after Jay because I think Jay’s first album came out first and blew away Wilco’s. I’ve heard Jeff say pretty much the same thing.

Nowadays they’re rock critic darlings, thanks in part to having their label tell them to change their record, Wilco refusing and buying back their album, and taking it elsewhere. Ironically enough to another label owned by the same company that owned the first label.

I appear to have only uploaded one MP3, which in no way reflects my love of Wilco and Jeff.

Misunderstood : Wavefest

The end of this song is Jeff screaming “Nothing” repeatedly (“I’d like to thank you all for nothing”) and often in concert and in a mood (usually goofy) would scream it more than the recorded version. This one is particularly long and loud. And fun.

According to legend, the longest ever “nothing” was at a folk festival back when they and Billy Bragg were touring to support the Woody Guthrie disk. Pissed off at the hippie crowd that wasn’t digging their music, he launched into it.

On to Tim Easton:

Bitters Past : Live at Gio’s

Death of a Traveling Saleman : 14 in One Demos

Those two are from Tim Easton, a singer/songwriter as lyrically brilliant as Jay Farrar in my eyes. He’s been around for awhile. The first is a song off Haynes Boys’ self-titled album before he went solo. The recording of this version is from a live performance a few years ago.

The second is a never released song whose lyrics blow me away every time. They’re just brilliant. Tim has been compared—lyrically—to Bob Dylan. If you’re still reading this and have downloaded nothing else, download this.

Have I lost everybody yet? If not, here’s a few others to check out:

Joe Henry : Kingshighway

Joe Henry (Madonna’s brother-in-law) is a kickass singer/songwriter who often has the Jayhawks as a backing band. His album Fuse is brilliant, and he has a sense of humor that comes through in his lyrics.

Old 97s : If My Heart was a Car

Old 97s are the most rockingest live band ever. I dare you to prove otherwise. Frontman Rhett Miller is a maniac. And hot. And his lyrics are so witty. And they are the nicest boys. I’ve chatted them up a few times. I’ve told this story before, but I once witnessed Ken Betthea crawling around on his hands and knees in First Ave relating a story to us about his son.

If you’ve been to First Ave. you know how scary the floors are.

Whiskeytown : Probably

Finally: Whiskeytown. That tumultuous, inconsistent, ever-changing band. Ryan Adams is too prolific these days, putting out album after album. Back in the day, he would whittle down his songs and leave the true gems. And Whiskeytown had Caitlin Cary. I like Caitlin.