Big hair big heart - Up unto a point, Portner Wagoner for me was big hair and wild Nudie suits. Like out of Altman's Nashville. Porter and Dolly. Kind of a period piece.
Only recently I actually got hip to this incredibly soulful muiscian. Wagonmaster is a 2007 release - produced ably and caringly by Marty Stuart - that showcases Wagoner's depth of talent for the ages.
The single on this one for me is "I'm Just Passing Through." Writ from the heart, and sung from even deeper. It's the story of a street person who has something of a satisfied mind.
He is philosophical about our ulitmate temporal evaporation and ascent to heaven. He takes a gift from a passer by and explains:
"Im just passing through
wearing holely clothes and shoes .. "
He is an walking buddha and it is all history to him. And Jesus is at his side.
His body, he says, is:
"Just a place to hang my hat
til I gets home."
Echos of Ginsberg's "Ballad of the Skeletons"? Heck, no, that would be too high-falutin. There is more the echo of Hank Williams' "Lonesome Whistle."
It is real. And it is really one of the very best songs I heard this year. Also I'd note from Wagonmaster "Hurried Southern Trips" which looks at the haunted rurual routes of the south from the eyes of a bus driver. Some may not care for too much talk, but for my part I really like the CD's included converstation and song snippets provided here, DVD Feature style, betweeen Wagoner and Stuart. His voice is full of hurt and care, singing or talking.
He was gone and he was here. "Wagonmaster" is a transcendent coda to a full body of Country [The Cold Hard Facts of Life, I Thought I Heard Her Calling My Name, Satsified Mind, and, with Dolly Just Someone I Used to Know]. Porter died in Nashville Sunday, same day Red Sox won 2007 World Series. God bless you, Wagonmaster! And thanks, Jake, for the Father's Day gift.
Porter Wagoner, Singer, at 80 - NYTimes
Porter Wagoner: A Satisfied Mind - BMI
Wagonmaster page on Rhino - Rhino
Wagonmaster on Amazon - Amazon [with chilling related video that goes with "Parkview," a nighmare haunt about a Music Row Rehab clinic that Porter has been to
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