Saturday, July 05, 2008

Good word

"Indoor fireworks can still burn your fingers."

-- Elvis Costello, "Indoor Fireworks"

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Good word

"Things get complicated when you get past 18."

-- The Statler Brothers, "The Class of '57"
Good word

You can’t have your Kate and Edith, too
You rascal you, yodelayheehoo

-- The Statler Brothers, "You Can't Have Your Kate and Edith Too"

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Whose space?

Remember MySpace? Well, I've got a music page up on MySpace now, at

That would be music that is my own music, the Kenneth Burns music, as opposed to the music of the various groups I play with. Plain old Kenneth Burns music (except there's nothing plain about it!), including a listing of upcoming gigs. Okay, there's just the one. At the moment.

So check it out. Friend me. Forever.
Good word

"It's all right to be little bitty."

-- Tom T. Hall, "Little Bitty"

Monday, June 30, 2008

Not all Country Music Hall of Famers sucked

They're all pretty wonderful, in fact, and I'm delighted to learn that yesterday in my hometown of Nashville was the ceremony inducting the Statler Brothers and Tom T. Hall into that august group. They're two of my favorite country acts, and it only means -- ulp -- I'm getting older when I can say that I'm a lifelong fan of both.

The Statler Brothers, like their contemporaries the Oak Ridge Boys, sing secular, contemporary country music in the vocal style of old-time Southern gospel quartets. It's a sound I love. But unlike the Oak Ridge Boys, the members of the Statler Brothers bring extraordinary songwriting chops to their work. Their hit "Flowers on the Wall," by late Statler tenor Lew DeWitt, is a breathtaking, sui generis song for the ages. Also first-rate is "Bed of Roses," which I'm including here. Written by bass singer Harold Reid, "Bed of Roses" is sung achingly by brother and baritone Don Reid. It's a love song, but a sad and desperate one.

Speaking of extraordinary songwriting chops, the Tom T. Hall nod is well deserved, and then some. He's one of a small number of mainstream Nashville songwriters who craft material that's very personal, but also very accessible -- even, dare I say, commercial. Although he can turn a memorable hook as well as anyone (viz., "That's How I got to Memphis"), his stock in trade is story songs -- sad or funny or poignant narratives, told with great wit, humble insight, unadorned language and, generally, a heaping helping of ambivalence. One of his best in this vein is "Margie's at the Lincoln Park Inn," a motel song to beat all motel songs.

Congrats, gentlemen!

The Statler Brothers - Bed of Roses
Tom T. Hall - Margie's At the Lincoln Park Inn

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good word

"In the Ziegfeld audience, meanwhile, the scattering of live men and boys was greatly outnumbered by the 18-inch-tall inanimate members of the audience, who sat stiff and unblinking as their companions squirmed, giggled and whispered."

-- A.O. Scott, "The Age of American Girl: An Empire of Mixed Messages"