Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Out of all the categories in this year's Grammy Awards, the most difficult for me as a voter was the Best Americana Album category. All five of the albums are incredible.

First is Rosanne Cash's The List, which came out in early 2010. The title is a reference to an actual list that her father, Johnny Cash, made for her of some of the greatest songs of all time, like "Long Black Veil," "Motherless Children" and "I'm Movin' On." It's mostly a solo album, but there are duets with Bruce Springsteen, Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Tweedy and Elvis Costello. It's a really great and moving album (and kind of seems made for the Grammys, I was kind of surprised it didn't get more nominations, but the fact that it came out so long ago probably worked against it).

Los Lobos' Tin Can Trust was one of my favorite albums of 2010, I've written about it before. I'll just say that Los Lobos never seem to get their due. I love this album, I love the band. In 2011, I'm planning on completing my Los Lobos CD collection. I've never seen them live, this year I hope to change that. It shouldn't be hard, they seem to tour very frequently.

Willie Nelson's T-Bone Burnett-produced Country Music was another album that I loved, and I'm sorry that it didn't get more attention. I guess part of Willie's problem is that he is so prolific, people can hardly keep up with all of his albums. Country Music really was great... of course, it wasn't "country" in the current mainstream Nashville sense, but it did have great songs like "Dark As A Dungeon," "House Of Gold," "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" and "House Of Gold." Willie and T-Bone's regulars cooked up a great brew (among other things, probably) of amazing music.

Robert Plant's Band Of Joy was another of my favorite albums of 2010. I listen to it all the time, and am still amazed by it. Also amazing is the strength of his vision and his commitment to it. At this point, he's not only turning down lucrative Led Zeppelin tours to do his own thing, he's turing down the follow up to his multi-Grammy winning collab with Alison Krauss, Raising Sand.

Ultimately the album I loved the most was my second favorite album of 2010, Mavis Staples' You Are Not Alone... the title track was my favorite song of the year and one of my favorite songs of all time. Also - I don't vote based on this - I was surprised to learn that Mavis has never won a Grammy! This is a career record for her, and I'd love to see her get the recognition, so here's hoping she wins on Sunday.

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