By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
" 'Til We Outnumber 'Em"
(Righteous Babe Records)
This long-delayed recording of an all-star 1996 Woody
Guthrie tribute concert at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
(which celebrated the opening of the Woody Guthrie
Archives) is as uneven, prickly and poignant as Guthrie's
own life and legacy. Sketchy performances of brilliant
songs, jaw-dropping renderings of mediocre movements, oddly
edited bits of readings from Guthrie's writings — "'Til We
Outnumber 'Em" is a joyous jumble, a striking collage
artwork showing how many colors, styles and genres of music
make up the current ideal of Woody's vision. Aside from the
jerky sequencing and a few hard travelin' renditions, there
are some crystalline moments: Ani DiFranco's spare,
sweeping shattering of the preciousness built up around "Do
Re Mi," Billy Bragg's rascally cooing through "Against th'
Law" (tuneless lyrics to which Bragg wrote new music), Bruce
Springsteen — the king of car songs — sputtering and vrooming
through "Riding in My Car" and the full-cast, full-on, fully
transcendent "Hard Travelin' Hootenanny," featuring everyone
from Billy Bragg to Arlo Guthrie. Alternately frustrating
and fascinating, just like the man in question.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.