Monday, August 21, 2023

100 Greatest Albums: Ready for the Flood


In these days of the late Summer, my darling wife and I have been attending the occasional concert. We have not done this sort of thing for awhile and have added a new wrinkle: The artists need to be widely beloved, the concerts have to be free, and we can easily duck out after a half dozen or so songs.

One might think that this would be a nearly unreachable bar; high profile acts for free! But we have managed two concerts that fit the bill. In Duluth, Bon Iver played in an outdoor amphitheater that allowed us to easily steal, no, scratch that, pirate his concert from a nearby bench that looked out over the picturesque Duluth Harbor (full of small craft gathered nearby to do the same thing we were doing). And in Saint Minneapolis last week, there was a free concert at the Harriet Bandshell of the semi-legendary local 90's band, The Jayhawks.

Thousands and thousands of people were at The Jayhawks concert, but through some mysterious process, partly contingent upon my wife's "let's go for it" attitude, we were able to walk up along the side of the crowd and end up comfortably standing close to the stage, surely no more than 20 feet from the lead singer, Gary Louris, who, I am nearly certain, performed half of a song for some reason looking directly at me.

Which slowly wheels us around to our greatest album discussion of the day.

This is a series in which I write a few words about the hundred greatest albums of all time, each one independently being the greatest album ever. I haven't written one of these in ages, and looking over my past ones in preparation I was surprised to find the last one I did was for Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago. The very band we just heard in Duluth! So naturally it would be perfect to do a Jayhawks album today then.

Unfortunately, as much as I love some of those Jayhawks albums, and there would be a fair shoutout for Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass, I can't quite say these great albums are the greatest albums of all time.


In 1995 one of the two main singers of the Jayhawks, Mark Olson, left the band. And then 13 years later the lead singer, Gary Louris, who once sang to me looking into my eyes, and Mark Olson, got together, and together made Ready for the Flood, the greatest album of all time. Yearning, heartrending, and exquisitely harmonized by the best voices together since CSNY, this album just kills me. Coming out of the same glowing folk rock milieu as the above mentioned CSNY, this album is about

It's about

Nope, I hardly ever have any idea what any album is about. Does it have to be about something? Maybe that's the mark of many a great album: that it feels intensely about something, and yet it's a wide open road. 

"It's hard to ride at night, on your bicycle with no lights to guide. Just take a chance and ride, on your bicycle with no lights to guide."

For our outtake, here is this wonderfully put-together mini-documentary that samples the music richly, if incompletely, and has awfully little to say about its content, which, I am suggesting, is not necessarily a fault. But Gary Louris, the man who looked into my eyes just days ago, does say this: 

"I like beautiful things that have depth and a bit of pain in them."

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you were wondering, yes, you should comment. Not only does it remind me that I must write in intelligible English because someone is actually reading what I write, but it is also a pleasure for me since I am interested in anything you have to say.

I respond to pretty much every comment. It's like a free personalized blog post!

One last detail: If you are commenting on a post more than two weeks old I have to go in and approve it. It's sort of a spam protection device. Also, rarely, a comment will go to spam on its own. Give either of those a day or two and your comment will show up on the blog.