Tag Archives: Kelly Hogan

Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Life’s Little Ups and Downs by Margaret-Ann Rich, sung by Charlie Rich, recommended by Kelly Hogan

by Carl Wilson

On Saturday night I went to see Kelly Hogan play, a pleasure that I’ve had probably half a dozen times in my life and one that never gets less pleasurable. Hogan was recovering from a recent bout of pneumonia, she told us, and she kept a cotton handkerchief hanging from her mic stand to take the phlegm between songs – so for the first time in my experience, her voice that’s normally like a ship’s horn cutting through fog faltered and cracked on some of the big notes. But that was fine, or more than fine, because it just made her lean emotionally harder into the quieter stuff. She’s the kind of singer who can make every line a surprise, even of a song you know by heart: Every moment of a song is another turn of the wheel for Hogan.

Researchers like Dan Levitin talk about how the brain loves the musical tension between repetition and novelty, but Hogan reminds me that much of the music I love best never feels like it’s repeating, even when the notes are purportedly the same. (She had a perfect complement in guitarist and bandleader Jim Elkington, who likewise seems to have arranged every line of his multilayered accompaniment to mirror specifically the emotional progress of the song.) And of course she was warm and funny and made you want to pattern your life and personality on her, because that’s just what Hogan’s like, and why there weren’t a thousand people there in supplication is a mystery to me.

So in an effort to Be More Like Kelly Hogan, I took note of her tribute to Margaret Ann Rich, who wrote the song Pass On By that Hogan covers on her new album, and many others – most of them for her husband, the country star Charlie Rich, but for Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge and others too. This is her most famous song, which different people hear different ways: Dave Marsh describes it in The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made as a “thinly disguised roman a clef about being married to an alcoholic singer/piano player who almost-but-not-quite reached superstardom, not once but thrice.” He also claims that many critics have interpreted it as “a criticism of the American class system” (though Marsh thinks not). When he’s covered it live, the alt-country performer Robbie Fulks describes it as “all of existence in two verses.” You could say a lot about its vision of marriage and gender too. Or you could just listen.

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Carl’s Tuesday Musics: Franklin Bruno/Kelly Hogan, “Never Tell Your Lover How You Voted”

by Carl Wilson

Some good advice for this day from Franklin Bruno, sung by the inimitable Kelly Hogan: “He’d rather imagine you sleeping with his Dad/ Than picture you punching some other party’s chad.”

Other excellent recent Bruno productions on political themes: Flag Pin and Free to Organize.

After the election’s over, Franklin and drummer Matt Houser, aka The Human Hearts, are on tour. If you’re in any of these places, don’t miss them:

Mon. 11/12 – Pittsburgh PA – Sound Cat Records (6 pm)
Tue. 11/13 – Columbus OH – Used Kids Records (6 pm; with Aloysha Het, Randall Douglas Matson)
Wed. 11/14 – Cincinnati OH – The Comet (with Matthew Shelton, Dana Ward)
Thu. 11/15 – Louisville KY – Solidarity (1609 Bardstown Rd.)
Fri. 11/16 – Durham, NC – Motorco, with Pretty and Nice, Gary B and the Notions
Sat. 11/17 – Washington D.C. – Big Bear Cafe (7:30 pm, with the Tinklers)
Sun. 11/18 – Philadelphia, PA – Kung Fu Necktie, with Gashcat

Hogan’s also on tour and she’s coming to Toronto on Dec. 1 (!), and a lot of other nice places, some of them in swing states. If you’re in those places, go vote or she won’t sing for you. Really, she told me. Go vote.

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Carl’s Tuesday Musics (on Wednesday): Kelly Hogan Live on Sound Opinions, “I Like to Keep Myself in Pain”

by Carl Wilson

I mentioned Kelly Hogan‘s beautiful album when it came out earlier this year, but this weekend I killed some Canadian Thanksgiving train-travel time by listening to her funny, wise, betimes sad interview with Jim Derogatis and Greg Kott on the WBEZ show Sound Opinions, which begins with this performance. Hogan has this boho-slacker/neighbour-lady posture that makes it all the more astounding when she starts belting out mountaintop soul climaxes like some blend of Dusty, Loretta and Mavis, and I’ll admit I’m very down with her penchant for wryly knowing masochistic ballads. The fact that this one is by Robyn Hitchcock is also kind of a marvel: Apparently if he were kidnapped and forced to work in some modern-day Brill Building writing for other people, Hitchcock would be able to rediscover the emotional wellsprings his habitual mannerisms often pollute. Also, time for a survey of singers who prefer to perform barefooted: It’s like every note here is straight from the sole.

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Tea With Chris: Be Not Content

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Thursday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Carl: Rudy Rucker has reissued a lost classic of ’60s acidhead lit, William Craddock’s Be Not Content, as an ebook. On the strength of his introduction, I bought it immediately – just six bucks!

I’ve been waiting for great country-soul-rock interpreter Kelly Hogan’s new album for 11 years. Like, actively waiting, pacing around and around my living room, looking at my watch. And as of today I can hear a preview on NPR of I Like to Keep Myself in Pain, featuring songs by Stephin Merritt, Vic Chesnutt, Jon Langford, Robbie Fulks, Catherine Irwin and more. And Booker T. on organ. Start listening, no excuses.

Thinking about copyright just keeps getting smarter and smarter, doesn’t it? Sigh. (Nice headline there, though, from my employer.)

Likewise, Jessica Cripin surveys the sorry state of men’s writing about masculinity. Luckily there are still novelists to read on the subject. And not just the obvious, like Chandler or Carver or some other Raymond. (Well, this one probably wouldn’t help much.) I spent the first couple of days of this week reading the Hunger Games trilogy straight through, and someone should write an analysis of how, for instance, the growth and near-destruction of the Peeta character (that name! phallic with the feminine ending) represents a voyage of negotiating masculinity and risking the boomerang-into-misogyny effect Crispin talks about. I’d go on but some of you haven’t read it yet – trust me, you’re missing out on a dozen hours of great wallowing in teenage dystopian head-trip adventure, not just sidelong gender studies.

If all of that was too grim, please let this fix it. And anything else that troubles you, ever:

Margaux: My great friend and collaborator Ryan Kamstra has launched an Indigogo campaign to help him finish his beautifully titled book, System’s Children. I am really excited about this book, and look! a painting of mine is the future cover. Your prize options for donating include an album, a book or A LIBRARY.

These two videos arrived separately in my inbox today. One regarding Canada’s WRONG-O move on Bill 78 followed by Canada’s WELL PLAYED Montreal! pots & pans action. The other, just another good day from Kanye and Jay-Z. They are best viewed as companions.

Chris: Alain Badiou, who recently published a new book about ~love~, articulates my main objection to online dating: “For me these [French dating site] posters destroy the poetry of existence. They try to suppress the adventure of love. Their idea is you calculate who has the same tastes, the same fantasies, the same holidays, wants the same number of children. [The sites] try to go back to organized marriages – not by parents but by the lovers themselves.”

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