Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Go Back Home Again, Boy

With all the (well-deserved) attention on Band of Horses, Cave Singers, Grand Archives and others in recent years/months, and with new albums on the way from Fleet Foxes and Sera Cahoone, I figured it was a good time to bring out some records by another folk/rock/country player from Seattle, Danny O'Keefe. Signed to Cotillion (Atlantic) in the early '70s, O'Keefe worked with greats such as soul mega-producer Arif Mardin, Ahmet Ertegun, Jimmy Haskell, and Eddie Hinton, among many others. Mardin's influence is clearly present in the string arrangements, and there's a subtle funkiness to the drums and bass lines that makes O'Keefe's country/folk style unique. His songs have been recorded by artists as far-ranging as Donny Hathaway, Dwight Yoakam, Ute Lemper, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss, and Waylon Jennings.

I grew up listening to his second album O'Keefe (excuse the pops and scratches), and fairly recently stumbled across his self-titled debut, which includes the first version of what would become his biggest hit, "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues." The song I can't get enough of, though, is The Drover:
I left him there in Pioneer Square
in an empty bottle of Muskatel
He said here's my song and where I've gone
I tell ya boy I've gone to hell
I hope you understand
Sometimes you never can
go back home again boy
O'Keefe has never been one to shy away from fairly glum material, but it's always beautifully expressed both musically and lyrically, and often with a sense of humor, as in my other favorite, I'm Sober Now (inspired by a Clarence "Pinetop" Smith song).

Danny O'Keefe's self-titled record and O'Keefe are both available at Amazon, along with many of his other releases.

He still lives on Vashon Island, and he's still writing, recording, and performing around the Northwest. Check out his
website and myspace page for more info.

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