Monday, 25 October 2021

Positive Songs For Negative Times #60: Freedom

A couple of weeks back, during my doctor-supported Covid recovery, I took an early morning walk around Castle Hill. I say early morning, but it wasn't exactly the crack of dawn. It was just after dropping Sam off at Breakfast Club (with Ally Sheedy & Molly Ringwald), the time when I would normally be driving to work.

The sense of freedom was incredible. Partly because I wasn't going to The Bad Place, but also because I wasn't tied to any timetable at all. I didn't have anywhere that I had to be or anything I had to do. Ironically, I didn't have the energy for a long walk, but what I managed felt incredible.

My final week in The Bad Place begins today. I'm only in three days: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday... and then, at last, I'm free. And while that freedom involves swapping one institution for another, it already feels like the different between Alcatraz and a Scandinavian Open Prison.

Earlier this year, Eric Church released a triple album. And we can probably all count the number of truly great triple albums on the fingers of one thumb (69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields)...

Church's triple album, Heart & Soul, wasn't released as such though. There were two CDs - one called Heart and one called Soul, reminiscent of the release of Guns n' Roses' Use Your Illusion I & II (or Bruce's ill-remembered early 90s combo, Human Touch & Lucky Town). Because you can charge more for two discs released on the same day than you can for a double CD case. The third part of the album (called, believe it or not, &) was only available to subscribers to Church's "fan club", The Church Choir. I checked, and that was beyond my means... though I don't object to artists releasing "subscriber only content" if it's a way of rewarding fans who are actually willing to still pay for their music rather than stream it for free.

The whole package felt like Church attempting to go even more mainstream than before. He's walked a fine line in the past between keeping country radio happy and upholding the "outlaw" tradition of more honest, less polished country stars like Waylon and Kris. Mixing country, pop, rock and southern soul, this could well have been the point where I lost interest in Church... but damn, there are some great tracks on this collection. Thirty years ago, a lot of these songs would have been chart hits. They're timeless (despite contemporary production) pop songs. Yet they still have edge where it's appropriate (as demonstrated on the lead single, Stick That In Your Country Song, which I featured here some months ago). 

I doubt any of the above has convinced you to check out these records. You're all too cool. So it won't make any difference when I tell you that on a couple of tracks (particularly the one below), Church even channels the ghost of Jim Steinman. 


  1. Sorry, I'm still thinking about Ally Sheedy...

  2. Any artist likened to Waylon Jennings (e.g. Sturgill Simpson) is OK by me. Thanks for the Eric Church track.

  3. And Emilio, and Anthony - Would be amusing if there were kids with those names there.

    Anyway, I’m certainly not ‘cool’ so I listened to the track and see what you mean about the Jim Steinman interlude. Thanks for sharing.

    Only two more days - Hang on in there.


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