Rasp-ody in Blue
I never know where my inspiration will come from regarding my silly mixtapes. Often it’s something I hear driving in the car or while wasting far too much time on YouTube.
But sometimes actual humans I intersect with serve as the catalyst for sharing music. This is one of those times.
In typical Bonnie fashion, I’ve cast the net wide today. Although each of these singers shares a common thread by having a raspy quality to their singing, I’ve co-mingled genres, styles, and moods.
Lots of BMT faves made the cut today but I’ve got a few surprises in the mix. And of course, as always, I’m confident no one else would put music together quite this way.
It’s been a long time since I’ve met someone…I’m not even sure how to finish that sentence. I’ll simply say: this is for my muse.
I just sighed audibly. I was traveling — surely, that’s the reason I missed that Hal Ketchum passed away this past November. It makes it all the more poignant I sought him out when crafting today’s mixtape.
Admittedly there are musicians on today’s mixtape who are raspier. His is more subtle but there’s certainly a weariness that’s drawn me (and millions of others) to him for decades.
I’ve shared “Stay Forever” before because it’s one of my very favorites. It goes beyond country — it defies genre.
I saw Hal Ketchum three times in Austin. I hadn’t planned to see him the third time (since I’d already seen him twice before), but then Tom Petty died. I’m not a huge Petty fan (though I certainly like some of his catalog and admire his musicality in general), but it spurred me onto seeing Hal Ketchum one last time. I knew it would be my final chance to hear him live and I didn’t want to regret not going.
I went solo, sitting in the third row at the State Theater on Congress Avenue in Austin. I got my wish: he played this song as part of the setlist. I discreetly wiped away a couple of tears midway through.
When Hal Ketchum performed he created an intimacy like we were all in his family room. No other musician has ever made me feel the way Mr. Ketchum did. There was a looseness, an ease, an effortlessness, an informality unique to him. I’ve seen other artists try to create on stage what only he achieved.
Well, isn’t this a lovely surprise? I’ve previously featured Michael Grimm, but this is a fairly new acoustic cut of “Every Time You Go Away.”
I’ve included several interpretations of this song here in BMTland, but I only JUST this moment realized how much I adore it.
It’s my kind of love song. Not too sappy and tinged with sadness. I have yet to hear a bad version of it by anyone with even an ounce of talent but it’s best served with a bit of a bluesy vibe. Michael’s got that in spades. An enchanting performance.
My five followers know that I’ve got a handful of musicians who have stolen my heart. In other words, these guys (and gals) are going to make repeated appearances in BMTland. Y’all know I’m going to make zero apologies for that.
For whatever reason, the Jam and by extension Paul Weller, were not on my radar until my thirties. I fell under Mr. Weller’s spell with his 2004 release of cover songs, Studio 150. The entire album is just fantastic, but “Early Morning Rain” is exceptional.
This musical cocktail is tres Bonnie — jaunty guitars, gorgeous violin, forlorn lyrics, and an aging neo-punk legend. I’m confident I would like his version less if he’d sung it as a younger man. This interpretation is lived-in.
The scuttlebutt is that Ryan Adams is a terrible human. I don’t doubt it. Frankly, I’m not here to write about his character. I merely acknowledge that he sounds like a pretty awful dude and I won’t get my feelings hurt if you skip right over this pick.
From an artistic standpoint, what I find most fascinating about him is that he’s such a chameleon. He can veer twangy or emo.
His other sound is on display here. “Burning Photographs” is a sexy, grinding ride. This is Ryan Adams channeling his cocky rock ‘n roll stud.
I’m selective about the songs I like by Ryan Adams, but the songs I dig, I really dig!
Y’all KNOW I love me some Midnight Special. Y’all also know I am not above some Eddie Money. I have no shame about music!
A fun live performance early in his career of his radio hit, “Baby Hold On to Me.” His voice eventually crapped out, but in the late 70s, he was in his prime.
There’s something so endearing about Eddie Money. Unlike Hal Ketchum’s ease, you can see and hear all the effort Eddie Money is putting in. He struts and preens but simultaneously, he’s so scrappy, so earnest.
He wants it so badly — to entertain, the fame, the adulation. I’ve seen him perform live and he embodies it all. I can’t help but root for him.
I listened to at least six different cuts. My ear — in addition to some other body parts — liked this one best. Shawn Mullins (accompanied by Chuck Cannon) plays with a delicious, teasing drag on this performance that’s lacking anywhere else.
“Light You Up” delivers the slow burn we’re promised.
Eons ago I devoted an entire story to Shawn Mullins, which I believe exactly two people read. In it, I discussed a concert I attended at the intimate Cactus Cafe at the University of Texas campus. I was blown away by his energy. He took us to the revival of rock ‘n roll!
I basically stalked him after the show, briefly saying hello and awkwardly complimenting his Thorns’ work. He was gracious, then drifted away into the foggy night.
The Damn Truth takes the term scorched earth and torches U2’s “Love Is Blindness.” In the best possible way.
It’s a no-holds-barred interpretation. Dark, unrelenting, bombastic. J’adore it, obvs!
Lee-la Baum is the lovechild of Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. She’s a star, everyone else just needs to catch up to that fact.
For whatever reason, most raspy-throated music gets relegated to sparse production. Let’s shake this vibe up a little, shall we?
John Newman’s “Come and Get It” is proof that in the right hands, raspy can be deliciously over-produced and slick. This sucker’s an infectious, sexy romp.
Oh! Over 45 million views. Clearly, a gazillion people agree with me! Vindication!
Until her 40’s, Bonnie’s worst nightmare included writing and sharing personal stories publicly. At her friends’ suggestion, she bemusedly started Bonnie’s Mixed Tape on Medium in 2017. She remains shocked that anyone reads her stories and that P.S. I Love You, Assemblage, the Writing Cooperative, and the Ascent have published her work.
Bonnie loves all types of music, but really, really, really loves the 80s.
Thank you for reading this story
I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. you using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!