Top positive review
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Humor, lost love, traditionals, and first rate musicians.
on August 11, 2001
I've heard quite a bit, but not all of Steve Goodman's work, and I plan to hear more now that the old albums are out on CD and new compilations keep surfacing. Jessie's Jig was the first of his albums I heard (thanks to friends on a Baja camping trip) and it's still my favorite.
This one starts with "Door Number 3," co-written with Jimmy Buffet, about the old "Let's Make a Deal" TV show, with a cameo Bob Dylan lyric, " . . . do you want to make a deal?" This and Goodman's song "This Hotel Room," 3rd on this record, were also recorded by Buffet. These two songs, along with "Moby Book" (the Great American Novel distilled down to its essence, in 12 bar blues, in 3:07) supply the humor.
Lost love is the theme of John Prine's song, "Blue Umbrella," and in Goodman's "I Can't Sleep." Both are nicely delivered ballads, and both will choke you up a little if you look the words over and remember that one (you remember the one) who left you away back when. I'm still "thinking this thing over," but it helps to know that Prine and Goodman understand.
The traditionals aren't really traditionals, because both have songwriter credits. "Spoon River" by Mike Smith, and "Mama Don't Allow" by Charles Davenport. The first is a sad slow ballad, and the second is a foot tappin' romp through a folk band's instruments with little solos from guitar, piano, bass, fiddle, and drums.
And that brings around the musicians . . . the weakest point of this album, in my opinion, is that is really doesn't feature Goodman's supurb guitar to the extent that some of the others do (e.g., Easter Tapes). But the songs all feature wonderful folk instrumentalists, including Vasser Clements on fiddle. These, especially Clements, are featured especially well on the title cut, Jessie's Jig.
Two more songs, "It's a sin to tell a lie" (an old one by Billy Mayhew, "just be sure it's true when you say 'I love you'") and "Looking for trouble" (by Goodman) round out the album. I always remember a year's worth of cribbage games when I listen to the album.