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Man From God Knows Where


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Audio CD, March 16, 1999
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Amazon's Tom Russell Store

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Biography

It would be easy for Tom Russell to coast on reputation alone. With a career stretching back nearly four decades, and a catalog of more than 20 albums, the consummate storyteller has amassed a devoted following that cherishes his vivid, novelistic tales evoking the spirit of the American experience in tightly constructed, panoramic vignettes. Among his most ardent fans are fellow artists: ... Read more in Amazon's Tom Russell Store

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for 23 albums, 3 photos, discussions, and more.


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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 16, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Shout Factory
  • ASIN: B00000I73E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,580 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. The Man From God Knows Where
2. Wayfarin' Stranger
3. Patrick Russel
4. Mary Clare Malloy (American Wake)
5. The Outcast
6. Ambrose Larsen
7. The Dreamin'
8. The Old Northern Shore
9. The Man From God Knows Where
10. Anna Olsen
11. Rider On An Orphan Train
12. Acres Of Corn
13. The Man From God Knows Where
14. Sitting Bull In Venice
15. The Old Rugged Cross
16. Anna Olsen's Letter Home
17. Eg Er Framand
18. When Irish Girls Grow Up
19. Casey Jones
20. Chickasaw County Jail
See all 26 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

Texan singer-songwriter Tom Russell has recorded more than a dozen albums of original material, but none quite as unique as this evocative "immigrant song cycle," which paints a stark picture of early American lifestyles. Loosely based on Russell's own family history, this folk opera employs Irish and Norwegian musical elements as well as sounds drawn straight from the dustbowl. Sterling vocal contributions from the likes of Iris DeMent and Dave Van Ronk guide us through several generations of outcasts and pioneers. Using a wide range of traditional instruments, including Uilleann pipes and the Hardanger fiddle, Russell creates a rustic vision of hard-luck America that is both a coherent artistic statement as well as an extremely powerful history lesson. --Mitch Myers

Customer Reviews

A highly recommend addition to anyones Folk/Americana/Roots collection.
Folkmuse
I bought this to illustrate a high school US History lesson on immigration; my usually jaded students loved it, I love it.
Barbara Williams
There's that kind of intimacy, some wonderful melodies, all with Russell's gravelly voice and the singing of his friends.
James D. DeWitt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Scarff on August 7, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
"Come gather round me children, a story I will tell...So it's rise up all you ancestors, and dance upon your graves." So begins the saga.
Russell,an extraordinary songwriter, has composed a folk opera loosely based on the history of his own family. His great grandmother came from Ireland during the famine to the Midwest and his great grandfather came from Norway. The songwriting is gripping and eloquent.
Russell's own wonderful singing is alternated with that of Dave Van Ronk and the excellent Norwegian singers Kari Bremmes and Sondre Bratland. Irish legend Delores Keane sings what may become the definitive version of "When Irish Girls Grow Up". The always spectacular Iris Dement is at her stunning best; her version of 'Wayfarin' Stranger' with Annbjorg Lien accompanying on the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle will not only give you goosebumps every time you hear it, but haunt you for a very long time.
This album is genius. It is a deeply affecting work of survival and pride in the face of hardship and partings, joy, madness, tradition and novelty. Artfully mixing traditional tunes with his own songs, Russell has created a profound musical commentary on the human condition as expressed in a uniquely American way. The final song, "Love Abides", is the appropriate climax/moral of this album, capturing the effort, heartbreak, and hope of this tale with a breath-takingly moving duet by Russell and Dement.
Of the 200 or so (mainly celtic) albums I bought this year, this is best, period. Get it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on January 17, 2004
Format: Audio CD
We are a nation of immigrants. Some of us have come sooner, some later, but except for the American Indians, we all came from somewhere else. Tom Russell has taken that reality, his family history, from Ireland and Norway, some fine stories, and turned it into a song cycle that is the work of his career. Haunting and beautiful, he has drawn on years of songwriting, and years for friendships with musicians and folksingers, and created an album we will listen to 50 years from now.
Most songs are his own, although he does a moving, fitting version of Massingill's "The Orphan Train." Not all of Russell's family tree is fit for his in-laws. Dave van Ronk's raspy version of "The Outcast," Russell's own songs about his gambling and alcohol addicted father; it rings true. There is mixed pain and pride in a lot of these songs.
It's not all gloomy. Doris McKeane's singing of "When Irish Girls Grow Up" is a hoot. And some of these stories are the kind your uncle only would tell after his third drink at Thanskgiving. There's that kind of intimacy, some wonderful melodies, all with Russell's gravelly voice and the singing of his friends.
I saw Tom Russell on the tour for this album, and the stories he told to introduce some of these songs have made them even more memorable. If you get the chance, see him yourself, and ask him to sing the title track. And get this album; you'll play it often. It's Russell's best work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Kelly on September 2, 2005
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Tom Russell's autobiographical collection is brilliant. The self-penned works - and the execution of them by Iris DeMent, Dolores Keane, Sondre Bratland, Kari Bremnes and Dave Van Ronk - are wonderful. I would have to agree with another reviewer who commented on the repetitiousness of some cuts. Truly, one take of "The Outcast" would easily have sufficed.

The real treat for he however was Russell's take of David Massengill's "Rider On An Orphan Train." The song has led me on a quest to learn as much as I can about this late 19th and early 20th century experiment of "placing out" children and adults to help populate the American West.

Thanks, Tom. This is truly brilliant.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Tom Russell get's called "the best songwriter you never heard of" by 90% of the critics and reviewers who interview him. They're right, he is the best songwriter...but this CD may finally let you hear of him. I just saw Tom perform all these songs at a house concert (God knows where) and every one is a jewel. Some are multifaceted, some 'roughcut', they make a pretty impressive crown when combined. Don't let the constant 5 star ratings from customers affect your decision, don't let his fine voice sway you, or the great artists he got to collaborate, don't even let the fabulous guitar work of Andrew Hardin (the greatest guitar player you never heard of) make you cough up the CD price. Don't buy this for all these good reasons...buy it because your ancestors insist. Tom tells their story here, and you need to hear it. Call this 'country' the way it ought to be played, call it 'folk', call it what you want. It's great American music, and rises above classification. Of course, that means the radio wallahs can't plug it into a 'format' and play it in between traffic reports so you'll have to take steps to hear it on your own. If you don't, your ancestors may take steps of their own to get you to pay attention. Don't blame me if your milk turns sour...buy the CD. You've been warned.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dean W. Wilkey on July 30, 2001
Format: Audio CD
First off, I must say that even though I like Tom Russell very much, I never expected something of this depth and intensity. His songwriting has never approached this kind of maturity, and the production of the album is superb. All the "guests" do a great job of adding to the cast of characters and the music is top notch. I was mesmerized from the very beginning until the last note, and I immediately replayed it over and over again. Some of the highlights range from the light and hopeful "Casey Jones" to the dark and insightful "Acres of Corn". There isn't a bad song in the bunch and that's saying something for an album that has over twenty songs. Let's hope that this album is the launching pad for Mr. Russell. Even though he has written many great songs in the past and has had many good albums before this, if he continues writing and playing like he did here, he will soon be mentioned in the same breath with other great songwriters like Greg Brown, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Neil Young, etc. I have given this album 4 stars only because I reserve 5 stars for the absolute best and even though I would like to say it is a great, great album, I cannot say that it reaches the likes of say, Dylan's best, but maybe after another few listens I'll change my mind.
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