The Word on the Street
The Wayside Shrines are a collective of Princeton-based musicians playing original songs with lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon. Other band members are Tim Chaston (vocals, violin), Ila Couch (vocals, guitar), Chris Harford (guitar, vocals, Band of Changes, formerly of Three Colors), Ray Kubian (drums, vocals, formerly of True Love, Mars Needs Women), Noriko Manabe (keyboards, vocals, clarinet), Kate Neal (accordion, string arrangements), and Nigel Smith (bass, vocals). Produced by Paul Q. Kolderie; saxes by Dana Colley (Morphine), additional vocals by Mark Mulcahy. The Word on the Street is the group's debut album, providing an eclectic mix of rock, indie folk, pop, reggae, country, and classical influences. The songs set some of Muldoon's lyrics from his book of the same name, Word on the Street. Follow the band at facebook.com/waysideshrines.
Experienced as songs, the meanings [of Muldoon's poems] shift as words and music combine. For example, Azerbaijan is a witty narrative about love by an Air Force base; set to guitars and a beat, the work soars in ways unimaginable when examined on the page: "It might take years to win your heart, To grab a beer/Would be a start." Over steady verses that compare a first date to a metaphorical journey to Kandahar, Afghanistan, the song ends as the relationship is falling apart and Morgan Chase is foreclosing on property:"Our flame burned clear/Took long to douse"; writes Muldoon, "But we're moving on/To Godknowswhere/Azerbaijan is way up there." --Randall Roberts, LA Times
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I just thought I'd follow up my own review to say that I'm still listening to this CD. I go off and listen to other things but I keep coming back to this one. The only frustration I have is that the lyrics don't come with the CD and aren't on the web site. And as I said above, I love well-written, interesting lyrics and this is full of them. But I only get maybe 2/3 of them from listening and would definitely like to see them in print.
Songs such as "Cleaning Up My Act" which starts with "There are no gentlemen in a gentleman's club..." -- great lyrics (and great performance behind it). And "The Youngers" is really interesting (although again, I'd love to see all of the lyrics). Reminds me a bit of a tune called "Murder Mystery" by the Velvet Underground (although "The Youngers" is a far more melodic tune! :) ). Just a really cool approach to the song that draws you in as you listen.
And with other tunes like "Julius Caesar", when he sings "Joseph Stalin was a people person, a people person like you...". Ouch! That's a well-crafted dig if there ever was one. The line by Alexander Pope "(to) damn with faint praise" comes to mind :-)
And now I know what "bringing owls to Athens" means - I'd never heard that expression before.
Ok, that's enough commenting. I highly recommend this one!