Tell me about Joe Henry.

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Would I like him? Or is he lame?

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Tuesday, 11 March 2003 15:47 (sixteen years ago) link

He keeps getting namechecked as being agreeably tasteful and Madonna is his sister-in-law or something and every so often sings on his records. This is all I know.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 11 March 2003 15:52 (sixteen years ago) link

Tasteful? Not like Tom Waits then?

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Tuesday, 11 March 2003 15:58 (sixteen years ago) link

Did he produce the Solomon Burke album or was that someone else>

Nordicskillz (Nordicskillz), Tuesday, 11 March 2003 15:59 (sixteen years ago) link

He did produce the Solomon Burke album, and he wrote one of the songs "Flesh and Blood".

man, Tuesday, 11 March 2003 16:29 (sixteen years ago) link

He wrote Madonna's "Don't Tell Me" too! It was on his last album.

teeny (teeny), Tuesday, 11 March 2003 16:34 (sixteen years ago) link

I have pals who are big fans of his early albums, which are very well done and literate and a bit folkie/country flavored, a la the early Jayhawks. Lotsa Upper Midwest prairie atmosphere blowing through there. I like 'em fine, but they don't do that much for me.

That said, I love, love, love his album Trampoline. On it, he makes a break with his past equivalent to the one Tom Waits made with Swordfishtrombones. In fact, there is a lot of late-period Waits to his work since--clanking, organic sound; wasted late-night ambiance; inscrutable tall tales, etc. Anyway, Trampoline boasts several great character-driven weirdo songs, especially "Ohio Air Show Plane Crash" and "Flower Girl," and the whole thing is produced so beguilingly that the just-okay tunes go down quite nicely too. And Helmet's Page Hamilton plays a bunch of the guitar, which is more appealing than it sounds, honest. Really and truly a slept-on gem.

His two albums since then have been much more difuse, much less engaging, at least for me. The melancholy troubadour pretensions are way up and the memorable song quotient is way down. That said, his most recent release, Scar, features Henry's very different version of "Don't Tell Me" (entitled "Stop") and Ornette Coleman soloing on a tune called "Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation," both minor selling points to be sure.

That help?

Lee G (Lee G), Tuesday, 11 March 2003 16:57 (sixteen years ago) link

i like "Trampoline" and "Don't Tell Me" quite a lot. but I saw him play solo last year, opening for Elvis Costello, and he's simply the most dreary, unengaging performer I've ever seen try and pull off the voice-and-guitar thing, and both of those songs were rendered dull and bereft of all melody, dynamics or charm that they otherwise possess.

Al (sitcom), Tuesday, 11 March 2003 19:21 (sixteen years ago) link

"Stop" & "Richard Pryor..." (even the 4ish minutes before OC's solo) totally make _Scar_ worth owning, & the rest of the album is very agreeable in a laconic sort of way. If you like the sort of thing Lee describes up thar.

David R. (popshots75`), Wednesday, 12 March 2003 00:29 (sixteen years ago) link

ten years pass...

He and his bother just wrote a book about Richard Pryor!

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 9 November 2013 21:04 (five years ago) link

five years pass...

Diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. :(

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 8 June 2019 14:50 (three months ago) link

Oh, fuck.

Simon H., Saturday, 8 June 2019 15:00 (three months ago) link

man...finally saw him perform here last year, just the greatest guy.
'I could dance when I was young'.

campreverb, Saturday, 8 June 2019 17:57 (three months ago) link

I've interviewed him a couple of times, and he was uncommonly thoughtful and deep.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 8 June 2019 18:13 (three months ago) link

Really sad about this. Up through Scar he's one of my all-time favorite songwriters and performers. (After that, I start to feel maybe I'm not middle-aged enough yet to really dig the material; something to look forward to perhaps.)

mick signals, Saturday, 8 June 2019 19:43 (three months ago) link

I haven't been able to unlock his most recent albums either. Excellent players, what sounds to my ears like dull results, but it could be because they are so unadorned, almost austere, perhaps forcing you to focus on the lyrics, which is not always my thing.

Josh in Chicago, Saturday, 8 June 2019 20:11 (three months ago) link

Man...I think Civilians may be he best xxp

campreverb, Sunday, 9 June 2019 01:45 (three months ago) link

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