The Cowboy Junkies - Classic or Junk?

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Haunting. Ethereal. Dull as all get-out. Somewhere in between, maybe. Are they poignant and bittersweet, or merely comatose? Isn't the Anniversary Song just so sweet?

They're neither cowboys nor junkies. Discuss.

My name is Kenny (My name is Kenny), Saturday, 5 April 2003 14:46 (nineteen years ago) link

Best version of "Blue Moon" outside Maine Road. I love "Misguided Angel" too.

Tag (Tag), Saturday, 5 April 2003 15:06 (nineteen years ago) link

a gorgeous band. just for margo timmins amazing sleepy-sexy voice. my favourite is probably "lay it down". terrific tunes and this late night feeling which goes well with red wine and other relaxing stimulants.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Saturday, 5 April 2003 15:14 (nineteen years ago) link

I haven't heard anything but "Sweet Jane" and "Common Disaster", both of which they play on the radio occasionally. When they do, it's incredible - my body piques to her voice. Very nice. It's not thrill-a-minute music, but it's not music without interest either. However, I haven't bought any of their stuff, mainly because I can't find it used and can't afford new. Any recs for where to start?

Fivvy (Fivvy), Saturday, 5 April 2003 15:18 (nineteen years ago) link

The Trinity Session predated slowcore by several years, and I recommend it highly. It has the sublime version of "Blue Moon," "Sweet Jane," "Misguided Angel," "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Dreaming My Dreams with You," and other songs you need.

Yesterday, I finally realized where the title The Caution Horses came from. I was on the highway, driving behind a horse trailer, and painted on it were the words:

(Sorry if this was painfully obvious, but I'm a little slow sometimes...)

Ernest P. (ernestp), Saturday, 5 April 2003 16:08 (nineteen years ago) link

Only heard Trinity Session but that's junk and if that's their best album well, then, junk.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Saturday, 5 April 2003 16:09 (nineteen years ago) link

Trinity Sessions is their most accessable, for people who don't like country, but their more country albums are MUCH better.

Dave Fischer, Saturday, 5 April 2003 16:12 (nineteen years ago) link

Trinity Sessions = absolute classic. Others range from abhorrent to pretty good. But Trinity Session is one of my favorites.

roger adultery (roger adultery), Saturday, 5 April 2003 17:14 (nineteen years ago) link

their version of 'sweet jane' was my first taste of vu-related stuff, and i still prefer it to the original. so, classic. what country albums are good?

Dave M. (rotten03), Saturday, 5 April 2003 18:00 (nineteen years ago) link

I like the vu-does-the-blues stuff on "whites off earth now". Also much of the Trinity Sessions is nice. Haven't heard much since that I liked. I don't think much of their lyrics, though I'm not sure why. So, I tend to like their cover versions more. I did see them play in a church here a month or so ago, and they did a nice acoustic set to start off with. The electric set was alright, but the mandolin player used to much wahpedal for my liking. picky, picky.

pauls00, Saturday, 5 April 2003 19:48 (nineteen years ago) link

There are good songs on everything through Lay It Down, but the only whole-album recommendations I can make are the first two (Whites Off Earth Now and The Trinity Sessions). If you could take the best halves of Caution Horses and Black-Eyed Man, that'd be a sweet album too.

Jesse Fox (Jesse Fox), Saturday, 5 April 2003 22:35 (nineteen years ago) link

Pale Sun Crecent Moon is excellent, as is their most recent, Open. Points to those who picked Whites Off Earth Now; fucking good record.

Mike Timmins IS the most underrated guitarist out there, bar none.


derrick (derrick), Sunday, 6 April 2003 02:00 (nineteen years ago) link

The first couple of tracks on Open are just fantastic. Terrific terrific stuff bordering on Opal-style acid rock. Classic!

Oh yeah, Matt Maxwell to thread!

Chris Barrus (Chris Barrus), Sunday, 6 April 2003 02:45 (nineteen years ago) link

i have the trinity session. it's nice, i like the cover of "sweet jane". but i couldn't get too worked up.

weasel diesel (K1l14n), Sunday, 6 April 2003 13:21 (nineteen years ago) link

Trinty Sesions is beautiful, just slip on headphones and close your eyes and you might as well be hanging in the air above the church it was recorded in.

Their debut, White Off Earth Now is a great collection of 90% blues covers and also alot of beautiful moments. Cover of Decoration Day stands out. Later stuff has its moments, Margos voice gets better nd better. But its not country.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Sunday, 6 April 2003 23:19 (nineteen years ago) link

one year passes...
I really want to hear "Whites off earth now" after reading this thread.

Trinity Sessions is very classic. I can't think of a more beautifully haunting start to a record than "Mining for Gold".

"Sun comes up it's Tuesday morning" is one of the finest songs ever written. Even though it's got a couple of clunky lines. It still makes me want to cry every time I hear it.

James Ball (James Ball), Saturday, 8 May 2004 22:44 (eighteen years ago) link

Trinity Sessions is brilliant, definitely in my top 100. Bad college memories attached though, of junkie painter girlfriend, an abortion, and a spiteful footprint on one of my first and only attempts at painting. You could say it was a bad breakup.

Great fucking record tho

roger adultery (roger adultery), Saturday, 8 May 2004 22:53 (eighteen years ago) link

I love Trinity Sessions, but I've always been scared off of the rest of their albums by the general yawning consensus.

Also great - the Bruce Springsteen cover from the Canadian teenage-lesbian movie.

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Saturday, 8 May 2004 22:54 (eighteen years ago) link

What was the Springsteen cover?

James Ball (James Ball), Saturday, 8 May 2004 23:12 (eighteen years ago) link

Oh, my bad, turns out the song from Lost and Delirious (River Waltz) is a CJ original.

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Saturday, 8 May 2004 23:19 (eighteen years ago) link

Their cover of Springsteen's "State Trooper" was on Whites Off Earth Now.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Saturday, 8 May 2004 23:53 (eighteen years ago) link

Right, I've just ordered WOEN. (First time in a while that ILM has been directly responsible for me buying a CD.)

James Ball (James Ball), Sunday, 9 May 2004 00:04 (eighteen years ago) link

And they cover "My Father's House" on the b-sides collection (where River Waltz is also included)

miloauckerman (miloauckerman), Sunday, 9 May 2004 00:12 (eighteen years ago) link

and they did 'Thunder Road' as an encore for the last tour, too.

'Pale Sun Crescent Moon'(1993) and 'Open'(2001) are their least yawny outings. They're good places to start; the former is raw and very immediate, and the latter is full of guitar drone and noise.

derrick (derrick), Sunday, 9 May 2004 02:40 (eighteen years ago) link

eight years pass...


For no other reason than what follows below. Which is a perfectly good reason, in my opinion.

Mule, Tuesday, 30 April 2013 09:26 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

i found a trinity sessions era t shirt at the salvation army thrift. it has the band name in that typeface and color scheme that's off that album (similar to zen arcade) but individual pics of the band members instead of the album cover photo. the shirt tag is from that time frame so it's original and not a repro. it's nice; i really like it. i wore it out last night to a benefit show for a friend; it was all newgrass and jamband stuff. not even a glimmer of recognition on anyone's face, young or old. an 80's skater dude/ hardcore scene / metalhead friend liked it but he knows all kinds of music. i once gave him a specials shirt i found that's from 80 or 81-ish and it didn't fit him but he didn't give it back. his five year old kid now has an awesome shirt that he has no idea about but that kid can ride the half-pipe better than most of the teenagers at the skate park so he deserves it.

anyway is it just because hippies only care about their insular world or does the general populace not know about cowboy junkies anymore? feel like suzanne vega or tracy chapman had a similar reach and i assumed people still know who they are but i dunno now. what's the fall-off period for that medium level and sorta short-lived period of success as far as continuing recognition goes? i thought "sweet jane" was one of those songs wherein the cover version was as popular or more so than the original, or even that people didn't know was a cover.

slugbuggy, Saturday, 5 July 2014 22:26 (eight years ago) link

i figured this was part of the monoculture, even if at a lower level, and everyone remembered it even if they didn't like it and not a niche thing that only some people knew about.

slugbuggy, Saturday, 5 July 2014 22:53 (eight years ago) link

It's odd, I've been seeing their albums turn up like mad in Amoeba used bins -- and we're talking dollar bins -- so I went to town and I have something like 11 now. It is really weird that they seem to have no 'place' as such but I remember when Low first came around that I thought (reductively) that they were kind of a combination of the Junkies and Galaxie 500, for instance. They seem to have strange afterechoes, and they're still going along.

Ned Raggett, Saturday, 5 July 2014 23:07 (eight years ago) link

this is just the interzone again? i forgot there's that period of modern/ college rock that was just popular enough that i think everyone who was around then should remember but they don't and young people skip right over when investigating the past.

slugbuggy, Monday, 7 July 2014 13:09 (eight years ago) link

Sweet Jane got MTV play and everything. IIRC it was on more their regular programming not just 120 Minutes. That being said, Tracy Chapman & Suzanne Vega still get radio play. They had bona fide pop hits. Can't say I've heard Cowboy Junkies on radio since the 80s.

In terms of afterechoes, probably not an original thought, but I can see the connection to Mazzy Star: subtract the country vibe and add some psychedelia. Well, at least I've made several mixes with both groups.

that's not my post, Tuesday, 8 July 2014 02:57 (eight years ago) link

there's that period of modern/college rock that was just popular enough that i think everyone who was around then should remember but they don't and young people skip right over when investigating the past.

― slugbuggy, Monday, July 7, 2014

a lot of people, like me, who grew-up then remember -- and love -- the trinity sessions. we knew it was a big deal.

Daniel, Esq 2, Tuesday, 8 July 2014 03:04 (eight years ago) link

it has the band name in that typeface and color scheme that's off that album (similar to zen arcade) but individual pics of the band members instead of the album cover photo. the shirt tag is from that time frame so it's original and not a repro

Sounds like

heavy on their trademark ballads (Eazy), Tuesday, 8 July 2014 03:15 (eight years ago) link

I always associated the name Cowboy Junkies with a description of Nick Cave. Doesn't Honeymoon in Red have him pseudonymed as some variation of it since he didn't want to be credited.
As for the Timmins band, loved Trinity Sessions, some tracks on Caution Horses, various live sets from the late 80s. Need to relisten to WOEN but think it'd be something I'd love. Not paid attention to later stuff, I think Caution Horses was beginning to get glossy and it wasn't a direction I wanted.
I've wondered on Mike Timmins pre band history, had him mentally associated with a Canadian band I used to go and see in London in the mid 80s, was it Gas Rattle? A pretty noisy experimental crew, probably not him but always linked them.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 8 July 2014 08:26 (eight years ago) link

Of the later albums, can certainly recommend Open - the closest the Junkies ever get to sounding like Mazzy Star.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 8 July 2014 18:36 (eight years ago) link

All the later ones have their moments but Lay It Down is the one I return to most often.

goth colouring book (anagram), Tuesday, 8 July 2014 19:40 (eight years ago) link

I haven't pulled out Trinity Sessions in a long time, but man that used to really be a go-to CD for me, perfect for first thing in the morning, late at night, and any other time I didn't want anything loud and fast. It's like the Kind Of Blue of alt-folk-rock.

Both jaunty and authentic (Dan Peterson), Tuesday, 8 July 2014 21:11 (eight years ago) link

I was just listening to Trinity Sessions the other day, just came in here to say To Love Is To Bury is a great song.

kruezer, Tuesday, 8 July 2014 23:55 (eight years ago) link

pretty sure it's trinity session era. the color has faded from the logotype but there's traces of the reds and blues.

slugbuggy, Wednesday, 9 July 2014 00:23 (eight years ago) link

I have that shirt, too! Loved The Trinity Session, and saw them in the summer of '89 on a bill with Elvis Costello, Violent Femmes (last-minute replacement for Lou Reed), and Edie Brickell & New Bohemians. Junkies actually went over surprisingly well in a 40,000-seat outdoor shed.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 9 July 2014 00:39 (eight years ago) link

two years pass...

Didn't realize the Sharon Temple Sessions -- set as the follow-up to The Trinity Sessions and then never released -- ever surfaced. Looking for more, but here's one song from it.

who even are those other cats (Eazy), Tuesday, 11 April 2017 20:51 (five years ago) link

Too mainstream for the alt crowd, too alt for the mainstream

calstars, Tuesday, 11 April 2017 21:15 (five years ago) link

Actually was listening to the first Mojave 3 album on recommendation from elsewhere on ilx and damn if the first song doesn't sound just like /200 more miles/

calstars, Tuesday, 11 April 2017 21:16 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

Too mainstream for the alt crowd, too alt for the mainstream

Not off the mark. New single's good:

... (Eazy), Saturday, 7 July 2018 15:13 (four years ago) link

The new album is terrific. Her voice is as smooth as ever and the songwriting is top-notch.

Ich bin kein Berliner (alex in mainhattan), Saturday, 14 July 2018 13:45 (four years ago) link

six months pass...

It’s the kind of night that’s so cold when you spit
It freezes before it hits the ground

calstars, Monday, 21 January 2019 03:05 (three years ago) link

two months pass...

Drinking black coffee and smoking cigarettes

calstars, Sunday, 7 April 2019 03:19 (three years ago) link

ten months pass...

Livestream their Lincoln Center concert tonight, 8:30 EST (couple vids also in this mail):

dow, Friday, 7 February 2020 20:10 (two years ago) link

This was last Friday.

van dyke parks generator (anagram), Friday, 7 February 2020 20:19 (two years ago) link

Sorry! Just got the memo today.

dow, Friday, 7 February 2020 20:28 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

Got around to listening to their new covers album Songs Of The Recollection and it's definitely one of the better albums of this type. Stay at least for "Five Years," "No Expectations" & "Don’t Let It Bring You Down." Apparently they have been performing "Seventeen Seconds" for awhile now?

Elvis Telecom, Thursday, 22 September 2022 02:22 (one week ago) link

Really digging Sun Comes Up, It's Tuesday Morning. Popped up in my youtube feed. Hadn't heard it in years.

that's not my post, Thursday, 22 September 2022 02:32 (one week ago) link

Their covers have always been great, will def listen

calstars, Thursday, 22 September 2022 02:36 (one week ago) link

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