It wasn’t our first, but yesterday’s evening with Rodney Crowell at the City Winery in Chicago was certainly one to relish.
When the evening was over, I had a better understanding of what Rodney sings “Oh, what a beautiful world” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTsYHaOSXeY. I didn’t write down my own setlist as I wanted to devote full attention to his performance. And as Rodney mentions in many of his songs, we felt like we were close to learning to fly. Looking at recent setlists on setlist.fm, it looks like he’s sticking to the same one these days. Here’s the one from the Philadelphia City Winery last month https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/rodney-crowell/2021/city-winery-philadelphia-pa-2b8d58fe.html. I’ll bet someone posts last night’s set list pretty soon. If you don’t know setlist.fm, it’s a great site for many reasons. You can click and play any song on the list.
Just a few comments on his tunes.
Yes, he wrote “Shame on the moon”. He recorded it a year before (’81) Bob Seger did. Don Henley of the Eagles turned Seger on to Crowell. The song spent 23 weeks on Billboard’s charts, peaking at #2 on 2/23/83. Rodney said he got a lot of nice checks out of it. Here he is singing it at another City Winery a few months ago https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c8hUqaDjG4
He and the late great Guy Clark were friends and had a working relationship. Not a surprise for those two outlaw Texas country/folk guys. I was warmed to hear how my favorite song of Rodney’s – “It ain’t over yet” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFrpzPR6TLY – grew out of a series of back and forths with the dying Mr. Clark, which makes the lyrics even more poignant. The song wasn’t released till 2017, a year after Guy died.
And one of my favorite Guy Clark songs was co-written with Mr. None Other. Here he is doing it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhzQvBYB2IU
Rodney knows how to work with the greats. Check out this one where he pays tribute to – and sings with – one of the greatest https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdm72rTC9qw. The bass player last night delivered a very passable impression, not that anyone else in the world has a voice like that. The great man lived 5 more years after the song was released as a single in 1998. He was no longer Rodney’s father in-law when they recorded the song.
I don’t want to go Zell Miller on his setlist, but yes I could go on and on.
Another joy of these concerts is the artist’ merch table. All of Rodney’s merch was music. So much I’d never seen, even some vinyl, which I love. Realizing I have to carry my haul on a train, I exerted some discipline. I think the most fun one will be his Christmas album
As the lady at the table said “it’s not an ordinary Christmas album”. I haven’t played it yet, but looking at the back I see what she means, with songs like:
“Merry Christmas from an empty bed“
“Let’s skip Christmas this year”
“When the fat guy tries the chimney on for size”
I anticipate many more tastes of joy from this wonderful singer-songwriter. He’s only 2 years older than me, so he’ll be around for a while, I hope. So much more to explore.
But last night, wonderful as it was, did leave me with just a tiny taste of disappointment. He didn’t do my favorite love song of his https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEXmETu6cDw. I’ll have to play it for Kathy this morning.