Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Meridian High School Student Newspaper - The Lasso

The Lasso

Music Dump Friday: Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and more

Screenshot+via+Spotify
Screenshot via Spotify

Next time I update this column will be in 2024, which is terrifying to think about. Instead of the customary New Year’s resolutions that most people go with, I like to retreat into some of my old favorites. By old, I don’t just mean songs I used to love; I also enjoy traveling back in time to listen to some of my favorite folk musicians. I really recommend for everyone who has at least a passing interest in folk music and even just music to go back and check out the greats of American folk; Odetta, both Woody and Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs… I’m definitely missing a lot, but each of these artists are worth a listen in their own way. I can go into how these musicians were really shaped by the American labor movement, but that’s definitely for another time and a much deeper dive. The point is, that all of these artists have had profound and direct impacts on the musicians I’m talking about here (except Elliott Smith—he’s a bit later, but such a good artist).

I’m not sure if Tom Waits is entirely a folk music artist, but the song “Day After Tomorrow” from his 2004 album is so perfect for this time of year. It’s about coming home for the holidays from war, and it’s truly haunting. Tom Waits’ voice is low and gravelly, and hearing him asking “How does God choose?” is truly shocking. It’s a song you have to let sink in for a little while to fully appreciate it. You get to listen in on a letter home from war, with Waits promising that he’ll be home in “Illinois on the day after tomorrow,” as he realizes that those he is fighting have family waiting for them, too. It’s really a horrific song that adds such a human side to war and makes you think about all of the people who couldn’t come home to their loved ones for the holidays. Maybe not the happiest Christmas song, but it is such a beautiful song and I really can’t not share it.

“Stay Young” was written a little later in Bob Dylan’s career (1974), but for some reason, hits so, so hard. It’s such a New Year’s Eve song; the instruments swell at the perfect time, and Dylan’s voice is on top of it on this track. I think there’s either a little guitar or banjo trill in the last verse, and it’s so high and so beautiful. There’s an exceptionally timeless quality to Dylan’s work. I was honestly surprised when he was brought up by Mr. Rivera in my History of the Americas class, because I’ve always viewed his music as so present and exactly timely. Thinking of Bob Dylan’s music as a relic of history sits oddly with me, and is probably just a testament to what an exceptional songwriter, musician, and artist he is. Maybe in some way, he’ll stay forever young, just as he sings in this track.

“St. Ides Heaven” by Elliott Smith is a time capsule for me. I’m not exactly trying to say I was around in 1995 for his self-titled release, but I did have the very same album on repeat in December of 2020, so it’s basically the same thing. It was a dark time for me, but it’s still an incredible album. There’s something about this specific track that is so heartbreaking and melancholy, and the sparseness of the track evokes the gentle yet harsh snowfall. The track details Smith’s problems with addiction, and it’s bitterly honest in its simplicity. Elliott Smith’s breathy vocals hit exactly as they should, and it’s so weirdly put together as a song. Those chords are not normal, and that is not in a normal key. I sat down with my guitar and tried to play this exact song, and I was worried I was going to break my guitar strings tuning my guitar to what he plays on. A really odd song, if you look at it melodically, but it works so perfectly.

Townes Van Zandt delivers on a heartwarming note if you’re bummed out from some of the other songs on this playlist. “Colorado Girl” is a soft love song sung over a gentle fingerpicked melody, and it’s another homecoming =-0 -=0hbvcd `1“`1song. This one really goes out to all of the Meridian students thinking about attending CU Boulder; let us know if you find her.

“No Regrets” by Tom Rush is not exactly wintery in any particular way, but it feels so much more seasonal than everything else on this playlist. The drums are soft and steady, as Rush recounts that he’s moving past his old lover. It’s very lush and warm in its sound—and I really, really love warm sounds. This song really reminds me of an old assignment Mr. Walsh made me do in my sophomore-year English class. I had to find poems to use for each month and analyze how they fit together and the cycle of life continued—can you tell I forgot about it when I submitted it? I thought it was a silly assignment when I did it, but now I realize that I’m doing the same thing of my own volition. Oh, well.

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About the Contributor
Victor Kidwell
Victor Kidwell, Features Editor
Victor Kidwell is a Junior, and this is his second year writing for The Lasso. He loves watching Twin Peaks and listening to whatever Lana Del Rey is doing now.