To guide your summer getaway book selections, try this formula: E=FB²
Here’s the Steeple
The group’s name suggests Christian origins unsupported by anything more specific lyrics-wise than recurring metaphors consistent with any pilgrim’s progress. But the group’s leader, Dan Walters, isn’t just any pilgrim. Besides having a soothing voice and a nice feel for folk arrangements in which acoustic guitar and banjo mesh with clarinets, trumpets, violin, and viola, he has a direct line to paternal emotion. “High Hopes” is a literal father-to-son wake-up call, “Father’s Son” a game changer for any deadbeat dad with ears to hear.
The Healing Game (Deluxe Edition)
When The Healing Game was originally released in 1997, fans and critics alike greeted it as evidence of Morrison’s undiminished willingness and ability to transmute his familiar obsessions (poetry, myth, the days before rock ’n’ roll) into the kind of music one might expect to hear programmed by pop stations on the lake isle of Innisfree. That none of Morrison’s many follow-ups have approximated this effect makes this three-disc edition—especially the Montreaux concert (Georgie Fame! Pee Wee Ellis!)—special. And a little sad.
Love & Revelation
Over the Rhine
Karin Bergquist sings most of these probingly introspective songs by herself. But three cuts in, she’s joined by Linford Detweiler, her husband of 23 years, in what’s essentially a renewal of their vows: “I don’t want to let you go / That’s the one thing for sure I know / You can bet I’ll stick around / ’Cause I don’t want to let you down.” Thus squared away, they freely explore darker moods. The best may not be yet to come, but it’s not in imminent danger of going away either.
Call Me Lucky
Watson’s latest adds three must-hears to his neo-traditionalist country catalog. The funniest (and smartest) is “The Dumb Song,” in which Watson reproaches himself for vices that include eating Southern fried chicken and being outspoken (then vows not to change). The catchiest is “David Buxkemper,” a gift to a Llano Estacado “truckin’ farmer” (or “farmin’ trucker”) who wrote Watson a fan letter. The swingingest is “Tupelo Mississippi & a ’57 Fairlane.” “They don’t make ’em like that anymore,” Watson sings. He might as well be singing about himself.
Anyone who wants to know why the leftists’ war against “cultural appropriation” will never succeed need listen no further than Dick Dale, the surf-guitar king who recently died at the age of 81. The son of a Lebanese father and a Polish-Belarusian mother, he infused Middle Eastern tonalities with rock ’n’ roll energy to energize a style that, like surfing itself, would become synonymous with America at its most youthfully adventuresome.
And Dale didn’t stop there: His early penchant for accidentally overloading and blowing up amps led to technological innovations that paved the way for heavy metal. When Rhino issued Better Shred Than Dead: The Dick Dale Anthology in 1997, he was three years into a late-career renaissance kickstarted by the inclusion of his “Misirlou” in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. By that time, not even the most dedicated social justice warrior could’ve begun to untangle the cultural strands that Dale had appropriated—and that had appropriated him. —A.O.