—By Jen Cunningham
I am a firm believer that not all reviews should be quick reviews. There are songs written every day with a cheeky beat, which will eventually fade out into nothing. No one will even remember them ten years from now. Then you have the story-tellers, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Eddie Vedder and, Darrell Scott. Their music is more than beat to sway to. Their music is art, art that you want to take your time with and get to know.
I have to set the scene for you in this most perfect, smaller venue. The stadium seating of The Sheldon Concert Hall in Saint Louis, where Scott performed in support of his latest release Couchville Sessions, held a small familiar audience. The acoustics, so well designed that as I sat in the balcony with my Jack and Coke, his stories played out as crystal clear as any studio recording I have ever heard.
From the very beginning I knew that I was in the presence of an old soul. As he walked out and introduced himself, and announced that there would be no set list that he preferred to play what came to him. I knew in that moment, that I was presence of someone who had many stamps on life’s passport, and I was spot on with that interpretation. From the opening number of “A World of Wonder” to last (“Jesus was a Capricorn”), his set played like a collection of short stories you couldn’t set down.
Travis Tritt covered Scott’s song “It’s a Great Day to be Alive”, when I was a kid. It was one of those upbeat songs that would get stuck in your head, and one that you sing all day if you’re lucky enough to hear it in the morning. The audience was lavishly regaled with the tune in its grown form with Scott behind the grand piano.
“Memories and Moments”, “Waiting for the Clothes to Get Clean”, both felt like stamps on the passport, each song having moments for the listener to gleam from it a snippet of truth. “Out Among the Stars”, a beautiful song where Scott played a bouzouki, was followed by the first song on the record, “Down to the River”.
“Down to the River” is narrated at the end by Guy Clark, a little snippet about a crow’s nest, in a windmill made out of barbed wire, and how these crows would catch baby rattle snakes, and all you would find is skin and bones. While I have not quite determined my interpretation of that story, it was one my favorite songs of the night.
My other favorite was Guy Clark’s “Desperados Waiting for a Train”, a song that describes the lifetime of two unlikely friends, one much older than the other. While the younger viewed the man as a hero of this country, he couldn’t understand why he was dressed like those old men. That verse resonated with me, the interpretation of older generation through the eyes of a child.
All of Scott’s music falls on the ears like a collection of short stories. In these moments you understand why there is more to some music than others. Why song writers are now being viewed through literary eyes. You could make comparisons to Scott and Hemingway for their use of raw truth. You can hear the influence of Johnny Cash, John Denver, rock, blues, and folk. He crosses decades and genres, it truly is a collection of life lived, and places that held their stories. It was wise to re-release this collection, but it won’t be the last time.