Rodney Crowell

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Ain't Living Long Like This (1978), 7/10
But What Will the Neighbors Think (1980), 4/10
Rodney Crowell (1981), 6.5/10
Street Language (1986), 6.5/10
Diamonds & Dirt (1988), 6.5/10
Keys to the Highway (1989), 7/10
Life is Messy (1992), 5/10
Let the Picture Paint Itself (1994), 4/10
Jewel of the South (1995), 4/10
The Cicadas (1997), 4/10
The Houston Kid (2001), 6.5/10
Fate's Right Hand (2003), 6/10
The Outsider (2005), 5/10
Sex And Gasoline (2008), 5/10
Kin (2012), 4.5/10

Rodney Crowell was one of the most gifted songwriters of the Texas honky-tonk school of the 1970s and 1980s. His early singles Till I Gain Control (1977) and Ashes By Now (1978) were already notable, but Crowell's stellar songwriting was fully revealed by his debut album, Ain't Living Long Like This (Warner, 1978). The sprightly I Ain't Living Long Like This, the harrowing Song for the Life, the catchy Voila An American Dream and the evocative Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight cover an impressive emotional territory.

In 1979 he married country star Rosanne Cash.

By comparison, But What Will the Neighbors Think (Warner, 1980) was a major disappointment, but Rodney Crowell (Warner, 1981) added at least Stars on the Water and Shame on the Moon, his existentialist masterpiece, to the classics, and delivered strong performances throughout (Victim or a Fool, 'Til I Gain Control Again, Old Pipeliner).

Street Language (Warner, 1986) veered towards rock'n'roll and rhythm'n'blues (Looking For You, Stay, The Ballad of Fast Eddie). The lyrics went with the sound: honest, direct, scary (When I'm Free Again, When the Blue Hour Comes).

Diamonds & Dirt (Columbia, 1988) was his most commercially successful album, but also a lot lighter than the previous one: pure entertainment by his standards. A few of them were meant to please a broad, conservative audience (Crazy Baby, I Couldn't Leave You If I Tried, The Last Waltz, It's Such a Small World, She's Crazy for Leaving) and only one was meant to make people think (After All This Time). Surprisingly for someone who had largely been ignored by Nashville, Crowell became the first artist in history to reach the top of the charts five times in the same year with five of his own compositions.

The mood turned tragic again on Keys to the Highway (Columbia, 1989), that includes an impressive parade of lugubrious meditations: the hard-rocking My Past Is Present, The Faith Is Mine, Now That We're Alone, Things I Wish I'd Said, If Looks Could Kill, Soul Searchin', and one of his masterpieces, Many A Long & Lonesome Highway.

In 1992 he divorced from Rosanne Cash and celebrated the event with the single Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993).

This confessional trip continued on Life is Messy (Columbia, 1992), which is devoted to his divorce but lacks the same inspiration (What Kind of Love, Lovin' All Night, Life Is Messy).

Following albums were less and less original: Let The Picture Paint Itself and Big Heart, from Let the Picture Paint Itself (MCA, 1994), Please Remember Me, from Jewel of the South (MCA, 1995), We Want Everything, from The Cicadas (Warner, 1997), were among the few interesting songs.

Crowell's genius surfaced again on the autobiographical The Houston Kid (Sugar Hill, 2001), his best album in a decade, both soulful, tuneful and sorrowful (Telephone Road, The Rock Of My Soul, I Wish It Would Rain, Wandering Boy, Highway 17). It turned out to be the first installment of a personal self-examining trilogy, that was completed by Fate's Right Hand (2003), with Still Learning How to Fly Earthbound, and the harder The Outsider (2005), devoted to sociopolitical sermons.

Sex And Gasoline (2008) is a profound and at times ironic meditation on the contemporary world, but with little or no interest in the musical aspect of his songs.

Kin (2012) was a collaboration with writer Mary Karr, but neither the lyrics nor the music amount to much.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Pierfrancesco Zanata)

Rodney Crowell è stato uno dei cantautori più talentuosi della scuola honky-tonx texana degli anni '70 e '80. I suoi primi singoli Till I Gain Control (1977) e Ashes By Now (1978) erano già notevoli, ma la sua grande capacità di scrivere canzoni si manifestò definitivamente nel suo album di debutto, I Ain't Living Long Like This (Warner, 1978). La vivace I Ain't Living Long Like This, la straziante Song for the Life, l'accattivante Voila an American Dream e la suggestiva Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight coprono un vastissimo territorio di emozioni.

Nel 1979 Crowell sposò la star della musica country Rosanne Cash.

In confronto, But What Will the Neighbors Think (Warner, 1980) fu una grande delusione, ma Rodney Crowell (Warner, 1981) ha aggiunto ai suoi classici il capolavoro esistenziale Stars on the Water e Shame on the Moon fornendo nel complesso delle ottime performance (Victim or a Fool, 'Til I Gain Control Again, Old Pipeliner).

Street Language (Warner, 1986) virava più sul rock'n'roll e il rythm'n'blues (Looking For You, Stay, The Ballad of Fast Eddie). I testi accompagnavano la musica: onesti, diretti, allarmanti (When I'm Free Again, When the Blue Hour Comes).

Diamonds & Dirt (Columbia, 1988) è stato il suo maggiore successo commerciale, ma non era all'altezza dei suoi dischi precedenti: si trattava di semplice intrattenimento per i suoi standard. Alcuni dei suoi brani erano concepiti per soddisfare un pubblico conservatore (Crazy Baby, I Couldn't Leave You If I Tried, The Last Waltz, It's Such a Small World, She's Crazy for Leaving) e solo uno per incoraggiarlo a riflettere (After All This Time).

Con sorpresa, per qualcuno che era stato largamente ignorato da Nashville, Crowell divenne il primo artista nella storia a raggiungere il primo posto nelle classifiche cinque volte nello stesso anno con cinque suoi brani originali.

L'atmosfera si fece nuovamente tragica con Keys to the Highway (Columbia, 1989), che include un'impressionante parata di meditazioni lugubri: l'hard rock di My Past Is PresentThe Faith Is MineNow That We're AloneThings I Wish I'd SaidIf Looks Could KillSoul Searchin', e uno dei suoi capolavori, Many A Long & Lonesome Highway.

Nel 1992 Crowell divorziò da Rosanne Cash e celebrò l'evento con il singolo Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993).

Il suo viaggio confessionale continuò con Life is Messy (Columbia, 1992), che è dedicato al suo divorzio ma manca di ispirazione (What Kind of LoveLovin' All NightLife Is Messy).

Gli album seguenti furono sempre meno originali: Let The Picture Paint Itself e Big Heart, da Let the Picture Paint Itself (MCA, 1994), Please Remember Me, da Jewel of the South (MCA, 1995), We Want Everything, da The Cicadas (Warner, 1997), sono alcune tra le poche canzoni interessanti.

Il genio di Crowell risorse ancora con l'autobiografica The Houston Kid (Sugar Hill, 2001), il suo miglior album da un decennio, sentimentale, melodioso e addolorato (Telephone RoadThe Rock Of My SoulI Wish It Would RainWandering BoyHighway 17). Finì col diventare la prima parte di una personale trilogia introspettiva, completata da Fate's Right Hand (2003), con Still Learning How to Fly Earthbound, e il più duro The Outsider (2005), composto da sermoni sociopolitici.

Sex And Gasoline (2008) è una riflessione profonda e talvolta ironica del mondo contemporaneo, ma con ben poco interesse per l'aspetto musicale dei suoi brani.

Kin (2012) fu una collaborazione con la scrittrice Mary Karr, ma né i testi né la musica sono granché.

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