One of my all-time favorite rock singer-songwriters is John Hiatt. Described as “a master lyricist and satirical storyteller,” Hiatt “weaves hidden plot twists into fictional tales ranging in topics including redemption, relationships, growing older and surrendering, on his terms.”
Hiatt has been at this for a long-time, with 23 albums to his credit. His songs have been recorded by artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt (Thing Called Love), Emmylou Harris, Iggy Pop, I’m With Her, Rosanne Cash (The Way We Make A Broken Heart), and New Grass Revival and the Jeff Healey Band (both for Angel Eyes).
The acoustic Crossing Muddy Water shows how Hiatt can tell a sad tale of loss with beauty and depth. Perfectly Good Guitar about rock stars who smash their very expensive guitars onstage as part of their act is typical of Hiatt’s clever writing. This version from Austin City Limits has great leads with Mike Ward of The Guilty Dogs doing some awesome guitar shredding.
My all-time favorite Hiatt song is Tennessee Plates, described by one of my favorite music bloggers as “probably the most oblique and powerful tribute song to Elvis Presley ever composed.” You may recall the tune from when it was featured in the iconic film, Thelma and Louise. But rather than reading my thoughts, please take some time to mosey over to Thom Hickey’s fantastic The Immortal Jukebox (I’ll still be here when you return) and read his in-depth take on what Thom describes as:
“A complete movie with; a love story, criminality, cultural commentary, eyeballs out playing from the band (especially Sonny Landreth on guitar) and a twist at the end – all in under three minutes.”
Now that you’re back, let’s end with Hiatt’s anthem that seems so appropriate for these times: Have a Little Faith in Me. And for this version, Hiatt improves on the original by adding that gospel choir at the end!
“When the road gets dark / And you can no longer see
Just let my love throw a spark / And have a little faith in me
And when the tears you cry / Are all you can believe
Just give these loving arms a try, baby /And have a little faith in me
Hiatt and another singer-songwriter legend, Lyle Lovett, were scheduled to play at Strathmore Music Hall in Bethesda on May 13th, but due to the coronavirus crisis the entire tour was cancelled. For now we’ll have to be content with videos and memories of their last area concert on what I call, “the last full day of sanity in the United States.”
More to come…