Ryan Bingham Has A New Album Out

Yesterday I downloaded the new Ryan Bingham album. $6.99 for music from someone that I have a good history with, seemed a good deal. I didn’t listen to it right away.  When I did listen to it for the first time yesterday, it was one of those peripheral listens. I tend to do that with music more often than not. It’s playing in the background, and I am noticing more the beat than anything else. What I noticed here was that Ryan had picked up his beat a lot from his last album. I liked that.

Ryan Bingham came into my life a few years ago when we were on vacation in Colorado. It was the first week in September, which to a person who does not ski, is the perfect time of year to be in Colorado. The weather is lovely and the crowds are small. We were walking down the street in Breckenridge when Jim noticed a flyer on a kiosk. Ryan Bingham was going to be playing at a bar the next night – we had to go.

I did not know anything about Ryan Bingham, but he won me over that night. The venue was a dark basement bar with a few high top tables. We got there early to beat the crowd, which never really came. We had a table right in front of the staging area and got our first dose of Ryan Bingham and his band up close. Guitar playing, cowboy hatted, cigarette smoking, gravelly voiced guy – I was smitten. Mr. Bingham got himself a Missouri fan club that night with his rocking guitars and driving drums. They played and played and came back and played some more. It was one of the best music experiences that I had ever had.

The next year, we were back in Colorado at the same time of year. Coincidentally, so was Ryan Bingham. This time, however, he was not in a dark basement bar. He was opening for Willie Nelson at the amazing Red Rocks. It had been a year for Ryan. He had written a song for a movie and now had an Academy Award. That year, we got our tickets weeks ahead. That show was all kinds of great in so many ways, but that first Ryan Bingham experience would be hard to beat – even by a venue that is a marvel of nature.

So this morning I am spending some more time with the new album. Reviews are mixed, with lots pointing out that he is pouring too much politics into his music and that the long troubadour anthems don’t serve him well. I guess that I see that, but I don’t criticize him for that. On this album there are songs on it that I really like. Flower Bomb is pretty and has some interesting key changes. Heart of Rhythm is fun, driving, good times, rock and roll – it even has some piano pounding. I’m guessing that he loves to play it. Just reading the lyrics, you can kind of tell how this one would play out:


Come on honey we got nothing to lose,

We got the country and the rhythm and the blues,

I told you honey now that I’m your man,

I got a heart full of rhythm they don’t understand,

I’ll give you more than silver gold,

I got a heart full of rhythm and rock n roll


Too Deep to Fill sounds like he is channeling Woodie Guthrie, which is not a bad thing.

So for my $6.99 I got to hear 13 new songs from a guy who has earned his place in my music library. The fact that this album did not overwhelm reviewers – or me – matters not. I am glad he is making music. As an appreciator, I am glad that he is trying new things. I am hopeful that another tour stop lands close to me, and I will be looking out for his next release of music.

You can listen to some of the songs here: Ryan Bingham



Listening to an Album – Rufus Wainwright’s “Out of the Game”

There are few fonder growing up memories that I have than the ones that involve music. Many are about record players and lyrics. Up in my bedroom, I would spend hours listening carefully and transcribing lyrics to songs that I loved  into a special notebook (those were the days that lyrics were not often found on album notes, and there certainly was no Internet to refer to). Usually, by the time I finished, the transcription was unnecessary; I would already know the song by heart. Besides a new song in my repertoire,  another outcome of this activity would be the unfortunate scratches caused by me lifting the needle and putting it down too abruptly. There are still songs that I hear where my brain automatically puts in the skip.

I am not that lyric devotee anymore. There are probably a number of reasons for this, but I think there are two main ones. Number one: I am no longer that reflective teenager. Number two: I don’t take the time to listen to most albums intently and as a whole.

I can’t do anything about the first one, but I can do something about the second.

I buy my fair share of new music. My goal will be to at least once a month, take time with a new purchase. I will listen to the music – what is in front of it, and what is behind it. I will listen to the lyrics and read them. I will see who else is involved.

And I will write a little about it. First up:

Out of the Game – Rufus Wainwright (Released May 1, 2012)

Who’s Involved: lots of Rufus’ family members, Sean Lennon, Dap Kings

I first knew Rufus as the baby that his dad, Loudon wrote about in his song “”Rufus is a Tit Man.” Over the last several years, I have very much liked who Rufus has grown up to be. He is a writer of interesting songs, and despite periods of personal problems, he has put out good music and performances over the years. These days, his personal life seems together and his new album is his move back more toward his earlier music style.

Here are two songs that I especially liked:

Rashida – I was going to pick two of the more somber songs to highlight, but I didn’t think that was fair since there really are some fun pop songs on this album. Rashida is one of them. This one, along with the bouncey beat, has the fun of bringing out Rufus’ inner snark.

The song has some serious doo-wopping, sax and brass. Someone pissed off Rufus and she is going to pay.

I got the outfit for the party, but you’ve taken away the invItatIon,

and I’d lIke to thank you, rashIda, for doIng thIs · and

gIvIng me a reason to wrIte a song· 

I guess I’ll have to go a beggIng for

that vanIty faIr connectIon · and I’d lIke to thank you rashIda · It’s been awhIle

sInce I have gone a beggIng · so very very long · I fInally saw you at the party In a dress

that was well, quIte stunnIng · and I’d lIke to thank you rashIda ·

for gIvIng me a reason

to call mIss portman · and to wrIte thIs song   

Montauk – Rufus is now the father of a child with his childhood friend, Lorca Cohen (daughter of Leonard Cohen). Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen will be raised by Lorca, Rufus and his partner. Viva’s middle name is in honor of her late maternal grandmother, Kate McGarrigle who died in 2010. Montauk is Rufus’ note to Viva years from now. It is asking for her patience when she is in the world of her two dads. It is asking her to forgive them for being who they are: guys with glasses, bad senses of humor, poor dressing habits, and the ability to not be nice to each other. He also reminds her that there is a shadow of her grandma who continues to be a presence.

The song opens with ocean sounds and a tinkling, driving piano that moves the song forward into a beautiful bridge before returning to a verse. The last part of the song slows and becomes more dreamy when he recalls the woman who is now a shadow. It all finishes with more ocean. I think he nails the hope of maintaining connection with a growing child, and it just a really pretty song.

One day you will come to Montauk and see your dad wearing a

kimono and see your other dad pruning roses

Hope you wont turn around and go

One day you will come to Montauk and see your dad playing the piano

and see your other dad wearing glasses

Hope that you will want to stay for a while

Don’t worry I know you’ll have to go

One day you will come to Montauk and see your dad trying to be funny

and see your other dad seeing through me

Hope that you will protect your dad

One day you will come to Montauk and see your dad trying to be evil

and see your other dad feeling lonely

Hope that you will protect him, and stay

Don’t worry I know you’ll have to go

One day years ago in Montauk lived a woman now a shadow

There she does wait for us in the ocean

And although we want to stay for a while

Don’t worry we all have to go

One day you will come to Montauk

Although I will not include it, Candles is an almost eight minute tribute song to his mom and is both gorgeous and heart wrenching.

I can’t say that I have all of the songs memorized yet, but I have a good understanding of the album, I have clear favorites, and I think I could sing along with a few and do a pretty good job.

Listen to the album here with Spotify: Out of the Game – Rufus Wainwright

And watch a fun video starring Rufus and Helana Bonham Carter here: