All singing is by definition contrived. I mean, no one talks that way normally do they? From Maria Callas to Frank Sinatra to Elvis to Aretha to David Byrne to Tyler the Creator. It’s all a put on. But there must be something in a singer’s pretensions that is true to that person. Usually, unlike other aspects a person’s personality, that something is a product of the singer’s environment, i.e. it’s almost always nurture as opposed to a tandem with nature.
This is what I think makes Jed Ford’s I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry , an Lp of mostly classic country covers, such an odd case. First of all, the name, an obvious fake, but it’s not unheard of for a performing artist, even a country one, to affect a stage name. Next, the man’s southern drawl. Again, not only is this no hindrance to C&W singin’, it’s positively requisite. But here’s where it starts to get a little murky; I know nothing for certain because little information exsists on the interweb, but I believe Jed’s a Limey who’s appropriated the old-school Country croon to the degree only a reformed smoker or a recent convert to Islam or a hopeful outsider could muster. It’s like those bowl-cutted Washingtonians, the British Walkers, only in reverse. Or maybe it’s more akin to all those white Brits who, in Sonny Boy’s words, “want to play the blues so bad…and they play the blues so bad!”
So how did Ford get so caught up in country music that he had to do this? A clue might exist in his song “You ‘Aint Gonna’ Pick On Me” wherein he confides to the listener that “them people up in Liverpool, I know they take me for a fool”. Now, our drummer friend Ringo will tell you there was a pronounced Country vibe Mersey-way, and maybe Ford was ensconced in some Scouse/Redneck enclave. I really don’t know.
Anyway, for all its trans-Atlantic, anachronistic affectation, I’m So Lonesome is a pretty good record. And I’m lovin’ the magic marker cover.
Back on the UK thriftin’ express, I got this yesterday in Hythe.