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This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… The Long Ryders, State of Our Union August 15, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

The Long Ryders, always in my book the finest of the Paisley Underground bands (and by the way there’s allegedly a Prince cross-over with that particular genre, also a good sign in that very same book of mine), and not only – but in no small part – because they had a political head on them that was both crafty and fed directly into the lyrics. Their first album, Native Sons, was a treasure, but the second – State of Our Union – is the one that I find I return to more often.

Sid Griffin is, surely, one of the great characters of – well, whatever genre you choose to fit the Long Ryders into, the others in the band no less so (and its heartening to see how they are mostly still active). And collectively the sound they made (and indeed are making given that they reformed) a fine combination of Byrds like harmonies and 12 strings – the Byrds reference being almost obligatory you see when referencing them, it’s a ‘y’ thing – was melodic but also in places surprisingly harsh. Again, we can thank one Mr. Griffin for that with his raspy vocals.

I mentioned politics, and even a casual awareness of their lyrical concerns would see them placed as of the left, but in a way which was strengthened rather than weakened by a sense of humour and a genuine love for the culture of which they were a part. The song titles alone indicated this: “Good Times Tomorrow, Hard Times Today” and “Two Kinds of Love”
(which btw some enterprising goth band should cover, it’d make for a great melancholy track), “Mason Dixie Line” and so forth… Songs that mentioned Gram and WDIA (the Memphis R&B radio station that helped introduce black culture to white listeners), songs that pilloried Reagan and the Reagan ‘revolution’, that gave some sense of what life was like for working class Americans, songs that were above all songs and not just retreads of the Byrds or … or… whoever you care to mention. Again, I think it was that punk, or post-punk, fuelled energy that gave them an edge that for me some of their contemporaries in the Paisley Underground, however fine, lacked.

Looking at these tracks on YouTube, and it’s amazing isn’t it how it allows one to see even a taste of the entirety of a musical experience in a way that was simply impossible even a decade ago, what I find remarkable is how good they were. In a parallel universe they’d have been huge. And even in this one, to some, they are.

Looking for Lewis and Clark

Lights of Downtown

I had a Dream (from the first album, but – hey, it’s a limited selection on YouTube)

I want you bad

State of My Union (live)


1. This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Mazzy Star « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - March 24, 2012

[…] been TWIBMLTs done previously about bands from the Paisley Underground to date (Green on Red , The Long Ryders ) and today its another one in the recently reformed Mazzy Star (they play the Forbidden Fruit […]


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