It was 1988 or 89 that I first heard the Cowboy Junkies Trinity Session, while a grad student in Arizona, and like many people, I was knocked out. (I did have one friend refer to it as "boring," but in an almost apologetic way, as if she knew that hers was an unpopular minority opinion, at least among my circle.) "Sweet Jane" was/is a killer song, of course, but I grew to love a lot of the record just as much, with songs like "Walking After Midnight" and "Misguided Angel." I gave a copy to Uzee -- a casette! Remember those? -- as we were just starting to date, and she loved it too.
Subsequently we bought a few more records, with mixed results. I really like Miles From Our Home and Pale Sun Crescent Moon, but am much less crazy about Open. Somehow I managed to altogether miss Lay It Down, which -- according to Amazon commenters anyway -- seems to be widely regarded as their best album.
I bring up the Junkies because we've just bought a 5-disc set called The Nomad Series, which is available on Amazon for a ridiculously low price, and because Uzee and I are scheduled to see them in Northampton, at the Iron Horse, about a week after we relocate to Massachusetts. (Things like this will, we hope, make our adieu from Hawaii a little easier than it might otherwise be.) The Nomad series is a set of four albums released over 18 months, which is a prodigious amount of work by anyone's standards, and the kind of output you more commonly see from fresh young bands just starting out rather than rock & roll veterans who might be expected to rest on their accomplishments. The accompanying booklet explains that the band, not ablt to decide which direction to move in for their next album, instead decided to release four albums, and imposed the 18-month limit on themsleves in order to prevent the project from just meandering away.
I've listened to three of the five abums so far (there a bonus disc of "extras" thrown into the package) and they're terrific. I particularly like Demons, a set of songs by Vic Chestnutt (whom I knew nothing about before thise), and Sing in My Meadow, which is pretty fuzzy and grungy and raucous.
Taken together, this set is pretty inspiring. As a writer, I've been in print for something like eight years. These guys have been recording and releasing records for three times that long, and they appear to be a long way from running out of ideas. So thanks, guys. I appreciate your verve.
And we'll see you at The Iron Horse.