Willie Nelson, Beck, Lisa Loeb, Swing
Separated at Beck: Some of you may have caught Willie Nelson’s appearance last week on “The Tonight Show” where he held the stage with one of LA’s most original artists, Beck. There’s an interesting story behind that collaboration and behind that whole night in general. Put into perspective by Mark Rothbaum, Willie’s manager, the two stars performance comprised but one segment of a night in which Willie had all the musical generations covered. For some background, Willie’s and Beck’s first collaboration was Willie’s appearance in the video to Beck’s song “Jack-ass.” The two found a link in the figure of country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers. Beck, it turns out, is a huge Jimmie Rodgers fan and a fan of all traditional country music. Well, Willie had recorded the Rodgers song “Peach Pickin’ Time Down in Georgia” on the recent Jimmie Rodgers tribute album. And so when Willie booked them on the Tonight Show to promote their appearances at the upcoming Farm Aid, it was only natural that they play the very same, “Peach Pickin’ Time.” Immediately after playing “The Tonight Show,” where they were backed by an eclectic group of musicians including producer Don Was on bass, Willie had to go off and play a Gene Autry 90th birthday tribute. The circle is completed in that perhaps Autry’s most profound musical influence was Jimmie Rodgers. So Willie, whom you could call “The Singing Central-Texas-Country-Hippie,” in the course of a night went from covering “The Singing Brakeman” with “The Half-singing, Half-rapping, Half-sampling L.A. Guy” to play at a benefit for “The Singing Cowboy.” Sources tell me that Nelson thinks “very, very highly” of Beck. The two evidently enjoyed playing together a hell of a lot so don’t be too shocked if at some time you again hear the two names in the same breath. Of course, Jimmie Rodgers’ specialty was yodeling, which Rothbaum said made the Beck/Willie collaboration especially poignant because “of the two of them, Willie won’t yodel.”
Eyeful, earful, and hopefully not awful: On a recent tour of Europe with the Counting Crows, bespectacled indie rocker Lisa Loeb met television’s “The Nanny,” Fran Drescher. Evidently the two hit it off in a New Yo-wahk minute and next thing you know, Loeb’s guest starring on that singularly terrible CBS show this season. She plays the assistant to Bobbi Flekman, Drescher’s character from Spinal Tap, who is making a return. The show’s set to run on October 15. Furthermore, Loeb just finished filming Serial Killing for Dummies which will co-star Texan Thomas Haden Church of TV’s “Wings” and “Ned and Stacy” fame. A dark comedy, the film is expected to hit festivals next year. And for your earful of Loeb, she has a new album coming out November 11. It’s called Firecracker and its first single, “I Do,” will start getting airplay just about … now.
On the Record: Swing music’s revival is no secret. In fact it’s a bludgeoning shout in every club in every city in Texas. That said, a couple of new swing albums recently crossed my desk: The Merchants of Venus’ Who Knew (self-produced) and Asleep at the Wheel’s Merry Texas Christmas Y’all (High Street Records). The loungy sound of Austin’s Merchants is actually pretty