So, I’ll start by saying that I am super stoked these last few days, because Winter seems to finally be drawing to a close, and in a place like North Dakota I feel like no matter how good we have it, no matter how late the cold season came this year, it cannot be gone soon enough. Starting today, the highs appear to be in the 40’s and 50’s, which means all this ugly snow and ice will soon melt away and allow the ground to begin to thaw.
With that thaw comes planting season, and this year at the eld homestead we plan to put down some raised beds and finally plant food crops where in previous years the ground lay fallow under a thick layer of river rock, the unfortunate choice of the property’s previous ownership, no doubt. The missus spent a lot of time last year on her knees, scraping this layer of rock away so we could plant there. We’ll have berry bushes on the sunny side of the garage. Perhaps even crop enough to make some nice berry meads later in the year! Of course, I’m trying to stay optimistic in light of the fact that my current batch’s fermentation had stalled out after just a week and now I’m stuck in a debate on how to get it going again. After about a dozen successful batches, I have my first stall. Something strange happened with that one, I think.
And with the Spring, there is the possibility of flooding. We’ve seen floods here in recent years — once deep enough to put some river-adjacent homes in deep water, and so this week I thought I’d put together a flood-related playlist for Saturday Jams; we have a few choice picks here, so sit back and drown yourselves in the sight and sound of Saturday Jams: Spring Flood Edition.
First of all, it’s hard to make a list of flood-related songs that isn’t heavily loaded with Blues. After all, the birthplace of that genre lies in the Mississippi Delta where flooding was once a yearly occurrence, and inspired many a song, a great deal of them related to the Great Flood of 1927. I just had to have one of those, but I challenged myself to pick outside of that genre for the rest as much as possible.
That being said, our first song isn’t about a flood, but it’s from an album called Flood. One of my favorite songs by a duo who once ran a telephone answering machine that played a different song to callers nearly every week for over twenty years is 1990’s Birdhouse In Your Soul by They Might Be Giants. It’s a whimsical number about a night-light that compares itself to the lighthouse in a painting on the opposite wall.
Our next pick is about a flood in Texas originally written and recorded in 1958 by Blues artist Larry Davis; but this tune turned now legendary Stevie Ray Vaughan from just a guitarist for David Bowie into an international superstar. Here he is, playing live in Austin: nine minutes of your life that’s made completely worthwhile at minute seven, when he begins to solo with the guitar behind his back.
Our next pick is the apocalyptic titular song from the album that Rolling Stone named “the best album of the 1980’s”, even though it was first released in 1979. The Clash’s London Calling imagined so many end-of-the-world scenarios, not the least of which is the rising level of the North Sea, which could cause the River Thames to flood, leaving London under water . . . but in reality, this piece is a cynical look at the fear-mongering 24-hour news cycle which persists to this day.
And finally, last but certainly not least, we have our song about the Great Flood of 1927. Written in 1927 and recorded in ’29 by Memphis Minnie McCoy, Robert Plant had this record in his collection and led Zeppelin to cover it on their 1971 album Led Zeppelin IV — a track that was so heavily produced in the studio that they only ever attempted to play it live a handful times in 1975, and then once more in ’95 when the band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. When the Levee Breaks is a song about the hardships faced by African-American plantation workers during and after the great flood; they were forced to work the levee at gunpoint, and then again in the aftermath of the floodwaters breaching it. Despite this, the video features the explosion of the Hindenburg, a motif that became iconic in Led Zeppelin’s album art.
That’s our playlist this week, I hope you enjoy. I created a playlist of these songs on my YouTube channel, too.
Here’s to warmer times ahead!