From The Desk Of Glenn Morrow: Arlo Guthrie’s “Gabriel’s Mothers Highway Ballad #16 Blues”

Glenn Morrow is a Hoboken, N.J., music treasure. He owns the influential 31-year-old Bar/None label (Yo La Tengo, They Might Be Giants, Feelies, dB’s, Of Montreal). His bands, such as the Individuals and “a,” have helped put the Mile Square City on the indie-rock map for equally as long. His latest project is Glenn Morrow’s Cry For Help, which has a new self-titled album. Morrow will be guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.

Morrow: When my dad got a car with an eight-track player, I convinced him to buy something to listen to. The choices he provided were McCartney’s debut album and Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. As good as Alice’s Restaurant can be, 40 to 50 listens can drive you crazy, especially if it’s not Thanksgiving. I would grow much fonder of Guthrie’s Washington County (1970). The album is a remarkably eclectic record that never spawned a big hit.

The players are legendary session guys including Clarence White, Chris Ethridge, Doug Dillard and Ry Cooder, with sympathetic production by Lenny Waronker and John Pilla. Amidst a wide array of styles—blue grass, obscure Dylan, Beatles folk—was the album centerpiece: a beautiful acoustic-based song called “Gabriel’s Mother’s Highway Ballad #16 Blues.” It sounds like everyone in the room is loving playing on it and knows just what to add almost instinctually. The end result wraps around the listener like a sonic temple—a place of peace and well-being, bracing out the cold winds of a hostile world.