We previously brought Wes Youssi to your attention with “Down Low.” Today we’re bringing the singer/songwriter back into your orbit with his specially curated new MAGNET mix tape. Listen and read along below, and be sure to check out Down Low in January.
George Jones & Tammy Wynette, “Livin’ On Easy Street”
Country is so many things, but it often comes back to similar subject matter. Love, loss and hitting the bottle too hard. One of the things I’ve always loved about this particular tune is that the focus is on a relatively new topic—“welfare”—and though I’m sure the songwriter was in a tough spot, the song makes you look at all the bright spots and humor of having to sacrifice for your art. “Living’ On Easy Street” always brightens my day, and I like that it’s a song that addresses circumstances in the present time and with symbology every listener is familiar with.
The Kinks, “Strange Effect”
Everybody has energy, but some people trigger a powerful, almost primitive attraction for us that can be hard to control. While it happens instantly, the feeling is very slow, almost like a drug. I have always loved the way this song conceptually ties that emotional attraction into such a simple tune.
Marty Stuart, “Paint The Town”
The thing I love about country music is that it’s deceptively simple. Often times our human emotions feel complex, but the circumstances are relatively simple when taking a step back to analyze. “Paint The Town” is a term from an older generation, but Marty lets us know how it feels today and why it will always be relevant to a man’s heart. The significance to Marty’s artistry lies in a firm foundation of the history of country music, and at the same time bringing new artistry, emotion and skill to people today. That makes his music extremely important to me. It’s like a lighthouse for those making new music today.
Doug Sahm, “Anybody Going To San Antone”
I have always loved lo-fi music because it feels more “raw.” By no means is Doug’s music considered lo-fi, but for whatever reason, his expression, vocal and presentation always brings the energy of a real honky-tonk bar to the stage. This song was made popular by Charlie Pride, and that version is amazing. What I love is that Doug was able to bring something different and carve out a fresh perspective within the same storyline. As a songwriter and performer, I love examples like this to remind me what is possible with a tune when it connects with an artist. I can feel the Texas air blowing when he describes the “wind whipping down the neck of my shirt.”
KORT, “She Came Around Last Night”
For me, this duo is the modern version of a what I believe the music industry used to produce. A combination of artistry, matched with thoughtful songs, and the experience and street time to earn their stripes. There is no pretense on this album, no nudie suits, just heartfelt stories sung by artists I can believe in. I keep this near at all times.
Harry Nilsson, “Let The Good Times Roll”
Nilsson Schmilsson is an album everyone should own. The songs are great, the production level is best of class, and you get warm feelings after you finish listening. “Let The Good Times Roll” is just pure fun, and when Harry is singing you get a sense by his expression that he is long overdue for some. Simple songs can be undone, when the artist isn’t present in the emotion, so I love this song as an example of how great it can be when someone is in perfect synergy with the music.
Mississippi Fred McDowell, “White Lighting”
Mississippi Fred McDowell is country blues for me. His songs are straight from the heart. His playing is rhythmic, alive and expressive. But to the ear it seems simple (and gives your mind space). I feel like we’re given the real story about why one washes their troubled heart with “White Lighting.” No cute tales of making whiskey in the woods here, or quick hooks. This is the dark side of a heavy mind, and it’s both chilling and beautiful.
John Trudell, “Devil And Me”
I like artists who begin with the words and say what they truly feel. When they get backed into a corner in life, it’s powerful to feel with them through their words. John Trudell is an example how much power words can have. “Devil And Me” gets me lost, wandering and in and out of consciousness much like I feel the songwriter is. I like being in the same place or sharing the same mind for four minutes. This song is where mainstream music cannot go. I find the words to be a genuinely refreshing expression of one’s life in this country.
Reigning Sound, “As Long”
I first heard about Greg Cartwright from a double-disc album called Root Damage. It’s one of those “everyone must own this” albums. Before it was trendy, these guys were down in Memphis writing and singing genuine country and roots songs that feel like something Alan Lomax would have captured. I look for the heart in things, and there’s no shortage of it in this song. It’s raw, it’s straightforward, and for me it’s our country music.
Soledad Brothers, “Mysterious Ways”
When I lived in Detroit I went to see this band every time they played locally. To be in the same room with them was so good that it was practically spiritual. When I bought the album I quickly fell under the influence of “Mysterious Ways” for its tempo, blazing slide guitar and restless vocals. It captures those days where modern industrial life goes into slow motion, and you fall out of time, aware of both past and present histories at the same time. You get the feeling that you might get stuck forever, but the song rocks you back into cognition.