Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If you like Justin Townes Earle, thank Dr. John

Maybe it's the horns. Since his last album, Justin Townes Earle (Steve Earle's son, for those keeping score) has mellowed and, well, funkified. In an eclectic-influences-from-New-Orleans kind of way.

Listen to "Baby's Got a Bad Idea," from last month's Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now:

If you're familiar with Dr. John, the godfather of the unique pastiche of blues, funk, R&B and second-line brass marching band that he dubs "voodoo music," then no further explanation is needed. Earle's track is a study at the feet of the master.

But if you're less familiar with the musical institution that is Dr. John, listen to this 2009 live version of one of his best-known tracks, "Iko Iko":

(Or better yet, get on the Spotify and listen to the original album version of that song, technically a cover of an old 1950s Bo Didley-style blues, one that he has all but co-opted and made his own after 40 years of playing it.)

Hear it? The horns, of course. The adventurous, improvised stride piano. The funky rhythm. The bluesy growl of his voice. All a direct inspiration for the Justin Townes Earle track.

Dr. John has a new album out this week, too, produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, (which I mention only to demonstrate that the hipsters appreciate this legend as much as the legends do.) There's a nice little in-studio preview here.

But in the meantime, remember: if you like the new Justin Townes Earle, thank Dr. John.

No comments: