Charity and benefit tribute albums are a dime a dozen, and unfortunately it sometimes feels that the extent of the contribution one is making to the named charity is about that much- a dime. “A portion of the proceeds…,” “the artist royalties will be donated…,” and “$1.00 from every album sold…” are phrases that are sometimes associated with such endeavors, and no matter the positive intentions of those behind the project, one wonders how much money actually makes its way toward worthy endeavors.
Okay, so I’m a bit jaded.
I first heard of Slim Dunlap about two months ago. Somehow I tripped across an online story about the fundraising 45s that were released over the past year to support The Replacements’ guitarist following the severe stroke he suffered in early 2012.
I don’t believe I’ve ever- to this day- heard a song by The Replacements, although of course I’ve heard of the band.
Given my propensity toward impulse buying, I wasn’t surprised when I walked out of HMV last weekend with the compilation album Songs for Slim: Rockin Here Tonight- A Benefit Compilation for Slim Dunlap. The double album compiles the 9 auction-only, fundraising 45s along with 10 additional unreleased bonus tracks. 28 tracks in all, a pretty generous, and- when one reads the notes and the backstory- obviously heartfelt benefit. Despite the presence of Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, John Doe, and a few other familiar names, what convinced me to shell-out cash for a benefit album (featuring largely artists I don’t know) for someone I had only passing knowledge?
The statement on the back: “All proceeds go to the Slim Dunlap Fund http://www.SongsforSlim.com.” No weasel words about ‘a portion of’ or ‘in support of’. Nope, All! (I do hope that means HMV isn’t adding a cut to what gets turned over to New West Records for the Slim Dunlap Fund.)
I listened to the album today and yesterday, and a very enjoyable collection of music it is. Some tracks rockin’, some rootsy; most I liked, a couple I’ll skip next time. That’s okay. Again, I don’t know anything about Slim Dunlap beyond what I read somewhere late last year and what is included in the liner notes. I only know I enjoyed this album, and the fact that I did a (admittedly) little to help out, makes it all the better.
Of all the songs, the one that connected most with me was Patterson Hood & the Downtown Ramblers’ take of “Hate This Town.” One listen, and I knew it was destined to be my Roots Song of the Week.
The song is instantly familiar, capturing the dueling disdain and affection we (or, at least many of us. Some of us? Okay, that I) have for our hometown. Utilizing the clarity of a dream, the protagonist sees a version of his hometown that may be closer to what it actually was than his jaded memory of it allows him to recall. Or, maybe he has just matured to a point where he is able to allow nostalgia to slip in under the cover of sleep. It is a poignant journey, one that challenges the listener to consider personal memories of youth- was it really that bad, or have I made it out to be worse? What would have happened had I stuck around?
I used to hate this town back when I lived here,
But in my dreams I don’t hate this town
Thinkin’ I’m lucky I lived here.
Conciseness that speaks volumes of regrets, missed opportunities, and youthful arrogance.
Patterson Hood lays out a brilliant little performance. It is worth seeking out, and given the quality of the entire package, Songs for Slim: Rockin Here Tonight- A Benefit Compilation for Slim Dunlap is an album well worth buying.
Even if, like me, you have no connection to Slim Dunlap. You’ll feel better about yourself. More info at http://www.songsforslim.com/
“Hate This Town” is my Roots Song of the Week. I couldn’t locate a clip of Hood’s version, so just go buy it. Dunlap’s performance of the song is here.
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee.