Folk Pioneer Delivers Real Early Christmas Present For Music Fans

Christmas arrived exactly eleven months early this year, or it could be a bonus from the noel that just passed four weeks before. Whichever way you look at it, the gift that was presented on January 25 was quite welcome.

Much revered folk singer John Gorka delivered a brand new studio album on that date, his first record in over three years. His rich baritone and his intelligent songwriting will serve to warm up his fans for the rest of the winter.

The new disc, which is titled True In Time, could be his finest collection of songs since Old Futures Gone from 2001. It has Gorka’s characteristic blend of humorous observations, heart-wrenching ballads, and nostalgic imagery throughout over a dozen songs.

Among the most humorous is “The Body Parts Medley”, which includes wordplay on physical features from the toes to the feet to the calves. His list ends, appropriately, with the rear end.

After referring to his caboose as a burrito and a beer butt, Gorka then applies that feature of the body as a metaphor for people.

“Some butts get lost in poker games, some butts end up in slings,” he quips. “Some butts become Presidents who wish that they were kings.”

While such political statements are not typical of Gorka’s songs, True In Time certainly includes plenty of themes characteristic of his thirty year career. One of those, tributes to past performers ranging from B.B. King to Judy Garland to Elvis Presley, can be found in several of the selections on the new album.

“Pearl and Iris” pays homage to all of the unknown folks in the music world, people who influenced Bill Monroe, Lester and Earl, A.P. Carter, Johnny Cash, and Bob Dylan. Other noteworthy performers, Charley Patton and Robert Johnson, are mentioned in “Blues with a Rising Sun.”

It was an old song which Gorka used for the chorus of “Tattooed”, a lyrical description of prolonged uneasiness. The old standard has been around forever, its most well known versions by Woody Guthrie and the Kingston Trio.

“Worried Man Blues is the song that comes to mind,” Gorka song in the refrain.

Of course, no Gorka album would be complete without tunes about love, both consummated as well as unrequited. The latter comes with a Mennonite girl and again in “Fallen For You”, while the former serves as the basis for ” Crowded Heart.”

Joining Gorka are some of his favorite peers from the folk music scene, such as Eliza Gilkyson and Lucy Kaplansky, two women who have provided gorgeous harmonies since his early days in the Eighties. Jonatha Brooke and Kathleen Johnson also make appearances, giving fans even more reasons to appreciate this early (or slightly belated) Christmas surprise.

Three Word Song Titles That Resemble Sandwiches

Host Alex Trebek had to provide additional information for a vague category on a recent episode of the game show Jeopardy, so he explained that each clue was looking for a three word song title. Two of those three words, however, are the same, with one at the beginning and the other at the end of the title.

The various clues led to well known songs, such as “Time After Time” by Cyndi Pauper and “One On One” by Hall and Oates. Later in the category came “Fly Robin Fly” by the Silver Convention and “On and On” by Stephen Bishop. Billy Preston, one of the few musicians to record with both The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, had the fifth answer with his hit “Nothing From Nothing.”

Here are fifteen other less popular songs that could have been more challenging had they been included in that category, three word titles that start and end with the same word. Since Wilco has two such songs, “War On War” and the title track from the Sky Blue Sky album, they have been excluded.

Never Say Never by Styx

Cornerstone spawned bigger hits like “Babe” and “Why Me”, but this track is one of the standouts from that album.

Day By Day from Godspell

As if the song from the hit musical needed any stronger case for immortality, Homer sings a memorable version throughout an episode of The Simpsons.

My Oh My by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

Few songs titles are made up of just a pronoun and an interjection, so the modern duo pulled off quite a feat a few years ago.

Run Joey Run by David Geddes

Joey is the target of a displeased father, but the bullet ends up hitting and killing his daughter instead.

Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue

The quaint title seems to belie the heavy music typical of the popular metal band.

Hand In Hand by Elvis Costello

It is not the love song indicated by its name, but it is one of the most endearing tracks from This Year’s Model.

Ashes To Ashes by David Bowie

Major Tom’s fate is updated on this hit, and its creepy video, from Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.

Face the Face by Pete Townshend

For his fourth solo effort the Who guitarist went in a completely different direction, and this was the first single from White City.

Heart To Heart by Ambrosia

Joe Puerta and David Pack serve up a country-tinged duet on this cut from Life Beyond L.A.

Livin’ Ain’t Livin’ by Firefall

Not as well-known as “Strange Ways” or “Just Remember I Love You”, this sandwich title song remains on all of the band’s greatest hits collections.

People Are People by Depeche Mode

Although I can certainly think of exceptions to the statement, it has endured as the group’s most recognized hit.

Black Is Black by Los Bravos

No gray area exists, according to this huge hit from 1970.

Begin the Begin by REM

Appropriately this tune starts the Georgia-based band’s fourth record, Life’s Rich Pageant.

Why Oh Why by Woody Guthrie

Aside from his many political and talking blues songs, Guthrie wrote many catchy kids tunes like this one.

Dog Eat Dog by Ted Nugent

Before Cat Scratch Fever the rocker sang about the other domestic pet on his second album, Free For All.