Theodore Gracyk

What I Listened To in 2001


The Roches, We Three Kings   
MCA, 1990

Bah, humbug. But if I have to listen to Christmas music, this is my top choice. It kicks off with a sacrilegious rendition of Handel's "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" and breathes new life (thanks to dissonant harmonies and a New York City attitude) into a batch of otherwise stale  --oops, timeless-- songs.    12/25/01

The Band, Moondog Matinee
Capital, 1973, digital remaster 2001

Cover versions inspired them to make their most relaxed and underrated album. For the first and only time in their career, it's all about the singing and the playing, never about anyone's ego. "The Third Man Theme" is just plain fun, while "Share Your Love" and "A Change is Gonna Come" are their two most heartbreaking ballad performances. Of the newly added tracks, "What am I Living For" keeps drawing me back.      12/18/01

Dolly Parton, The Grass is Blue
Sugar Hill, 1999

Before O Brother Where Art Thou brought bluegrass to the masses, Dolly was already ahead of the game. A sweet, rueful version of "I Still Miss Someone." A piercing urgency graces "Silver Dagger," while "Train, Train" is an archetypal train song. 12/15/01

Bill Evans, Conversations With Myself
Verve 1963, digital remaster 1997

Jazz pianist Evans, featured to such great effect on Miles Davis's Kind of Blue, presents an innovative studio set dominated by three Thelonious Monk tunes as Evans overdubs improvisational interplay with himself. I especially like "Blue Monk."   12/04/01

Lucinda Williams, Essence   
Lost Highway 2001

Despite the Grammy, I was disappointed by Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, which seemed stiff and overworked. This one was tossed off quickly and some of it sounds unfinished. But Charlie Sexton's guitar textures nicely complement the songs, and much of it has the same dreamlike, talking-out-loud quality as her earlier cover version of Nick Drake's "Which Will." But it's not all slow: "Get Right With God" has such an infectious New Orleans groove that I didn't recognize its religious theme until my fourth hearing.       

Aretha Franklin, Young, Gifted and Black
Atlantic Records 1972, Rhino records CD 1993

One of her most soulful albums. The Queen of Soul presents the Beatles' "The Long and Winding Road" as a spiritual and "First Snow in Kokomo" is one of her most personal tunes. Not to mention two of her best singles, "Day Dreaming" and "Rock Steady."   12/1/01

Rodney Crowell, The Houston Kid   
Sugar Hill Records 2001

I guess it's a come-back album. The obvious highlight is his brash incorporation/rewrite of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" into his reminisce of the first time he heard Johnny on the car radio. But most of the rest of this stark, largely acoustic album is nearly as good.  11/28/01


New Order, "Ceremony" 
Factory single, February 1981

I walked into a record store in Davis in 1981, heard this, and immediately bought it. After September 11, 2001, I had an urge to hear this song again. It stayed on my turntable for a month. The opening line: "This is why events unnerve me." A nagging guitar and rising sense of tension. The emotional kick comes in the middle: "Oh, I'll break them down, no mercy shown/Heaven knows, it's got to be this time." There is no emotional resolution.


What I Listened to in 2005 

What I Listened to in 2004 

What I Listened to in 2003 

What I Listened to in 2002 



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