#507 – January 8, 2014 Playlist

Wednesday MidDay Medley
TEN to NOON Wednesdays – Streaming at KKFI.org
90.1 FM KKFI – Kansas City Community Radio
Produced and Hosted by Mark Manning

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Birthday Tribute to Iris DeMent

1. Iris DeMent -“Mama’s Opry”
from: Infamous Angel / Warner Brothers / 1992 / 1993

2. Iris DeMent – “Mama Was Always Tellin’ Her Truth”
from: Sing The Delta / Flariella / Oct. 2, 2012
[Iris Dement previewed many of her new songs when she was in concert with husband Greg Brown, for their 11-11-11 show at The Folly Theatre to benefit St. Mark Child and Family Development Center. Now those songs are part of her brand new release that includes a total of 12 new songs. It is her first full-length release of original songs since 1996. The new record has been critically acclaimed by the music press on both sides of the Atlantic.]

Iris DeMent was born January 5, 1961, in rural Paragould, Arkansas. She was the youngest of 14 children. At the age of three, her devoutly religious family moved to California, where she grew up singing gospel music. During her teenage years, Iris was exposed to country, folk, and R&B, drawing influence from Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell.

After a series of jobs as a waitress and typist, Dement wrote her first song at the age of 25. She played open-mic nights in Kansas City, until she moved to Nashville, in 1988, and met producer Jim Rooney, who helped her land a record contract.

Dement made her recording debut in 1992, when her independent label offering, “Infamous Angel” won critical acclaim. Despite a complete lack of support from country radio, the record’s word-of-mouth praise earned her a deal with Warner Bros. records, which reissued “Infamous Angel” in 1993.

10:12 – Influences of Iris DeMent

3. Loretta Lynn & Jack White – “Portland Oregon”
from: Van Lear Rose / Interscope / 2004
[Produced by Jack White of The White Stripes and Racontuers. It was initially intended as a musical experiment, blending the styles of country singer-songwriter Lynn and producer White, who performs on the whole album as a musician. At the time, Lynn was 69 and White was 28. The title refers to Lynn’s origins as the daughter of a miner working the Van Lear coal mines. The album was the most successful crossover music album of Lynn’s 45-year career. At the 2005 Grammy Awards, Lynn won: Best Country Album and Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for her duet with White.]

4. Johnny Cash & Joni Mitchell – “Girl From North Country”
from: The Best of The Johnny Cash TV Show / Columbia Legacy / 2007
[a TV music variety show that ran for 58-episodes from June 7, 1969 to March 31, 1971 on ABC. It featured many folk/country musicians of the time: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Kris Kristofferson, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Merle Haggard, James Taylor and Tammy Wynette. It also featured other musicians such as jazz great, Louis Armstrong, who died 8 months after recording the show. Recorded at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, then home of the Grand Ole Opry. The first show featured Joni Mitchell, Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw, Fannie Flagg and Bob Dylan. The show included a “Country Gold” segment that featured legends never seen on network TV such as Bill Monroe & his Blue Grass Boys. Cash refused to cut the word “stoned” from Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, he stood by his Christian faith “despite network anxieties”, and persisted in bringing on Pete Seeger whose anti-Vietnam song on another network had “caused a firestorm.” He premiered his Man in Black song on an episode filmed at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University’s campus. The show was dumped in 1971 as part of ABC’s so-called “rural purge,” which also claimed that network’s The Lawrence Welk Show.]

5. John Prine w/ Iris Dement – “We’re Not The Jet Set”
from: In Spite Of Ourselves / Oh Boy / 1999
[In 1968 country superstar George Jones witnessed a fight between Tammy Wynette and her husband Don Chapel. At Jones’s urging, Wynette and her daughters drove away with him. Wynette and Jones married Feb. 16, 1969, and Wynette’s 4th daughter, Georgette, was born in 1970. Jones and Wynette, were nicknamed the “President and First Lady” of country music, and they recorded a string of hit duets that seemed drawn directly from their volatile relationship, which resulted in their divorcing in 1975. Their classic recordings included “Two Story House,” “Golden Ring,” and the humorous “(We’re Not) The Jet Set.” ]

6. Loretta Lynn – “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man”
from: Legends of Country Music / Columbis Legacy / 1997
[Live performance for Austin City Limits taped in 1983. Loretta Webb was the second of 8 children; grew up in Butcher Holler, a section of Van Lear, a mining community in Kentucky. Growing up with such humble roots had a huge effect on Lynn’s life and heavily influenced her music as an adult. Her autobiography describes how, during her childhood, the community had no motor vehicles, paved roads, or flush toilets. She married Oliver Vanetta Lynn, known as “Doo,” on Jan. 10, 1948, at age 13. In an effort to break free of the coal mining industry, at 14, Lynn moved to the logging community Custer, Washington, with her husband. The Lynns had 4 children – Betty Sue, Jack Benny, Cissy and Ernest Ray – by the time Loretta was 18, and in her early 20s she then had twin girls, Peggy & Patsy. No stranger to controversy, Loretta Lynn possibly had more banned songs than any other country music artist, prior to The Dixie Chicks, including “Rated X,” about the double standards divorced women face, “Wings Upon Your Horns,” about the loss of teenage virginity, and “The Pill,” lyrics by T. D. Bayless, about a wife and mother becoming liberated via the birth control pill. Her song “Dear Uncle Sam,” released in 1966 during the Vietnam War, describes a wife’s anguish at the loss of a husband to war. It has been included in live performances during the US – Iraq War.]

7. Merle Haggard – “Workin’ Man Blues”
from: Oh Boy Classic Presents Merle Haggard / Oh Boy Records / 2000 [Originally released in 1969, a tribute to a core group of his fans: The American blue-collared working man. Backed by an electric guitar that typified Haggard’s signature Bakersfield Sound, he fills the role of one of those workers expressing pride in values of hard work and sacrifice, despite the resulting fatigue and the stress of raising a large family. Included on Haggard’s 1969 album “A Portrait of Merle Haggard.” Included in this collection on John Prine’s Oh Boy Records.]

10:29 – Underwriting

10:30 – Influences of Iris DeMent

Iris DeMent represents that place in the road, where Country and Folk music merged with honest stories, of working class people, not afraid to tell the truth about the times they are living through. Iris DeMent grew up singing gospel music. During her teenage years she was first exposed to country, folk, and R&B, drawing influence from Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell.

8. Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire”
from: 16 Biggets Hits / Columbia Legacy / 2007
[co-written by June Carter (wife of Johnny Cash) and Merle Kilgore. The song was recorded on March 25, 1963 and became the biggest hit of his career, staying at #1 on the charts for 7 weeks. “Ring of Fire” refers to falling in love – which is what June Carter was experiencing with Johnny Cash at the time. Some sources claim that June had seen the phrase, “Love is like a burning ring of fire,” underlined in one of her uncle A. P. Carter’s Elizabethan books of poetry. She worked with Kilgore on writing a song inspired by this phrase as she had seen her uncle do in the past. In the 2005 film, Walk the Line June is depicted as writing the song while agonizing over her feelings for Cash despite his drug addiction and alcoholism as she was driving home one evening. She had written: “There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns”. Cash claims he had a dream where he heard the song accompanied by “Mexican horns”. Four years after the song was released, Carter and Cash were married which Cash states helped to stop his alcohol and drug addictions. Cash’s daughter, Rosanne has stated, “The song is about the transformative power of love and that’s what it has always meant to me and that’s what it will always mean to the Cash children.]

9. Bob Dylan – “I Shall Be Released”
from: The Essential Bob Dylan / Columbia – Sony / 2000
[Originally recorded October, 1971. ]

10. Joni Mitchell – “For The Roses”
from: For The Roses / Asylumn / 1972
[Released between her 2 biggest commercial and critical successes – “Blue” and “Court & Spark”. In 2007 it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. The title song “For the Roses” was Mitchell’s farewell to the business; she took an extended break for a year after. The album was critically acclaimed with The New York Times saying “Each of Mitchell’s songs on For the Roses is a gem glistening with her elegant way with language, her pointed splashes of irony and her perfect shaping of images. Never does Mitchell voice a thought or feeling commonly. She’s a songwriter and singer of genius who can’t help but make us feel we are not alone.” A nude photograph of Joni Mitchell was included on the inside cover of the original LP and is included in the CD booklet. The photograph shows the singer from the rear and was taken from a considerable distance; she is shown standing on a rock and staring out at the ocean. This created some controversy at the time.]


Iris DeMent’s first three releases on Warner Brothers Records, were all critically acclaimed, she received two Grammy nominations during this time, in the “Folk Music” category. Meanwhile country radio completely overlooked her original songs, and amazing voice, that has been compared to Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. This next set features music from her debut recording, “Infamous Angel,” as well as its follow-up, the autobiographical, “My Life,” released in 1994 and we’ll play from her third Warner Brother’s release, “The Way I Should,” released in 1996, which contains some of Iris DeMent’s most political songs. When Michael Moore spoke at The Uptown Theatre Iris DeMent opened for him, with his favorite song “Wasteland of the Free.” We will play the title track, “The Way I Should.”

11. Iris DeMent – “Our Town”
from: Infamous Angel / Warner Brothers / 1992 / 1993

12. Iris DeMent – “My Life”
from: My Life / Warner Brothers / 1994

13. Iris DeMent – “The Way I Should”
from: The Way I Should / Warner Brothers / 1996
[Produced by Randy Scruggs]

10:55 – Collaborations

14. Nanci Griffith w/Iris – “Ten Degrees and Getting Colder”
from: Other Voices Other Rooms / Elektra / 1993 [written by Gordon Lightfoot]

15. Nanci Griffith w/Iris & Emmylou – “Are You Tired of Me Darling”
from: Other Voices Other Rooms / Elektra / 1993
[High Harmony – Iris / Low Harmony – Emmylou Harris]
[Nanci Griffith’s 10th album. Here she pays homage to other songwriters who have influenced her own career.]

16. Randy Scruggs w/Iris & Emmylou – “Wildwood Flower”
from: Crown of Jewels / Reprise / 1998

17. John McCutcheon w/Iris – “Over The Garden Wall”
from: Sprout Wings and Fly / Rounder / 1997 [written by AP Carter]

18. Gary Kirkland w/Iris – “Just For Me”
from: Shootin’ The Works on Love / Dark Horse / 2003

11:15 – Collaborations

19. Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band w/Iris – “I’m Still In Love With You”
from: The Mountain / E – Squared / 1999
[Released February 23, 1999. Songs were written by Earle as a tribute to the founder of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, who had died in 1996.]

20. John Prine w/ Iris – “In Spite of Ourselves”
from: In Spite of Ourselves/ Oh Boy / 1999 [written by John Prine]

21. Tom Russell w/Iris – “Love Abides”
from: The Man From God Knows Where / Hightone / 1999

11:30 – Greg Brown

In the 2002 Iris DeMent did a benefit concert for The Friends of Community Radio at Unity Temple on The Plaza. I remember when Iris asked us if it was okay that she have a musician friend open the concert for her, we agreed because Iris was donated her talent to the cause of community radio. And then she told us that this musician friend was Greg Brown, wh at this point was know all over the country but had never before played KC.

Later that year, on November 21, 2002 Greg married Iris DeMent in a private ceremony in the office of Rev. Sam Mann of St. Mark Church in East KC.

Grammy Nominated Greg Brown is one of the most respected singer songwriters working in music today. He started singing professionally at the age of 18 organizing early folk concerts in New York City, Portland, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. In the 1980s, he worked and toured extensively as musical director for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio program. He also founded his own record label, named Red House Records after a home in which he lived in Iowa.

Greg Brown has release over 30 recordings and has allowed much of his music to be used to raise funds and awareness for environmental and social causes. His songs have been performed by Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, Carlos Santana, Michael Johnson, Ani DiFranco, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Iris DeMent and Joan Baez.

22. Greg Brown w/Iris -“Jacob’s Ladder”
from: Honey in The Lion’s Head / Trailer / 2003

23. Greg Brown – “Bucket”
from: Evening Call / Red House / 2006
[The Washington Post writes, “The singer-songwriter from Iowa has a baritone as rough and chunky as Thanksgiving gravy with the turkey bits still in, and that’s just how his words drip out on his album, “The Evening Call.” on “Whippoorwill” he sing as sweetly as his lover down in Kansas City. That’s his wife, Iris DeMent, and on “Joy Tears,” he tells her, “When you start your singing, honey, the heavens open up with grace.”]

24. Greg Brown – “Let The Mystery Be”
from: Freak Flag / Yep Roc / May 10, 2011
[While recording what was to be his next album lighting hit the studio where he was working, and Greg Brown lost the recordings. Greg, used the experience to turn inward and write more songs that comprise his 24th album: Freak Flag, the title track is all that remains of the lost original album. Greg wrote ten new songs, recording them at Memphis, Tennessee’s legendary Ardent Studios. Produced by Bo Ramsey, the album also includes a cover of Brown’s daughter Pieta’s song ”Remember the Sun.’]


25. Iris DeMent – “Leaning on The Everlasting Arms”
from: True Grit (Sountrack to the Motion Picture) / Nonesuch Records / Dec. 17, 2010
[The musical score for the Coen Brothers new interpretation of the True Grit was created by Carter Burwell. Much of the music was adapted from old public domain gospel hymns. The very last song hear in the film, during the closing credits, is the only piece on the soundtrack that includes vocals. The track is not available on the CD release, but is available if you download the entire album through I-tunes. The song was originally written by Elisha A. Hoffman and Anthony J. Showalter, and originally published in 1887. Copyright is now Public Domain. Iris also included an earlier version of this song on “Lifeline” her 2004 independently released album of protestant gospel hymns, she grew up hearing her mother sing. “Lifeline” does inclue one original song called “He Reached Down” was this song inspired by a sermon delivered by Rev. Sam Mann.]

In his review for WHYY’s Fresh Air, Entertainment Weekly Music Editor – Ken Tucker wrote: “Iris DeMent possesses one of the great voices in contemporary popular music: powerfully, ringingly clear, capable of both heartbreaking fragility and blow-your-ears-back power. Had she been making country albums in the ’70s and ’80s and had more commercial ambition, she’d probably now be considered right up there with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. Instead, she’s lived a contemporary life, a somewhat private life. As she recently told an interviewer, “There’s a lot that goes into life besides songwriting.” And she’s taken her time in composing songs that fit into no genre easily.”

Her new album “Sing The Delta” has received glowing reviews from the UK publication UNcut, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, and was in many Top Ten Lists of KC music affictionados, incl. #1 on our list of The 112 Best Recordings of 2012

26. Iris DeMent – “Livin’ On The Inside”
from: Sing The Delta / Flariella / Oct. 2, 2012
[Her first full-length release of original songs since 1996. Iris was our special guest on our Oct 10, WMM.]

27. Iris DeMent – “Go On Ahead and Go Home”
from: Sing The Delta / Flariella / Oct. 2, 2012
[Iris Dement previewed many of her new songs when she was in concert with husband Greg Brown, for their 11-11-11 show at The Folly Theatre to benefit St. Mark Child and Family Development Center. Now those songs are part of her brand new release that includes a total of 12 new songs. It is her first full-length release of original songs since 1996. The new record has been critically acclaimed by the music press on both sides of the Atlantic.]


28. Noel Coward – “The Party’s Over Now”
from: Noel Coward in New York / drg / 2003 [orig. 1957]

A Personal Note:

I first met Iris DeMent when I was working at Kinko’s at West 39th & Rainbow in 1992. Iris came in to copy a few of her press clipping and on another visit to make her wedding announcements. Later I discovered her as a singer on Late Night with Conan O’Brien were she performed her song “My Life.” Then I ran into her at the old Classic Cup in Westport. I was nervous and shy, but she approached me and asked, “How do I Know You?” Our paths cross many times again and we bumped into each other at a Patti Smith concert in Lawrence.

Iris DeMent played three songs for one of our Big Bang Buffet shows back in 1999, at one of the first “First Fridays,” at the Hobbs Building during Culture Under Fire. She took the stage after an incredible dance performance by David Ollington that ended with his body being absent of all clothing. Iris also did a benefit for Friends of Community Radio in 2002, and for KKFI in 2004, both times Greg Brown joined Iris in concert. We were all surprised when Iris and greg were married just after their 2002 show at Unity Temple on the Plaza.

Iris performed her song, “Wasteland of the Free” on stage at the Uptown to open for Michael Moore, because it was one of his favorite songs. She played with Greg at Community Christian Church before Amy Goodman (of Democracy Now) took the stage. Amy is also a huge fan of Iris. Iris helped raise over $10,000.00 in both benefit concerts she gave for Community Radio. She never took a penny.

One of the biggest reasons Iris did all of these things was because Anne Winter was her friend, and Anne asked Iris. Anne was like that really incredible mentor who challenged us all to rise above life’s mediocrity, and DO something. She challenged us all. But she also LOVED helping to make her friend’s dreams come true. Having Iris play on stage with us at a Big Bang Buffet show was one of those moments for me. Asking me to stage manage at the Michael Moore show at the Uptown Theatre, was another. Inviting me to sing old time hymns with Iris and Anne, and Ike Sheldon of The Wilders, at Iris’s River Market loft was another. Anne helped to make all of these connections. Anne even went on tour with Iris at one point, to support her friend.

Thank you Iris! and thank you Anne! I love you both so very much!

Sources for notes on tracks and interview segments come from: artist’s websites and wikipedia.org and where noted.

Wednesday MidDay Medley in on the web:

Show #507


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