Tom Rush
   
What I Know
   
   

Release Date: February 24, 2009
Produced by: Jim Rooney
Format: CD

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02/18/2009
Bob Olsen


 

What I Know is Tom Rush’s first studio album in about 30 years.  I don’t know where he’s been since “Ladies Love Outlaws”, but (speaking as an old folkie) it’s good to have him back again.   Rush is generally regarded as one of the pioneers in the 'Singer/Songwriter' movement of the early '70s.  A  gifted songwriter in his own right, Tom Rush was always known for being able to pick up on emerging talent  and record their music with his own unique vocal interpretation. Witness - Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game,” Jackson Browne’s “These Days”, and Murray McLaughlin’ “Child’s Song,” which is within my all time top ten songs about growing up. If you haven’t heard these versions on his earlier albums, then hie thee to the nearest download vehicle…trust me, it’s worth it.

What I Know is a wonderful mix of new originals - traditional  folk tunes, pop, and some tunes from “undiscovered” writers.  Let’s hit the standout cuts…”Casey Jones” (not the Grateful Dead version) is a song about a train wreck. It takes on new meaning when you hear the refrain, ”we’re gonna shake it like Chainey (get it?) did.” 

“East of Eden” (written by Jack Tempchin---Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feelin…Already Gone…and (I swear) Ol’ 55)…a beautiful take on immigration, bureaucracy, and attitudes.

“River Song” is a Rush original, a reminiscence and prayer at the same time and just damn pretty and sad with lyrics like ”I’m weary from my wandering, Lord, I’m wounded in the war.“

“What I Know” is a folkie’s retort to “Don’t Know Much about History.” It takes me back about a thousand years to a time when my hair was long (and blonde).

“All A Man Can Do” deals with the issue of returning Vietnam Vets in the sixties when they were treated as lepers.  Now, the hostility is not as overt, we cut their benefits, letting them return to a country where there are limited job opportunities. Rush’s liner notes say it all, ”I hate this war, but the blame should lie in Washington, not on the shoulders of our soldiers.”

“Fall Into the Night” (written by Eliza Gilkyson) is my favorite cut on this album. It is a slice of what happens in a moment or at least what used to happen when true companions are pushed together. BTW, it is a wonderful Nylon string solo by Mark Howard.

“What an Old Lover Knows” is simply this, anyone who can mix a sax and pedal steel cannot be ignored.

“Drift Away” yep, the old Dobie Gray song, is freed from its pop boundaries. This song goes from guilty pleasure to a viable anthem.

I don’t want to think about the prospects of another 30 years without Tom Rush. Most of my generation will have passed on at that point, but it’s not hard to imagine that Rush will still be playing somewhere. Don’t miss this one.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 



 
     
     
     

 

 

   
 
     

 

Copyright 2002-2009 Matthew Rowe.
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