Keef & Ryan & Taylor—Oh My!

I love it when genre lines get blurred.

This weekend I watched the engrossing Netflix documentary, “Keith Richards: Under The Influence”. The film explores the rock god’s biggest guitar heroes, focusing on how they shaped his own unique style and the Rolling Stones shape-shifting rock & roll. It’s no mystery that Richards got his start kneeling at the altar of the blues, but it was fascinating to see how country music began to take hold in the late 60s. Just as Muddy Waters had been a compass in the early years, psychedelic troubadour Gram Parsons is credited with helping open Richards’ eyes to twang just as The Stones were being exposed to American culture at large. The result can be heard on songs like “Wild Horses,” “Dear Doctor” and “Far Away Eyes”—among others. The new Keith Richards solo album, “Crosseyed Heart,” is pretty great by the way. It’s more blues than country, but all Keef through and through (including some reggae, for good measure).

Ryan Adams’ also released his much-hyped song-by-song cover of Taylor Swift’s “1989” this week. This one was even more satisfying when it comes to genre-bending. Ryan Adams is a former Alt Country wunderkind who has released a staggering volume of solo material since he left his band Whiskeytown 15 years ago. Adams has never been one to shy away from wearing his influences on his sleeve, but news of the Taylor Swift homage almost seemed like a hoax when it first hit the internet. What’s especially great is that Swift is herself a former country star who has fully transitioned into mainstream pop in the last few years. So to have Ryan Adams cover her entire album, mostly in a stripped-down Bruce Springsteen kinda way, well…it was a good week for blurring the lines. And a great week for new music. Especially the kind played with guitars.

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

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