There are many curiosities that have taken up residence in my digital music files, a fact that delights Odd, my imaginary tunehead assistant who loves things unconventional, edgy and just plain weird. (His tunehead brother Pop, on the other hand, likes a more orderly musical universe, one in which a record makes the charts or, at worst, sounds like it could have.)
One series of CDs that Odd finds pleasing is the Pickin’ On . . . albums. As Tim Sendra of All Music Guide says, the idea is simple: “Get together some hot bluegrass pickers and let them loose on an album’s worth of songs by a huge rock band or artist.” A good share of the fun, Sendra says, comes from “hearing familiar AOR staples being deconstructed and rebuilt bluegrass style.”
Somehow, over the past few years, I’ve accumulated nine of the albums, featuring the songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Neil Young; Pink Floyd; Bruce Springsteen; the Allman Brothers Band; the Doobie Brothers; the Eagles; and the Grateful Dead. At AMG, the discography of the Pickin’ On . . . series starts with the first of two albums of music of the Dead, released in 1997, and ends more than a hundred albums later – having expanded far beyond the limitations of rock – with a 2007 album of tunes from Cowboy Troy. In between, in addition to the artists that are covered in my collection, the pickers visit the music of Garth Brooks, Santana, Aerosmith, Sheryl Crow, Creed, Merle Haggard, U2, Brad Paisley, Rod Stewart and many, many more.
In his commentary at AMG, Sendra notes, “Bluegrass purists no doubt find this concept to be a sellout of the worst kind, but more easygoing fans of the style and fans of weird concepts in general will find much to enjoy.”
The phrase “weird concepts in general . . .” makes Odd grin here in the EITW studios.
Sendra also notes, “It must have been a daunting task to arrange Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” It sounds like it, but I like the result. So, of course does Odd. (Pop will get over it.)
So here, from the 1999 album Pickin’ on Springsteen, is bluegrass “Born to Run,” today’s Saturday Single.