There’s a special thing that happens when the groove of soul music meets the sharp pen of country music. I’ve heard folks call it Country Soul, Country Funk, Cosmic American Music or simply “The Rub.” I refer to it as Down Home Funk. It keeps the toes tapping and the mind thinking. The special blend is a sound I gravitated towards a few years ago and it really made its way into my new record, Better Hurry Up. — Caleb Caudle
Guy Clark – “Texas Cookin’”
Guy comes out swingin’ on his sophomore record with the funkiest rhythm to any of his tunes up to that point. It’s so greasy and I’m hungry just listening to it right now. Long live food in songs!
Bill Withers – “Grandma’s Hands”
Drenched with nostalgia, this is one of my favorite tunes from Mr. Withers. He puts his personal experiences in a songs and something personal becomes so relatable. It gets me thinking about my own grandma. I’m a sucker for that Wurlitzer.
Bobbie Gentry – “Louisiana Man”
The first time I heard this tune was on a Doug Kershaw record. I love how she makes it her own. She has one of my very favorite voices. Even got a little bitty muskrat cousin! Bless it.
The Band – “Up on Cripple Creek”
I mean who am I kidding? This whole playlist could be The Band. They changed the way I heard music. They take every brand of roots music and blend it up effortlessly and effectively. God bless Levon Helm and all of his magic. I’ve touched the horseshoe at Big Pink on three separate occasions. It’s a healthy obsession.
Jeannie C. Riley – “Back Side of Dallas”
I got turned on to this tune from the Cocaine & Rhinestones three-parter on “Harper Valley PTA.” I love the vocal delivery here. Total swagger. The band is bold and the lyrics are gritty. Just feels real man, I dig it.
JJ Cale – “Lies”
His groove is so perfect, I feel like he drops the listener right into it. His guitar tone is always so on point. I’ve spent way too much time watching YouTube videos and trying to figure out what all is going on. Lies, Lies, Lies!
Townes Van Zandt – “Where I Lead Me”
I like sad TVZ a lot but I love TVZ when he has a chip on his shoulder and a blues band behind him. Everything feels nice and loose. I’ve always loved the line “In the meantime, make a little money and buy a little mercy”
Aretha Franklin – “The Weight”
As much as I love the original from The Band, I consider this the definitive version. The band is great, especially that slide work from Brother Duane. She is peaking the mic all over this one and it’s just so perfect.
Bobby Charles – “Small Town Talk”
Being from a small town, this one hits home. I love this Bobby Charles self-titled record. I hope more folks get turned on to it. The whole record sounds like a ferry ride down the Mississippi River. Who are we to judge one another? That could cause a lot of hurt.
Dolly Parton – “Jolene”
What hasn’t been said about this tune? I think the greatness comes from it still sounding fresh to this day. The riff, the vocal, the lyrics… this is a perfect song. I’m sure it really stood out on country radio at the time. It’s haunting. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know this song.
Leon Russell – “Tight Rope”
Like The Band, I’m sure I could have made this whole playlist the master of space and time. He’s peculiar and familiar at the same time. I like the way this one bounces. A great opening track for my favorite record of his, Carney.
Linda Ronstadt – “Willin’”
I was familiar with the Little Feat version because it was all over classic rock radio when I was growing up. I recently got turned on to this take, I really love how patient it is. Great vocal take from Linda.
Photo credit: Laura E. Partain