In 1987, the year that the Twinkies from Minnesota won the world series despite only winning 85 games in the regular season, John Hiatt hit some long-awaited success with his February released album entitled Bring The Family. Hiatt and a backing band that consisted of such musicians as Ry Cooder (ranked the 8th best guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone), Nick Lowe (of punk rock fame), and Jim Keltner (a session drummer who worked with different Beatles on their solo projects), hit the charts with numerous hits and propelled Hiatt to a following nine albums on the Billboard top 200 charts. Now, I am sure some of you may be thinking who the heck is John Hiatt and how did he compile such a band. Well, what if I was to tell you that he is a recipient of the 2008 AMA Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting and that his songs have been covered by too many artists to list on this post. How did he compile the band? Well, the band was surely excited to have the oppurtunity to play with a legend.
Hiatt, similar to a guy like Bob Dylan, has played numerous different styles of music. Another performer who decided not to find his own niche. He has explored New Wave, Country, and Blues. Possibly, because he could not settle into a style, he has been under appreciated by the masses. I am sure many of you have not heard a song performed by him but have heard songs written by him and performed by other artists. He is one musician who is simply respected by all musicians and therefore has been honored with several Grammy nominations and a stockpile of awards from the music industry.
http://www.webhostingpal.com/jdv/html/covers.htm Copy that website into your browser (well open up a new Tab first) and go to it. Yes, right now. Take a look off to the right. See that tremendous list. Those are all his songs that have been covered by other artists. Understand now why so many people in the business respect. Heck, most of them have performed one of his songs.
Hiatt, after a rough childhood (his brother committed suicide at the age of 21 and his father died two years later after a long sickness) turned to Elvis and Dylan and the Blues for some relief. He picked up the guitar at 11 years old and started his music career as a teenager. At eighteen he got a job in Nashville, Tennessee as a songwriter. Yet, since he could not read scores, he was forced to record over 250 songs for the company. His body of work is huge.
I believe the best way to describe his lyrical prowess would be through taking his two most covered songs and exploring what makes the lyrics so great. “Feels Like Rain,” off of his 1988 album Slow Turning has been covered by eight musicians, including the great Buddy Guy and “Have a Little Faith in Me,” off of his 1987 album Bring in the Family has been covered by eighteen (EIGHTEEN) artists including Joe Cocker and Kenny Rogers.
In “Feels Like Rain,” I particularly like the end of the song which chronicles two lovers in a rain storm. It is kind of similar to everyone’s favorite Christmas rape song “Baby it’s Cold Outside,” but this actually is pretty loving. The lyrics are below:
We’ll never make that bridge tonight
Across lake Ponchartrain
Feel like rain
Batten down the hatches
But keep your heart out on your sleeve
A little bit of stormy weather, that’s no cause for us to leave
Just stay here baby, in my arms
Let it wash away the pain
I love the beautifuly symbolism of the rain washing away any heart ache. It also represents love which comes out of nowhere. The song mentions that love comes like a Hurricane and while these things do past what can stay the same is his love staying with him through all the rain.
“Have a Little Faith in Me,” is a similar concept on love
“Have a little faith in me
When your secret heart
Cannot speak so easily
Come here darlin’
From a whisper start
To have a little faith in me
And when your back’s against the wall
Just turn around and you will see
I will catch, I will catch your fall baby
Just have a little faith in me”
Here the simple message is have some faith in me and we can have a stable love. A stable love for a stable musician whose work just continues to get larger and better as the years go on.
“Have A Little Faith in Me”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UkKTlzyLhQ
“Feels Like Rain”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTUTKkxw94A