Monday, 30 March 2009

Katie Cruel: The Sound of American loneliness and melancholy


I have been listening to a lot of American folk / folk blues recently. This one song struck out of the crowd for being accompanied by a rather nagging feeling of loneliness. Katie Cruel is a fine example of mid-century American folk music. Karen Dalton had Cherokee descent and died in extreme poverty. All this makes that nagging feeling worse. The song conveys the feelings of loneliness of the settlers in southern developments. One can almost feel a link with the exploration of the West, especially the Gold Rush and people's assiduous attempts at making it in life by means of discovery of a significant gold ore. 

It is the loneliness that Huck Finn feels as he sails down the Mississippi, it is a certain feeling of alienation in the face of a town that doesn't want Katie anymore: "When I first came to town / They called me the roving jewel / Now they've changed their tune / They call me Katie Cruel". Even more so, it is a song about regret. Katie can have done something that turned the townspeople against her. 

Karen Dalton seems like the female version of Django Reinhardt, except that Django had no vocals in his music. She also bears links to Mexican-American singer Hope Sandoval, who I very much like too. 

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