A Weird Story About Zane Campbell

The Washington Post profiles an old failed punk rocker turned failed but also kind of exalted country artist Zane Campbell. There’s also a video well worth watching.

This is a big ol’ shaggy dog story involving musical history, the Ramones, drugs, drinking, notebooks and a voice that the writer gushes about. It’s also tough to judge from the video if the artist the writer describes deserves the attention. But he rewards, even if he isn’t actually worthy.

To judge that I went to hear his music, something the video avoids.

I’ve now sampled a lot of his country stuff. I didn’t find album cuts, there aren’t any on Google Music, but there’s lots of poorly recorded live videos. I don’t know, I think I get why the video stays away from his song.

The 2015 album the article admires is available on Spotify, if you want to give some better produced tracks a try. It’s a better presentation, but the awkward breathing mars the singing, and weird pauses disrupt the flow of the songs. Campbell’s history is a checkered one, he freely admits, and it is reflected in the polish of these songs. It isn’t like they need to be slicker, but they should be more integral, more bewitching, instead of sounding like a man fighting to keep up. I liked the Post story better before I heard them.

3 thoughts on “A Weird Story About Zane Campbell

  1. I like him a whole lot more than ALL of the country shit I’ve heard in the last 30 years. I like about ten country songs, no, more like 20, and they’re all completely predictable: Stand By Your Man, Flowers on the Wall, I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry, like that. Actually my favorite country song is Sweet Virginia, which ain’t exactly “authentic” – or at least what the author and apparently Zane himself seem to consider authentic. I mean, so what? Maybe Zane Campbell isn’t authentic. He has a full set of teeth. This shouldn’t need to be said but authentic is in the heart, not the geography or the race or the era.

    And actually, Zane reminds me often of Sweet Virginia. It also reminds me of this, a Pandora fave that rocks in its way. And it’s funny.

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