The Final Five Best Fly Fishing CD’s of 2009

| December 31, 2009

wrinkle neck mules

Now that the pain of honorable mentions, and ties for places in the TFC Top Ten are over, it’s clear sailing to a number one CD that is, I kid you not, a modern American classic, and would rank in the top five of CD’s of the decade.

At number five is is Todd Snider – “The Excitement Plan”. This is another late comer to my ears, and while someone like Jay Farrar drones his lyrics for hypnotic-stream-of-consciousness effect, Todd, my buddy Todd, is right up front and wants you to taste and swill every word. Imagine someone like Jimmy Buffett or Kris Kristofferson settling in to tell the song and sing the story at the same time. Snider sinks his teeth into plenty of current social commentary, and stays just musical enough to keep you from squirming too hard from your own pain, or guilt over other’s misfortunes. He is more than willing to make an example of himself as a slacker, just on the other side of the law. Perhaps, if you have to listen to just one song, try “America’s Favorite Pastime” – about Doc Ellis pitching a no hitter on LSD. Then there’s “Corpus Christi Bay”, a song about two brothers and their lifestyles that went separate ways. If you are familiar with the “Island way”, you will recognize one of the brother’s lifestyles crystal clear. The coup de gras is “Money, Compliments, Publicity (song number 10)”.

Coming in at number four is Bob Dylan – “Together Through Life”. Dylan has been honing this sound for a few releases, and now it is mastered. No one has this sound, and I bet no one else could pull it off. Everyone I talk to struggles through this CD once, and gives up. I can’t find a single person who has listened to it twice. There’s the rub. This is one of those releases that needs to be de-corked and aired out. Play it again, and again. Let it rest awhile, and come back for more. Soon enough, you will drink the whole bottle and be left wanting more. I have little doubt that now that he has perfected this sound, he will abandon it for some new venture, a new labor to find a new sound, and he will drag us all along for the years it takes to get there. What a great ride so far. It’s all good.

In at number three is Wrinkle Neck Mules – “Let the Lead Fly”. The opening line, “Don’t just stand there. Raise your guns, and let the lead fly”, says it all. This is mountain honey – banjo, fiddle and a good heavy beat all make for a CD that easily finishes first if the next two artists had taken a year off. It doesn’t really sound like what I imagine to be bluegrass, but they have this loose, impromptu jam sound that takes you in and leaves you wanting more. Their sound turns on a dime, and the band is deep in talent. It’s hard to imagine where this band ends up, but with maturity and the grace of more years playing and touring together, you will be hearing about them in mainstream conversations in the not too distant future. Try listening to “Pleasure is the Absence of Pain”, and see what you think.

The funnel to the top gets tight, and I am indulging my well known weakness by choosing Wilco – “(The Album)” as the number two CD in the 2009 TFC Top Ten countdown. As hard as I tried to push them down the ladder, this release just sticks with you. It’s not like it’s “poppy”, or loaded with hooks. It’s just loaded with very good, well crafted songs. We saw them a few months ago, and they are the most accessible band I have ever seen. Jeff Tweedy has completely woven his personality into the show, and everyone benefits from it. If you were a doubter, or have never seen Wilco, one of the first things that you would probably say to yourself is, “Who does that singer think he is”? Then, you realize he’s talking with the crowd on equal footing, and having more fun at his expense than yours. He is just so opposite any lead musician (at this level of success) ever. I know ever is a long time, but I dare say that Jeff Tweedy may be changing what it means to be a rock-and-roll frontman. Long gone are the days of Kurt Cobain, may he rest in peace. However, all Tweedy charm aside, this band rocks and their sound is an original work of art.

Finally. This one was not difficult in the least. How often do you listen to a CD that causes an emotional reflex? How often do you listen to a singer and wonder how he’s doing it, how he’s hanging in there after what he’s been through? How often do you spin a CD, and say – this is it, it gets no better than this? I picked this one up, once it dropped at the stores, without even hearing a single note. I just knew. Levon Helm’s “Electric Dirt” is a departure from the Grammy winning “Dirt Farmer” CD of 2007. “Electric Dirt” is nominated this year for the Grammy for “Best Americana Album”, and will win that award. Go ahead and listen to “Golden Bird” if you have any doubts. OK, now listen to “Growing Trade” and get a glimpse into the future from where the legalization movement will come – “grass” roots, friends, Grass Roots.

Thanks so much again this year for reading the top ten, and I only hope this is less difficult next year. Maybe it is time to go to a top twenty. I think it may also be time to add a small list of music DVD’s to the countdown. There aren’t that many good releases in a given year, but there are still roughly three times more good music DVD’s than fly fishing DVD’s. There was one poster recommending music in all of 2009, and her recommendation did make the countdown, so feel free to throw down a musical challenge any time you have the urge to test these aging ears.

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Category: Culture on the Skids, Music

About the Author () is where to find my other day job. I write and photograph fish stories professionally, and for free here! Journalist by training. This site is for telling true fishing news stories, unless otherwise noted.

Comments (7)

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  1. shannon says:

    Works great and had good help customizing and updating from theme designer.

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  3. die Fische says:

    Hey Shannon,

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  4. shannon says:

    For goodness sake, post a link to that. I will find my own way to that one, but others like shortcuts. Musical selections are so subjective as to be indefensible. I just try to keep away from the bad stuff. Thanks! Shannon

  5. ken morrow says:

    well, there’s an obvious style preference in your musical selections that i would argue doesn’t translate to fly anglers in general the way you think it does, but i like a lot of it.

    but i can’t believe you could come up with a list under this title and miss rodney atkins’ 2009 offering, it’s america, which includes the purely fly fishing track, “the river just knows.” this song was written by an avid fly fishing friend of mine, vietnam veteran, and top nashville songwriter, sam tate based on a real-life experience he had on a stream in montana with a veteran of the current war in iraq a few years ago. and it is the official theme song of project healing waters fly fishing, inc. i don’t think you can strike closer to the heart of the fly fishing community than that.

  6. shannon says:

    Naa, that was last year already! Old news. Enjoying all the copycat message board countdowns out there though! Flattery will get you everywhere.

  7. Cindy says:

    can’t say i picked up electric dirt without hearing it first like you did, but i can say i WILL pick it up after listening to one song. Thanks!

    I have the wilco album too and i’ve listened to it multiple times but i can’t honsetly say i was paying attention at all any of the times. i do get “…..wilco…… wilco” stuck in my head though. maybe i should give it some real attention in 2010?

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