By John Reedy. (Twisted Cowboy Music, 2007. 2905 N. Montana Avenue #113, Helena, MT 59601) CD & book. $25.00 www.twistedcowboy.com
Though not fresh off the presses, TWISTED VIGNETTES is new to Dry Crik. The songs on the CD ($13) can be purchased separately from the book of Poems & Photographs ($15), different offerings under the same title at the link above. But order the Limited Edition of both and save three bucks if you want to grin while reading and listening to some of the most original contemporary work in the cowboy genre.
Six of the twelve tracks included on this CD were written by John Reedy, the remainder are covers of songs from the likes of Merle Haggard, Tom Russell & Paul Zarzyski, Guy Clark and Robert Earl Keen. From the truck-driving tempo and guitar licks of “Buckaroo Girl” to the bluesy cover of Julie Miller’s “Midnight and Lonesome” to the rock ‘n roll tribute to his ’57 Chevy pickup, “Environmental Muscle Truck”, John Reedy exhibits an eclectic style and musical range that kept my attention clear to the end. When the rating on iTunes popped up, I had to give it Five Stars for originality and for craft rooted in this lifestyle. You won’t be bored with this one.
Reedy’s poetry and black & white photographs are appropriately bound together in a CD-sized book. His more minimalist style tends to pivot on irrefutable rural ironies that Reedy shapes into humor more often than not, proving that there can be humor in the open forms and that it’s more a matter of perspective and control than it is the form that includes, or precludes, humor in poetry.
scoured by chinooks
twenty-four hour snow removal
shaking our trailer house
to its lack of foundation.
Furthermore, his ironies are select, homegrown moments as exemplified in the following poem:
Left squirming at the other end of silence,
walking back wondering what it was this time.
Did he rant too much about the sprawl or
how the country has changed or
how cold people seem and
how this breaks his heart,
rips his soul apart,
kills his spirit…
Addicted to connection through conversation,
skilled in the moment they’d quit him,
but unable to stop or change direction,
he’d ramble long after the door slammed –
they’d have to get goin’,
feed the dogs,
hit the road…
Maybe he should have listened more,
tucked in his shirt
talked about the weather.
Perhaps what I admire most about his poetry is that as a poet he’s relaxed and doesn’t seem to take himself or the work too seriously. It’s accessible. John Reedy has also rekindled my appreciation for black & white photography, his shade and contrast that lend more clarity over most common color prints, but with an occasional jester’s eye. Whether you see John in person at Elko 2010 or visit his website, his work is a refreshing departure from the standard cowboy fare.