Let me get this out of the way, right from the start. I’ve had a man crush on John Hiatt ever since I first saw him in concert, 5-19-04, at the Tralf. It was a solo acoustic show in an intimate venue, with great site lines and even better sound. I knew the music but was blown away at this show by his immense talent, his sense of humor, and if that wasn’t enough, his love of hockey! When I say man crush, I mean it not in a sexual way(not that there’s anything wrong with that), but in the way where I wish that this guy was in my group of friends so we could, you know, hang out.
I’ve been a fan of his since college, when I bought his fantastic Slow Turning on cassette. I played the heck out of that tape and eventually replaced it with a CD. I started listening to Hiatt at about the same time that I was reading the works of Raymond Carver. For that reason, in my head, I’ve always associated the two. Carver was known for writing in a very concise, straightforward way. No words were ever wasted. Why take ten paragraphs to say something when you can do it better in two? His best stories are stark, raw, pointed commentaries on American life. Hiatt’s best songs are just like that. If you’re looking for some great Winter reading, you’d be hard pressed to find something better than this:
I went on to see Hiatt four more times(twice with Lyell Lovett) and just this morning, bought tickets to see him for a sixth time, on May 8th, almost twelve years to the day after that Tralf show. In my opinion, Hiatt has made five or six albums that are in the “good to great” range. His 2000 release, Crossing Muddy Waters, was a game-changer though. It’s a flat out masterpiece. If you don’t have it, you need it.
So there it is. Put some Hiatt on the turntable and immerse yourself in a Carver story. You can thank me later. See you at Asbury Hall.