Caught by the River

Jeb's Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 8th January 2014

one foot in the gravel

One Foot In The Gravel
Red Lane

RCA, 1972

Another day, another year, another soaked and floating January. On my walk this morning I passed sheep, pheasants, magpies, squirrels, a hare and even, disappearing into some tall grass, a fox; all wet, all sodden. When I get home I shake the rain off my jacket, make a fire and brew some tea. What do you do on a day like this? I watch the clouds roll over the hill, pushing at the bare trees. I listen to the slow pitter pat on the roof. I sit and read Daniil Kharms until I get drowsy. Then I get up, switch on the record player and put on some Red Lane.

Some things are simple. Some things just roll up at you like air. Nothing strained, nothing stressed, nothing over done. This record, by Red Lane, is one of those things. A masterpiece of restraint, it does everything it needs to do with a minimum of fuss.

The sound of it mingles with the sound of the rain. It’s all elemental, it falls and flows. It’s nothing more than exactly what it is; an unfussy account of memory, regret, hope. All sung and played so guilelessly it breaks your heart.

I play it again. The rain lessens. The wind stops. I put another log on the fire.

Red Lane has written a lot of great country songs. Merle Haggard has sung a lot of them. I wish Red Lane had made more records. I wish I had a stack of them to help me get through this new year.

Jeb Loy Nichols.
Jeb’s Jukebox archive.