Top 11 Albums of 2011: #7 John Hiatt – Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns
Here’s #7 in our countdown of the 11 best albums of 2011….
#7 John Hiatt – Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns
The first three songs of Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns could be a career retrospective. The album starts out with the bluesy “Damn This Town”, another Hiatt classic, followed immediately by a country tinged number called “Till I Get My Loving Back”, another fine song. Next up, the pop John Hiatt gives us “I Love That Girl”, a song that, if it were a bit darker, would probably fit well on his 1982 classic LP, All of a Sudden, or Perfectly Good Guitar maybe.
Like most John Hiatt records, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns gets better with repeated listening. Like a great movie, you find hidden gems and great lines on third and fourth visits. The only misstep here is the final track, “When New York Had Her Heart Broke”. With songs like “Detroit Made”, “Train to Birmingham”, and “Adios to California”, perhaps he felt the need to throw in the requisite New York tune. He should have left it off.
This is otherwise another fine album and a testament to the fact that John Hiatt Hiatt is America’s greatest songwriter.
Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone said this about Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymms:
“Damn this town/ I mean it this time,” barks John Hiatt on the opening track of his 20th album. That song – a portrait of a middle-aged ne’er-do-well fleeing his dead-end hometown – sums up what Hiatt does best: character sketches of sketchy characters, set to sturdy roots rock, delivered in his craggy country-soulman’s voice. Hiatt’s craftsmanship is as sharp as ever. “I Love That Girl” is chugging, catchy power pop; “Detroit Made” is a loving ode to a gas-guzzling Buick.
A personal note: Back around 1987 I saw Hiatt play to about 30 die-hards who had soldiered out in the snow (and in Virginia they simply don’t have snow and when they do, they stay inside and hide) to see him perform at Wolftrap. Midway through the show he stopped and, after a brief pause, shared his good news with the few who had assembled. He had just received a phone call from Bob Dylan who had liked one of his songs so much he stated that he’d like to record it. There is no doubt that he was the proudest human being on the planet at that very moment.
I remember him saying (and I paraphrase as it was sooo long ago) “Can you believe it? That’s when you know you’ve accomplished something”.
Go out and get this CD..NOW.
From Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymms
John Hiatt – “Damn This Town” (Live at WFUV)