Posts Tagged ‘From Good Homes’

Hick-Pop From Good Homes

May 17, 2022

Originally posted August 24, 2009

Not quite a year ago, I wrote about finding a CD called From Good Homes on a bookstore’s clearance shelves during the year or so the Texas Gal and I lived in the Minneapolis suburb of Plymouth. Intrigued by the rootsy, sometimes bluesy, pop of the band, also called From Good Homes, I looked closely at the clearance shelves the next time I was in the store, and found another CD by the group, Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! If anything, I liked it better.

I’ve never dug deeply into the catalog of the Dave Matthews Band for some reason, but what I have heard – generally on radio – I’ve liked. And I’ve found the music of From Good Homes reminding me a little – sometimes more, sometimes less – of what I’ve heard of the Dave Matthews Band. (The DMB has long been on a list of groups and artists that I want to explore further; given the length of that list, I’m not sure when that exploration will begin.)

It turns out that Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! was From Good Homes’ first album, released in 1993 on the GRRrrrr label. The band then got a deal with RCA and released two CDs: Open up the Sky in 1995 and From Good Homes in 1998 before calling it quits in 1999. (A CD of highlights of the band’s last performance in 1999 was released in 2002 as Take Enough Home.)

I’ve found myself listening to From Good Homes quite a bit lately. A month or so ago, the Texas Gal and I moved some stuff around and wound up putting a CD player in a room where there hadn’t been one previously. I spend a fair amount of time there, so I’ve begun listening to full CDs more than I had in a while, and I’ve dug through the CD collection to find stuff I want to know better. The two CDs by From Good Homes ended up on that list, as did The Living Daylights, which I offered here recently.

And the more I listen to Hick-Pop, the more I like it. It’s maybe a little less polished than From Good Homes, and in this case, that’s not a bad thing at all. A few rough edges on the rootsy sound of the band makes the music better, I think. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Here’s part of what JT Griffith of All-Music Guide said about Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya!

“The ten tracks here are the loosest and most inspired of the band’s albums . . .  ‘Drivin’ and Cryin’” is a fast and furious song that any fan of Allgood and Rusted Root will find instantly familiar (and easy to dance to). Critics get apoplectic when Dave Matthews reigns in his jamming sensibilities and records a tight, song-oriented album. From Good Homes did the same thing with this underappreciated album of great pop songs that lent themselves to awesome live jams – in 1993! . . . The real shame is that Hick-Pop Comin’ at Ya! is an out of print, self-released CD from 1993 by a band few know about.”

The highlights for me? “Drivin’ and Cryin’” is a great opener, seeming to shift gears several times as it rolls along. “Suzanna Walker” is a good story song (and one that the band likely could jam with when it played live). But my favorites are “Here Comes the Rain” with its saxophone riff, its celebratory sound and its enigmatic, slightly disturbing lyrics; and the melancholy “Scudder’s Lane,” with its harmonica and its sad tale:

Scudder’s Lane

me and lisa used to run thru the night
thru the fields off scudder’s lane
we’d lay down and look up at the sky
and feel the breeze, thru the trees

and I’d often wonder
how long would it take
to ride or fly to the dipper in the sky

as I drove back into hainesville
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran thru the fields off scudder’s lane

I stayed with my love lisa
thru the darkness of her days
she walked into the face of horror
and I followed in her wake
and I often wonder
how much does it take
’til you’ve given all the love
That’s in your heart
and there’s nothing in its place

as I drove back into hainesville
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran thru the fields off scudder’s lane

i’m afraid of the momentum
that can take you to the edge of a cliff
where you look out and see nothing
and you ask
it that all there is

still I drove back out of hainesville
and I asked myself again will there ever come a day
when you drive back home to stay
could you ever settle down and be a happy man
in one of the houses that they’re building thru the fields
off scudder’s lane

Tracks
Drivin’ and Cryin’
Here Comes the Rain
Suzanna Walker
I’m Your Man
Way Down Inside
The Old Man and the Land
Comin On Home
Black Elk Speaks
Scudder’s Lane
Maybe We Will

Note: From Good Homes has a website, The Fruitful Acre, with a link to an archival site; the current site seems not to have been updated for some time. Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! and From Good Homes seem to be out of print, as are Open Up The Sky from 1995 and Take Enough Home from 2002. The latter two albums, however, are available as downloads through iTunes, and CDs of Take Enough Home and Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! can be ordered at the From Good Homes website. If you like what you hear, go buy the CD!

Six At Random

June 5, 2015

I’m gonna fire up the iPod and let it do the work this morning. Many of the 2,000 or so tunes in the device are familiar, but sometimes the familiar tends to get ignored around here. So off we go:

First up is “Be Easy” by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, a 2007 joint that, like most of Jones’ catalog, sounds as if it could have come out of Memphis forty years earlier. The track comes from 100 Days, 100 Nights, Jones’ third release and the first one I ever heard. Six of her albums with the Dap-Kings are on the shelves here along with a couple of one-off recordings. One of those one-offs, a cover of the First Edition’s 1967 hit, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” caught the ear of my pal Schultz when he was here a few weeks ago, and he spent a few moments jotting down the titles of Jones’ CDs for future reference.

Then we jump back in time to 1971, when Ten Years After’s “I’d Love To Change The World” went to No. 40. When this one popped up on the car radio a couple of years ago, I wrote, “I was once again bemused by the ‘Tax the rich, feed the poor, until there are no rich no more’ couplet. I also considered – not for the first time – about how unacceptable the reference to ‘dykes and fairies’ would be today. Social change happens glacially, but it does happen.” Even with those considerations, it’s still a pretty good record.

And we do get some Memphis R&B: “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” by the Staple Singers from 1973. The slightly funky and sometimes propulsive record went to No. 9, one of three Top Ten hits for the singers, and it spent three weeks at No. 1 on the R&B chart. I didn’t really get the Staple Singers back then – too much other stuff crowding my ears, I guess – but they’re well-represented these days on both the vinyl and digital files, and “If You’re Ready” is one of my favorite tracks of theirs.

From there, we head into the mid-1990s and find a cover of Billie Holliday’s version of “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance (With You)” as performed by the late Etta James. The track comes from James’ 1994 album Mystery Lady – Songs of Billie Holiday. I can’t find any fault with the song selection, with the classic pop arrangements on the album, or with James’ performances, but there’s something about the entire project that leaves me a little cold. It’s a little odd: It’s like the parts are all fine but just don’t fit together. “I Don’t Stand . . .” is probably the best track on the album, and it’s nice and all, but ultimately kind of empty. That one may not stay on the iPod too much longer.

Somewhere along the line, I came across a huge pile of work by the late Lee Hazlewood, ranging from the early 1960s all the way to 2006, a year before his death. One of the more idiosyncratic folks in the pop music world, Hazlewood kind of fascinates me. And this morning, we get Hazlewood and Ann-Margret gender-flipping and covering Waylon Jennings’ No. 2 country hit from 1968 with “Only Mama That’ll Walk The Line” from the 1969 album The Cowboy & The Lady. Despite my affection for Hazlewood’s work, the limp performance by Ann-Margret means that this is another track that’s likely not going to remain long in the iPod. Linda Ronstadt’s superior version from the same year is already in the device, and that one should be the only one I need.

And we close with one of my favorite melancholy tracks, “Scudder’s Lane,” by the New Jersey band From Good Homes. Found on the group’s 1993 album, Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya!, the song tells a tale familiar and yet unique. I’ve posted the lyrics here before, but they’re worth another look:

Scudder’s Lane

me and lisa used to run thru the night
thru the fields off scudder’s lane
we’d lay down and look up at the sky
and feel the breeze, thru the trees
and I’d often wonder
how long would it take
to ride or fly to the dipper in the sky

as I drove back into hainesville
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran thru the fields off scudder’s lane

I stayed with my love lisa
thru the darkness of her days
she walked into the face of horror
and I followed in her wake
and I often wonder
how much does it take
’til you’ve given all the love
That’s in your heart
and there’s nothing in its place

as I drove back into hainesville
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran thru the fields off scudder’s lane

i’m afraid of the momentum
that can take you to the edge of a cliff
where you look out and see nothing
and you ask
it that all there is

still I drove back out of hainesville
and I asked myself again will there ever come a day
when you drive back home to stay
could you ever settle down and be a happy man
in one of the houses that they’re building thru the fields
off scudder’s lane

‘As I Drove Back Into Hainesville . . .’

July 2, 2013

The band From Good Homes, as I wrote in 2008, is one of those that I found by accident, scouring the bottom shelf of the discount CDs in a bookstore in a Minneapolis suburb. The band’s rootsy sound – sometimes robust, sometimes plaintive – falls nicely on my ears, and From Good Homes, a 1998 release, regularly found its way into the player for a few months and still gets there occasionally these days.

The same has been true for the New Jersey group’s other releases as I’ve gathered them over the past few years: Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! from 1993 (with the inside of the notes autographed by four of the band’s five members), Open Up The Sky from 1995, and Take Enough Home, a recording from the group’s farewell concert in 1999, which turns out not to have been as final as that sounds.*

Given the amount of music loaded into the RealPlayer in the study, the music of From Good Homes doesn’t come up there nearly as often as maybe it should, and I tend to lose track of it. But as I made salads last evening, the small mp3 player in the kitchen reminded me that one of its three-hundred-some tracks is “Scudder’s Lane” from Hick-Pop, one of my favorite tracks by the New Jersey band.**

Scudder’s Lane

Me and Lisa used to run through the night,
through the fields off Scudder’s Lane.
We’d lay down and look up at the stars
and feel the breeze through the trees.
And I’d often wonder: How long would it take
to ride or fly to the Dipper in the sky?

As I drove back into Hainesville,
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran through the fields off Scudder’s Lane

I stayed with my love, Lisa,
through the darkness of her days.
She walked into face of horror,
and I followed in her wake.
And I often wonder: How much does it take
’til you’ve given all the love that’s in your heart
and there’s nothing in its place?

As I drove back into Hainesville,
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran through the fields off Scudder’s Lane.

I’m afraid of the momentum
that can take you to the edge of a cliff,
where you look out and see nothing
and you ask, is that all there is?

Still, I drove back out of Hainesville
and I asked myself again:
Will there ever come a day
when you drive back home to stay?
Could you ever settle down and be a happy man
in one of the houses that they’re building
through the fields off Scudder’s Lane?

*According to the group’s website, The Fruitful Acre, an EP of another live performance, Live at Waterloo, was issued in 1997. Newer items include a DVD of performances from a 2009 reunion, and an mp3-only release from 2011 titled Grrrrrrrr. My list of music to acquire just got longer.

**I should note that the track is a favorite despite the wince-inducing “Me and Lisa” at the beginning.

Found By Accident: ‘From Good Homes’

August 15, 2011

Originally posted September 19, 2008

From Good Homes is one of those bands whose acquaintance I made by accident, which is often the best way to find new music.

As was the case with a few other bands and performers, I met From Good Homes in the cheap seats, on the budget shelves at a Twin Cities outpost of Half Price Books. This HPB was in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, and the CD From Good Homes was tucked into the lower level of a set of shelves, hard to see, hard to read and hard to reach.

I’ve always been glad for two things: One, that I took the time to lie nearly prone on the floor to grab hold of the CD with the tawny colored spine, and two, that no one came down the narrow aisle and stepped on my own spine while I was on my stomach.

The front cover had a simple drawing, a cartoon interpretation of woods and a meadow with a river, and the legend, “from good homes.” The back listed the titles of the tracks – in white on tan, a design flaw if ever there was one – and had another drawing in the same style, this one of a man in archaic dress playing a clarinet/wood flute by the shores of a body of water.

It was just odd enough to intrigue me, and if I recall correctly, the CD was priced at no more than two bucks.

I took it home to the nearby suburb of Plymouth and dropped it in the player. And I loved it. The music was rootsy and energetic, sometimes decorated with saxophone, sometimes with violin and mandolin. The vocals were strong, and the songs were well thought-out, with interesting lyrics. I ripped the CD to mp3s right away and listened to it frequently.

Intrigued, I dug into the same discount shelves on my next visit to the bookstore and found an earlier CD by the group, Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! This one was just as good, and I made a mental note to find the other two CDs the group had recorded. (I haven’t done so yet – other things get in the way – but more From Good Homes is still on my list.)

Here’s what All-Music Guide has to say about the group:

“From Good Homes [is] an eclectic, seasoned bunch of roots-rock musicians from New Jersey who have found success in the record business on their own terms. The group consists of Todd Sheaffer (vocals and acoustic guitar), Brady Rymer (bass and vocals), Jamie Coan (acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle and vocals), Dan Myers (saxophones, percussion, melodica and vocals), and Patrick Fitzsimmons (drums and vocals). Their generally positive, upbeat folk-rock and blues-rock sound and lyrics are a reaction to the mostly hardcore punk scene they came out of in the late 1980s. What makes the group distinctive are their choice of instruments and their melody-driven arrangements.”

Favorites? I like “Decision Song” with it haunting saxophone and its chorus, “It’s time for moving on.” I also like the metaphor of “The Butterfly and the Tree,” with its violin passages and its lilting and yearning chorus. And “Ride All Night” and “Broken Road” sometimes make me hit the replay button.

But the lyric that gets to me every time is in “House On A Hill”

This house on a hill sits perfectly still.
With treasures the rooms have been filled.
Closets inside hide boxes inside
with boxes inside of them still.

But oh, there’s something I still gotta know:
Won’t you follow me down to the road?

This house on a hill sits perfectly still.
With treasures our lives have been filled.
Memories inside hide memories inside
with memories inside of them still.

But, oh, there’s something I still gotta know:
Won’t you follow me down to the road?”

This house on a hill can sit perfectly still.
We can play permanent host
to all we have seen, all we have been,
to the ghost of a ghost of a ghost.
I can be king, you will be queen.
Together, we’ll dance ballroom
while nothing inside of nothing inside
of nothing inside of us blooms.

But, oh, there’s something I still gottta know:
Won’t you follow me down to the road?

From Good Homes maintains a current website, The Fruitful Acre, with a link to an archival site.* From Good Homes and Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya! seem to be out of print, as are Open Up The Sky from 1995 and Take Enough Home from 2002, but the latter two albums are available as downloads through iTunes. (Take Enough Home is a live recording of the group’s last performance in August 1999.) **

Tracks:
Kick It On
Wake
Bang That Drum
The Day Is Alive
Ride All Night
Goin’ Out
Decision Song
The Giving Tree
The Butterfly and The Tree
House On A Hill
Broken Road
Cold Mountain

From Good Homes – From Good Homes [1998]

*The archival site is no longer active. Note added August 15, 2011.

**Newly available at iTunes and at Amazon is a downloadable collection titled Grrrrrrrr, which was released in February 2011. Note added August 15, 2011.