Spirit Songs: The Best of Bill Miller

Spirit Songs: The Best of Bill Miller

by Bill Miller


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Bill Miller's best-of collection, Spirit Songs, sets the record straight on one of the most terminally mishandled and misunderstood recording artists in American popular music. Miller is a rock & roll singer/songwriter who uses his Native American heritage and its traditions as part and parcel of his art. As a result, his records always get bundled in the "Native American" sections of record stores in the world music ghetto. Without doubt this has kept him from the mainstream. This is understandably frustrating because he is amazingly accessible, writes great songs, and has a sound that is tailor-made for VH1 and Triple A radio audiences. But perhaps because of the lack of pop culture awareness, his focus has been kept where it should be: on the music. He's not worrying about his latest video and where it is in the rotation. Sure, it's easy to say that from this chair, but there's a reason: those of us who buy his records are grateful for his consistency not only for its vision, but also for its articulation. This volume proves without doubt that Miller is the equal of anybody who makes a living writing songs. There are 16 cuts on this set, all of them keen in their observation and language -- both poetically and musically -- and all as fine as a razor's slash. Standouts include the devastatingly beautiful "Listen to Me" (that Lyle Lovett would kill to have written); "Ghostdance," with its tough, hand-drum rhythms and cutting acoustic guitars, the rousing "Every Mountain I Climb," the haunting "Reservation Road," with its killer overtone flute intro, the only version of Michael Murphey's (the author's nothwistanding) "Geronimo's Cadillac," that decodes its true meaning, and the amazingly spooky folk-soul of "You Are the Rain." Miller's ethereal tenor croon is understated, full of expression and warmth; his images connect at gut level and force the listener to look outside subjective experience, and into the interconnected world for meaning by relating common and uncommon, workaday and spiritual experiences, in a manner akin to his peers: Bruce Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Lucinda Williams, Bob Seger, Greg Brown, and John Mellencamp. Miller's is great, even necessary American pop music. It appears, however, that his misfortune--writing, recording, and releasing records during an intolerant, bland, suffocatingly corrupt, and factionalized pop music era--is our boon becuse, when we can find them, his albums offer a bonafide aesthetic alternative to the garbage the mind-numbing unimaginative stuff that clogs the airwaves, the television and the CD bins. The music here puts makes the case ans sets the record straight; whether the machine of cultural industry will attempt to correct its gross errors is another story altogether.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/16/2004
Label: Vanguard Records
UPC: 0015707972925
catalogNumber: 79729
Rank: 66675

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bill Miller   Primary Artist

Technical Credits

Peter Rowan   Composer
Kevin Welch   Composer
Wendy Waldman   Composer
Charles John Quarto   Composer
Bill Miller   Composer,Original Paintings
Randy Nicklaus   Release Engineer
Harry Stinson   Composer
Tom Vickers   Producer
Georgette Cartwright   Creative Services Coordinator
Myron Pyawasit   Composer
Hans Mayer   Composer
John Flanagan   Composer
Amy L. VonHolzhausen   Art Direction
Brad Kava   Liner Notes
Brent Holmes   Composer

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