Wednesday, March 14, 2012

John Hiatt - Slow Turning

How can you tell if an artist is a great singer-songwriter?  Well, how is this for a partial list of performers who have covered John Hiatt songs:   Bob Dylan, Willy DeVille, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Three Dog Night, Joan Baez, Paula Abdul, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Buffett, Mandy Moore, Iggy Pop, Emmylou Harris, Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Rosanne Cash, Jewel, Aaron Neville, Jeff Healey, Keith Urban, Joe Cocker and Chaka Khan.  Impressive, yo.

John Hiatt put out his first record in 1974, but it took him years to find his voice (and his audience).  In addition, his career was almost ruined by years of alcohol abuse.  His breakthrough came on 1986's Bring the Family, which had two notable songs -- "Have a Little Faith in Me" and "Thing Called Love."  Since then, virtually all of his album have had strong sales, and end up peaking between 110 and 50 or so on the album charts.

Amazingly, in spite of critical acclaim and solid LP sales, Hiatt has never had a top 100 single.  "Slow Turning," from the 1988 LP of the same name, is his biggest hit -- it reached #8 on the Mainstream Rock Charts.  It is also a great song and quirky, cool video.  And, as a bonus, it has one of the great lines in rock and roll:

"Now I'm in my car
Ooh, I got the radio on
And I'm yellin' at the kids in the back
Cuz they're banging like Charlie Watts"

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