As we are in the depths of winter, today’s post is most opportune


Charm: Squeeze a frog to death in the hand

Charm: Go toward the bed as if to get into it, but get under instead

Medicine: Tea of L’Herb Cabri (coatgrass)


Medicine (Cajun): Red wine in which a melted tallow candle has been mixed

Medicine: *Mamou tea made with the beans or the roots. Also, crapeau (toadgrass) tea

Treatment for pleural complications: Mare’s milk rubbed on the back of the neck will cure pleurisy

Medicine for croup: Powdered birdeye vine added to milk

Charm to prevent: Wear a dime and some salt in the heel of your shoe

* The Mamou plant whose seeds or roots are used to make the flu remedy is the native Erythrina herbacea, called Indian Bean, Cherokee Bean or Coral Bean. It is an 8- to 10-foot shrubby perennial plant that is sometimes killed back in winter, but returns from the roots in spring. It is propagated by its bright red seeds or by division of the clumps. Standing high above the foliage, 8- to 15-inch red tubular spiky flowers bloom off and on during the summer months.

Today’s Music (notes from All Music Guide)

Living Room Suite – Harry Chapin – 1978 – Listening to Living Room Suite today, you’d never know that it marked the commercial nadir of Harry Chapin‘s career — the songs have such touching and startling intimacy, and are so beautifully produced that it’s just a damn imposing record, just in the listening. Coming at the tail-end of the second disco boom, the cresting of punk, and the full flourishing of power pop, however, it got buried. When he opened up his heart on “Jenny,” it was a phenomenally personal moment, but that wasn’t the kind of love song that was selling in 1978; “Poor Damn Fool” was a wonderful song as well, with a glorious sound, but in tone and sound it was a million miles from “My Sharona”; “Flowers Are Red” was a startling ode to non-conformity, a subject much too serious for a pop record at the end of the 1970s; and “Dancin’ Boy” and “I Wonder What Would Happen to This World,” with their bluesy and gospel sounds, respectively, were even farther from what radio stations were playing. Of course, the very attributes that made Living Room Suite seem so dated in 1978 that neither of its singles charted makes it seem completely timeless and enduring today, as a body of music and a personal statement.

The Long Riders – Ry Cooder – 1977 – soundtrack for The Long Riders received a top-notch treatment from Warner Bros. (Japan), who not only did an excellent remastering job, but backed it up with English lyrics to the songs, notes, and a Japanese insert. Cooder was in fine form with this score, using original material, unusual and anachronistic instruments (saz, tamboura, electric guitar), and elements of traditional songs from the Civil War period. As a result, the album can be appreciated as a unique entity, away from the film — and bonded to the film, the music provides grace and power to the onscreen events.

Lonnie Mack and Pismo – Lonnie Mack – 1977 – Country-rock (mostly) from the versatile and unpredictable master picker. Pismo’s members included bassist Tim Drummond and keyboardist Stan Szelest (frequent Mack cohorts), while Troy Seals, Graham Nash, and David Lindley contributed to the product as well

Looky Here – Mike Morgan and the Crawl – 1996 Longtime frontman and vocalist Lee McBee left Mike Morgan’s the Crawl after the recording of Let the Dogs Run. Morgan chose to replace him not with another harpist but with Chris Whynaught, a powerful vocalist and saxophonist. His presence gives the band a stronger R&B edge, which revitalises the group’s Texas blues and makes Looky Here into their most enjoyable record in years

Lost In The Lonesome Pines – Jim Lauderdale – 2002 – Songwriter and vocalist Jim Lauderdale‘s second pairing with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley retains much of the vitality of 1999’s I Feel Like Singing Today, and if anything, the duo seems to have become more comfortable working together on Lost in the Lonesome Pines. One can only imagine the jitters Lauderdale must have felt working in the studio with one of American music’s true treasures, so the hints of apprehension revealed in the cracks of the earlier album have been brushed away, and the two sound like old pals sitting on a sunlit porch trading songs and licks. The gruff sentimentality in Lauderdale‘s lead vocals provides the perfect canvas for Ralph Stanley‘s high lonesome tenor to colour, echoing the close harmonies of the Stanley Brothers from 50 years earlier. In many ways, this album is reminiscent of the spectacular collaboration between Steve Earle and Del McCoury on The Mountain; both albums paired a respected maverick singer/songwriter with a legendary bluegrass figure, and the results on both are not quite bluegrass and not quite contemporary folk, but both feel just about right.

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