Last January Rodney Crowell rented a house in my little town in Montana just to feel the cold. He had been here before, but always in the summertime, when Livingston is a temperate and sociable outpost for writers and actors and artists on the banks of the Yellowstone River. But as soon as the first blizzard rolls in most of the amateurs sensibly depart for Tucson or Key West. By January, the coldest month, the local population is down to seeds and stems. That's when Rodney and his wife, Claudia Church, arrived for a long visit. He wanted to work on his memoirs, now nearly finished, and he wanted to experience a real Montana winter, the kind he'd read about in Ivan Doig's sweeping novels. The boy from the Houston swamps figured he might learn something new in the frozen north. Rodney was disappointed when a chinook kicked up from the west and the weather turned mild. Snowdrifts melted into puddles.
Rodney says that "Intelligent Design" and the title song, "Sex & Gasoline," wrap up a cycle of what he calls "manifestos" – songs of social commentary that grew out of his struggle to come to terms with the new millennium. But it's the second stanza of "Intelligent Design" that reveals the theme he's been exploring all along: "Maybe I could find out if I'm a half decent man, or if I'm just a joke…" In the end, by adopting a woman's point of view, he tackles what it means to be a father, a husband, a friend. A man. It's no accident that the album lands on the simple, wry and beautiful song, "Closer to Heaven." It starts out as a rant by a grumpy imaginary narrator and breaks into a heartfelt catalogue of the things that matter most to Rodney Crowell: "I love my friends, I love my wife. Four little babies, are the light of my life…"
It's clear that Rodney Crowell has one foot in the music world and the other in the land of literature. We should all be holding our breaths for the publication of his book -- but Rodney is a painstaking writer and he says he has another year to go. Damn. But it will be worth the wait.
A few days after Rodney and Claudia flew back to Nashville, a blue 'norther dropped down from Canada and the temperature plunged to 18 below. Our Ivan Doig winter finally arrived and Rodney missed it. But I suspect he will be back again, with his wide-open heart ready for anything.
Official Website: http://www.aladdin-theater.com/show_page.aspx?eventid=2017
Added by snowwhiter18 on January 18, 2011