“The Nathanael West of Rock”

by | Apr 8, 2005


Sam Umland, professor of English at Univ. of Nebraska loves the musical artistry of Stan Ridgway. The so-called “Professor of Ridgwayology” has this to say about Ridgway’s latest effort, Snakebite: Blacktop Ballads & Fugitive Songs:

The critics better heed this record, give it a serious listen, and consider it for a Grammy nomination. That’s right. I said it: it’s worthy of a Grammy nomination, and I’ll stand by my assertion. It is so musically diverse, so masterful in its arrangements, and so fully realized in its farcical despair, one is tempted to call it the definitive Stan Ridgway record.

Umland also has an interetsing interview with Ridgway on his site. Here’s an excerpt:

Umland: Perhaps your eclecticism derives from guitar lessons taken with David Lindley?

Ridgway: I met Lindley in Pasadena in 1966 and took lessons from him for about a year and a half. He taught me how to finger pick the guitar with an alternating bass pattern, a la John Hurt and turned me on to stuff I wouldn’t have found out about otherwise–obscure jazz, lost blues, Indian ragas, ska, and anything weird! He showed me how to get feedback from my amp; showed me bottleneck and barr chords (“Ouch, Dave! These chords hurt”). His band then was Kaleidoscope and they had a couple of records on Epic. Very cool group. They mixed up all kinds of things like blues, country, raga, and Turkish music. If you find anything by them buy it. I’ll always be grateful for what Lindley showed me and not to mention “expanding my mind”. . . it was the 60s, after all.

I just learned of Ridgway today, from a comment on Peter Case’s blog. The commentator said he only listens to three artists from bands he used to listen to in the 1980s—Peter Case (of course!), Paul Westerberg and Stan Ridgway. I was intrigued enough to purchase Snakebite on iTunes. I’m happy with the ten dollar purchase, and will surely be more so after several listens.