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NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: Valania Column Killed By PW For Too Much ‘Old’ Valania And Not Enough ‘New’ Valania; Runs BREAKING News On Azusa Plane Instead

killed.thumbnail.jpgHEAR NO EVIL

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo
The best album of the 90s has just been reissued with a live-in-Philly bonus disc.
By Jonathan Valania

Five years ago, this very paper PW ran the following breathless gush of superlatives from a handsome young go-getter:

Lucinda Williams is the beloved revolutionary sweetheart of the alt-country rodeo. All of us literate roots-rock boys daydream about her the same way we used to daydream about Liz Phair. We know all about her because we read The New Yorker. We know about her father’s literary standing and her mother’s madness; we know about her dead boyfriends and her Southern pedigree. We know about her open-armed embrace of all the humid folkloric strangeness the region holds: the sweaty danger of juke joints, the satanic deals at the crossroads, the Pentecostal hellfire and brimstone, and the taking up of serpents.

We know about her deep blue melancholy, the crying jags that go on for days, the tears that literally blur the lyrics she inks in her notebook into Rorschach haiku. And we love her for all this. We love the way her voice sounds like she been up all night doing God knows what; the way it tremulously hugs the vowels in the names of those Southern towns that roll off her tongue–Jackson, Greenville, Lake Charles–each one a lonely capital of magic and loss on the road map of her immaculate heart. We love her irrational perfectionism, how she recorded Carcarwheelsfinal.jpg Wheels on a Gravel Road three separate times over three years until finally she made the most perfect album released in the ’90s.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Who was that fleet-fingered scribe? Why me, of course, back when was I still young and had a chance. I bring this up for two reasons, first to correct a little PW history. I believe it was Joey Sweeney who opined in these very pages that Liz Phair’s Exile In Guyville was the best album of the 90s. Sorry Charlie, turns out Guyville is actually the SECOND best. Secondly, befitting its landmark recording status, Car Wheels has just been re-mastered and reissued in a Deluxe Edition along with bonus tracks.

This edition also includes a second disc which captures Lu and the boys performing at the WXPN Singer-Songwriter Weekend on July 11th 1998. As live recordings go, this is pretty top shelf. The guitars slash and twang with Zen-like clarity and Lu sings like the proverbial angel with a dirty face. But what’s really notable is all the 215 shoutouts: “Thanks Philadelphia,” “Thanks, WXPN” and “Thanks Michaela.” And Miss Thing herself gets her golden pipes on there at the very end, saying “There’s no one quite like Lu…” over the crowd’s ovation after the final encore. It’s a very cool thing that Philadelphia is now inextricably linked to one of the 10 best albums of the 20th Century. And we owe it all to the vision, talent, imagination and grassroots stick-to-itiveness of the The Little Community Station That Could.

Now, setting aside for a moment the swelling ranks of Sketchers-clad True Believers, most people I know have a love-hate relationship with WXPN. Sure they always listen, but, you know: Too much hairy-legged lesbian folk, too much precious-but-dull singer-songwriter fare, too much…well insert your personal gripe here, and then zip it. Because THOSE DAYS ARE OVER. In recent years, WXPN has been broadcasting at a level of quality, diversity and listenability second only to, say, KCRW in Santa Monica. It’s time to shitcan the jaded hipster sniping and give it up: We now have, in the heart of our beloved city, a real-deal alternative community station run by the people and for the people. So the next time you go to reach for your sarcasm why don’t you reach for your wallet instead — and give to ’til it hurts. It’s the least you could do.

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6 Responses to “NOW IT CAN BE TOLD: Valania Column Killed By PW For Too Much ‘Old’ Valania And Not Enough ‘New’ Valania; Runs BREAKING News On Azusa Plane Instead”

  1. Rob Giglio Says:

    I know this might going off on a tangent but I just don’t get it – EXILE IN GUYVILLE is well, not very good. I understand it was influential – inspiring girls to pick up guitars yada, yada, yada…. but come on, if a guy made this album (I know, I know I’m missing the point) no one would give it a second listen. The fact that music critics (you included Valania) were falling over one another to jizz all over this “MASTERPIECE” is just proves why so many people have such a distaste for said profession.

    Just for the record, my lovely, super sexy and talented wife, who is a musician and loves EXILE IN GUYVILLE, still married me, knowing full well my feelings about Liz Phair. And CAR WHEELS is truly amazing.

    Rob Giglio

  2. Phawker » Blog Archive » Cover Wars: Whose Artfag Kung-Fu Is Stronger? Says:

    […] Jeebus it seems like every week we’re having some kind of pissing contest with one of the city’s esteemed alt-weeklies. First it was the City Paper and this week it was a brand new hot mess from PW. Fear not dear reader, we vow not to back down from these piss-crossed sword fights until the other guy runs outta ammo. We drink water ALL DAY LONG. We could go for days, if need pee be. We also vow to compartamentalize said piss-matches and remain objective because we are THE DECIDER in this Cover Wars thing we started and it’s one of the few things in this life we take seriously, because after all, with great power comes great responsibility. Let’s see, this week PW is rockin’ the EXIT THE PACHYDERM cover, a visual play on the election results while riffing locally on the Philadelphia’s Zoo’s plan to let their elephants run free in the streets of Northern Liberties because, hey, they need more room. We get it. CP, on the other hand, goes with a clever neglected-kid-in-mom’s-rearview-mirrror while the road to child-free happiness stretches out ahead to eternity. Kudos all around for incorporating a LOT of exposition in these visual cues and both covers do pop, however, if we can just reach behind…hang on, this takes a minute sometimes…and pat ourselves on the back, because… THE WINNER IS: US! HOORAY FOR US! […]

  3. Deb Ashmore Says:

    As the head big-shot in charge of asking for cash at XPN, thank you so much!

  4. :::Philebrity…media, culture, music and more::: » Blog Archive » Breaking: Valania Shitcanned From Philly Weekly, Rumored To Be Starting His Own Imaginary Rival Alt-Weekly Says:

    […] We’d be lying if we said we didn’t see it coming, so we just won’t say it. But Philebrity has learned through a variety of sources that former Philebrity contributor Jonathan Valania is now also, um, a former Philadelphia Weekly contributor as well. According to sources close to the story that would be, er, us Valania’s “Hear No Evil” column, in which dude writes mostly about things that has already read about in Mojo magazine no less than three times, has been treading water since, well, since it debuted. And when new music editor Brian McManus was brought on last summer, it was clear that he’d been given marching orders to do some much-needed dusting. The exact story about what happened will be fuzzy depending on who you talk to, but things seem to have reached a head last week when PW killed a scheduled Valania column in order to run an obit on Jason DiEmilio of the Azusa Plane. Valania then ran the column on his blog, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Philebrity, with a kind of shitty headline and, well, things seem to have deteriorated from there. (Keep in mind that this whole blowup is over, we shit you not, a piece about a fucking Lucinda Williams reissue. The mind wobbles.) So what’s next? Mr. Valania, a well-known “promosexual,” is now working at breakneck pace to secure a new venue for his Trouser Press-era recycled musings, and seems to have good news to report: “OUTTA THERE! Taking my shit to the Inquirer. More coming…standby,” he said today in an email. Inky arts desk, we do not envy you today. And if we may address our prodigal son directly for a moment: Like we said before, Jonathan it’s not that we wanted you to get fired, it’s just that, well, you deserved to. HearNoEvol: See, It’s Like That Sonic Youth Album Title, See? I Like Album Titles! […]

  5. frankenslade Says:

    Exile in Guyville would have made a great ep.

  6. Phawker » Blog Archive » THANK YOU NOTE: Reader Rejoices That Phawker Freed Killed PW Column From The Dustbin Of History, Etc. Says:

    […] “As the head big-shot in charge of asking for cash at XPN, thank you so much!” […]

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