Book Review: Phases & Stages
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Feb. 20, 2009
Songs From a Dutch Tour: The Bookby Chip Taylor
Train Wreck, 173 pp., $33.98 (paper)
Less a book packaged with a CD than an album with extensive liner notes, Songs From a Dutch Tour reads like an elaborate collection of acknowledgements. Commemorating Chip Taylor's final tour of the Netherlands with acclaimed duet partner Carrie Rodriguez in 2007, the seminal songwriter ("Wild Thing") retraces his career from childhood to his discovery of Rodriguez at South by Southwest six years earlier. Scant on details, anecdotes, or copyediting, Songs compensates with an elaborately designed layout of thick, photo-laden pages and some exceptional new songs. Pictures from his youth with brother Jon Voight are more enlightening than his prose, as is the glimpse into Taylor's compositional process. His deep appreciation for the country that's been his premier fan base since the 1970s shines throughout, as does his praise and affection for Rodriguez, though the complicated relationship with the latter is only suggested. The music is more personal and evocative, sparse folk and blues that linger heavy and poignant. "Down by Law (Paint Me on a Postcard)," "Song for a German Girl (Named Lisa)," and "Mema, I Miss You From Here" are stunning, as is his tribute to Rodriguez, "Jack of Diamonds/Queen of Hearts," inspired by Margaret Moser's Chronicle article on the duo ("Story Book Children," Dec. 20, 2002).