The Lagniappe Sessions :: Jolie Holland


Lagniappe (la ·gniappe) noun ‘lan-ˌyap,’ — 1. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit. 2. Something given or obtained as a gratuity or bonus.

The Lagniappe Sessions return with Jolie Holland, who is about to kick off her European tour beginning September 22nd, in Paris, in support of her latest full-length, Wine Dark Sea. From the palm wine guitar of Sierra Leone’s S.E. Rogie to the post-crash muse Robert Zimmerman was chasing, Holland digs in, reinvents the material, and shares her thoughts on each, below.

Jolie Holland :: Do Me Justice (S.E. Rogie)

S. E. Rogie (1926-1994) was one of the originators of  ‘high-life’ West African music. He’s a beautiful guitarist and a powerful songwriter. His music has been a big influence on me since the late nineties. “The Littlest Birds” (a song I wrote when I was in the Be Good Tanyas) was highly influenced by West African guitar feeling, as well as by Western Swing, which are not so distantly related after all: I heard that the two-step comes from Africa. S. E. Rogie alludes to Western Swing,  surf guitar and other rock and roll idioms in his work. Aside from the brilliant syncretic nature of his music, Rogie wrote some gorgeous songs.  “Do Me Justice” is a shining example. It’s deeply personal and absolutely universal. My song “On And On” off of  Wine Dark Sea directly quotes S. E. Rogie. It was a sincere pleasure to reinterpret his “Do Me Justice”– it’s impossible to get inside such a song without being uplifted.

Jolie Holland :: Tell Me That It Isn’t True (Bob Dylan)

I happened to need a pretty large band to express the material I wrote for Wine Dark Sea. Two drummers with full kits play simultaneously on each track, and as many as four electric guitarists play at once. Our bandmate Doug Wieselman suggested Bob Dylan’s large-ensemble recordings as inspiration. That brought us to listen to Blonde On Blonde, with its  seamless integration of many live elements into a whole. “Tell Me That It Isn’t True,” from Dylan’s album  Nashville Skyline features Kenny Buttrey on drums. It’s an especially moving performance. We’ve been playing a couple Dylan songs from that  era on the road– they originate from the place between so called modern folk music and rock and roll. As my music  has made a similar transition, it’s been a strong meditation to perform songs  that  date  from when Dylan forged that passage. You’ll seldom hear a band play so hot and sweet as you do on those recordings of Dylan’s from the late sixties and early seventies.

Lagniappe Sessions Archives / original illustration  for aquarium drunkard by Ben Towle.

5 thoughts on “The Lagniappe Sessions :: Jolie Holland

  1. I love her new album. It’s seriously great stuff. I have loved and followed (adn seen live) Jolie for many years, and then…this. Damn. I think of it as like the difference between Tom Waits, pre-Swordfish Trombones and after. Like, the world is not a continuous function. Gradualism isn’t true. There are, what was it Steve Gould called them, saltations? Huge gaps. This is one.

  2. Correction: Jolie cowrote Littlest Birds. Most of the credit goes to The Be Good Tanyas’ Samantha Parton.

  3. S.E. Rogie’s “Do Me Justice” is a song for which I have great affection, and this is a fantastic cover that maintains the sweetness of the original while placing the song in a totally different sonic context. Thanks to Jolie Holland and thanks to Aquarium Drunkard for sharing this version, which I like even more than Holland’s other versions of the song available on youtube and vimeo.

  4. FGee, how do you know who should get most of the credit for writing “The Littlest Birds”? Judging by their respective subsequent output, Holland strikes me as the stronger songwriter, but, of course, I don’t have any information about how that particular song was written. I gather the information above is in Holland’s own words, so it is a pretty big assertion to claim she is not telling the truth. The fact that Holland went on to put a version of the song on her own solo album also seems to support the notion that she was the primary author.

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