1-CD boxed set (LP-size) with 105-page book, 11 tracks. Playing time 52:24 mns.
Concept album - A 106-page book printed on art paper is included, 32 touching pictures by photograper Cavaliere Ketchum, faces and landscapes, framed by citations from those ordinary people. 30x30 cm format.
Photographs of New Mexico Villages by Cavalliere Ketchum
Love songs and other writings by James Talley
Twenty years is a long time, but the older you get the shorter it seems. When Cavalliere Ketchum and I began working on the photo-graphs, stories, poems and songs contained here, we were each over twenty years younger. At that time as well, our nation was involved in a vast war in Vietnam that would change the way a generation of Americans viewed their country and their government. It would influence, as well, the values they taught their children. It would leave its impact on the people of our nations largest cities, and of our smallest hamlets. Since that time, Cavalliere has completed a little over twenty years as a professor of fine arts in photography at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and in the process has trained some of this country's finest young photographers. I have spent twenty-two years in Nashville, Tennessee where I have worked at many jobs, along with my music career as a songwriter, singer, and recording artist. For the past eight years, I have been a real estate practitioner. Still the beauty of these images has never died for either of us. They come alive as much today, as they did when they were the ideals and dreams of our youth.
For so many years, as I was trying to get my songs recorded and establish myself as a songwriter and recording artist in Nashville, I was under the tremendous pressure that exists in the "music business" to create something "commercial". That meant recording songs that were acceptable to the format of "country" radio broad-casting. That was the only outlet in the days before cable television, and it is still the primary reason the major record labels have offices and staff in Nashville today. Because of the special subject matter of these songs and these images, they kept getting shifted to the "back burner," because they were not looked upon as commercial, as that term applies to the Nashville music industry. Ironically, they were recognized as significant by John Hammond, Sr. at Columbia Records in New York as early as 1971, and gained me his attention and support. They opened the door, through John Hammond, to my first recording contract with Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records in 1972. A few close friends knew about the songs, and after I signed with Capitol Records in 1975, Peter Guralnick, who documented my career up to that time in his book Lost Highway, made reference to them, but for the most part they remained unknown.
Our world, though, has changed very rapidly over the past few years. Our nation is becoming an even more diverse patchwork quilt of many peoples of many colors and cultures. We are just beginning to acknow-ledge that we must treat each other and the natural world around us with more respect, care and love. This is long overdue. Perhaps then, it is now time to move these images to the front burner, and to share them with the public.
This is a story of Hispanic mountain families in New Mexico, a people whose heritage dates back to the time of Montezuma, Cortez and the Spanish explorers, and the Governors of Mexico — hundreds of years filled with rich history, legend and life. It is not my intention, however, to "single out" only this group, as the story to be told here has to do with similar conditions all across America today, still, and for that matter in many developing nations all around the globe. Yes, the setting could be different, but the story would be much the same. This just happened to be the region where Cavalliere and I grew up these were the images we saw. Our nation's cities are now the new frontiers, where as a "civilized" society we are faced with a multitude of problems that started generations back, perhaps with the Industrial Revolution.
These rural peoples began their journey from the farms and the countryside, where they could no longer make a living, to the cities of our nation and the world but whether it is the "blues" in the ghettos in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia or New York or in the Latin barrios of Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Denver, Dallas, Houston or San Antonio, the stories are much the same. The differences are cultural. It seems only natural that generations of these people should cling to the land, or more accurately perhaps, the idea of the land, with their hearts, minds and spirits, despite their isolation and their lack of opportunity in the cities. It is their heritage. My own mother, raised on a farm in Oklahoma, will never for-get Oklahoma in the 1930s. Those images will be with her until the day she dies – of hobos coming to the door of the farmhouse to beg her mother for food, of dust storms and the hard labor of non-mechanized rural life.
So what are we talking about here? For one thing, we are not preaching to anyone, and we are not trying to tell anyone what or how they should think. Cavalliere and I are simply storytellers, relating a story about some things that we once saw on our journey through life. At best perhaps we are giving those who encounter our work some things to think about. For what we saw, and what is reflected here, is only a slice of the never ending cultural change that is a part of the human experience. What we saw was the impact of the electronic age, of television and instant mass communications. What we saw was the poverty and lack of opportunity that was a way of life for people with few skills and little education. What we saw were people that persisted in hanging on to the land and the life they knew, even in a new urban setting. It was all they knew. What we saw, too, were people loving, laughing and living with one another, and their everlasting faith and hope.
As some of these people settled in the cities, they became what journalists and the media call the "urban poor." Their homes became the poor sections of the cities, the barrios. This
changed them emotionally, physically and spiritually. They became part of the endlessly compiled government "studies" and "statistics." Others of them "adapted" and "adjusted" and were able to "assimilate" and "compete" within the rules of the "dominant culture." They "achieved" a middle-class status with its own set of frustrations and problems. Still others decided the "city life" was not worth it at any price, and they returned to the land and the countryside to exist in any manner they could.
This then is only a story, a chronicle. It is not meant in any way to be a sociological or anthropological treatise, nor is it a journalistic documentary. It is simply a story. It is a human story about life and the human condition, as seen by a photographer and a writer of verse and melody. Neither Cavalliere Ketchum nor I make any claims toward academia, scholarship or objectivity. These are our thoughts, our feelings and our visions of the people and the times which this work is about.
|Road To Torreon 1|
|1:||Maria (The Road To Torreón)|
|3:||H. John Tarragón|
|5:||La Rosa Montana|
|6:||She Was A Flower Of The Sunburnt West|
|8:||As I Waited Out The Storm|
|9:||Little Child Of Heaven|
|10:||Does Anybody Know Why Ana Maria's Mama Is...?|
|11:||I Had A Love Way Out West|