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See lyrics for Michelle’s songs

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The entire Michelle Shocked discography

 

 

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Upcoming Tour Dates

 

City Winery Summer Residency – The Mercury Trilogy 

 Short Sharp Shocked featuring legendary guitarist/producer Pete Anderson 

Mon June 26 New York, NY | Tues Jun 27  Chicago, IL

Thurs June 29  Nashville, TN | Fri June 30 Atlanta, GA

Captain Swing featuring legendary guitarist/producer Pete Anderson

Thu Jul 27 – Chicago, IL | Sat Jul 29 – Atlanta, GA

Sun Jul 30 – Nashville, TN   Mon July 31 – New York, NY

 Arkansas Traveler featuring legendary guitarist/producer Pete Anderson 

 Mon Aug 21 – New York, NY | Wed Aug 23 – Chicago, IL

Thu Aug 24 – Atlanta, GA | Fri Aug 25 – Nashville, TN

Date City Venue Country
Tour: City Winery Summer Residency – The Mercury Trilogy
06/27/17 CHICAGO, IL City Winery (Chicago,IL) United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: (312) 733-9463. Address: 1200 W RANDOLPH ST. Venue phone: (312) 733-9463. Michelle Shocked Trilogy Residency – Short Sharped Shocked (1988) featuring the legendary guitarist Pete Anderson and his trio Buy Tickets
06/29/17 NASHVILLE, TN City Winery (Nashville, TN) United States
Time: 8:00pm. Admission: 20.00. Box office: 615.324.1010. Address: 609 LAFAYETTE STREET. Venue phone: 615.324.1010. Michelle Shocked Trilogy Lounge Residency featuring “Short Sharp Shocked” featuring the Legendary Guitarist Pete Anderson and his Trio in the Lounge Buy Tickets
06/30/17 ATLANTA, GA City Winery (Atlanta, GA) United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: 404-WINERY1. Address: 650 NORTH AVENUE, PONCE CITY MARKET. Michelle Shocked performing “Short Sharp Shocked” in its entirety and more (Summer Residency) featuring the legendary guitarist Pete Anderson and his trio Buy Tickets
07/02/17 Dallas, TX The Kessler United States
Time: 8:30pm. Admission: 20. Box office: 214-272-8346. Address: 230 W. Davis St.. Venue phone: 214-272-8346. An awfully authoritative-sounding internet rock guide insists that Michelle Shocked’s life must be fiction. But if it seems like an incredible road movie, a tall tale, a legend, it is no mystery. Michelle Shocked set forth on her adventure ever so young but ever so determined to jump past, jump through, jump beyond any boundary that held her back. The soaking humid Piney Woods swamplands of east Texas at the edge of the border with Louisiana was where she came from; born in Dallas and schooled in Gilmer. Raised in a large, extremely poor, strict fundamentalist Mormon household, her escape consisted of summers spent with her hippie-atheist father. She left home for good at 16. Putting herself through the University of Texas at Austin, with no financial support from her family, she graduated with a degree in Oral Interpretation of Literature. “It was the careerist ’80s, and that seemed like the least practical thing I could pursue,” recalls Shocked. After graduation, she hit the road, in customary Kerouac fashion. She rambled first to California, playing mandolin and fiddle in street bands, emerging as a staunch political activist first and foremost. Her persona was unadulterated punk rocker with a spiky mohawk and a ring in her nose. She hung out on San Francisco ‘s hardcore scene with MDC and the Dead Kennedys. Arrested at the 1984 Democratic Convention, a front-page news photo of her struggling with the police would ultimately serve as an album cover. Her mother would eventually commit Shocked to a mental institution against her will. Back on the street, dazed by the chemical straightjacket drugs given her by the mental health authorities, half-convinced that she was indeed crazy, she headed for New York City. There she explored the music scene at CBGB’s and ate her one big meal of the week at the Cottonwood Café in the West Village. Caught up in the cycle of homelessness that swept across America in the 1980s, Shocked searched for an alternative. She made her way to Paris, and hitchhiked throughout Europe, busking on the streets of Madrid, surviving on her wits, and a daily ration of alfalfa sprouts. The vagabond lifestyle was far from ideal. At an anti-cruise missile peace camp in Sicily, she was raped by a Green Party comrade. Settling on Amsterdam for the interim, she worked for a pirate radio station and shared a squat with a stranded British reggae band from Birmingham. She was still poor, but she was free. In 1986 Shocked returned to Texas, to the annual songwriters’ gathering at the Kerrville Folk Festival, to volunteer and hang out with her friends, to listen to their new songs and play her own. In those days (and for that matter, still today) Shocked was determined to credit her inspiration from fellow Texas songwriters Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. An Englishman who said he was a journalist heard her one night out among the campfires and asked if she would play her songs for his Sony Walkman. He never got around to mentioning that he was actually a partner in a brand new British independent record label. She played him some songs out there that night, his tape recorder sitting on a log as the crickets sang bucolic background vocals and the trucks downshifted, and she told some stories. She did not know it at the moment, but just like some of her heroes, Leadbelly and Muddy Waters, she was being “field recorded.” That tape of her music, made on a Walkman with weak batteries so that it ran far too quickly when played back at normal speed, got played repeatedly on the BBC. It was a friend who owned a phone that got the call. “Your record is on the charts,” was the information the label, Cooking Vinyl had to report. “What record?” Shocked inquired. It had been named “The Texas Campfire Tapes” and it was to be her “debut” recording. Figuring she had nothing much to lose, Shocked saw it as her chance to offer up her two-cents worth. She had grown up in a tradition of bluegrass and blues, of Texas swing and singer-songwriters, and now Michelle Shocked was an authentic British pop phenomenon. She played her first show, her first show ever, at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. She had planned on activism, not a music career. Over the next eighteen months, Shocked found herself working for a manager who was also her booking agent and who was also her record label owner. Shocked remembers, “the label was shopping me to major labels, licensing my record around the world, booking gigs, collecting commissions and my royalties, and shipping me and my guitar C.O.D. It was as if I’d fallen into a new job at the circus getting shot out of a cannon.” Shocked risked signing with a major label (Mercury) for the sake of attempting to change the system from within. She turned down the label’s advance for the sake of owning her work. And she had another plan too. She had organized her songs into a trilogy that was meant to show where she had come from — not just show the listener, but to also remind herself as well. After her first taste of circus-cannon celebrity, she was leaving something more substantial than breadcrumbs behind her to mark her way back home, a trail of remarkable songs. The first part of her trilogy was called Short Sharp Shocked (1988). She was introduced to producer Pete Anderson, known for his commercial success with Dwight Yoakum. The album they made together became an instant classic, so much so that when they returned to the studio a year later, most everyone presumed they would automatically set forth on Short Sharp Shocked II. Captain Swing (1989) was a lot of things, but it was not Short Sharp Shocked II. The album took advantage of her Texas roots to pursue her notion that swing was more than just a style that the mere act of music swinging shot past style. Her use of horn arrangements emphasized Michelle Shocked ‘s diverse songwriting skills. Categories now, did not apply. The final phase of her trilogy, named Arkansas Traveler –before she had even recorded Short Sharp Shocked – had always been meant to be a tribute to the fiddle tunes she had played with her father and brother on mandolins, banjos and such. She pursued the hidden roots of that music and those old familiar tunes. Writing new lyrics, trying out new ways of playing the oldest of tunes, writing new tunes that sounded ancient, she traveled three continents to play with her heroes and her peers and a few rank strangers. Pops Staples, Doc Watson, Gatemouth Brown, Jimmie Driftwood, Taj Mahal, and Allison Krauss were part of the adventure. Recorded on steamboats, in log cabins and even recording studios, Arkansas Traveler (1992) was a triumph, and if even she did not know what was next, she knew she had made her way back home. Following her instincts, she began exploring gospel traditions while attending an African-American church in Los Angeles, where she was living on a houseboat. Shocked began writing a gospel record. On the day her next recording was to begin, she entered the studio to discover that her label was refusing to issue payment before the session even started. Her catalog was continuing to sell steadily; the label wanted the masters back. She left the office and she never went back — not until the day she arrived to collect what she had owned all along. Other labels tried to sign her; Mercury sent a cease-and-desist letter that blanketed the industry. They would not let her record and they were not going to release her. She recorded a solo electric record called Kind Hearted Woman and sold it exclusively at her shows in defiance of her label’s efforts to stop her. She toured relentlessly, reconfirming her consummate talent as a stage performer. Pioneering an artists’ rights paradigm, she sued Mercury using the 13th Amendment, the reform abolishing slavery. They settled the day the trial was to begin and for the first time in years, she was free again. She recorded a new version of Kind Hearted Woman (1996) with her band, releasing it on Private Music/BMG, but this time the contract gave her the option on them. Three months later, in a classic corporate shake-up, Private Music was folded into a different entity. She exercised her option and was spared the fate of so many artists in recent years, trapped in the consolidation of the recording industry. Michelle Shocked owns Kind Hearted Woman and her entire catalog of music. Shocked now spends time between her homes in Los Angeles and New Orleans. Known at her church as “Sister Shocked,” she continues to work quietly for non-violence in the environmental and global justice movements. Her current efforts also involve support for “Save Africa’s Children,” a pan-African vision that addresses the AIDS pandemic on the African continent. She has written a cycle of songs inspired by the brass band scene in New Orleans. Shocked spent time wandering through Mexico and Guatemala, creating another body of work, which explores her Latin-American heritage. Buy Tickets
Tour: City Winery Summer Residency – The Mercury Trilogy
07/27/17 New York, NY City Winery United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: (312) 733-9463. Address: 155 VARICK STREET. Venue phone: (212) 608-0555 ext. 6023. Michelle Shocked Trilogy Residency – Captain Swing (1989) featuring the legendary guitarist Pete Anderson and his trio Buy Tickets
07/29/17 ATLANTA, GA City Winery (Atlanta, GA) United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: 404-WINERY1. Address: 650 NORTH AVENUE, PONCE CITY MARKET. Michelle Shocked – Captain Swing (1989) Buy Tickets
07/30/17 NASHVILLE, TN City Winery (Nashville, TN) United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: (615.324.1010). Address: 609 LAFAYETTE STREET. Venue phone: 615.324.1010. Michelle Shocked Trilogy Lounge Residency featuring “Captain Swing” featuring the Legendary Guitarist Pete Anderson and his Trio in the Lounge Buy Tickets
07/31/17 New York, NY City Winery United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: (212) 608-0555 ext. 6023. Address: 155 VARICK STREET. Venue phone: (212) 608-0555 ext. 6023. Michelle Shocked performing Captain Swing in its entirety and more (Summer Residency) featuring the legendary guitarist Pete Anderson and his trio Buy Tickets
08/21/17 New York, NY City Winery United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: (212) 608-0555 ext. 6023. Address: 155 VARICK STREET. Venue phone: (212) 608-0555 ext. 6023. Michelle Shocked performing “Arkansas Traveler” in its entirety and more (Summer Residency) featuring the legendary guitarist Pete Anderson and his trio Buy Tickets
08/23/17 CHICAGO, IL City Winery (Chicago,IL) United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: 615.324.1010. Address: 1200 W RANDOLPH ST. Venue phone: (312) 733-9463. Michelle Shocked Trilogy Residency – Arkansas Traveler (1992) featuring the legendary guitarist Pete Anderson and his trio Buy Tickets
08/24/17 ATLANTA, GA City Winery (Atlanta, GA) United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: 404-WINERY1. Address: 650 NORTH AVENUE, PONCE CITY MARKET. Michelle Shocked Trilogy Residency – Arkansas Traveler (1992) featuring the legendary guitarist Pete Anderson and his trio Buy Tickets
08/25/17 NASHVILLE, TN City Winery (Nashville, TN) United States
Time: 8:00pm. Box office: 615.324.1010. Address: 609 LAFAYETTE STREET. Venue phone: 615.324.1010. Michelle Shocked Trilogy Residency featuring “Arkansas Traveler” featuring the Legendary Guitarist Pete Anderson and his Trio in the Lounge Buy Tickets

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The Edinburgh Fringe 2017 –  Truth Vs Reality 

Wed Aug 2 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Thu Aug 3 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Mon Aug 7 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Tue Aug 8 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Wed Aug 9 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Thu Aug 10 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Fri Aug 11 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Sat Aug 12 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Mon Aug 14 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Tue Aug 15 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Wed Aug 16 – Edinburgh Scotland The Boards at Edinburgh Playhouse

Michelle’s Tour History

 

 

Hat

 

 
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Neck O The Woods

Blues & Gospel & Country & Western Swing & Honkytonk & Folk from East Texas & Texarkana

 

 

Quotes





I used to hitch-hike around Europe with only one cassette. On one side was ‘Doc and Merle Pickin’ the Blues,” and on the other was Pink Floyd. I called it ‘Doc Side of the Moon.’

Ideals are not something I can control. It’s not logic that convinces me of something, it’s what my heart says. My heart has a way of involving me in things, which can only be good for the music.

At one time I was a nihilistic punk with a mohican and a ring in my nose. I think in the course of time I’ll find a middle ground, but I also carry that sense of responsibility. I’m in a position to defeat stereotypes.

I can’t tell you where I’m going. . . but I can tell you where I come from.

Fact is that the original source for a lot of the bluegrass music me and my father used to listen to was minstrel coon songs.

Music is not a commodity, it’s a resource.

I want to scare the (expletive) out of the powers that be.

I would emphasize the consistency, rather than the differences.

Writing and singing does give me some kind of release from the demons of my past, it is a therapy of sorts, but to be honest, my marriage played a more important role in the acceptance of myself than performance has ever done.

I told the executives at Mercury, ‘Hey, you’re dealing with an artist who can do gospel in very surprising ways.’ They asked me, ‘Are you sure you don’t want to make an acoustic album?’

I think the word soul has gotta come into it. Music that’s created just for consuming lacks that soul, that swing, that feeling.

People used to say I had the starving artist look, but it was real. Not because I was anorexic or anything, but just because I didn’t have money for food. I did get ill but I had more of a mental illness than a physical illness.

People might say I’m difficult, but did you ever hear anyone describe a label as ‘difficult’? By nature, artists should challenge. When they call you difficult, it is a reflection of the imbalance of power.

I’ve got this cure for boredom and that’s to have no money. Every situation you’re in becomes an adventure…

I’ll do an earth day benefit but I don’t intend to become a spokesperson for the rainforests.

Some women can be sweet because they don’t know how else to move through the world. I’m sweet because I can afford to be.

I’m taking Spanish classes – I’ve got an eye towards Mexico.

I try to look at this music career thing as the means to an end. And really, at the end of it, I see myself on a sailboat, sailing off the edge of the world.

From my experience, I know where the change lies – in encouraging people to speak for themselves.

I thought, this looks like a fucking butcher’s shop. I am not gonna take this sitting down. So they come to get me and I start screamin’, and some cop is just beggin’ me to kick him in the balls. So I do.

There’s no air that smells sweeter or more mysterious than East Texas air.

I left the country the first time Reagan was elected, but nobody knew I had been here in the first place. So that was part of my thinking behind taking this opportunity, the access, the debut, the whole debutante aspect of working for a major label.

I had nothing to do with that album. I had nothing to do with the material selected, with the artwork on the cover, the imagery. I couldn’t even control the way that I was being presented to the media, as yet another in a long line of American curiosities, like a souvenir from some guy’s trip to America .

What kind of religion is it that would encourage the parent to shelter the child from any outside influences and punish it by putting it out in a world you never had any way of learning about?

I don’t feel alienated – I’m interested in seeing how things connect.

Yo! It’s just three chords I’m playin’.

My grandmother had a Miss Margaret’s School of Dance to teach tap and ballet to kids, but I never studied it. I was raised a Mormon and they’re dancing fools. It’s the only vice they have – dancing.

I’ve gone through a spiritual journey through all of this. I was lost and now I’m found.

When I was explicitly political, which obviously people picked up on, I saw the danger of preaching to the converted.

I regard myself as a true American musician, and I play every style that is my heritage.

I’m a perfectionist, which I think is a mistake.

If there’s one thing I want you to know, It’s that you can do it too.

The blues is about singing from the depths of your emotions.

Record Companies know how vulnerable creativity is and that the slightest attack can make artists feel like abused children and they’ll retreat. I refuse to look at them as my parents. I just look at them as equals in a power struggle.

I describe myself as a knee-jerk anarchist, if that helps.

Authenticity is a real big deal in the music industry. I’ve been packaged in a certain way and while people might not know exactly what I am, they know I’m a darn authentic version of it

No one’s ever been able to define blues. To me, blues is three chords and something to say. There’s a real temptation to think that blues is singing about misery and sorrow. It’s singing about your experiences, and what I find in blues is the message of hope and inspiration, because you may be singing about your misery, but the fact that you’re singing, that’s the real message.

I accepted a change in my life. I didn’t choose that change and those are the best changes to make.

My degree is in Oral Interpretation of Literature, and that seems to me just what I’m doing now.

Yeah, I am a hick. I am naive, and I am sincere and it’s wonderfully unfashionable.

We’re really the first American generation that won’t have the resources to live better than the generation that came before us. The boomers have not only skimmed the cream off the top of the milk, they’ve drunk up all the milk too.

Humans are the only animals that shit in their own nest.

I walked along that slippery slope where if you fail through lack of faith, you sell your soul to the devil.

The real goal I’m working toward is to do something to help integrate the African and European influences of American music. I think at one time inthe history of popular music they were coming together naturally. The record companies have created a false sense of segregation. It may seem impossible to tear down, but it’s something I’m looking forward to as a life’s work.

I didn’t plan a music career. People around me knew what was going to happen; I didn’t have a clue.

There was no place whatsoever for a woman in the life and the world that Jack Kerouac described. And women were not going to be invited into it. So it’s sort of like crashing the party. I know I’m here unwelcome and I’m going to rewrite this history so I can be a part of it.

I try to look at this music career thing as the means to an end. And really, at the end of it, I see myself on a sailboat, sailing off the edge of the world.

I’d say it’s been an interesting evening, wouldn’t you?

You can’t always find politics with your intellect, because you get tricked by propaganda or dogma. But you can feel the difference between a politic that swings, that is about involvement.

I knew I was gonna go to college because nobody in my family had, not on my mother’s side.

The two things that are unique in the American character – other than that they killed a lot of Indians – are irony and iconoclasm.

Now that I’ve got media access, I see that it’s one of the biggest diseases of our times.

In New York , I hung out at CBGB’s. I’d go and see these hardcore matinees every Sunday and I’d think, ‘Yeah, this is like a fiddle festival.’

They were working overtime to tell journalists that I was no longer on the label. Meanwhile, I’d been fighting tooth and nail to try to get off the label.

I want to see feminism put back into the hands of women who can use from it.

I’m too shy, really to be able to hang out with my heroes for too long.

Not only has this whole mess been beneficial, but it’s been a blessing. Before this, my ambitions were never so great that I would have taken on a multinational corporation and come out feeling so confident and strong.

The main revolution I’d like to start is just getting people to play their own music.

Feminism for me is about empowering women to take control of their own lives. It’s not supposed to create a closed community where like-minded people agree on all issues.

What I’d like is to have an integrated life again.

Music is a lot like politics — too important to be left to professionals.

They gave me a shot of Thorazine, a real fascist drug. Your neck’s going like this [she flaps her head in an ugly untogether fashion] and if youdidn’t think you were crazy before, you’ll think you’re crazy then. It’s what you call a mental straitjacket – much more liberal than a straitjacket you can see.

I’m a modern girl, but I come from a place, a history and a heritage. It’s a complicated one, and I’m not going to paint it like it’s simple.

I write about cities the way some people write about lovers.

As soon as I stopped sleeping around to survive, that’s when things got really drastic. That dividing line is real clear in my mind.

I was raped. That kind of burned me out on the whole romantic expatriate notion.

I started traveling on the premise that I could be poor anywhere, and that’s when the music caught up with me. I wasn’t chasing the music.

I’m in it for the long haul. I’m not looking for a fast rocket ride to the stars.

If I could actually survive in a foreign country with no money, taking care of myself, I couldn’t be crazy.

I’m one of the few that comes from this vantage point: I never tried to get a record deal.

I thought, this looks like a fucking butcher’s shop. I am not gonna take this sitting down. So they come to get me and I start screamin’, and some cop is just beggin’ me to kick him in the balls. So I do.”

As I look back over my life, before I had any real identity, I was a traveler. I grew up an Army brat, a runaway, an activist, and a musician. All my life I’ve been traveling.

Everyone thinks young people are alienated from the system. But when you present them with a viable alternative, they will be the first to take it. And then watch out.

My music has a lot of humor but I keep getting compared to humorless women.

Mainstream media would convince you that there’s commercial culture and that’s all – but this other music is still here.

Squatting was the first opportunity I had to break out of the cycle of homelessness that, for young women especially, makes your self esteem deteriorate.

Because I wrote songs for the love of it for so long I can say ‘I am a songwriter and whether I make money from it or not, I’m still going to write songs because its one of my favorite things to do.’ The fact that it becomes a recording is secondary, it’s not a motivation.

Folk has become narrowcasted as I think most music is today. It’s so entirely unnecessary. Let’s blur all the distinctions if possible; it’s more fun that way.

Make your own music. It can be done.

Punk is just as much a form of folk music as anything is!

I was more daunted by the change of going from being an activist squatter to going to an independent label. That was the real change for me.

I think people have to choose between living with contradictions or painting themselves into a corner. I have a lot of contradictions.

You know how they say prostitution is the oldest profession? Well, wouldn’t that lead you to assume that abortion is the…

Once you’re categorized, you can be dismissed.

They sign a bunch of women, and they call it a movement. I don’t like the way women in music have been identified as women first and musicians second.

There was no place whatsoever for a woman in the life and the world that Jack Kerouac described. And women were not going to be invited into it. So it’s sort of like crashing the party. I know I’m here unwelcome and I’m going to rewrite this history so I can be a part of it.

I need to be able to decide the direction and the appropriateness of the project I choose to do. Otherwise, let the vice president of business affairs make the record.

They did that big, lumbering dinosaur thing, acting with impunity. Fortunately, it was over an artistic principle. I don’t think I could have sustained the fight if it was just over more money or more contractual rights.

I’ve achieved the impossible, you know? When David stood up to Goliath and had his sling in his hand and his punk-rock attitude, I’m sure he felt the way I feel now.

For me the rallying cry has become: Subvert! Subvert! Use the media against itself; use the industry against itself.

I’ve been through some dark times but I’ve experienced joy too. Now that joy can’t be suppressed.

I consider my music to be truly American music. I think American musicians are selling themselves short if they limit themselves to one genre.

I’m a blues woman. I write mostly when I’m sad. I start crying and in the middle of crying I go ‘Mmm that was an interesting sound’.

The ability to live with contradiction is in some ways a sign of maturity.

Whatever my image is, it’s my image and I have responsibility for it.

Sitting around playing music with people wasn’t as demanding as sitting around a dinner table trying to make conversation.

The thing I fail to do is fully comprehend what’s given back to me by the audience. You would think you would be a performer partly so you could feel all the appreciation or adulation, but I haven’t quite managed that yet.

Very complicated truths are conveyed through very simple melodies.