Tucson native Roger Clyne is still a tireless road warrior, and it's no wonder he's called Arizona's Springsteen. With his bands The Refreshments, The Mortals, and now The Peacemakers, Clyne has released a number of much-loved albums on major and indie labels, and has been touring the U.S. in his very own bus christened "The Stallion." For two decades he's been a huge draw in Arizona—his songs of the borderlands, natch—and, quietly, other out-of-the-way pockets in America, and Mexico.
The singer/songwriter with his Peacemakers (featuring guitar hero and songwriter Jim Dalton) returns to Tucson (his place of birth) this week, so we delved into the five albums that altered the way he approached life and music.
With The Black Moods, and Banana Gun, Friday, May 5 at 8 p.m., Maloney's Outdoors, 213 N. 4th Ave. $20.
1. The Sons of the Pioneers—Essential Collection: I think it was the very first time I had that very visceral feeling that music gave me. I remember hearing it on an eight track at my grandparents' ranch in southeast Arizona. Songs like "Cool Water" were haunting and amazing, really elemental and I remember thinking that music painted a picture and it was very Western.
2. Linda Ronstadt—Canciónes de mi Padre: It's a really amazing compendium of mariachi music and I'm a huge Linda Ronstadt fan—she's from Tucson and I actually got to meet her one time at a fundraiser. When I was in college, I went to Mexico for a summer as a student of the anthropology program, and had to choose a study of living cultures. I chose to hang out with the Mariachis. I spent a lot of time, and a lot of money buying them beer and cigarettes, and prying them for information about the songs, their origins, and their meanings. This record brings me back to that time. I love that Ronstadt pays homage to that culture with this album.
3. Violent Femmes—Violent Femmes: This is another record where I remember where I was the first time I heard it. I missed the Violent Femmes when they came out, when that record debuted, but I heard that later in college. I was crammed into the backseat of a Suzuki Samurai, making the trek from Phoenix to South Padre Island, which is more than 1,000 miles, with some friends. Somebody popped that cassette tape in and I remember hearing it front to back, just going, 'This is absolutely stunning in how creative it is with three chords, how evocative it is of pain and confusion. It's totally authentic, it spoke to me and my bruised and broken heart at the time.
4. Camper Van Beethoven—Key Lime Pie: I'm a huge Camper Van and Cracker fan, and have been for decades. It was difficult to pick one. I got this on cassette back in the days of the Walkman. This was one of the few cassettes that I crammed in my backpack when I left the States and went to Southeast Asia for some months to teach English, to travel, and to hang out on tropical beaches. I kept the cassette on auto-flip, so it just kept going. I find it lyrically very elegant, and yet not pretentious. It just resonates.
5. They Might Be Giants—Flood: To me, it's their quintessential record. I love their askew view on any subject. They view the world through a musical and lyrical lens that nobody else does; and there's isn't a dull moment. I can't explain why I love the record. It's just one of those amazing presentations. I still don't have any idea how they view the world that way, but I'm so glad that they do because it allows me to peer into their madness and not feel so alone.