This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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If you're in need of historical and cultural vignettes generally tethered to life and lore in the Midwest and thereabouts, Art Thieme's musical career retrospective "The Older I Get, The Better I Was" is just the right tonic. Not one to offer scathing indictments or shocking personal revelations in song, Thieme is an entertainer first and foremost. He resurrects songs too often relegated to the neglected shadows of antiquity and is also an unabashed and delightful punster. His "A Lock & Dam Tale" and "A Ghostly Tale" puns would surely garner a smile, if not an outright giggle, from an undertaker!
Covering his thirty plus years as a folksinger, storyteller and raconteur, the highlights include "Jerry, Go & Oil That Car," "Pokegama Bear," "The Master of the Sheepfold," "Way Down the Road," and "Cowboy's Barbara Allen."
His version of "North Country Tragedy" details the summoning forth of that great American spirit of exploration, albeit involving usage of the modern day Conestoga wagon--the recreational vehicle. Poodle fans however--all two of you--beware; you may want to skip this cut. Consider yourself warned.
There are over 70 minutes of ballads, stories and humor contained here with Thieme assuredly accompanying himself on guitar and banjo on most cuts. Spending time with him is like visiting with your favorite uncle--the one with all the wonderful and amusing stories, and new ones every time you visit.
Thieme is now battling multiple sclerosis. His enriching recordings are his mark on this world, a legacy to present and future generations. If only most of us could offer as much.
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