Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Been contains classics from the American Songbook like "Cotton-Eyed Joe," "The Leather-Winged Bat," "Froggy Went A-Courting" and "Shenandoah." Spider John Koerner sings and plays (12-string guitar) with a knowing but commanding casual authority that brings this material to life brilliantly. The music jumps out of the speaker so effortlessly you can appreciate the fun and dark side of these old songs. Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Been is an excellent example of contemporary interpretations that don't treat the songs like academic artifacts. "The Leather-Winged Bat," for example, is a courting song that sounds cute and innocent in most interpretations. Koerner brings out, and seems to delight in, the licentious innuendo as each verse leads to the advice that for a girl to catch the boy she should keep him up both day and night. Blood, love and murder are at the heart of many songs so familiar that we have forgotten to even listen anymore while we sing along. A record like this is a wake-up call to all interpreters. The fact that it was impeccably recorded live to two-track in one day with killer musicians only adds to its reputation.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard Meyer