By Katy Killilea
On a chilly day, as my whole family was indoors doing stuff alone/together–hunting for snowboard bindings in the basement, organizing Pokemon cards, reading comic books, and unloading the dishwasher–it hit me. This is my kids’ 1970s. And Ray LaMontagne is their James Taylor.
I do not mean that Ray LaMontagne sounds like James Taylor. I mean that he plays the same role in my family that JT did for me in the 70s. It’s what my parents put on the record player when they weren’t putting something on for a particular reason. It was the soundtrack to our ordinary lives–it’s what Barbie and Ken listened to in their camper and what was playing as I chatted on the phone with my boyfriend, Donnie Osmond. And thirty years later, I still love that music as fervently as the pageboy-ed fans with the giant spectacles most often seen in audiences of James Taylor’s PBS specials.
Ray LaMontagne is a singer-songwriter with a rough, eerie, warm voice and three gorgeous albums, including his new release, Gossip in the Grain. I love it as much as the other two. I can’t leave it in a stack on my turntable to demonstrate my love for it. Instead it is in constant rotation in my iTunes, and my kids don’t ever comment on it but I do notice them singing along and doing that shoulder-shrug-to-the-beat that little boys do unconsciously when they’re feeling the music. I like Ray LaMontagne the same way I like Nick Drake and he’s even a little bit Van Morrison-ish. But he is, for sure, something all his own, not just another lovely, raspy voice.
What’s playing on your family soundtrack these days?