Album Review: American Trash… by Betty Dylan

Album Name: American Trash: 14 Songs and a Book
Artist: Betty Dylan
Year/Label: 2002 / Independent

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Review and Interview by Digman

“Betty Dylan is not me. I am not Betty Dylan. Betty Dylan really is me”…Betty Dylan is – Vickie Dubelman.

Beginning at the musical age of Venus Con Carne (her first band), Vickie musically meets and then musically marries Dan Dubelman (Dr. Dan and the Perscriptions)…thereby producing together, their musical offspring – Betty Dylan, AMERICAN TRASH!

Describing her music as “Roots or alt-country for short… rock, pop, country, blues, folk and jazz. If you listen to our albums I think you’ll hear all of those styles and influences…even some soul.” And it is country… with alternative- soul!

Voice-wise Dr. Dan is ‘talk with the edge of music’; distinctive and unencumbered by any singing restrictions of musical range… whereas on the other voice – Vickie is beautiful.

Produced by Vickie Dubelman and Marvin Etzioni, AMERICAN TRASH is music that is born and written from the ‘other side of the tracks’- the alternative side; the kind you have to live in order to write. It is a labyrinth of interconnecting organic musical structure (fourteen-tracks) of vocal woman-made artifacts with the added verb inflections (modality) of Dr. Dan.

…” I always wanted to sing”, she says. “We moved a lot and my parents split up and got back together so many times…plus they tried the open marriage thing…there were drugs and alcohol and parties all the time. And I was an only child. As a form of escapism and a way to entertain myself, I would sing to myself for hours. It’s the one area where I always felt some control.”
…And now with AMERICAN TRASH, Betty Dylan sings to us.

With all songs either written or co-written by Dan and Vickie Dubelman (with the one exception of “Your Cheating Heart” written by the late Hank Williams Sr.), which is vocally I might add, the best song on this CD. Dan and Vickie weave (to the listener) a lyrical musical American journey.

How long has she been writing songs?

…”I normally don’t like what I write, but I’ve been writing since the sixth grade. I write a lot of things down. When I really hit on something good, it comes easily. And all the other work is just part of the exercise. On the other hand Dan is the real prolific poet, and he has a ton of great songs.”

And which do you like better – songwriting or singing?

” Singing is easier and more immediately gratifying. I am an immediate gratification junkie. However, when I write a really good song, the gratification runs deeper.”

Which is more difficult?

“Writing, except when a good one pops out. Writing in general takes more discipline (which, like I said, is not my strong suit), and I get distracted a lot.”

…And good ones do pop out. Listen to “Okay” (the third track). Here Vickie sings vocals that a listener can drink. It is intoxicating (vocally smooth); punctuated by Dr. Dan’s herbal medicine (verbs) and is well played. Of equal quality: “Don’t Tell Me What To Do” and “Farewell Show”!

…”I play what feels good not what seems right. We also don’t play things the same way twice. We often play with different musicians from places like Santa Fe, Austin, Los Angeles, Iowa City, Boston, New York, etc. We never ask the musicians to play it like the record. We like to leave it wide open for spontaneity.”

What are your musical influences?

“Beatles, Elton John, Patsy Cline, The Carpenters, Dylan, Gram Parsons, Chili Peppers, Sly and the Family Stone, the Ohio Players, Jimi, Janis, the Osmonds, the Bradys, Johnny Mathis, Billy Holiday, etc.”

And Vickie, anything more you would like to mention or explain?

…” Dr. Dan and I are happily married, so please do not grab my ass or I will not hesitate to break your fingers (ask the guy at the Wilco show at the El Ray Theater).”

So Listen… But definitely don’t touch!

Posted on July 14, 2002

Track Listing
Listen to track samples
1. American Trash
2. Tompkins Square Park
3. Okay
4. Violet Tracks
5. Hard Country
6. Asleep & Awake
7. Mr. Rock and Roll
8. Last Night Was The Last Straw
9. Somewhere (In This Heart Of Mine)
10. Your Cheating Heart
11. The Cop
12. Don’t Tell Me What To Do
13. Free Day
14. Farewell Show

[Betty Dylan Official Site]

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