“I’m the most sophisticated hillbilly you’ll ever meet.”
Shocked is a traveler and a troubadour; a “picker-poet,” as they say in Texas. As a young feminist, she left Texas to travel, Kerouac-style, a musical vagabond caught up in Reagan-era grassroots politics. Her musical career was ignited by a bootleg recording made around a Kerrville Folk Festival campfire on a Sony Walkman. Released in England as The Texas Campfire Tapes without Shocked’s authority, its success abroad enticed Mercury Records to offer the newcomer a recording contract.
For Mercury, Shocked recorded a trilogy of albums that stand as a captivating primer on American music. Short Sharp Shocked’s spirited folk-rock progressed into Captain Swing’s energetic jump blues, expanding to Arkansas Traveler’s travelogue of minstrel-era country. While songs like “Anchorage,” “Come a Long Way” and “On the Greener Side” achieved popular success, her stylistic iconoclasm frustrated Mercury, particularly since she retained ownership of her masters. Shocked spent several years battling the label before finally “liberating” herself, citing the 13th Amendment.
ToHeavenYouRide spotlights Shocked where she’s always shone brightest—live onstage, delivering for an audience. The album captures her at her most soulful—in the original spiritual sense of the term. So continues the journey of a true American original.