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Music
 By Lee Zimmerman
Music Columnist


Listening with Lee Zimmerman
 
Various Artists: Parkinsong Volume One; 38 Songs of Hope (Ryko Distribution)

Here are at least two very good reasons to buy this album. For starters, the proceeds from the purchase price go to the ParkinSong Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and collecting funds to research new and innovative therapies to battle Parkinson's Disease, a crippling affliction that affects a million sufferers in the U/S/ alone. The project was spearheaded by Rob Litowitz and his sisters, Carol Golden and Debbie Frank, on behalf of their mother, a retired school teacher who has battled the disease for over ten years.

The other reason to pick it up has to do with the fact that it's one of the best musical samplers you'll ever find, boasting 38 tracks from some of the most compelling singer/songwriters in contemporary music today. The roster itself is enough to impress, boasting the likes of Bonnie Raitt, David Crosby and Graham Nash, Alejandro Escovido, Steve Forbert, Dave Alvin and dozens of others whose names may not be as familiar but whose music is as affecting as anything out there these days. The majority of tracks are unreleased and many recount the artists' own relationship to the disease.
Crosby's "Carry Me" tells of his mother's illness in a way that's both revealing and remarkable. Raitt's "Fearless Love" provides a poignant portrait of commitment and sacrifice. Terri Hendrix offers "Charlie Brown"
in memory of the late Charles Schultz, who created the "Peanuts" characters and suffered from Parkinson's himself. Tom Russell's "Muhammad Ali" pays tribute to the former heavyweight boxing champ who's afflicted with the disease but still maintains his grace and dignity.

Other artists add their own indelible impressions. Richard X Heyman's "Let It Go" is another example of his penchant for creating the perfect pop song.
Alice Peacock mesmerizes with "I'll Start With Me." Neko Case sings "I Wish I Was the Moon" with stunning clarity and conviction while Chuck Prophet's "Old Friends" is both memorable and meaningful. And yet, every track holds to these high standards, each a revelation and a true musical treat. Going from song to song, it becomes something of a revelation in discovering all this amazing talent so that in addition to its other good purpose, hopefully, these 38 Songs of Hope will also bring new recognition to its able participants.


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