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Michelle Shocked

Michelle Shocked was born Michelle Johnston in Dallas, TX, in 1962, where she spent her early childhood traveling around army bases. In 1977, she ran away from her Mormon fundamentalist mother to live with her father, who introduced her to country bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy and Leadbelly, as well as contemporary songwriters Guy Clark and Randy Newman. She spent the next several years exploring the folk underground, spending the early '80s in Austin, where she began honing her own songwriting skills. After dropping out of the University of Texas, she moved to San Francisco, where she quickly embraced the city's punk scene. When she returned home, her mother had her committed to a psychiatric hospital. She was released when her insurance ran out. Shocked left Texas in 1983, traveled throughout the U.S., and became an activist in the squatters movement in New York. In 1984, she moved to Amsterdam. In 1986, Shocked returned to the U.S. and, while volunteering at the Kerrville Folk Festival, English producer Pete Lawrence was impressed by her campfire-side playing and recorded her on his Sony Walkman. The recordings surfaced in the fall of that year as The Texas Campfire Tapes on Cooking Vinyl Records and became a surprise hit in England, eventually topping the independent charts. The success led to her signing with Mercury Records in 1988. Short Sharp Shocked, produced by Pete Anderson in 1988, displayed even more talent, combining the informal, tradition-rooted folkiness of The Texas Campfire Tapes with a strong postmodern feminist perspective and punk attitude. The album quickly earned her respect among the alternative community and critics. In an unexpected move, Shocked returned in 1989 with Captain Swing, a '40s-style big band swing outing that surprised her fans initially but had no shortage of strong material. In 1992, she took something of a step back with Arkansas Traveler, a rootsy collection of songs based on the blackface minstrelsy that covered all forms of early American, homegrown music. In 1993, Mercury finally became fed up with her confusing style jumping and refused to release her proposed gospel album. She then left on a solo tour, selling her newly recorded, independently produced (with Tony Berg) Kind Hearted Woman. Late in 1995, Shocked began legal action against Mercury Records to break her contract. By 1996, Shocked was released from Mercury and embarked on the First Annual Underground Test Site Tour, with Fianchna O'Braonain. Another independent release, Artists Make Lousy Slaves, was sold at the shows. Kind Hearted Woman was picked up for commercial re-release by Private Music in 1996, and as a condition of her release from Mercury, her old label released a "best-of" compilation, Mercury Poise: 1988-1995, the same year. After laying low for several years, in 2002 Shocked re-emerged with a new album, the gospel-influenced Deep Natural, and her own record label, Mighty Sound. In addition to releasing new work from Shocked, Mighty Sound began a program of expanded reissues of her back catalog, which she gained control of following her release from Mercury. In mid-2005, Shocked audaciously released a new trilogy of very different albums all on the same day, June 7: Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Mexican Standoff, and Got No Strings. Mighty Sound also made the three albums available as a set called Threesome. To Heaven U Ride, a collection of covers and originals recorded live from Shocked's 2003 performance at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, appeared in 2007, followed by Soul of My Soul, an all-new set of originals in 2009. ~ Chris Woodstra
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Stations Featuring
Michelle Shocked


    14 songs

    Female Focus

    Female Focus
    1 song

    Alt Country

    Alt Country
    1 song

Albums by
Michelle Shocked

Top Songs by
Michelle Shocked

  1.   Song
  2.   Strawberry Jam featuring Doc Watson
  3.   Come a Long Way
  4.   Anchorage
  5.   Contest Coming (Cripple Creek)
  6.   Woody's Rag
  7.   Shaking Hands (Soldier's Joy)
  8.   Weaving Way
  9.   Jump Jim Crow/Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
  10.   Prodigal Daughter (Cotton Eyed Joe)
  11.   33 RPM Soul
  12.   Hello Hopeville
  13.   Hold Me Back (Frankie & Johnny)
  14.   Over the Waterfall
  15.   Arkansas Traveler
  16.   Secret to a Long Life
  17.   Blackberry Blossom
  18.   When I Grow Up
  19.   If Love Was a Train
  20.   Disoriented
  21.   Too Little, Too Late
  22.   Street Corner Ambassador
  23.   Strange Things Happening Every Day
  24.   Down in the Arkansas by Jimmie Driftwood
  25.   Yamboree Queen
  26.   Blackberry Blossom by Norman Blake
  27.   Don't You Mess Around With My Little Sister
  28.   Memories of East Texas
  29.   V.F.D.
  30.   Secret to a Long Life by The Band
  31.   Introducing Dollar Bill
  32.   On the Greener Side
  33.   Prince of Darkness
  34.   Gladewater
  35.   Old Paint by Dollar Bill
  36.   Strawberry Jam
  37.   Oh, Susannah
  38.   C-H-I-C-K-E-N (The Way to Spell Chicken) by Dollar Bill
  39.   Paper in My Shoe
  40.   Campus Crusade
  41.   Remodeling the Pentagon
  42.   Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight
  43.   Goodnight Irene
  44.   Lovely Rita
  45.   Fogtown
  46.   The Ballad of Penny Evans
  47.   Must Be Luff
  48.   Cement Lament
  49.   God Is a Real Estate Developer
  50.   Black Widow
  51.   Graffiti Limbo
  52.   Quality of Mercy
  53.   Silent Ways
  54.   Sleep Keeps Me Awake
  55.   5 A.M. in Amsterdam
  56.   Worth the Weight by Dan Crary
  57.   Fred's Winter Song
  58.   Looks Like Mona Lisa (Smells Like Tuna Fish)
  59.   Got No Strings
  60.   Russian Roulette
  61.   The Titanic by Dollar Bill
  62.   One Piece at a Time

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