This is one of those songs that comes and goes at very random times. Maybe because so many people have recorded it.
This song is of unkown authorship and is considered a traditional folk song. It may have started out that way, even when Bob Dylan recorded it in 1961 for his debut album. But by the time that The Animals recorded it on 18 May 1964 it was transformed into a “folk rock” hit.
Lead singer of the Animals, Eric Burdon, tells the tale that the group needed a song to end their set while on tour with Chuck Berry, that was different. Not a straight out rocker that most bands were ending sets with. To do this, they took this song, put Eric in a single red spot on stage and rocked it some. The response was so positive they decided to record it over the reluctance of their producer. The song was recorded in one take, all of 15 minutes or so.
The Animals had begun featuring their arrangement of “House of the Rising Sun” during a joint concert tour with Chuck Berry, using it as their closing number to differentiate themselves from acts that always closed with straight rockers. It got a tremendous reaction from the audience, convincing initially reluctant producerMickie Most that it had hit potential, and between tour stops the group went to a small recording studio on Kingsway in London to capture it.
But, that’s not what I came here to tell you about (you were waiting for that line, weren’t you?). Back in the day when I was a worship leader in churches, we used to play around during warm ups by playing Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. Since it’s a very basic song in A minor, and in 4/4 time, the basic melody and rhythms can accept many other lyrics.
For fun, play in your head Amazing Grace to the tune of Peaceful Easy Feeling or better yet the theme song from Gilligan’s Island.
And now that I’ve got that stuck in your head, my job is done here.
First a little back story. I was in the Air Force, stationed at Homestead AFB, just south of Miami. My family home was also just south of Miami, just not as far south. My parents had a 32′ motorhome that was used to travel around the eastern seaboard for vacations.
This particular summer, my brother and his wife were going
to join mom and dad on vacation. Their
plan was to go to New Orleans, then up into the mountains of North Carolina,
then to the Atlanta area, finally ending in Disney World where my brother was
to play in a company golf tournament. My
plan was to take some leave and stay at the house and basically party the
Of course, I didn’t tell them that. As far as they knew my
leave was not approved, which was a big fat lie. I can say this now since both
mom and dad have passed.
During this trip, they would call back to the house on a
semi-regular basis. Obviously checking up on me. I’m guessing my brother knew
what was up.
Everything was fine until the one evening they called, and I
was, shall we say, just a bit drunk. While
talking to my brother I let it slip that my leave had been approved. Plans were immediately set for me to fly up
to Greensboro, NC to meet them and spend the rest of the trip with them. I was
not too happy about this plan. The motorhome didn’t have that many sleeping
places. Dad was an emphysema patient and had a nebulizer in the back of the RV
where his and mom’s beds were. Having spent several other vacations in that RV,
I knew how loud that nebulizer was at 2 AM.
I wasn’t looking forward to cramped sleeping quarters and being woken up
at any hour of the morning.
In the end, it was a good thing I joined them. The new plan was for me to fly into Greensboro and rent a car, then drive to meet them at the campground, just across the state line in Greensboro, SC. Big problem. I was only 20 at the time. The minimum age to rent a car was 26. Even with a military ID, they legally could not rent me any vehicle. So, the family unhooked the motorhome and drove up to the airport to rent a car and pick me up.
I’m not sure who exactly rented the car, but I was listed as the primary driver. Following them back to the campground I noticed something very bad. None of the lights on the back of the RV were working. No tail lights, no turn signals, no brake lights, nothing! When we made it back to the campground and got everything hooked back up we started looking at what was wrong.
If I remember correctly (always a challenge), we found a bundle of wires that had been burned out. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Every single wire in the RV was brown. Not brown as in burned or singed, but molded in brown plastic. None of the usual red, black, and green wires. Everything was the same dull brown, from the front to the rear. It would appear that the previous owner rewired the RV with only one color of wire. We had no idea which wire was hot, neutral, or ground! That meant one thing. I was to follow, as closely as possible, the RV to Atlanta where we would park it in a friend’s driveway and rewire the entire motorhome. An entire weekend of vacation would be lost. But it was something very critical.
As I remember (again – we’re talking shaky ground here), we
fixed all the wiring and all the lights worked, and we took off for Disney for
that golf outing. That’s when the next issue showed up. And now, we’re up to date, and where are
somewhere around Duluth, GA.
As I mentioned dad has emphysema. While we were working on the motorhome, we could all see he was sinking into a major breathing issue. That’s when we made the stop at a local hospital to see if we could get dad breathing better, hoping a more powerful breathing treatment would allow him to continue with us. It didn’t work. He spent a night or two in that hospital (my brother thinks it was “Joan Clancy Hospital”). Then he and mom flew back to Miami, while my brother, his wife and I went to Disney.
But, that’s not what I cam here to talk about. While dad was in that hospital, my brother pointed out someone to me. Down the hospital hall was a young guy with a big beard and longer than usual hair. His room was the only one that didn’t have a name outside the door. We would see this gentleman walk up and down the hall, stop and chat with the nurses, and really look like he didn’t need to be there. Plus, he looked very familiar to us. It took me a little bit, but then I saw it. If it wasn’t Kenny Loggins, then it was a doppelganger! It looked just like him. But why was he in the hospital? To complete the conspiracy theory, once he realized we noticed him he didn’t come back out of the room while we were there.
Was it Kenny?
Doubtful. But it’s fun to look back and wonder.
All this finally leads to today’s video. The song was originally released on the 1976 album The Best Of Friends. The video isn’t the best, but I used this version for two reasons. The live version, while musically beautiful, is very boring. They just stand there nothing exciting. Second, the image of Kenny Loggins (the guy on the left) is who we saw in the hospital!
Now I have to admit that the first time I heard this song it was a cover by The Lumineers. And even though I had never heard of The Lumineers at that time, I was totally entranced by the song and the band.
This is a Tom Petty song. Tom has long been one of my favorite musicians. Either solo, with The Heartbreakers, The Traveling Wilburys as “Charlie T. WIlbury Jr.”, and later (ironically since it was his first band) Mudcrutch. When Wifey got her new car and a subscription to SiriusXM Radio, she came home saying she had been listening to the Tom Petty channel, and was wondering about this band Mudcrutch and why they were being played on that channel. Once again my “music-savant” superpower came through!
This is part of the soundtrack from the movie, “She’s The One”. Needless to say, I’ve never seen the movie. Can’t even recall an advertisment for it. Judging by the listings on YouTube, it’s been covered many times. The cover by The Lumineers was on the first anniversary of Tom’s untimely death. The soundtrack actually has two versions of the song. I’m using (No. 3) version for the video. It’s a bit more mellow than the first release, although Jennifer Aniston isn’t in the video for (No. 3), but is in the video for (Circus). And no, I haven’t seen that either. I really don’t watch much TV or movies. Yeah, I’m boring.
Well enough of that, here’s “Walls (No. 3)”. And yeah, this video sucks, but the song is excellent!
The other evening, Wifey and I were relaxing having just got home from work and deciding what to make for dinner. As usual, I had music playing while we were talking. I have music playing all the time. If not out loud, it’s playing in my head. Hence this series of posts.
Instead of the usual streaming music, SiriusXM, Spotify or Pandora, I had a YouTube playlist going. Some song would come on, and I would interrupt, or just pop out with some obscure fact about the song, band, or event that was playing. Wifey usually just smiles and goes back to whatever she was doing. She tolerates me well.
But then this song came on. And she stopped what she was doing, picked up her wine glass and came over to the computer desk where I was sitting to see the video. My playlists tend to feature guitar playing. This particular list is heavy with Eric Clapton. But this isn’t a Clapton song, even though he’s featured in the video.
Tracy Chapman has been a favorite of ours since we first heard “Fast Car“. Her music is so deeply personal it almost hurts. And she is so expressive. Her smile can light up a room, and that smile is so present in this video. As wifey said, she must be thinking “Eric Clapton is playing my song!!!!!”. Who wouldn’t simile when that happens.
So here’s Tracy Chapman and Eric Clapton playing “Give Me One Reason” from 1999. Enjoy!
Let’s go back to the summer of 1969. I was a strapping lad all of 10. Of course, I had not heard of this band then, much less this particular song. The name “Fleetwood Mac” didn’t hit my radar until much, much later with their “Rumours” album in 1977. And, like the majority of my male friends, I was trying to get with Stevie Nicks.
But, as usual, that’s not what I came here to talk about. Fleetwood Mac started out, not as a rock or pop band, but as a blues band. We all know, or if you didn’t know, you do now, that rock is very heavily influenced if not down right a derivative of, the blues. And I am very much into the blues.
“Oh Well” was recorded by the first version of Fleetwood Mac, and this a band that has had many changes.
The single’s peak position in the UK Charts was No. 2 for two weeks in November 1969, spending a total of 16 weeks on the chart. In the Dutch Top 40, it peaked at No. 1, staying in the chart for 11 weeks. It also reached the top 5 in Ireland, Norway, New Zealand and France, and the top 10 in Germany and Switzerland. “Oh Well” was a minor hit in the USA, where it reached #55, thus becoming Fleetwood Mac’s first single to reach the Hot 100, as well as their only pre-Buckingham/Nicks song to earn this distinction. The song still received some airplay on many FM rock stations and its reputation has grown in the years since its release. It has been also re-released in many countries as a ‘Golden Oldies’ single.
I am taken by the little guitar riff then the vocals alone. I always thought the juxtaposition of the fast guitars, then a single voice was cool. There are two parts to the song, but both parts were never played live. Each part was released as the A and B side of a single. Peter Green says to have written part two first, and wanted it released as the A side with the now more popular part one as the B side. But that’s not what happened, and as the saying goes… “the rest is history”.
Here is “Oh Well, Part 1”, live from a 1969 BBC TV show. Enjoy!
And since this is St. Patrick’s Day, I give you this:
Yes, I know, I’ve been very quiet lately. The silence was due to two main reasons, I was sick and work has been crazy busy. Plus I’ve been doing lots on my genealogy.
But enough about that.
Last weekend Wifey and I didn’t have the grandkids for a change. So we did “adult” things. Things like, clean the house, wash the cars (and the dog). You, know fun stuff. But instead of having SiriusXM playing all day, I switched it up and played YouTube playlists. If you’re a regular reader of this blog or follow me on Twitter (social media links are below), you know that I use YouTube for most of my video links. Today will be no different.
This particular track has always been a favorite from the first time I laid eyes on the album cover, I was hooked.
The most common video of the song is taken from some TV show, I’m not sure which one. Chances are my brother will text me the answer when he reads this. He’s good that way.
The power of Grace’s voice is just so amazing. P!nk did a wonderful cover, but it’s just not quite the same.
I had so much more to say, but work is calling (again)… “Anyway, my coffee’s cold and I’m getting told that I gotta get back to work”, but then that’s an entirely different song.
I apologize up front for the lack of posts lately. I have been working on my genealogy quite heavy. There will be a post about that coming up, but I will say I’m about 75% sure I’ve finally found that elusive “immigrant ancestor”.
But, of course, “That’s not what I came here to talk about”.. (Thank you, Arlo).
Yesterday, Wifey and I were standing in line at our local pharmacy (at my age we spend a lot of time there), and this song was playing as background music. I remember back in the day when all the stores and office buildings had the same “elevator music” playing. Now they have streaming music to play. No more big digital tapes with 6 hours of crapola playing. Our dentist even has SiriusXM playing in his office! And this has been stuck in my head ever since.
It goes along, though only slightly, with my post of 8 January. Why? Simply because we again get to feature the autoharp. John Sebastian was the first person I ever saw playing this very odd instrument. Then my music teacher at school came in playing one. I was blown away!
The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song has been covered by many other artists including John Mellencamp in 1976, and Shaun Cassidy in 1978 when it reached #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. (Source) Wifey knew that Shaun Cassidy cover, I had no idea. It has also been used in quite a few TV shows and movies.
I was always intrigued by the “Lovin’ Spoonful” band name. As a kid, I had no idea any of the other meanings the name could imply.
The band’s name was inspired by some lines in a song of Mississippi John Hurt called the “Coffee Blues”. John Sebastian and others in the jug-folk scene of the time such as Geoff Muldaur credit Fritz Richmond for suggesting the name. The song “Coffee Blues” is a tribute to Maxwell House Coffee, which Hurt describes, “rapping” in the beginning of the song, as being two or three times any other brand, ergo, he only needs one spoonful to make him feel all right, what he describes as “my lovin’ spoonful” in the song. The song is part of a group of songs with a long history in recorded blues that generally use the term “a spoonful” to suggest sex, and in some cases use of a drug such as cocaine. The term “lovin’ spoonful” has been conjectured as referring to the amount of ejaculate released by a human male during a typical orgasm.
The last line of that quote could also be applied to English “Art” band, 10CC. Sorry, the (retired) paramedic in me has to get out now and then…
John Sebastian also went on to write the Welcome Back, the theme song for Welcome Back Kotter.The Spoonful were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 and John was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008.
So, kids I have but one question for you; “Do You Believe In Magic?”
If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, and this series, in particular, I’m sure you’ve noticed a penchant for British music. With an emphasis on the first “British Invasion” as the lead. Well, that’s not surprising, as that was the time frame I was forming my musical tastes. Not that I didn’t listen to American Rock N’ Roll. I listened to The Monkees, Paul Revere and the Raiders, The Everly Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, even Sonny & Cher as a kid. Later such bands as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane (but not Starship so much), The Mamas & The Papas, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, and Crosby, Stills, Nash (with or without Young). Although CSN&Y may not be truly “American” as Graham Nash is British and Neil Young is Canadian.
Lately, I’ve been listening to the Tom Petty channel on SiriusXM. Not for any special reason, just as a break from the usual music I listen to. Plus, he’s a Floriduh native as I am. There was a guest celebrity DJ on the TP channel the other day (I think it was Dave Schools, the bassist for Widespread Panic) that mentioned that Petty’s American Girl may be the song that introduced most people to his music since it has been on quite a few movie soundtracks. See this wiki page for more information. And that may be true, but I found his music in other ways.
The song was the final song performed by the band live, on September 25, 2017, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, California. Petty died of complications from cardiac arrest after an accidental prescription medication overdose on October 2, just more than a week later, signaling the end of the Heartbreakers’ 40-year career.
But, that’s not the song I want to talk about. When Wifey and I heard that comment, I said that I was unsure of which song was the what turned me on to Tom’s music. It was between two. One of which is the subject of this post, the other will surface in another post coming up (for a different reason altogether).
That was a hard record to make. It was a 4-track that I made at my house. He (Tom Petty) wrote over the music as it was, no changes, but it took us forever to actually cut the track. We just had a hard time getting the feel right. We must have recorded that 100 times. I remember being so frustrated with it one day that – I think this is the only time I ever did this – I just left the studio and went out of town for two days. I just couldn’t take the pressure anymore, but then I came back and when we regrouped we were actually able to get it down on tape.
Way back in the day (yeah, I’m old), I had this song on a 45 RPM single. Chances are I stole it from my brother gave it to me.
I was totally taken in with the backwards tracked guitar and other wild sounds that start the album.
The oscillating, reversed guitar which opens the song originated from the rehearsals at Russell’s house, where Williams recorded with a 1958 Gibson Les Paulguitar with a Bigsby vibrato unit. According to Lowe, “We were recording on a four-track, and just flipping the tape over and re-recording when we got to the end. Dave cued up a tape and didn’t hit ‘record,’ and the playback in the studio was way up: ear-shattering vibrating jet guitar. Ken had been shaking his Bigsby wiggle stick with some fuzztone and tremolo at the end of the tape. Forward it was cool. Backward it was amazing. I ran into the control room and said, ‘What was that?’ They didn’t have the monitors on so they hadn’t heard it. I made Dave cut it off and save it for later.”
I remember dancing, well what I would call dancing – I’m sure you’d disagree, around my tiny bedroom with this turned up full volume. Needless to say, my mother was not impressed. The video appears to be from Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, although I cannot find it listed on this page. Watching drummer Preston Ritter just pounding the kit, along with vocalist James Lowe (and his autoharp) make me laugh. As was usual for any show such as this one, everything was lip synced. You’ll notice that there are no amps for the guitars. I’ve often wondered how the audience perceived the “performance” by the artists. Could they tell it wasn’t live (nor Memorex)?