I am not a movie fan. I would much rather watch a live performance, or read a book. Or baseball (Spring training is underway!)
So I did read that the Queen movie Bohemian Rhapsody is up for five Oscars. Great for them, I’m still not going to watch it. Queen never was high on my list, and the song the movie derives its name from is on my “Not the song I want to hear” list. (You can search for those posts) It’s way overplayed. Queen has some great songs that you never hear.
Last night, my baby girls and I were playing around on YouTube and ended up on a Muppets tangent. This link will take you to my favorite Muppet musical clip. But this video is the reason for the entire (short) post.
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)?
Now, this takes me back to high school (shudder – I hated those days). Back in those days, I was a band geek. I stall am a geek, just no longer a member of a band. But in theory, it’s all the same. The reason this song is stuck today is probably because I have a little mini-reunion with some of my high school band members tonight. </sigh>
As a trumpet player the band Chicago (A.K.A. Chicago Transit Authority) was my go to band in my late teens. The way they blended rock, horns and political statements was mesmerizing to me. They used a rather unique lettering or font on the album covers. I even started making any papers I had to turn in at school in this font, at least for any titles and drop cap type of format. Mainly hoping it help hide the usual lame prose I was turning in! Doubt it helped any.
This track is from the first album Chicago Transit Authority released way back in 1969. It was 1970 that I picked up the trumpet, and this song jumped out at me immediately.
According to Cetera, the band was booked to perform at Woodstock in 1969, but promoter Bill Graham, with whom they had a contract, exercised his right to reschedule them to play at the Fillmore West on a date of his choosing, and he scheduled them for the Woodstock dates. Santana, which Graham also managed, took Chicago’s place at Woodstock, and that performance is considered to be Santana’s “breakthrough” gig. A year later, in 1970, when he needed to replace headliner Joe Cocker, and then Cocker’s intended replacement, Jimi Hendrix, Graham booked Chicago to perform at Tanglewood which is considered by some to be a “pinnacle” performance.
The track I’m linking to below is the original album version, not the radio edit. So it has the original piano intro that is cut for radio. But, more important to me, is Lee Loughnane’s trumpet solo, which is where the radio version usually starts. This solo, along with Chuck Mangione and Maynard Ferguson, is the reason I picked up the trumpet, to begin with.
The song was not released as a single until two tracks from the band’s second album, “Make Me Smile” and “25 or 6 to 4“, had become hits. It became the band’s third straight Top 10 single, peaking at No. 7 in the U.S. and No. 2 in Canada. Because the song straddled years in its chart run, it is not ranked on the major U.S. year-end charts. However, in Canada, where it charted higher, it is ranked as both the 59th biggest hit of 1970 and the 37th biggest hit of 1971. The original uncut album version opens with a brief “free form” piano solo performed by Lamm. A spoken verse by Lamm is mixed into the sung final verse of the album version. The single version does not include the “free form” intro, and was originally mixed and issued in mono. A stereo re-edit (beginning from the point where the “free form” intro leaves off) was issued on the group’s Only the Beginning greatest hits CD set. A 2:54 shorter edit (without opening fanfare or piano break, starting at the trumpet solo) was included on the original vinyl version of Chicago’s Greatest Hits, but was not included on the CD version. This shorter edit was included on the CD version of the compilation album If You Leave Me Now. This version was used as a radio edit version. A shorter version at 2:46 (starting midway through the trumpet solo) was issued as a promotional single, which finally appeared on 2007’s The Best of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition. A live version on the Chicago at Carnegie Hall box set presents an expanded version of the “free form” intro, which itself is given its own track. Various versions of the song receive airplay; the promotional single edit is the version played on certain ‘Classic Hits’ stations and 1970s radio shows. For example, radio station KKMJ would play the promo edit version on its ‘Super Songs’ of the 70s weekend. Classic Hits KXBT would also play the promo edit, and by contrast the True Oldies Channel would play the 3:20 single version. An AM radio station in Boston (WJIB 740 which also simulcasts in Maine as WJTO 730) plays the original vinyl Chicago IX edit.
First – this is not what’s stuck in MY head this morning. I have John Lennon’s Happy X-Mas (War Is Over) stuck in my head, as usual around the holiday. Wifey woke up with this stuck in her head, so I’m claiming “artistic license” and using her song.
She got out of the shower singing just one line from the song; “A lousy candle’s all I found”. Not even the entire verse, just one line. But I know that feeling.
So without further ado, here is John Kay and Steppenwolf – “Magic Carpet Ride”
In full disclosure, this song was not stuck in my head when I woke up this morning. But I was listening to The Beatles channel on SiriusXM on the way in this morning, and this came on. It’s been stuck there ever since.
I do not usually like covers of Beatles songs, with the exception of Joe Cocker’s covers. Those rock! I will add this to my “approved covers” list. As far as those hideous “Love” and “Across The Universe” soundtracks go, they are right out.
I was going back in forth on which Beatle wrote this song. I was leaning towards John, which is correct, simply due to the depth of the lyrics. But with the mantra thrown in there, I figure George had at least a little input.
From the wiki;
One night in 1967, the phrase “words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” came to Lennon after hearing his then-wife Cynthia, according to Lennon, “going on and on about something”. Later, after “she’d gone to sleep – and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream”, Lennon went downstairs and turned it into a song. He began to write the rest of the lyrics and when he was done, he went to bed and forgot about them. I was lying next to my first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated, and I was thinking. She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song, rather than a “Why are you always mouthing off at me?” [The words] were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don’t own it you know; it came through like that. The flavour of the song was heavily influenced by Lennon’s and the Beatles’ interest in Transcendental Meditation in late 1967 – early 1968, when the song was composed. Based on this, he added the mantra “Jai gurudevaom” (Sanskrit: जय गुरुदेव ॐ) to the piece, which became the link to the chorus. The Sanskrit phrase is a sentence fragment whose words could have many meanings. Literally it approximates as “glory to the shining remover of darkness” and can be paraphrased as “Victory to God divine”, “Hail to the divine guru”, or the phrase commonly invoked by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in referring to his spiritual teacher, “All glory to Guru Dev“. The song’s lyrical structure is straightforward: three repetitions of a unit consisting of a verse, the line “Jai guru deva om” and the line “Nothing’s gonna change my world” repeated four times. The lyrics are highly image-based, with abstract concepts reified with phrases like thoughts “meandering”, words “slithering”, and undying love “shining”. The title phrase “across the universe” appears at intervals to finish lines, although it never cadences, always appearing as a rising figure, melodically unresolved. It finishes on the leading note; to the Western musical ear, the next musical note would be the tonic and would therefore sound complete. In his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon referred to the song as perhaps the best, most poetic lyric he ever wrote: “It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best. It’s good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin’ it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them.”
Well here it is, the last day of November. Florida has had a bit of cold snap, very early for this year.
Lately, I have been listening to the Deep Track channel on Sirius XM more. I do this for two reasons, primarily because I get to hear songs that don’t get a lot of airtime, and second for Earle Bailey’s Head Trip show. Mr. Bailey is also the morning drive DJ on the Classic Vinyl channel. I really enjoy his DJ work. He has a great voice (whereas I was told I have the perfect face for radio!), is very knowledgeable about the music and has a rather dry sense of humor.
Yesterday’s Head Trip was all instrumentals. When he first promoted the concept, I was intrigued. The show did not disappoint. Earle talked about a song I had never heard. Taurus by Spirit. The interesting thing about this particular track is, well, let me quote from the wiki;
Guitar World magazine stated that “California’s most enduring legacy may well be the fingerpicked acoustic theme of the song ‘Taurus’, which Jimmy Page lifted virtually note for note for the introduction to ‘Stairway to Heaven‘.”The Independent noted the similarity in 1997. In 2014, Mark Andes and a trust acting on behalf of Randy California filed an copyright infringement suit against Led Zeppelin in an attempt to obtain a writing credit for “Stairway to Heaven”. Page denied copying “Taurus”, and the suit was unsuccessful. The verdict was overturned on appeal in September 2018.
If you listen to Taurus, I think you’ll agree that Stairway is a copy.
But as Alro and I said in this post; “That’s not what I came here to tell you about”.
When there is a show about “Classic Rock” (and I still hate that term), that’s all instrumental, I will always listen for one song in particular.
This track has always been near the top of my list of all-time favorites. I would dream of one day being able to play it myself. Sadly, I can only play it on the radio. My guitar skills suck.
In case I’m being too obscure here, I’m talking about Classical Gas by Mason Williams. Reading up on Mr. Williams, I didn’t realize that he was also a comedy writer. He has written for some of my favorite shows, The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour and Saturday Night Live among others.
It was on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour that he created and perpetuated the 1968 “Pat Paulsen for President” campaign, an elaborate political satire. Williams also helped launch the career of entertainer Steve Martin. Martin was hired by Williams as a writer on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, for which his contributions were initially paid out of Williams’ own pocket. In 1968, he won an Emmy Award for his work as a comedy writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
So you either know this song, or you have no idea what I’m talking about. This particular track has become a Thanksgiving classic. But it’s only tie to the holiday is that the beginning of the story takes place at Thanksgiving, but as Arlo says; “That’s not what I came to tell you about”. The true message of the song is anti-draft and against the Vietnam conflict.
I am, of course, talking about the classic “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree“. The song was originally released in October of 1967. I don’t think I heard it until 1974 or so. Since the song is long (over 18 minutes), it wouldn’t fit on a 45 RPM single, and therefore was never released for airplay. It would take the advent of the “AOR” (Album Oriented Radio) format, a precursor to today’s “Classic Rock” format (Oh! How I hate that term) for radio to start playing longer tracks like this. Think Iron Butterfly’s iconic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida“.
Alice’s Restaurant is based on a true story. Arlo Guthrie, like a lot of folks at that time, resisted the draft. I don’t totally blame those that did resist. Even though I went on to join the military and eventually retire from the Army, the prospect of going to Vietnam was not something I was looking forward to. But I was too young for the draft.
The moral behind the song is summed up in one line;
The ironic punch line of the story is that, in the words of Guthrie, “I’m sittin’ here on the Group W bench ’cause you want to know if I’m moral enough to join the Army—burn women, kids, houses and villages—after bein’ a litterbug.”
What I find is that in all my years in the military, I served alongside plenty of folks that had much worse than being a litterbug on their records. In the end, Arlo was not drafted. And though the draft board used this arrest as the reason not to draft him, I think was more that his dad, Woody Guthrie, also a singer-songwriter, and a political activist, that had more to do with it. They just didn’t want a potential disturbance in the ranks.
So, go grab you a beverage, and a snack, and sit back and listen to the tale of Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.
Oh! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow (if you’re here in the USA). Otherwise, just have a great Thursday!