29 December 2012

'Believe It or Not, He Remembers It All': "Life": A Memoir by Keith Richards

Keith Richards

Keith, Mick and Brian and Co. in 
Achmed's Hash Shop, Tangier, Morocco

"I think I can talk for the Stones most of the time, and we didn't care 
what they wanted out there. That was on of the charms of the Stones
And the rock-and-roll that we did come out with on Beggars Banquet was enough. 
You can't say apart from "Sympathy" and "Street Fighting Man" that there's 
rock and roll on Beggars Banquet at all .... This is music." 
-- pp. 238- 239, Life (paperback, 2010) by Keith Richards
Well his world is torn and frayed
It's seen much better days
Just as long as the guitar plays
He'll steal your hear away
Steal your heart away 
- chorus of Torn and Frayed (Jagger / Richards),
Exile on Main St (1972), The Rolling Stones

There is clearly no ghost writer here. Keith Richards, principal guitarist and co-songwriter for The Rolling Stones, let's his personality come shining through on every page of his memoir, Life. (Keith did, by his own admission, need an editor, his trusted colleage journalist James Fox.)

Livin' as hard as Kieth has, it's incredible all that he remembers. We read an unvarnished tale of this working class kid from the London projects (aka Estates) making good with the Stones, the band that fueled with his enormous talent. This memoir also gives us a window into how his music reflected his hard livin', on and off the road. Keith shares tales of sometimes dubious adventures, family lives, loves, and heartbreaks. We also hear of the battles Keith had with his partner and friend, Mick Jagger, with press distortions wiped away.

In a recent interview, actor Malcolm McDowell said he thought everybody should read this book. My goal here is less ambitious; I just want to share some pleasant surprises I founding reading the book. Wanna know how bands work: why some stick together and some blow apart? Interested in the evolution during the 1960s of the modern LP? And for hard core fans, there are details more specific to the Stones. I was fascinated reading that the original studio version of Jumpin' Jack Flash was done all on acoustic guitars, played through over-loaded 1st generation cassette players. Stones album back stories come alive with Richards' pen, just as his guitar brought brought a wealth of popular music to life. If you want to know more about why the music of late '60s and early '70s  is so important to a lot of folks like me, read this book.

Keith, a surprisingly charming man, tells his story with unexpected candor. He traces the path of a great British blues rock band making musical history over the last 50 years as well as his life inside and out of that band. I cherish what I learned from this detailed account of Keith on Keith.

Here's a little taste of Keith slowing things down, fronting his other great band, The X-Pensive Winos.

Keith Richards and The X-pensive Winos

25 December 2012

"Too Good for the Basement" Series (No. 2): Great Rock Vocalists: Peter Wolf & Co., "Nothin' But the Wheel" (2002)

[reworked and reposted; from early 2011]

Peter Wolf live at Wolftrap (2010)

This is one of the best crossover tracks by a great rock singer/songwriter giving us a modern country classic. Peter Wolf, former front man for The J. Geils Band -- here with another of the great rock vocalists and a first class team of studio musicians -- cutting the perfect road song for his 2002 solo album Sleepless.

One more a thing about "another of the great rock vocalists": Jagger may not have stuck around for more of the sessions for the Sleepless album than just to cutting the harmonies for Nothin' but the Wheel, but Mick certainly left his influence all over Peter's vocals on the other album cuts I've heard. But that's the way it goes when you're rollin' down the interstate looking for a back road to unwind.

And yes, the Highway 41 in Nothin' but the Wheel is the same road Dickie Betts was, in the song, 'born rollin' down' "... in the backseat of a Greyhound bus ..."

I love this song more each time I hear it. So give her a spin; eh, what do you have to lose?

14 December 2012

"It's Comin' on Christmas, They're Cuttin' Down Trees ...." -- Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell

"Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know."

"A little love and affection, in everything you do,
Will make the world a better place
With or without you."
-- Neil Young

Combine those two principles, those two observations, those two insights. In reflecting upon them, I find a working theory about why the women in my life can both bring me so much joy, while also leaving me clinging to the dying embers of a painful relationship.

And so it is with the Christmas season, for those who partake. Christmas in America carries with it a lot of baggage, some of it worth cherishing, some of it an almost unbearable burden. But Sister Chödrön reminds us the season has things to teach us. And since the Mayans were wrong about existence ending this week, Christmas won't be going anywhere, remaining firmly rooted in western culture. Rooted there to teach us things we need to know.

And so I come to this year's Christmas song, one that does not fall within the traditional Christmas songbook. I offer River, a song about a young Canadian woman exploring her feelings, at Christmas time, about a shattered relationship.

I think the insights offered here, one by a Bhuddist nun and two by Canadian singer/songwriters, have much to offer us this holiday season. I hope "my aim is true."

07 December 2012

"Desperately in Need, of Some Stranger's Hand, in a Desparate Land"

Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall): 
"You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. 
When it was all over, I walked up. 
We didn't find one of 'em, not one of those stinkin' dink bodies. 
But the smell, you know, that gasoline smell -- the whole hill. 
Smells like -- victory. 
{Kilgore pauses to reflect} 
Someday this war's gonna end."

Director Francis Ford Coppola chooses The End by The Doors to open his Viet Nam war epic, Apocalypse Now Redux (1979, 2001). I can't think of a more powerful use of an existing song to set the mood for this reworking of a screenplay, originally titled "The Psychedelic Soldier", to a film interpretation -- set in the Viet Nam war -- of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902).

But I'm open to suggestions. Take the dream sequence ride in the clip below; tell me what you think.

28 November 2012

Happy Birthday, Jimi!

From the Paullinator:
Jimi Hendrix was born November 27, 1942.
Happy Birthday, man.

21 November 2012

"Money's Tight, Nothin's Free, Won't Somebody Come and Rescue Me; I am Stranded, Out in the Crossfire"

Stevie Ray Vaughn
(sings the title quote like he understands what it means)

Sullivan's Travels (1941; dir. Preston Sturges)
(film the Coen Bros. tipped their hat to with O Brother Where Art Thou)

[Written May 2012 through November 2012]
In the place where you are born and grow up, you begin to learn the things all men must know. Although they are the simplest things, it take a man's life to really know them. And if you are to be a writer, the stories you [tell] will be true in proportion to this knowledge of life that you have ... [of] the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, the people, the places, and how the weather was. (Except from narrative introduction in the 1963 film Ernest Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (dir., Martin Ritt) (Introduction by E. A. Hotchner -- 1968).
 When, despite your best efforts to keep things in balance, the money runs out and your Seven Spanish Angels are away for an audience with the Man with the thunder, changes simply must come.

My offline financial exile shattered my attempt to keep things fresh over the past five years of writing and editing Gold Coast Bluenote.

Here are of few of the treasures I've enjoyed during my break from the online life:
- Steve Earle Live From Austin TX (DVD of an Austin City Limits gig from 1986, New West Records, 2004) .... [with The Dukes]. Steve and his band turn in a crack performance that made one friend of mine wonder why he "didn't make it big." Whatever the answer to that question, the full Austin City Limits concert is first class -- what Gram Parsons would call "cosmic American music."
- The Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way (CD, 2006). I've written about this album here before, so I'm going to reprint part of one of two GCB posts on the record:
A friend of mine put on an album the other night, one I hadn't written about since it took home five Grammys and tore up the charts in 2006. The Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way still sounds great these five years later.
As an aging hippie, the idea that a band would stir up so much controversy by exercising an artist's right to criticize American foreign policy from overseas is more than a little disconcerting. I grew up at the height of the era where protest music and musicians speaking their minds were badges of honor. But judging on the first decade of this century, a band now puts its future on the line by stepping out of line. As I think about it, I guess its always been risky to oppose those in authority.
The Dixie Chicks are still thriving with a smaller fan base, having lost many of their more conservative, mainstream country fans. But they are still going strong, and their cathartic album Taking the Long Way stands as one of the decade's most important protest records.
- Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie and George C. Scott in The Hustler (DVD, 1961; dir. Robert Rossen). You will find a full post on this film here.
- Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake in Sullivan's Travels (1941; dir. Preston Sturges)
- White Shadow by Ace Atkins (historical novel, 2006). It's a vast over-simplification to say that White Shadow is Tampa, Florida's The Godfather. This noir novel is drenched in local color and the Mafia-drenched world of Tampa and Havana, Cuba in the mid-1950s. 
I was born in '57. Nobody talks anymore about the history this book is filled with, from the Latin and Sicilian mobsters who ran the city's underworld to the task faced by honest Tampa cops of trying to chip away at a granite mountain of corruption and decadence. Atkins takes the Pulitzer Prize nominated research on an unsolved mob murder in the fifties and spins an accurate, engaging tale of the darker side of life in my hometown. It's one of the finest historical novels I've found since discovering Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Deadwood: The Complete Series (DVD set, copyright 2004, 2006, 2007; created by David Milch)
 As reader's of Gold Coast Bluenote would expect, there was a good deal of rock 'n' roll that matters on the home jukebox while I was offline. Let me mention a few of these classics that were in heavy rotation:
Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, Derek and the Dominoes (1970; produced by Tom Dowd)
Exile on Main St, The Rolling Stones (1972, produced by Jimmy Miller)
The Chess Box: Chuck Berry, (3 DVD compilation, 1988)
The Bootleg Series, Vol. IV, The Royal Albert Hall Concert, Bob Dylan (the acoustic side, 1966). Especially Dylan's live version of, arguably, one of the greatest songs ever written, Visions of Johanna.
 If these albums, DVDs, or books are gathering dust in your collection or you haven't acquired the more recently released archival material, well, double clutch your mojo back into gear and let the good times roll. A little time offline did me a world of good. To quote Chuck Berry:

"C'est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell."

16 November 2012

Dust Bowl Blues

With all the heated discussion these days of man-made global warming, it seems wise to take a closer look at  the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. This Sunday and Monday evenings, on PBS (check your local listings), documentarian extraordinaire Ken Burns is doing just that. My expectation is that this program will meet or exceed Ken Burns' habitual high standards. Anyway, I for one will be watching.

Now, I can't help but take this opportunity to share one of Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads (1940). So, without further ado, here's Dust Bowl Blues, a song that combines Woody's keen sense of social observation with his sense of humor, even in the most tragic circumstances.

11 November 2012

Campaign Speech Closers

In yesterday's Saturday Single at Echoes in the Wind, my buddy whiteray played a numbers game with some old Top 40 charts and ran across a single that brought back some strong memories for me. So here's a moderately embarrassing story from my high school days.

When I got my first stereo in 1970, and "plugged into rock 'n' roll", one of my first albums was Abbey Road by The Beatles. The single off that record that grabbed my attention, referenced by whiteray yesterday, was Come Together (backed by Something).

Now let's jumped ahead to the spring of 1974. I'm running for student body president at my high school and faced with delivering one campaign speech just before the election wrapped up. Rock 'n' roll had grabbed my soul by then and I came up with the closing line for that speech, the hook from that Beatles single, "Come together, right now, over me."

If you're thinking right now that might not have been such a good idea, you're right. I came to the end of the speech, delivered the line, and it quite simply died in the room. I still won the election, but that speech hadn't appeared to help.

Inspired by the Echoes in the Wind post from yesterday, with a little bit of hunting I found what appears to be the original video for the song Come Together. It's a piece of pop art and a fine song I thought I'd give you a chance to check out -- for many, again. So, from the beginning of the end of the beginning of The Beatles, here's one for the ages.

28 October 2012

Katharine Hepburn, flying Howard's plane, "Howard, there's a rather alarming mountain heading our way."

(l to r) Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), Hughes Press Agent Johnny Meyer (Adam Scott),
Errol Flynn (Jude Law) and Kathrarine Hepburn (Kate Blachett) 
at Hollywood's Coconut Grove circa 1927
Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (2004) is a real triumph from many perspectives, but Kate Blanchett's superb portrayal of Katharine Hepburn alone makes this a "must see" film for fans of early Hollywood.

Primarily, The Aviator is the story of the sides of Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) we should know, and by and large, don't. Hughes started out as the renegade heir to the tool bit fortune behind the oil drill bit that revolutionized production in the Texas Boom era. Hughes takes his whiz kid business talent, considerable capital and fearless hubris to California, combining one passion, aviation, with a very expensive hobby, making films.

Hughes and Chief Lieutenant Noah Dietrich (John C. Reilly)

As aviation innovator, he helped steer the course of modern aviation. In making the films Hell's Angels (1930) (his aerial war epic), Scarface (1932) (his classic gangster film) and The Outlaw (1943) (his guilty pleasure effort), Hughes showed Hollywood and the Breen Office that he wouldn't be intimidated.

Though not understood at the time, all Hughes' manic bluster -- thrown primarily at commercial aviation, with plenty left for Hollywood and his splashy love life -- would ultimately cost the mogul his sanity. As he became more accomplished -- and challenged -- a combination of obsessive compulsive disorder with paranoiac fear of disease crippled Hughes' interpersonal and home life.

The hand of director Scorsese is easy to see in the attention to detail and quality of the production. Take this montage of flying sequences from the film set to a great piece of music,

Between the Roaring Twenties and the post-war 40s, Hughes helped shaped the direction and look of modern aviation. And the story well told makes one hell of a ride on film.

Kathrarine Hepburn (Kate Blachett)

Hughes defending himself before a Senate committee accusing him of being a war profiteer

08 October 2012

Solomon Burke: "I Gotta Be With You" (2010)

Solomon Burke was preaching in his family church by the time he was seven years old. And all these years later, you can still here the proof in his music. That early preaching was back in the late 1940s, as Burke turns 72 this month. 

01 October 2012

Hal David, Requiescat in Pace

Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick and Hal David

Before I got my first stereo in 1970 at the age of 13 and discovered Top 40 radio pop and rock, my only source of music was my dad's AM radio station of soft pop and too much talk. Of the few songs that grabbed me, most were written by Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David. Dionne Warwick built her career on them. Solid melodies and smart, poetic lyrics saved me until I found rock 'n' roll.

Thanks Hal.

Burt Bacharach (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David) accompanying Dionne Warwick on 

26 September 2012

Meandering Musical Musings

A Guest Contributor Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous

The Go-Go's
Last week I was music surfing on Youtube, at the back of my mind was the thought that 80s music ladies were hotter than what we see today. I ran across some interesting stuff.

First up, the Bangles, tearing it up during this concert footage.
I love that they are not half naked, and there are no dancers. They just perform. But they look like they are having almost as much fun as the crowd. Some great 80s big hair. Susanna Hoffs has the eyes of an anime character.
Here she is, front and center, in a fairly recent performance, at age 52. The years have been more than kind.

Interlude: I once heard WWE chairman Vince McMahon make the distinction between 'sports' and 'sports entertainment'. This was eye-opening, once I extended the idea to the difference between 'music' and 'music-entertainment'. I guess I prefer music. Particularly to the often vulgar antics of modern music entertainment.

Speaking of girl bands, and having fun, here are the Go-Go's, with comedian Jack Black as front man. It's big goof, and everyone is having a blast.
What's missing from the clip above is Belinda Carlisle. I mentioned that 80s ladies were hot, check this out. Belinda is dressed quite demurely in this video, and she is still impossibly hot.

Jumping back to off-beat cameo appearances in a music video, check out the driver in this one:
If you like music entertainment (guilty pleasure), there is a time and place for it. It's called Glee. Here's a clip with Heather Morris, aka HeMo. She is a world class dancer, funny, and can carry a tune.
Wrapping up with the Pixies
and Sonic Youth, just because. Below is one of the greatest covers ever recorded.
Only thing missing from this concert set was you, but you were here in my thoughts.

21 September 2012

At Twenty, Little Stevie No More

When, in 1970, Stevie Wonder's self-produced (first-effort) single -- Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours -- hit, the song exploded, not only on the black charts, but on the Top 40 (pop) charts as well. Well named house band at Hitsville, U.S.A, the Funk Brothers -- with Stevie on his best released vocal -- created a  rock solid Detroit soul /funk / R&B single and a with a uniquely raw Stevie vocal. Little Stevie had grown up.

I fell in love with it.

For me, this single, as an artist profile of Wonder at Rolling Stone.com wrote calling it the perfect fusion of pop and soul, rock and funk. I'd call it the ultimate crossover record. 

The Motown magic still has me as a disciple.

23 August 2012

"There But for the Grace of God ..."

by Guest Contributor Barbara Washburn

Grace Slick and Janis Joplin
(photo credit: Jim Marshall)

They were friendly competitors for Queen of the San Francisco rock scene, good friends who didn't take it too seriously. One was beautiful, with a contralto voice, the other, not so much a babe but she had the pipes. She could literally strike two notes at once. Above is a famous photograph of the two of them, taken on a hot San Francisco afternoon. (Another photo from the same photo shoot is available on Amazon as a poster.) Janis is in a hat and heavy coat, Grace in a Girl Scout uniform. Yet rock was still very much a boy's club, and these two felt more like accessories than players.

And then came Monterey in '67. Janis, with her rendition of
Ball and Chain slammed her head against that glass ceiling of the boy's club and shattered it.

Once she'd pushed her way through the hole she created, she pulled Grace up, and there they stood, the undisputed Queen and her heir. Rock changed that afternoon in Monterey, but of all the performances recorded, Janis's still blows one away.

Janis left
Big Brother; Grace remained with the Jefferson Airplane. It was a huge risk for Janis, going out on her own, both psychologically and professionally. The experience scarred her, but she persevered, there was music to be made, pain to be articulated in a way that wrenched the heart, a boy's club who needed to see her thumb her nose at them.

All too quickly came Woodstock in the summer of 1969. With all the delays, the musicians had to entertain themselves somehow, and Janis drank so much that her manager, Albert Grossman, refused to allow the footage of her performance into the original film; a wonderful Janis segment is included in the extended version of
Woodstock. The Airplane, scheduled to go on at nine, came on at six in the morning, spending their time doing so many drugs Grace Slick later said "I don't know how we performed." But she did, with her rendition of White Rabbit sublime in its own way.

Though Grace didn't realize it at the time, she had written and performed the signature song for the slogan "Drugs, Sex, and Rock and Roll." Naturally she had to perform it at Woodstock, what with all the bad acid going around, it was a form of comfort as well as awe. Blitzed out of her mind, drop dead gorgeous, she told them to follow Alice, it would be all right.

It couldn't last much longer after Woodstock, though no one could see it at the time. On the fourth of October, 1970, Janis died. She was in LA, recording her finest album, Pearl, with a band befitting her amazing talent. She'd been clean for awhile, but for whatever reason, she reached out to a dealer, who delivered almost 100% pure heroin. She didn't know that, just as she didn't know she was dying when she went out to the lobby to get change to buy cigarettes. She died after returning to her room, the change and the pack of cigarettes still clutched in her hand.

When asked that day about Janis's death, Grace said "There but for the grace of God go I."

The boy's club had forever gone coed, thanks to these two women. One can still hear Janis's influence in musicians today, from Robert Plant to Debbie Harry and others. Listen to Plant sing. He owes but will never acknowledge a debt to Joplin's vocals.

One can only long for the music Janis would have made, had her personal demons not been so overwhelming. All one has to do is listen to the acoustic version of Me and Bobby McGee to understand why the song's writer Kris Kristofferson said, upon hearing it, "She owns that song now." His tribute to her is on his The Silver Tongued Devil album, entitled Epitaph Black and Blue. There is no more poignant commentary on the price of breaking the glass ceiling and standing there virtually alone.

As for Gracie, she lived, though sometimes one wonders how. Sober now, she's turned her talents to visual art, and they are prodigious talents. Her paintings and drawings of her dead contemporaries are beautiful and insightful. She calls one she did of Janis "Wood Nymph", talking about a side of Janis she saw, the playful little imp. Grace's portrait of Jim Morrison is called "Sacrifice to Morpheus", a look at his dark side. Grace also painted Janis and her in the forest. Her work is a look backwards and an insightful visual commentary. She has no illusions about Woodstock, no romanticized view of it, though she is reverential about Monterey.

It couldn't have lasted, those few years that gave us such great musicians who celebrated drugs, sex, and rock and roll. And it will never come around again, anomaly that it was, for the hangover is too great. Its end began with Altamont, and the door was slammed on it on May 4, 1970, though it took a little perspective to see that. But while it was there, while it was good, oh man, what a trip. And when it decayed, it was inevitable. The reasons are many, take your pick: "suits" who saw dollar signs and signed all these groups to their label, others who exploited the concepts for their own purposes, ala Manson, a world that was growing older and we along with it. Pick one or make up your own.

But out of it came two women, who with unbridled determination, broke that ceiling, burst through the boy's club door, and gave us some incredible music while allowing many more fine female musicians to follow them. Their musical influences still reverberate today, and the legacy of their music will not fade away. In keeping with the yin-yang, the magic both believed in to some extent, one lived and one died. I hardly think the balance was worth it in this case.

06 July 2012

"The Hustler" (1961, dir. Robert Rossen): "The Ability of Character to Triumph Over Talent"

Jackie Gleason and Paul Newman lag for the break in The Hustler

Paul Newman and Piper Laurie Share a Cigarette,
as well as Their Hopes and Insecurities

O so much more than a fine film about the life of a professional pool hustler who wants to prove he's the best player Straight pool player there ever was, Robert Rossen's film also explores the fragile, easily shatterable, relationship between Fast Eddie Nelson (Newman) and the woman he becomes involved with, Sarah (Piper Laurie). This relationship is further strained when professional gambler Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) enters the picture, taking over as the quite Machiavellian manager for Fast Eddie. To reveal more of the plot here would simply spoil the subtle and powerful developments throughout this fine drama, based on Sidney Carroll's 1959 novel of the same name.

(left to right) George C. Scott and Paul Newman

Jackie Gleason's performance as "Minnesota Fats", the Man, the best there is in the game, is truly inspiring. So much so that as a youngster growing up the 60's, I thought, incorrectly, that "Minnesota Fats" was in fact the best pool player in world. I learned recently that, at that time, another player was ranked number one back then. A heavy set fellow by another name, adopted the name "Minnesota Fats" to embellish his own reputation, drawing of Gleason's stellar performance here. And the trick worked.

But that alludes to the most important aspects of competitive sports, making the other player or team think you are the best, as well as having the well-honed skill to back that up. What makes this film even more engrossing than a good sports drama is the tragic psychological triangle that develops when the Newman/Laurie couple encounter George C. Scott's tragic meddling in both their lives. But as I note in the title of this post, character, strength of will, ultimately prevail.

Rossen's film is not only a great sports drama, but also an exploration of human frailty and the ultimate survival of those strong enough to weather the storm of life.

(Note: Check out part of the soundtrack, with more great stills from the film, in the jukebox atop the left column.)

01 July 2012

Blue-eyed Soul with the Toughest Female Vocalist and Guitar Player in the Crossover R&B Genre: Bonnie Raitt, "Runaway"

Bonnie Raitt (2008)

Bonnie has done this cover on at least two of her studio albums, and I'm sure it's a standard in her set lists. I saw her do Runaway live in Baltimore in the 80s and its still just as fresh as it every was. And there's a good reason for that; she does what I consider the definitive version of this classic. So get up and dance to the remarkable talents of one of R&B's greatest female performers, the blues' best philanthropist, and, on newer tracks, a remarkablely tasteful slide guitar player.

Viva Bonnie. "Long May You Run".

26 June 2012

A Virtuoso in Transition: David Lindley Leading El Rayo-X, "Quarter of a Man" (1981)

From Jackson Browne's lead guitar player in the '70s to band leader of El Rayo-X in 1981, through to today, David Lindley remains a unique force in the development of, well, Lindley music. Here's a track from 1981 off Lindley's first album on his own. (I've read that many consider this a Lindley solo album; not so, in my opinion -- just give it a listen. El Rayo-X was a true trio.) Also below is a sample of Jackson Browne at his best with Lindley in support.

Quarter of a Man is an excellent little reggae tune from back when performing reggae well was something most non-Jamaicans weren't able to accomplish. It took Eric Clapton and also the Stones years of development to play solid reggae, while it seemed to come naturally to Lindley. El Rayo-X nailed it first time out, along with a number of other genres on their only album. I bought the record after hearing it just once at a friend's house, and then proceeded to wear out that magical piece of vinyl -- listening, learning.

For some interesting reading and listening, David Lindley's website can tell you all you would want to know about this eclectic musician; it's well worth a visit or two. You can explore his remarkable instrument collection here.

And just for old times sake, below you can also check out David's trademark guitar solos and fills backing up Jackson Browne on a live version of the title track from the classic Late for the Sky album (1974). That title track still moves me to this day. I hope you take this modest post as an invitation to explore the world of David Lindley.


Jackson with David, circa 1974.

21 June 2012

... "There Goes Your Freedom of Choice, There Goes the Last Human Voice"... : Tom Petty (2002)

When Tom Petty and his band-for-life
the Heartbreakers, finished cutting this one, they knew they had audio-napalm on their hands, but no one knew if Tom could sell it the executives ("the suits") at their label. Tom played the completed studio track for the boys upstairs, not sure, but in his heart not caring, if his slash and burn ballad would blow up right there and be over. Or should I say, fodder for another fight.

As the song progressed during the meeting, the room grew quiter. There was dead silence in the conference room when the song ended. After a minute or so, one of the executives pulled himself together and remarked, trying to break the tension, "That's not about us, is it?" Now, more silence from the executives but one of their own had summed it all up. (Source: interview with Tom Petty in Peter Bogdanovich's comprehensive documentary on the band, Chasing Down a Dream).

Petty articulated, and the Heartbreakers brought home the message that real radio was dead to the children of the millenium. If these 21st century rules (see lyrics below) applied in 1957, Elvis Presley would be a retired truck driver who sang in church; Chuck Berry would be a local hero as a club act in St. Louis. There would be no Beatles, no Stones, no Motown. If the suits and the corporations won, my brothers and sisters born in the 50s, and everybody going forward, would be the new Lost Generations. And so it came to pass, we lost, but keep fighting. But I'll let Tom tell it.
The Last DJ
by Tom Petty
Well you can't turn him into a company man
You can't turn him into a whore
And the boys upstairs just don't understand anymore
Well the top brass don't like him talking so much
And he won't play what they say to play
And he don't want to change what don't need to change
And there goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
There goes the last DJ
Well some folks say they're gonna hang him so high
Because you just can't do what he did
There's some things you just can't put in the minds of those kids
As we celebrate mediocrity all the boys upstairs want to see
How much you'll pay for what you used to get for free
And there goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
And there goes the last DJ

[Instrumental break]

Well he got him a station down in Mexico
And sometimes it will kinda come in
And I'll bust a move and remember how it was back then
There goes the last DJ
Who plays what he wants to play
And says what he wants to say
Hey, hey, hey
And there goes your freedom of choice
There goes the last human voice
And there goes the last DJ

15 June 2012

Lyrics you rarely know: CCR's "Green River" (or) A Track Off One of CCR's Three Sequential Releases, that is, Their "Exile on Main St"

These John Forgerty produced, written, performed -- and undecipherable lyrics from a great, great album, are now accessible with the touch of a button from the 'net.

They are well worth knowing.

Well, take me back down where cool water flow, yeh.
Let me remember things I love.
Stoppin' at the log where catfish bite,
walkin' along the river road at night,
barefoot girls dancin' in the moonlight.

I can hear the bull frog callin' me.
Wonder if my rope's still hangin' to the tree.
Love to kick my feet way down the shallow water,
shoe fly, dragon fly, get back t' your mother.

Pick up a flat rock, skip it across Green River.

Up at Cody's camp I spent my days, oh,
with flat car riders and cross-tie walkers.
Old Cody, Junior took me over,
said, you're gonna find the world is smould'rin'
an' if you get lost come on home to Green River.

Come on home.

12 June 2012

"Life, Life, Life!": "And the doctors say, you'll be okay ..."

The title of this post is a quote, a bit of reflection on his and all of our personal existence, I heard from a black gentleman on a bus one afternoon many years ago in Baltimore.

I'm gonna shift gears now, and the lyrics reprinted below break my family friendly rule here at Gold Coast Bluenote (i.e. this one isn't for the kids), but rock 'n' roll is sometimes medicine for me, a way for me to channel my frustrations and aggravations without busting up the drywall. So, without further ado, a few lyrics from Mick Jagger when he was about the age I am now, a video of the Stones song I Go Wild (1994, 1995) and I'm out.

09 June 2012

Girls with Guitars: "Leaving Chicago", Cassie Taylor / Dani Wilde / Samantha Fish

Girls with Guitars, Live

From the traditional to the contemporary blues scene, here's a track that would would have every toe tappin' in the blues club, fill the dance floor and get all the men glared at by their ole ladies.

05 June 2012

Son House: "Death Letter Blues"

Son House
After I quite drinking, after I lost my truck, I still used to go to bars, usually in the afternoon when I could get control of a good jukebox. One of my favorite haunts was a notorious dive in downtown Tampa called The Hub. I'd drink club soda at the bar, pouring the few bucks I had to spare into the jukebox and over-tipping the bartender.

In all my years of jukebox explorations, the greatest discovery I ever made was Son House, one of the the gifted Mississippi delta bluesmen who influenced Robert Johnson. Here's a little taste of Son House. I hope it sparks your interest in this little known acoustic blues master.

31 May 2012

"I Want Love to ...."

I Want Love to
Roll Me Over Slowly
Stick a Knife Inside Me
And Twist it All Around

I Want Love to
Grab my Fingers Gently
Slam Them in a Doorway
And Put my Face into the Ground

Bob Dylan said once that lyrically, every line in a song has to be as good as the first line. Rarely does a lyricist achieve this. On Blunderbuss, with his song Love Interruption, Jack White both meets and exceeds this standard. The music is even more of a revelation.

My faith in the next generation of iconoclastic musicians is strengthening.

25 May 2012

Happy Birthday, Bob!

Yesterday America's greatest living poet, Bob Dylan, turned 71. For all he's given me, for all he's helped our generation give the world, here's a little birthday wish: from The Band's Last Waltz (Concert, 1976; Scorsese's film, 1978), here Bob, Robbie & Co. performing Forever Young.

22 May 2012

Jagger / Arcade Fire on SNL 5/19/12

In case you missed it, this is the first of 3 songs Sir Mic performed with different backing artists on the season finale of Saturday Night Live this past weekend.

Judge for yourself; for me, The Last Time with this lineup rocked the house, and mine too.