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.