IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED
I was looking for something to watch on TV a few weeks ago and stumbled upon a David Bromberg documentary called David Bromberg Unsung Treasure. It was a pretty good show and can be streamed online here:
I remember seeing Bromberg live for the first time at the famous Passim’s coffeehouse in Cambridge’s Harvard Square back in the mid 70’s. I got to see him again a 5-6 years later at a free summer concert at Rogers Park in Brighton, MA.
Bromberg’s proficiency in all of the sub-genres of American roots music (blues, bluegrass, gospel, R&B), combined with his wicked sense of humor, always made his performances worth attending. Plus he’s a virtuoso on just about every instrument that has strings.
Today’s SotW is “The Holdup”, a song co-written with George Harrison. It appeared on two different Bromberg albums. It was originally on Bromberg’s first album in what’s come to be known as the “Harrison version” because George added his slide guitar to it. The one on Wanted Dead or Alive is known as the “Dead version” because several members of The Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia, Keith Godchaux and Bill Kreutzmann) played on it. I favor the Wanted Dead or Alive version (plus that album had one of the greatest album covers of all time!).
“The Holdup” opens with an intro of piano, guitars and percussion that sounds Spanish influenced. It romps along with high energy before mariachi horns begin to blare.
The lyrics are cousin to Harrison’s “Taxman” (US Revolver) in that “the holdup” refers to the government tax thugs coming to take your money.
STICK UP YOUR HANDS, YOU MUST STAND AND DELIVER,
MY STOMACH’S EMPTY, MY CLOTHES ARE ALL TORN.
OPEN YOUR HEARTS TO THE JOYS OF THE GIVER,
ALL OF YOUR POCKETS ARE TERRIBLY WORN.
THIS IS A HOLDUP, NO WAY TO MISTAKE IT,
WE’RE MEN OF VIOLENCE SO DON’T FOOL AROUND.
IF YOU HAVE MONEY, WE’RE GOING TO TAKE IT,
YOU’LL TRY AND STOP US, YOU’LL END UNDERGROUND.
SO HAND US THE MONEY, DON’T STAND THERE AND SHIVER,
TAX TIME IS COMING, GIVE ALMS TO THE POOR.
OR I´LL PUT A BULLET RIGHT THROUGH YOUR BEST LIVER,
WEALTH IS DISEASE AND I AM THE CURE.
Bromberg has played on the albums of a who’s who of great artists – Bob Dylan, Al Kooper, Ringo, Bonnie Raitt, etc. It’s worth checking out his work with all of these artists and more. He also still performs live in small venues, mostly up and down the east coast. Go see this “unsung treasure” while you have the chance.
Enjoy… until next week.