Roots

Have we done anything on murder songs? We should. This one isn’t exactly murder but the threat is refreshingly explicit.

I wonder how many real murders have been directly – inspired isn’t quite the word here – influenced shall we say – by songs? It must have happened a few times. Music has been a major player in various murder cults of course, and war of course, but individuals who committed murder under the influence of a song – how rare is that? Inquiring minds want to know.

Anyway, Sonny Boy II has his very own blues style, and I happen to think that he’s one of the greatest singers ever, not to mention maybe the best harp player, both instantly recognizable at any rate, and his band swings the blues good.

 

Everything is “Beautiful”

The last couple of years Diane and I have vacationed in New York, we have hit a couple of plays. Last year, The Book of Mormon and Larry David’s Fish in the Dark were it, and this year, I grabbed tickets to The Humans which had just moved to Broadway a month before our trip, and perfectly, the play won four Tonys including best play, actor, and actress, two nights before the tix I copped.

But, for the second show, I opted for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. There is no question how much I loved King’s songwriting, then with her (now late) husband Gerry Goffin. The LocomotionUp on the RoofChains, and especially Will You Still Love Me, Tomorrow?–which is among my favorite songs ever–are all such great and timeless cuts.  In fact, I wrote this obit when Goffin passed away a couple of years back.

But, last year, when Di and I were in NYC for the FSTA, as we walked up Broadway to Central Park, I noticed the Brill Building for the first time, so I stopped, and looked and took a photo of the front.

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Somewhere, that shot was lost, but this year when we walked by I got another snap, and though I knew the bulk of the Brill Building story, the show brought out so much and so many great songs and just what amazing and productive songwriters like Lieber and Stoller, and Neil Sedaka, and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in addition to Goffin and King, and all of this orchestrated by Don Krischner.

One of the things that plagued Goffin and Mann, in particular, with the British invasion and new propensity for bands to write their own materiel was writing songs that were relevant, rather than just pop tunes that appealed to the generally superficial life of teenagers.

Goffin. who wrote the words, and King banged out this really great tune immortalized:

 

Afternoon Snack: Love, “7 And 7 Is”

I was streaming 60’s hits on Spotify as I drove to meet the family for dinner Friday evening, and the lovely Alone Again, Or by Love came willowing out of the speakers via my IPhone.

I was always a big Love fan, but the song that really did it for me was this one, 7 And 7 Is. I was 13 when the song was released in June of 1966 and along with I Fought the Law the song was easily my favorite of the summer (though You’re Gonna Miss Me by the 13th Floor Elevators ranks right there too).

Clearly, the wall of guitars and driving beat prove I was a rocker of the highest order, even back then. And, well, when I pulled the song up on YouTube this morning, 7 And 7 Is had lost none of its punch.

So, rather than chocolate eggs or a spiral ham for Easter, you can get a virtual slug in the chest from the late great Arthur Lee and his mates. And, tell me if the song doesn’t sound as good and advanced today as it did 50 years ago?

 

 

Afternoon Snack: The Yardbirds, “Shapes of Things”

The Biletones are gearing up for summer with a new cluster of songs. Summer means a gig back at The Bistro in Hayward end of June, two dates in Madison, Wisconsin and then back to Frankie’s Blue Room in Naperville, Illinois late July/early August, and then a gig in at Raymond’s, in Cazadero, on the California Russian River.

One of the tunes to make the potential set list is the Yardbirds Heart Full of Soul which is great as my rhythm-playing lead singer mate Tom Nelson and I have been lobbying to do something by the band for at least five years.

It should not be necessary to acknowledge that the Yardbirds were the greatest guitar band ever: Just the fact that Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page each held the main axe slot confirms this maxim.

I was sort of shocked when I ran a search on the site here and did not see any entries for the band, so I figured that needed to be corrected.

As it was, I made a Spotify playlist of the songs the band is working on, and after Heart Full of Soul finished, I decided to add The Yardbirds to my artist’s list, and started streaming them as I drove home from golf this morning.

On the way, I had to stop and run an errand, so I stuffed my IPhone–which was doing the streaming–into my pocket, and as I walked to the shop in the little circus, I could hear Still I’m Sad, ostensibly piping through the muzak system. “Such an odd coincidence,” I thought, and then when Shapes of Things came on, I decided whoever controlled the mall streaming was a fan and having a go at it.

Until I realized the music was emanating from my IPhone, which managed to get to “play” in my butt pocket.

So, ok, maybe there is no god, but no denying what a great band The Yardbirds were, and what a great cut Shapes of Things is.

Check it out and try to argue, but you will lose. Every time

 

 

RIP Lemmy

Sad that it took Lemmy’s death to bring me back here and give him a proper burial. (And to spice up this site – no, I’m not listening to that Joni Mitchell.)

Things:

1) Peter contributed an interesting post on Lemmy’s failing health and subsequent cancellation of some shows not very long ago. I’m not looking for it and linking it.

2) Motorhead’s almost-original, most memorable drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor died recently too. I didn’t even know that. (He’s on Ace Of Spades and in this video.)

3) The Lemmy rock doc is a must-see, as I’ve mentioned here before. Now you owe it to him to see it.

4) I think Gene likes Hawkwind. Maybe he wants to cover that angle of Lemmy.

5) For as much as I’d like to say I’m a huge Motorhead fan, I’m not, really. Ace Of Spades is essential, but, as much as I hate to say it, that’s all you really need. I’ve tried later Motorhead albums and nothing touched AOS for my money. If I’m dead-wrong on this, please advise. Some of their later cover songs are quite cool. I never saw them live either.

I considered being cute with the musical selection, but it just wouldn’t be right:

While We’re On Classic English Punk. . .

Just ordered John Lydon’s new biography Anger Is An Energy for Amazon Prime delivery on Thursday. I looked at it at Barnes & Noble and it must be 500 pages. (I’m definitely a guy who shops at B&N and buys on Amazon and will be the first to bitch and whine when B&N goes under. What a hypocrite.)

Why does Lydon need another biography? I guess I’ll find out, but I read the first one years ago and liked it a lot. Ty Cobb must be up to like five bios at this point, with a brand new one also on the shelves. I’ve only read the I-think-most-well-known-supposedly-much-tall-tales-and-nonsense one by Al Stump.

And forgive me for treating you like a musical three-year-old, but the new Lydon bio inspired me to listen to the Pistols’ Spunk, the prior-to-Sid Bollocks version with Matlock on bass. Again, I’m guessing you all have this as well as Bollocks and you know that Steve Jones (the guitarist on both albums) played bass on Bollocks, because, true to his rep, Sid couldn’t play.

I give you a typical choice here in Anarchy. Notice the more raw sound, the bouncy bass and Lydon’s a-little-flatter-than-Bollocks vocals as well as slightly different lyrics and delivery.

It isn’t difficult to tell Steve Jones played bass on Bollocks because, on that version, the bass simply doubles the guitar, creating quite a powerful sound wall, but very different from the Matlock Spunk recordings.

Hey, if I taught one person one thing today, maybe it was worth it. I’ll let you know on the book.

Haile Wreckommended: Must-See Flickee

More the music of you guys than me (Lawr especially), just saw this tonight and it was quite excellent. Not quite It Might Get Loud (more my music than yours), still quite excellent nonetheless.

My guess is you guys probably know the gist – this bunch of unheralded primo musicians made the entire 60’s more like The Monkees than anyone wanted to admit at the time. Please do see it. You will like it:

Afternoon Snack: Louis Armstrong, “Cheesecake”

We got the invite to our annual Passover gathering from host/friends Mark and Debbi Berenberg the other day.

Passover has become, over the years, a wondrous event: easily our favorite holiday.

My celebrating of Pesach with Mark and Debbi, and Richard and Barbara Kweller, along with David and Lynn Shussett, began in 1978, when the seven of us (plus my girlfriend at the time) gathered at the Berenberg house, eating a killer meal which featured great brisket from Debbi, and Matzoh Ball Soup (best on the planet) from Barbara.

We were young then, and it was the bay area in the 70’s, so we smoked four joints instead of drinking the traditional four glasses of wine (symbolizing the pleasures god bestows upon us). We had no Haggadah, the book that tells the story of the Exodus, so it was up to me to relate that Charlton Heston is found by Anne Baxter in the bullrushes and comes to live with Yul Brynner, and so on.

At the time, Lynne was pregnant, so that meant the first of the next generation from this core was on its way. In fact, we had a baby naming contest which I won easily with the name “Tennis” (couple it with Shussett).

Jesse was the actual moniker said child received, though she is known as “Tennis” by the originals who were there, but now, there are children and grandchildren and the table includes roughly 46, and that includes Jesse, her husband Mike, their oldest, Lucas, and their baby, Liv (this year will be Liv’s first with us) .

The dinner, which does include a traditional Seder, and goes through the story of the Exodus, is presided over by Mark, and he keeps things mostly in control, but with so many personalities, of so many ages, and so many margaritas (Mark has a special blend, which I refer to as “Markaritas”) and bottles of wine, it is a challenge.

Add in that wonderful brisket and Matzoh Ball Soup (it really is the best on the planet) and rosemary chicken and salads: enough food to feed a small battalion.

Of course there is desert, and at this point in our somewhat comfortable lives, we are all pretty serious foodies.

A few years back, I made up a sort of hybrid cheesecake that I bring as a desert item. The crust is those great Nabisco chocolate wafers, pulverized, and the body of the cake is half cream cheese and half mascarpone, and then I drizzle chocolate/hazelnut over the top.

Whenever it is time to prepare for the making this cake, I immediately think of Satchmo, also known as Louis Armstrong.

Armstrong’s influence over jazz might not be so well known to the masses, but let’s just say that starting with his real professional debut with King Oliver and the Red Onion Jazz Babies, in New Orleans, to his iconic hits like Hello Dolly and Wonderful World recorded late during his career, Satchmo ranks among the greats and most influential to modern music.

His live recordings with Ella Fitzgerald are a regular on my CD rotation, and I say this, with everyone knowing, I am a total rocker at heart. It is just that shit is so good (there is also something wonderful in hearing Armstrong, Yo La Tengo, The Clash,  Jason Isabell, and the Guess Who shuffling).

I do love this song, which is stupid, simple, and simply wonderful. It is like my desert: have two slices!