country and western

an ode to gram parsons or john harrelson’s cd “mojave”

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this originally appeared here in september of 2008. john harrelson passed away in june of 2013. don rehkop passed away in march of 2014. may you both rest in peace, my friends.

jmh

let’s see…ok.  the boys, dfr & jwfh, were over this past evening and i cooked up a nice sorta southern down home meal for my brothers.   jwfh says i got the job.  dfr as well.  sweet.  their lips to the food network’s ears.  for those that are wondering, the brown eyed girl was busy doing stuff with her nephew.

at any rate, my sorta cooking skills aren’t why i’m here.  ah, no.  at one point i stuck john’s cd, ‘mojave’ on the cd player.  yeah, well.  i’ve been down this road before a year or so ago.  none the less, ‘mojave’, by john harrelson still kicks ass and those of you that haven’t bothered need to bother because it is that good.  trust me.  the link will follow.

we are like eating and i’m yammering about this and that music wise on the cd.  jwfh is yammering back.  i tell him the title track, ‘mojave’, is stellar and i love it when he does it live.  like who wouldn’t?

then we got to the tune, “joshua tree ’73”.  one of the finest hippy country western tunes ever written.  fuck yeah.  ” under the influence of loneliness, morphine, and desire “…sweet, jesus.  write it and sing it, jwfh.  i told jwfh that i needed to hear him do the tune next time he did a live gig.  he smiled and said, ‘yeah.’

then he went off into something i hadn’t heard before.  turns out writing the song was one of those deals that just comes from beyond type deals.  a channeling of sorts according to john.  a tune nothing like he’d ever written before.  after it it was written he was like, ‘where the hell did this come from?’

then jwfh says, ‘it’s the suicide note gram parsons never got to write.’  whoa.  fine.  i’m there.  the tune is one of those late 60’s early 70’s country western tunes that sings of life on the edge.  life, ala charlie bukowski, dressed up in a country western nudie suit.  as a veer, google, ‘nudie’ and country western outfits.  life ala what country western music means to me.  not the sugar coated crapola stuff of today.  the old days of hank williams and outlaw country.  the old hippy cosmic country.  real life angst and despair.  angst and despair dealt out from the bottom of the deck.  country as i remember it was and should still be.

my point?  you should probably, no, you should, go to:  http://cdbaby.com/cd/harrelson and buy the cd, ‘mojave’.  if you like country western/blues/rock ‘n’ roll by someone who’s lived several lifetimes playing and writing it then this cd is for you.  it’s time to jump on the bandwagon before it pulls out and heads west into that morphine induced unwritten note sunset.  um, yeah.  it’s ok, jwfh.  i understand.

‘mojave’, is one of those cd’s you listen to and need to listen to a bunch in order to get it.  it just gets better with each listen.  my brother, know this.  you knew it and did it.  i just hope there’s more comin’ down the pike.  capice?

i wrote this last night after the boys left.  i sat at the computer and listened to “joshua tree ’73” a number of times while i finished off a bottle of sicilian red.  it’s early morning and the sun is still around an hour away.  i’m sitting at the computer again.  this time drinking coffee.  the only sound is the keyboard and the lonely night time wail of a freight train echoing north from down in de onta.  i’m still haunted by john’s joshua tree tune.  haunted by gram parsons.  haunted by my youth.

i wish i was out in joshua tree this morning.  sitting on a rock someplace and smoking a very large bowl of something or another while waiting for the sun to rise.  there’s magic out there and there’s magic in john harrelson’s tune, “joshua tree ’73”.

jmh

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just another desert island music re-visit or a break in the football action

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if you’ve stumbled onto to this while looking for my college football picks for week 8 look to the left and click on it or scroll down to the next entry. thanks. jmh

this is the third version of my must have desert island music must have list. the original idea was to have only 10 LPs or Cds to take with you when you’ve been whisked away to some exotic desert island locale. a fine idea to be sure but to any music aficionado 10 would never be enough regardless of the rules, as abitrary as they might be. plus the fact if it’s going to be over the long haul and you’re stuck there for any length of time you are going to get sick of those 10 Lp/Cds. count on it.

yes, of course, with the advent of the iPod things are different today. however, for the purposes of this adventure and assignment the iPod isn’t part of the equation. no iPods allowed. okay, to be truthful if i were an iPod user things might be different. old school dies hard. real hard.

there is also the fact that over a certain period of time your or my musical taste sort of bounces about here and there. it’s fine to have the original 10 selections and even the next 10 selections plus the honorary mentions along for the ride. the fact of the matter is, it’s not enough. more music is still needed to soothe and replenish. so here i am again re-visiting or adding to my already over flowing 10 must have desert island LPS and/or CD’s. so, once again, in no particular order my desert island music list gets a little longer.

1. gram parsons, ‘the gram parsons anthology’ 2 discs. this clears up some space as it has plenty of stuff on from gram’s brief career. including a number of tunes with emmylou harris, the flying burrito bros, and the birds. yes, some repeats from ‘sweetheart of the rodeo’ but who cares. certainly not me.

2. hank lll, ‘risin’ outlaw’. one of my favorite country CDs.

3. hank lll, ‘straight to hell’. speed metal, punk, and country rolled up into one nifty package. for those times when nothing else will do.

4. bob wills and his texas playboys, ‘the essential bob wills: 1935 – 1947’. boy howdy. ride em cowboy.

5. spade cooley, ‘shame on you’. the other half of the western swing battle of the bands. bob and spade duked it out many weekend here in socal a few years before i was born. spade won. well, up until he pummeled his wife to death in the early 60’s.

6. emmylou harris, ‘wrecking ball’. a grammy for emmy and the usual haunting vocals from one of the best.

7. emmylou harris, ‘the very best of emmylou harris’. more haunting vocals from the best of the best.

8. new riders of the purple sage, ‘new riders of the purple sage’. the 1971 first LP by the group. great songs and vocals. jerry garcia shines on steel guitar.

9. tens years after, ‘ten years after’. their first LP. alvin lee is one of the best ax players ever.

10. tens years after, ‘undead’. more of the same and easy to see why i think these guys were one of the best live acts ever.

there they are. 10 more added to the list. i’m sure at some point there will be more. after all, living out the rest of your fantasy life on a desert island is gonna take plenty of music. for editorial purposes i’m going to add the first two at the bottom of this current list. hopefully, there will be room.

“Never under estimate the influence of country music in rock ‘n’ roll.” Keith Richards

jmh

this started out to be a whole mind numbing run down of a old lp i came across a few weeks ago. stuff i hadn’t heard in a very long time. yeah, like 30 plus years. the problem being someone did a short blog on this band last week with a youtube video stuck in it for good measure. my mind numbing thunder had been stolen. so here i am trying to deal with it.

i’ve looked over the 10 lp’s/cd’s and there really isn’t anything i’d change. i could stick some other stuff in there but then i’d be missing the original stuff. you don’t miss your water till the well runs dry.

so maybe an alternate 10 cd desert island music list is needed just in case of some sort of musical emergency or just because i still need to yammer about this one old lp in particular. the other parameters still stand from the original. i won’t repeat them here because i do that enough as it is and if you really care you can read the original.

1. the byrds — ‘sweetheart of the rodeo’. an amazing piece of country music with some of the best peddle steel guitar you are gonna hear this side of hilo hattie and her old b/w tv show from hilo, hawaii in the 50’s. or perhaps spade cooley and his band on local l.a. tv every weekend back in those same b/w 50’s as well. even if you aren’t a fan of country music this will make you a fan or there’s sumpin’ wrong someplace.

2. tower of power — ‘east bay grease’. that’s the one i’ve been obsessing on for the past few weeks. well, actually it’s a greatest hits cd by the band. so i suppose you could interchange either one. however, ‘east bay grease’ was my introduction to them. i’m really not sure just how far east they went from their oakland, ca roots. hence, east bay grease not to be confused with whatever was going on over in the city or frisco as us un-enlightened ones loved calling san francisco just to piss them off. drifting. if you have never heard tower of power you are missing some of the best soul, r and b, and funk to ever be laid out on vinyl. hands down. just another horn band laying down some good stuff. not chicago, or blood, sweat and tears, or cold blood. nope. tower of power. tight ass horn riffs with a bass line along with drums to make any band jealous. ‘you got to funkifize’, ‘your still a young man’, ‘soul vaccination’, and the truly hip ‘what is hip’. try it you’ll like it.

3. peter green’s fleetwood mac — ‘live at the marquee’. yes, the original and still the best fleetwwod mac. just crunched out down home blues.

4. fleetwood mac — ‘men of the world’. a newer lovely 2 cd package of some more old fleetwood mac from the old days. the original ‘black magic woman’ and ‘oh well’ make it worth your while.

5. frank sinatra — ‘live at the sands’. a great lp with old blue eyes belting em out backed by the count basie band. sweet. it doesn’t get much better.

6. the rolling stones — ‘beggars banquet’. some great stuff including the greatest sing a long line ever from ‘sympathy for the devil’.

7. the rolling stones — ‘now’. ‘pain in my heart’ and ‘little red rooster’

8. the rolling stones — ‘out of our heads’. ‘under assistant west coast promotion man’. along with ‘satisfaction’.

9. the rolling stones — ‘aftermath’. ‘think’ and the countrified tunes ‘flight 505 ‘ and ‘high and dry’. along with the 11 minute masturbatory grand finale ‘going home’.

10. cream — ‘fresh cream’. their first lp.

there ya go. my alternate desert island lp’s. of course no top 10 worth it’s salt could be with out a runner-up. this list is no exception. my runner-up would be a double cd of stevie ray vaughan & double trouble’s ‘greatest hits’. actually it just might be interchangeable with ‘fresh cream’ depending on the mood and the moment.

jmh

i’ve kicked this one around in my head for awhile now. other than being transported to some exotic asian place loaded up with all the stuff i’d ever need and babes to go along with it all, where else would work as a nice place to be whisked off to? the obligatory desert island for me. of course, it would have have a nice break, surf wise. maybe chest high glass all day long with some nice barrels that rolled for a bit just so you could get comfortable riding them with a board or body surfing. a kinda kick back and enjoy the ride along with the scenery deal.

i’d need a couple of marshall amps as well or jbl’s, something with some power to them so while i was out in the water i could listen to my music. yes, my desert island would have electricity. cause i am not going if there is no power for stuff. a long time ago i might have but these days, no, i need some comfort. along with a nice bbq, decent food, maybe a lady or two and of course some dago red or white. hmmm, desert islands are hot so some ice cold chinese beer would be nice as well. then of course there’s the music.

now the rub is, i can only take 10 cd’s with me. that’s it because with all the other crap there’s no more room. you see, whisking machines can only hold so much and with a couple of babes along for the trip i’m sure most of the stuff would be theirs anyhow. leaving me only enough room for the 10 cd’s, a pair of shorts, a university of oregon t shirt, some flip flops plus a surfboard and a swim fin. oh yeah, and the massive speakers. i can travel semi light when the need arises.

the real question has been, what 10 cd’s? what music would i really need? what music is gonna make me happy is what it boils down to. plus, what can i listen to over and over again that won’t drive me mad or madder. good questions. i’ve thought about it and i’ve come up with my 10 selections. of course yours would be different. as sly used to sing, different strokes for different folks. no sly didn’t make the cut. at any rate here they are in no particular order.

1. rolling stones- let it bleed, the opening riffs of ‘gimme shelter’ still give me goose bumps.

2. rolling stones- exile on main street, for me it’s says lots of stuff on all kinds of levels.

3. jimi hendrix- electric ladyland, what could be better than crashing through a tube while body surfing and hearing ‘voodoo child’ screaming out from the sand?

4. bob dylan- highway 61 re-visited, if only for ‘desolation row’.

5. the mothers- burnt weeny sandwich, gotta have some of my mothers and that one pretty much covers the mothers’ spectrum, plus i love it.

6. bob dylan- blonde on blonde, ‘visions of johanna’ and ‘sad eyed lady of the lowland’. nuff said.

7. pink floyd- ummagumma live, the ultimate floyd drug experience lp. i still listen to it just for the contact high.

8. van morrison- moondance, this was a really tough one. it boiled down to this cd having ‘into the mystic’ on it. plus ‘moondance’ and he’s always good for getting the ladies interested.

9. paul butterfield blues band- east/west, there aren’t too many blues cd’s out there much better. this one still kicks ass.

10. the allman bros- live at fillmore east, i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again. this cd is probably the best party cd ever made.

ok. there they are. you are all of course going…well, he’s forgotten and what the fuck is he thinking? and yada yada yada. don’t matter cause it’s my list and my desert island. more importantly, my ears channeling the stuff to be processed by my brain.

this is actually a kind of fun thing to do. it was interesting going over and over stuff to get to the final 10. try it for yourself. the limit is 10 cd’s. no more. oh, i guess you can do less, i wouldn’t, but then it’s all up to you.

music provided by, david bowie, ‘ziggy stardust’, the 30th anniversary edition, an honorary mention.

jmh

merle, willie, ‘justified’, and hank III

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i have a few things i need to yammer on about. two of which are music related and the other is TV related. i won’t boor you with the details on any of them but just enough detail to maybe make you want to go out and score the stuff yourself or watch the show.

first off, merle haggard has a new CD out. it’s called, ‘i am what i am’. he sure is and i’m glad he is. a fine CD by one of the legends of country music. if you like your country real and not the pussy crap nashville is pumping out these days you’ll like this one by merle. it’s a great CD and i’m glad he’s still hitting some notes. yes, sir.

secondly, willie nelson has a new CD as well, ‘country music’, and it most certainly is. for my money this CD is pure country. country what it used to be. and willie and his band have found it again. not that they ever lost it. but i think you get what i mean. this CD has the feel of a 21st century gene autry CD. that is if gene were still around and recording. pure simple acoustic country done from the heart. you need to buy this CD.

ok. now for the TV riff. in case you’ve missed it you need to check out, ‘justified’, tuesday nights on FX at 10pm eastern. though i think they run re-runs during the week. at any rate, a great show with a wonderful old western movie vibe to it. the brown eyed girl and i both think ‘justified’ has the feel of the old westerns we grew up watching. although the show isn’t a western per say. for my money, i think it’s the best show on TV since, ‘the sopranos’, and i don’t want to see ‘justified’ disappear. check it out.

and since i’m here…hank III has a new CD, ‘rebel within’, hitting the streets on may 23, if i’m not mistaken. i hear hank is back doing some kick ass country again and it’s good. something else for you to check out. this is hank’s last contracted CD for that slime, mike curb. i’m looking forward to hank’s future indie country recordings. i’ve pre-ordered this one on amazon. i think you should too.

there ya go. just because i can…again.

jmh

crazy heart

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the brown eyed girl and i finally got around to watching ‘crazy heart’ yesterday in the privacy of our living room.  a good thing to be sure as most of the time i’m like i want to see that movie.  maybe.  but the thought of going to a movie theater anymore doesn’t rank very high on my list.  some one we know gave us a dvd copy to watch.  one of those academy for your consideration deals.  actually, no, that isn’t true.  we found a dvd copy of the movie in the parking lot out front of this taco joint we favor here in cuca.  a find to be sure.  and we were very lucky the find didn’t screw up our dvd player.
 
i’m glad i finally got to see the movie.  jeff bridges was outstanding and i enjoyed the story as well. plus the music was pretty damn good too.  maybe one day i’ll find a cd copy of the soundtrack at the car wash or some other place.  that would be cool.  finding good music just laying around like a good movie is always a plus.
 
about the only problem i had with the movie is jeff bridges always seems to be drinking but the bottle really doesn’t seem to ever be more than 3/4’s empty.  he’s broke so it isn’t like he could go score more booze at some point off camera.  then there’s the fact he’s barfing like hank chinansky half the time.  fine.  though jeff’s character is a lightweight compared to hank chinansky.  just sayin’.  a minor point but one i felt needed to be made.
 
if you haven’t seen the movie ‘crazy heart’ make it a point to do so.  you’ll be glad you did.  as a matter of fact i’m looking forward to seeing it again someday.
 
jmh

a ‘country music’ christmas

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for whatever reason, the brown eyed girl gave me an early christmas present this year.  even though she doesn’t share my love for country, make that old and real country music, i do on occasion catch her tapping a foot or two in the car when i have some hank sr or III or spade or bob or gram blasting on the car stereo.  and she does do stuff like buying me country cd’s she knows i’ll enjoy or like…

the gift in question, the book, ‘country music–the people, places, and moments that shaped the country sound’, by richard carlin, with photography by raeanne rubenstein, 2006.  the book is a nice history of country music.  any country fan would be or should be proud to own the book.  though it doesn’t delve into the minutia of the genre but it does hits most of the high notes with a nice page or two with lots of photos i haven’t seen before.

a hefty tome on nice glossy paper and the perfect book for that coffee table or tv tray.  easy reading and well worth the price.  originally $35.  but you can find it on amazon from $8.99 to $14.  a steal of a deal and i would recommend hitting them up before they are all gone.  the brown eyed girl found mine in a discount store here in so calif for $9.99.

‘country music’ covers just about everybody from the beginnings to plastic fantastically now-a-days lame nashville.  though the nashville of today stuff is minimal and is at the end of the 330 page book.  for my money, any book that devotes a page or so with photos of spade cooley and a two page spread on gram parsons and the byrds is alright by me.  if you enjoy history and country music all rolled up into one sweet package then you really ought to find this book and put it in your book self or give it to someone who will give it a good home.  this is a good book that deserves better than discount store book selves and amazon clearance sales.  though you sure can’t beat the current prices.

since i’m already here.  VHI, not generally one of my favorite tv channels, has been running the 2 hour (with commercials) 1982 concert movie of the rolling stones, ‘let’s spend the night together’.  it’s worth a look and a tivo.  though the first half has sound problems, the second half sorta sorts that out and kicks things up a notch or two.  not country music?  ‘never under estimate the influence of country music on rock ‘n’ roll.’– keith richards.  nuff said.

jmh

just another old country album(?)

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one of my friends wrote in his blog last week something along the lines that, why would he want to write about an album that was like three years old?  yeah, why?  i mean i do it all the time.  some of the music i’ve written about is at least 30 or 40 years old.  some even older in the case of ella fitzgerald.  i really don’t see anything wrong with it because you just might turn someone on to the music that had never heard it before.  a good thing to be sure.

the cd in question today is one i’ve had in the car pretty much since i bought it a few months back.  i play it over and over.  cranked up at serious levels.  of course, the brown eyed girl doesn’t like to hear it more than once a week but that’s fine.  at least she’ll tap her foot now when i do play it and she’s in the car.  trust me that’s a good sign.

well, the cd is from 1999 and it’s by hank III, ‘risin’ outlaw’.  yeah, it’s ten years old.  i’ll tell you what, this cd is what country is all about.  hank III has put out some really nice country stuff.  country stuff that is head and shoulders above anything going on in pop country these days.  ‘risin’ outlaw’, is what country music ought to be.  though sadly that’s not the case.

hank III and the boys take a trip down the country western hillbilly highway with this one.  some of the finest pickin’ and harmonies since hank senior and the boys.  count on it.  from the opening track, ‘i don’t know’, to the last, ‘blue devil’, the band kicks it out with all their collective hearts.

a few of my favorites are, ‘on my own’, a great drinkin’ tune if there ever was one.  and ‘cocaine blues’, a fine tribute to johnny cash.  along with the haunting, ‘thunderstorms and neon signs’, perhaps one of the finest road songs ever written.

do yourself a favor and find hank III’s, ‘risin’ outlaw’.  buy it.  play it.  loud.  then you’ll understand.  boy howdy, country music at it’s all time best.

jmh

ramblings and catching up, sorta. plus a doc h and the rio laudanum cowboys update

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the brown eyed girl and i are back from vegas and our wedding.  it was a smashing time and i’m trying to get photos together for a blog about the deal.  easier said than done.  plus, i’m getting sidetracked with other stuff like cleaning out photos in some files.  and other things that creep in and take over my time for a spell.  yes, i know.  just remember, patience is a virtue.

on an other note, for those that remember i did a review of my friend, john harrelson’s latest cd a few weeks ago, Doc H and the Rio Laudanum Cowboys.  good news is the cd is now available at cd baby.  click the link to go there and buy it.  at least visit and check stuff out.  though you should buy the cd.   doc h and the boys, is country western at it’s best.  just do it because it’s not the crap you hear on country radio these days.

http://cdbaby.com/cd/harrelson4  or you can see it at http://cdbaby.com/style/369
or http://cdbaby.com/style/360

jmh