another dead soldier weekend has rolled around once again. pretty much the only time anybody cares about wartime vets especially WW2, korean and vietnam vets these days. that’s fine as we’re used to it.
when i was in vietnam i asked my parents to send me a reel to reel version of the dead’s ‘workingman’s dead’. one of my all time favorite LPs which sits around mid point in rolling stones top 500 LPs of all time. i have to say i was probably the only person in my platoon that liked the album. after a time when i’d play it i would hear, oh no. not that one again. or some such nonsense. yeah, there’s no accounting for taste or so they say.
the LP first appeared in june of 1970. it’s no longer ‘in print’ but thanks to rhino records you can score a copy if you’re so inclined. they released it in 2003 or so and even added a couple of different versions of some of the songs on the original LP. thanks, rhino, very nice indeed.
the album marks the dead’s new venture into vocal harmonies and a country rock sound with jerry garcia dabbling with the peddle steel guitar. which culminated with jerry garcia and guitarist david nelson’s homage to bakersfield, ca country music with their ‘new riders of the purple sage’ LP in late 1971.
‘working man’s dead’ opens with the studio version of ‘uncle john’s band’ one of my all time favorite dead tunes. it’s a semi country rocker with semi sorta religious overtones. or maybe not. later, on track 15, ‘uncle john’s band’ turns up again in a live version recorded at winterland in oct of 1970. the live version gets the standard dead jam thing going. something for the most part always lovely to behold and listen to.
another stand out cut is the studio version of ‘casey jones’. unfortunately we aren’t treated to a live version of casey ‘high on cocaine driving that train.’
at any rate, the rhino version has 6 live tracks including the already mentioned ‘uncle john’s band’ plus an alternate studio mix of ‘new speedway boogie’. the dead were at their best live. no doubt. sometimes really good or head scratching crappy. it was always a crap shoot.
i had the pleasure of seeing them live a couple of times. once here in socal at the rose palace if i’m not mistaken and once again at the filmore in san francisco. i was in the army at the time and made the trip up from ft ord in monterey. they shared the bill with miles davis who had just released his ‘bitches brew’ LP and the two of them filled the night with some stellar music.
ok. so, it’s dead soldier weekend again. raise a glass to the fallen soldiers of the past and continuing wars. and to all of those who’ve seen war close up. even more so to the vets of the great war, WW2. their ranks shrink and thin at an astounding rate with each passing day. there will come a time soon when they will all be gone. and all but forgotten i’m certain. old soldiers never die. they just fade away.
soldiers after all are just your average workingman doing a job no one else will do.
the above mentioned song appeared on the mothers first LP, ‘freakout’, in 1968. to say it was well ahead of it’s time would be like the proverbial pot, kettle, and black name calling adage. what follows about the song, Who Are the Brain Police?, was gleaned/lifted from wikipedia:
The song’s structure was described in detail by AllMusic:
“Simply put, it is weird and creepy. A chorus of living-dead voices supports a slow and sloppy waltz beat. Lyrics make numerous references to melting plastic and chromium and repeatedly ask the question found in the song’s title (answered by the brainless chorus). Halfway through, the song breaks into a fast-paced bridge; the same happens in the coda, which includes a kazoo solo.”
“The song was stated to be a “direct defiance of top 40 radio.” Repetitive lyrics were noted as part of this “defiance.” The song was also cited by Mojo magazine as “one of the scariest songs to ever emerge from the rock psyche.” While comparing it to Kafka, Mojo described the song as “a vision of contemporary America where personal identity and individuality is erased.”
interesting, what? yep. perhaps weird and creepy but the song is much more than frank railing against the radio and music industry that wanted very little to do with him, his music or ideas.
a couple of days ago i was sitting in a dentist office reading magazines while waiting for the brown eyed girl’s appointment to be over. some of the magazines were ok but a bit borderline in their finger wagging. ‘time’ magazine sent me over the edge and into an orwellian free fall. thankfully, it’s a magazine i rarely read let alone page through.
yes, kids, long dead uncle frank pretty much nailed it. we’ve indeed become that contemporary america where we’re told what and what not to do and when and when not to do it. he also nailed a bunch of other stuff musically as well 40 years ago long before ‘american idol’ or ‘the voice’ hit the airways. though ‘the voice’ does it’s damnedest to distance itself from what a pop singer ought to look like. sorta. but that isn’t why i’m here.
don’t do that. do this. do that. not this. say this. not that. believe this. don’t believe that. don’t ever say that! eat this. not that. it’s going to kill you. this won’t kill you. or at least it won’t this week. next week? meh. vote this way. god forbid, not THAT way! think this. never that. buy this. not that. read this. never that. you really fucking need this. your government would never ever lie to you. what’s the matter with you, boy?
yeah, we’ve been erased. or our minds have. it’s only a matter of time before we ourselves will be erased for not toeing the line. count on it. your personal identity is already gone or has been stolen. individuality? that disappeared along with the so called freedoms we once had. if you haven’t noticed you haven’t been paying attention. we are all suffering from all the brain policing that’s been going on for years. though most hardly notice the day in and day out nonstop barrage of swill and we know what’s best for you crapola. it’s as if we’re all too fucking stupid to figure anything out or entitled to form our own opinions about damn near everything on our own anymore. for good or bad.
ok. sure some of you are so fucking stupid you need to be spoon fed every damn thing even if it is wrong or wrong headed. after all it is properly PC and has been vetted by legions of assorted loons, dumb asses, hacks, hustlers, and politicians from both sides of the aisle. fine. screw it. just leave me out of your fucking equation and it’s related insanity. i’m not even gonna say please. just do it. yeah, sure, like that’s gonna happen even if i say, please.
when the bells start tolling don’t say they aren’t for you because they are. by the time that circus/scenario rolls into your town it will already be too late.
once again, in lieu of dealing with writing something new and to get the dylan thing off the front page once and for all, i bring you one from august of 2007. it bounces around a bit but there are a few kernels of sustenance to be found in it.
i’m not sure where this one is going or even if it will make it to blog print. as all i have is some sort of vague idea or something and a desire to see if that something ends up on the page.
in my last blog i ran down or sorta ran down my friend, john harrelson’s, saturday night show. another friend this morning, who was also there, brought up the religious analogy of divine intervention in regards to john’s smokin’ performance. i sorta alluded to it as well with my fire and brimstone thingy in my last blog. john brought it up himself yesterday evening when he mentioned a lady friend who hadn’t seen him perform before said, i can’t remember the exact quote, but something to the effect that john was a devil. i took it as a good thing and john did as well. the consensus being that it’s better than being called an asshole.
all of which brings us to the point of this epistle. maybe. john’s performance did indeed have some religious overtones but then all good rock and roll performers seem to have that aspect to their stage show persona’s. certainly jimi, mick, john lennon, or perhaps the more obvious, george harrison. pretty much all great rock and rollers along with some of the blues and jazz greats have it there in their mien while on stage. perhaps some even when they are off stage and out doing what we all do. live and breathe. a drift for another time.
for those of us who grew up at the very beginning of rock and roll, my first record purchase was elvis’, ‘love me tender’, in 1956. we’ve been at this thing for a long long time. many of us then drifted off into an obvious blues tangent along with jazz thrown in for good measure. along with that the life of a musician has always been sort of a back burner fantasy. for some of us it became a way of life and a life’s work. for others, like myself, the musician as artist never worked out like a lot of things. though upon occasion that fantasy, even at this late stage in life, is still bubbling under or away in my brain cell depleted brain. this is wandering all over the place though my usual readers are used to it. i digress.
the one person that really stands out in this whole rambling sorta concept thing is the late, sam kinison. he was a preacher, of i guess, some note. he gave that up to become a stand up comedian and one of my all time favorites. he also wanted to be a rock and roll star. his videos in that vein are some of the finest ever. their tongue in cheek aspect not with standing. sam wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last professional religious person to sorta give that up and go rock and roll, the blues or whatever music. or vice versa for that matter.
i guess the whole point being that a rock and roll musician performing on stage, in some instances, not all by any means, can be looked at as a religious, or feel like a religious experience. the same can’t be said for a motion picture actor, or at least i can’t. not even brando at his finest ever brought a religious connotation to his performances. or richard burton. or elizabeth taylor. peter o’toole. al pacino. ad nauseum. for myself, stage actors would also be in the same boat.
i suppose some painters conjure up a religious experience like the old masters and their madonnas or similar work but that’s what they started out to do. a religious painting. plain and simple. monet, for example, has done some wonderful things but none of them have an inkling of a religious aspect to them other than the pure beauty of nature, color, and light.
there is a joy and beauty to all artists work. we are the lucky ones to sit and watch/listen as they do what they do, for our pleasure. for me, and i think a lot of others, watching a grand performance by a rock and roller is akin to if not a religious experience. it took awhile to get here but i hope you got the picture.
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.
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”.
long ago back in the 70’s, the humor magazine, the harvard lampoon begat the semi sorta more mainstream humor magazine, the national lampoon. which in turn, begat all the national lampoon movies of the same name. for the purposes of this epistle we’ll only concern ourselves with the national lampoon magazine. the national lampoon was hilarious and very irreverent which made it even funnier. really good stuff. sadly, it ceased publication back in 1998. too bad you missed it.
i fondly remember a certain one time comic strip concerning bob dylan. you have to remember this was in the early 70’s and bob was still riding high as a counter-culture hero. one of the poet laureates of the generation as it were. yeah, heady shit to be sure for little bobby zimmerman. at any rate, the cartoon strip cast the singer as a phony and calculating fraud of epic proportions. satire at it’s finest. or was it?
don’t get me wrong, bob was and still is one of my favorite musicians of the era. yeah, even though he’s sold his soul to the man. a sad sad thing. sure others of his and my generation have sold out as well. there’s a good number of them featured or have been featured in ads. although not necessarily in person like little bobby but their tunes are there. to my mind his actually appearing in the bleeding ad makes it even worse. what kind of a horses ass writes songs like: gates of eden, the masters of war, (like a) rolling stone, queen jane approximately, and desolation row, just to name a few, then does a 180 degree paragon shift?
i guess the guys at national lampoon were way way ahead of the curve. the first to realize that things may or may not have been as they appeared with little bobby zimmerman. he’s become what he once professed to hate. a sad caricature of his once self. a huckster now. a cheap sideshow entertainer only in it for the money. yes, a zappa riff there. at least frank was up front about it.
am i going to burn all my dylan CD’s? ah, probably not. i just might not listen to em much anymore. sadly. though it just goes to show that the more things change the more they stay the same. crass cheap hucksterism aside, i wouldn’t buy a chrysler if little bobby zimmerman paid for it with all his money. chrysler, which my wife, the brown eyed girl points out, is owned by fiat. a eurolander company. yeah, bobby, buy american and support italia. more incongruity.
ginsberg, ferlinghetti, kerouac, seeger, and even bukowski are rolling over in their collective graves. tsk tsk bobby. congratulations, you’ve an become an irrelevant ass hat.
“there are no kings inside the gates of eden.” from the song,”gates of eden”, by bob dylan.
first of all try not to confuse this with the desert island list that has run here a few times over the years. this is something entirely different. like the title says this is what’s currently out in my car and on my CD rotation in the car. nine CD’s of varying styles and types of music. why nine? because the cubby hole in the dash has limited space and only 9 CD’s fit in it. simple as that. i change the 9 out periodically and thought it would be a good time to share just what’s on my current play list. though there are times when one CD will will get constant play time and time again for months. what can i say? then there’s the fact i haven’t written anything here in awhile due to life’s floating knuckle curveballs dancing seemingly everywhere. ok. so without further or do here’s the list in no particular order.
from 2006 van morrison’s, ‘pay the devil’. this the CD that’s currently sitting inside the CD player. van the man giving his all in an homage to country music classics. the music he grew up listening to when his dad held record player sway. good stuff and some very fine solid musical accompaniment. stellar country classics such as ‘there stands the glass’ and ‘your cheatin’ heart’. something completely different from one of the all time greats and worth a listen for sure.
from 1973 gram parsons & the fallen angels live. gram and emmylou gettin’ country down. the CD is one of gram’s usual set lists from the time. the LP was recorded live and broadcast from WLIR in new york city in march of 73. ‘drug store truck drivin’ man’, ‘the streets of baltimore’, and ‘california cottenfields’ just to name a few of his classics tunes done live on the CD. take the time and listen if you haven’t heard this one before.
gram parsons anthology a two CD set. this CD rarely if ever leaves my car’s CD rotation. as a matter of fact, it was the only thing i listened to last summer. yes, over and over again. the beach boys, ‘smile’ finally took it out of the CD player for a few weeks. at any rate, gram parsons, the man who keith richards says changed the face of country music single handedly. and that without gram there probably wouldn’t have been a waylon jennings and the so called outlaw movement. heady praise to be sure from one of the all time rock ‘n’ roll greats. i love this CD set. music i just can’t get enough of. grams varied short lived career from the middle 60’s to his death in 1973 produced a legacy of music. from the international submarine band. the byrds’ ‘sweetheart of the rodeo’, probably one of the finest LP’s ever. the flying burrito bros. the fallen angels. and his solo work with emmylou harris, whom he discovered. it doesn’t get any better than gram parsons and his cosmic country music. plug it in. turn it up. and sing along. gram may be gone but thankfully his music isn’t.
from 1967 peter green’s fleetwood mac, ‘live at the marquee’. the original front man for fleetwood mac kicks out the blues jams. not the greatest sound quality but when the band rips into ‘shake your moneymaker’ it really doesn’t matter. this CD is what the 60’s and 60’s era blues bands were all about. a good CD for ruining your hearing or your car’s factory speakers.
the best of bob wills, ‘the millennium collection’. western swing played by bob wills and his texas playboys from the 40’s to the mid 50’s. stellar stuff to be sure. gimme that old time country music anytime. ah ha.
from 1969 savoy brown, ‘blue matter’. another 60’s british blues band that was one of the best. though this is another CD with poor sound remastering from the original vinyl. stuff like that matters to some folks. me? nah. crank it up and let ‘train to nowhere’ or ‘louisiana blues’ wash your troubles away.
from 2009 van morrison, ‘astral weeks – live at the hollywood bowl’. one of the true all time greats revisits one of his best LP’s done up very nicely live with more than amazing results. try this CD on for size if you’ve never experienced van morrison because you’re missing something.
from 1970 dave mason, ‘alone together’. an often over looked masterpiece from that era by one of the members of the band, traffic. not the longest LP ever made as it’s fairly short but within the space of the 8 tracks you’ll understand why this LP was and still is an all time great. ‘sad and deep as you’ along with ‘look at you look at me’ being my 2 favorites. it was one of my go to LP’s when i was in vietnam and it’s still a go to CD.
willie nelson, ‘super hits’. i found this one at target one day. $4.99. i thought it had to be some lame cover deal or something by toby keith or some other crappy country singer. nope. it’s the real deal willie doing all of his biggest hits with merle haggard thrown in on ‘pancho and lefty’. enough said.
generally speaking my car is where i listen to music. less distractions and no one telling me to turn down the music. plus, i can sing along when the need arises. always a good thing to be sure.