Last year, JOHN LENNON. GIMME SOME TRUTH. THE ULTIMATE MIXES was released. This past week, I watched the Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) video of John and Yoko filmed at their Tittenhurst Park English country estate. It struck me that the verse-
was just a tad over the top when juxtaposed with the video of the loving couple's walk up to Tittenhurst's spacious white mansion. Okay my cynicism aside, what got my attention about the video was John singing directly into the camera, communicating his message to all of us. It's like only 26 seconds of the video, but it was stunningly fabulous! During the video shoot, someone should have suggested, "a little more John at the piano?"
John Prine. It actually wasn't so big when released but over time like the man himself became a classic for all time. Rolling Stone magazine had it ranked last year in their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time at 149. Prine himself has always been uncomfortable about the recording of John Prine as he said, "I was terrified. I went straight from playing by myself, still learning how to sing, to playing with Elvis Presley's rhythm section." (Wikipedia). I do sense a little tenseness in his voice in this first recording as later recorded versions bring out John's comfort and joy in performing his folksy masterpieces. He also shared his displeasure in an interview with the hokey country photo shoot.
Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down, and won
And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
I was havin' no fun
On the road to alcohol
And I was just a soldier on my way to Montreal
She sits and stares through the back door screen
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen
Someday I'll go and call up Rudy
We worked together at the factory
But what could I say if he asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do"
You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello"
And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello"
To his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas
And the time that he served
Had shattered all his nerves
And left a little shrapnel in his knees
But the morphine eased the pain
And the grass grew round his brain
And gave him all the confidence he lacked
With a purple heart and a monkey on his back
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.
And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
I heard Allah and Buddha were singing at the Savior's feast
And up in the sky an Arabian rabbi
Fed Quaker Oats to a priest
Pretty good, not bad, they can't complain
'Cause actually all them gods are just about the same
Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel.
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
And I gave it some gas
And Cathy was closing her purse
Well, we hadn't gone far in my beat old car
And I was prepared for the worst.
"Will you still see me tomorrow?"
"No, I got too much to do"
Well, a question ain't really a question
If you know the answer too
Angel From Montgomery
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child who's grown old
If dreams were lightning
And thunder were desire
This old house would've burned down
A long time ago
Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin'
Is just a hard way to go
Between Wednesday and Thursday over Saturday night
Tuesday asked me what was going on, I said
"Sunday's in the meadow and Friday's in the corn"
Pinballs and pool halls flashing their lights.
Making change behind the counter in a penny arcade
Sat the fat girl daughter of Virginia and Ray
Lydia hid her thoughts like a cat
Behind her small eyes sunk deep in her fat.
She read romance magazines up in her room
And felt just like Sunday on Saturday afternoon.
But dreaming just comes natural
Like the first breath from a baby,
Like sunshine feeding daisies,
Like the love hidden deep in your heart.
A warehouse of strangers with sixty watt lights.
Staring through the ceiling, just wanting to be
Lay one of too many, a young PFC:
There were spaces between Donald and whatever he said.
Strangers had forced him to live in his head.
He envisioned the details of romantic scenes
After midnight in the stillness of the barracks latrine.
A portrait of guilt is hung on the wall.
Nothing is wrong, nothing is right.
Donald and Lydia made love that night.
The made love in the mountains, they made love in the streams,
They made love in the valleys, they made love in their dreams.
But when they were finished there was nothing to say,
'cause mostly they made love from ten miles away.
The father was stranger and a stranger was the son
Call that child James Lewis, call these rooms a home
Changing all them diapers, polish all that chrome
I ran across a looking glass
Reflecting moments remaining in a burned out light
Tragic magic prayers of passion
Stay the same through changing fashions
They freeze my mind like water on a winter's night
Spent most of my youth
Out hobo cruising
And all I got for proof
Is rocks in my pockets and dirt in my shoes
So goodbye nonbeliever
Don't you know that I hate to leave here
So long babe, I got the flashback blues.
Albums Featured in the September, 1971 Playlist
- Imagine, John Lennon
- John Prine, John Prine
- Cahoots, The Band
- Electric Warrior, T. Rex
- Welcome to the Canteen (Live), Traffic
- From The Inside, Poco
- Future Games, Fleetwood Mac
- Santana III, Santana
- Aereo-Plain, John Hartford
- Bark, Jefferson Airplane
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