Showing posts with label Bob Dylan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bob Dylan. Show all posts

Monday, October 26, 2020

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1970



B.B.King's Indianola Mississippi Seed released in October, 1970 is an outstanding album and one of my favorite album covers of all-time. The album begins with "Nobody loves me, but my mother, And she could be jivin` too." I can't remember where I first heard that lyric, but I do remember laughing out loud it was so funny! This was B.B's 18th studio album and he finally gets his mainstream attention due as Producer Bill Szymczyk decided to follow up on the success of the [1969] hit "The Thrill Is Gone" by matching King with a musical all-star cast [including Leon Russell, Carole King, Joe Walsh and Russ Kunkel]. The result was one of King's most critically acclaimed albums and one of the most highly regarded blues crossover albums of all time. Wikipedia

Bob Dylan's New Morning released in October, 1970 was purchased by my friend Bill DeVoe, who I remember invited me over to his house to listen to it. His parents had an old portable turnable with crackling speakers that gave it an older feel like you were listening to an old 78 rpm rather than a 33 1/3 LP. The record player was set up in their dining room that led right into the kitchen. I mention this because we would often make a snack of Oroweat® 'HoneyWheat Berry' toast and would wash it down with a Coke. I had many a snack and meals at that table with Bill and his parents. So my memory of listening to New Morning for the first time is fondly associated with toast, my all-time favorite morning, noon, or night snack. 
This album has the song, If Not For You that I really liked and was happily surprised when George Harrison also recorded it for All Things Must Pass, a month later. 

I was a Johnny come lately to Dylan, and was really impressed that Bill had purchased this album, and as a result started listening to him more and more. I'm kind of disappointed that Bob Dylan has only released two songs from that album on YouTube (If Not For You and The Man In Me) and found one more (Went To See The Gypsy) to include on the playlist this week. So here are the links to the album on Spotify and Amazon Music. It's really worth a complete listen, I suggest in the morning with toast, butter and apricot jam.

New Morning on Spotify

New Morning on Amazon Music

I was never a huge Led Zeppelin fan like so many of my peers, but Led Zeppelin III kind of woke me up that this band was more than just a hard rock band. The folk and blues roots really jump out here and I just loved listening to this whole album the past several weeks. I've said this many times, my blog is just an excuse for me to go back and appreciate all the albums I didn't zero in on when I was young and stupid.
This week's playlist has enough songs for several sits, walks or runs. Two weeks ago, I featured Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection (read here) and have included all the songs again here as I simply love that album! This playlist also includes an outtake that I recommend you hear. It is an early version of Mad Man Across the Water, which in 1971 we all thought was Bernie Taupin's thoughts about Richard Nixon. Bernie Taupin had this to say: Back in the seventies, when people were saying that "Madman Across the Water" was about Richard Nixon, I thought, That is genius. I could never have thought of that. (Wikipedia). I wonder if he's thinking that now about Donald Trump? This version features Mick Ronson on guitar and I think you will enjoy this one.
Also on tap are songs from Arlo Guthrie (see- Arlo Guthrie Retires From Touring: ‘It’s Time to Hang Up the Gone Fishing Sign’), Joan Baez, Genesis, Tom Rush, Don McLean, The Supremes, Tony Bennett, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Pink Floyd, Paul Siebel, The Strawbs, and Frank Zappa. 

Enjoy my friends, stay well, mask up and vote. Eat it up!



Monday, July 06, 2020

Top 10 Albums • January - June • 2020



Okay, I say I'm an album guy but most of my blogs focus on individual songs. This week I'll be backing up my talk with my list of the most impressive new album releases in this first half of 2020. I'm even going to rate them 1-10 which is something I normally don't do. It is also no surprise to me that I have picked five albums by females and five by males not by design, but for the fact that women in music today make up half if not more of the great music being created today.

Making an album of typically 9-12 strong songs has always been a tall order for any artist or band. On any good album there are maybe three outstanding tracks that jump off the needle. The trick is getting the listener to come back and listen to the rest of the tracks that always seem to get better the more you do come back. After several listens, these 'deeper cuts' suck you in and the whole thing just comes together into a cohesive unit. You then tell your friends about the album. In your long-term memory, you'll even remember (sometimes fifty years later) the time and place where you shared that album with a friend.

I hope you can make the time this week to listen to one or more albums here, start to finish. Maybe there's even a new favorite to add to your collection.

Stay well and enjoy my friends.

1. Sarah Jarosz • Review: World On The GroundPurchase




2. Bob Dylan • Review: Rough And Rowdy Ways Purchase




3. Nora JonesReview: Pick Me Up Off The Floor Purchase




4. Hiam • Review: Women In Music Pt. IIIPurchase




5. Ayla Brook & The Soundmen • Review: Desolation Sounds • Purchase




6. James Elkington • Review: Ever Roving EyePurchase




7. Shelby Lynne • Review: Shelby LynnePurchase




8. Tomar & The FCs • Review: Rise Above • Purchase




9. Christian Lee Hutson • Review: BeginnersPurchase




10. Sarah Siskind • Review: Modern AppalachiaPurchase

Monday, June 29, 2020

#NewMusicMonday • June • 2020

Hampton & Papa social distancing
with strangers in the kiddie pool.
A YEAR of #NewMusicMondays  

Summer's here
I'm for that
Got my rubber sandals
Got my straw hat
Got my cold beer
I'm just glad that I'm here
–James Taylor

Adaptations
So we've had a rough four months. Everybody's glad summer is finally here. My HOA pool has just reopened with 'new rules' - residents must register online to reserve a 2 hour block with limited capacity in designated social distanced squares. Most people never have anything good to say about any HOA (Hobby Opportunity for Authority), but I have to say they have done a good job trying to keep everyone safe.

A typical Pickleball setup using a tennis court
The HOA tennis courts have also just reopened right across from my house. Pickleball is back in full-swing, the game made for my generation who have either forgotten how to run or can't. I'm not poking pickleballers here, it's more about me dealing with my own body and what it used to do compared to now. I'm also lamenting about the wonderful game of tennis, with less young people playing real tennis, I just hope the original white court lines don't fade away.

Pickleball is a great social activity. Everybody is chatting it up with lots of laughter just like old times, but from my box seat view, I see no masks or social distancing. C'mon boomers, you still can be flexible, just like your pickleball wrist!

I have family driving down all the way from Seattle on several different trips this summer, finally merging our packs together. Quite a long distance travel adaptation, all the while airlines like American Airlines announced they will scrap social distancing and start booking full planes July 1.

For our visiting grandkids their parents have come up with a simple term to explain our times, No San Diego Zoo (opened last week), Legoland, or Disneyland because of the "Big Germs." :-(

It's a different summer in a turbulent year, but we are learning to do things differently and still have fun together.

Recently I wrote a blog, Outdoor Exercise In The Time Of Coronavirus: Who was that masked man? where I basically talked about the current culture war of wearing a mask. My working titles were, #ManUpMaskUp, or #MaskUpMother####ers, but opted for a little more informative heading in the end. For people walking, running or biking it's really not political, wearing a mask just has become more of a hassle and can't be bothered with, I call it, "an inconvenient truth- coronavirus edition." I see my regulars, the people that exercise around me in my neighborhood every week. Most everyone, young and old have just given up the mask outdoors. There is such irony here, people making the effort to exercise, but too damn lazy to adapt to a new simple behavior by wearing a mask that SAVES LIVES.

Breaking News- VP Pence gets pensive and decides to wear a mask to a Texas mega-church on Sunday. Better late than never... at least I hope it's not too late?  Anyway, baby steps for Trump's little bucko.

So unless you're living under a rock, you know that there is more than a little uptick in coronavirus cases across the country in the month of June. I haven't heard, "flatten the curve" since the end of May. 

However, I still hear that we are still in the 1st wave, and there is going to be a second wave sometime in the fall. I think after the past several weeks, we probably should adjust our 'waves' talk too. For Western States who has lived through enough wildfires in the last twenty years, the analogy of the coronavirus being an 'uncontained wildfire' is a much more accurate way to describe how the virus is currently surging and spreading across the country. The term, "hot spots" seems quite appropriate.

Source - New York Times
The solid burnt orange of new coronavirus cases in Southern California is disconcerting to say the least, where as Disneyland staying closed is not really our biggest problem. When the brush fires do start in the coming days ahead, maybe the masks people aren't wearing now will suddenly have a function to them. Instead of Fire and Rain, we'll call it Fire and Fire and the masks will serve a dual purpose- keeping coronavirus from going red in your town while breathing in falling ash from your local brush fire.

Hey, but on the positive side, new music keeps rolling in everyday. I can't keep up with all the broadcast and Internet services with artists and bands just putting out more live and recorded music across all the streaming services everyday. I'm glad I've made #NewMusicMonday a series because I keep finding new songs and albums being pumped out in this first half of 2020.

If you are spending the time to read this blog, you probably love music, and I will suggest, you need to be listening to music more than ever! Make the adaptation necessary in your behavior to spend 15 more minutes a day listening to music. I'm just a guy here finding and organizing what I think are good songs to listen to and if you like my playlists, cool. If not, find sources where you can hear music that moves you emotionally. I need that movement more than ever, and I'm guessing so do you.

Stay well and enjoy this playlist my friends.



References

Monday, June 15, 2020

50 Years of Music • June, 1970

This week takes us back to June, 1970 and the completion of my freshmen year in high school, and one year closer to freedom. As I started to put the June, 1970 Playlist together I realized this was a weaker month for my personal musical tastes as bands like Grand Funk Railroad, Deep Purple, and Procol Harum just never made it with me, compared to the likes of The Rolling Stones, Cream, and The Who. The later grouping set the Tier I rock benchmark and the former grouping would never rise above a Tier II level in my opinion. However, I did like Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water in 1972.

I was excited to see Bob Dylan's Self Portrait was on the June 1970 in Music Wikipedia release list as I've been listening to him lately. In 1970, I really wasn't into Dylan that much and now wanted to explore why the critics had not been kind to this album. Dylan, never one to please anyone took a sharp Americana folk turn on this one, as everyone probably wanted more of Like A Rolling Stone.

The 24 song selection of the double album is a bit of a FU by Bob to the public and critics, but if you listen carefully, there's some really nice gold to be mined here. Dylan is also greatly panned for his singing on this album, with some carry over 'country crooning' songs from his 1969 Nashville Skyline album. I actually found Bob's singing to be a highlight of the album. Listen to Copper Kettle for example, I just love it!

So this week, I have two playlists: one; a mix of songs I liked from June, 1970 and two; a selection of songs I liked from the Self Portrait album. As for Self Portrait being on YouTube, I was sorely disappointed, I could only find a couple of song's (what's up with that Bob?). So, what I decided to do is make my own 'What If' playlist if Dylan had focused on releasing a single album of Folk cover songs. I have created a duplicate Spotify or Amazon 13 song playlist for you to choose from below. Enjoy, and stay well my friends!




Doug's 'What If' of Self Portrait by Bob Dylan

On Spotify

On Amazon


Monday, April 22, 2019

April, 1969 - 50 Years of Music

April, 1969 (Source: Wikipedia 1969 in Music)
DayAlbumArtistNotes
1TasteTaste-
7Nazz NazzNazz-
Songs from a RoomLeonard Cohen-
8Three Week HeroP.J. Proby-
9Nashville SkylineBob Dylan-
15Green Is BluesAl Green-
21Uncle MeatThe Mothers of InventionSoundtrack
23With a Little Help from My FriendsJoe Cocker-
25On the Threshold of a DreamThe Moody Blues-
26It's Our ThingThe Isley Brothers-
28The Chicago Transit AuthorityChicago-
30M.P.G.Marvin Gaye-
-Blue MatterSavoy Brown-
HairVarious ArtistsLondon cast
Our Mother the MountainTownes Van Zandt-
Ramblin' Gamblin' ManThe Bob Seger System-
My deep dive back to 1969 in music this year has been fun in the appreciation for all the songs I dismissed the first time around as a young and stupid 14 year old. Nashville Skyline is a perfect example. I liked Bob Dylan, but what was he doing changing his voice and making a Country album? Several years later, I did take notice when Lay Lady Lay came on the radio one day and my mom said, "I hate that song" and I said to myself, "Hey maybe Bobby's got something here."

In the 50 years since, I've expanded my thinking a bit as well as my taste for different genres of music. If this Monday finds you wanting a little retrospection, this music will take you there.


Monday, November 13, 2017

A-Changin' History Lesson: Only a Pawn in Their Game

As I so often do, I reflect on things on my dirt trail runs. Last week I'm jogging with my phone and Bob Dylan's, Only a Pawn in Their Game, from his 1964 album, The Times They Are A-Changin' comes on my Amazon Music shuffle. As the song starts to play, I'm thinking I haven't heard this one in years, but now at 62, I'm really listening to this song with a total focus, more clearly than ever before.

Lately, I've been getting into Dylan's early songs as nobody can quite match his songwriting and voice at the height of both. He is so young, and how can he be that wise in his early 20's for God's sake? I know most rock 'n' roll legends "best" works are done in their 20's, but Bobby's in a league of his own.

So, as I'm listening to Only a Pawn in Their Game, P.T. Barnum's (*attributed) line, "There's a sucker born every minute," comes into my head as an updated 21st century version of racism. Dylan's song is about the June 12, 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers by white supremacist, Byron De La Beckwith.  Evers, a World War II veteran and, "an American civil rights activist from Mississippi who worked to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi and enact social justice and voting rights." Beckwith, a pawn born long after the southern slavery economy of the 1700's.

In my mind, I'm thinking, "Charlottesville" (August, 2017) and Only a A Pawn in their Game is not a forgotten civil rights song from the early 60's, but unfortunately, as relevant today with only the transition from the white hoods to some white guys in polo shirts with tiki torches from Home Depot.

Only A Pawn In Their Game
Written by Bob Dylan

A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood
A finger fired the trigger to his name
A handle hid out in the dark
A hand set the spark
Two eyes took the aim
Behind a man’s brain
But he can’t be blamed
He’s only a pawn in their game

A South politician preaches to the poor white man
“You got more than the blacks, don’t complain.
You’re better than them, you been born with white skin,” they explain.
And the Negro’s name
Is used it is plain
For the politician’s gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man’s used in the hands of them all like a tool
He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
’Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game

From the poverty shacks, he looks from the cracks to the tracks
And the hoofbeats pound in his brain
And he’s taught how to walk in a pack
Shoot in the back
With his fist in a clinch
To hang and to lynch
To hide ’neath the hood
To kill with no pain
Like a dog on a chain
He ain’t got no name
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.

Today, Medgar Evers was buried from the bullet he caught
They lowered him down as a king
But when the shadowy sun sets on the one
That fired the gun
He’ll see by his grave
On the stone that remains
Carved next to his name
His epitaph plain:
Only a pawn in their game

Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music



So back to that line, There's a sucker born every minute. Last night I'm watching the new HBO documentary, Rolling Stone: Stories from the Edge and their piece on pastor Jimmy Swaggart and his prostitution scandals in the 80's. As I'm watching this, I'm also thinking about the current Judge Roy Moore and The unholy excuses of Roy Moores' alliesand the sucker line just kind of writes itself.



On The Times They Are A-Changin' is the song With God On Our Side. "The lyrics address the tendency of nations, tribes, or societies to believe that God will invariably side with them and oppose those with whom they disagree, thus leaving unquestioned the morality of wars fought and atrocities committed by their country." With the latest mass murder of 26 in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas from a deranged person with a semi-automatic military-like weapon, many who oppose any gun control say the standard line, "it's too soon to talk about it." Here's Donald Trump on the subject- "We have a lot of mental health problems in our country, as do other countries, but this isn't a guns situation ... we could go into it but it's a little bit soon to go into it. Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction" or "it would have been much worse." For most Americans, you just want to scream or go out for a long run. I will also include the now pat phrase, "thought and prayers" said as the new standard action response and plan by politicians and pundits to the victims, families and communities of these type of killings, in a 48 hour news cycle. We all understand the sentiment "thoughts and prayers," but followed by what? The song, With God on our Side, brings a new relevance for me as domestic terror acts overwhelmingly perpetrated by white men routinely continue. But remember the magic words, "thoughts and prayers," and thank God we have him on our side as this appears to be the only game plan we're sticking with.



Speaking of P.T. Barnum, comes the current President of the United States and his statement, "Drain the Swamp," for replacing the establishment fat cat politicians with people who would better represent the hard working people of our land. Here's some of Trump's snake oil for -
  • building "The Wall" (with Mexican money), to somehow protect us from Mexicans;
  • taking health care away from millions of lower income people, to somehow protect them, the middle class and fund his tricked-down tax plan;
  • cutting taxes for the very most wealthy and paid by the middle-class, to increase the national deficit, to protect his fat cat friends;
  • denying climate change, to protect the powerful dinosaurs of energy, his friends;
  • Scaring the hell out of most Americans by trying to push the buttons of his man-child counterpart in North Korea, to built his fear game;
  • Siding with the KGB/FSS-backed Russian oligarchs ("[Putin] means it"), to protect his business interests, if not something more incriminating; 
  • calling our 1st Amendment free press, "fake news," to protect himself; and,
  • doing NOTHING along with congress that somehow protects the 93 people killed in America everyday with guns.
This may be our nation's biggest con job of all time, at least in my lifetime. "The Donald" is NOT "The Outsider" elected to clear the temple, but in fact is the establishment fat cat of all fat cats. His cabinet are all establishment fat cats who worship big money over everything else. 62.9 million people voted for Trump in 2016, just sucked right into his "anger" game. He promised the white working-class man to make him first, great again and protect him by perpetrating "fear and divide" as a national platform of backwards change and governance. The GOP's  brilliant "gerrymandered" game board, along with Democrats not voting, elected a 1950's duck-tailed bully. 

In times like this, I just got to go back to the Dylan well one more time for some historical perspective. How will we protect our nation from this Barnum-style flimflam "Swamp Thing" and cabinet? How will a disapproving majority (55.7%) change this around for the positive? VOTE (which I highly recommend you do the old fashioned way, on paper, like an absentee ballot).

With that, I take young Bobby's words in, with a hope for 2018.

The Times They Are A-Changin’
Written by Bob Dylan

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’
For the loser now will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside and it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
© 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music



*Note- If you want to read an interesting story of P.T. Barnum and "fake news" in the 1860's, see the Cardiff Giant

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall



A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall was written and released by Bob Dylan on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album in May of 1963. At the time, the song represented to many the dawning of a nuclear war apocalypse fresh in the minds of everyone from the October, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Dylan has said he wrote the song well before the missile scare with the Soviet Union, and stated that in fact, "the lyrics were taken from the initial lines of songs that 'he thought he would never have time to write.'" Wikipedia

The inadvertent timing of the missile crisis and release of the album will always tie the song with images of war. I was reminded of that in recently watching the new Ken Burns and Lynn Novick documentary on The Vietnam War this past week on PBS. The song is used to open the series in episode one, and aptly titled, Déjà vu . As I watched the episode, I thought about how that song is tied to our 60's soundtrack but still rings timeless today with its many themes that have been interpreted many times over. Déjà vu is appropriate now as simply a lesson of history tending to repeat itself . The song is the perfect anthem for our current world events- the political rhetoric between Donald Trump and Jim Jong-un, the environment and climate change, protests of injustice in the streets and on the football field, the weather and natural disasters to name a few headlines of the past two weeks.

What I take from A Hard Rain's a-Going Fall is, be ready. Be ready to deal with the unfairness in an unfair world. That doesn't mean we stop working to make our world a better place, it means, look at the world with an open mind and be there for others who need you. 

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Written by: Bob Dylan

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ’fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall 

Copyright © 1963 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991 by Special Rider Music



*footnote - I've alway loved the cover jacket of Free Wheelin'. It's a picture of Bob with his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo who had just returned from Italy. The picture is genuine. The album has some heavy, deep songs but there they are just walking down a winter street in New York City, happy and in love. That juxtaposition is just one of the reasons why it's one of the greatest albums of all time.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Eric Clapton, Part II - the long run



I start this with a sub-blog that I'll call,
'Legends with Laryngitis' thinking back to October 19, 2016. MK and I had flown into Las Vegas the day before like thousands of other Rolling Stones fans to see "the boys" at the new T-Mobile Arena. As luck would have it, Mick told reporters, "I've got bad laryngitis. I do apologize to everyone who bought tickets." You see, the Stones had just finished their gig at Desert Trip 2016 a.k.a. "Oldchella" where Mr. Jagger first picked up the tickle in the warm desert air. Unfortunately for us, that show was cancelled outright and not to be made up as the Stones were rolling along on their world tour, as I believe Foxborough, Mass. and then Germany were next up at the time.

Then, my birthday present from MK on March 25, 2017 and the Eric Clapton "short" tour at the LA Forum. Eric had just finished a two night engagement at Madison Square Garden and had developed SEVERE BRONCHITIS cancelling the LA shows and rescheduling for this past Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Well now, I'm starting to take this personally.

Next Legend, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, on August 19, 2017. Now third time's the charm as MK and I are crossing our fingers as Tom is on this massive 40th Anniversary Tour and we are praying to Clapton (is god) that the rock 'n' roll heavens can't do this laryngitis/bronchitis thing again to our bucket list plans. Well, the show happens on schedule! Tom and the Heartbreakers were absolutely fantastic and we had a wonderful time. Then a couple of days later I read this on my phone, “As Tom Petty heals from laryngitis and bronchitis, additional changes are required for the remainder of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Bay Area & Sacramento performances. We share this news with regret, but Tom’s doctor has advised Tom to take additional days off before performing."

What the... we just made that Safco Stadium show in Seattle by the skin of our teeth! Tom did make up those shows, but as Jerry Seinfeld said to Uncle Leo-

Jerry Seinfeld: C'mon, you're lucky to have anybody.

Uncle Leo: Last week you told me I was in my prime, I should be swinging.

Jerry Seinfeld: Swinging? What are you, out of your mind? Look at you, you're disgusting. You're bald, you're paunchy, all kinds of sounds are emanating from your body twenty-four hours a day. If there's a woman that can take your presence for more than ten consecutive seconds, you should hang on to her like grim death. Which is not far off, by the way.

So as of this writing, Mick, Eric and Tom are fine (I'm sure) but their touring days are indeed numbered. But as I write that line, I'm thinking of Mick as the 'energizer bunny' and maybe I still have a shot at the Stones.

And one last thing about laryngitis, or sounding that way. I saw this past week that Bob Dylan's going back out on tour again with his "Never Ending Tour." I miss Bob's voice, maybe a lesson for young singers/musicians not to smoke and mess with the most beautiful instrument you're born with. Smoking is like the lottery. You can be rarely lucky like Eric Clapton (who wonders why he is even still alive). He kept his singing voice while smoking his whole life (not to mention the drugs and alcohol), or you can sound like Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and Bob Dylan to name a few of my heroes after a lifetime of smoke. Sorry, the parent in me still sometimes comes out.

Now, let's get back to Eric and that September 13th make up show at the Fabulous Forum that MK and I just saw this past Wednesday.


Here's my smartphone shot as MK and I are seated center back, just up from the floor, thanks love. I'm using this picture to kick off Part II of Eric Clapton and if you missed my last week Monday Monday Music, here is the link to, Eric Clapton, Part I - god and hippy heaven. In Part I, I go into my youth (again?) and Clapton as the quintessential guitar god of my generation notwithstanding Jimi Hendrix, who died 47 years ago today at the young age of 27. Anyway, the show is billed as A Celebration of 50 Years of Music that goes back to Cream in 1967, and I couldn't wait to hear him do Sunshine of your Love as it's part of the setlist, and a little piece of my youth. Sadly, that didn't happen, as he cut it from the encore, but that's ok, I have it on this week's playlist from the Cream 2005 reunion at the Royal Albert Hall.

But, and I say "but" in a good way, Part II of Eric Clapton's story has a lot of acoustic guitar that he features heavily in the middle set of the show. These latest shows are actually a real blessing for the faithful as Eric's recent diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy puts a dark cloud out there. But you would never know, as technically his electric and acoustic playing were sensational and as I said, Eric still has his wonderful singing voice, if only slightly diminished in volume. For me, the highlight was Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out from the 1992 Unplugged sessions. It's a song that speaks to all of us, but for Eric, after his heroin addiction and continued struggles with alcoholism for many years, divorces, and the tragic death of his 4 year old son, Mr. Clapton did indeed live the blues. All of this is covered in the upcoming Showtime documentary, Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars coming out in February, 2018.

I would agree with the NY Times review of the show in March, that the show was 'subdued.' The recent LA Times review is titled, Eric Clapton at the Forum: Was it dullness or was it bliss? I'm going to say both. If you grew up with Clapton, you felt that raw energy right there in the records, the way I feel about the opening act at last Wednesday's show, Gary Clark Jr. Gary just pulls you in with the power of his guitar and voice. This was my second time seeing Gary live, and I wanted more. For Eric, was it a great show? No, but a very good show. This was a performing goodbye and I thank him for the opportunity and bliss. And just remember back as Jack Bruce said at the end of the live Crossroads recording on Wheels of Fire, "Eric Clapton please." In this very long run, please there has been no one like him. Through rock, he became the most influential keeper of the blues for generations across the world through the airwaves and into our beating hearts.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Vinyl Flashbacks

I might be typical of many boomers who grew up with great music in the 1960's and 70's who've come back around to listen to music again as adults now in their actual 60's and 70's. I remember buying albums for $1.33 (as that figure sticks in my head). I think I purchased George Harrison's All Things Must Pass (3 record set) when it came out in 1970 for $3.99 in a little record shop next to JC Penny's, maybe it was a bit more. Well, into the 80's, I purchased less albums, watched more music on TV and eventually got a CD player. Into the 90's, I purchased less CD's and got caught up in the rat race.

Now, with the empty nest, I have a bit more time to listen to music again as I love the old stuff and love so many new artist's as well. I've also made the time to go to more concerts again and it is simply a blast! My friend and college roommate, Mark Hunter first told me about the music category of Americana as I've now embraced that genre along with traditional genres of rock, folk, blues, bluegrass and jazz as my wheelhouse of music today. Mark and I must have spent hundreds of hours listening to albums together in our dorm and later in our apartments.

As my music blog's tend to go back to the well of my youth, I take my long-term memory here again to fuel this passion. I was so re-minded of that this past weekend on a visit to my home town of Santa Maria, CA and seeing several old friends. After having dinner with Ken and Vicki Forman and Jane Hobbs (Paul was very sick and couldn't make it), we went to Ken and Vicki's home. We were talking about music as usual and Vicki was showing me their CD and then vinyl collection of music. Jane pulled out the 1969 vinyl, Blind Faith album which had our friend Ron Zieman's name on the front and back jacket. I recognized the hand-writing immediately on the back and it sent me into a central coast high. Jane even said, "I think Doug's going into a flashback moment."


So my first flashback -  It's 1969 and I'm sitting on Ron's bed (who's my next door neighbor) and listening to the Blind Faith album with him in his room. Here's the thing about this period in time. When one of our friends bought an album, You might buy it too, because it was so good, but even if it was a great album, you often didn't buy it because you just went over to your friends house and listened to it. I don't remember borrowing albums much, we just listened to each other album's at who's ever house we were at. One time, I remember several members of my youth church group coming over to listen to my new Cat Steven's Tea for the Tillerman album. Tommy Wishard, where are you now?


My second flashback at the Forman's - I'm in a house (can't remember who's) but Ken and Vicki came over and we are listening to one of Dan Fogelberg's albums. I remember Vicki saying at that time how much she loved Dan Fogelberg.

Back to the present, I mention what I just said above and then Vicki brings out all of her Dan Fogelberg vinyl albums. I see his first album, Home Free and it's like seeing an old friend after many years. I touch it and remember it's recycled-like paper texture, kind of like Neil Young's Harvest album jacket.


So I'm back at my mom's house in Santa Maria thinking about writing this blog, my mind suddenly flashes back, I'm over at my friend Bill DeVoe's house. We go into his bedroom that he's just painted black (and I'm thinking, we should be hearing the Rolling Stones). Anyway, he plays me his new Bob Dylan album, New Morning. I remember the song, If Not For You from that album and, it was then recorded shortly thereafter by George on the All Things Must Pass album.

I guess as friends, Bob and George knew a few things about sharing too.



Footnote 1 - In 1978, I go up to see Mark Hunter in Sebastopol CA as he's into doing his elementary education certification program at Sonoma State University. He's living at a farm house with several people but he's actually living in a small wooden shack off from the main house. Nobody's home in the main house, we go in and he takes out one of his roommate's new album's from I'm assuming the roommate's record collection and puts on Dire Straits' debut album. I listen to Sultan's of Swing for the first time and I'm blown away listening to this with my buddy sitting on an oriental rug with lots of animal hair.


Footnote 2 - It's a couple of week ago, I go into Barnes & Noble and see their tiny vinyl shrine to Tower Records. I walk up and start running my fingers through the vinyl jackets just like the old days, my thumb, first and middle finger all working together, flipping the records forward in the bin to find a gem. I stop at Hotel California, pick it up and start the flashback total visual experience of looking at vinyl record jackets even before you listened to what's inside. I look at the little price sticker in the upper right hand corner, $24.95.

Now here's a little Monday Monday Music from each of these albums.


Monday, February 09, 2015

T Bone Burnett's Americana: Part II

Last Monday, I wrote about T Bone Burnett's influence on the music industry and his ability to bring together very talented and divergent musicians in various projects. Today, I would like to continue in that same vein as I've had the pleasure to experience two wonderful documentaries presented by Showtime in 2014. First, Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of 'Inside Llewyn Davis which I wrote about last week and featured Marcus Mumford and now, Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued (next airing, Feb. 14th, 2pm).

Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes (Deluxe Edition)
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This new project is Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes produced by T Bone Burnett. It uncovers new lyrics that were written in 1967 by Bob Dylan that were never released and not part of the original, The Basement Tapes (The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete). These sessions were home-recorded reel to reel tapes made with members of The Band at their "Big Pink" house basement in Woodstock, New York, 1967. 

Mr. Burnett's vision with The New Basement tapes was to capture the open spirit and collaboration of the original recordings with a new group of musicians including: Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens, Taylor Goldsmith, Jim James and Marcus Mumford. Watching the documentary of the creative process of Burnett with this group of people was very inspiring to me. I think this would be a great activity for any organization to view; how a group of people can come together and create something completely new from a set of existing materials, in this case, Bob Dylan's handwritten lyrics and drawings.

The song, Lost on the River was recorded in several different versions with different members of the band taking lead- adding new lyrics, orchestrating the arrangement and lead vocals. One arrangement, just blew me away as Rhiannon Giddens goes through her journey with her mates on this song. I hope you appreciate her work here, because if you have not heard of Rhiannon Giddens, you will after this, and know that a star is born in our Americana consciousness.

Monday, February 02, 2015

T Bone Burnett's Americana: Part I

In 2000, even though I didn't know it, T Bone Burnett had entered my musical radar through the Coen brother's film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? I loved that movie and the music just jumped out and grabbed a lot of people, including me. I started listening to Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch, as I had similarly gotten turned on to people like Jesse Winchester and  Shawn Colvin over the years, by my longtime friend Mark Hunter. Mark, a fantastic musician himself (see his band The Waits), was the first person to introduce me to the term Americana music. It inspired me to start listening to people like John Prine, Leo Kottke and EmmyLou Harris again after many years. But now, there is a great new generation of Americana artists' that are making their way to the airwaves, through no small feat of the master collaborator himself, T Bone Burnett.

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T Bone Burnett has lifted Americana music to a state of popular consciousness by his genius and ability to assemble talented musicians and create some of the best music you can hear today. My awakening of Mr. Burnett, the man himself, was finally realized on the 2014 Showtime presentation of  Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of 'Inside Llewyn Davis (see this link for future airing dates and On Demand - next showing, Feb. 4, at 8pm on Showtime). This documentary was a one time 2014 concert in New York City with background rehearsal sessions and interviews with Burnett and a host of Americana legends, stars and rising stars.

Here, I would like to feature my favorite song of that evening as this is one of those songs that just grabs your soul and doesn't let go for awhile. The song, I was Young When I Left Home was written by Bob Dylan and is performed here by Marcus Mumford. The documentary brings out the collaborative and creative process of Burnett, Mumford and cast of very talented players. This is simply beautiful and heartfelt as Marcus Mumford gives a memorable performance with Mr. Burnett's crafted guidance.