Showing posts with label John Prine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Prine. Show all posts

Monday, October 16, 2023

Fifty Years of Music • October, 1973

October, 1973 is a monster month in rock 'n' roll. I've already featured three albums from this list of twelve shown above recently and decided to mix them all together and make a big ol' playlist this week. 

I always seem to surprise myself 50 years down the road, and this past week it was listening to Neil Young's Time Fades Away. This was the album that followed Harvest and it just became part of Young's succession of albums where he seemed not to care as much in making great records. Neil has a lot of personal history within this time period, so much so that this live album is not officially listed in his catalogue, and wasn't pressed as a CD until 2017. In my journey through the past this last week, I found Time Fades Away very satisfying. In a year, I'll give Neil's 1974 On The Beach, another try.

Two other gems, are Fleetwood Mac's Mystery to Me, and Dave Mason's It's Like You Never Left. I think I included every song from both albums here as the Brits just kept making great music.

Enjoy my friends, you've got a full week of listening enjoyment as I was personally having the time of my life with my girlfriend and into my first semester of college in October, 1973. 

Monday, September 20, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • September, 1971

When a big album like John Lennon's Imagine hits the fifty-year mark, there's a fair amount of press to celebrate the occasion. I've decided to just include it here in the fraternity of September, 1971 albums that take us back to a great year in rock 'n' roll. 

The song, Imagine was John's biggest single as a solo artist reaching #3 on the Billboard charts. It also took off again after his death in 1980, and for me, made my list of Great Songs Ruined By Radio in its continual overplay as one's mind rebels to the satiation. How can something once so lovely slowly torture the listener to sadly change the dial, or today hit the 'Skip' button .

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-


Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) image capture
Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can 
No need for greed or hunger - a brotherhood of man 
Imagine all the people sharing all the world...

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?"

In the Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) liner notes description, I do like John's later words giving credit to Yoko for their collaboration on the song.

John: ‘Imagine’ was inspired by Yoko’s Grapefruit [Book]. There’s a lot of pieces in it saying like ‘Imagine this’ or ‘Imagine that’. If you get a copy of Grapefruit and look through, you’ll see where I was influenced by her. ‘Imagine’ could never have been written without her. And I know she helped on a lot of the lyrics but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it. So that song was actually written by John & Yoko, but I was still selfish enough and unaware enough to take her contribution without acknowledging it. The song itself expresses what I’d learned through being with Yoko and my own feelings on it. It should really have said ‘Lennon/Ono’ on that song, because she contributed a lot of that song.

In the playlist this week, I end with the beginning in the sense that the people doing John's archives found the 'original demo' tape of Imagine and it was released in 2018. I especially love Beatle demo's because they are just as brilliant in their raw form. Here's the video liner notes on the demo.

While sifting through boxes upon boxes of the original tapes for Yoko Ono, engineer Rob Stevens discovered something truly remarkable that had gone unnoticed all these years. “Early 2016, during the gestation period of this project, I'm in the Lennon archives with my people going through tape boxes that have labeling that's unclear, misleading, or missing entirely”, says Stevens. “There's a one-inch eight-track that says nothing more on the 'Ascot Sound' label than John Lennon, the date, and the engineer (Phil McDonald), with DEMO on the spine. No indication of what material was on the tape. One delicate transfer to digital later, the “Imagine” demo, subsequently enhanced superbly by Paul Hicks, appears within this comprehensive set. It was true serendipity.”

I love this original demo and the video with just the animated clouds, and hey this version is not played on the radio. Also, check out the 2018 Documentary, John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky on Netflix. 
...

Another big album in 1971 was John Prine's debut album,
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.

"I had never seen a bale of hay in my life! I tried to explain that to Jim Marshall when he took the picture in his studio in San Francisco. We were making small talk when a pickup truck arrives with three bales of hay. He said, “I’m gonna do a head shot of you and the straw will make an interesting background.” Next thing I know it’s about five days before the album comes out and I’m at the record company in New York and I saw the cover photo, and there I am sitting on a bale of hay. And I pipe up that while I like country music, this looks like “Hee-Haw.” But it was too late to change it, and I’ve been making up for it ever since. (jpshrine.org)

Bob Dylan's quote at John Prine's passing in 2020 has always stuck with me and seems a good time to bring it out on the 50th anniversary of just a remarkable album of songwriting. "Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree."

The writer, Patrick Doyle has stated, "John Prine is the Mark Twain of songwriting." 

For me, John Prine the album is just a variation of the great American novel. Here's some selected lyrics I have picked from each song on the album, a masterpiece of Americana songwriting. 

Illegal Smile
When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
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

Spanish Pipe dream
She was a level-headed dancer
On the road to alcohol
And I was just a soldier on my way to Montreal

Hello in There
Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more
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"

So if you're walking down the street sometime
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"

Sam Stone
Sam Stone came home
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

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
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

Paradise
Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
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

Pretty Good
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.

But your flag decal won't get you
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.

Far From Me
Well, I started the engine
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 
I am an old woman
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

Quiet Man
Last Monday night I saw a fight
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"

Donald and Lydia
Small town, bright lights, Saturday night,
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
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.

Bunk beds, shaved heads, Saturday night,
A warehouse of strangers with sixty watt lights.
Staring through the ceiling, just wanting to be
Lay one of too many, a young PFC:
Donald
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.
Hot love, cold love, no love at all.
A portrait of guilt is hung on the wall.
Nothing is wrong, nothing is right.
Donald and Lydia made love that night.

Love
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.

Six O'Clock News
Wanda had a baby in 1951
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

Flashback Blues
While window shopping through the past
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

  1. Imagine, John Lennon
  2. John Prine, John Prine
  3. Cahoots, The Band
  4. Electric Warrior, T. Rex
  5. Welcome to the Canteen (Live), Traffic
  6. From The Inside, Poco
  7. Future Games, Fleetwood Mac
  8. Santana III, Santana
  9. Aereo-Plain, John Hartford
  10. Bark, Jefferson Airplane

Monday, April 13, 2020

The John Prine Smile

TOM HILL / WIREIMAGE / GETTY

A young man from a small town
With a very large imagination...

On the evening of April 7th, I knew I would be writing a John Prine blog post on the Monday following his passing. In reading the outpouring of love from his fans, journalists and artists in the music business, what could I say that already hasn't been said about one of the greatest singer-songwriters of his generation. Now John Prine's generation- being born in 1946 is a hallowed sweet spot in time, right after World War II where a mighty legion of singer-songwriters grew of age in the 1960's - 70's to carry folk into country and rock 'n' roll, and then back-to-the-future with Americana.

John Prine's 1971 self-titled first album, John Prine is a masterpiece of songwriting and I was thinking about that album this past week and thought, "did he ever write a bad song?" Then, I thought about doing a comprehensive playlist, and that would be something like 150+ songs. Or, how about doing what many of the news outlets were doing, something like a "John Prine Essentials" list that would include songs like Sam Stone, Hello in There, Angel From Montgomery, Paradiseand the epic Lake Marie.

Then I started thinking about the #hashtag James Taylor has been using in several of his recent social media posts- #SongsOfComfort based on Yo Yo Ma's call for finding songs to help people at home during this pandemic.

That is when it hit me, how about just playing some of the fun and goofy songs where John's writing is the invention of a fun puzzle, an engaging mind-game within himself... the John Prine smile. Songs like, It's A Big Ol' Goofy World and Linda Goes to Mars, where even after the first, second and countless listens, the writer's expression is received... in your smile.

So here's a few of my favorite John Prine smiles that are worthy of the tag #FunSongs, #SongsOfComfort, or songs that simply define #CreativeWriting. Please take time to read the lyrics before playing each video as John's words are a collective bond that have touched so many of us deep to our core.

It's A Big Old Goofy World

Up in the morning
Work like a dog
Is better than sitting
Like a bump on a log
Mind all your manners
Be quiet as a mouse
Some day you'll own a home
That's as big as a house

I know a fella
He eats like a horse
Knocks his old balls
Round the old golf course
You oughta see his wife
She's a cute little dish
She smokes like a chimney
And drinks like a fish

There's a big old goofy man
Dancing with a big old goofy girl
Ooh baby
It's a big old goofy world

Now Elvis had a woman
With a head like a rock
I wished I had a woman
That made my knees knock
She'd sing like an angel
And eat like a bird
And if I wrote a song
She'd know ever single word

Kiss a little baby
Give the world a smile
If you take an inch
Give 'em back a mile
Cause if you lie like a rug
And you don't give a damn
You're never gonna be
As happy as a clam

So I'm sitting in a hotel
Trying to write a song
My head is just as empty
As the day is long
Why it's clear as a bell
I should have gone to school
I'd be wise as an owl
Stead of stubborn as a mule. 




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

In Spite Of Ourselves
(feat. Iris DeMent)

She don't like her eggs all runny
She thinks crossin' her legs is funny
She looks down her nose at money
She gets it on like the Easter Bunny
She's my baby I'm her honey
I'm never gonna let her go

He ain't got laid in a month of Sundays
I caught him once and he was sniffin' my undies
He ain't too sharp but he gets things done
Drinks his beer like it's oxygen
He's my baby
And I'm his honey
Never gonna let him go

In spite of ourselves
We'll end up a'sittin' on a rainbow
Against all odds
Honey, we're the big door prize
We're gonna spite our noses
Right off of our faces
There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
Dancin' in our eyes.

She thinks all my jokes are corny
Convict movies make her horny
She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs
Swears like a sailor when shaves her legs
She takes a lickin'
And keeps on tickin'
I'm never gonna let her go.

He's got more balls than a big brass monkey
He's a whacked out weirdo and a lovebug junkie
Sly as a fox and crazy as a loon
Payday comes and he's howlin' at the moon
He's my baby I don't mean maybe
Never gonna let him go

In spite of ourselves
We'll end up a sittin' on a rainbow
Against all odds
Honey, we're the big door prize
We're gonna spite our noses
Right off of our faces
There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
Dancin' in our eyes.
There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
Dancin' in our eyes.

[Spoken:]
In spite of ourselves




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

Jesus, The Missing Years

[Spoken:]
Jesus... the missing years

It was raining. It was cold
West Bethlehem was no place for a twelve year old
So he packed his bags and he headed out
To find out what the world's about
He went to France. He went to Spain
He found love. He found pain.
He found stores so he started to shop
But he had no money so he got in trouble with a cop
Kids in trouble with the cops
From Israel didn't have no home
So he cut his hair and moved to Rome
It was there he met his Irish bride
And they rented a flat on the lower east side of Rome...
Italy that is
Music publishers, book binders, Bible belters, Money Changers,
Spoon Benders and lots of pretty Italian chicks.

[Chorus:]
Charley bought some popcorn
Billy bought a car
Someone almost bought the farm
But they didn't go that far
Things shut down at midnight
At least around here they do
Cause we all reside down the block
Inside at....23 Skidoo.

Wine was flowing so were beers
So Jesus found his missing years
So He went to a dance and said "This don't move me"
He hiked up his pants and he went to a movie
On his thirteenth birthday he saw "Rebel without a Cause"
He went straight on home and invented Santa Claus
Who gave him a gift and he responded in kind
He gave the gift of love and went out of his mind
You see him and the wife wasn't getting along
So he took out his guitar and he wrote a song
Called "The Dove of Love Fell Off the Perch"
But he couldn't get divorced in the Catholic Church
At least not back then anyhow
Jesus was a good guy he didn't need this shit
So he took a pill with a bag of peanuts and
A Coca-Cola and he swallowed it.
He discovered the Beatles
And he recorded with the Stones
Once He even opened up a three-way package
In Southern California for old George Jones

[Chorus]

The years went by like sweet little days
With babies crying pork chops and beaujolais
When he woke up he was seventeen
The world was angry. The world was mean.
Why the man down the street and the kid on the stoop
All agreed that life stank. All the world smelled like poop
Baby poop that is..the worst kind
So he grew his hair long and threw away his comb
And headed back to Jerusalem to find Mom, Dad and home
But when he got there the cupboard was bare
Except for an old black man with a fishing rod
He said "Whatcha gonna be when you grow up?"
Jesus said "God"
Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?
I'm a human corkscrew and all my wine is blood
They're gonna kill me Mama. They don't like me Bud.
So Jesus went to Heaven and he went there awful quick
All them people killed him and he wasn't even sick
So come and gather around me my contemporary peers
And I'll tell you all the story of
Jesus...The Missing Years

[Chorus]

We all reside down the block
Inside at... 23 Skidoo.




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

That's The Way That The World Goes 'Round

I know a guy that's got a lot to lose.
He's a pretty nice fellow but he's kind of confused.
He's got muscles in his head that ain't never been used.
Thinks he own half of this town.

Starts drinking heavy, gets a big red nose.
Beats his old lady with a rubber hose,
Then he takes her out to dinner and buys her new clothes.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

That's the way that the world goes 'round.
You're up one day and the next you're down.
It's half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown.
That's the way that the world goes 'round.

I was sitting in the bathtub counting my toes,
When the radiator broke, water all froze.
I got stuck in the ice without my clothes,
Naked as the eyes of a clown.

I was crying ice cubes hoping I'd croak,
When the sun come through the window, the ice all broke.
I stood up and laughed thought it was a joke
That's the way that the world goes 'round.




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

Fish and Whistle Lyric Video



๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

Grandpa Was A Carpenter

Grandpa wore his suit to dinner
Nearly every day
No particular reason
He just dressed that way
Brown necktie and a matching vest
And both his wingtip shoes
He built a closet on our back porch
And put a penny in a burned out fuse.

[Chorus:]
Grandpa was a carpenter
He built houses stores and banks
Chain smoked Camel cigarettes
And hammered nails in planks
He was level on the level
And shaved even every door
And voted for Eisenhower
'Cause Lincoln won the war.

Well, he used to sing me
"Blood on the Saddle"
And rock me on his knee
And let me listen to radio
Before we got TV
Well, he'd drive to church on Sunday
And take me with him too!
Stained glass in every window
Hearing aids in every pew.

[Chorus]

Now my grandma was a teacher
Went to school in Bowling Green
Traded in a milking cow
For a Singer sewing machine
She called her husband "Mister"
And walked real tall and pride
And used to buy me comic books
After grandpa died.

[Chorus]




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

Way Back Then

Night is falling
We're doing the things we do
You are acting just like me
I'm acting just like you
Do you remember
When you were my friend?
That's the way I'd like things
Just like way back then

Baby's sleeping
Brother is on the run
I am out undoing
All the good I've done
If you loved me
Tell you what I would do
Wrap the world in silver foil
Bring it home to you.

Lately I feel
That I can't pretend
I may never ever see
The likes of you again
I take a walk, I come back home
Then I sit a spell
Watch the ponies dance around
The empty wishing well.

Night has fallen
I've said the things I did
The only baby sleeping
Is when I was a kid
Do you remember
When you were my friend?
That's the way I'd like things
Just like way back then.




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

Linda Goes To Mars

I just found out yesterday that Linda goes to Mars
Every time I sit and look at pictures of used cars
She'll turn on her radio and sit down in her chair
And look at me across the room, as if I wasn't there

[Chorus:]
Oh My stars! My Linda's gone to Mars
Well I wish she wouldn't leave me here alone
Oh My stars! My Linda's gone to Mars
Well, I wonder if she'd bring me something home.

Something, somewhere, somehow took my Linda by the hand
And secretly decoded our sacred wedding band
For when the moon shines down up on our happy, humble home
Her inner space gets tortured by some outer space unknown.

[Chorus]

Now I ain't seen no saucers 'cept the ones upon the shelf
And if I ever seen one I'd keep it to myself
For if there's life out there somewhere beyond this life on earth
Then Linda must have gone out there and got her money's worth.

[Chorus]

Yeah, I wonder if she'd bring me something home.




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

Crazy As A Loon

Back before I was a movie star
Straight off of the farm
I had a picture of another man's wife
Tattooed on my arm
With a pack of Camel cigarettes
In the sleeve of my tee shirt
I'm headin' out to Hollywood
Just to have my feelings hurt

That town will make you crazy
Just give it a little time
You'll be walking 'round in circles
Down at Hollywood and Vine
You'll be waitin' on a phone call
At the wrong end of a broom
Yes, that town'll make you crazy
Crazy as a loon

So, I headed down to Nashville
To become a country star
Every night you'd find me hangin'
At every honky-tonk and bar
Pretty soon I met a woman
Pretty soon she done me wrong
Pretty soon my life got sadder
Than any country song

That town will make you crazy
Just give it a little time
You'll be walking 'round in circles
Lookin' for that country rhyme
You'll be waitin' on a phone call
At the wrong end of a broom
Yea, that town'll make you crazy
Crazy as a loon

So, I gathered up my savvy
Bought myself a business suit
I headed up to New York City
Where a man can make some loot
I got hired Monday morning
Downsized that afternoon
Overcome with grief that evening
Now I'm crazy as a loon

So I'm up here in the north woods
Just staring at a lake
Wondering just exactly how much
They think a man can take
I eat fish to pass the time away
'Neath this blue Canadian moon
This old world has made me crazy
Crazy as a loon
Lord, this world will make you crazy
Crazy as a loon




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

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.

[Chorus:]
But your flag decal won't get you
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.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
"If you join the Christmas club
We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
Well, I didn't mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead.

[Chorus]

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn't see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

"But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We'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."




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

The Bottomless Lake

Here's the story of a man and his family
And a big trip that they took
Well, I heard all about in a restaurant
And I read it in a history book
They rented a car at the Erie Canal
But the car didn't have no brake
Said Ma to Pa "My God this car"
"Is gonna fall into the Bottomless Lake"

Well, Mama turned to Daddy with a pale face
Said "I've done something horribly wrong"
"Well, the waters still runnin' in the bathtub"
And I think I left the kitchen light on"
Then I heard a crash the car when splash
And the compass rolled around and around
Oh, for Heaven's Sake! We fell in a lake
And I think we're all gonna drown

[Chorus:]
We are falling down
Down to the bottom of a hole in the ground
Smoke 'em if you got 'em
I'm so scared I can hardly breathe
I may never see my sweetheart again

There was plenty of food in the backseat
And the windows were rolled up tight
So we all nibbled on a chicken leg
Told stories 'way thru' the night
Well, Pa told one that he told before
And the baby got a bellyache
Said Ma to Pa "My God this car"
"Falling down a Bottomless Lake"

[Chorus]

Poppa played the music on the radio
Mama rocked the baby to sleep
He said he would've taken the other road
But he didn't think the lake was that deep
Well, if the ferry been there at the end of the pier
We'd be half way to Uncle Jake's
Instead of looking at fish out the window I wish
We'd hit the bottom of the Bottomless Lake
'Stead of looking at fish out the window I wish
We'd hit the bottom of the Bottomless Lake

So if you're ever goin' on a big trip
Ya better be careful out there
Start everything on you good foot
And wear clean underwear
Take along a Bible in the backseat
Read of David and Solomon
For if you make a mistake in the Bottomless Lake
You may never see your sweetheart again
If you should make a mistake in the Bottomless Lake
You may never see your sweetheart again
If you should make a mistake in the Bottomless Lake
You may never see your sweetheart again




๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

Souvenirs

All the snow has turned to water
Christmas days have come and gone
Broken toys and faded colors
Are all that's left to linger on
I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
For they always bring me tears
I can't forgive the way they rob me
Of my childhood souvenirs

[Chorus:]
Memories they can't be boughten
They can't be won at carnivals for free
Well it took me years
To get those souvenirs
And I don't know how they slipped away from me

Broken hearts and dirty windows
Make life difficult to see
That's why last night and this mornin'
Always look the same to me

I hate reading old love letters
For they always bring me tears
I can't forgive the way they rob me
Of my sweetheart's souvenirs

[Chorus]

John, you're in good company



๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ๐ŸŽผ

and a last one, that maybe captures this moment...


Well, maybe one more.


For further reading, I recommend-
A couple great articles written this past week, and one almost 50 years ago about John Prine.
The ebook, John Prine: In Spite of Himself by Eddie Huffman (2015). Here is the Kindle version for $13.99 that I just started reading yesterday and can't put down. Or, you can download an audio version from Audible (free with trial). (Again, thanks to Ken Forman for this recommendation.)

And, if you're inclined to want to take a deep dive that compares John Prine to the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain, read the 2005 Master of Arts thesis by Michael J. Ruwe,  It's a Big Old Goofy World View: John Prine as a Modern-Day Mark Twain (free pdf download).

Wishing you all the best, stay well my friends.

Monday, December 24, 2018

My Favorite Songs of 2018


In 2018, I've made the time to listen to a lot of new albums. For me, listening to new records for the first time is like mining. In any type of mining, you spend most of your time digging and shifting. In the digs for new music, I'm trying to hear the golden songs that first hook my attention, and then work on my head and heart. 

As AM/FM radio is a wasteland in San Diego except for NPR (including NPR Music), and Jazz 88.3, Amazon Music and YouTube are now my go to digging. I'll also mention the podcasts- WTF with Marc Maron and the Americana Music Show as great resources for expanding my search for fresh songs and learning about the musicians behind the music . 

Music is such a personal thing for all of us. My wife and I love each other but our tastes in music would never have been the magical online dating algorithm to make us a match. I just love it when she gently yells up the stairs to me, "Would you please put your headphones on!"

As this blog took about 15 minutes to write, the playlist (now at 100 songs) has been going on for several months now. I publish it with the hopes that you will find at least a few golden nuggets of song that maybe you have never heard before.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Monday, September 24, 2018

Truths in Storytelling with John Prine and Todd Snider at the Paramount, Seattle WA 9/22/18


In 2015, I saw John Prine with his mentor Kris Kristofferson in San Diego. I wrote a little blog about it called,  The difference of 10 years and heroes with the premise that our heroes or mentors come from the immediate preceding generation.

On Saturday night, Mary Kit and I had the pleasure to see Todd Snider and John Prine in Seattle thanks to the warm invite from our old Santa Maria friends Ken and Vicki Forman whose daughter Emily lives in Seattle with her family.  Mary Kit's three kids and their families also live in the greater Seattle area. So the four of us decided to meet up here, spend the day together and see the concert.

Before the show at dinner, Ken was telling me how John Prine took Todd Snider under his wing and that Todd has opened many shows for John over the years and helped build his career as a singer-songwriter. For me, it was a perfect connection of mentorship from Kristofferson to Prine and Prine to Snider.  These unique individuals all have the gift of storytelling in their songwriting.  It is a gift that reveals the plain and simple truths about men and women, working people, people living in a simpler time, injustice, the amusing, the open and shut doors, and the wide open spaces.

Todd opened the show with his stories and songs and I don't think I've ever seen such a perfect opener for the main attraction. If you have never seen or heard Todd Snider, he is funny as hell but can turn that emotion around quickly with a darker perspective. His gift is his balance between stupid funny, serious satire, and folk singer. I became a convert in a sold out theater of the Todd Snider faithful with a lot of hoots and a standing ovation at the end of his set. Thanks to Ken and Vicki for the introduction.

Now John Prine at 71 has 20 years on Todd Snider, and the master came out ready for spit and fire. He has a new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, which had me at the title before I even listened to the album when it came out in April. Prine backed by his fantastic band moved through the new songs intertwined with his famous standards and I felt the audience embrace every song like a winding stream. (Here is the setlist.)

So why does everyone love John Prine these days? I think we are all needing real stories, stories John Prine communicates through his songs of our shared humanity to love and respect each other.

For me, Saturday night was a range of emotions from laughter to tears. This is something you go to a theater for when you see a play. It was an Americana Folk passion play of plain truths about ourselves, past and present. In our current times, where bullshit and hate have become king and queen on our national stage, truth has mostly taken a back seat.

The audience at the Paramount on Saturday night was ready to be entertained. They came to see a couple of their heroes who represent genuine honesty, humor and truth in song. I walked into the building to be entertained too, and I was.  But what I came away with more than anything, was the wonderful feeling that it was simply nice to escape from the news of the day and hear from a couple of authentic Americans on a very friendly stage.

Here's a little mix of Todd Snider and Americana Music Awards 2018 Artist of the Year Award, John Prine. Note - I found several phone videos from the tour the night before in Portland, Oregon and thought that close enough to Saturday night.

Monday, April 02, 2018

New Releases January - March, 2018



My love of the female singing voice was blessed with the gift of several new albums by a wave of fantastic young women crafting great music. Although a few older folks also make my cut this week including, Joan Baez, Shawn Colvin, and John Prine as the year is just warming up to my Americana music fix. Actually, John Prine's new album, The Tree of Forgiveness, doesn't come out until April 13, but I thought I'd give you a sneak peek of what has been released so far.

I'll start with one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Kacey Musgraves who just released her seventh studio album, Golden Hour. Musgraves is starting to get the national attention she deserves as she played on Stephen Colbert the other night. I have included a video here from her performance on the Late Show.

Equally talented is Brandi Carlisle with her sixth studio album, By The Way, I Forgive You. Brandi's been on the music scene for awhile now, and pulled on my heart strings with her song, The Mother. Last year she also blew my socks off producing one of my favorite albums of last year for The Secret Sisters, You Don't Own Me Anymore.

Next up is I'm With Her, what I'll call an Americana supergroup made up of Sara WatkinsSarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan, all great individual artists. I just recently saw them on NPR's Tiny Desk, and just loved it. Here is their first debut album just released, See Your Around.

This week's playlist is heavy with the first three albums featured above, but also please check out Brett Dennen, Christina Friis, and Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, all great finds after shifting through hours of new material.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Musical Eclairs


“Life doesn't make any sense, and we all pretend it does. Comedy's job is to point out that it doesn't make sense, and that it doesn't make much difference anyway.” ― Eric Idle

This blog explores some truly unique songs through the songwriting lens of comedy. I came up with the title, Musical Eclairs because it's a play on the think-fast of "musical chairs," but also plays into Forrest's, "Life is like a box of chocolates."

The first bite came to me through John Prine's, It's a Big Old Goofy World. Then I started thinking of other song's like- Randy Newman's, Short People, Bobby Bare's, Drop Kick Me Jesus, The Smothers Brothers musical skits, and then, the more serious like Country Joe McDonald's, What Are We Fighting For,? and my song list just started to grow.

Then, the curator (or OCD) in me started to put these songs into this hierarchy, starting with novelty and moving up the chuckle-chain to satire as probably the highest form of musical comedy. Several weeks ago, I saw CNN's The History of Comedy: Episode 7- Making Fun, that dove into the difference between parody and satire and I said to myself, "Hey, I'll explore this from a musical perspective." 

He's my three-part progression.
  1. Novelty Songs - "a comical or nonsensical song, performed principally for its comical effect." Wikipedia

  2. Musical Parody - "involves changing or copying existing (usually well known) musical ideas or lyrics, or copying the particular style of a composer or artist, or even a general style of music. Although the intention of a musical parody may be humour, it is the re-use of music that is the original defining feature." Wikipedia

  3. Sarcastic and Satirical Songs
  • Sarcasm - "a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark; a bitter gibe or taunt. Sarcasm may employ ambivalence, although sarcasm is not necessarily ironic. Most noticeable in spoken word, sarcasm is mainly distinguished by the inflection with which it is spoken and is largely context-dependent." Wikipedia

  • Satire - "is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society." Wikipedia

    In a distinction between sarcasm and satire- think of sarcasm as light beer in a can from your house, and satire as a craft beer from a tavern tap.
Three Examples

1) Novelty Songs
Now I'm going to spare you from people like Ray Stevens (Gitarzan, etc.) who in my opinion is in the plan doughnut holes bin in the novelty song bakery.

Instead, let's get into some tastier pastry starting in the 1960's with Allan Sherman and his classic Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah (A Letter from Camp). What made this song so laugh out load funny was Sherman's comic sense that millions of children (including my siblings and friends), were being shipped off to summer camps all over America by their parents, giving the adults a much needed break from the rug rats. Sherman struck a chord with us all (young and older) with his tales from camp. In listening to this song this past week, I thought back to many of my own camp experiences.



2) Musical Parody
Parody music is so prevalent today in all media that I had to illustrate that point by finding something no more than a week old. I settled on Seth Meyers, Amber Cougar Mellencamp Performs "Sneaky Dianne." 6/9/20 Update -  I see that video has been taken down. So here is another music parody video that will make the same point, because it's so easy to find one with Trump in office. Here you'll see the typical intersection between politics, parody and satire played out weekly on television from the daily s#*! show @ 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.



3) Sarcastic/Satirical Songs - Also, Wikipedia's Satirical Songs List A-W
I didn't know of Bo Burnham until I started researching for this piece, and boy is this guy funny with a serious wit in his musical satire. I was to feature Randy Newman as the "King" example of satirical music with Warren Zevon a close second, but I've got plenty of their material in this week's playlist to satisfy the cynical in you. In the following video, Bo's bit of today's mainstream country music is hilarious, but also mirrors my real opinion of "Pop Country" as mostly a pile of the same stale doughnuts. Here, Bo sings and hits his mark with "Country Song (Pandering)."
  


Now onto the Musical Eclairs playlist. Play a little tune game with yourself. As the song plays, identify it as novelty, parody, satire or a combination. I mixed the playlist up with a good variety of material from the 60's to the present.

So here's to appreciating atypical songwriting like Dan Hicks and his heartfelt, How can I miss you, when you won't go away? Enjoy my friends.