Brand New from Old Lost John: Broken

ave a listen to Old Lost John’s Broken.Love love love the horn, the saw; the whole arrangement. This sounds like that time I thought I was dreaming, then I thought I woke up, but I wasn’t sure either time.

Tomas Thunberg[l1]H[/l1]ave a listen to Old Lost John’s Broken.

Love love love the horn, the saw; the whole arrangement. This sounds like that time I thought I was dreaming, then I thought I woke up, but I wasn’t sure either time.

me, to him: I wish I knew where you got your voice so I could go buy one just like it. Well, maybe not exactly. But close.

Old Lost John’s Railway Car showed up on Handmade & Homespun last year, along with one of my songs, and a dozen others well worth hearing.

Beyond Here Lies Nothin’

just watched the video for Bob Dylan’s wonderful new song Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ and felt compelled to warn you not to make the same mistake. Just listen to the song and don’t spoil it with twisted violent bizarre images. Dylan is often confusing, but I’ve never noticed his lyrics leaning toward gratuitous violence purely for shock effect.I’ve never understood the music video directorial mandate to create something as far removed as possible from the content and/or spirit of the song. I realize that videos aren’t just a visual representation of the song. But it seems intentionally perverse to take a song with a positive feel, both musically and lyrically (like these opening words)

[l1]I[/l1][az]B0020JJDKW[/az] just watched the video for Bob Dylan’s wonderful new song Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ and felt compelled to warn you not to make the same mistake. Just listen to the song and don’t spoil it with twisted violent bizarre images. Dylan is often confusing, but I’ve never noticed his lyrics leaning toward gratuitous violence purely for shock effect.

I’ve never understood the music video directorial mandate to create something as far removed as possible from the content and/or spirit of the song. I realize that videos aren’t just a visual representation of the song. But it seems intentionally perverse to take a song with a positive feel, both musically and lyrically (like these opening words)

 Oh well, I love you pretty baby You're the only love I've ever known Just as long as you stay with me The whole world is my throne

and create a video of graphic domestic violence.

It’s not art, it’s just wasted space.

FAWM Over. We Win.

ebruary Album Writing Month is officially over for 2009. And I officially won.Which means I wrote or co-wrote at least 14 songs during the 28 days of February. (You’ll see on my FAWM profile that it lists 19; it’s actually only 18 because one is listed twice but I don’t want to lose the comments on my original post.)

[l1]F[/l1]ebruary Album Writing Month is officially over for 2009. And I officially won.

Which means I wrote or co-wrote at least 14 songs during the 28 days of February. (You’ll see on my FAWM profile that it lists 19; it’s actually only 18 because one is listed twice but I don’t want to lose the comments on my original post.)

This year I discovered the double harmonic scale, which makes everything you play sound all Arabian Night-ish. I wrote two Arabic-sounding songs (my most ambitious musical endeavours to date) and collaborated on another.

I wrote a German drinking song. In German.

I wrote a Mexican dance song. In Spanish.

I played a jazz guitar improvisation, my first guitar improvisation ever.

I did my first FAWM music video.

I also did, as I have every year, some country, some folk, and some swingabilly.

And now, I’m tired.

Like a Mattress Balances on a Bottle of Wine

have managed to go an entire year without writing about Bob Dylan. I managed to go 40 years without hearing Blonde on Blonde, other than the bits played on the radio.I’ve written about Dylan’s word play in an earlier post. The lyrics of Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat aren’t as disorienting as, for instance, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again (on the same album, but ooh I love the live version on Hard Rain.) But it’s still Dylan. Not quite nonsense, but certainly not sensible.

[l1]I[/l1][az]B00026WU8M&[/az] have managed to go an entire year without writing about Bob Dylan. I managed to go 40 years without hearing Blonde on Blonde, other than the bits played on the radio.

I’ve written about Dylan’s word play in an earlier post. The lyrics of Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat aren’t as disorienting as, for instance, Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again (on the same album, but ooh I love the live version on Hard Rain.) But it’s still Dylan. Not quite nonsense, but certainly not sensible.

I can’t hear the second verse without laughing:

 Well, you look so pretty in it Honey, can I jump on it sometime? Yes, I just wanna see If it's really that expensive kind You know it balances on your head Just like a mattress balances On a bottle of wine Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

[az]B0012GMUP4[/az]A traditional 12-bar blues, it opens with Dylan himself playing a lead of sorts. It reminds me why Robbie Robertson played all the other leads on the song. Kenny Buttrey’s drumming is very non-traditional; cymbal accents in jazzy places a straight blues player might not have thought of, and an almost burlesque kick drum roll at the end of each chorus-less verse. The Wikipedia article talks about the near-agony of getting a final version recorded.

It all finishes up, lyrically, with a poke at her new boyfriend:

 You might think he loves you for your money But I know what he really loves you for It's your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Makes me want one of my very own.

The Grassies

orthern California now has a music award.The Grassies are the Northern California Artistic Achievement Award. Named in part for Grass Valley, where the first awards will be presented, and in part for the grassroots artists they honor, The Grassies are an idea long overdue. Originally intended to be a purely musical award, we (Co-Founder and Primary Evangelist Andy Gonzales and Know Your Music writer, Grassies Co-Founder and Anamchara Eolais Joel D ‘spinhead’ Canfield) realized it needed to encompass the arts in general to match our vision.

[l1]N[/l1]orthern California now has a music award.

The Grassies are the Northern California Artistic Achievement Award. Named in part for The GrassiesGrass Valley, where the first awards will be presented, and in part for the grassroots artists they honor, The Grassies are an idea long overdue. Originally intended to be a purely musical award, we The Grassie(Co-Founder and Primary Evangelist Andy Gonzales and Know Your Music writer, Grassies Co-Founder and Anamchara Eolais Joel D ‘spinhead’ Canfield) realized it needed to encompass the arts in general to match our vision.

The First Annual Grassies will be the highlight of the Nevada County Music Expo on April 28th, 2007; all the pertinent info is at The Grassies website. While most of the awards are given to artists and others in music-related fields who are still on the rise, the Masters and Mentors Award is a special award for a grassroots artist who has, in some sense, made it. This year’s recipient is The King of Surf Guitar, Mr. Dick Dale.

The Expo will include workshops, live performances, vendor booths of all kinds from local bands, stores, and other artists, food, and more. Admission is free.

Blue Yodel a Lifetime Ago

eventy-three years ago on this date, Jimmie Rodgers, the singing brakeman, succumbed to the now almost unkown malady tuberculosis.The first music I heard as a child was my father singing songs like “Waiting for a Train”, followed by covers of “In the Jailhouse Now” and “Blue Yodel” (first of a series of 12, better known as ‘T for Texas’) by various artists.

Jimmie Rodgers[l1]S[/l1]eventy-three years ago on this date, Jimmie Rodgers, the singing brakeman, succumbed to the now almost unkown malady tuberculosis.

The first music I heard as a child was my father singing songs like “Waiting for a Train”, followed by covers of “In the Jailhouse Now” and “Blue Yodel” Doc Watson's 'Memories'(first of a series of 12, better known as ‘T for Texas’) by various artists.

My very favorite is a version of “Miss the Mississippi and You” by Doc and Merle Watson. It reminds me of dad, of homes and people I’ve left behind, and of how, no matter how, when, and where you move on, you always have your memories.

Birthday Mashup?

orn this date (27 January) were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756), blues legend Elmore James (1918), David Seville, creator of The Chipmunks (1919), and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd (1945)

[l1]B[/l1]orn this date (27 January) were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756), blues legend Elmore James (1918), David Seville, creator of The Chipmunks (1919), and Nick Mason of Pink Floyd (1945)

Any for a mashup of “Baby, Please Set a Date for a Little Night Music on the Dark Side of Ragtime Cowboy Joe” ?

Beer Dawgs, Bass, and Blondes

ou can read about the Beer Dawgs elsewhere, but after seeing them for the first time recently in downtown Roseville I had a conversation with Bawb Pearce about their lack of a bass player (or perhaps their having two bass players, depending on how you look at it) which you might not read elsewhere.As always when seeing a band for the first time, I looked for the bass player. Nobody was holding a bass. Nobody. But someone was playing bass; I could hear it. As I watched, I realized that the singer (later identified as the aforementioned Bawb Pearce) was playing a bass line on his guitar.

[l1]Y[/l1]ou can read about the Beer Dawgs elsewhere, but after seeing them for the first time recently in downtown Roseville I had a conversation with Bawb Pearce about their lack of a bass player (or perhaps their having two bass players, depending on how you look at it) which you might not read elsewhere.

As always when seeing a band for the first time, I looked for the bass player. Nobody was holding a bass. Nobody. But someone was playing bass; I could hear it. As I watched, I realized that the singer (later identified as the aforementioned Bawb Pearce) was playing a bass line on his guitar.

The Beer Dawgs' Steve Wall and Bawb Pearce, wearing guitars and smilesAs the evening continued, I realized that the lead guitarist, Steve Wall, was playing bass sometimes. How cool.

And finally, I realized that, sometimes, they were trading off mid-song.

I have to say, from a musician’s perspective, it takes real comfort with your playing and your material to switch from rhythm guitar or lead guitar (or, hey, how ’bout synthesized accordion?) to bass, and then back again, in the middle of a tune. Blew me away.

So, this exchanged ensued:

Myself: As a bass player, I’m curious where the concept for your tag-team simulated bass came from. Did it just grow organically from circumstances, an epiphany from heaven, or didja steal it?

Slim Bawb: about 3 years ago our bass player got sick & missed some gigs. For the first gig Steve played all the bass parts with his synth bass patch. I then bought a fender Jazz bass & switched from that to the guitar. that was too confining so I bought a Roland sythn also & we decided on the fretless bass patch because you slide to notes & it has a more organic sound than the regular bass patch.

We do around 100 songs that I’ve written so the thought of teaching all those parts to a new bass player was too much. plus the fact it’s fun playing bass & Mo money! Our bass player got well but then quit for a real job. He’s now playing stand-up bass with my other band “Slim Bawb & Gator Bait“.

That’s my story & I’m sticking to it.

see ya.

Bawb

I’m partial to the tunes on Blonde On The Bayou but you won’t go wrong with their newest release, A Little Luck.

And you really have to see them live, but since they play five or six nights a week in the Sacramento area, that shouldn’t be hard to arrange.

Tarzana Kid Rides Again

ecently received a marvelous comment from Jacques regarding Ride of the Tarzana Kid:Hi. I really enjoyed your article on the “Tarzana Kid” LP by John Sebastian ; I still own, in mint condition, the original Reprise vinyl on MS 2187 that I bought as a US import in Brussels in September 1974 just after I received my M.D. in Economics. This is, to my ears, John’s best solo recording although, like you, I think that “Harpoon” is plain filler.I would also point out that two tunes were NOT written by John or the Spoonful collective whatever the writer’s credits claim. These tracks are: “Sportin’ Life” which was recorded (same tune, same lyrics) by Brownie McGhee in NYC in 1946; I have this song on the “New York Blues 1946-1948” CD released in France by Blues Collection #159952 ; I really love John’s version though. The braggin’ “Wild About My Lovin'” is an adaptation of Jim Jackson’s same title; I have “take #2” of this gem of an old time blues record on Document Records DOCD-5114 (Austria); it was recorded in Memphis in February 1928. I like Sebastian’s Spoonful and solo interpretations of that song to which he imparts more of a jug band feel.

[l1]R[/l1]John Sebastian's 'Tarzana Kid'ecently received a marvelous comment from Jacques regarding Ride of the Tarzana Kid:


Hi. I really enjoyed your article on the “Tarzana Kid” LP by John Sebastian ; I still own, in mint condition, the original Reprise vinyl on MS 2187 that I bought as a US import in Brussels in September 1974 just after I received my M.D. in Economics. This is, to my ears, John’s best solo recording although, like you, I think that “Harpoon” is plain filler.

I would also point out that two tunes were NOT written by John or the Spoonful collective whatever the writer’s credits claim. These tracks are: “Sportin’ Life” which was recorded (same tune, same lyrics) by Brownie McGhee in NYC in 1946; I have this song on the “New York Blues 1946-1948” CD released in France by Blues Collection #159952 ; I really love John’s version though. The braggin’ “Wild About My Lovin'” is an adaptation of Jim Jackson’s same title; I have “take #2” of this gem of an old time blues record on Document Records DOCD-5114 (Austria); it was recorded in Memphis in February 1928. I like Sebastian’s Spoonful and solo interpretations of that song to which he imparts more of a jug band feel.

There’s an earlier version of that tune by the Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band with an incredible vocal by Geoff Muldaur (available on Vanguard CD # 79521). Hope it might be of interest to you.

As a matter of fact, I think that Sebastian has never received proper credit, at least until recent years, for the excellent cover versions he recorded of blues music, Memphis blues in particular. However, it is a pity that he never gave credit to the originators of this covers (until his more recent records). But most of the “white kids playing the blues” did the same at that time.

Regards and thanks for your website.


And thanks for taking the time to write, Jacques. Fascinating stuff.

Been a Long Time Crossing

wooping in on icy winds, certain of the displeasure of ancient gods, Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs” is a very long way from the warm glory of a Venetian lagoon.Powered as much by bassists James Dewar’s growly vocals as Trower’s warbling and sailing, “Bridge of Sighs” has always seemed longer to me than its actual length of just under five minutes. Perhaps it is the song’s ability to transport me to imaginary places—places where Conan fought; where hobbits thwarted dragons; places where imagination is real, and reality doesn’t matter.

[l1]S[/l1]wooping in on icy winds, certain of the displeasure of ancient gods, Robin Trower’sBridge of Sighs” is a very long way from the warm glory of a Venetian lagoon.

Robin Trower's 'Bridge of Sighs'Powered as much by bassists James Dewar’s growly vocals as Trower’s warbling and sailing, “Bridge of Sighs” has always seemed longer to me than its actual length of just under five minutes. Perhaps it is the song’s ability to transport me to imaginary places—places where Conan fought; where hobbits thwarted dragons; places where imagination is real, and reality doesn’t matter.

As a teenager, I discovered the science fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, and J. R. R. Tolkien about the same time I discovered a new kind of rock and roll. While songs I knew by the Beatles, Buddy Holly, and others would have been welcome by the generation before me in many cases, it’s unlikely that my father would have ever cozied up to Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Procol Harum (with or without Trower) and many others who provided the soundtracks for my many sunny summer afternoons, lying on my bed, immersed entirely in stories of Carson of Venus, Conan the Cimmerian, Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, and others.

After years of wandering and wondering, I’ve maneuvered things back around to a bit of that simplicity. Once again, I know it’s okay to lie on my bed on a sunny afternoon, reading pure fantasy, Robin Trower raging in the background while Tolkien and company transport me to other worlds. My Best Beloved understands; I know she does, because she’s seen those other worlds in her own way and knows how special they are to us both.

It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry

oke up this morning to the strangest sound; like living next to a major freeway, but more of a rumble. It woke me up, starting suddenly and rolling and rumbling like distant thunder. After a couple minutes, I got up to look out into the dark to see if I could make out what it was. The closest freeway is a mile away, and not busy at night. I couldn’t see anything that looked like a sudden LA-sized influx of traffic.Suddenly it hit me. One of the joys of living on the north side of Sacramento is that most of these small towns were built around the railroads. I was hearing a sound I hadn’t heard like this in years—a passing freight train.

[l1]W[/l1]oke up this morning to the strangest sound; like living next to a major freeway, but more of a rumble. It woke me up, starting suddenly and rolling and rumbling like distant thunder. After a couple minutes, I got up to look out into the dark to see if I could make out what it was. The closest freeway is a mile away, and not busy at night. I couldn’t see anything that looked like a sudden LA-sized influx of traffic.

Suddenly it hit me. One of the joys of living on the north side of Sacramento is that most of these small towns were built around the railroads. I was hearing a sound I hadn’t heard like this in years—a passing freight train.

When I was a kid, my brother and I used to spend some time each summer with our grandmother. One of her houses (she seems to have moved more than most grandmothers) was right across a narrow street from railroad tracks. I remember that when we’d first arrive, each passing train would awaken me as it growled past. But by the second night, it was just a comforting background sound like the ticking and quailing and cuckooing of the huge German clock in the hallway.

Trains seem to inspire musical feelings; I know they do in me. I started making a list of train songs, and I hope to come back and spend a bit of time riding each one. For now, I’ll just spit out a stream-of-consciousness blurb for each. Let me know if you have any favorites, or if there are some I’ve missed.

[az]B0000CBLA8[/az]If Love Was A Train Michelle Shocked
Why Michelle ‘Shocked’ Johnston didn’t become a major star is beyond me. Brother Max (The Gourds) is benefitting from the same near-anonimity. Guess it’s better than watching ZZ Top go from serious blues influence to slithery pop gunk.

[az]B000000XCF[/az]Midnight Special Credence Clearwater Revival
My dad bought ‘Willy and the Poor Boys’ because it had this tune and ‘Cotton Fields.’ Since his death, I hadn’t heard the album until I got it again two weeks ago. It’s hard to laugh with joy and cry in pain at the same time.

[az]B000002IST[/az]Driving the Last Spike Genesis
Phil Collins accidently lets us get another glimpse of genious. Phil, Phil, Phil; come back to us and leave the trivial pop nonsense. This deserves a movie to be made of it. Collins actually did research before writing the song.

[az]B000001AYK[/az]Canadian Railroad Trilogy Gordon Lightfoot
Gord knows how good this is; it shows up on more of his albums than any other tune I can think of. I know Lightfoot haters who say, “But that railroad song; I can listen to that.” I want to go to Canada and ride the railroads for as long as my money lasts.

[az]B000001AYK[/az]Steel Rail Blues Gordon Lightfoot
Yeah, Canadians get trains better than USicans do. From his first album, it’s the kind of tune my Dad and his brothers would have taken to if it hadn’t been so quietly obscure.

[az]B005EVTBSM[/az][az]B00116GDBW[/az]Honky Tonk Train Time Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis
This one shows up in two different arrangements on the Smithsonian Jazz Collection; once on the piano set, once on the band set. (If you know someone who has these CDs, I’ll take out a bank loan to buy them. Call me; write me; send up smoke signals. I want these classics.) Kieth Emerson covered it as well. It rolls.

[az]B000001FX3[/az]Hellbound Train Savoy Brown
How sad it was to see Foghat live in ’98. Right up until the nostalgic bit in the middle where ‘Lonesome’ Dave Peverett took the lead guitar and did some Savoy Brown. No, they didn’t do “Doin’ Right” or any of the great stuff from “Hellbound Train” but they did justice to “It Hurts Me Too.” Buy “Hellbound Train”, but don’t listen to the title track. Some clown decided the re-issue should have a fade-out ending instead of the jarring vaporisation of the original. So, buy the “Savoy Brown Collection” as well; you’ll get the original unbastardized version of “Hellbound Train” plus more rockin’ blues than you can shake a pick at.

Aww. Just took a look for some info, and found out Lonesome Dave died from complications of kidney cancer in February of 2000. What a huge loss to blues.

[az]B00009P1O5[/az]Southern Pacific (Neil Young)
Neil’s ‘re*ac*tor’ is one of his very best albums. Huge crunchy tunes which repeat the fact that he invented grunge and is still its master; goofball stuff like “Get Back On It” and “Motor City”:

My army jeep is still alive
Got locking hubs and four wheel drive
Ain’t got no radio
Ain’t got no mag wheels
Ain’t got no digital clock
(ain’t got no clo-o-o-o-o-o-ck)

and ending with the driving, gut-wrenching “Shots.” No one, no one, rocks like Neil Young.

Oh, and how ’bout the track I stole this title from, or Harry Nilsson’s “Nobody Loves the Railroads Anymore”?

Man there’s a lot of train songs. Maybe I’ll start a whole new site.