Comment: W. C. Handy Walking in Memphis

t was interesting to learn the meaning of the names in the song, but one wasn’t explained… who is “Reverend Green?”ThanksSamAlthough I can’t find an explicit answer, most sources claim it’s a reference to soul great Al Green, who has been a minister at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis since 1974. Guess I shoulda mentioned that in the original article, eh?

It was interesting to learn the meaning of the names in the song, but one wasn’t explained… who is “Reverend Green?”
Thanks
Sam

Although I can’t find an explicit answer, most sources claim it’s a reference to soul great Al Green, who has been a minister at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Memphis since 1974.

Guess I shoulda mentioned that in the original article, eh?

Thanks for asking, Sam.

Ain’t Gonna Ride That Whiskey Train

eith Reid’s lyrics for Procul Harum have always been a preeminent part of the group’s presence. Reid as poet is a lyrical chameleon. From tracks like ‘Still There’ll Be More’ which is both scatological and frightening to ‘A Salty Dog’ whose tender lyrics command the gorgeous symphony treatment it received, Reid rarely tries the same trick twice, and just as rarely is he simple. Whatever he is, however, in the case of one of my favorite Procul Harum songs, simple seems to be exactly what he was trying for.’Whiskey Train’ from the album ‘Home’ opens with the linesPourin’ my bottle down the drainAin’t gonna ride that whiskey trainBy the time we reach these lines in the last verseGonna find a girl who’ll make me choose’Tween lovin’ her and drinkin’ boozeit’s clear that Reid was composing a simple, direct, country and western song. Fortunately Robin Trower got hold of it before it suffered such ignominy. Opening with Trower’s guitar blazing, BJ Wilson starts hammering his drum kit, trying to keep up. He never quite does, but he never quits trying. Trower seems bent on convincing us it was never a country song, but was meant to be screaming electric all along.

Keith Reid’s lyrics for Procul Harum have always been a preeminent part of the group’s presence. Reid as poet is a lyrical chameleon. From tracks like ‘Still There’ll Be More’ which is both scatological and frightening to ‘A Salty Dog’ whose tender lyrics command the gorgeous symphony treatment it received, Reid rarely tries the same trick twice, and just as rarely is he simple. Whatever he is, however, in the case of one of my favorite Procul Harum songs, simple seems to be exactly what he was trying for.

‘Whiskey Train’ from the album ‘Home’ opens with the lines

Pourin' my bottle down the drainAin't gonna ride that whiskey train

By the time we reach these lines in the last verse

Gonna find a girl who'll make me choose'Tween lovin' her and drinkin' booze

it’s clear that Reid was composing a simple, direct, country and western song. Fortunately Robin Trower got hold of it before it suffered such ignominy. Opening with Trower’s guitar blazing, BJ Wilson starts hammering his drum kit, trying to keep up. He never quite does, but he never quits trying. Trower seems bent on convincing us it was never a country song, but was meant to be screaming electric all along.

I, for one, agree.

Rodeo Clown Fairytale

ith a name like G Love and Special Sauce, you don’t exactly expect folk music. Leaning closer to hip-hop than Beck-like slacker rap, they seem to know what they’re doing, but it’s just not my cup of tea. As sometimes happens, a talented performer reacts to the catalyst of another writer’s music, and something special happens. In the case of G Love’s “Rodeo Clowns” the other writer is Mr. “Brushfire Fairytales”, Jack Johnson. G Love’s handling of “Rodeo Clowns” is definitely not pure Jack Johnson; his “Flake”, “Mudfootball”, and the other tracks on “Brushfire Fairytale” are closer to blues than modern R&B and its derivatives. This version makes good use of multiple acoustic guitars, including one played by the writer in a solo sounding a lot like Willie Nelson doing his usual fierce attack on every individual note. Just to make sure we don’t forget who’s performing, there’s a huge bass and drum rhythym; not overdone, but not subtle.

With a name like G Love and Special Sauce, you don’t exactly expect folk music. Leaning closer to hip-hop than Beck-like slacker rap, they seem to know what they’re doing, but it’s just not my cup of tea. As sometimes happens, a talented performer reacts to the catalyst of another writer’s music, and something special happens. In the case of G Love’s “Rodeo Clowns” the other writer is Mr. “Brushfire Fairytales”, Jack Johnson.

G Love’s handling of “Best of G Love and Special SauceRodeo Clowns” is definitely not pure Jack Johnson; his “Flake”, “Mudfootball”, and the other tracks on “Jack Johnson's 'Brushfire Fairytale'Brushfire Fairytale” are closer to blues than modern R&B and its derivatives. This version makes good use of multiple acoustic guitars, including one played by the writer in a solo sounding a lot like Willie Nelson doing his usual fierce attack on every individual note. Just to make sure we don’t forget who’s performing, there’s a huge bass and drum rhythym; not overdone, but not subtle.

Catchy music was never hurt by snappy lyrics. Johnson’s snap. Revealing the often thin line between the ‘losers’ on the street, and the ‘winners’ looking down on them, the song opens with a look at the hedonistic crowd in a disco, poking fun at their shallowness, but the closing verse alters the perspective, contrasting shallowness with hopelessness:

 Lights out Shut down Late night Wet ground You walk by, look at him but he can't look at you yeah You might feel pity but he only feels the ground because You understand moods but he only knows let down by the corner there's another one, Reaching out a hand coming from a broken man; well, You try to live but he's done tryin' Not dead, but definitely dying.

No judgments drawn; just a slice-of-life snapshot of two groups which, at times, aren’t so very different.

Getting Jiggy the Celtic Way

LLúnasa's 'Lúnasa'únasa — another reason for that Irish/English dictionary. I don’t know if it can be translated, but I know what it means: three albums worth of great Irish music. Well, I’m taking the third on faith; I only have their self–titled debut, and the follow–up, “Otherworld.” Both are fantastic, though, and I’ll be surprised if “The Merry Sisters of Fate” is any less.

Lúnasa's 'Otherworld'Lúnasa plays almost traditional Celtic music. Along the way, they manage to give it a spin and a nudge, and suddenly, it’s sounding extremely modern without losing its venerable age. This is a natural evolution of a living art form, and it’s marvelous to see. Fiddles and whistles and flutes and bass, one minute sounding O so traditional; the next, sounding like the intro to the latest U2 single. The band is purely acoustic, and technically there’s really nothing ‘rock’ about them, but there’s a currency in the performances which is more than just the youthful vigor elementary to Celtic music.

Lúnasa's 'The Merry Sisters of Fate'Their website is a mixture of information and fun, and is well worth browsing. As are, of course, the albums. My special favorite: “Laura Lynn Cunningham” from “Otherworld” — first, a mournful flute, all alone, then joined by others. Finally, when the song is more than half over, the fiddle and guitars take over, dispelling the pensive mood with a finish bright and cheerful as their album covers.

Before the Gravel Road

llison loaned me her copy of “Lucinda Williams” a few weeks ago. She casually mentioned that she and Lucinda used to play together as children. I’m still waiting for a photo good enough to post, but even in the copy her dad faxed to her, it’s pretty obvious which one of the group is Allison, and which one’s Cindy.It’s also pretty obvious when the one singing is Lucinda Williams. Her last two albums, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and “Essence” are both award winners. Her third album, eponymously entitled, is just as much a winner, despite academia’s failure to recognize it officially.

Allison loaned me her copy of “Lucinda Williams' eponymous albumLucinda Williams” a few weeks ago. She casually mentioned that she and Lucinda used to play together as children. I’m still waiting for a photo good enough to post, but even in the copy her dad faxed to her, it’s pretty obvious which one of the group is Allison, and which one’s Cindy.

It’s also pretty obvious when the one singing is Lucinda Williams. Her last two albums, “Lucinda Williams' 'Car Wheels on a Gravel Road'Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and “Lucinda Williams' 'Essence'Essence” are both award winners. Her third album, eponymously entitled, is just as much a winner, despite academia’s failure to recognize it officially.

If you’ve only heard Lucinda on the radio, you probably think of her as a blues singer. “Can’t Let Go” got plenty of air time, and deservedly so. Lucinda is a blues singer, and a good one. But she’s also that incredibly rare phenomenon: a country artist I actually enjoy.

After her first two albums, “Lucinda Williams' 'Ramblin'Ramblin’“, recorded in a single afternoon in 1979, and 1980’s “Lucinda Williams' 'Happy Woman Blues'Happy Woman Blues” Lucinda waited nearly a decade to come up with the album bearing her name. In fact, the shortest hiatus after that initial frenzy was the three years between “Car Wheels” and “Essence”, released last year. From a purely chronological perspective, she appears to be a careful artist. Her recordings don’t suggest anything less.

Mixing country ballads, alt

Link Death

ink rot is a web phenomenon whereby links from one site to others begin to fail over time due to changes in the target sites.I’m about to introduce link assassination. Since I have to remove all my CDNow links, but haven’t had time to get all the Amazon.com links, I’m going to just kill them until I have the time.

Link rot is a web phenomenon whereby links from one site to others begin to fail over time due to changes in the target sites.

I’m about to introduce link assassination. Since I have to remove all my CDNow links, but haven’t had time to get all the Amazon.com links, I’m going to just kill them until I have the time.

So, if you read back through older articles (anything prior to the first of December) the links are about to unceremoniously cease to function. I’ll do what I can to get them replaced quickly. In the meantime, you can find everything you need at Amazon.com, which is where we’ll be buying our music from now on, right?

Early in the Morning

o stranger to these pages, Harry Nilsson returns today with a tune that takes me back to my days as a bachelor, living with a friend who was as big a Nilsson fan as I was.Lonnie and I lived in a tiny mobile home. Tiny. It was 8 feet wide, and 30 feet long. My bedroom, the smaller one, was 6 feet by 8 feet, but since the hallway between the kitchen and bathroom ran through the middle, I actually had a builtin bunk on one side, and a dresser on the other, and that was it. Lonnie and I were pretty close, quite literally.

No stranger to these pages, Harry Nilsson returns today with a tune that takes me back to my days as a bachelor, living with a friend who was as big a Nilsson fan as I was.

Lonnie and I lived in a tiny mobile home. Tiny. It was 8 feet wide, and 30 feet long. My bedroom, the smaller one, was 6 feet by 8 feet, but since the hallway between the kitchen and bathroom ran through the middle, I actually had a builtin bunk on one side, and a dresser on the other, and that was it. Lonnie and I were pretty close, quite literally.

He worked at the airport, and often got home from work early in the morning, right around dawn. We frequently pulled all-nighters, driving to Arizona and back, or just driving around San Diego. When either or both of us came in at that hour, it usually took a while to relax enough to get some sleep (unless it was a work day, in which case, we skipped sleep.) Many mornings, I awoke up to Lonnie ‘relaxing’ after a long night’s work by listening to Harry Nilsson’s “Harry Nilsson's 'Schmilsson'Schmilsson” nice and loud, and usually, to the song “Early in the Morning.”

Written by Leo Hickman, Louis Jordan, and Dallas Bartley for the play “Five Guys Named Moe”, the original Broadway cast recording is sparse, primarily bass and sax. Harry takes it one step further, recording it with only a calliope-sounding organ and vocals.

Fading in from silence, Harry uses the pedals to create an alternating bass line he maintains throughout the song. The keyboard part is syncopated to the bass, giving the tune a real bouncy feel. Harry sings it half with tongue in cheek, half with an obvious appreciation for how blues should sound. At one point, the chorus becomes a repetition of the line “early in the morning” — which Harry sings for eight bars, followed by six repeating bars of “ain’t got nothin’ but the, ain’t got nothin’ but the, ain’t got nothin’ but the” before he finally finishes the line “ain’t got nothin’ but the blues.” Then, just to round it off, we get eight more bars of just the organ, bass and melody syncopating while we wait for Harry to do something, anything.

Despite the fact that he never performed publicly, Harry was a showman. He wanted to be the center of attention, and he was always on the lookout for a laugh in his music. His cover of “Early in the Morning” is pure Harry, leading you down the garden path, and then shoving you into the pond, laughing the whole time.

Comment: Lenny

rudy says, regarding ‘Lenny’ —

rudy says, regarding ‘Lenny‘ —

beautiful, especially the ending "texas flood" was brilliant one of my favourite srv tracks is "empty arms," not the cut on "soul to soul," the more uptempo version on "the sky is crying"-- i played that over, and over, and over, after my wife moved outyou have run me ragged, baby it's your own fault you're on your ownyou didn't want me no way baby tell your other man we're goneyou can try to get me back baby with all your tricks and charmsbut when all your games are over you'll be left with empty armsstevie ray definitely makes my "top ten" list but what do i knowac/dc does too ;o)

Lenny

veryone has their short lists of musical preferences — favorite songs, greatest jazz album, all that. If you really want to incite a verbal riot, announce loudly that you think Ringo Starr is a great drummer (I do, and it does. Later, maybe.) But talk about guitarists, and on anyone’s top ten list, six, maybe seven of the names will be the same small group. And, if not at the top, very near it, will be Stevie Ray Vaughan; every single time.Personally, I think Eric Clapton has greater technical prowess; Mark Knopfler has more style, and Chet Atkins had more grace and overall ability than all of ’em. But Stevie played with a passion to match Clapton’s hottest fire on nearly every recording he made. Clapton impresses; listen to “Motherless Children” or “After Midnight” and you know you’re hearing a master. Knopfler delights; hearing “What It Is” or “Skateaway” you know he’s grinning from ear to ear, because so are you. Chet inspires; he and Les Paul playing “Birth of the Blues” makes me wish I could, and his duet with Knopfler “Tahitian Skies” makes me know I could. But when Stevie Ray Vaughan is ‘on’, really playing what he feels, you feel it all the way to your core.

Everyone has their short lists of musical preferences — favorite songs, greatest jazz album, all that. If you really want to incite a verbal riot, announce loudly that you think Ringo Starr is a great drummer (I do, and it does. Later, maybe.) But talk about guitarists, and on anyone’s top ten list, six, maybe seven of the names will be the same small group. And, if not at the top, very near it, will be Stevie Ray Vaughan; every single time.

Personally, I think Eric Clapton has greater technical prowess; Mark Knopfler has more style, and Chet Atkins had more grace and overall ability than all of ’em. But Stevie played with a passion to match Clapton’s hottest fire on nearly every recording he made. Clapton impresses; listen to “Motherless Children” or “After Midnight” and you know you’re hearing a master. Knopfler delights; hearing “What It Is” or “Skateaway” you know he’s grinning from ear to ear, because so are you. Chet inspires; he and Les Paul playing “Birth of the Blues” makes me wish I could, and his duet with Knopfler “Tahitian Skies” makes me know I could. But when Stevie Ray Vaughan is ‘on’, really playing what he feels, you feel it all the way to your core.

When he recorded “Lenny” on his first album “Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'Texas Flood'Texas Flood“, he was on.

Lenny was his wife, Lenora. Lenny was his guitar, a Fender Stratocaster with a maple neck and lighter than usual strings. Lenny is half blues, half jazz, half rock; all three halves graceful, stylish, technically brilliant; but mostly, “Lenny” wordlessly grabs my heart every time I hear it. It constantly amazes me that so much emotion can be conveyed with music alone.

The opening chords are jazz, pure and simple, but right away, Vaughan starts playing with it, establishing a melody and then immediately dropping out for a bar while the bass carries the tune. Now wandering up the neck of the guitar, pausing now and then to let us catch up or wonder where he’s heading; letting the silence build anticipation. Back around to the melody, but shorter, just a bit more punch; then off again, up the neck and then back down to the lowest notes on the guitar, bouncing and flexing to squeeze every drop from that low ‘E’ string, then flying up to the high ‘E’ just so you don’t forget it’s there, and then, my favorite spot in the song. A flattened, buzzed note; from most players, you’d think it was a mistake, but Vaughan has just taken us on a tour of the entire fretboard, and now, in the midst of the only screaming high notes in the journey, he throws in something personal; something other than what you expected to find. And it’s perfect.

Then, back down to the melody, slower, sweeter, and to the finale, just as slow; just as sweet, ending right where we began, except for the final two notes, gently chimed from the center of Lenny’s sweet maple neck.