Hoyt Axton and … George Clinton

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2020 by macmystery
HoytAxtonSouthbound

Hoyt Axton’s 1975 album Southbound.

I bought a couple of used records last week by Hoyt Axton.

I’m not sure if most of you guys know who he is, but his mother Mae wrote Heartbreak Hotel.

Axton wrote Three Dog Night‘s Joy To The World — you know, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog!  It was No. 1 for 6 weeks — and Never Been To Spain. He wrote Steppenwolf‘s The Pusher.

He had a top-10 country duet with Linda Ronstadt in 1974 called “When the Morning Comes.” And he had minor hits of his own, most notably Boney Fingers and Della and the Dealer.

(More trivia … he is the man who sang the Busch Beer jingle in the 1980s … And he was the father in Gremlins, among his many film appearances.)

Anyway, enough dawdling, Axton was mostly known for folk-country that was a bit outside the mainstream. He had a few hits and wrote a few for others.

So I look at the liner notes of the Southbound album from 1975 and it says, “Piano — George Clinton.” I was like WTF!?!?

So, I looked it up and sure enough, it was THAT George Clinton. So if anyone ever asks you, you can wow them with the knowledge that George Clinton actually played on a country album.

And don’t forget Hoyt Axton sang the Busch Beer jingle.

We lost John Prine

Posted in History, Music, Uncategorized with tags , on April 8, 2020 by macmystery
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John Prine

There is absolutely nothing I can write in this space that will do my subject justice.

The world lost John Prine tonight.

I don’t have a plan for this, I’m just going to get a lot of thoughts down. I am heartbroken.

At this point, he had been ill two weeks or so. He and his wife, Fiona, had caught the coronavirus. She recovered. John, a two-time cancer survivor, did not.

I can’t tell you exactly when I discovered his music. I would tell you it was sometime during my teen years in the late 1980s. I was aware and a fan of Bonnie Raitt. And of course to be a fan of Bonnie Raitt means you had to have heard Angel From Montgomery, one of John’s best songs.

Grandpa Was A Carpenter made an appearance on the second Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Will The Circle Be Unbroken album. I had seen him on Austin City Limits. My hero, Bruce Springsteen, had appeared on Jesus, The Missing Years.

I’m not sure which of those happened first. It doesn’t matter. Once you realized how good he was, you were hooked. There aren’t many songwriters in this world that Kris Kristofferson and Bob Dylan revere. John Prine was one.

My current favorite, Jason Isbell, revered Prine.

“Well a question ain’t really a question if you know the answer, too.”

I was lucky enough to see Prine twice. The first time at the Peace Center in Greenville. Old Crow Medicine Show opened. My ex-wife and I saw him with my friends Chris and Bridget. He was at his best. He sang all the songs I really loved. You can see your favorite artists a handful of times and never be lucky enough to see a show like we saw that night.

The second time, Jason Isbell opened for him in Savannah. My friend Justin had seen Isbell but not Prine. I had seen Prine, of course, but it was my first Isbell show. I was really late getting off work, then we were sidetracked between Bluffton and Savannah by a huge wreck. By the time we got there, I got to hear four Jason Isbell songs. But Jjustin got to hear the whole Prine set. And I’m certain he’s thankful.

His songs were filled with honesty and a dry wit and somehow, they always seemed familiar. And generous.

I wrote just the other day that John’s 1971 self-titled debut was the greatest debut album ever. Fight me. The track listing reads like a greatest hits package. But it wasn’t. Just a perfect record.

Sam Stone. Spanish Pipedream. Illegal Smile. Hello In There. Paradise. Donald and Lydia. Angel From Montgomery. Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore.

Damn.

Over the next couple of days, we’re going to hear a lot of artists, a lot of writers, a lot of fans talk about how great John Prine was. I’m glad that he got to hear a little of this toward the end of his life.

While Prine was content to make great music in the shadows of the big record labels, it’s only right that at thend he got the Grammys and the Americana awards he deserved. And it’s good there were artists like Isbell, who revered John and sought him out and made him their friend. I hope there was something satisfying in it for John.

I am devastated. John Prine was an artist. Not a family member or a friend. But on so many lonely nights or long car trips, he was one of the people there talking to me. And I will forever cherish what he had to say.

The world is a slightly less good place than it was a few hours ago.

 

Dylan drops 17-minute ballad about JFK assassination

Posted in History, Music, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2020 by macmystery

Nine Inch Nails pulled off a surprise album drop Thursday. If you’re into them, that’s a pretty big deal.

To me, this was much bigger news. Bob Dylan released his first original work in 8 years on Friday, a sparse, rambling 17-minute ballad about the JFK assassination entitled “Murder Most Foul.”

It may not be what your in to, but I’d suggest listening at lease once.

Album of the Day (March 22, 2020) — Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2020 by macmystery
KennyRogersGreatestHits

Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits (1980)

With the bars closed for the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak and Kenny Rogers passing away Friday night at age 81, I figured it was a good a time as any to spend a lot of time writing and listening to music. One result is my album of the day.

I might do one of these everyday. I might not. Who knows?

Bu the album for today … I guess it’s Sunday, March 22 … is Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits.

Released on Sept. 23, 1980 (Bruce Springsteen’s birthday), this Liberty release is the top-selling Country greatest hits compilation of all-time, edging Garth Brooks’ The Hits with 22 million records sold.

The first of numerous Rogers’ greatest hits packages, this one actually contained three new tracks on the 12-track album.

A song-by-song look at Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits:

1. The Gambler – This is the first hit song ever written by Don Schlitz, penned in 1976 when he was 23. That’s saying something. Initially, he could get no one to record it, so he released it as a single himself. It reached No. 65 on the charts. Shel Silverstein loved the song, convincing Bobby Bare to record it. Johnny Cash recorded it, as well. But it wasn’t until it was recorded by Rogers in 1978 that it had an impact. Released on the album of the same name, it became the first of 24 No. 1 country songs penned by Schlitz. Other Schlitz classics include 40-Hour Week (Alabama), When You Say Nothing At All (Keith Whitley, Alison Krauss), On The Other Hand (Randy Travis) and Forever And Ever Amen (Randy Travis). Of course, the song sparked the successful series of “The Gambler” TV movies starring Rogers and launching his acting career.

2. Lady – One of three songs recorded specifically for this album, it’s the biggest solo hit of Rogers’ career. Lionel Richie, then of the Commodores, wrote the song specifically for Rogers. It would spend six straight weeks at No. 1 in the fall/winter of 1980. It was only knocked out of the top spot the final week of December by John Lennon’s Just Like Starting Over. Lennon had been shot and killed Dec. 8 in front of The Dakota apartment building in New York City. Lady was No. 3 on the Billboard chart for the year and No. 10 for the decade of the 1980s. It is No. 60 on Billboard’s All-Time Hot 100 chart.

3. Don’t Fall in Love with a Dreamer w/Kim Carnes – Carnes, like Rogers, was an alum of folk group The New Christy Minstrels.

4. Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town w/The First Edition – A story song about an impotent, disabled Vietnam veteran who endures his wife leaving home every night to meet other men in town. Written by Mel Tillis.

5. She Believes in Me – Having been truly in love in my life and having lost, this song, for whatever reason resonates with me. It doesn’t matter who you are, in some fashion, to have a relationship, a love that lasts, you are sacrificing somehow. You are somehow settling, somehow disappointed, even those who think they aren’t. And it’s when you and your partner are happy making the sacrifices that you make for each other that something special can happen.

6. Coward of the County – Another story song, this one has not held up for me. I still find myself singing along, but the basic theme of the story is Tommy’s love Becky is raped by the Gatlin boys … and there were three of them. Tommy proves he’s a man by mustering up the courage to single-handedly whip the Gatlin Boys, thus making up for his life of being a “coward.” Except my problem is, what the hell does that do for Becky? She’s still violated and hurt and angry … and giving them a good ass-beating solves none of that. Maybe the world has grown up a little since this song came out.

7. Lucille – Rogers’ first solo country hit from 1977, it reached No. 1 on the Country charts and No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

8. You Decorated My Life

9. Reuben James w/The First Edition – Rogers would say he liked two kinds of songs, love songs and story songs that had social relevance. This is the latter. From Rogers’ First Edition days, he sings of an old black sharecropper, Reuben James, who stepped up and raised the white son of the “gossip of Madison County” who died in childbirth. The song’s narrator is obviously the now-adult child and is singing James’ praises.

10. Love the World Away – The second of three new releases on this album, this song was also released on the hugely popular Urban Cowboy soundtrack. It was a top-5 tune on the country charts and a top-20 song on the pop charts.

11. Every Time Two Fools Collide w/Dottie West – one of a handful of highly successful duets with country darling Dottie West.

12. Long Arm of the Law – The third new release on the album, though not a chart hit, this song remains popular with Rogers fans.

I do

Posted in Uncategorized on February 7, 2020 by macmystery

You cage me

trap me

hold me

pin me down

building walls of glass You try to keep me

You cut off my air and hope I will sing

You shut out the lights and expect me to paint

You never understand why I shatter your walls

I never explain why I stay

but I do