Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"Back in the U.S.A" by Chuck Berry

In honor of Oldest Son who is returning from Italy tomorrow.

Written by Chuck Berry in 1959 after returning home after seeing how aboriginals in Australia lived. It was issued as a single in '59 and included on the Album More Chuck Berry in 1962.

Quintessential American Rock 'n Roll, the song highlights aspects of typical American life.

Linda Ronstadt actually had a bigger hit with it in 1978 on her double platinum album of the same name.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Estimated Prophet" by The Greatful Dead

Part of 1977's Terrapin Station and written in the late seventies by Bob Weir and John Perry, the song is about bugged eyed, drugged out, messianic dudes who used to hang out at the stage door of every Dead concert. And it wasn't Jerry Garcia.

Such men need to rave and Bob lets him rave on with pseudo-spiritual old testament verbiage about waters parting before him, wheels in the sky and "my words fill sky with flame".

The California part seems especially appropriate since all such crazies seemed to emanate from the left coast during these times. You don't see these guys too often these days and it makes you wonder what happened to them.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Won't get fooled again" by the Who.

There is only way to listen to this one - at 11.

Pete Townsend's windmill powercords and first dabblings at the synthesizer, Keith Moon's animal like drumming, Entwhistle's understated and steady bass chords and of course the single best scream in Rock and Roll by Roger Daltry.

This is four pieces held together despite shearing and turbulence.

This song was supposed to be part of an overall piece like Tommy and Quadrophenia named lifehouse but when that fell through it was put on the subsequent Who's Next along with other lifehouse refugees like Baba O'Riley.

Thematically it captures a Ecclesiastical futility of revolution with lines like the "change it had to come, we knew it all along" and "meet the boss, same as the old boss". In it Townsend just decides to ignore politics and revolution and "pick up his guitar and play".

And play he does. This song is frantic ride on a junkyard built supersonic jet fighter that screams across the sky overhead yeaaaaaaaaaaah!

The real thrill of the ride is you know it could explode under you at any moment and eventually the Who did just that.

This was the final song that the original line ever play together live.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"American Pie" by Don Mclean

Epic rock and roll poetry ostensibly about the Feb 3, 1959 crash of the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper to the next stop of their winter concert tour.

It seems to mention many, many pop stars at the time including Janis Joplin (I met a girl that sang the blues), Elvis (the king), John Lennon (the Jester) and the Stones. It also gives an abbreviated version of early rock history with much poetic license. I couldn't confirm it but I recall hearing there were college courses that studied it at one time.

Weighing in a hefty 8:33, Top forty radio started with playing abbreviated versions from the single but eventually played the whole thing due to it's popularity.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bruce Springsteen, Live at the Mainpoint, Bryn Mawr PA, 2/5/75

Something a little different today on SOTHDFTI.

I'm still in Bruce mode so bear with me, but I think I have found a gem.

First a little story. When I was in High School, my home room was the "Home Economics" lab. I'm sure that they have a different name for this now like the "place where men can go too you know" or "foods" but back in the day it was the Home Ec lab.

In the Home Ec lab there were fixed tables that the students would cook and work at which seated about 4 students and since we were seated alphabetically, I sat for four years with a girl named Kim E.

Kim E was one of these girls that looked 22 when she was in 10th grade.

She was constantly coming in and telling of her latest club experiences and I especially recall her talking about seeing Bruce Springsteen at the Mainpoint in Bryn Mawr. She would rave on and on about how he played 2 hours and how exciting he was.

I had no idea. I had never seen him live and my chances of seeing him were slim to none especially on a school night.

After seeing him again last week, I decided to poke around on the Interweb and found this gem.

Bruce Springsteen and the E street Band, live at the Mainpoint. 34 years later, I found what Kim was talking about. Better later than never.

It was a benefit show for the Mainpoint which as far as I can tell was always short on cash since there were tons of benefit shows there for the place itself. This show was also simulcast live on WMMR, the station forever linked to promoting Springsteen in the Philly area, thanks to Ed Sciaky the DJ who just adored Springsteen.

It was recorded during the Born to Run recording sessions and has a good mix of stuff from Greetings from Asbury Park, The Wild, The Innocent and E Street Shuffle and Born to Run.

It opens with "Incident on 57th Street" with just Bruce and the Piano and then breaks into a raucous version of "Mountain of Love", a cover song. In fact there are a lot of cover songs. Dylan's "I want you" and "Back in the USA" are in there too.

The real gem of the concert has to be "Wings for Wheels" an early version of "Thunder Road" complete with Angelina instead of Mary and more of focus on the car and racing with lyrics like "I gotta get this 4/4 back on the street". It's a fascinating discovery in song writing all by itself.

The MP3s are easily found on the Internet so I won't post them here.

To Kim E, I now know what you were talking about and to everyone else, check it out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Bright Future in Sales" by Fountains of Wayne.

Another Jersey Band.

Mis-categorized as alternative, these guys write some catch pop songs. They tell vivid stories with well thought out characters like the young salesman in "Bright future is sales" who likely has anything but. He sounds like he has a one way ticket to future meeting where he says "Hello my name is X and I'm an acoholic".

Named after a lawn ornament store in Wayne, NJ the band was co founded by Adam Schslesinger and Chris Collingwood. Adam Schslesinger also wrote "That thing you do".

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Who'll Stop the Rain" by Creddence Clearwater Revival

IMG_1023:Bicycling in Brendan Byrne
In honor of six days of straight rain.

A thinly veiled reference to the War in Vietnam or is it about the deluge at Woodstock? I've heard both versions. Fogerty himself admits to writing it directly after Woodstock so it sounds like both are at least a bit true.

It's originally from the 1970 Creedence album "Cosmo's Factory", it is one of the songs now ingrained into American culture having appeared in numerous cover versions and films including one actually named after it.

Not to be confused with "Have you ever seen the rain".