Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grand Funk Railroad -- "Aimless Lady" (1970)

Take your time, you're doing fine, now lady
You got yours and I got mine, now baby

Part Two -- A Perfect Crime

I originally planned to tease this part of the story over and over before revealing it in the eighth and final part of this eight-part post.

(If you haven't read Part One of this series of posts, click here.)

But I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.  Or struck by lightning.  Or -- to be serious for a moment -- my wife might murder me in my sleep.  (Or more likely, when I am awake and have just said something really annoying to her.)  So let me confess my sins right now, before it's too late.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

My freshman year at Rice, I lived with two other freshman.  We shared a bathroom with two juniors.  One of our suitemates was a very nice guy named David, whom I've written about previously.

David was a big music fan and we spent a fair amount of time that year listening to records while we talked or played spades.  David played in the Rice marching band -- trombone, I think -- and was a big fan of jazz-rock groups that featured horns (like Chicago and Blood, Sweat, and Tears) as well as certain progressive rock groups (like Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer).

Emerson Lake & Palmer's "Tarkus" album

Grand Funk Railroad wasn't really David's usual cup of tea, but he did own the Closer to Home album, which was the group's third.  Grand Funk wasn't really my cup of tea either.

I can't really defend their music as having any real artistic merit (although a line like "You got yours and I got mine" is hard to beat).  The critics almost universally loathed them, although they were phenomenally popular during their heyday.  (Kind of reminds you of "Two and a Half Men," doesn't it?)

I don't remember hearing any of their other albums, but for some reason I got seriously hooked on this record.  Drugs had nothing to do with it, believe me, although it would be nice to have something on which to blame my appalling lack of taste.

I liked it so much, in fact, that I stole it from David.  I took the record out of its sleeve and slipped it into one of my albums.

I always thought I had concealed it in my copy of Jethro Tull's Aqualung.  But when I pulled that record out the other day, I discovered I had been wrong all these years.  (Not the first time, or even the hundred-and-first time.  Maybe the thousand-and-first.)

It turns out that I had concealed the Closer to Home LP in my copy of Savoy Brown's Jack the Toad.  Perhaps there was some method to my madness.  After all, what were the odds that someone would borrow that lame record and discover the purloined Grand Funk LP?

Jack the Toad?  I can't blame that one on drugs either, although I wish I could -- it would be less embarrassing than admitting that I thought Jack the Toad was a good record.

The title song of that album (and the only song on the album that I remember) was a very long and very odd song about a gunslinger named Coulee Reese, "who they nicknamed Jack the Toad."  Jack the Toad met his match one day when he had been drinking and smoking and was just a little bit high -- not a good idea when you're a gunfighter.

The song contains some very catchy lyrics, including "I knew Coulee/Coulee never lost his cool" and

I'll be blowed!
I'll be blowed!
I'll be blowed!
It's Jack the Toad!

Needless to say, I am very sorry that I stole David's record.  It was the only record I ever stole, and I'm mystified by my action.  (I don't really remember stealing it, but there it is -- res ipsa loquitur, as they taught us in law school.)  I didn't have a lot of spending money when I was in college, but I certainly had the means to buy my own copy of Closer to Home.  (If necessary, I could have sold Jack the Toad to raise some cash.)

If I knew how to get in touch with David, I would -- I'd 'fess up and send him the 2002 Closer to Home CD (which has four bonus tracks, and so is really better than the LP).  

One odd fact about Grand Funk Railroad.  The band's original lineup consisted of three guys from Flint, Michigan, including bass player Mel Schacher.  Schacher had become the bass player for another Michigan band, ? and the Mysterians, after "96 Tears" had made them one of the greatest one-hit wonders in history.  Schacher was barely 19 when Closer to Home was released.  Can you imagine being part of a hugely popular rock band when you were 19 years old?  (I can, and I often do.)

The Mysterians' front man was known only as "?" -- he never revealed his real name.  He claims, however, to be a Martian who lived with dinosaurs in a previous life and also says he's travelled into the future and visited other planets.

Here's "Aimless Lady, " the second track on the Closer to Home album.  After you listen to it, click here to go to the next post in series, where you'll learn about Aggie jokes.

Here's a link you can use to buy the song on iTunes:

Aimless Lady - Grand Funk Remasters: Closer to Home

Here's a link you can use to buy it from Amazon:

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