Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bread -- "The Guitar Man" (1972)

He can make you love
He can make you cry
He will bring you down
And he'll get you high

"The Guitar Man" can do all that.  But wait -- there's more!

He'll also shoot you in the stomach, torture you for two days, decapitate you with a guitar string, and keep your head in a canvas bag so he can practice voodoo on it.

At least that's what James Paul Harris of Topeka, Kansas has been accused of doing to James Gerety about three years ago.  Last week, Harris pled not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder.  He's scheduled to go on trial in June.

Here's a picture of Mr. Harris:

Oops -- my mistake.  That's a picture of Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes!  

Here's a picture of Mr. Harris:

Nope -- I'm wrong again.  That's Red Sox 1B-DH Mike Napoli!

Here's Mr. Harris -- I'm pretty sure this time:

You can hardly blame me for being confused, can you?

Shifting gears for a moment, have you noticed that there's a surprising amount of discussion of decapitation on the Internet?  (I'm just sayin'.)

Some of that discussion focuses on just how long those who are decapitated continue to be conscious after their heads are separated from their bodies.  

Studies of rats indicate that the brains of those cute little fellers continue to operate for at least several seconds after losing their heads.  But what about humans?

According to one website, a Dr. Beaurieux conducted a study of the head of criminal Henri Languille, who was guillotined in 1905:

Over the course of 25 to 30 seconds of observation, the physician recorded managing to get Languille to open his eyes and "undeniably" focus them on the doctor's twice by calling the executed man's name.

Charlotte Cordray, about
to lose her head
The same website describes what happened when Charlotte Cordray, who had assassinated Jean-Paul Marat -- one of the most radical voices of the French Revolution -- was beheaded in 1793. 

After her head was severed, the executioner smacked its cheeks while he held it aloft. To the astonishment of the crowd, Corday's cheeks flushed and her facial expression changed into the "unequivocal marks of indignation."

Who knew that a guillotining could be so much fun?

The newspaper stories about James Paul Harris's alleged crime didn't specify whether or not he was a guitar player, but you have to assume he was -- right?  Otherwise, where would he have gotten the guitar string he used to separate Gerety's head from his body?  

I don't think that a non-guitarist would have a clue how to remove a guitar's string and use it as a garrote.  But a guitarist would be able to handle that task in a heartbeat.  So it's safe to assume that Harris was a guitarist.

That doesn't surprise you, does it?  After all, guitarists are generally acknowledged to be the psychos of the music world.

You don't believe me?

Here's Exhibit 1 for the prosecution -- Ted Nugent, one of the greatest rock guitarists to ever strap on a six-string.

Ted Nugent with his mom
Not for nothing was the Detroit native given the nickname "Motor City Madman."  Here are just a few Nugent anecdotes:

 -- In a 1992 radio interview, Nugent -- who loves to hunt -- referred to Heidi Prescott of the Fund for Animals as a "worthless whore" and a "shallow slut," asking "who needs to club a seal, when you can club Heidi?" 

 -- Nugent was not a fan of former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm.  When he performed during her tenure in office, he would frequently interject "Jennifer Granholm, kiss my ass" into his songs, and shoot an arrow at her likeness.  In a 2007 interview, when he was thinking about running for governor of Michigan, he stated that Granholm was "the perfect woman, she is scrotum-less."

 -- As a reward for entertaining U.S. troops in Iraq in 2004, he visited Saddam Hussein's war room. "It was a glorious moment. It looked like something out of Star Wars.  I saw his gold toilet. I shat in his bidet." Nugent then added, "Our failure has been not to Nagasaki them."

 -- During a 2007 tour, Nugent brandished two assault rifles and invited President Barack Obama and California Senator Barbara Boxer to "suck on my machine gun."

Not all guitarists would agree with Nugent's comments, I suppose.  But if you've spent any time around rock 'n' roll bands, you wouldn't be surprised that Nugent is a guitarist.  (You'd never hear a drummer or a keyboard player say any of those things.)

"The Guitar Man" was written by Tulsa native David Gates, who was the lead singer of the soft-rock group Bread.  Bread had about a half-dozen top-ten singles in the early seventies.  "The Guitar Man" was not one of them, but it made it to the #11 spot on the Billboard "Hot 100" in 1972.

The guitarist on "The Guitar Man" was Larry Knechtel who was a stalwart member of the famed group of Los Angeles studio musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew."  Before joining Bread, Knechtel appeared on records by Duane Eddy, Elvis Presley, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys, the Mamas & the Papas, the Monkees, and the Doors.  

"The Guitar Man" was covered by . . . guess who?

Cake!  I kid you not.  That's right -- a song that was originally recorded by a group called Bread was later covered by a group called Cake.  However, the song was not covered by Cracker or Humble Pie.  Nor was it covered by Alice Donut, the Delicious Pastries, or Moishe's Bagel.

Here's "The Guitar Man":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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