Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Led Zeppelin – "How Many More Times" (1969)

Now I've got ten children of my own
I got another child on the way
That makes eleven

[NOTE: Led Zeppelin was notorious for "borrowing" from other musicians without giving them credit.  "How Many More Times" contains elements borrowed from not one, but several other musicians – but that doesn't disqualify it from being inducted into the 2 OR 3 LINES "GOLDEN DECADE" ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.  Following is a lightly-edited version of my original Father's Day, 2012 post about "How Many More Times."]

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Today is Father's Day, so 2 or 3 lines is saluting of one the most prolific fathers in history: Antonio Cromartie.

Cromartie is a defensive back for the New York Jets.  More importantly for our purposes, he is the father of ten children by eight different women who live in a total of six different states (California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Texas).

Here are Antonio's baby mamas and their offspring:

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What explains this kind of behavior?  To answer such questions, I like to turn to the experts – namely, the scientists on the staff of Men's Health magazine, who had this to say on the topic of male monogamy (or the lack thereof):

Why is monogamy so tough for men? . . .

Blame it on biology.  According to Darwin, life is just DNA working like mad to reproduce itself.  Our sex drive is the vehicle for spreading our genes.  We're in thrall to a biological imperative, hard-wired to want anybody who might carry our double helix down the line.

Aha, cry the women.  We have DNA, too.  How come we don't mount anything with a blood pressure?

Darwin has an answer women hate: Women are more finicky because they've only got a few hundred eggs in a lifetime.  Can't afford to waste one on a loser.  Since we have a billion sperm in a nanosecond and remain fertile till we die, there's no need to hold our fire.  We've got tons of ammo.

When someone who really knows his stuff takes the time to explain things in plain English, a science lesson can be almost fun.

I appreciate the way Men's Health doesn't do a lot of preaching – they realize that a leopard can't change his spots, and refuse to play the blame game.

All men wrestle with the call of the wild.  Some will argue this proves all men are pigs.  Wrong.  It proves all men are brothers.  Those thoughts about Myrna at the FedEx place don't make you a bad guy.  They just make you a guy.  Are we clear on that?  Lust is not a virtue.  Lust is not a vice.  It's just a fact.

How can you argue with science?  Tell it like it is, Men's Health!

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I hope you understand now that Antonio Cromartie isn't a bad man – he's just a normal guy trying to live up to the Darwinian imperative.  Of course, he is an NFL star, which may partly explain why he was able to spread his seed over a broader geographical region than Johnny Appleseed. 

(John Chapman – better known as "Johnny Appleseed" -- planted apple seeds in only four states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  For religious reasons, Chapman objected to grafting apple trees.  Apple trees grown from seeds usually produce sour apples, but since many early settlers grew apples in order to make hard apple cider and applejack, they didn't really care.)

Like the singer of today's featured song, Cromartie can say "I've got ten children of my own."  He can also say "I got another child on the way – that makes eleven" because his wife is pregnant.

In fact, Cromartie's wife, Terricka Cason, is pregnant with twins – so that makes eleven and twelve, doesn't it?

As this photo demonstrates, when you are pregnant with twins, you are PREGNANT:

Mr. and Mrs. Cromartie
"Identical twins run in my family," Cason tweeted recently.  Terricka apparently knows as much about biology as she knows about keeping her legs crossed – fraternal twins may run in families (sort of), but identical twins do not.  Identical twins are a completely random event, so the fact that a mother has identical twins doesn't mean that any of her offspring are more likely to have identical twins than you or me.  (Well, more likely than me, because I'm a male.)

Once the twins are born, Terricka will have borne four of Cromartie's children, making her the leader in the clubhouse.  (None of the other mothers have more than two children by the redoubtable Mr. Cromartie.)

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Cromartie's seven baby mamas have become friends.  A TV production company recently came up with the brilliant idea of doing a reality show about Cromartie, his wife and baby mamas, and the ten children.  The baby mamas were all for it, but the fertile footballer wants no part of it.  I can't imagine why.

One of the baby mamas is Rhonda Patterson, a corporate attorney and former Miss Black North Carolina who says that Cromartie cancelled their wedding a week before the ceremony -- when she was six months pregnant.  I can only imagine what the young lady's parents had to say to her.

Baby mama Patterson wrote a book about the whole thing.  (You know what they say about a baby mama scorned.)

Did I mention that Cromartie is only 28?  By my calculations, he'll end up with a couple of thousand kids if he keeps going at this rate.

Thanks to my friend Kerri Griffin, the creator of the "Naptime Huddle" blog, who first brought Mr. Cromartie's off-field exploits to my attention.  Click here if you'd like to read what Kerri has to say about the legal problems of professional athletes who father children out of wedlock.

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"How Many More Times" is the final track on Led Zeppelin's eponymous debut album, which may be the G.O.A.T. when it comes to rock albums.  

The song runs about eight and a half minutes, but the album jacket says it is 3:30 -- apparently Jimmy Page thought radio stations might play it if they didn't know how long it really was.

Click here to listen to "How Many More Times?"

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, July 12, 2019

Arthur Lee and Love – "You Set the Scene" (1967)

You look so lovely
You with the same old smile
Stay for awhile

[NOTE: Arthur Lee and Love's 1967 Forever Changes belongs on pop music's Mt. Olympus along with Pet Sounds and a very few other near-perfect albums.  It's lovely from start to finish, but "You Set the Scene" – which closes the album – is particularly breathtaking.  What follows is a lightly-edited version of a 2010 post about "You Set the Scene" – I was tempted to edit it much more severely after I read it, but we eschew all temptations to rewrite history at 2 or 3 lines.  Once a post is published, our policy is to leave it alone – even if it produces douche chills upon re-reading.]

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I started writing this one night just after I finished dinner.  These days, that means I've had a glass of red wine – just following doctor's orders, of course. 

As the philosopher said, "In vino, veritas."  So perhaps I was a little more uninhibited and unguarded than I usually am when I started to write this.

Especially because the glass that night was not the usual six ounces, but more like eight – maybe even nine.  (I'm driving to Cape Cod tomorrow for a well-deserved vacation, and I needed to finish off the magnum of Barefoot shiraz I opened a couple of nights earlier before I hit the road.  Waste not, want not!)  

The extra vino would have meant some extra veritas if I had finished the post that night.  But I didn't, so this has a little less veritas than it might have.  That's probably just as well.  

Anyway . . .

I listened to this song while I was biking last weekend.  The lines quoted above brought to mind a number of women I knew in high school (some well, some barely at all), but hadn't seen for  many years until recently.  This is my little tribute to all those lovely girls of 40 years ago who are now what the French call femmes d'un certain age – "women of a certain age" – and still lovely.

When I see one of those women, I don't just see her as she is now – I see her as she was 40 years ago as well.  She's really the same person deep down inside, after all.

You may all look your age.  (So do we men, of course – heaven knows I do.)  But that's fine.  It's better than having plastic surgery or otherwise trying too hard to turn back the clock.  

Hey, I like women my age – actually, I much prefer them.  It's a lot easier to talk to them than women who are 20 or 30 years younger, and they really do look just as good – they look different than younger women, certainly, but that's OK.  It would be awful if all women were lovely in exactly the same way.

One final thought before we go to the music.  I was absolutely clueless about women when I was in high school.  Actually, that's an overstatement – I wasn't completely clueless, just mostly clueless.  I really would love to go back 40 years and do some things differently.  Knowing me, of course, one chance to go back and follow a road not taken wouldn't be enough.  I'm guessing I might need a dozen or so do-overs to get it right.

Aren't you glad I waited until I was perfectly sober to write this post?  Just think how much more incoherent it might have been if I had sat down at the keyboard immediately after pouring that supersized glass of red wine down my throat.

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A brief word about the music.  Arthur Lee and Love are one of my favorite groups of all time – eccentric, eclectic, and wonderfully all over the place.  They are everything you want from a sixties band.

And Arthur Lee was everything you want from the frontman of a band like Love – he was Jim Morrison (the Doors were big fans) before Jim Morrison was Jim Morrison.

Or maybe he was Jimi Hendrix before Jimi Hendrix was Jimi Hendrix.  (Lee claimed that Hendrix stole his style of dress from the Love frontman.)

Arthur Lee and Jimi Hendrix
Whichever it was, you've gotta love a guy who wears glasses with one lens tinted red and the other one tinted blue in order to purposely screw up his vision and see the world like no one else sees it.

"You Set the Scene" is one of Arthur Lee and Love's more complex songs in terms of both the music and the lyrics.  It's really two songs in one.

Click here to listen to "You Set the Scene."

Click here for a stunning live performance of the song.

And click on the link below to buy "You Set the Scene" from iTunes:

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

13th Floor Elevators – "Slip Inside This House" (1967)

One-eyed men aren't really reigning
They just march in place until
Two-eyed men with mystery training
Finally feel the power fill
Three-eyed men are not complaining.
They can yo-yo where they will
They slip inside this house as they pass by

[NOTE: The music of the 13th Floor Elevators is uniquely weird stuff.  Like most of the band's music, "Slip Inside This House" sounds like nothing else you've ever heard, and that's one reason I chose to include it in this year's group of inductees into the 2 OR 3 LINES "GOLDEN DECADE" ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.  Below is an updated version of my 2012 post about "Slip Inside This House."] 

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The next time you're in a tall building, check to see whether it has a 13th floor.  Odds are that it doesn't.

Where's the button for the 13th floor?
Can you believe that it's the year 2012, and superstition still has sufficient sway over our hearts and minds that building managers skip from 12 to 14 when labeling the buttons on their elevators?  Remarkable, isn't it?

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The Dutch Renaissance author and theologian, Erasmus, is credited with coining the saying, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."  That seems to be the inspiration for the first line of this verse – "One-eyed men aren't really reigning" – but who the hell knows?

But first things first.  When you listen to "Slip Inside This House," you're going to hear a weird little musical line that sounds like nothing you've never heard – think wibble wibble wibble wibble.

You've probably seen old-timey bands that had a guy who played a gallon jug by blowing across the opening at the top of the neck, producing a bass note.

Tommy Hall, electric jug virtuoso
The sound on this record that I'm talking about is made by an electric jug.  Honest to God, folks.  Tommy Hall, who was one of the original members of the 13th Floor Elevators, played electric jug.

Hall was a world-class LSD user.  He told the author of a book about the Elevators that he took LSD something like 317 times between 1966 and 1970.  And he kept on taking it for decades.

Tommy Hall in 2009
I feel an artistic connection to Hall because I played bass jugs for a fife, jug, and bottle band in high school.  We were strictly acoustic, however – no electric jugs in our band.  (No electric nothin', as a matter of fact.)

I could have used an electric jug.  Maybe then I wouldn't have hyperventilated and almost fainted during every song we played.  

Here's a video of the Elevators that shows Hall playing his electric jug.  As far as I know, he is the only person in the history of the world who played an electric jug, as you can see from this old American Bandstand appearance by the band:

(The 13th Floor Elevators on American Bandstand?  Maybe Dick Clark was on LSD, too.)

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Roky Erickson, the lead guitarist and lead singer for the 13th Floor Elevators, was a brilliant musician.  He was also mad as a hatter.  

In 1968, when the band was performing at HemisFair – which was sort of a mini-world's fair held in San Antonio that year – Erickson began speaking gibberish.  He was diagnosed as being a paranoid schizophrenic and was subjected to electroconvulsive therapy (a/k/a/electroshock therapy or "shock treatment") at a psychiatric hospital in Houston.  

The Elevators were major drug users and advocates of drug use, and the fuzz kept a close eye on them.  In 1969, Erickson was arrested and found to be carrying a single joint.  Facing a possible sentence of as much as ten years in prison, Erickson pled not guilty by reason of insanity and ended up at a state hospital for the criminally insane, where he had more electroshock and was dosed with the antipsychotic drug, Thorazine, until his release in 1972.  

In 1974, Roky formed a new band named "Bleib alien," which combined an anagram and a pun and was supposed to mean "remain alone" but in German.  He then released two aptly named albums (I Think of Demons and The Evil One) before announcing in 1982 that a Martian had invaded his body.

Roky Erickson in 1967
Here's how Wikipedia describes what happened next:

[Erickson] came to feel that, due to his being alien, human beings were attacking him psychically.  A concerned friend enlisted a Notary Public to witness an official statement by Erickson that he was an alien; he hoped by declaring so publicly he would be in line with any "international laws" he might have been breaking.  Erickson claimed the attacks then indeed stopped.

(It gets worse, boys and girls.)

Beginning in the 1980s, Erickson began a years-long obsession with the mail, often spending hours poring over random junk mail, writing to solicitors and celebrities (dead or living).  He was arrested in 1989 on charges of mail theft.  Erickson picked up mail from neighbors who had moved and taped it to the walls of his room.  He insisted that he never opened any of the mail, and the charges were ultimately dropped.

Erickson has always been revered by fellow musicians – especially Texas musicians.  In 1990, Sire/Warner Brothers released a tribute album featuring covers of Roky's songs by R.E.M., ZZ Top, the Butthole Surfers, Doug Sahm, and others.  In 1995, Henry Rollins published a collection of Erickson's song lyrics.  

Here's how Rolling Stone described the 1995-vintage Erickson:

[A] man falling apart at the seams, his teeth rotted to stumps, his hair wild and matted, and his house blaring with multiple TVs, radios and police scanners, apparently a strategy to block out the voices in his head.
Rollins took care of Roky's dental problems, paying for him to get a full set of dentures.  But the credit for most of Erickson's turnaround belongs to his kid brother, Sumner – a former classical tubist for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

Roky Erickson in 2012
In 2001, Sumner was granted legal custody over Roky, and helped him get his finances in shape.  He also made sure he took his meds.  Since then, things have been much better for Roky.

A documentary film about him was produced in 2005, and he appeared on stage (with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons) for the first time in a long time that same year.  In 2007, he played in New York City for the first time, and also travelled to the Coachella Festival, London, and Finland.  In 2010, he released his first new album in 14 years, and in 2015, he and several of the band's original members reunited at a music festival in Austin.

Roky Erickson died earlier this year.  He was 71 years old.

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"Slip Inside This House" is the first track from the Elevators' second album, Easter Everywhere.  The song is over eight minutes long, and it is a true psychedelic masterpiece.

I had never heard the song until recently.  I'm still prone to fits of slack-jawed drooling every time I listen to it.  You'd best believe me when I say it is far-f*cking-out.  Just look at the verse I quoted above, with its one-eyed men and two-eyed men and three-eyed men.  (To quote Inspector Gadget, "Yowser!")  

And that verse is only one of ten verses in this song, each of which is more bizarre and obscure than the last.  Here's the first verse:

Bedouin tribes ascending
From the egg into the flower
Alpha information sending
States within the heaven shower
From disciples the unending
Subtleties of river power
They slip inside this house as they pass by 

Click here to listen to "Slip Inside This House."

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, July 5, 2019

Cream – "Tales of Brave Ulysses" (1967)

How his naked ears were tortured
By the sirens sweetly singing

In June, 2 or 3 lines announced the second group of inductees into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME – each and every one of them an all-time great.

This month, my wildly popular little blog will present the members of the second group of inductees into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.

You remember the rules for the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME, don’t you?  

First, the song must have been released between 1964 and 1973 – which was the golden decade of rock music.

Second, the song must have NOT been a top 40 single – possibly because it was too long for AM radio.

Last and certainly not least, the song must have been A STICK OF DYNAMITE!

This year’s group of inductees is being presented in chronological order – today’s featured song was the first of them to be released.  

[NOTE: 2 or 3 lines originally featured “Tales of Brave Ulysses” in February 2018.  What follows is a lightly edited version of that post.]

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The story goes that the late Martin Sharp, an Australian artist and cartoonist who was visiting London in 1967, told a musician that he met at a nightclub about a poem that he had just written.  The musician told Sharp that he was looking for lyrics for a new song he had just written, so Sharp wrote his poem down on a paper napkin and gave it to him.

Martin Sharp
The musician turned out to be Eric Clapton, and the song turned out to be “Tales Of Brave Ulysses” – which I think is Cream’s best song.

Sharp later invited Clapton to move into the building where he was living.  (Other residents of that building included Robert Whitaker – the photographer who took the infamous “butcher” photo originally used for the cover of the Beatles’ Yesterday and Today album – and Germaine Greer, who wrote The Female Eunuch while living there.)

At Clapton’s request, Sharp did the cover art for Cream’s Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire albums.

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There were a lot of great “power trios” in the sixties and seventies – among the best were the Jimi Hendrix Experience, James Gang, and Grand Funk Railroad.

Cream: Baker, Bruce, and Clapton
But the ne plus ultra of power trios was Cream, which consisted of drummer Ginger Baker, bassist Jack Bruce, and guitarist Eric Clapton – each of whom is usually ranked as one of the ten best of all time on his respective instrument.

The group’s second (and best) album, Disraeli Gears, included “Sunshine of Your Love.” “Strange Brew,” “SWLABR,” and the mesmerizing “We’re Going Wrong” in addition to “Tales of Brave Ulysses.”

The “Disraeli Gears” cover
Here’s famed rock critic Robert Christgau’s take on Disraeli Gears:

Cream's best album distilled their prodigious chops and rhythmic interplay into psychedelic pop that never strayed far from their blues roots.  Except for the electricity, “Outside Woman Blues” is nearly identical to Arthur Reynolds’ 1930s original.  And the riff to “Sunshine of Your Love,” written by bassist Jack Bruce, is Delta blues in jab and drive.  But Disraeli Gears decisively broke with British blues purism in the ecstatic jangle of “Dance the Night Away,” the climbing dismay of “We're Going Wrong” (driven by Ginger Baker’s circular drumming) and the wah-wah grandeur of “Tales of Brave Ulysses.” 

Click here to listen to “Tales of Brave Ulysses.”  (PLEASE pay attention to Martin Sharp’s lyrics, which are nothing like those of any other rock song I’ve ever heard.)  

And click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Neil Young – "Down by the River" (1969)

Take me away
Down by the river

Now that we’ve presented the songs that make up the 2019 inductees into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME, it’s time to announce the 2019 inductees into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.

But before we clear the plates from our first course and serve the second one, perhaps a spoonful of palate-cleansing sorbet is in order.

Another day, another bike ride
On second thought, let’s skip the sorbet and take our refreshment in the form of a nice bike ride.

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The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal – which is usually referred to as the C&O Canal – follows the course of the Potomac River from Washington, DC, to Cumberland, Maryland.  

At mile 140 of the C&O Canal
Construction on the C&O began in 1829 and was completed in 1850.  It is essentially a 60-foot-wide, six-foot-deep, 184.5-mile-long ditch through a wilderness that was dug with picks, shovels, and wheelbarrows, so it’s not surprising that the job took so long.  

The C&O is now a national historical park, and the towpath where the mules who towed the canal boats walked has become a popular trail for hikers and bikers.

I’ve ridden about three-fourths of the length of the canal, and plan to ride the remaining one-fourth by the end of the summer.  The towpath is a little rougher than I would like it to be, and it can be pretty wet and muddy after thunderstorms – not to mention buggy.  

But it’s uncrowded and offers many lovely views of the Potomac River, and you pass through some interesting little towns and villages.

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Earlier this week, I drove to Little Orleans, Maryland, a tiny village in distant western Maryland, to take a ride along a stretch of the C&O that was new to me.

In 1839, a hundred or so armed Irish immigrants who were helping to dig the canal rioted and attacked a German work camp near Little Orleans, killing one worker and injuring many others.  A local priest who witnessed the mayhem wrote to the C&O’s chief engineer that “were I superstitious I would really believe [the Irish rioters] are incarnate devils.”  

Irish canal diggers
The Little Orleans riot wasn’t the only outbreak of labor unrest during the years when the canal was being built.  That’s not surprising given the backbreaking work – canal diggers worked 12 to 15 hours a day in all kinds of weather – the primitive living conditions, the constant threat of cholera and other deadly diseases, the bad blood between the Irish and German workers, and the ready availability of cheap whiskey.

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The highlight of my trip to Little Orleans was my visit to Bill’s Place, a bike-friendly combination restaurant/bar/grocery store that’s located in a rustic building just off the canal towpath:

Bill went on ahead some time ago, it seems.  The current owner is Jack, a good-natured fellow who holds court from a stool behind the bar.  

The Bill’s Place menu is surprisingly lengthy, but I kept it simple and ordered a ham and cheese sandwich, potato chips, and a Dr. Pepper when I stopped for lunch.

At then end of my ride, I returned for a couple of Old Germans.  When I arrived, Jack was telling another local about a mutual acquaintance who had been slapped with a $55 citation from a state game warden for drinking beer in a nearby state forest.  Jack had called the head forest ranger and confirmed that the consumption of beer in a state forest was not illegal, although drinking beer in a state park was verboten.  He and the other local agreed that their friend should go to court and fight the ticket – put that uppity game warden in his place.

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There were many noteworthy things in Bill’s Place but the most remarkable aspect of the joint was its ceiling, every square inch of which was covered with signed dollar bills:

Here's a closer look at a few of these bills:

Based on my quick-and-dirty count, I’d say the overhead array of Washingtons was about 50 bills wide by 300 bills long.

In other words, there was roughly $15,000 pinned to the ceiling of Bill’s Place.

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Neil Young wrote what are arguably his three best songs – “Cinnamon Girl,” “Cowgirl in the Sand,” and “Down by the River” – when he was ill, half out of his mind with a 103-degree fever.

Neil Young in 1969
Here’s how Young explained the meaning of the lyrics of “Down by the River” when introducing the song before a performance in 1984:

I'd like to sing you a song about a guy who had a lot of trouble controlling himself.  He let the dark side come through a little too bright.

One afternoon he took a little stroll down thru a field and thru a forest, until he could hear the water running along there.  And he met his woman down there.  And he told her she’d been cheating on him one too many times.  And he reached down in his pocket and he pulled a little revolver out.  Said, “Honey I hate to do this, but you pushed me too far.”

By the time he got back to town he knew he had to answer to somebody pretty quick.  He went back to his house and he sat down on his front porch.  About two hours later the sheriff’s car pulled up out front.  It started sinking in on him what he’d done.  The sheriff walked up the sidewalk and said, “Come with me son, I want to ask you a few questions.”

At other times, he has denied that the song is about a murder.

Click here to hear “Down by the River.”

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – "Fire" (1968)

I am the god of hellfire
And I bring you . . . FIRE!

[NOTE: Last but certainly not least in this year’s group of 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME inductees is “Fire,” by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  Here’s a slightly edited version of my February 2011 post about Arthur Brown and “Fire.”]

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Arthur Brown is responsible for perhaps the most electrifying song of the 1960s, “Fire,” which is a stick of dynamite if I ever did see one.

Unlike most songs of this era, Brown's version of “Fire” does not utilize any guitars.  Instead, the instrument that dominates the record is our old friend, the Hammond B-3 organ.  The last chorus features some horns, which turns an already very frenzied record into a very VERY frenzied record.

“Fire” came out of nowhere to hit #1 on the British charts in August 1968, and made it all the way to #2 in the United States a couple of months later.  

Brown's live performances were just a bit over the top.  He sometimes performed wearing a complicated helmet-like contraption on his head that was filled with fuel and set on fire:

This helmet was not terribly high-tech, and sometime things went wrong.  Once his head caught on fire, and the flames had to be extinguished with beer by a couple of audience members.

Brown released several albums in the seventies and had a part in the Ken Russell movie of the Who's Tommy.  (He sings a verse of Eyesight to the Blind in that movie.)

Later, he moved from the UK to Austin, Texas, and got a master's degree in counseling.  He and another counselor co-founded Healing Songs Therapy.  (Brown wrote a song about each of his client's emotional issues, presumably for therapeutic purposes – or perhaps because it was a good way to attract clients.)

G. I. Gurdjieff
Brown is currently a proponent of the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, a mystic and guru whose approach to self-awareness is known as the Fourth Way.  Click here to read what one skeptic has to say about Gurdjieff and his teachings. 

And click here to learn more about a biography of Brown titled The God of Hellfire.

“Fire” was on Brown's The Crazy World of Arthur Brown album, which also featured a pretty convincing cover of I Put A Spell On You”:

 Click here to listen to “Fire” and watch a video of Brown performing the song live.

And click on the link below to order the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Deep Purple – "Hush" (1968)

She's got loving like quicksand
Only took one touch of her hand

[I originally wrote about the penultimate inductee in this year’s 2 OR 3 LINES "GOLDEN DECADE" HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME class in July 2012, shortly after the death of Deep Purple organist Jon Lord.  “Hush” features one of Lord's greatest Hammond B-3 performances.  Here's a slightly-edited version of that post.]

Jon Lord of Deep Purple died earlier this week at age 71.  The immediate cause of his death was a pulmonary embolism, but he also was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Jon Lord in 2008
I don't enjoy writing obituary posts, but I have no choice here.  Lord was simply too talented and too unique a performer – I have to acknowledge his passing, and I'm doing so by featuring "Hush."

Deep Purple's version of the "Hush" is one of the great classic rock singles of all time, and it's Jon Lord's organ playing that makes it so special.  Like many great jazz, blues, and rock organists of the pre-synthesizer era, Lord's instrument of choice was the Hammond B-3 organ.  (Actually, Lord usually played a Hammond C-3, which is mechanically identical to the B-3, but comes equipped with "modesty panels" that hide the performer's lower body from the audience – very useful for lady church organists.)

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As this interview explains, Lord's signature Hammond sound results from the way he used amplification.  (This is a little "inside baseball" for many of you, no doubt, but anyone who ever tried to play a B-3/C-3 -- which includes me -- will find this very interesting.)

Keith Moon was an absolutely unique rock drummer because he could turn the drums into a lead instrument -- as he did on "I Can See for Miles."  Lord's organ style was very distinctive because he was able to turn the Hammond into a rhythm instrument, which gave the guitarist much more freedom.

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"Hush" was written by Joe South, who had a big hit with another of his own compositions, "Games People Play."  It was originally released as a single in 1967 by Billy Joe Royal (of "Down in the Boondocks" fame), but failed to crack the top 40.  

Deep Purple's version of "Hush" – it's first single – made it to #4 on the U.S. charts despite the fact that was released on an obscure and short-lived label, Tetragrammaton Records.  (The name supposedly refers to the unspeakable Hebrew name of God.)

Jon Lord back in the day
I cannot overstate how good a record "Hush" is.  It has not lost a thing in the 44 years since it was released, and it is simply inconceivable to me that any group of musicians in the world could do "Hush" better than this.  

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I have to share with you a video of Deep Purple playing "Hush" on the Playboy After Dark television show.  It is a 100% live performance, and it's pretty bad – Lord's organ is mixed way too low, and you can barely hear him.  Even worse is Hugh Hefner's painfully clumsy attempt to engage in small talk with Lord before the group performs.  (Watching this really makes you appreciate Johnny Carson.  Hefner was a major tool.)

We didn't get this show in Joplin, Missouri.  The only time I saw it was when I represented the my high school's Key Club chapter at that the organization's international convention in Miami Beach 1969.  We were lucky that night: the show featured Hef's main squeeze of the moment, Barbi Benton – still the most appealing woman ever to grace the pages of Playboy.)

Barbi Benton
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One final note.  Check out the lines quoted at the top of this post.  Can you name another song that mentions "quicksand"?

Of course, I'm referring to Spinal Tap's tribute to BBW, "Big Bottom":

The bigger the cushion
The sweeter the pushin'
That's what I said
The looser the waistband
The deeper the quicksand
Or so I have read

(Yes, 2 or 3 lines should feature "Big Bottom" some day – and it will, I promise you.)

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Click here to listen to "Hush."  When you do, play close attention at the climax of Lord's organ solo (which almost sounds to me like two organists are playing at once, but which is all him).  Lord somehow ratchets up the intensity of his playing one more notch, then there's a drum roll that has the impact of someone kicking you in the behind, and then the singer comes back in with "Naaah-nah-nah-naaah" and we are heading into the homestretch.

Click on the link below to order "Hush" from Amazon: