Friday, September 20, 2019

Pete Seeger – "Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch" (1959)


Where, oh where, is pretty little Susie?
Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch

On the first two days of my recent three-day guided bike tour, I and my ten fellow bikers rode on the Great Allegheny Passage or “GAP” trail – an unpaved but relatively smooth rail trail that begins in Pittsburgh, PA, and ends in Cumberland, MD.

On day three, we rode the westernmost 30 miles of the C&O Canal towpath – which was bumpier and, in places, muddier.

*     *     *     *     *

We left our Cumberland hotel and hit the C&O bright and early on a gorgeous September day.  Unfortunately, there were several major mudholes on the towpath, and a couple of our group’s members took a tumble as a result.

The C&O Canal towpath
The trail was drier and a little smoother after the first ten miles, but it was still a slower ride than the day before – in part because the easternmost part of the GAP Trail that we had ridden on the previous day features a 1.5% downhill grade, while the westernmost stretch of the C&O is purt near level.

Factor in the fatigue than we were all feeling after riding 75 miles in our first two days, and you can understand why we were happy to get the damned ride over with.

*     *     *     *     *

Our guides laid out lunch just before the towpath passed through the Paw Paw Tunnel, which was by far the most interesting thing we saw on our day three ride.

The Paw Paw Tunnel is a 0.6-mile-long structure that was built to bypass a series of five horseshoe bends along the Potomac River.  (If the towpath had followed the Potomac rather than going through the tunnel, it would have added more than five miles to the length of a canal trip.) 

The western entrance to the Paw Paw Tunnel
Work on the tunnel began in 1836, and it was supposed to take two years to complete.  In fact, it took 14 years to finish and cost almost 20 times as much as it was supposed to.  

*     *     *     *     *

The towpath within the Paw Paw Tunnel is extremely narrow, and the tunnel isn’t lighted.  I had a headlight for my bike, but it was what a Louisiana friend of mine would call a piss-po’ headlight.

I rode a short distance within the tunnel just to say I had, then walked the rest of the way.

Inside the Paw Paw Tunnel
If you’re wondering where the Paw Paw Tunnel’s name comes from, it comes from the pawpaw tree, which is native to eastern North America.

In 1541, Spanish explorers reported that native Americans cultivated the pawpaw tree for its fruit, which has a very soft texture and is shaped vaguely like a banana.  (Maybe that’s why it’s also called the Indian Banana, the West Virginia Banana, the Hoosier Banana, the Appalachian banana, the Ozark banana, etc.)   

Chilled pawpaws were a favorite dessert of George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson grew pawpaw trees at Monticello.  

Our guide gathered a few pawpaw fruits from trees growing between the C&O towpath and the Potomac, and sliced them up for us to sample:  


To be perfectly honest, the pawpaw didn’t do much for me.   

*     *     *     *     *

After our pawpaw-tasting session was over, the guides loaded our bikes on to the roof of our 15-seat van.  We then loaded ourselves in the van and settled back for the hour-and-a-half drive back to Ohiopyle, PA, where we had parked our cars at the beginning of our trip.

We said our goodbyes and hit the road to drive to our respective homes (in Colorado, Oklahoma, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Maryland).

In my case, I hit the Falls City Pub and had one for the road first.  (Yes, I said one – not that it’s any of your business.)

*     *     *     *     *

“Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch” is an American folk song that’s over 100 years old.

Click here to listen a 1959 recording by the legendary folksinger Pete Seeger, his daughter Mika, and the Rev. Larry Eisenberg.

Click on the link below to buy a recording of the song by Burl Ives from Amazon:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Simon & Garfunkel – "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright" (1970)


So long, Frank Lloyd Wright
I can't believe your song is gone so soon
I barely learned the tune

Several years, the staff of Smithsonian magazine published an article titled “28 Places to See Before You Die.”

The sites on their list include both manmade structures (the Pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal) and natural wonders (Mount Kilimanjaro, the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier Reef, the Iguazu Falls).

There’s no way I’ll ever cross most of those sites off my personal “life list” – I’ve never been to Antarctica, Easter Island, the Serengeti desert, or the Yangtze River, and there’s almost zero chance that I ever will visit those places.

In fact, the only place on the list that I had seen before last week was the Grand Canyon.  

Fallingwater
But I recently visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s most iconic building, Fallingwater, which is probably the most surprising of the sites on the Smithsonian magazine’s list.

At first blush, Fallingwater isn’t in the same league as places like Pompeii and Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu.  After all, it’s just a house – and a relatively small house at that.  

*     *     *     *     *

When you tour Fallingwater, you’re struck by the innumerable details that demonstrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius.  But the whole of Fallingwater is much greater than the sum of its individual parts.

By definition, buildings demarcate the indoors from the outdoors.  But even when you are indoors at Fallingwater, you somehow are outdoors as well.

One way Wright accomplished this was to forbid curtains, blinds, or other window coverings.    

Another essential element of Fallingwater are the terraces that accompany each of the house’s rooms.

The windows demand that you look outside, while the terraces demand that you go outside.

My bike tour group prepares
to enter Fallingwater
Fallingwater is not a place for catching up on work or watching TV.  It’s a place for gazing at wildflowers in the spring or turning leaves in the fall, and for listening to the murmur of the waterfalls that the house was built above – a murmur that is ever-present regardless of where within Fallingwater you are.

Click here to learn more about Fallingwater.

*     *     *     *     *

A tour of Fallingwater was included in the three-day group biking tour I took part in last week.

At first, I wondered why we were spending the morning walking through Wright’s house instead of riding our bikes.  After all, we had 36 miles to cover on day two of that trip, and our visit to Fallingwater meant that it would be after noon before we hit the trail.

On day one of our trip, we rode 32 miles before breaking for lunch – leaving only eight miles to cover that afternoon.  But on day two, we had to ride 32 miles after lunch.

At the Mason-Dixon Line:
I'm in PA, they're in MD
Not only that, but the first several miles of our postprandial route were slightly uphill.

But once we reached the Eastern Continental Divide, it was downhill all the way.  We lost almost 1800 feet of elevation over the next 25 miles.

And while a 1.5% downhill grade may not sound like much, it was enough to enable me to average 15 or 16 mph – about 20% faster than my average speed on more level ground the previous day.  (I spent much of the afternoon in a gear that I had never used before – I had never taken a ride where I could ride fast enough for long enough to get into that gear.)

*     *     *     *     *

The last 116 miles or so of the Great Allegheny Passage (“GAP”) bike trail paralleled a working railroad track.  

That railroad line and the bike trail share the 914-foot-long Brush Tunnel, which was built in 1911:


Click here to see a video that shows you what it would be like to be in the tunnel when a train passes through it.

*     *     *     *     *

I was the first of our group to reach Cumberland, MD, where our second day’s ride ended.  I was more motivated than my fellow riders – I had handed one of our guides a cooler full of beer to stick in our luggage trailer that morning, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a cold one.  (Or two.)

After a hearty meal at an old-fashioned Italian restaurant in downtown Cumberland, it was early to bed so we’d be early to rise the next morning for day three of our group bike tour – which I’ll describe in the next 2 or 3 lines.

*     *     *     *     *

“So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright” was released in 1970 on Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water album.  It’s not much of a song, but there aren’t a lot of songs about Frank Lloyd Wright to choose from.


Click here to listen to “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.”

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

Friday, September 13, 2019

Julian Cope – "Psychedelic Revolution" (2012)


If you’re a greedhead, you’re going down
If you’re a fat cat, you’re going down
If you’re a moneybags, you’re going down

The greedheads, fat cats, and moneybags – moneybagses? – who made up the “Fuller Syndicate” hoped to create a transcontinental railroad by buying up a number of smaller, interconnecting railroads.

But the financial crisis that resulted in the stock market falling 50% in October 1907 threw a monkey wrench into their plans.  Several of the railroads that were controlled by the syndicate were forced into bankruptcy, and that was that.

The easternmost of the syndicate’s railroads was the Western Maryland Railway, which operated independently after the Panic of 1907 brought an end to the syndicate.  It hauled mostly coal from West Virginia and Pennsylvania to Baltimore, which was the railroad’s eastern terminus.  

The Western Maryland Railway’s logo
In 1975, the Western Maryland merged with a larger railroad that served the same territory.  So most of the its lines were abandoned in favor of those of its merger partner – including a 90-mile-long spur line that ran northwest from Cumberland, MD, to Connellsville, PA. 

A few years later, the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad – another railroad that depended on coal for most of its revenues – decided to abandon a 60-mile-long line that continued from Connellsville to Pittsburgh, PA.  

By putting those two connecting railroad lines together, you had a continuous 150-mile-long abandoned rail corridor just waiting for someone to turn it into a hiker-biker trail.

*     *     *     *     *

The Great Allegheny Passage – or “GAP” – got its start when a nonprofit group acquired the chunk of the Western Maryland’s right of way that ran through Pennsylvania’s Ohiopyle State Park, which includes more than 14 miles of the best whitewater-rafting river in the eastern United States, the Youghiogheny.  In 1986, that group opened a 9.5-mile-long stretch of rail trail to the public.

The GAP Trail project really took off in 1995, when seven trail-building groups formed the Allegheny Trail Alliance. 

The GAP Trail
Construction moved in fits and starts over the next two decades, but the final piece of the GAP Trail opened in 2013.  

And since the C&O Canal towpath connects to the GAP Trail in Cumberland, that meant you could ride all the way from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC – a distance of 330 miles – without worrying about cars.

*     *     *     *     *

Wilderness Voyageurs is one of several companies that offers guided bike rides along the GAP and C&O.  

The company offers a six-day tour that goes all the way from Pittsburgh to the nation’s capital, but that requires you to ride as much as 73 miles in a single day.  (I don’t know how your ass would feel about riding a bike 73 miles in a single day, but my ass said NO F*CKING WAY when I asked it what it thought about trying that.)

The Wilderness Voyageurs HQ in Ohiopyle, PA
So I signed up instead for a condensed, three-day GAP/C&O ride that required “only” 106 miles of riding.  (That’s more than I’ve ever ridden a bike in three consecutive days, but I was able to talk my ass into giving it a shot.)

Last Saturday, I cleaned and lubed my bike, packed every pair of padded bike shorts I owned, and drove to a cheap hotel near Wilderness Voyageurs’ Ohiopyle headquarters, ready to hit the trail early the next morning.

*     *     *     *     *

I introduced myself to the other members of the tour while our guides loaded our luggage and the food and drinks that would sustain us through the 39 miles we would ride on day one of the tour

Our merry little band of bike riders
Our merry little band consisted of three married couples, two pairs of female friends, and me.  I had expected to be the oldest person on the trip, but I wasn’t: most of my fellow travelers were within a few years of me in age.  (Two of the women on the trip were significantly younger, but they certainly weren’t spring chickens.) 

Almost immediately after saddling up, we rode past the Youghiogheny River’s Ohiopyle Falls – not something I would ever want to take on in a kayak, but a lot of people do exactly that:

A kayaker takes on Ohiopyle Falls

*     *     *     *     *

After 16 miles of riding, we took a breather in Connellsville, the only sizable town on this stretch of the GAP trail.  Our guides had laid out a spread of rice crackers with peanut butter, carrot sticks, apples, and the like for us.

Chowing down in Whitsett
We then rode another 16 miles or so to Whitsett, a tiny hamlet that was once a company town built to house coal miners and their families.  After chowing down on some turkey-bacon-avocado-tomato wraps, we mounted our bikes and rode a few more miles to the 479-acre Cedar Creek Park, which was the end of our first day’s ride.

At milepost 100 of the GAP Trail
Once the guides had loaded our bikes on to the roof of our 15-seat van, it was time for an hour’s drive to the Trillium Lodge, which was our destination for the evening.  After beer and wine on the lodge’s wraparound deck, it was time for a guide-cooked meal.  Everyone was in bed by 10 PM.

In the next 2 or 3 lines, I’ll tell you about our second day’s journey from Meyersdale, PA to Cumberland, MD – which is the end of the line for the GAP trail.

*     *     *     *     *

You probably remember Julian Cope’s 1986 hit single, “World Shut Your Mouth.”  I prefer his follow-up release, “Trampolene,” which I featured in a lengthy 2014 post about Cope.   Click here to read that post, which discusses Cope’s love of Krautrock music and his expertise regarding Neolithic and Bronze Age archeological sites in the UK and Europe.

Today’s featured song, “Psychedelic Revolution,” is the title track of Cope’s 2012 double album of the same name:


Cope, who is about as left-wing as it’s possible to be, dedicated that album to Che Guevara and Leila Khaled, a Palestinian terrorist who became the first female to participate in an airplane hijacking in 1969.  (Khaled later underwent six plastic surgeries in hopes of changing her appearance enough that she could participate in future hijackings without being recognized.)

Click here to listen to “Psychedelic Revolution.”

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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Kinks – "Dandy" (1966)


They long for Dandy, Dandy
Knockin’ on the back door
Climbing through the window

Contrary to what you may have heard, today’s featured song was not inspired by yours truly.  After all,  yours truly was a seriously geeky 14-year-old when Ray Davies wrote “Dandy.” 

(Ten years later, it would have been a different story, of course.)

*     *     *     *     *

I didn’t know until today that “Dandy” was written by the Kinks’ Ray Davies.  That doesn’t surprise me – it’s a very clever song, and Davies was as clever a songwriter as there was.

“Dandy” is about a man who loves the ladies – and vice versa:

You’re chasing all the girls
They can't resist your smile
Oh, they long for Dandy . . . Dandy!

Dandies
Dandy doesn’t discriminate between the unmarried lasses and the married ones:

Hubby’s gone away
And while the cat’s away
The mice are gonna play
Oh, you low down Dandy . . . Dandy!

Playing the field is all well and good when you’re young, but society frowns on older men who live their lives that way:

Look around you
And see the people settle down
And when you’re old and grey
You will remember what they said
That two girls are too many
Three’s a crowd, and four you’re dead

Davies predicts that Dandy won’t give in and settle down.  A leopard can’t change his spots, and neither can Dandy:

You always will be free
You need no sympathy
A bachelor you will stay
And Dandy, you’re all right!

*     *     *     *     *

The Kinks released “Dandy” on their Face to Face album at about the same time that Herman’s Hermits released the song as a single in the U.S., where it went all the way to #5 on the Billboard “Hot 100.”  


The Kinks version was a hit in Europe – it went to #1 in Germany, #2 in Belgium, and #3 in the Netherlands.  But for some reason, the Kinks didn’t release “Dandy” as a single in the UK – and neither did Herman’s Hermits.

Both groups were British, so that seems odd.  Maybe there was an Alphonse and Gaston situation going on: 

Herman’s Hermits: “After you, my dear Kinks!” 

Kinks: “No, you first, my dear Herman’s Hermits!” 

Click here to listen to “Dandy”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, September 6, 2019

Chad and Jeremy – "Paxton Quigley's Had the Course" (1968)


Paxton Quigley’s had the course
And he’s feeling kinda run down
And he’s feeling kinda slowed down

Question Tarantino’s new movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, has numerous shots of theatre marquees and billboards featuring movies that might have been playing in Los Angeles on August 8, 1969 – the day when Tex Watson and three female Manson Family members saddled up and drove to Beverly Hills to kill the pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others.

I remember most of those movies, which were released when I was in high school: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Candy, Funny Girl, Ice Station Zebra, The Illustrated Man, Mackenna’s Gold, The Night They Raided Minsky’s, Oliver!, Romeo and Juliet, Sweet Charity, and The Wrecking Crew (which starred Sharon Tate).


One of the more obscure movies that Tarantino namedrops in Once Upon a Time is Three in the Attic, a 1968 movie I vividly remember seeing at a drive-in theatre in my hometown when i was a teenager.

*     *     *     *     *

The star of Three in the Attic was a young actor named Christopher Jones – who was the James Dean of his day, but is now virtually forgotten.  

Jones, who had gone AWOL from the army to make a pilgrimage to Dean's family home in Indiana, was cast in a Broadway production of the Tennessee Williams’s The Night of the Iguana when he was barely 20 years old.  He then studied at the Actors Studio under the legendary "method acting" proponent, Lee Strasberg.  A few years later, Jones moved to Hollywood and landed the starring role in a short-lived TV series called The Legend of Jesse James, which aired on ABC in 1965-66.  

Christopher Jones as Jesse James
The actors who guest-starred on The Legend of Jesse James included Claude Akins, Charles Bronson, John Carradine, John Cassavettes, Jack Elam, Marietta Hartley, Dennis Hopper, Sally Kellerman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, Kevin McCarthy, Slim Pickens, Kurt Russell, Ann Sothern, and many others who anyone who watched a lot of movies and TV shows in the sixties will remember.

*     *     *     *     *

Christopher Jones’s first movie was Wild in the Streets, an American International Pictures production that was released on May 29, 1968 – the day before my 16th birthday.

American International Pictures – or AIP – specialized in making low-budget drive-in movies aimed at teenagers.  AIP's most famous director/producer was Roger Corman, who is best known for his series of horror movies based on Edgar Allan Poe stories that starred Vincent Price but who also made  western, sci-fi movies, motorcycle movies, gangster movies, and women-in-prison movies.  The young directors who cut their moviemaking teeth on Corman productions included Peter Bogdanovich, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Damme, Ron Howard, John Sayles, and Martin Scorsese.

In Wild in the Streets, Jones plays rock star Max Frost, who is asked to endorse a Kennedyesque Senate candidate who wants to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 (which actually happened three years after the movie’s release, when the 26th Amendment was ratified).  But when Frost performs at a televised rally for the candidate, he shocks his sponsors by proposing a more radical revision of the voting age in a song called “Fourteen or Fight.”

Christopher Jones as Max Frost
Max's anthem triggers massive protests and demonstrations throughout the country.  His girlfriend is elected to Congress, where she introduces a constitutional amendment to allow 14-year-olds not only to vote, but to hold political office.

Max's allies spike the Washington, DC water supply with LSD, and the amendment passes.  Max is later elected President, and his administration rounds up everyone over 35 (including his mother, memorably portrayed by Shelley Winters) and sends them to “re-education” camps where they are given daily doses of LSD and live happily ever after.  

Click here to listen to “The Shape of Things to Come,” the best song in Wild in the Streets.  (It was written by the husband-wife songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who also wrote “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “On Broadway,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “Kicks,” and many other hits.)

*     *     *     *     * 

In Three in the Attic, a movie guaranteed to inflame the fantasies of male teenagers like moi even more than Wild in the Streets, Jones played a college student named Paxton Quigley, who picked up women as thoughtlessly (and about as frequently) as most men pick up the TV remote.  

Unfortunately, three different women he is simultaneously “dating” figure out what’s going on and decide to gang up on him.

Here's where Three in the Attic gets really good.  You know how the three women decide to avenge Paxton's infidelity?  They lure him to the dormitory where one of them lives and lock him in the attic.  Then they take turns having around-the-clock sex with him.  That’s his punishment – I kid you not!

Christopher Jones as Paxton Quigley
Apparently this is too much of a good thing for even a healthy young male like Paxton, who is quickly worn to a frazzle.  But after a couple of weeks, Paxton's absence from class is noticed, and rumors about what is going on in the attic get back to the college's dean.   Paxton is released from captivity just in the nick of time and is taken to the hospital to recover from his ordeal.

Three in the Attic, which was filmed on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, has a remarkably bad script.  My favorite line in the movie is the one Paxton uses to pick up Yvette Mimieux: “You have nice hair – it fits the mood of your butt.”  (Her response is scornful – “You're infinitely boring” – but it’s not long before the two are bumping uglies.)

*     *     *     *     *

In 1970, Jones appeared in a serious, big-budget movie – Ryan's Daughter, a romantic drama set in Ireland during World War I and based very loosely on the novel Madame Bovary.  

Ryan's Daughter was directed by the legendary David Lean – who also directed the epics The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago – and also starred Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, John Mills (he's the village idiot), and Sarah Miles.

Christopher Jones (with Sarah
Miles) in “Ryan’
s Daughter”
The role of the young British army officer that went to Jones was originally written for Marlon Brando.    Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris, and Richard Burton were also considered for the role, but for some reason Lean decided he wanted Jones.  

Ryan’s Daughter was being filmed when the pregnant Sharon Tate was murdered.  Tate was married to director Roman Polanski, but Christopher Jones later claimed that he was the father of Tate’s baby.

*     *     *     *     *

After Ryan’s Daughter, Christopher Jones simply walked away from his movie career.  He moved back to Los Angeles and devoted his energy to painting and to being a father to his five children.

In 1994, Quentin Tarantino asked Jones to appear in Pulp Fiction.  Jones turned the offer down.  

But in 1996, Jones did a cameo in a crime movie called Mad Dog Time, which featured Jeff Goldblum, Richard Dreyfuss, Gabriel Byrne, Ellen Barkin, Diane Lane, Burt Reynolds, Richard Pryor, Billy Idol, Paul Anka, and Rob Reiner – among others.  

One reviewer said the film was “jaw-droppingly incoherent.”  Siskel and Ebert picked it as the worst movie of the year, and Ebert said it was “the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time.”  (I wish I had written that line.)  

That was apparently enough for Jones – he never appeared in another film. 

*     *     *     *     *

The Once Upon a Time in Hollywood soundtrack includes the Chad and Jeremy song, “Paxton Quigley’s Had the Course,” which was written for the Three in the Attic soundtrack.  (The song was titled after the novel that the movie is based on.)


The song is very reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” which was featured on the soundtrack of The Graduate.  Since that movie was released months earlier than the Chad and Jeremy album that included the “Paxton Quigley” song was released, I’m guessing that if anyone stole from anyone else, it was Chad and Jeremy who stole from Simon and Garfunkel, and not vice versa.  But you never know.

Click here to listen to “Paxton Quigley’s Had the Course.”

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Roy Head and the Traits – "Treat Her Right" (1965)


She’s gonna love you tonight now
If you just treat her right now

I’m not a young man, and my prostate isn’t what it used to be.  So I purposely didn’t buy a drink to take into the theatre where I recently saw the new Quentin Tarantino movie – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – which is a bladder-busting two hours and forty-five minutes long.  


Once Upon a Time includes everything but the kitchen sink . . . and Tim Roth’s performance.  Roth made memorable appearances in three previous Tarantino movies (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and The Hateful Eight), so it’s no surprise that he was signed up for Once Upon a Time.  

But Roth’s character ended up on the cutting-room floor.  His name is listed in the credits, but there’s nary a frame of 35mm film of Roth in the final cut of Once Upon a Time.

But be of good cheer!  Rumor has it that Tarantino plans to release a four-hour-long version of the movie that will include not only Roth’s missing scenes but also a bunch of other stuff he felt compelled to cut from the version of the movie that’s currently appearing in theatres.

*     *     *     *     *

The Ringer staff writer Miles Surrey ranked the 20 most prominent characters in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.  I think he did a pretty good job.

The #1 and #2 spots, of course go to the film’s two megastars, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt.  I love the always-likable Pitt’s loosey-gooseyness, but DiCaprio’s performance as a fading network-TV leading man is remarkable.  

DiCaprio and Pitt
Leo is usually a little too cool for school, but he absolutely disappears within one of the Western bad guys he depicts in Once Upon a Time.  (If I had seen only his scenes as that character, I’m not sure I would have recognized him as DiCaprio.)

Surrey also gives high marks to Margot Robbie (who portrays Sharon Tate), to eight-year-old scene-stealer Julia Butters, and Pitt’s ugly pit bull (who saves the day when the Charles Manson’s crew comes calling).  Fair enough.

But Margaret Qualley deserves a much higher ranking.  Qualley, the most memorable of the several dozen Manson Family girls depicted in the movie, is simply irresistible as a hippie Lolita with dirty feet and hairy armpits.  When she hitches a ride with Pitt’s character and immediately propositions him, Pitt asks to see her driver’s license to make sure she is of age – a display of superhuman self-discipline that is as impressive as it is implausible.

Margaret Qualley
Surrey is absolutely right to rank Lena Dunham (who portrays another Manson Family girl) dead last.  

It’s not exactly a tough call.

*     *     *     *     *

“Treat Her Right,” a 1965-era stick of dynamite, kicks off the Once Upon a Time soundtrack.

If you didn’t know better, you might think that “Treat Her Right” was an Elvis Presley song.  But Elvis never released a record this good.

Roy Head’s not only a great singer but a great dancer – click here to watch a mind-blowing TV performance of “Treat Her Right.”  (Eat your heart out, James Brown.)


Please note that Head is wearing a tie and a buttoned suit jacket.  Despite his frenetic dancing, there’s not a hair on his Brylcreemed head out of place at the end of his performance. 

“Treat Her Right” made it all the way to #2 on the Billboard “Hot 100” in 1965.  The song that kept it out of the #1 spot was “Yesterday.”  (Really?)

As political commentator Charlie Sykes once said, “Life isn’t fair.  Get used to it.”

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, August 30, 2019

Derek and the Dominos – "Tell the Truth" (1970)


Hear what I say, ’cause every word is true
You know I wouldn’t tell you no lies

I’ve known for a long time that Dave Mason is a pretty big deal in the world of classic rock.

But it didn’t hit me until recently that Dave Mason’s a REALLY big deal in that world.

Dave Mason in 1970
Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake.

*     *     *     *     *

Anyone who knows anything about the history of rock music knows that Dave Mason was a founding member of the sixties supergroup, Traffic.  He went on to have a successful solo career.  (Five of his solo albums went gold or platinum, and his 1977 single, “We Just Disagree,” was a big radio hit.)

But let’s see how much you really know about Dave Mason.

1.  True or false: Dave Mason was a close friend of Jimi Hendrix, and played 12-string guitar on “All Along the Watchtower” (which was Jimi’s highest-charting American single).

Dave Mason with Jimi Hendrix
2.  True or false: Dave Mason played the shehnai (an Indian reed instrument) on the Rolling Stones’ 1968 record, “Street Fighting Man.”

3.  True or false: Dave Mason and Eric Clapton toured with Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, and performed on their classic live album, On Tour with Eric Clapton.

4.  True or false: Dave Mason recorded an album with Mama Cass Elliott that was released in 1971.

5.  True or false: Dave Mason played guitar (along with Eric Clapton and George Harrison) on “Beware of Darkness” – the best song on Harrison’s hugely popular solo album, All Things Must Pass.  

6.  True or false: Dave Mason wrote the song “Feelin’ Alright” for Traffic, but it has been covered by (among others) Three Dog Night, the Jackson 5, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Grand Funk Railroad, Isaac Hayes, Lulu, Lou Rawls, Rare Earth, and – most famously – Joe Cocker.

7.  True or false: Dave Mason was an original member of Derek and the Dominoes.

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Time’s up, boys and girls – put those pencils down!

Here are the correct answers:

1. True

2. True

3. True

4. True

5. True

6. True

7. True

So how did you do?

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A few days ago, I saw the Dave Mason Band open for Hot Tuna at the Warner Theatre in downtown Washington, DC.


I had a great seat thanks to my friend Tony Patler, who has been Mason’s keyboards guy since 2009.  (Tony is an accomplished and versatile keyboard player who toured and/or recorded with Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Michael McDonald, George Michael, and many others before hooking up with Mason.)

Dave Mason and Tony Patler
I’ve seen Mason’s band perform a couple of other times, but I had forgotten what a virtuoso guitarist Mason is.  I think of him mostly as a singer and songwriter, but you’ve got to be a pretty good guitar player if guys like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and George Harrison ask you to play on their records.

The only thing about the concert that was a bit off-putting was how old my fellow audience members were.

Many of them were not only old, but badly dressed:


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“Tell the Truth” is my favorite song from the one and only Derek and the Dominos album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.  

What you may not know is that the version of “Tell the Truth” that is included in that album isn’t the original Derek and the Dominos recording of that song.  

In June 1970, the band – which included Dave Mason – played “Tell the Truth” at its first concert, which took place in London.  A few days later, the song became the first one that Derek and Dominos ever recorded.  

The band was unhappy with that version of the song – which Phil Spector had produced – and decided to re-record “Tell the Truth” for the Layla album.  By then, Dave Mason was no longer part of Derek and the Dominoes.

The “Tell the Truth”single
But someone forgot to tell the band’s American record company, Atco Records, which released the original version as a single in the U.S. just two weeks after the new version was recorded.  (Atco quickly pulled the single.)

Click here to listen to the original Derek and the Dominos recording of “Tell the Truth,” which features Dave Mason on guitar. 

You can click below if you’d like to buy that version of the song from Amazon: