Thursday, September 30, 2010

Saul Williams -- "List of Demands" (2004)

I got a list of demands
Written on the palm of my hands
I ball my fist and you gonna know where I stand

Let's take a short break from my series of posts featuring songs from the albums that everyone owned when I was in college.  (Don't worry, fellow boomers -- we'll get back to 1970 shortly.)

This post is the first in another series, which we can call "Songs That Were Featured in Great Nike Commercials."  I hope my jumping around like this doesn't annoy you.  But my habit of suddenly detouring from one topic to another is one of things that keeps "2 or 3 lines" fresh.  You see, I have a short attention span.  I get bored easily.   

Apparently I got bored easily in grade school as well.  I dug out all my old report cards when I visited my parents recently.  This was one of the comments on my 2nd-grade report card:  "Gary is making excellent progress in all areas except self-control."  The next quarter's comment was "Gary seems to be having difficulty in settling down after the Christmas excitement."

Things didn't change all that much over the next few years.  From my 5th-grade report card:  "Gary's biggest problem is lack of self-discipline."

(Those dried-up old bit . . . oh, never mind.)

Before we watch the 2008 Nike-SPARQ TV commercial featuring "List of Demands," allow me to brag just a little.  This post is the 16th I've done in September, a new record for "2 or 3 lines."  (Inspired by my upcoming high school reunion, I produced 15 in July.)  And "2 or 3 lines" also shattered all previous records for hits and page views, with 695 and 1139 respectively.  (July's marks were 534 and 963.)  Now if you people would start clicking on some ads, "2 or 3 lines" would be livin' the dream!

Without further ado, here's the commercial:

Saul Williams and the other members of his "poetry slam" team were featured in SlamNation, a documentary about the 1996 National Poetry Slam.  In 1998, Williams starred in a feature film about poetry slams titled Slam.

Here's the trailer for SlamNation:  

Williams released his first LP in 2001 (Rick Rubin produced it).  He toured with Nine Inch Nails in 2005, and NIN's Trent Reznor produced his next CD, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust.  (A song from David Bowie's 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars will be featured in a future "2 or 3 lines.")

Enough for now about Saul Williams -- you're probably wondering what SPARQ is.

The "SPARQ Rating" -- SPARQ is an acronym for speed, power, agility, reaction, and quickness -- is a standardized test of athleticism created in 2004.  It has been called "The SAT of Athleticism." 

The general SPARQ test has five components: 40-yard dash, kneeling power ball (a/k/a medicine ball) toss, agility shuttle run, vertical jump, and "Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test," or "beep test."  

In the beep test, an athlete runs 20 meters when a "beep" is sounded, and then runs back to the starting line when a second beep is sounded.  After a short rest period, another beep sounds and the athlete does the back-and-forth sprint all over again.  The recovery time allowed between each pair of sprints is gradually shortened.  The test ends when the athlete is unable to make it back to the starting line before the beep signalling that it's time to start again sounds.

There are also sport-specific assessments for baseball, fast-pitch softball, football, boys' and girls' soccer, and boys' and girls' basketball.  Tim Tebow outscored Reggie Bush on the football test, but 2008 decathlon gold-medalist Bryan Clay poned both of them.

Nike partnered with SPARQ, Inc., to promote cross-training shoes, apparel, and training equipment designed for SPARQ training -- most famously, a really cool parachute you wear while running to create drag when you run.  And it works just as well for dogs as for people: 

The Nike SPARQ commercial features NFL stars (Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson),  NBA and WNBA stars (Kevin Durant, Brandon Roy, Steve Nash, and Diana Taurasi), soccer players (Landon Donovan, Abby Wambach, and Hope Solo), lacrosse players (Ryan Powell and Kyle Harrison), and a baseball player (Matt Holiday).

The line that Tomlinson delivers to get things started -- "My better is better than your better" -- is pretty good, and the shot of Peterson running with no fewer than FIVE of those parachutes strapped around his waist is very cool. 

But it's Saul Williams and "List of Demands" that makes this one of the all-time great Nike commercials.   This song starts off loud and fast and never changes -- if you have high blood pressure, it might not be a good idea for you to listen to it.

Click here to buy "List of Demands" from iTunes:

Click here if you prefer Amazon:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

James Gang -- "The Bomber" (1970)

When I became of age, my mama sat me down
Said, "Son, you're growin' up, it's time you looked around"
So I began to notice some things I hadn't seen before
That's what brought me here, knockin' on your back door

There were some great rock bands with only three members in the 1960's and 1970's:  Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience were probably the best of the power trios of the era, and Grand Funk Railroad may have been the most popular.  Led Zeppelin, the Who, and others weren't pure power trios because they had four members, but they were really power trios in terms of instrumentation -- guitar, bass, and drums.  

The James Gang was right up there with the best of them.  A great power trio had to have a very good drummer and a very good bass player, but what it needed most of all was a great guitarist.  Cream had Eric Clapton, and the Jimi Hendrix Experience had you know who.  The James Gang had Joe Walsh, who was never as well-known as Clapton and Hendrix and is largely forgotten today, but he was really, really, really good, boys and girls.

The "James Gang Rides Again" album cover

The first James Gang album, titled Yer' Album, was solid.  But their second album -- James Gang Rides Again -- was outstanding.  "Funk #49" and "Woman" are classics, but I've chosen a  cut off that album that you never heard much on the radio:  "The Bomber," or "The Bomber: Closet Queen/Bolero/Cast Your Fate to the Wind" as the title is sometimes rendered.

"The Bomber" didn't get much airplay because it's about seven minutes long.  It's seven minutes long because it's really three songs in one.  

If you put the first and last parts of "The Bomber" together, you'd have a good, three-verse, three-minute rock song.  But instead of doing that, the band took a sudden detour after the first two verses and played abbreviated versions of two very different instrumental works.

First, we get a couple of minutes of Maurice Ravel's famous orchestral piece, Bolero, which was composed in 1928 and originally intended as a ballet.  Bolero was always popular, but became familiar to millions when it was later used in the soundtrack of the movie 10, which starred Bo Derek.

It turned out that the copyright on Ravel's composition was still valid in 1970, and the composer's estate threatened to sue the James Gang and its record company for their unauthorized use of Bolero.  "The Bomber" was edited for subsequent pressings of the LP, but the original version was eventually restored.

Next, the band gives us a couple of minutes of a well-known jazz composition, "Cast Your Fate to the Wind," composed and originally recorded by jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.  After a TV producer heard this song, Guaraldi was hired to write and record the score for the Peanuts Christmas special.  He eventually composed the scores for 16 Peanuts television specials, plus the movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

Everyone has heard Guaraldi's "Linus and Lucy" theme song about a million times.  I remember Jim Matthews becoming quite frustrated back in the heyday of "The Rogues" when I had trouble playing it by ear.

Here's Guaraldi performing "Cast Your Fate to the Wind":

After that, the James Gang circles back and wraps up "The Bomber" (your guess is as good as mine as to where that title came from) by playing the final verse of the "Closet Queen" song.  It sounds crazy but it works.  In fact, it does more than just work -- it's genius, a tour de force.  

Here's "The Bomber":

Click here to order the song from Amazon:

Blue Öyster Cult -- "I'm On The Lamb, But I Ain't No Sheep" (1972)

Canadian Mounted, baby, police force that works
Red and black, it's their color scheme
Get their man in the end,
It's all right . . .

Frontenac Chateau, baby,
I cross the frontier at ten
Got a whip in my hand, baby,
And a girl or a husky at leather's end,
It's all right . . .

I discovered Blue Öyster Cult 37 or 38 years ago when I picked up a Columbia Records 3-record sampler album titled "Music People" at a record store in Houston, Texas.

Record companies issued sampler albums like this one to publicize new bands or give a bit of a goose to more well-known musicians whose forthcoming albums weren't expected to do very well. The most famous of these sampler albums were the "Loss Leaders" series of mostly double albums produced by Warner Brothers/Reprise records and sold by mail order for $2. The musicians represented on "The Big Ball," "Schlagers," and others of that ilk included some very mainstream artists (like Petula Clark and Peter, Paul and Mary), but were dominated by crazies like the Fugs, Captain Beefheart, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

Columbia Records also issued several samplers, and "Music People" included cuts by superstars (Bob Dylan, the Byrds), cult favorites (Spirit, It's a Beautiful Day, Mahavishnu Orchestra), and some utterly forgotten never-wases (Sweathog, Compost, Grootna, and Mylon with Holy Smoke).

The fourth cut on side one of "Music People" was "I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep" by Blue Öyster Cult (or "BOC," as I will hereinafter abbreviate it) -- and it impressed me sufficiently that I immediately ran out and bought BOC's eponymous first album, which led off with this song. (That's right, Columbia Records sucked me right in – I did EXACTLY what they hoped I would do.)

BOC's first album cover – the artist was a guy named Bill Gawlik – got your attention. It looked like it definitely meant something serious and important, but who the hell knew what?

The cover featured the band's logo – that funny thingie right in the middle – like a cross with an upside-down question mark. Here's the flag featuring the logo that was displayed at some BOC concerts:

Blue Öyster Cult is generally credited with being the first band to use the so-called heavy metal umlaut – that's the two dots over the "O" in "Oyster" – which was later copied by Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Queensrÿche, and others.  Since umlauts are used in Germanic languages but not in English, its usage by such bands is presumably intended to add an element of menace and general nastiness. 

Of course, umlauts should be distinguished from diaereses, a diacritical mark graphically similar to the umlaut. If you want to know more about this topic, be my guest – just don't expect me to accompany you on your little side trip to Minutiaeville.
The titles of the songs on the first BOC album were attention-getting, to put it mildly: "Transmaniacon MC," "Before the Kiss, A Redcap," "She's as Beautiful as a Foot," etc.
Click here to listen to our featured song.

*     *     *     *     *
I'm featuring "I'm On The Lamb" because it was the first BOC song I ever heard, but I also have to talk about the last song on side one of that LP – "Before the Kiss, A Redcap." Here are a few lines from that song, the lyrics are which are obscure even by BOC standards:

And underneath the black light
Underneath it all
4 and 40 redheads meet
Come to doom, doom the dawn
With threats of gas and rose motifs
Their lips apart like swollen rose
Their tongues extend and then retract
A Red Cap, a Red Cap
Before the kiss
Before the kiss

I guess you're asking yourself "What's a 'Red Cap'?" (If you're letting that stuff about tongues extending and retracting distract you, SNAP OUT OF IT AND PAY ATTENTION!)

According to Wikipedia, a "Red Cap" is "a type of malevolent murderous dwarf, goblin, elf, or fairy. . . said to inhabit ruined castles found along the border between England and Scotland [who] are said to murder travelers who stray into their homes and dye their hats with their victims' blood (from which they get their name). Redcaps must kill regularly, for if the blood staining their hats dries out, they die. Redcaps are very fast in spite of the heavy iron pikes they wield and the iron-shod boots they wear. Outrunning a redcap is supposedly impossible." (As Count Floyd would have said, that's some scary stuff, boys and girls.)
But that was not the meaning BOC intended here. So put those nasty little goblins out of your mind and think beer instead. That's right, beer -- or at least ale.

Given that this song is takes place in a bar, I think it's safe to assume that "Red Cap" ale what BOC is talking about here. "Red Cap" ale was a product of Carling Breweries, a Canadian brewer that expanded to the United States after the end of Prohibition, and which was best-known for its "Black Label" lager. With snappy ads like the one below, it's hard to believe that Carling's U.S. sales went down the toilet in the 1970's.  [NOTE: see the comments at the end of this post for other explanations of the meaning of "redcap."]

Moving on . . .

*     *     *     *     *

The second BOC album, which was released a year or so later, featured an equally portentous (I didn't say pretentious) Bill Gawlik cover.

It was titled "Tyranny and Mutation" (the cover actually said "Tyranny and Mvtation" by "Blve Öyster Cvlt" – not sure it was supposed to make you think of ancient Rome or something else entirely) – and the song titles were equally odd: "7 Screaming Diz-Busters," "Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)," etc. (For an explanation of what a "diz-buster" is, read this unintentionally hilarious interview with lead vocalist Eric Bloom from about 10 years ago, as BOC was slouching into Pensacola, Florida.)

The first cut on this album is titled "The Red & the Black." It's a live version of "I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep." (No, little boy, I don't know why they changed the title.)

The inner sleeve of the second album said you could write in and get a copy of the lyrics, which I promptly did. I received printouts of the lyrics for the songs in both albums on old-fashioned 11" x 14 7/8" continuous-feed computer paper.

I already knew that BOC lyrics were generally enigmatic and just plain odd, and these printouts certainly confirmed that. Adding to the general bewilderment concerning what the songs meant is the fact that whoever transcribed the lyrics was careless, or high, or dyslexic, or had a very curious sense of humor – the lines were often out of order, and there were a number of other discrepancies.

For example, the lyrics for "Before the Kiss, A Redcap" took "4 and 40 redheads meet/Come to doom, doom the dawn" and rendered it as "4 and 40 redheads meet/Bold with soup and then the corn/Meet to doom, to doom the dawn." (Bold with soup and then the corn?)

*     *     *     *     *

The third BOC album was released a year after the second one – I was a senior in college by then – and it was a worthy successor to the first two. Instead of the brooding, geometric Gawlik covers, "Secret Treaties" featured a drawing of the band's members posed around a German World War II-vintage fighter plane – except it had the BOC insignia instead of a swastika on its tail.

The album's song titles included "Cagey Cretins," "Harvester of Eyes," "Flaming Telepaths," and "ME 262" – a reference to the Nazi jet fighter (the first jet fighter to fly in combat) depicted on the cover. Here are a few representative examples of this album's lyrics:

From "Career of Evil" (co-written by Patti Smith):

I'd like your blue eyed horseshoe,
I'd like your emerald horny toad,
I'd like to do it to your daughter on a dirt road
And then I'd spend your ransom money,
But still I'd keep your sheep
I'd peel the mask your wearing,
And then rob you of your sleep
Rob you of your sleep
I choose to steal what you chose to show
And you know I will not apologize
Your mine for the taking
I'm making a career of evil . . .

From "Astronomy" (later covered by Metallica):

The clock strikes twelve and moondrops burst
Out at you from their hiding place
Miss Carrie Nurse and Susie dear
Would find themselves at Four Winds Bar
It’s the nexus of the crisis
And the origin of storms
Just the place to hopelessly
Encounter time and then came me
Call me Desdenova, eternal light
These gravely digs of mine, will surely prove a sight
And don’t forget my dog, fixed and consequent
Astronomy . . . a star

From "ME 262":

Get me through these radars, no I cannot fail
When my great silver slugs are eager to feed
I can't fail -- no, not now
When twenty-five bombers wait ripe
ME 262, prince of turbojet
Junkers Jumo 004
Blasts from clustered R4M quartets in my snout
And see these English planes go burn
Now you be my witness how red were the skies
When the Fortresses flew for the very last time
It was dark over Westphalia
In April of '45

As a special treat for all of you who experience a strange yet exciting tingling when you see Nazi stuff, click here to watch a YouTube video that features "ME 262" as the soundtrack to a lot of German WWII film footage.
But first you should know the following:
1. The "Junkers Jumo 004" was the turbojet engine used in the ME 262.
2. The "R4M" was an unguided air-to-air missile that was added to the ME 262 late in the war.
3. "Fortresses" refers to the B-17 "Flying Fortress," which was the primary Allied heavy bomber in the European theatre.
4. "Westphalia" is a region in west-central Germany.
*     *     *     *     *

I think I took BOC's lyrics pretty seriously at the time – it appeared that they were intended to be taken seriously, and God knows I was being assigned readings in some of my classes in those days that I know my professors took seriously, although they often made less sense to me than BOC lyrics. Later I heard that the band members were a bunch of nerdy Jewish guys from Long Island who did the whole thing as a big joke, but I don't think that's really true. (I've skipped over the band's origins, personnel, etc., but you can get into all that by visiting the BOC official website, which has a fairly detailed historical section, as well as Wikipedia, etc.

I saw BOC on August 7, 1974 in Little Rock, Arkansas (along with the Guess Who). That was the summer before I went to law school, and after quitting my summer job (which was driving a water truck for a company that was widening US Highway 71 south of my hometown of Joplin, Missouri), I decided to go visit a high-school friend who had moved to Alexandria, Louisiana, and then say good-bye to my college girlfriend, who was spending the summer in Houston before heading off to Stanford Business School.

On the way, I stopped to visit a cousin of mine who lived in Little Rock, where her boyfriend (now husband) played baseball for the Arkansas Travelers, who were the Double-A minor-league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The reason I know I saw that concert took place on August 7 is that Richard Nixon went on television to resign from office at 9:01 pm on August 8, and I was at the Travelers game with my cousin that night. I had no idea he had resigned until the next morning, when I was driving through the wilds of southern Arkansas on my way to Alexandria.
Today, BOC is best remembered for several relatively formulaic radio hits – like "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Burnin' for You" – which came later. ("Don't Fear the Reaper" was the song featured in the famous Christopher Walken-Will Ferrell "More Cowbell" bit on Saturday Night Live.

"Godzilla" wasn't too bad – or maybe it's just because I loved singing it whenever Hideki Matsui had a big hit for the Yankees. I have a couple of their later records, but the first three stand head and shoulders above anything else they did.

I must admit that BOC did not always bring out my nobler side.  I left my copy of the first album on the back deck of my 1970 Olds Cutlass Supreme (the smallest engine this two-door coupe came with was a 350 V-8) and the hot Houston sun warped it a bit. I went to the local record and bought a new copy of the album. 
I then returned a few hours later with my warped album and my receipt, claiming that the store had sold me a defective record and demanding a refund. The store manager wouldn't give me a refund, but did allow me to exchange it for a fresh copy of the record. Curses – foiled again. I still have both copies.
The summer after my first year of law school, I worked at a large Houston law firm. I got chummy with one of the secretaries in the department I was assigned to and socialized with her a bit outside of the office. ("Dating," unfortunately, would not be an accurate description of our relationship – much to my chagrin.) Sherry told me that M&Ms went very well with beer – I was skeptical at first, but she turned out to be right – and I responded to that kind gesture with a lie, hoping to impress this fair lady. To be exact, I showed her the computer printouts of the Blue Öyster Cult lyrics, and claimed I had written them.

She probably saw through this pathetic falsehood, but even if she had believed me, did I really think that lines like "Lecherous, invisible/Beware the limping cat" or "Didn't believe it when he bit into her face/It tasted just like a fallen arch" would win her heart? I guess I must have. And that, kind reader, goes a long way to explaining my limited success those days with the fairer sex – even though I was super cute (and have pictures to prove it).

Actually, Sherry did take a liking to "oyster boys," a term used in "Subhuman" – "Oyster boys are swimming now/Hear 'em chatter on the tide/We understand, we understand/But fear is real and so do I." (Say what?)

For some reason, I never bought CD versions of the BOC albums, so I hadn't listened to these songs for years until I got on YouTube in preparation for writing this entry. Whether the band was being serious or just having some fun with the teenaged heavy-metal fans who were too dumb or drug-addled to know it, I think that most of these songs hold up very well.

One final BOC story and then adieu. (I know you wish this post would never end, but my well of BOC material is about to run dry, I fear.)

My favorite author, George Pelecanos, often mentions the names of song titles in his books. "Then Came the Last Days of May," a song from the first BOC album (it's about three friends who are murdered by the confederate who is driving them to the Mexican border to consummate a drug transaction) is mentioned a couple of times in his 2008 novel, The Turnaround.

The key event in The Turnaround (which takes place in 1972) is an ugly confrontation that takes place when three white teenagers insult three black teenagers who are standing on a street corner in a working-class black neighborhood in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. The driver of the car (a Ford Gran Torino) is the one who precipitates the fight, and he is shot and killed. One of his friends – who tries to prevent the trouble – is badly beaten.

Prior to the incident, there's a scene where the character who is later beaten was listening to the first BOC album in his bedroom, waiting for his girlfriend to call:

He was looking at the Blue Öyster Cult art now, while "Then Came the Last Days of May" played in the room. The song was about the end of something, its tone both ominous and mysterious, and it troubled Alex and excited him. The cover of the record was a black-and-white drawing of a building that stretched out to infinity, stars and a sliver of moon in a black sky above it, and, hovering over the building, a symbol that looked like a hooked cross. The images were unsettling, in keeping with the music, which was heavy, dark, dangerous, and beautiful. This was Alex's favorite new group.

After the incident, Alex goes home to recuperate after a long hospitalization and several reconstructive surgeries.

[H]e listened to his Blue Oyster Cult album incessantly, returning to the song "Then Came the Last Days of May" over and over again. "Three good buddies were laughin' and smokin'/In the back of a rented Ford./They couldn't know they weren't going far." It seemed to have been written for him and his friends.

A couple of years ago, Pelecanos edited an anthology of noir stories set in Washington titled DC Noir 2, and he a couple of the other authors featured in that anthology did a reading at a local bookstore/restaurant.

I bought a copy of the anthology for my older son, who is also a Pelecanos fan, and got all three authors to autograph it after the reading was over. But I also got Pelecanos to autograph the jacket of one of my two copies of the first BOC album, which includes "Then Came the Last Days of May." I'm not sure if it was the one I paid for or the one I exchanged the old warped record for.

To wrap this up, let's go back to the "I'm On The Lamb, But I Ain't No Sheep" lyrics quoted at the very beginning of this hot mess. What is the "Frontenac Chateau" mentioned in that song?

I assume that it's a reference to the Chateau Frontenac, a famous old hotel that dominates the skyline of Quebec City, Canada, and is listed in The Guinness Book of Records as being the most photographed hotel in the world. What this hotel has to do with the song – other than the fact that it is located in Canada – is anybody's guess.

The Chateau Frontenac hotel
Click on the link below to buy "I'm On The Lamb But I Ain't No Sheep":

Friday, September 24, 2010

Led Zeppelin -- "Gallows Pole" (1970)

Oh, yes, you got a fine sister
She warmed my blood from cold, 
Brought my blood to boiling hot 
To keep you from the gallows pole, 
Your brother brought me silver
Your sister warmed my soul, 
But now I laugh and pull so hard
And see you swinging on the gallows pole 

The first two Led Zeppelin albums were monsters, and I played them to death in high school.  Led Zeppelin III was released only a few weeks after I started college, and expectations for it were very high.  

Advance orders for the record were high, and was Billboard's #1-ranked album for four weeks.  But the critics didn't love it, and neither did the fans.  I would guess that you hear its songs on the radio much less frequently than you hear songs from previous and subsequent Led Zeppelin albums.

I guess you could call it the red-headed stepchild of Led Zeppelin albums -- it doesn't get as much love as the band's other albums.  For example, Rolling Stone's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums ever places the first Led Zeppelin album at #29, and lists others by the group at #66, #70, #75, and #149.  But Led Zeppelin III doesn't crack the top 500.

(My apologies to those who have red-headed stepchildren and love them very much, or those who are red-headed stepchildren.  But as far as you in the latter group are concerned, I wonder if you're being honest -- are you really loved as much as the cute little blonde your father and stepmother had together?)

(If you think that is a politically incorrect statement, you should know that the original version of this is "beat them like a red-headed stepchild" -- a reference to a lopsided sports victory.  That goes a little far for my taste, so I preferred to say "beat them like a rented mule," which I think is much less offensive.) 

Why does the third Led Zeppelin album get no respect?  Led Zeppelin is sometimes characterized as a heavy metal or hard rock band, but  their music is quite diverse.  They recorded quite a few traditional folk songs, often with acoustic instrumentation.  Led Zeppelin III is viewed as an acoustic album, and it is true that it leaves a very different overall impression than the first two albums.  

The first two Led Zeppelin records also had some acoustic songs, and the third album had several "heavier" electric tracks as well.  What is didn't have was anything like "Whole Lotta Love."  As Robert Plant later said, 

Led Zeppelin III was not one of the best sellers in the catalogue because the audience turned round and said "What are we supposed to do with this?  Where is our 'Whole Lotta Love Part 2'?" They wanted something like "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath!  But we wanted to go acoustic and a piece like "Gallows Pole" still had all the power of "Whole Lotta Love" because it allowed us to be dynamic. 

Bron-Yr-Aur cottage
Many of the songs on the album were created at an 18th-century cottage in Wales called "Bron-Yr-Aur," where Jimmy Page and Robert Plant spent much of the summer of 1970, resting up from a North American concert tour.  The cottage did not have electricity, so Page broke out his acoustic guitar.   

"Gallows Pole" may be largely acoustic -- it uses not only a mandolin but also a banjo (I believe this was the only time Led Zeppelin used a banjo) -- but it sure doesn't sound acoustic.  Like a lot of Led Zeppelin songs, it isn't easy to classify.  I never considered Led Zeppelin one of my particular favorites, and I didn't buy any of their albums after the third one -- but they put out a phenomenal amount of very good and very distinctive music.  

It's not always easy to categorize a Led Zeppelin song -- is it blues? metal? hard rock? folk? -- but it's always easy to recognize a Led Zeppelin song.  They rarely sound like anyone else.  

One more thing before we get to "Gallows Pole."  Do you remember the cover for this album?  It featured a volvelle -- a rotatable paper disc covered with images that showed through the holes on the album cover (which was a gatefold cover -- one that opened up like a book) as you turned the disc.  For example, if you rotated the disc so Jimmy Page's face showed through one of the holes in the cover, you'd see the other band members' faces through the other holes in the cover.  If you turned it a little further, you'd see a whole different set of images.  

"Led Zeppelin III" volvelle

"Gallows Pole" is based on a very old folk song -- there are versions from many different countries (including a reported 50 versions from Finland alone) -- which is commonly referred to as "The Maid Freed from the Gallows."  In the monumental five-volume collection of English and Scottish ballads compiled by 19th-century folklorist Frances James Child, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" is number 95 -- its variants are numbers 95A through 95K.

The song is generally sung by a young woman who is about to be hanged.  In the English versions, we're not told why.  Child thought the English versions were "defective" on this account.  (European variants usually do explain the reason for the imminent hanging -- often, the woman is being held for ransom by pirates.)  

She begs her executioner to hold off, promising that someone bringing a bribe is about to arrive.  The woman's father, mother, sister, and brother show up one by one, but none bring the gold or silver needed to bribe the hangman.

Eventually, however, the young woman's true love arrives just in the nick of time, bringing enough gold to save her from the gallows pole.  

Legendary folksinger Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter recorded a song titled "Gallis Pole" in the 1930s, and Judy Collins and Bob Dylan also recorded songs based on the folktale.  But the Led Zeppelin version was adapted from the song written by Fred Gerlach, although the credit on the record read "Traditional: arranged by Page and Plant." 

(Led Zeppelin has been accused of plagiarism on numerous occasions.  A few months ago, songwriter Jake Holmes -- who later got into writing jingles, including "Be A Pepper" for Dr. Pepper -- sued Page for copyright infringement, claiming that he wrote "Dazed and Confused" and recorded it two years before it appeared on the first Led Zeppelin album.  Here's a link to Holmes's federal court complaint.)  

In Led Zeppelin's "Gallows Pole," a man (not a woman) is about to be executed.  He is disappointed when his friends arrive without any gold or silver for the hangman -- one explains "We're too damn poor to keep you from the gallows pole."

By the way, here's a photo of a primitive gallows, which may explain why it was known as a gallows pole:

Gallows pole

But the would-be victim's brother and sister come through for him big time.  The brother has some silver and he has some gold.  The sister takes the hangman to a "shady bower" and gives him something that many men rate higher than silver or gold.  (Personally, I rate silver at about 5 and gold at 8.  But being taken to a shady bower by the right sister can sometimes hit 9 or even 10.)

The hangman admits that the sister "warmed his blood to boiling hot" to save her brother from the gallows pole.  But he goes ahead and hangs the poor narrator -- seemingly just for grins.  Or because he can.  He's the hangman, after all. 

Bummer, dude.  MAJOR bummer!     

Here's Led Zeppelin's "Gallows Pole":

Here's Jake Holmes's "Dazed and Confused":

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

Here's a link to use for Amazon:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rod Stewart -- "Every Picture Tells a Story"

I couldn't quote you no Dickens, Shelley or Keats
'Cause it's all been said before
Make the best out of the bad just laugh it off
You didn't have to come here anyway
So remember, every picture tells a story, don't it?

If I was ever called on to debate whether the words or the music was the more important element in a rock song, I would choose "music," play this song, and simply declare victory -- I wouldn't need to say a thing.  "Every Picture Tells a Story" -- the first track on Rod Stewart's album of the same name -- is a great song, and certainly my favorite song on the record.  But it has some of the dumbest lyrics you will ever want to hear. 

But before we deconstruct those lyrics, let's spend a moment talking about the album.  (By the way, I honestly don't know what "deconstruct" means, but I like the sound of it.  Chicks dig guys who can deconstruct stuff.)

Every Picture Tells a Story was Rod Stewart's third album, and it was hugely popular, making it to #1 on the Billboard LP chart.  "Maggie May" was on the radio constantly in 1971, and still is.  

I'm pretty sure I got my copy of this record by joining a record club -- you remember when you could get 12 records for a penny (plus about twenty bucks in S&H) as long as you agreed to buy another dozen at full price over the next year?

Hey, when you're a college student, you're usually somewhere else when the next year rolls around.  I can't imagine how the record clubs didn't go bankrupt.  I don't know anyone who actually paid the full price for records from them.

Columbia Record Club advertisement

(I remember joining a record club when I was in high school -- I only got two free records, so the obligations must have been pretty minimal.  The two records were the truly remarkable "Surrealistic Pillow," by the Jefferson Airplane, and a record with music from "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." television show.)

Rod Stewart put out some appallingly bad records as he got older.  He does not have good taste in music, but his taste is very eclectic.  But even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then.

Not surprisingly, this record is uneven and consists of a real grab-bag of songs that have nothing in common.   There are three Stewart originals (the title cut, "Maggie May," and "Mandolin Wind") and a bunch of covers.

The Temptations
The covers include an old blues song ("That's All Right," the first song Elvis Presley ever recorded), an obscure Bob Dylan song, a Tim Hardin song ("Reason to Believe," which was released as a single with "Maggie May" as the B side -- who was the clueless dope who made that decision?), and a surprisingly good version of a Motown classic, the Temptations' "(I Know) I'm Losing You."  Oh, I almost forgot -- there's a version of "Amazing Grace" as well.  Go figure.

"Every Picture Tells a Story" tells the story of a young man who takes his father's advice to see the world before he gets old, and travels to Paris, Rome, and Peking.  Here's the verse about the Rome part of the trip:

Down in Rome I wasn't getting enough
Of the things that keeps a young man alive
My body stunk but I kept my funk
At a time when I was right out of luck
Getting desperate, indeed I was
Looking like a tourist attraction
Oh, my dear, I better get out of here
For the Vatican don't give no sanction

The double negative doesn't really bother me, but I don't know what to make of lines like "My body stunk but I kept my funk" -- especially when you rhyme that with "luck."  I see only three possible explanations for lyrics like this:

1.  Rod was drinking when he wrote this song.
2.  Rod was up against a tight deadline, and had to write the song in 15 minutes or less.
3.  Rod is taking the piss at our expense.

The lyrics get even worse.  Here's the next verse:

On the Peking ferry I was feeling merry
Sailing on my way back here
I fell in love with a slit-eyed lady
By the light of an eastern moon
Shanghai Lil never used the pill
She claimed that it just ain't natural
She took me up on deck and bit my neck
Oh people, I was glad I found her 

I suppose we can overlook the oh-so-politically-incorrect "slit-eyed lady" (a term he repeats in the next verse just in case we didn't catch it the first time), but the stuff about the pill not being natural is really too much information.

Here's Rod with a lady who is definitely not slit-eyed:

Of course, some people don't agree with me.  One Rolling Stone reviewer said Stewart's lyrics "are just about the finest lyrics currently being written, lyrics constructed solidly of strong, straightforward images that convey intense emotions."  (Say what?) 

Speaking about this song in particular, that reviewer went on to say, "Where [Stewart's] momentarily intent on rhyme things get a trifle forced here and there (as when he mates Rome and none), but such objections evaporate instantly in the face of such delightful lines as: 'Shanghai Lil never used the pill/She said, "It just ain't natural!"'"  You have GOT to be kidding me.  (Sorry about all those quotation marks, by the way -- very confusing.)

Rod Stewart's "Every Picture Tells a Story" is the greatest rock & roll recording of the last ten years. It is a mature tale of adolescence, full of revelatory detail (Rod combing his hair a thousand different ways in front of the mirror), and it contains the only reference to the Dreyfus case in the history of rock. It is also hilarious, and one of the friendliest pieces of music ever recorded. It is rock & roll of utterly unbelievable power, and for most of its five minutes and fifty-eight seconds that power is supplied by nothing more than drums, bass, acoustic guitar and Rod's voice. [Drummer] Mick Waller should have received the Nobel Prize -- in physics, of course -- for his demolition work at the end of the first verse; Martin Quittenton's acoustic guitar playing is well beyond any human award -- for that matter, it is beyond human ken."
Someone needs to dump a bucket of Gatorade on Professor Marcus to cool down that overheated prose.  I certainly agree with him with regard to the drumming and the acoustic guitar work.  But "the only reference to the Dreyfus case"?  I have no clue.
John Keats (1795-1821)
Finally, we get to the lines quoted at the beginning of this post, which bring the song to a close.  I hate to sound pedantic, but no one who knows anything about literature would write a line like "I couldn't quote you no Dickens, Shelley, or Keats," and I ain't talking about no double negative neither.  (I'm quite sure Rod is telling us the truth here.  I can just see him writing this song -- asking his mates or his bird or his mum to tell him the names of some famous writers he can stick in here, and they come up with these guys, who any Englishman has had to have heard of even if he never read a word they wrote.)  

The line is like one of those which-word-doesn't-belong questions on the SAT.  Dickens was a novelist -- and a very odd novelist to use in this context -- and Shelley and Keats were poets.  I'd think you'd want to refer to three poets here -- maybe "Byron, Shelley or Keats," although those three had similar styles, so saying that those three (who were all English and whose lived at the same time) said it all dismisses 99% of the world and all of history except for the first two decades of the 19th-century.  

It's sort of like saying the Rolling Stones, Kinks, and Who said it all -- those are three great bands, but what about the Beatles?  What about all the great American bands?  What about all the great black musicians?  What about all the great music of the last 35 years?  

Having said that, I have to admit that I haven't really come up with a very good alternative to Stewart's line.  I think you have to get Shakespeare in there, and maybe a poet -- say, Wordsworth -- and a novelist.  Mark Twain?  "I couldn't quote you no Shakespeare, Wordsworth, or Twain"?  It's an odd threesome, I admit, but at least the names have the right number of syllables.

Here's the song:

Click here if you'd like to buy it from iTunes:

Click here if you'd like to buy it from Amazon:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Black Sabbath -- "War Pigs" (1970)

In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning

As much as any band, Black Sabbath defined "heavy metal."  MTV called them the greatest metal band in history, and VH1 named them as the 2nd-greatest hard rock band ever (after only Led Zeppelin).  They've sold more than 100 million records worldwide. 

Paranoid, Black Sabbath's second album, was released in the U.S. in January 1971, and eventually sold four million copies.  It was panned by critics at the time, but most modern-day reviewers have a different opinion.  One called it "one of the greatest and most influential heavy metal albums of all time," a record which "defined the sound and style of metal."

At my high school reunion this summer, I found out that one of my classmates – let's just call her . . . oh, I don't know . . . how about "Linda"? – had seen Black Sabbath perform at the Fillmore East in New York City in February 1971, at the beginning of their first extended American tour. 

As soon as I heard her story, I begged her to write it all down and let me post it here.  She graciously agreed, and I'm very happy to present her account as my first guest post ever.  "Linda," take it away.

*     *     *     *     *

Stephens College is a small, private women’s college in Columbia, Missouri, that I attended briefly in 1970-1971. It was sometimes called “the Vassar of the Midwest.” The most popular majors there in the early 1970s were Fashion, Theater and Dance.

Columbia was home to not only Stephens, but also Columbia College (another women’s school) and the much larger University of Missouri. It was a fairly typical college town. The main downtown street, Broadway, had the usual banks and offices and one good-sized department store, but there were also head shops, coffee houses and hippie clothing stores.

Do you remember UFO jeans? Anyone? They were wide bell-bottomed jeans that had a small American flag patch on the back pocket, and were considered very cool in 1971 – at least in Columbia. 

A 1970s-style Jack-in-the-Box
Our favorite local restaurants were Jack-in-the-Box (where else can you get the nutritious combination of tacos and french fries, which was my usual order) and Cornbread’s Café, a rather dingy but cool diner-type hangout favored by local hippies and hippie wannabes.  [Editor's note: Alas, neither restaurant has survived.]

A limited number of incoming freshmen at Stephens (I was one) were accepted into a program where we all lived in the same dorm, Searcy Hall, and all took the same five core classes, which were held in classrooms in the dorm. (We were allowed to choose one elective, so we weren’t stuck in the same building 24 hours a day.) 

Searcy Hall
[Editor's note: Searcy Hall has attracted quite a bit of attention since Stephens turned it into a pet-friendly dormitory several years ago.  Virtually all the students who live there today have dogs, cats, or other pets sharing their rooms.]

One of our core classes was Humanities, which included music appreciation. Our professor was a short, fussy man who expected us to share his passion for classical music. One early assignment was for us to bring in a favorite record for the class to listen to and then critique. Big surprise – we all brought rock albums. We started with James Gang and Black Sabbath records . . . and that was the end of the music appreciation part of the class. The poor professor was so completely disheartened by our choices that he quickly moved on to art appreciation.

Stephens was fairly progressive in some ways. Women’s liberation, a relatively new concept in 1970, was not only tolerated but encouraged.

However, vestiges of the 1950s remained. Meals were served at small family-style tables in dining halls by uniformed student waitresses. A dress code was strictly enforced – e.g. no unhemmed or ragged jeans at dinner or at any meal on Sundays.

Curfews were strictly enforced: we had to be back in our dormitory by midnight on Sunday night, 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 1:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday. In loco parentis was taken seriously, at least for freshman. And freshmen were not allowed to have cars. Can you imagine telling your college age student now that he or she can't take his or her car to college?

*     *     *     *     *

Each February, three unlucky professors accompanied the girls of Searcy Hall on a five-day trip to New York City. The ostensible purpose of the trip was cultural enrichment and expansion of our educational horizons. To those of us who were born and raised in small midwestern towns, the prospect of spending five days in the big city was incredibly exciting. Most of us had never been to a large city except in the company of our moms and dads.

Before my parents would sign the consent form at Christmas break, I had to endure a number of lectures about the dangers inherent on the streets of New York and how to avoid said dangers. Busses and subways were to be avoided at all costs, and under no circumstances was I to be out after dark unless accompanied by one of the professors.

Tony Manero riding the NYC subway
Yeah, right. I put on my serious face and nodded in agreement, but inside I was saying to myself, “Oh man, I’m finally going to get to do all the things I’ve read about and seen on TV and in the movies!”

We were given a suggested packing list. Provocative clothing was forbidden, presumably so we would not inflame the passions of the males we might encounter in NYC and risk being subjected to all sorts of depraved and lewd attacks (which would have exposed the college to a possible lawsuit). And, of course, nothing that looked too ratty or ragged (that is, hippie-ish) was allowed. We were, after all, representing Stephens College and the proper young women who attended it.  So, naturally, we packed our shortest mini-skirts, hotpants, bell-bottoms, platform boots and anything else we thought would make us look less like hicks from the heartland and more like hip, big-city chicks. 

As I recall, we flew to New York City on Braniff Airlines. They were known for their colorful planes and even more colorful and avant-garde interiors and stewardess uniforms.

[Editor's note: click here to watch a vintage Braniff television ad promising "the end of the plain plane."]

Flying was a big deal then. Passengers were treated like royalty, with hot meals served on real china. You even had a choice of entrees. And this was just in coach, mind you. I can only imagine the grandeur beyond the curtain that separated us from the first-class cabin.

We stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel, a 20-story hotel with over 1000 rooms that still stands on Madison Avenue at 45th Street in the heart of Manhattan. The façade and lobby were quite grand, but the rooms were actually a bit shabby and outdated. (The hotel was extensively renovated in the mid-1990s.)

The Roosevelt Hotel
[Editor's note:  The Roosevelt was a big deal when it was in its heyday.  Guy Lombardo and his band first played "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's Eve in the hotel's Roosevelt Grill in 1927.  Lawrence Welk also performed at the Roosevelt for many years.  In 1947, the Roosevelt became the first hotel to have television sets in all its guest rooms.  Governor Tom Dewey used the Roosevelt as his New York City residence, and listened to the 1948 election returns – when he was upset by Harry Truman – from his room there.  The hotel has been used as a location in a number of movies (including the The French Connection) and television shows (including "Mad Men.")]

One of the first things my group of friends and I did after unpacking was head downstairs to the piano bar for a cocktail. The drinking age in New York at that time was 18, so that was probably my first legal drink (except for the beer I ordered at Nina's Green Parrot in Galena, Kansas, over Christmas vacation, right after I turned 18).  I ordered a martini, which I could barely force down without gagging.

One of my more sophisticated friends requested that the piano player play “Three Coins in the Fountain.” I have no idea if she actually wanted to hear that particular song or if she had just heard the title in a movie and thought it would sound worldly to ask for it. When I called my mother later that night, I made the foolish mistake of telling her about our cocktail hour.  I had to endure another lecture, of course. 

We did have required excursions and tours while we were there. Our Philosophy professor, the only male on the trip, accompanied us to Harlem. The Guggenheim Museum and New York Stock Exchange were other must-sees.

Our group had the distinction of being escorted out of the viewing platform overlooking the NYSE trading floor. If memory serves, a cute young guy down on the floor waved to us. One of the girls decided to take out her camera to get his picture, in spite of the numerous and prominent "ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED" signs all around us. The moment the flash went off, the security guards swarmed in. This was obviously a serious infraction, but I remember a lot of giggling as we were being removed from the premises. I hope we didn't ruin it for future Stephens' groups -- all the cute Wall Street types were worth seeing!

Other museums and places of interest were recommended by each of the professors, but we actually had quite a bit of free time to explore the city on our own.  We tried to experience every big-city fantasy – perhaps "cliché" is a better word – that we could think of.

I had been wanting to get my shoulder-length, wavy hair cut for some time. Stick-straight hair was in style then and mine refused to cooperate. Almost all the big department stores back then had hair salons (called "beauty shops" in those days), so I called the most famous store I knew of, Saks Fifth Avenue, and made an appointment at their flagship store, which was only a few blocks from the hotel. 

My stylist was a gorgeous young French woman named Gabrielle -- even her name had such cachet! She gave me the perfect Jane-Fonda-in-“Klute” shag haircut. That haircut cost $25 of Daddy’s hard-earned money, an outrageous sum at the time, but I would have paid any amount (especially since it wasn’t really coming out of my pocket).

Jane Fonda in "Klute"
*     *     *     *     *

Music was a huge part of teenage life then, as it still is today -- just the technology has changed. We would take our favorite albums (vinyl rules, baby!) and gather in someone’s room, turn on the black light and listen to music for hours. In retrospect, that could have had some bearing on my lackluster academic performance the second semester, I suppose.

Most of us who hung out together had similar taste in music. Bands I remember listening to the most were Three Dog Night, Santana, Traffic, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green-era) and a relatively new band called Black Sabbath. 

In those pre-internet days, I knew very little about Black Sabbath-- probably just what was on the record jacket. I just knew that they were different; louder and more explosive than any other of the bands we were listening to at the time.

I had read about legendary music promoter Bill Graham opening a music venue in New York in 1968. Graham had previously opened the Fillmore West in San Francisco, which was a mecca for the psychedelic bands of the 1960s.  His Fillmore East was in an old building in the East Village that had previously been a movie theater, and it quickly came to be known as “the Church of Rock and Roll.”

Bill Graham's Fillmore East
The Fillmore was at the very top of my personal "must see" list for my New York trip. I called to find out what bands were playing while we were there. When the man said Black Sabbath would be there for two nights (playing two shows each night), that was all I needed to hear. I reserved tickets for myself and three other like-minded friends for the early show (so as not to risk missing curfew and room check at 1:00 a.m., just like we were back on campus) on the second night, which was Saturday, February 20, 1971 – our last night in New York before returning to Columbia.

The girls who went with me to the concert were all from the Midwest. One was my roommate, Betty – a pretty, dark-haired girl from a small town in Oklahoma. She had the temper of a cobra and the vocabulary of a sailor, but we got along perfectly well.

Betty's parents owned several dress shops, so she had a closet full of the latest styles in clothing and shoes that happened to be my size, too. It took me weeks to work up the courage to ask to borrow something from her closet. (No one ever really wanted to cross Betty.) She lectured me about how she expected the item of clothing to be returned in exactly the same condition as when I took it, but in the end, she let me wear it. From then on, I had the luxury of basically an entire second wardrobe.

Oklahoma high-school
cheerleaders (circa 1970)
Another girl who went with me to the concert was Lyn, also from Oklahoma and also a very attractive girl, a former high school cheerleader with a sweet, bubbly personality. I doubt that people who didn’t know her well would have ever guessed she’d be remotely interested in going to a Black Sabbath concert. (Of course, the same thing could have been said about me. As the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover.)

Details about the third girl have disappeared in the mists of time. Sorry to say I don’t even remember her name, only that she was from Iowa or Nebraska, I think, and overheard me talking about the concert and asked if she could tag along.

Morey Amsterdam, Rose
Marie and Dick Van Dyke
After an early dinner at a French restaurant, where we made the only celebrity sighting of the trip – Morey Amsterdam of “Dick Van Dyke Show” fame – we went back to the Roosevelt to change into our midwestern version of hippie threads. 

The only coat I had brought was hideously inappropriate, very dressy with fur cuffs and collar. I begged a girl who had brought the plain gray maxi coat she had purchased from an army surplus store to trade with me just for the night. She graciously agreed, saving me from the embarrassment of showing up at the concert looking like I was going to dinner at a country club. 

[Editor's note: I never talk about clothes or hairstyles in my posts.  Maybe I should.]

We caught a cab to the East Village and I’m sure I provided the cabbie with at least an evening’s worth of amusement when I asked him if he would be coming back to pick us up after the concert.

*     *     *     *     *

Sir Lord Baltimore
We purchased our tickets (around $5.00 each, I think) and walked in. One of my friends (the beautiful but bitchy Betty, so everyone kept their mouth shut) was habitually late for everything, so we left the hotel later than we should have and we could already hear a band playing when we got inside. The warm-up bands that night were Sir Lord Baltimore (one of the first bands to lay claim to the moniker “heavy metal”) and the J. Geils Band. 

Although the Fillmore was only half full at most, our seats were up in the nosebleed section. The guy at the box office probably figured we wouldn’t know the difference, but we just moved down to better seats that were empty.

There was already of thick haze of smoke in the air when we arrived. Pot smokers were pretty common in a college town like Columbia in 1971, but most people weren’t brazen enough to flaunt it in public, so we were a little shocked (but, of course, acted very blasé about it). I remember virtually nothing about the band that was playing when we got there. Guess I had my eye on the prize – Black Sabbath! 

Black Sabbath
Finally, Black Sabbath was introduced and took the stage. There was no elaborate stage set; just the band (appropriately dressed mostly in black) and their gear. Monstrous-looking amps! I wish I had written down the set list, but I was completely transfixed by the music and the light show and really just the whole experience of being there. I know they played “Paranoid,” “Iron Man,” and “War Pigs.” 

The last of those was a huge crowd-pleaser. There were obviously a lot of anti-Vietnam War people there, judging by the slogans I saw on some t-shirts. They would have been declared obscene back home in Missouri, but evidently that kind of freedom of expression was better tolerated in the East Village. 

The light show was really spectacular. (Probably even more so for those who were partaking of the demon weed!)  It was billed as “Pig Light Show” on the Sabbath tour schedule and was the house light show for the venue.  All different colors of lights and random images looked like they were melting down the screen behind the band – very psychedelic. Ozzy did very little talking on stage – just an occasional, mumbled “thank you” is all I remember. Yes, he was already mumbling even back then! 

I never did tell my mother about this particular adventure and don’t intend to. There are some things a parent is just better off not knowing!

[Editor's note: I couldn't agree more.]  

*     *     *     *     *

Thanks to "Linda" for sharing her story.  While she was watching Black Sabbath at Fillmore East that Saturday night in 1971, I was probably sitting in my dorm room, playing spades and watching "All in the Family" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."  You know, the usual Saturday night sausagefest.  So I'm very envious – not only of her Black Sabbath experience, but also of her close encounter with Morey Amsterdam and especially her Klute-style haircut.

Click here to listen to "War Pigs."

Click here to see a video of Black Sabbath performing "War Pigs" in Paris in 1970, just a few months before "Linda" saw them perform in New York City.

Faith No More covered "War Pigs" on their The Real Thing album, which was released in 1989.  Click here to watch a video of Faith No More performing "War Pigs" live.

Use the link below to buy the original studio version of "War Pigs" from Amazon: