Friday, June 30, 2017

Papa Roach – "Last Resort" (2000)

Losing my sight
Losing my mind
Wish somebody would tell me I'm fine

I had semi-high hopes when I started watching Longmire, a neo-Western television series that aired on A&E for three seasons and then moved to Netflix for three more seasons.

Here's the trailer for the show's first season:

But I started thinking about bailing on the show after two episodes.  That’s because the plot of the second episode involved rumspringa – a Pennsylvania Dutch word that means “running around” or “jumping around” in English, and refers to the Amish practice of granting teenagers a certain amount of freedom to experience “worldly” activities before deciding whether or not to remain in their communities, get baptized, get married, and live a traditional Amish life.

(Note: I’m using “Amish” to include not only the Amish but also Mennonites and similar Anabaptist groups.)  

Thanks in large part to television shows like Breaking Amish and Amish in the City, many people think that all Amish teenagers leave home and live like “English” teenagers for a year or two – spending their days hanging out at the mall or playing video games, and spending their nights drinking to excess, getting high on drugs, and having a lot of premarital sex: 

But the extent to which Amish adolescents go off the deep end during rumspringa is greatly exaggerated by such shows.  

In fact, relatively few Amish youth choose to leave their communities and “dress English” (that is, wear non-traditional clothing) during rumspringa.  The vast majority remain under their parents’ roof until they marry.  

According to the Amish America website, “Some Amish [boys] will fit out their buggies with onboard stereo systems with large speakers” during rumspringa.  But that’s about as crazy as it gets for most Amish teenagers.  

*     *     *     *     *

Law and Order is notorious for its “ripped from the headlines” plots.  Why go to the effort of thinking up a truly original plot when you can simply base an episode on a sensational real-life murder or sexual assault or other crime?

But I don’t think Law and Order ever did a rumspringa show.  (I can’t be sure because there are zillions of Law and Order episodes, and I’m far too busy to put in the time it would take to verify that.)

Longmire’s writers must truly be a lazy and unimaginative bunch if they stooped to using rumspringa as a plot device in only the show’s second episode.

The cast of "Longmire"
To make things even worse, the writers cast plausibility to the four winds by making the Amish girl who was murdered in that episode a STRIPPER.

I looked on the internet to see if I could find any actual cases of Amish girls becoming strippers during rumspringa.  All I found was this 2010 comment on a website called “The Ultimate Strip Club List”:

there is a girl i know who wants to become a stripper and i am pretty sure it would destroy her life.  How do i know this? well, you see, the thing is that she is omish [sic].  I'm fairly certain that omish people would be against stripping, but she is determined to go the bright lights, big city.  she has said she is tired of the butter churn and wants to hold a stripper pole now.  seriously, what do i tell her?  i really fear for her safety because she is so naive.  any suggestions?  thanks.

(Amish, “omish” . . . whatever.)

*     *     *     *     *

I didn’t give up on Longmire immediately after the silly rumspringa episode.  But I don’t think I’m going to make it to the end of season one, despite the fact that Sheriff Longmire has a hot blonde deputy:

The biggest problem I have with Longmire is that virtually every episode of the show – which is set in Wyoming – involves one or more murders.

In 2015, there were only 16 homicides in the entire state of Wyoming.  (Most years, that number is even lower.)

Wyoming has 23 counties, so that means the typical Wyoming county sees less than one homicide annually.

But in the first season of Longmire, there were 13 homicides in fictional Absaroka County– almost a year’s worth for the entire state.    

Apparently, that wasn’t good enough for the network’s executives, so the writers picked up the homicide pace in the first episode of season two, which featured an escaped serial killer who took out a cook, two FBI agents, two firefighters, and two other escaped convicts before being taken out by Sheriff Longmire.

When you watch one episode a day like I usually do, it’s hard to swallow so many murders in so little time.  (I can suspend my disbelief as well as the next guy, but enough is enough.)

Of course, while Absaroka County is a pretty dangerous place to live, it’s not nearly as deadly as tiny Cabot Cove, Maine, which was the site of some 274 TV murders between 1984 and 1996.

*     *     *     *     *

When Sheriff Longmire learned that the murdered Amish girl had been stripping while she was on rumspringa, he visited the nearest strip club to see what he could find out about her.  

2 or 3 lines is featuring Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” today because it was the song that was playing in that strip joint when Longmire walked in.  (He acted all wide-eyed and innocent, like he wasn't a regular consumer of lap dances there.)

Papa Roach, which was formed in 1993, released its ninth studio album last month.  “Last Resort” was the group’s first and most successful single, peaking at #1 on the Billboard “Modern Rock Tracks” chart in 2000. 

Here’s “Last Resort”:

Click below to order the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

50 Cent (ft. Trey Songz) – "Smoke" (2014)

You got this club on fire
And outside I bet
All they smell is smoke

Upper Franconia, which is part of the German state of Bavaria, has more breweries per capita than any other place in the world.  

(The population of Upper Franconia is just over a million people, but there are 200 breweries in the region.  The population of my home county – Montgomery County, Maryland – is almost exactly the same, but we have only a half-dozen breweries BECAUSE OUR GOVERNMENT IS STUPID!)

Upper Franconia
One of the principal cities of Upper Franconia is Bamberg, which is home to some 75,000 souls and nine breweries that are best known for their Rauchbiers – or “smoked beers.”

Several centuries ago, brewers routinely prepared malted barley for brewing by drying it over open fires, which gave a smoky flavor to their beers.  

Beginning in the 18th century, brewers started drying their malts in kilns – not over flames.  But the breweries in Bamberg never stopped burning beechwood logs to dry their malt.

*     *     *     *     *

The most famous smoked beer in the world is brewed at the Schlenkerla brewery tavern in Bamberg.

The Schlenkerla tavern
A couple of years ago, I had a Schlenkerla smoked doppelbock at Of Love & Regret, a tavern/restaurant affiliated with Stillwater Artisanal Ales, which makes some of the most provocative beers in the United States.

Of Love & Regret usually has over a dozen Stillwater beers on tap, but also serves a number of other beers.  The night I happened by, one of its guest beers was the Schlenkerla doppelbock.  

There are no words that do justice to the strangeness of that Schlenkerla smoked beer.  I usually tell people that it tasted like liquid bacon.  

You may like bacon as much as the next guy but not be eager to try a bacon-like beer.  Trust me, the Schlenkerla was delicious.  Also odd – very, very odd.

One craft beer website has this to say about smoked beer:

Smoke-flavored beer can be very polarizing.  Some find the idea of a smoked beer completely unpalatable.  Others find it to be one of the most intriguing, complex and delicious combinations of flavors out there.

I fall in the latter group.  So when I found out that Of Love & Regret’s upstairs gift shop had a few bottles of Schlenkerla for sale at $7 a pop, I grabbed three.  (I gave one away, drank another last year, and am saving the third one for a special occasion.)

Schlenkerla's smoked doppelbock
I hadn’t seen the beer for sale since then until last week, when I stopped by the Döner Bistro in Frederick, Maryland, after taking a hike on the Carroll Creek trail there.

The Döner Bistro’s menu lists both German dishes (schnitzel and several wursts) and Turkish favorites like döners and falafel.  (The combination is not as odd as you might think – there are several million ethnic Turks in Germany.)

The restaurant’s beer list includes one token Turkish beer and a couple of dozen German beers, including the Schlenkerla doppelbock.  When I saw it was available, I couldn’t resist ordering one.

The Schlenkerla was just as odd and delicious as I remembered.  It’s too overpowering to be your everyday go-to beer, but it’s just what the doctor ordered if you’re looking for a special treat.

A few American breweries have dipped their toes into the smoked-beer waters, but it’s doubtful your local bar has a smoked beer on tap.

*     *     *     *     *

You probably expected today’s featured song to be Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” – the 1972 hit inspired by a fire that broke out during a Frank Zappa concert at the lakeside casino in Montreux, Switzerland.  (Deep Purple wrote and recorded the song just days after the fire.)

But 2 or 3 lines is nothing if not unpredictable.

I’ve gone a little heavy on classic rock and a little light on hip-hop the last few months.  So you’re getting “Smoke,” a 2014 hit for 50 Cent (which features Trey Songz), instead of the Deep Purple classic. 

“Smoke” wasn’t a big hit in the U.S., but did make it to #1 on Deutsche Black Charts, the most important black music chart in Germany.

I’m guessing the song was especially popular in Bamberg.

Here’s “Smoke”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Slants – "From the Heart" (2016)

The language of oppression
Will lose to education
Until the words can’t hurt us again

In 2006, musician Simon Tam and several other Asian-American musicians put together a synth-pop band called the Slants.  

In 2010, Tam applied for a federal trademark for his band’s name.  But a federal statute prohibits the registration of trademarks “which may disparage . . . persons, living or dead.”  So an examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) rejected Tam’s application because “slants” is a derogatory term for Asian-Americans.  

Simon Tam at the Supreme Court building
Tam appealed that denial and later took the USPTO to court.  The case eventually made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled last week that the denial of the trademark as disparaging violated the right to free speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

In other words, it’s none of the government’s business whether your trademark insults a person or group of people.  You can still register it.  

*     *     *     *     *

Tam always denied that the name of his band was disparaging.  Here’s an excerpt from a brief his lawyers filed with the Court:

In choosing that name, Tam was following in the long tradition of “reappropriation,” in which mem- bers of minority groups have reclaimed terms that were once directed at them as insults and turned them outward as badges of pride.  In recent times, the most conspicuous examples have been words such as “queer,” “dyke,” and so on – formerly derogatory terms that have been so successfully adopted by members of the gay and lesbian community that they have now lost most, if not all, of their pejorative connotations. . . .

The Slants
“The Slants,” as used by Simon Tam to refer to his band, is not disparaging.  Whether a word is disparaging depends primarily on context.  Even “nigger” and its variants are not disparaging when used with pride and understood that way. . . . 

The Slants’ case is getting a lot of attention in Washington because the local NFL team – the Redskins – has been battling with the USPTO over whether its name is disparaging to Native Americans.  It looks like the Redskins will win that fight now. 

(Keep in mind that a USPTO refusal to register the Redskins’ trademark doesn’t mean that the team can’t call itself by that name.  In fact, a refusal by the USPTO to register that trademark wouldn’t mean that the Redskins were without trademark protection for the team’s name – such a trademark would still have some protection under state and federal law.  But having a USPTO-registered trademark does give the trademark holder certain legal advantages that it wouldn’t have otherwise.)

Not surprisingly, Simon Tam distances himself from the Redskins or the team’s owner, Dan Snyder.  For him, there’s a big difference between an Asian-American band that calls itself the Slants and a white-owned football team that has no Native American players that calls itself the Redskins.

*     *     *     *     *

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Texas could refuse to issue specialty license plates that depicted the Confederate flag without violating the First Amendment.

A state couldn’t prohibit the display of Confederate-flag bumper stickers on cars without violating the First Amendment rights of car owners.  But while a bumper sticker is a form of individual speech, a license plate is speech by the state government that issued it – not speech by the driver.   

(How that 2015 decision can be reconciled with the 1977 decision holding that a New Hampshire driver had the right to cover up the “Live Free or Die” slogan on that state’s license plate is beyond me.)

The USPTO’s lawyers argued that a federally registered trademark was government speech as well – not speech by the trademark applicant.  But the Court rejected that argument faster than you can Jack Robinson.

*     *     *     *     *

The same federal statutory provision that prohibits disparaging trademarks also prohibits “immoral . . . or scandalous” trademarks.  

The decision in the Slants’ case doesn’t address immoral or scandalous trademarks, but I have to think that the same free speech arguments would apply.


(Comprende, mi amigo?)

*     *     *     *     *

If you believe in free speech, you should really buy today’s featured song – or any song by the Slants.  (You can click here to go to the Slants’ website and check out their other music.)

After all, litigating with the U.S. government for seven years costs a boatload of dinero, and the Slants aren’t exactly Justin Bieber or Katy Perry when it comes to record sales.

Here’s “From the Heart,” which was released last year on an EP titled The Band Who Must Not Be Named:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, June 23, 2017

Peter and Gordon – "Lady Godiva" (1966)

Her long blonde hair
Falling down across her arms
Hiding all the lady's charms

Godiva, Countess of Mercia – better known as Lady Godiva – was a real person.

Godiva was the wife of Leofric, the Earl of Mencia, who was one of the richest and most powerful men in 11th-century England.

A 1586 painting of Godiva by Adam Van Noort
According to legend, the mothers of Coventry – a town that was part of Leofric’s realm – told Godiva that the taxes that he had levied upon them were so oppressive that their children were starving.  Godiva took pity on them and nagged her husband to reduce their taxes.  

Hoping to shut her up, Leofric told Godiva that he would grant her request if she stripped naked and rode a horse from one end of the city to the other.  

John Collier's "Lady Godiva" (1897)
Godiva surprised her husband by doing exactly that.  Her hair was long enough to conceal her front bits and fanny, but Godiva wasn’t taking any chances: she issued a proclamation directing the townspeople to stay inside with their windows shuttered during her ride.

The good people of Coventry were so grateful to Godiva that they happily complied with her request – even the men.

Except for one man, that is – a tailor named Tom, who forever thereafter was known as “Peeping Tom.”  

A poster for the 1955 movie,
"Lady Godiva of Coventry" 
Legend has it that God punished Peeping Tom by blinding him.  From Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s 1842 poem, “Godiva”:

[H]is eyes, before they had their will, 
Were shrivel'd into darkness in his head, 
And dropt before him.  So the Powers, who wait 
On noble deeds, cancell'd a sense misused . . . 

Leofric was supposedly so moved by his wife’s courage that he not only acceded to her request to lower the tax rate, but also got religion.  He began to make generous contributions to religious orders, and endowed several monasteries, including one in Coventry (where he and Godiva were eventually buried).  

*     *     *     *     *

I heard Peter and Gordon’s 1966 hit, “Lady Godiva,” on the Sirius-XM “Beatles Channel” a few days ago.

I don’t think I had heard the song for close to 50 years.  I remembered it as soon as it started to play, but I would have bet money that Peter and Gordon’s version wasn’t the original one.  (I would have lost that bet.)

Why was “Lady Godiva” being featured on the “Beatles Channel”?  According to Peter Asher, the SiriusXM host who played it, the songwriter who wrote “Lady Godiva” – Mike Leander – also did the string arrangement for the Beatles’ “She’s Leaving Home.”

That’s a pretty tenuous connection.  I suspect that the real reason that “Lady Godiva” was featured is that Peter Asher is the “Peter” of Peter and Gordon.

Peter’s sister Jane dated Paul McCartney for several years, which may explain why McCartney gave Peter and Gordon several of his songs to record – including “A World Without Love,” which became a #1 hit for them.  (Jane and Paul eventually became engaged, but Jane called the wedding off when she caught Paul in bed with another woman.)

Jane Asher and Paul McCartney
“Lady Godiva” was Peter and Gordon’s last top ten hit in the U.S.  When the duo disbanded in 1968, Asher became a very successful record producer.  He discovered James Taylor and produced his most successful albums.  He also produced several of Linda Ronstadt’s best-selling LPs.

Here’s “Lady Godiva”:

Click below to buy the from Amazon:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Albert King – "Born Under a Bad Sign" (1967)

If it wasn't for bad luck
I wouldn't have no luck at all

Last September, a 70-year-old man walked into a Kansas City, Kansas bank and handed a teller a note that read, “I have a gun, give me money.”

In fact, the man did not have a gun – he was armed only with nail clippers and a hairbrush.  The teller didn’t know that, so she gave him $2924.

But instead of fleeing the bank with the loot, he took a seat in the bank lobby waited for police to arrive.  

After he was arrested, Lawrence John Ripple told police that he wanted to go to prison so he could get away from his wife.

Lawrence John Ripple's mug shot
Ripple could have been sentenced to up to 37 months in prison, which would have suited him just fine.  But like the singer of today’s featured song, Ripple was born under a bad sign: the judge who heard his case sentenced him to six months of home confinement!

Ripple’s lawyer told the judge that his client’s crime was the result of the undiagnosed depression he had suffered since undergoing quadruple-bypass heart surgery in 2015.  He argued that Ripple should not be sentenced to prison for his crime.

The bank teller appeared in court to urge the judge not to send Ripple to the poke.

Ripple told the judge that a prison sentence would be more of a punishment for his wife than for him.

(She doesn't look that bad,
but looks can be deceiving)
When Ripple said that, his wife had her arm up his ass and was working his mouth like a puppet.

(OK, I made that up.)

Did the judge sentence Ripple to home confinement instead of prison because he believed that sending him to jail would serve no purpose?  

Or because he believed that not being able to leave the house and get away from his wife for six months was a much worse punishment than prison time?

I'm SURE it was the former – not the latter.

*     *     *     *     *

“Born Under a Bad Sign,” which was co-written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones (of Booker T. and the M.G.’s), was recorded by Albert King in 1967.  

A lot of people have covered “Born Under a Bad Sign,” including Cream, who released the song on their 1968 Wheels of Fire album.

Here’s “Born Under a Bad Sign”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Rolling Stones – "Before They Make Me Run" (1978)

Booze and pills and powders
You can choose your medicine
Well, it’s another goodbye to another good friend

Almost all of the obituaries for Anita Pallenberg – who died on June 13 – described her as the Rolling Stones’ muse.

Pallenberg certainly influenced the Stones’ music.  She appears to have been the inspiration for “You Got the Silver,” “Dead Flowers,” “Beast of Burden,” “Gimme Shelter,” and perhaps other Stones songs.  (I’ll have more to say about Pallenberg and “Gimme Shelter” below.)

Anita Pallenberg
And some say the Stones remixed the Beggars Banquet album because she didn’t like the way it sounded, and they took her opinion on such matters seriously.  (She sang backup vocals on the most memorable song on that album, “Sympathy for the Devil.”)

Even more significant than her influence on the music of the Stones was her influence on the image the Stones presented to the world – they way they looked and the way they lived.

If Pallenberg had never met the Rolling Stones – she talked her way backstage at a Stones concert in Munich 1965, offering to share her marijuana and hash with the band – Jagger, Richards, et al., would undoubtedly have turned out very differently.

From Rolling Stone:

[S]he was a rock & roll legend in herself, a style icon, a crucial part of the Stones' mystique.  She taught Keith her sinister glare, taught Mick Jagger her wiggle, taught Brian Jones how to wear floppy hats. . . . She was the flower of evil in the Stones' orbit, the baddest of bad girls – her grin declared she knew more about sin than any of these English schoolboys had ever imagined.

Pallenberg with Brian Jones
Pallenberg was a globetrotting model while still a teenager.  She had rubbed elbows with Fellini and Warhol and many of the icons of the “Swinging London” culture before meeting the Stones, who quickly adopted her boho-chic look.

From the Guardian:

You can see the effect of her fashion background on their appearance by comparing the cover of 1965’s Out of Our Heads with the photos Gered Mankowitz took in late 1966 for the cover of Between the Buttons.  In the former, they’re dressed in standard tough R&B band uniform – jeans, suede jackets, striped shirts – but in the latter they’re louche and dandified, a riot of extravagant tailoring, purple and orange trousers and mirrored shades.  A month later, publicizing the album at a photocall in Green Park, Jones and Richards in particular literally seem to be dressing like Pallenberg: floppy hats, fur coats, jewelery.  “I started to become a fashion icon,” Richards later noted, “for wearing my old lady’s clothes.”

Anita’s relationship with Brian Jones ended after it turned violent.  He reportedly broke his hand while beating her, but Pallenberg gave as good as she got: “Every time they had a fight,” Keith Richards later wrote, “Brian would come out bandaged and bruised.”

Pallenberg with Keith Richards
Pallenberg then hooked up with Richards.  They were together for 12 tempestuous, drug-filled years, and had three children together.   (Their third child, a son, died in his crib when he was just ten weeks old.) 

Shortly after she and Richards became a couple, Pallenberg was hired to star with Mick Jagger in the movie Performance.  (She also appeared in two other iconic movies of that era, Barbarella and Candy.)  

Richards became convinced that Pallenberg and Jagger had an affair while Performance was being made.  While they were being filmed dallying together in a bathtub, Richards was writing the Rolling Stones’ greatest song: “Gimme Shelter.”   (In Richards’s autobiography, he called the movie’s director “a pimp,” described Performance as “third-rate porn,” and said that Jagger had a “tiny todger.”  He wasn’t too bitter, is he?)

Pallenberg in the bathtub with Mick Jagger
Anita and Keith went their separate ways shortly after the 1979 death of Scott Cantrell, her 17-year-old lover, from a gunshot to the head.  At the time of Cantrell’s demise, he and the 37-year-old Pallenberg had been canoodling at the Pallenberg-Richards manse in Westchester County, NY, while Richards was in Paris recording with the other Stones.

Cantrell’s death was officially ruled to have been suicide, but the rumor was that Cantrell and Pallenberg had been playing Russian roulette.  (Pallenberg later said “I didn’t feel anything” when Cantrell died: “That's one of the wonders of drugs and drink.”)

The other Stones weren’t sorry to see Keith kick Anita to the curb.  In their view, his 1977 arrest for heroin possession in Canada – which could have landed Richards in prison for years – was her fault.

(You can click here to read the detailed account of the Toronto bust that Chet Flippo wrote for Rolling Stone.)

After she and Richards broke up, Pallenberg earned a degree in textile and fashion design from a prestigious London art school.  A newspaper described her designs as a “triumph of style over substance abuse.”

Pallenberg in 2014
She eventually kicked her heroin addiction but ended up with hepatitis C.  Her son Marlon told the press that complications from that disease caused her death.   
*     *     *     *     *

Some Girls, the Stones’ 16th American studio album, was released in 1978.  Mick Jagger did most of the heavy lifting on the album because Keith Richards was up to his neck in legal problems after his Toronto heroin bust.

But “Before They Make Me Run” was the creation of Keith Richards, who sang lead on the song.

The “it’s another goodbye to another good friend” line quoted above may be a reference to the overdose death of Richards’s close friend Gram Parsons in 1973.  Or it may be Keith saying good-bye to heroin.  (After his arrest, Richards went through rehab and overcame his addiction.  as a result, Canadian authorities did not seek serious prison time for his offense.)

Here’s “Before They Make Me Run”:

Click here to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rolling Stones – "You Got the Silver" (1969)

You got my heart, you got my soul
You got the silver, you got the gold

In 2010, the BBC’s online magazine ran a story titled “Who, What, Why: How is Keith Richards Still Alive?”

Keith Richards – then and now
Here’s an excerpt from that article:

His name is synonymous with rock 'n' roll excess, his memoirs detail a lifetime spent ingesting a Herculean quantity of illegal drugs and he only gave up cocaine, aged 62, after he split his head open falling from a tree while foraging for coconuts.

At 66, Keith Richards' continued survival is a source of widespread bafflement.

According to addiction expert Dr. Robert Lefever, director of the Promis recovery centre in Richards’ native Kent, there is only one possible explanation for his longevity: “He must have the constitution of an ox.”

Keef with Johnny Depp in 2007's
"Pirates of the Caribbean"
Seven years later, Richards is still going strong.  Sure, he has the face of an exhumed corpse.  But despite taking a licking over the years, he just keeps on ticking.

*     *     *     *     *

I recently heard Dana Carvey tell a fabulous story about Keef to Howard Stern.

Richards hosted Saturday Night Live once when Carvey was a cast member.  During a lunch break one day, Carvey saw the Rolling Stone walk up to a horse who was tied up backstage.

“Look at you,” Richards said as he held the horse’s chin and looked directly into its eyes.  “You’re a fookin’ horse!”  Then he walked away.

I use this line at least once a day.  For example, I might say, “Look at you . . . you’re a fookin’ baby!” to my ten-month-old grandson.  Or when I’m at the farmers’ market, I might intone, “Look at you . . . you’re a fookin’ cantaloupe!”

*     *     *     *     *

The first Rolling Stones song to feature Keith instead of Mick Jagger as the lead vocalist was “You Got the Silver,” from Let It Bleed – certainly the best Stones album ever, and arguably the best rock album ever.

Some sources say that Richards wrote “You Got the Silver” – the last Stones recording to feature Brian Jones (who played the autoharp, of all things) – about his longtime partner, the actress and model Anita Pallenberg.

Pallenberg died a few days ago.  I was writing this post when the news of her death broke.  (I’ll have more to say about Anita Pallenberg and the Rolling Stones in the next 2 or 3 lines.)

Here’s "You Got the Silver”:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Bobby Vee – "Suzie Baby" (1959)

Is your lovelight shinin' bright? 
Will you love me or leave me tonight? 

In a 2010 interview, Joni Mitchell had some harsh words for Bob Dylan:

Bob is not authentic at all.  He's a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake.  Everything about Bob is a deception.

Mitchell with Roger McGuinn and Dylan
The Bob Dylan moniker is certainly fake: Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman.  But that’s not the only pseudonym that Dylan used.  At various times, he’s called himself Dedham Porterhouse, Blind Boy Grunt, Robert Milkweed Thomas, Boo Wilbury, and Sergei Petrov.

His earliest nom de guerre seems to have been Elston Gunnn.  (No, I didn’t accidentally type an extra “n” – he spelled “Gunnn” with three of them.)  That’s the name he used when he played piano for teen idol Bobby Vee’s band, the Shadows.

*     *     *     *     *

Between 1959 and 1970, Bobby Vee released no fewer than 38 records that charted on the Billboard “Hot 100.”  His biggest hit, “Take Good Care of My Baby,” made it all the way to #1 in 1961.

The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly
Bobby Vee was born Robert Thomas Velline in Fargo, North Dakota.  He was a 15-year-old high-school student on February 3, 1959, when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash while en route to a concert in Moorhead, Minnesota – which is just across the Red River of the North from Fargo.

Velline, his older brother, and several friends put together a group called the Shadows, which performed in the place of Holly and his band that night.  

Bobby Vee and the Shadows (sans Elston Gunnn)
Later that year, Vee met Elston Gunnn – that is, Bob Dylan – in a Fargo record store.  Dylan told Vee that he was a piano player and that he had just finished a tour with Conway Twitty, which impressed Vee enough that he asked Dylan to join the Shadows.  

Dylan – who could only play the piano in the key of C – didn’t stay with the band for long.  But Vee made a lasting impression on Dylan.

At a Twin Cities appearance in 2013, Dylan had this to say about Vee, who was in the audience:

I’ve played with everybody from Mick Jagger to Madonna, but the most beautiful person I’ve ever been on stage with is Bobby Vee.

Dylan then performed Vee’s first single, “Suzie Baby,” which he and the Shadows had recorded just before Dylan had joined the band.

Bobby Vee and Bob Dylan in 2013
A year before that 2013 concert, Vee had stopped performing after telling his fans that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  He died in 2016. 

*     *     *     *     *

“Suzie Baby” was released by a small Minneapolis label, and it sold well enough in Minnesota and the Dakotas to get Vee a recording contract with Liberty Records, a large national label.

Here’s the original Bobby Vee recording of “Suzie Baby”:

He re-recorded the song in 1962.  That version went a little heavy on the strings:

Click below to buy the 1959 version of “Suzie Baby” from Amazon: