Archive for the ‘2008/11 (November)’ Category

Checking Out For A Long Weekend

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 28, 2008

The Texas Gal has today and Monday off from work, so we’re going to spend some time doing lots of nothing for the next few days. I’ll be back early next week – maybe Monday while the Texas Gal sleeps in, for sure on Tuesday. In the meantime, have a good weekend!

Bobby Charles – “See You Later, Alligator” [Chess 1609, 1955]

Some Thoughts On Thanksgiving 2008

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 27, 2008

Well, it’s Thanksgiving, at least here in the United States.

Other places, I imagine it’s an ordinary Thursday, but here, it’s a day when we feast – those of us who can, that is. As we feast, however, we should also consider the lives of others, both near and distant.

From news reports over the past few days, it’s evident that even here in one of the most blessed nations on Earth, there are people who need the help of others to afford even the most basic of Thanksgiving dinners. The Galilean told his disciples, “The poor we have always with us.” He’s still correct two thousand years later, and I often wonder why we in this nation, in this community of nations, aren’t doing more to be proving him wrong.

And I don’t know the answer. I think the answer – if there is one – gets lost in a morass of politics, economics, theology and ethics. And all the wrangling through those topics doesn’t get us one step closer to putting onto the plate of a poor child a meal of beans and sausage, never mind turkey with the trimmings.

I think, however, that more and more frequently in years to come, those of us fortunate to live in basic comfort – a comfort that must seem like unimaginable affluence to many in the world – will learn what it is like to live on the edge of want and need. It might do us some good, as it might instill in us as people a caring awareness of how fragile life and wellness have been for many who have lived on that edge for years, for decades, for centuries.

Many of us already have that caring awareness, that empathy necessary for us to understand the lives of others, an empathy that one would hope would lead to a driving desire to improve the lives of those others. Perhaps, in what appears to be a coming time of constraint and restraint, those who have not yet shown that trait can learn it. And when better times come again – as we all hope they will – perhaps more of us will be able to feast without the aid of others, and those of us so blessed will be able to lead still more of the world to the table to join us.

In the meantime, on this Thanksgiving Day, may your blessings be – as are the Texas Gal’s and mine – too numerous to count.

A Six-Pack of Thanks
“Be Thankful For What You Got” by William DeVaughn from Be Thankful For What You Got, 1974

“I Want To Thank You” by Billy Preston from That’s The Way God Planned It, 1969

“Thank You Lord” by Rick Nelson from Rudy the Fifth, 1971

“Thank You” by Led Zeppelin from Led Zeppelin II, 1969

“I Want To Thank You” by the Staple Singers from Let’s Do It Again, 1975

“Now Be Thankful” by Fairport Convention, Island WIP 6089, 1970

Heading To The Doctor’s Office

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 26, 2008

I fully expect to be lectured this morning.

Very shortly, I’ll drive across town to the clinic, where Dr. Julie will give me my annual physical. I expect everything to be fine, except my chronic ailments, which require some management, and my cholesterol, which I expect to be high. And that’s where I anticipate the lecture, or at least discussion.

Some of the problem is out of my control. One of the things my father bestowed to me in the dice roll of genetics was high cholesterol. It’s exacerbated, as well, by one of my chronic problems. But there are some things within my control: diet and medication. Although I probably eat healthier now than I did when I was living alone, there could be improvements; I like a cheeseburger with bacon and special sauce as much as – maybe more than – the next guy. I could eat better.

As to medication, well, I have on my desk a bottle of pills intended to help lower my cholesterol level. All I have to do is remember to take them. That happens about half of the time, maybe, and that needs to improve, obviously. I expect to hear about it this morning from Dr. Julie.

A Six-Pack of Doctors
“Midnight Doctor” by Willie Clayton from No Getting Over Me (1995)

“Dear Doctor” by the Rolling Stones from Beggar’s Banquet (1968)

“Witch Doctor” by Spencer Bohren from Full Moon (1991)

“Doctor” by the Bliss Band from Neon Smiles (1979)

“Witch Doctor” by David Seville, Liberty 55132 (1958)

“Doctor” by Wishbone Ash from Wishbone Four (1973)

A few notes:

Willie Clayton came out of Indianola, Mississippi, as a teen-ager in 1971 and ended up in Memphis, recording for Hi Records’ Pawn subsidiary, but nothing hit until 1984, according to All-Music Guide. Since the late 1980s, Clayton has recorded a string of bluesy R&B albums for a series of labels. Every time his music pops up on the player, I realize how good he is.

“Witch Doctor” is a slightly spooky track from Spencer Bohren, who had a conversation with Dr. John in the early 1970s that spurred him to move to New Orleans for a decade. Since then, Bohren’s music has explored the cross-currents of that most unique of American cities. If you’ve heard nothing but the occasional Bohren track that shows up here, do yourself a favor and check out his catalog. For some reason, Full Moon was released only in France and can be hard to find, but there are plenty of other albums to check out.

A while back, I offered the first album by the Bliss Band, 1978’s Dinner With Raoul. “Doctor” is from the group’s second album, a 1979 issue titled Neon Smiles. It’s also pretty good, and I’ll likely post it very soon. A big “thank you” to walknthabass.

The David Seville “Witch Doctor” is, of course, the novelty record with the “Ooh eeh, ooh ah ah, ting-tang, walla-walla-bing-bang” chorus. The record spent three weeks at No. 1 during the first half of 1958. Seville then took the technology for increasing the pitch of recorded voices without altering the tempo – as I understand it – and created the Chipmunks, who had their own No. 1 hit the next winter with “The Chipmunk Song,” which has become a perennial. I heard it the other day while driving across town.

Being Thrown Back In Time

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 25, 2008

As many times as it happens, I continue to be amazed at the power of some songs from one season of my youth to yank me out of my cozy midlife home and plop me back in my bedroom on Kilian Boulevard, with a history textbook open on the table and a host of teenage dilemmas bubbling underneath the surface of the high school junior I was.

I’ve written a little bit before about that first year when I discovered Top 40, the 1969-70 school year. Many of the songs I heard on the radio during those nine months are old friends, records that I nod and smile at when I hear them on the oldies station in the car or when they pop up on the RealPlayer here in the house. But there are a few from those months that don’t just trigger the pleasure of recognizing an old friend; those few records throw me back nearly forty years and remind me not only of what I heard in those days but how it felt to hear it and how it felt to be in my skin at the time. That’s powerful stuff, and it can be a little disorienting.

Regular readers know that I have a fascination with memory and memoir, and I frequently – I realize after the fact – wrestle with the question of how our memories color our present and how sometimes the memories that tint our current lives are events that we’d have judged to be insignificant and totally unmemorable at the time they happened. And when there’s an external trigger – and music is, I am certain, one of our most powerful triggers – we’re back where all those things happened that helped to make us who we are now.

Sometimes, of course, it’s not events that come back. Rather, one encounters a wave of pure emotion. I have no idea what I was doing the first time I heard Brook Benton’s “Rainy Night in Georgia.” It was no doubt during the early weeks of 1970; the record entered the Top 40 in late January and peaked at No. 4 in mid-March. All I know is that the times must have been difficult for me. Because whenever I heard that record’s opening guitar riff over a gentle organ wash, the jolt of recognition is accompanied by a horribly sad sense of “Damn, I wish things were different.”

And I do remember that for a chunk of that season, that was how I felt. The events behind the feelings aren’t really important here, although I do have a good idea of what they were. The fascinating thing in 2008 is that those few seconds of that record – like several others from that season – still has the ability to replicate how I felt when I heard it so long ago.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned “Rainy Night in Georgia” when I made a brief comment about its creator, Tony Joe White. And when Benton’s version of the song popped up on the RealPlayer this week, I realized that I’ve never posted White’s original version, which he released on his 1969 album Tony Joe White . . . Continued. So here it is:

Tony Joe White – “Rainy Night in Georgia” [1969]

Great Voices: Some Readers’ Suggestions

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 24, 2008

Well, Wednesday’s look at the top ten voices listed by Rolling Stone magazine in its “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” generated a good discussion and some interesting names, some of them coming from the post-1970 era I had suggested be looked at, some of them coming from earlier years in the rock ’n’ roll timeline.

So I thought I would list all the names that were listed in the comments and comb through the Rolling Stone list to see if those performers were listed, and where. Here goes:

David Bowie was listed at No. 23.
Christina Aguilera was listed at No. 58.
Paul Rodgers was listed at No. 55.
Ann Wilson was not listed.
Chris Cornell was not listed.
Michael Stipe was not listed.
Bono was listed at No. 32.
Bruce Springsteen was listed at No. 36.
Ranking Roger was not listed.
Brad Delp was not listed.
38 Special (Donnie Van Zant, Don Barnes) was not listed.
Elvis Costello was not listed.
Joe Strummer was not listed.
Annie Lennox was listed at No. 93.
Etta James was listed at No. 22.
Mavis Staples was listed at No. 56.
Dusty Springfield was listed at No. 35.
Sandy Denny was not listed.
Kate Bush was not listed.
Emmylou Harris was not listed.
Kirsty MacColl was not listed.
Maria McKee was not listed.
Grant McLennan was not listed.
Elton John was listed at No. 38.
Tracey Thorn was not listed.
Shirley Manson was not listed.
Linda Thompson was not listed.
Harriet Wheeler was not listed.
Jon Anderson was not listed.
Morrissey was listed at No. 92.
Bruce Cockburn was not listed.
Boz Scaggs was not listed.
Graham Nash was not listed.
Robbie Robertson was not listed.
Al Green was listed at No. 14.
Michael McDonald was not listed.
Shannon McNally was not listed.
Ruthie Foster was not listed.
Lucinda Williams was not listed.
James Hunter was not listed.
Erykah Badu was not listed.
Meshell Ndegeocello was not listed.
Chrissy Hynde was not listed.

Of those suggested from the post-1970 era who didn’t make the list at all, I’d probably give the nod to Michael Stipe. I don’t particularly care for R.E.M., but I think he has a great voice. (I do love Ruthie Foster’s voice and work, but I think a larger body of work is required before assessing her.) Two names from that era that readers did not mention that I would have liked to see on the Rolling Stone list were Natalie Merchant and Darius Rucker.

Of the names pre-dating 1970 that were suggested by readers, the one that absolutely should have been on the magazine’s list was that of Sandy Denny. And a voice that reader’s didn’t mention from that era that should have been there was Rick Danko’s. (Levon Helm was the only member of The Band on the list, being listed at No. 91.)

R.E.M. (with KRS-1) – “Radio Song” [1991]
(From Out Of Time)

Sandy Denny – “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” [1968]
(From All Our Own Work [with the Strawbs])

Saturday Single No. 103

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 22, 2008

The first time I ever heard of Jesse Ed Davis was a couple of days after George Harrison’s massive Concert for Bangla Desh was released in late 1971, during my freshman year of college. One evening that week, WJON played the album in its entirety, and I hung by the radio, listening intently. When Harrison interrupted the proceedings to introduce the musicians on stage, Davis was one of the guitarists he introduced.*

It was an underwhelming introduction to Davis’ work. As I’ve learned in the years since then, Davis – a full-blooded member of the Kiowa band of native Americans – was one of the most-respected and sought-after session guitarists of the late 1960s and early 1970s. His list of credits at All-Music Guide reads like an index of great albums and/or albums by great performers (the two, sadly, are not always the same) of the era: John Lee Hooker, Taj Mahal, Mike Bloomfield, Booker T. Jones, George Harrison, Ben Sidran, Leon Russell and Albert King are among the first names on the list.

So when Davis found his way into the studio for the first of his three solo albums – Jesse Davis, released in 1971 – he had plenty of friends and associates available who were eager to back him in the studio. The credits for Jesse Davis list, among others, Chuck Blackwell on drums; Eric Clapton on guitar; Merry Clayton, Venetta Fields, Clydie King and Gram Parsons on background vocals; Jim Gordon and Jerry Jumonville on horns; Larry Knechtel, Leon Russell, Ben Sidran and John Simon on keyboards; Delaney Bramlett on remixing and a host of other folks whose names don’t jump off the page at me quite as high.

All-Music Guide describes the results like this:

“This first solo release from session-guitarist extraordinaire Jesse Ed Davis celebrates the ethos of early-’70s album making; namely, renting a studio for a weekend, supplying lots of drugs and alcohol, and then inviting a few dozen of your closest friends over to record. The album itself is filled with cameos by Davis’ musician pals: Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, and Gram Parsons among them. However, it does neither the all-star backing musicians, nor Davis, much credit. With the exception of Van Morrison’s ‘Crazy Love,’ most of the album was penned by Davis, and in spite of some strong rockers (‘Every Night Is Saturday Night for Me,’) the downplaying of Davis’ exemplary soloing ability does the guitarist a disservice.”

It’s true that the album – like the other two solo albums recorded by Davis, who died young in 1988 – is in fact a bit of an undisciplined jumble. But that actually makes it fun at times, at least when one is in the right mood. I seem to be in that mood this morning, so I thought I’d offer a track from Jesse Davis this morning, and since it is the end of the week, here’s the above-referenced track – titled simply “Every Night Is Saturday Night” on the album – as today’s Saturday Single.

Jesse Ed Davis – “Every Night Is Saturday Night” [1971]

*My memory failed me here. Another memory has surfaced in the years since this post was written: I had to attend a meeting of our church youth group, the Luther League, on the evening when WJON played The Concert For Bangla Desh in its entirety, and I asked Rick to keep an ear on the radio and tell me how it was. His report was more than adequate, but I doubt he told me about the presence of Jesse Ed Davis on stage. So I more than likely first heard of Mr. Davis when I played my own copy of the album shortly after receiving it as a Christmas present later in December 1971. Note added October 7, 2011.

Caught Unawares By The Chill

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 21, 2008

The weatherfolk on television and radio tell us that this isn’t the real beginning of winter’s cold creep. The temperatures this weekend, they say, will reach into the mid-thirties. But today is a chill preview of what will eventually come and stay with us for a while.

When I turned on the computer this morning, my little WeatherBug told me enough: The temperature outside was 3 Fahrenheit (-16 Celsius). Most mornings, I’m able to stay inside and sip a cup of coffee while the outside world stretches and limbers its muscles. This morning, I was due at the doctor’s office (they drew blood for tests in advance of my annual physical next week; no biggie) at 7:50. So I bundled up and headed across town, then stopped on my way home at Tom’s Barbershop and the grocery store.

This is Minnesota. I’ve lived here most of my life, and it’s going to be cold. I know that. But it seems like every year that first blast of Arctic air catches us by surprise and we do a double take when we look at the temperature reading on that first frigid morning. It doesn’t take us more than a couple of days to readjust, and by the time January brings with it temperatures that can slide to -30 F or colder, we’re almost blasé.

But that first frozen day, like today, still seems to catch us unawares.

A Six-Pack of Cold
“Cold, Cold, Cold” by Dr. John from In The Right Place, 1973

“Cold Lady” by Humble Pie from Town and Country, 1969

“Cold Winter’s Day” by the BoDeans from Go Slow Down, 1993

“Until I’m Dead and Cold” by B.B. King from Indianola Mississippi Seeds, 1970

“Cold Missouri Waters” by Cry Cry Cry from Cry Cry Cry, 1998

“It’s Cold Outside of Your Heart” by the Moody Blues from The Present, 1983

A few notes:

Some years ago, I read in one of the many books of album reviews I’ve scanned that the first two Humble Pie albums – As Safe as Yesterday Is and Town and Country – had an ambience not unlike that of The Band’s first albums. Being an easy sell, I wandered down to the record store and dug through the used albums in the “H” bin. Having brought the two albums home and listened to them, I wasn’t altogether certain that the review was right. But the albums were pretty good, and I hung on to them. Of the two, I think Town and Country is the better album, and “Cold Lady” is one of its better tracks.

For a long time, the only thing I knew about the BoDeans was that they came from Wisconsin (Waukesha, not far west of Milwaukee) and that they sang “Good Things,” a live version of which got an incredible amount of airplay in the early 1990s on Cities 97 in the Twin Cities. Over the past eight years or so – late, but at least I got there – I’ve explored the band’s catalog, and I quite like it. “Cold Winter’s Day” is a pretty good track.

Speaking of having to catch up, the Moody Blues somehow released an album in 1983 that I missed entirely at the time. I think a lot of people did. The Present is not one of the group’s better albums, and listeners seemed to know that. Its predecessor, Long Distance Voyager, was No. 1 for three weeks during a twenty-three-week stay in the Top 40, and its successor, The Other Side of Life, went to No. 9 during its twenty-two weeks in the Top 40. The Present was in the chart for only six weeks and went to No. 26. “It’s Cold Outside of Your Heart” is the most memorable song on the album.

Cry Cry Cry was a one-shot release by a trio of contemporary folk artists: Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell. It’s quite a nice album.

Some Voices Suggested By Readers

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 20, 2008

I thought that this morning, I’d head to YouTube and find some clips from a few of the many names readers suggested yesterday that might belong in the top ten list of the best singers of the rock era.

The first one I came across was one of my favorites, Maria McKee, in a 1990 live performance of “Show Me Heaven” – from the film Days of Thunder – on Top of the Pops. (The ending is a little truncated.)

Video deleted.

Then, here’s a powerful live performance of “Why” by Annie Lennox during the twenty-fifth anniversary celebration of Arista Records. The celebration took place April 10, 2000, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California.

Here’s an intriguing clip: Elvis Costello, accompanying himself on a ukulele, performing “The Scarlet Tide,” which he and T-Bone Burnett wrote for the soundtrack of Cold Mountain. The performance took place on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson but I’m not sure of the date. Maybe 2003?

Here’s Christina Aguilera covering Etta James’ “At Last” live in London in November 2003:

And we’ll close with Mavis Staples – with Dr. John on the piano – performing “I’ll Take You There” as the closer on a 1988 episode of Sunday Night.

An interesting mix, I think. Enjoy!

Who Might Rank Among Them?

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 19, 2008

I got my new copy of Rolling Stone yesterday, the one that trumpets on its cover the listing inside of the one hundred greatest singers of all time. The cover also bears a picture of Aretha Franklin, who took the top spot on that list of singers.

Now, I love lists of stuff, especially lists relating to music. And Rolling Stone does a lot of them. I could walk across the study and pull from the bookshelf about fifteen editions of the magazine from the last twenty or so years that have a list ranking something in rock ’n’ roll history, whether it’s albums or songs or singles or guitarists or what-have-you. And this list – greatest singers – seems to be a suitable topic.

I haven’t waded my way through the entire one hundred names yet; I’ve read the foreword of the section, looked at the list of the folks who voted and read the entries on the first five singers: Aretha, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and John Lennon. That’s a pretty impressive top five. Maybe not quite as powerful but still impressive were the names of the folks who wrote the short essays about that top five: Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Robert Plant, Van Morrison and Jackson Browne. I am looking forward, sometime later today, to sitting down with the magazine and digging into the remaining ninety-five singers on the list.

I suppose I should look ahead and note here which singers rounded out the Top Ten: Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder and James Brown. I could make a number of observations, but I’ll keep still on most of them until I’ve absorbed the entire list. I will make one comment.

The list of voters – made up of musicians, journalists and critics – seems to have been pretty well spread among the generations and sub-genres of rock music. In other words, there was no overloading on any one era or style. And those various voters decided that the ten greatest singers in rock history are seven dead guys and two men and one woman whose greatest work was turned was turned out between thirty and forty years ago. (Some might argue that Dylan’s recent work is among his best; it might be, but still, that hardly dents the point I’m about to make.)

What the Rolling Stone voters are telling us is that not one of the ten greatest singers in rock ’n’ roll history has started his or her career in the years since, oh, 1964 (the year that Redding released his debut album). That’s a remarkable statement, and it’s one for which I don’t seem to have a response. (I’ve been staring at the screen and keyboard for about five minutes trying to find words; they’re not there.)

Now, I love the music of the Sixties and the Seventies. Anyone who stops by here knows that, and it’s an understandable passion: That music is the music of my childhood, youth and young adulthood. But those decades are not the sole source of good music by talented artists. And I think the best thing about lists like the one in the current Rolling Stone is that they start discussions. So I’m going to throw out a question and (with luck and some effort from my readers) we’ll start a discussion here. That question:

Who is the best rock (in all its forms) singer to start his or her career, oh, let’s say, after 1970, and where would that person fall among the top ten anointed by Rolling Stone?

Just so you don’t have go back and pick them out, here are the names of those ten singers again:

Aretha Franklin
Ray Charles
Elvis Presley
Sam Cooke
John Lennon
Marvin Gaye
Bob Dylan
Otis Redding
Stevie Wonder
James Brown

And to accompany that, we’ll do a random six-pack of tunes from artists who came along after 1970:

“Rain” by Terence Trent D’Arby from Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D’Arby, 1987. (Debut album)

“Late In My Bed” by Elizabeth Barraclough from Elizabeth Barraclough, 1978. (Debut album)

“That’s What They Say” by the Jeff Healey Band from See The Light, 1988. (Debut album)

“All I Want Is You” by Roxy Music from Country Life, 1974. (Debut album in 1972)

“Fadeaway” by the BoDeans from Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams, 1986. (Debut album)

“Roman” by the Church from Heyday, 1986. (Debut album in 1981)

I don’t think that any of the lead singers there will challenge for that Top Ten list, but Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music might belong in the Top Fifty or so. That’s beside the point, though. This was a random selection of songs.

Again, what I do want to know from readers is: Who, from the artists who came along post-1970, could reasonably be considered for that top ten? Lemme know!

‘Blue, Blue Windows Behind The Stars . . .’

October 7, 2011

Originally posted November 18, 2008

The title track of Déjà Vu, the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album from 1970, popped up on the RealPlayer the other day, and as music generally does for me, it sparked a couple of memories.

First, I recalled the review of the album in the St. Cloud Tech High student newspaper, written by a couple of fellow seniors in the autumn of 1970, not long after the album was released. What I recall is the reviewers’ complaint that the title tune failed because it had nothing of the sense of what a déjà vu experience feels like. I had the record at home, and agreed with them. I knew, though, that writer David Crosby was using déjà vu as a metaphor, although I wasn’t certain what the point of the metaphor was. A few years later, as the record played at a Friday night party somewhere in St. Cloud, I got the reincarnation references.

The second memory also comes from around the time the album was released: During the first semester of my senior year in high school, I took a course in psychology. We examined the stresses of everyday living, looking at how mood, temperament and environment affect our sense of who we are and our actions. I thought at the time the course had a pretty loose definition of “psychology,” but it was a fun and fascinating semester.

Along the way, we students were periodically assigned to bring in examples from the mass media of news reports, magazine articles, television programs, songs or anything else we found that showed some connection to the course’s definition of psychology. Again, that cast a pretty wide net, but we had some lively sessions, and our teacher was good at sifting through the stuff we brought in and pointing those discussions in thought-provoking directions.

When it came my turn to offer a media artifact for discussion for the class, I brought in Déjà Vu and cued up the record’s third track, Crosby’s lament, “Almost Cut My Hair,” with its somewhat tongue-in-cheek examination of alienation. We had a good time dissecting Crosby’s intent and the song’s take on life, and the other members of the class were a little impressed that I’d changed from a musically clueless goof a year earlier to someone who had the new CSN&Y album before almost everybody else. (Demonstrating that change, I think, was the real reason I was determined to find something on the album that I could share in my psychology class.)

But as the track “Déjà Vu” played the other evening, I thought of another track on the same album that I could just as well have shared in that long-ago class: Neil Young’s “Helpless.” Tucked inside Young’s memories of his Ontario childhood, the recurring chorus of “Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless” sings of alienation and loss as vividly as any part of the David Crosby track I did play. The elegiac tempo and the country-ish instrumentation of Young’s track tie the song firmly in all our pasts, pasts that – if I interpret Young correctly – we are helpless to entirely escape.

That may be too deep and intense a reading of the song, but now, almost forty years after the nearly simultaneous events of the song’s release and my first steps at leaving my own childhood behind, that’s what I hear. I’d be interested in thoughts from others.

I’m not sure where the song ranks in Neil Young’s catalog. That depends entirely on the mood I’m in when I hear it or any other work by Young; the wide range of moods, styles and approaches he’s shown us in his career make his work more difficult to assess, categorize, and in fact comprehend as a whole than the work of anyone else in rock music I can think of. (Well, maybe Bob Dylan.)

It’s a song that’s not been covered by a lot of folks. In its assessment of the song, All-Music Guide notes covers by Nick Cave, Yukihori Takahashi, Nazareth, Trip Shakespeare and Fareed Haque. Another version, one I enjoy, is by k.d. lang on her 2004 CD of songs by Canadian writers, Hymns Of The 49th Parallel.

But I think the best cover of “Helpless” that I know of is the one that AMG said was the first, by Young’s fellow Canadian Buffy Sainte-Marie on her 1971 album, She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina.