Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Springsteen & The Seeger Sessions Band’

‘Eyes On The Prize’

November 10, 2016

All day yesterday, it felt as if I were making my way through a fog, my path unclear and my intentions hard to remember. From the mundane chore of making my morning coffee through the equally mundane chores of washing and drying quilts, blankets and throws in preparation for the winter, I struggled to be present. The day seemed gray, and I struggled with a nearly unique admixture of emotions: sorrow, anger, and fear.

I could remember only two other occasions in my life when I’d felt that combination of emotions: September 11, 2001, when the terrorists of Al Qaida attacked the United States, and a weekday in the spring of 1988, the day after I’d learned that a love interest had decided not to leave a distant city and join me and my life in Minot, North Dakota. (That latter day’s stew of emotions was made up primarily of grief although anger and fear were present.)

My malaise was sparked, of course, by the results of Tuesday’s election. I sat that evening watching the news roll in with increasing dismay, wondering both how could the polls and poll compilers have so badly interpreted the data they’d collected and how nearly sixty millions of my fellow citizens could have such a vastly different view than I do of the man they have chosen to be our president.

I expect to find the answer to the first question relatively soon. I imagine it has something to do with a perfect storm of unanticipated voters and margins of error. (I have seen speculation by friends that other, far less benign reasons, such as foreign intervention, exist; if that speculation ever leads to hard data, that would seem to me to be prima facie evidence of an act of war.)

As to the second question that plagued me as I switched my television from network to network Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, I have come no closer in the last thirty-six hours to understanding how, to repeat my own words, “nearly sixty millions of my fellow citizens could have such a vastly different view than I do of the man they have chosen to be our president.” I am not certain today that I will ever understand.

So I have grave concerns about the direction our nation will take come next January. I fear for those who are poor, for those who are disabled, for immigrants, for children, and for all those who live in the margins of this culture and thus lead lives far different than those of the people who will be making decisions about those lives. I fear for the hard-won rights of women, of the LGBTQ community, of people of color, and of people of those faiths that have become targets for discrimination and violence. I fear what I perceive in those who will govern us as an eagerness for more and larger wars. And I fear that the country that I love will become changed beyond recognition by those who will next govern it and their supporters.

In the meantime, as more than one of my friends on Facebook noted yesterday, we have lives to lead, family and friends to attend to, and tasks at hand. Once the winter covers were washed, dried and folded (the neat piles of warm laundry, stacked on the window seat in the dining room and on the bed upstairs, unsurprisingly became sleeping spots for all three cats), and once the Texas Gal was home from work, I had a dinner to cook.

“I already know,” I wrote on Facebook, “what the playlist is going to be: Bruce and nothing but Bruce. The Boss and the E Street Band (and the Seeger Sessions Band, too) help me get centered like almost nothing else.”

And although it did not come up during the forty or so minutes when the iPod kept me company in the kitchen last night, one track from Bruce Springsteen & The Seeger Sessions Band seems appropriate for this space this morning, given the massive challenges I see arising from the results of Tuesday’s election. Here, from the 2006 album We Shall Overcome, is “Eyes On The Prize.”

‘Living On Free Food Tickets . . .’

April 29, 2015

We mentioned briefly last week the minor hit the Winstons had in the fall of 1969 when “Love Of The Common People” went to No. 54 in the Billboard Hot 100 (and to No. 19 on the Easy Listening chart). By then, the song had been around for couple of years. In the autumn of 1967, versions by Wayne Newton (No. 106) and the Everly Brothers (No. 114) had bubbled under the Hot 100.

I’ve never been much of a Newton fan, so his version doesn’t move me much. Nor does the Everlys’ take on the tune grab me. So I dug a little deeper and found the original version of the tune, recorded in October 1966 and released in January 1967 by the Four Preps. That one was okay, and I liked the delivery of lead singer David Somerville (one-time lead singer for the Diamonds). But I kept digging anyway, and I found a countryish version from 1970 by John Hurley, one of the song’s two writers.

That was okay, too, but I’m still liking the Winstons’ version most, and I wonder if that’s because of my vague memories of hearing it in 1969. I’m not sure where that would have been; neither the Twin Cities surveys at Oldiesloon nor the collection of surveys at Airheads Radio Survey Archive show the record on a KDWB survey (and the same is true for the Twin Cities’ WDGY, which I could not get in St. Cloud). Neither of those collections is complete, of course, and it’s quite possible that the record showed up for just one or two weeks on KDWB and I heard it once or twice.

Anyway, beside the Winstons’ take on the song, what versions move me? There are plenty to choose from, based on the list at Second Hand Songs. I liked the 1967 cover from Waylon Jennings, but was even more impressed by the version that Jim Ed Brown released the same year. And there are plenty of covers listed at Second Hand Songs that I didn’t check out. Some of the familiar names there were Sandy Posey, Lynn Anderson, the Gosdin Brothers, John Denver, Wanda Jackson, B.J. Thomas, and Paul Young, whose 1984 take on the tune went to No. 45 on the Hot 100.

But I suppose I should close with the version of the song that reminded me the other week of the Winstons’ charting version. Here’s Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band from the 2007 release Live In Dublin:

Long John, The Mamas & The Papas & Bruce

November 30, 2011

Originally posted January 22, 2009

It’s Video Thursday!

Here’s an appearance by Long John Baldry on Britain’s Top of the Pops on November 23, 1967, with “Let The Heartaches Begin.” References say that other performers that evening were the Dave Clark Five and Traffic, with something called “repeat” performances – video from earlier shows, perhaps? – coming from Des O’Connor, Gene Pitney and the Who. The show also included promo videos from the Beatles of “Hello Goodbye” and from Donovan of “There Is A Mountain.”

After not having listened much to it before – and I’ve only had forty-some years to do so, you know – I’ve run through the Mamas & the Papas’ “Dancing Bear” a few times since yesterday and I’m finding it more and more charming – though no less quirky – with every listen. Here’s a September 17, 1966, clip from the The Hollywood Palace, a variety show that ran on ABC television from 1964 into 1970. The Mamas & the Papas lip-synch to “Dancing Bear” and then about halfway through “Dancing In The Streets” before being cut off by applause. As the clip ends, look at the audience: The politely applauding folks in those chairs look pretty well set in middle age or more, which explains why the host was Bing Crosby (or vice-versa). The Mamas & the Papas were a pretty safe choice for an establishment crowd, visually and musically: The guys’ hair wasn’t all that long, and the gals wore hip – but not at all daring – clothes. And the music fell somewhere in a safe part of the continuum between rock, pop rock and folk rock.

And then, here’s a gorgeous performance of “We Shall Overcome” by Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band. It took place in May 2006 at – if I translated and Googled correctly – at LSO St. Luke’s in London. (LSO St. Luke’s – a restored eighteenth-century church previously called St. Luke Old Street – is the home of the London Symphony Orchestra’s community and educational programs as well as a rehearsal and performance venue.)

As I wrote here about a week ago, before events both minor and major rearranged my plans, I’m hoping to present Grab Bag No. 3 – three records pulled randomly from my stash of old and often odd 45s – for tomorrow’s post.

We’ve Done Much But Still Have Much To Do

November 30, 2011

Originally posted January 19, 2009

The two events on consecutive days are an opinion writer’s dream.

I’m talking, of course, about the unique juxtaposition of today’s national holiday commemorating the life and contributions of the Rev. Martin Luther King with tomorrow’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African-American president. Some editorial writers and columnist may tell that we have achieved our goal and left division behind. Others will tell us we have made a good start. I lean toward the latter view. Still, there is no doubt that there is much to celebrate. After Mr. Obama takes the oath of office, we can all rejoice that we as a nation are so much closer than we were to keeping the promises made in our founding documents.

There is here a reluctance to write much about race relations in the United States (or anywhere, for that matter). Why? Because I stand on the wrong side of the divide to truly know what the state of those relations is and has been. I can read, I can listen, I can guess. But I can never know. What I have observed in my lifetime makes me hopeful, but when I try to write about the topic, I find myself stumbling around like a blindfolded man in a dark house: I have no assurance that I know what I am doing or where I am headed.

(I recall the tale of another man who stood on the same side of that divide as I do. In 1959, writer John Howard Griffin, who was white, darkened his skin with the help of a doctor and spent six weeks traveling as an African American man through Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. For anyone, but especially for those who see the 1950s and 1960s as distant history, if I could suggest one book that might provide a glimpse of what life was like in the segregated southern states in the U.S., it would be Black Like Me.)

As we celebrate and remember today and tomorrow, one of the things that I hope that we all keep in mind is that we have just begun to keep our promises. And those promises were sworn not only to those with darker skin colors but also to those with colder homes, emptier plates, fewer opportunities and far more challenges than most of us in this nation have to deal with. The racial divide still exists, of course, and those on both sides need to continue to keep faith. But the deeper divide, I think, is economic, and that divide – aggravated, no doubt, by the dismal economic news of recent months – leaves far too many of us in want. And I doubt whether those shackled by economic need are truly free.

This is certainly a darker piece than I intended to write. I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I do not celebrate the vast progress we have made in the U.S. nor the remarkable achievement of this nation in electing Barack Obama as its president. I am pleased and encouraged both historically and in the moment. There is much yet to be done, and we need to remember that in the days, months and years to come. But we have come a long way, and that is worth celebrating.

Here’s some music to mark these moments:

“Chimes of Freedom” by the Byrds from Mr. Tambourine Man, 1965

“A Ray of Hope” by the Rascals from Freedom Suite, 1969

“We Shall Overcome” by Bruce Springsteen & the Seeger Sessions Band from We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions-American Land Edition, 2006

“I Want My Freedom” by Marie Queenie Lyons from Soul Forever, 1970

“Freedom Blues” by Little Richard, Reprise 0907, 1970

“We Shall Be Free” by Maria Muldaur, Odetta, Joan Baez & Holly Near from Yes We Can, 2008

Some of these are well known and obvious. Little Richard certainly isn’t among the lesser-known here, but his 1970s releases are. “Freedom Blues” was pulled from The Rill Thing, one of several albums Little Richard recorded for Reprise in the early 1970s. (A few years ago, Rhino Handmade produced a limited CD reissue of those albums; copies currently run at about $150.)

I don’t know much about Marie Queenie Lyons. Soul Forever is the only album of hers listed at All-Music Guide. The recording comes from a post at My Blog Too. There’s some information about her and her connection to James Brown at Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven.*

Of the albums listed, my favorite is the final one, Yes We Can, on which Maria Muldaur draws together a bunch of friends and a great bunch of politically charged songs that serve as calls to action. One need not agree with the performers’ politics to enjoy the music.

*My Blog Too has been deleted since this piece was posted. Note added November 30, 2011.

Eddie & The Boss & His Friends

June 29, 2011

Originally posted May 29, 2008

Digging at YouTube into Monday’s Baker’s Dozen:

Not withstanding the numerous times I’ve heard Bob Dylan perform it, the most gripping version I’ve ever heard of “Masters of War” came from Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Filmed during the Bob Dylan 30th anniversary celebration in 1992, Vedder – accompanied by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready as well as G.E. Smith – left the audience spell-bound. (The same happened, I’m sure, to those who saw the video and heard the album when they were released.)

Video blocked.

And here’s Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band performing “Bring ’Em Home” on Conan O’Brien’s late night show, June 23, 2006. This is the audio I posted last year for the Memorial Day Baker’s Dozen.

Video deleted.

A Baker’s Dozen For Memorial Day

April 22, 2011

Originally posted May 28, 2007

There’s not a lot to say today. I think these songs speak for themselves.

“Requiem for the Masses” by the Association, Warner Bros. single 7074, 1967

“I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” by Phil Ochs from Rehearsals For Retirement, 1969

“War” by Edwin Starr, Gordy single 7101, 1970

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” by Peter, Paul & Mary from Peter, Paul & Mary, 1962

“One Tin Soldier” by Coven, Warner Bros. single 7509, 1971

“Universal Soldier” by Buffy Sainte-Marie from It’s My Way!, 1964

“Masters of War” by Bob Dylan from Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1962

“Give Peace A Chance” by John Lennon, Apple single 1809, 1970

“2+2=” by the Bob Seger System from Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, 1968

“Handsome Johnny” by Richie Havens from Mixed Bag, 1967

“Bring The Boys Home” by Freda Payne, Invictus single 9092, 1971

“All The Young Women” by the Cuff Links from Tracy, 1970

“Bring ’Em Home” by Bruce Springsteen & the Seeger Sessions Band, Late Night With Conan O’Brien, June 23, 2006

(I should note that times have changed enough since Freda Payne, Peter, Paul & Mary, and the Cuff Links recorded their songs that we now need to bring the girls home, and we need to grieve with all the young men who have lost loved ones.)