Posts Tagged ‘Jesse Colin Young’

‘Let Your Light Shine’

June 15, 2016

I have not much to say.

Our hearts ache from the massacre in Orlando, from hearing the names and seeing the faces of the lost, from hearing the tales of those who were in the Pulse club at the time and who managed to survive while dear friends did not, from realizing once again that no number of lives lost to bullets this week, this month, this year, this lifetime, will budge the heartless and the paid-for from their resistance to true gun control in this nation.

My heart aches, too, at the bullying, anger and pure meanness put forward with mouth-frothing ferocity and glee by the supporters of the man who will evidently be the nominee for President of the United States of one of our major political parties. He inspires and glories in that anger and glee, and with each preening pronouncement, he makes it clear that he is unqualified for that office, indeed unqualified for any elective office.

So we here are emotionally weary. I know we are not the only ones. I know our brothers and sisters all around this blue planet share our concerns and sorrows. And that helps.

In search of solace, I wandered through my music, and I found the fourth part of the “California Suite” that Jesse Colin Young offered on his 1974 album Light Shine. It’s the album’s title track, and it starts:

People, let your light shine. Come on now, let it shine.
Come on, let it shine on, all night and day.
People, let your light shine. Let it shine.
Come on, let it shine on, all night and day.

We all got a light inside. People how can we survive
If we don’t let it shine on, all night and day?
You know the world is dark with fear, people scared to let you near.
They need you to shine on, shine on all day.

Young’s words and gentle music bring me some comfort, as they have since, in a lovely coincidence, I brought the record home to my apartment in Minot, North Dakota, twenty-eight years ago today. May they do the same for you.

News From Here & There

June 29, 2011

Originally posted May 21, 2008

A few things from here and there:

JB the DJ at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ has a new gig. He tells about his new occasional radio shifts – starting this Sunday – at WISM-FM, known as Magic 98 – in Madison, noting that he applied for a job at WISM’s AM side in 1983. JB notes, “Magic 98 is a bigger pond to swim in—higher ratings, stronger signal—with vastly different formatics to learn, but it’s also a whole lot closer to the kind of radio I was weaned on. So I suspect it’s going to be one hell of a lot of fun.”

You’ll find links at the blog to the station’s website and to a page showing JB’s radio schedule. Good luck with the gig, JB. Spin one for me!

My other compatriot from the Upper Midwest, Jeff from AM, Then FM, tells of taking his dad to a Dionne Warwick show at a local casino. Everything was gravy, he says, after Warwick’s second song, “Walk On By.” And Jeff provides links to Warwick’s version of the song as well as to two additional, intriguing versions of the Bert Bacharach/Hal David anthem.

Elsewhere on his blog, Jeff continues his “20 Songs from 20 Albums for $20” series, sharing the fruits of a recent vinyl purchase with tunes from the Bob Crewe Generation, Joe South and War.

At The College Crowd Digs Me, Casey continues his “Track Four” feature – following a tradition that helped his father and friends make it through college – by sharing and assessing “Alexis,” the fourth track on the James Gang’s 1973 album, Bang. Casey notes that at the time of the recording, the James Gang was actually a different band, what with the departure of Joe Walsh and the arrival of Tommy Bolin. Oddly enough, this is the third mention of the talented but ultimately doomed Bolin in just a week or so among the hundreds of blogs I scan every week. (If I could recall where those were, I’d provide links; as it is, I’ll likely be writing a little about Zephyr, Bolin’s first band, in the next few weeks.) As long as you’re at Casey’s joint, scroll down and look at his reading recommendations; in terms of subject, they’re all over the place, but in terms of quality, they’re top-notch.

At Bobby Jameson, my friend Bobby continues his memoirs, telling his tale of life in late-Sixties America (with a mid-Sixties sojourn in England already covered). In his fifty-fifth chapter, Jameson looks at where he was – pysically, mentally and emotionally – in 1968 as he headed toward the recording of his third album, Working! Bobby’s blog is not always fun reading, but it’s an open and honest look at one man’s journey through Southern California and its recording industry during the time we now call the Sixties.*

Jesse Colin Young, Together (1972)
All-Music Guide notes that Together, Jesse Colin Young’s first solo album since 1965, was recorded while the Youngbloods – the folk-rock group Youngblood organized in 1965 – were still together. As the Youngbloods effectively disbanded in 1972, one might assume that Young’s release of Together was effectively his declaration of separation from the group he’d headed since its inception.

But if the release of the album was a statement of purpose, the content of the album doesn’t exactly follow. It’s kind of a hodgepodge, a mix of things that really shouldn’t cling together as an album.

The album starts with three of the sweet and mellow folkie tunes that would more and more become Young’s stock in trade during his solo career. Then, Together takes the first of several odd turns with a not-quite-rocking piano-based rendition of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.” It shouldn’t work, but it does, probably because Young’s distinctive voice ties the song into the rest of the record.

That same effect – voice as unifier – comes into play a little later when Young shifts from his earnest “Peace Song” into a rendition of the truck-driving tune, “Six Days on the Road.” Again, one would think that the country-ish tune wouldn’t fit into the mood of Northern California mellowness that Young projects, but it does. As do the following songs: Young’s rendition of Mississippi John Hurt’s “Creole Bell” and a bluesy take on on “1000 Miles From Nowhere,” a 1953 tune by Mercy Dee Walton better known as “One Room Country Shack” and recorded by many others, including Buddy Guy.

Young closes the record with performance of Nick Gravenites’ “Born in Chicago” and “Pastures of Plenty,” a song credited to “Woody Guthrie/Traditional.” And again, one might think that these separate parts of the album should grind gears rather than function as a whole. But it’s the voice, I guess, as well as Young’s seeming determination; it’s almost as if he willfully said, “It goes together because I say it does.”

And, oddly enough, Together holds together pretty well.

Helping Young out were Rick Anderson on harmonica, Pete Childs on guitar and dobro, Jerry Corbitt on vocals, Scott Lawrence on keyboards, Jeff Myer on drums, Eddy Offenstein on guitar, Ron Stallings and John Wilmeth on horns and Suzi Young on vocals.

The album has been released on CD but seems to be out of print, with copies currently priced at $40 or more. This is a rip from vinyl, with a few whispers of sound. I wish I could remember where I found the rip, but I don’t, so all I can do is offer a generic thanks.

Good Times
Sweet Little Child
Sweet Little Sixteen
The Peace Song
Six Days on the Road
Lovely Day
Creole Bell
1000 Miles From Nowhere
Born In Chicago
Pastures of Plenty

Jesse Colin Young – Together [1972]

*Since this was first posted, Bobby Jameson has created a cluster of blogs dealing with his history and his music. He’s posted a lot of music on YouTube, much of it unheard until the past few years. It’s well worth your time to wander through all of his online projects. Note added June 29, 2011.

‘I Feel For Ya . . .’

June 11, 2011

Originally posted February 4, 2008

Rob came over to watch the Super Bowl yesterday, the ninth straight year he’s come to my house for the big game. As we have the other eight years, we quaffed some beer – this year’s best was an English brew called “Old Speckled Hen” – ate a little bit near halftime and kept an eye on the game and the commercials. We also got caught up on a wide range of topics, as we generally do, with yesterday’s subjects ranging from politics through the HBO series Rome (which both of us are watching on DVD) to the stylishness of the New York Giants’ road uniforms.

I might like the uniform, but I’ve never been fond of the Giants, so I was rooting for the Patriots while Rob pulled for the Giants. When the Giants won it, I was disappointed for a moment or two but not devastated. There is, of course, devastation in millions of homes in New England this morning. Being a fan of the Minnesota Vikings – four-time Super Bowl losers and losers, as well, in a couple of conference title games they should have won – I understand devastation. And last evening, as I thought about the gloom that no doubt descended on New England, I also thought about a long, sad ride in a Volkswagen.

It was January 1974, the winter of my time in Denmark. Along with the other football fans among the St. Cloud State students living in Fredericia, I’d been following the fortunes of the Vikings from a distance. There was some coverage of the National Football League in the International Herald Tribune, an English-language newspaper published daily in Paris. It generally came to Fredericia a day late, so I would read about Sunday’s football games on Wednesdays, when the Tuesday edition arrived. I got a little more in-depth information from my father, who several times a week sent me envelopes stuffed with clippings from the St. Cloud and Minneapolis daily newspapers and from Sports Illustrated. Those envelopes took about a week to make their way to me.

The only other source of information about American football – and it depended on atmospheric conditions – was the Sunday broadcasts of one NFL game a week on Armed Forces radio, intended for American troops in Germany. Fredericia seemed to be just past the point of good reception for those broadcasts, and several Sunday evenings, I strained to hear bits and pieces of the game. I heard broadcasts of the Vikings’ games twice, once early in the season against the Los Angeles Rams and then around New Year’s, when the Vikings defeated Dallas to earn a spot in Super Bowl VIII against the Miami Dolphins.

(The contrast to today’s nearly immediate flow of information is startling. Were I in Denmark now, there would be no difficulty, of course, in getting nearly as much information about the Vikings – or any team – as I would have found at home.)

So as the Vikings headed to the Super Bowl, those of us in Fredericia who were football fans began to think. There was only one way to see the game on television in Europe: The Armed Forces television service would air the game wherever there were American troops on duty. One of those places was the area around Frankfurt, Germany, about 470 miles from Fredericia. And one of our gals had a cousin in the Army stationed in that area, living in an apartment in the smaller city of Hanau.

Members of our group owned two cars: Patty – the woman whose cousin lived in Hanau – owned one with another gal. And three guys – older students who were veterans – had chipped in to buy a Volkswagen. So early on Saturday morning, nine of us piled into the two cars and headed south. We went first to Frankfurt, where we picked up two more fellows who’d used their rail passes to take a train, and then headed to Hanau.

A question with an easy answer: What do you get when you combine eleven college students, three servicemen and lots of beer in a small apartment? It was drunken chaos Saturday night and again most of Sunday. Early Sunday afternoon, we took a break and played touch football in the street, earning skeptical glances from some young German boys who happened by. With kickoff in the U.S. set for sometime in the afternoon, the game would not start until the evening (at eight o’clock in Germany if my memory of the 1 p.m. Central Time start is correct).

We huddled around the television, still drinking and eating pizza. (The existence of a good pizza place in Hanau, Germany, in 1974 was a result of the presence of large numbers of American servicemen.) Of the fourteen of us in the apartment, thirteen were Vikings fans; one of the soldiers was from Florida and was a fan of the Dolphins. To the dismay of we thirteen, the game was effectively decided in no more than half an hour. Miami took the opening kickoff and moved efficiently down the field for a touchdown. The Vikings ran three plays and punted. Miami moved efficiently down the field for another touchdown.

It was 14-0, Miami, still in the first quarter, and the game was essentially over. We Vikings fans stared at the television, shocked and silent. The Miami fan – who had been quite drunk by kickoff – began to cackle. Every two minutes, he’d turn to one of us and shake his head. “I feel for ya,” he’d say, “but I can’t reach ya!”

Sometime after eleven o’clock, the game ended, with Mr. Miami still cackling drunkenly. The final score was Miami 24, Minnesota 7. The four of us who’d driven down in the Volkswagen collected our stuff and headed out. The others decided to stay until the morning. We were a glum quartet driving north through the German night, unhappy and baffled that the Vikings had been taken apart so convincingly. Eventually, my buddy Dewey and I dozed in the back seat.

Sometime in the middle of the night, we stopped for gas and a quick meal at one of the service plazas along the autobahn. We sat in the nearly deserted snack bar, eating bowls of gulaschsuppe, a thick soup made of beef and onions in a paprika sauce. As he finished his bowl, Dewey grinned sleepily at me across the table. “I feel for ya,” he said, “but I can’t reach ya!”

I shook my head and rolled my eyes, and the other two fellows snorted. A few minutes later, we left the restaurant and got back in the car, on our way home to Fredericia.

Jesse Colin Young – Light Shine (1974)

As long as I was writing about 1974, I thought I’d share an album from that year. Jesse Colin Young was the founder of the Youngbloods, who had a series of successful albums in the 1960s and early 1970s. Their gentle folk rock was augmented – especially on their later albums – with a light touch of California psychedelica. They were a consistently good – if never truly great – group, producing fine albums and hitting the Top Five in 1969 with their great single, “Get Together.” Their best albums were probably The Youngbloods from 1967 and Elephant Mountain from 1969.

The group faded away in the early 1970s amid a series of personnel changes and a confusing cluster of album releases. At about the same time, Young resumed a solo career that had started in the mid-1960s. His earnest folk-rock of the earlier time had transformed itself into what I tend to call post-hippie California singer-songwriter material. (The terminology is meant only a description, not a put-down; it’s a genre I like pretty well.) Young’s first post-Youngbloods release was 1972’s Together, which collected some originals with some of his favorite songs from others, like Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” and the country standard, “Six Days on the Road.”

In 1973, Youngblood released Song for Juli, much of which was original, and then in 1974, he released Light Shine, an album made up of nearly all original songs, with only the traditional tune, “The Cuckoo” not being a Young composition. It was the first of Young’s albums to reach the Top 40 charts, reaching No. 37. (In 1975, Songbird went to No. 26, and 1976’s On the Road got to No. 34.)

Light Shine is a pleasant album, with a light and airy sound, and it includes some accomplished instrumental passages. If the songs seem a little insubstantial at times, I get the feeling that the sense of the album was more important to Young than was the actual content. The first four tracks – Side One in the vinyl configuration – were listed as a “California Suite,” although there seems little to unite them except their sound. The fourth of those – the hippie-ish anthem “Light Shine” – had been included on the Youngblood’s Good and Dusty in 1971, but I think it works better here.

California Suite: California Child
California Suite: Grey Day
California Suite: Grey Day, Pt. 2
California Suite: Light Shine
Pretty and the Fair
Motorcycle Blues
The Cuckoo

Jesse Colin Young – Light Shine [1974]

A Baker’s Dozen From 1974

April 18, 2011

Originally posted May 7, 2007

Well, we’re back from a long road trip, some 3,200 miles from Minnesota to Texas and back (with a side trip into the Ozarks along the way home).

The Texas Gal and I both love to travel, but it can get exhausting. For health reasons, I have to supply my own towels and bedding when I travel, so we have to carry more luggage than most folks would. And we’re both in our fifties and are slowing down just a little, so it takes a little longer to settle down for the nights and to pack up in the mornings than it used to. We got home exhausted on Saturday and spent most of Sunday doing laundry and putting things away.

But it was a good trip, and the Texas Gal is a good traveling partner. Our senses of humor are pretty congruent, so we find the same things funny. On the way to Texas, we took an ill-advised alternate route that likely added a hundred miles to our trek to Garland, the suburb outside Dallas where the Texas Gal’s family lives. That lengthened the second day of the trip, which was an annoyance, but it also brought us through Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

As we headed south on the town’s main drag, I glanced to the side and saw the marvelously named breakfast place: “Wonder Waffles.” We were laughing about that as I jotted it into our travel journal, and we passed the “Bel-Air Motel,” which looked like it hadn’t been upgraded since, oh, 1972. We wondered who would go to meet whom at the Bel-Air?

And then a car zipped by on our right with the vanity plate KIMMISU. We puzzled over it for a moment. Kimm is u? We shook our heads. Then the Texas Gal said “Kimmi Su! It’s her name!”

We never got a look at her. She stayed a car length or two ahead of us for a mile or so, and then turned off into a Wal-Mart parking lot. But we created Kimmi Su’s story as we followed.

We could see her in our minds: short, lithe and blonde, heading across town after a long syrupy shift at Wonder Waffles. Maybe there’s a husband, maybe there’s a boyfriend, but neither of them is the fellow she’s planning to meet at the Bel-Air Motel. His name is Billy Joe or Jimmy Bob or something that sounds just right for Okmulgee, Oklahoma. He has plans to leave town, and she needs to persuade him to take her with. And as she turns off the highway, Kimmi Su sighs and shakes her head, wishing for about the hundredth time that Okmulgee had a Victoria’s Secret instead of a Wal-Mart to make easier her task of persuading Billy Joe/Jimmy Bob to take her with him when he goes.

I swear there’s a country song in there.

There’s no country song in today’s Baker’s Dozen, but the first song could easily be one that Kimmi Su and Billy Joe/Jimmy Bob sing to each other during their good times. It’s also the one that Kimmi Su would no doubt hum quietly on rare occasions after Billy Joe/Jimmy Bob is gone, with a distant look and just the hint of a tear and a smile at the same time.

“A Love Like Yours (Don’t Come Knockin’ Every Day)” by Nilsson & Cher, Warner-Spector single 0402

“Midnight At The Oasis” by Maria Muldaur from Maria Muldaur

“Light Shine” by Jesse Colin Young from Light Shine

“Boogie On, Reggae Woman” by Stevie Wonder from Fulfillingness’ First Finale

“(It’s All Da-Da-Down To) Goodnight Vienna” by Ringo Starr from Goodnight Vienna

“I’ve Been Searching” by O. V. Wright, Back Beat single 631

“Don’t Change Horses (In the Middle of a Stream)” by Tower of Power from Back to Oakland

“East St. Louis Toodle-oo” by Steely Dan from Pretzel Logic

“Please Be With Me” by Eric Clapton from 461 Ocean Boulevard

“Bad Loser” by Fleetwood Mac from Heroes Are Hard To Find

“Song For All Seasons” by Just Others from Amalgam

“What Comes Around (Goes Around)” by Dr. John from Desitively Bonnaroo

“Rock & Roll Heaven” by the Righteous Brothers, Haven single 7002

A few notes about today’s Baker’s Dozen:

The first song was a happy surprise to me when I came across it a month or so ago. Despite his perpetual weirdness, Spector’s genius produced classic record after classic record. But I was unaware of this collaboration between Nilsson and Cher, never having seen it on a compilation. The Back to Mono box set has Ike and Tina Turner performing the same song. But Nilsson and Cher do the song justice, too.

“Light Shine” from Jesse Colin Young is a delicious piece of California sugar. Young, the founder of the Youngbloods, seemed to view life in the mid- to late-1970s from a groovy hilltop just outside San Francisco (or maybe from a hot tub in Marin County), and his albums became a little repetitious. But taken piece by piece, his salutes to post-hippie bliss are quite enjoyable, and this may be the best of them.

The source of O.V. Wright’s “I’ve Been Searching” is clear from the first note: the studios of Hi Records in Memphis. With the same sweaty groove and popping horns as the best work of Al Green, the listener hears Willie Mitchell’s fingerprints all over this song. And if Wright never became as famous as his label-mate, well, that won’t keep us from hearing the pain in Wright’s tale and feeling the groove as he and the choir mourn his isolation.

“Please Be With Me,” off Eric Clapton’s 461 Ocean Boulevard is a sweet tune, nicely done with a backing vocal by Yvonne Elliman. It’s more notable, I think, for its source: A group called Cowboy recorded the song – its composer, Scott Boyer, was a member of Cowboy – in August 1971 at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios with Duane Allman playing dobro.

Just Others’ album, Amalgam, was a delightful piece of British folk that had a very limited release in 1974. From what I’ve read, it’s possible that only one copy of the original 250 has ever turned up, but one was enough to be a source for a limited CD release.  It’s a fascinating story and a lovely piece of work.

As always, bit rates will vary. Enjoy!

(I’ve inverted my normal week’s postings by putting the Baker’s Dozen at the start of the week. Being just back from vacation, I didn’t have an album ripped for today and have too many post-vacation tasks on my agenda today. I hope to have a newly ripped album for Wednesday.)