Posts Tagged ‘Justin Hayward & John Lodge’

‘If I Was You, I’d Harvest . . .’

July 13, 2011

Originally posted June 89, 2008

I got some good advice from my grandfather at least once.

I was twenty, and I’d recently returned from my time in Denmark. While I’d been gone, I’d grown my first beard and mustache, kind of by default. I’d been packing my backpack for a trip during a December quarter break, and I decided that I could save a little room by not packing my razor – a Schick injector, if I remember correctly – and the other things needed to shave. So I headed off into Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, looking scruffier by the day, at least until the growth progressed enough to be considered a beard and mustache.

As I said, I was twenty, and the resulting foliage wasn’t lush. The mustache was okay, but the beard stayed pretty much confined to my jaw line; my cheeks were barren. But it was a lot easier not having to shave every day, especially during those times when I was wandering, living out of a backpack.

I came home in May, and a few days afterward (just days before I entered the hospital, which I wrote about the other day), I saw my grandparents – my mom’s folks – for the first time in almost nine months. My grandfather was eighty-two and had been a farmer all his life. He came up to me, looked closely at the growth on my face. He tugged at it lightly.

Then he nodded and said, “If I was you, I’d harvest this crop, fertilize and hope for better next year.”

It was another year and a half before I took his advice. I shaved off that first beard in December 1975, when I was interning in the sports department of a Twin Cities television station; I thought that being clean-shaven might increase the chances of getting some airtime and perhaps even getting a job. I kept the mustache, though.

And for the next twelve years or so, the beard came and went. I grew one a few years into my time at the Monticello newspaper and shaved it off one hot July day a couple years later. I let it grow out again during graduate school in Missouri and shaved it off about the time I moved back to Minnesota. And when I was teaching in Minot, I quit shaving during the 1987 Thanksgiving break, and that beard has stayed with me for more than twenty years now. And throughout all that, the mustache has stayed; my upper lip last felt a razor on December 5, 1973.

One of the things that means, of course, is that the Texas Gal – whom I met in 2000 – has never seen me clean-shaven. She occasionally suggests that she’d like to. I think about it, and I might shave for her someday. But as I’m not at all interested in shaving every day ever again, so I’d only grow it back right away. And the mustache would stay, no matter what.

The beard did fill in during my twenties, covering my cheeks quite nicely. But it’s no longer brown. I could call it “salt and pepper,” but only if I were willing to admit that whoever seasoned it used a lot more salt than pepper. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty good beard. I think Grandpa would be proud of the crop.

Here’s a Baker’s Dozen from 1975. We’ll start with the record that was No. 1 the week I first took my grandfather’s advice.

A Baker’s Dozen from 1975, Vol. 3
“Let’s Do It Again” by the Staple Singers, Curtom single 0109

“I Dreamed Last Night” by Justin Hayward & John Lodge from Blue Jays

“Arkansas Line” by Elvin Bishop, Capricorn single 0237

“As Surely As I Stand Here” by Tower of Power from In The Slot

“Naked in the Rain” by David Crosby & Graham Nash from Wind On The Water

“All About Love” by Earth, Wind & Fire from That’s The Way Of The World

“Pick Up The Pieces” by Doris Duke from Woman

“Livin’ For The Weekend” by the O’Jays from Family Reunion

“End of the Line” by Roxy Music from Siren

“Love Is Alive” by Gary Wright, Warner Brothers single 8143

“Lonelier Are Fools” by the Three Degrees from With Love

“It Makes No Difference” by The Band from Northern Lights – Southern Cross

“Fight the Power” by the Isley Brothers, T-Neck single 2256

A few notes:

“Let’s Do It Again” was the title song from a soundtrack written by Curtis Mayfield. After the success of Superfly in 1971, Mayfield composed a series of soundtracks that were generally pretty good, most of them much better than the films they backed. Let’s Do It Again, which I’ve never seen, starred Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, John Amos, Ossie Davis and Jimmie Walker. Oh, and that odd noise at the start of the song? It’s supposed to be that way. I pulled out the vinyl this morning and checked.

Blue Jays was one of several projects by members of the Moody Blues that surfaced in the mid-1970s. The group took a break after 1972’s Seventh Sojourn that lasted until 1978 and the release of Octave. Other albums came from Ray Thomas, the Graeme Edge Band and Mike Pinder. (There may be some I’m forgetting.) Of the various projects, I think Blue Jays turned out the best.

Doris Duke, a deep soul singer who’d been recording since the mid-1960s, released Woman on the Scepter label in the U.S. after it had been released on Contempo in Britain. While not up the quality of her 1969 album, I’m A Loser (recorded at Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia, and released on the soon-to-fail Canyon label), Woman, according to Jason Ankeny of All-Music Guide, is a “much-acclaimed set.” His fellow AMG reviewer, Andrew Hamilton says, however, “If you play this LP once, there’s no need to play it again; you didn’t miss anything the first time, and it doesn’t get any better the second time around.” Who’s right? I lean toward Ankeny’s assessment; it’s a pretty good record.

If I’m in the right mood, I generally enjoy hearing Roxy Music’s work, at least one track at a time. If I listen to entire albums – with the exception of 1982’s Avalon – the group’s music sounds cold and fussy. Siren seems less that way than the rest of the group’s 1970s output, I guess. But it still feels as if I’m listening to the group through a closed window, a barrier that the musicians aren’t the least bit interested in getting past.

“It Makes No Difference” was one of the last great songs The Band recorded during its original incarnation – “Acadian Driftwood,” also on Northern Lights – Southern Cross, is one as well – and one of the last great songs that Robbie Robertson wrote (nothing in his solo career has come close to the songs he wrote for The Band). One of The Band’s strengths was the ability to match a song with the appropriate voice, and here, Rick Danko’s yearning tenor – echoed by Garth Hudson’s soprano saxophone solo – fits perfectly. This track can melt your heart.

A Baker’s Dozen From 1975

April 18, 2011

Orginally posted April 4, 2007

I came across the soundtrack to the movie Dazed and Confused the other day, and Texas Gal poked her head into the room as I was listening to the Edgar Winter Group’s “Free Ride.”

“I can’t tell you how many times I heard that at the roller rink,” she said with a grin. “See, this is the stuff you should be posting!” And she stood there listening, as I previewed some of the rest of the soundtrack: “No More Mister Nice Guy,” by Alice Cooper, “Balinese” by ZZ Top and “Lord Have Mercy On My Soul” by Black Oak Arkansas all got approving nods, but her largest smile came when she heard Head East and “Never Been Any Reason.”

I smiled, too. Not long after we met in early 2000, Texas Gal told me of her long-standing affection for the Head East anthem. Oddly enough, I’d never heard it, but then, I’d never spent much time listening to arena rock; for the most part, that was a genre of music that left me cold, although I did like Boston’s first album. But I let most arena rock pass me by, content in the middle of the 1970s with the Allman Brothers Band, Fleetwood Mac, Boz Scaggs and things a little less raucous than Head East and their brethren.

Texas Gal moved to Minnesota later in 2000, and not long after her move, I surprised her with a vinyl copy of Head East’s Flat As A Pancake, the home of “Never Been Any Reason.” It was a decent anthem, I acknowledged, if not to my exact taste. For her, she told me, it was a memory of some of the misspent moments of her younger days.

So when I played “Never Been Any Reason” for her last weekend as I sampled the Dazed and Confused soundtrack, she asked why I didn’t post it or use it as the start of a Baker’s Dozen. I told her I certainly could, as long as it didn’t come from 1976, as I recently posted a sampler from that year. I checked it out, and Flat As A Pancake was released in 1975.

So here is a Baker’s Dozen from that year, starting with a tune for my Texas Gal:

“Never Been Any Reason” by Head East from Flat As A Pancake

“A Day To Myself” by Clifford T. Ward from Escalator

“Marcy’s Song (She’s Just a Picture)” by Jackson Frank, unreleased session

“Reasons” by Earth, Wind & Fire from That’s The Way Of The World

“Nights Winters Years” by Justin Hayward & John Lodge from Bluejays

“Union Man” by the Cate Brothers from Cate Brothers

“You Don’t Know My Mind” by Tony Rice from California Autumn

“She’s The One” by Bruce Springsteen from Born To Run

“Somewhere In The Night” by Helen Reddy, Capitol single 4192

“Night Game” by Paul Simon from Still Crazy After All These Years

“Aviation Man” by Tim Moore from Tim Moore

“Pegasus” by the Allman Brothers Band from Enlightened Rogues*

“Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris, Atlantic single 3248

Some things of note: the late Clifford T. Ward was one of Britain’s finest and – on this side of the Atlantic, anyway – least known singer-songwriters. Quiet, tasteful and thoughtful, his music can entrance. The same can be said for American Tim Moore, whose self-titled album from this year of 1975 should have been a massive hit. That it wasn’t is more our loss than his.

More tragic is the tale of the late Jackson C. Frank, whose single album, Blues Run The Game, came out in 1965.

And then there’s Major Harris and “Love Won’t Let Me Wait,” with its background of some lovely lady cooing and moaning. It was quite the sensation in its time.

*Enlightened Rogues is, of course, from 1979. Somehow, “Pegasus” was mistagged. Stuff happens.