Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Newbury’

Authors On The Cards

June 1, 2022

Originally posted October 9, 2009

While waiting for the Texas Gal to get home yesterday afternoon, I was wandering around the Web and found myself at one of my favorite sites, Find A Grave, a site that catalogs the resting places of people both famous and not. I can spend hours there, wandering through lists of folks buried in Massachusetts or in Hungary or anywhere else on the planet. I’ve seen in person a few of the graves of famous folk listed at the site. I hope to see a few more someday, and I have a few regrets that years ago, I was near several famous cemeteries and did not visit them.

Anyway, I somehow wound up looking at the entry for the tomb of Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson on the island of Samoa. (You can read the epitaph carved on his tomb – a favorite of mine – here.) I glanced at the picture of Stevenson at Find A Grave (a cropped version is shown here) and I thought to myself, “Yes, that’s about what his picture looked like on the playing cards.”

The card game was Authors, and my sister and I played it frequently when we were kids. The deck was made up of forty-four fifty-two cards, with each card representing a work by one of thirteen famous authors. The game had the players collect complete sets of four cards for each author, and the player who collected the most sets – called “books” – was the winner. Robert Louis Stevenson was one of the eleven thirteen authors in the game, and his portrait on the cards did in fact look a lot like the picture at Find A Grave and other portraits of him that can be found online.

I once had two copies of the Authors card game, the slightly battered copy my sister and I played with for years and another copy that had never been used, but I don’t think I have them anymore. I believe they were included when I took five or six boxes of my childhood toys to an antique dealer about five years ago. (If my childhood toys are antiques, what does that make me?) And if I still have one of those copies of Authors, it’s somewhere in a box on the basement shelves, and I have no idea which box.

But I wondered, as I looked at Stevenson’s picture, if I could remember the thirteen authors whose works were used as cards in the game. I began a list:

William Shakespeare
Charles Dickens
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sir Walter Scott
Louisa May Alcott
Robert Louis Stevenson
James Fenimore Cooper
Washington Irving
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Mark Twain

And there I stopped. Ten down, three to go. As we ate dinner and watched an hour or so of television, I let the question lie, knowing that sometimes information rises when it’s not being tugged at. I went back to my list later in the evening and got no further. Hoping to jog my memory, I went to a list of those buried or commemorated in the Poets Corner of Westminster Abbey in London. And I found one name, an American poet memorialized there.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There my list stops. I cannot recall the names of the last two authors from the card game. And I cannot find a list of the thirteen online. Does anyone out there know? [See Afternote below.]

I have only one song with the word “author” in the title, so I skipped past it and went to the word that describes what authors do:

A Six-Pack of Write
“Nothing to Write Home About” by Colin Hare from March Hare [1972]
“Paper to Write On” by Crabby Appleton from Rotten to the Core [1971]
“Write Me A Few Of Your Lines/Kokomo Blues” by Bonnie Raitt from Takin’ My Time [1973]
“Why Don’t You Write Me” by Punch from Punch [1969]
“Write A Song A Song/Angeline” by Mickey Newbury from Looks Like Rain [1969]
“I’m Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter)” by Frank Sinatra and Count Basie from Sinatra-Basie [1962]

I found Colin Hare’s March Hare at Time Has Told Me, which notes that the album “is a UK troubadour classic which still sounds fresh and innovative today.” Hare – little known in the U.S. even at the time – was a member of Honeybus, handling rhythm guitar and vocals. (All-Music Guide says of Honeybus: “[T]hey came very close, in the eyes of the critics, to being Decca Records’ answer to the Rubber Soul-era Beatles,” an astounding statement that tells me that perhaps I should dig into the Honeybus catalog.) Hare’s own discography at AMG lists March Hare and two albums from 2008 that I know nothing about. March Hare is decent listening, and “Nothing to Write Home About” is quirky enough that it stands out when it pops up from time to time.

Most folks recall Crabby Appleton from the group’s very good single, “Go Back,” which slid into the Top 40 and came to rest at No. 36 in the summer of 1971. That was the group’s only hit, and in search of another, says AMG, the group tried on a harder sound for its second album, Rotten to the Core, “veering off into boogie rock and heavier Zeppelin-esque romps, twice removed from the plaintive power pop and conga-driven rock of their debut.” That makes “Paper to Write On,” with its plaintive country sound, an even more odd choice for the Crabbies. I like it, but it reminds me (and AMG agrees) of the Flying Burrito Brothers. That’s not a bad thing, but for a group like Crabby Appleton trying to cement an identity, it seems strange.

I don’t have to say a lot about Bonnie Raitt except that she’s one of my favorites. Takin’ My Time was her third album (and the track “Guilty” was the first Bonnie Raitt tune I ever heard). Both “Write Me A Few Of Your Lines” and “Kokomo Blues” were credited to Mississippi Fred McDowell, although “Kokomo Blues” has also been credited in other places to Kokomo Arnold and Scrapper Blackwell.

I found Punch’s delightful cover of Paul Simon’s “Why Don’t You Write Me” at Redtelephone66, where I’ve found gem after gem in the past few years. (Thanks, Leonard!) I find it interesting that Punch released the song on its self-titled album in 1969 while the Simon & Garfunkel version didn’t come out until 1970 with the release of Bridge Over Troubled Water. Technically, that means that Simon & Garfunkel’s version is a cover.

The haunting “Write A Song A Song/Angeline” is the opening track to Mickey Newbury’s equally haunting album Looks Like Rain, which is one of those records that you wonder how the world missed when it came out. But then, I’m tempted to say the same thing about a lot of Newbury’s work. He wasn’t exactly unknown, but . . .

The awkwardly titled “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down (And Write Myself A Letter)” comes from one of several projects that Frank Sinatra did with Count Basie and his orchestra. As time moves on, I find myself more and more appreciating the Sinatra catalog, listening more and more to the work he did in the 1950s and early 1960s. I imagine that any list ever compiled of the essential entertainers in American music history would have Frank Sinatra’s name at or very close to the top. (I’m not even going to try – writing as I am on the fly – to figure out who else would be in the Top Ten.)

Based on a post with two accompanying pictures that I found at another blog, I have to assume that our game only had eleven authors in it, as opposed to the thirteen authors I’ve seen mentioned other places. The game we played came in the blue box with Shakespeare’s picture on it, just as pictured at Bachelor at Wellington. In other words, I remembered ten of the eleven on my own, and needed a reminder only for Longfellow.

Note from 2022: The photo and website referenced above are no longer available. Below is a similar photo of the author cards and a photo of the blue box.

Three Months Of Music!

May 18, 2022

Originally posted August 31, 2009

I added a bit of music to the player this weekend, pulling in some CD and vinyl rips of my own, adding some that were passed on to me by friends, and gathering a few from some blogs and boards. And when I was done tinkering with the tags and loaded the new tunes into the player, I saw that the music in the player now has a running time of 2,501 hours, twenty-four minutes and one second.

That means that if I started playing mp3s right now – at 6:58 a.m. Central Daylight Time on August 31, I wouldn’t have to repeat one until 11:22 a.m. Central Standard Time on December 13.

If I played them in order of running time, I’d start out with a question from the HAL 9000 computer in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, “Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?” And I’d finish my listening with a beginning-to-end playing of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon from 1973.

If I were to play the mp3s in alphabetical order by title, I’d start out with several songs whose titles include quotation marks, with the first one being “?” from the self-titled 1968 album by the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble. After about eleven minutes – and four more tracks whose titles are encased in quotation marks – I’d switch punctuation marks and hear “#1 With a Heartache” by Barbi Benton. Just more than a hundred and four days from now, I’d close my listening with “Zydeco Ya Ya” by the Mumbo Jumbo Voodoo Combo from its 1994 album Tools of the Trade.

And if I were to sort the files alphabetically by performer, my first tune would be “Frequent Flyer” by A Camp, a side project started in 1997 by the Cardigans’ Nina Persson and Atomic Swing’s Niclas Frisk and then completed and released in 2001 with additional work from Shudder to Think’s Nathan Larson and Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous. My listening would end with “Legs,” the 1984 record from ZZ Top.

But all of those are too monumental to think about, so for this morning’s listening, I’m just going to let the RealPlayer choose six songs, mostly randomly, from the years 1950-1999 (with the caveat that if a song is a little too odd or something that’s been posted here recently, I’ll pass it by). Here goes:

A Random Six-Pack For Monday
“Touch and Gone” by Gary Wright, Warner Bros. 8494 [1978]
“Baby’s Not Home” by Mickey Newbury from I Came To Hear The Music [1974]
“You’re the Boss” by B.B. King and Ruth Brown from Blues Summit [1993]
“How Many More Years” by Howlin’ Wolf, Chess 1479 [1951]
“Behind the Mask” by Fleetwood Mac from Behind the Mask [1990]
“R U 4 Real” by Dr. John from Desitively Bonnaroo [1974]

Gary Wright’s early 1978 single, “Touch and Gone,” was more up-tempo than the two 1976 singles that had both reached No. 2 in the U.S. – “Dream Weaver” and “Love Is Alive” – but it had the same sort of synthesizer fills and flourishes that had set those two singles apart from the rest of what we were hearing at the time. Maybe the synth fills were becoming old hat, or maybe listeners didn’t think they worked in an up-tempo setting. Maybe listeners were bored with the one-time member of Spooky Tooth. Or maybe it just wasn’t a very good single. (That last gets my vote.) Whatever the reason, “Touch and Gone” only found its way to No. 73.

The country-folk waltz of Mickey Newbury’s “Baby’s Not Home” fits neatly into much of what Newbury did during his long career. (Newbury passed on in 2002.) It’s country, though not nearly so countrified as some of the more lush recordings Newbury released on I Came To Hear The Music as well as on other albums. It’s full of regret, an emotion that seems to run deeply through almost everything of Newbury’s I’ve ever heard. And it’s got a little bit of a surprise ending; Newbury may not have actually used a lot of surprise endings, but for some reason, his doing so here is entirely congruent with my sense of his music and might even been seen as emotionally manipulative. All that aside, “Baby’s Not Here” and the album it came from are good pieces of work. Nevertheless – like much that Newbury did during his life – they got very little notice.

“You’re the Boss,” the sassy duet by B.B. King and Ruth Brown (“Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean” and other 1950s R&B hits), is among the highlights of King’s 1993 CD. The song itself has an interesting lineage. It was written by the peerless team of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and was first recorded – if I read my sources correctly – as a duet between Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret in 1963 for use in the 1964 film Viva Las Vegas. For whatever reason, the song wasn’t included in the movie and went unreleased for a few years.  The first sign at All-Music Guide of the recording showing up is on a 1971 Presley compilation titled Collector’s Gold, and from the snippet offered there, it sounds as if Elvis and Ann-Margret did a pretty sassy version of the song, too.

There’s nothing that’s gonna wake you up more on a Monday morning than a good tough blues from Howlin’ Wolf, and “How Many More Years” fills the bill.

I’ve dissed Behind the Mask here before, and it’s true that highlights were relatively few on the first album Fleetwood Mac put together after Lindsey Buckingham left the group (with Billy Burnette and Rick Vito joining). But to me, Christine McVie’s title tune is one of those highlights, with its haunted sound built atop the always stellar foundation of John McVie’s bass and Mick Fleetwood’s drumming. The wordless male chorus at the end might be a bit too forward in the mix, though.

All-Music Guide doesn’t think much of Dr. John’s Desitively Bonnaroo: “When you latch onto a hit formula, don’t mess with it, and that is just what the doctor ordered with Desitively Bonnaroo. With installment number three of Dr. John’s funky New Orleans-styled rock & roll, trying to strike gold again proved elusive. There wasn’t the big hit single this time around to help boost sales, and the tunes were starting to sound a little too familiar. While not a carbon copy of his previous releases, Desitively Bonnaroo was a disappointment to his fans. Good as it was, it was the end of an era for Dr. John and his type of music.” Well, maybe so, but when the good doctor’s tunes pop up one at a time, as they do on random play, they’re still pretty funky and a whole lot of fun.

I Was Right . . . and I Was Wrong
I said Friday during my discussion of Linda Ronstadt’s “Long Long Time” that I knew from looking at a photo of the record label that the 45 ran less than three minutes, a statement I amended when Yah Shure said that the record ran 3:06. It turns out I was right and wrong at the same time. I sent Yah Shure a copy of the 45 label I’d looked at, and I got a note in reply on Saturday:

“The label on my stock copy of ‘Long Long Time’ looks like the scan you’d sent and also states 2:59, but the actual length is 3:06.  For disc jockey purposes, 2:59 would be about right.  Never trust the printed times on 45 labels, though.  Record companies routinely misstated the times in order to get records added to the playlists of those stations that refused to play anything over, say, three minutes.

“In radio, the problem with misstated label times came when it was time to cart the record up for airplay.  Since typical cart lengths for music purposes ran in half-minute increments (2:30, 3:00, 3:30, etc.) trying to fit what was actually a 3:05 45 labeled as “2:55” onto a three-minute cart often became an exercise in cursing out the record label in question, when the ruse wasn’t discovered until after three-plus minutes of production room time had already ticked off of the clock.  That meant having to re-erase the too-short cart, finding a suitable longer one, erasing it, re-cueing the record, and . . . take two.”

Chart Digging, March 1973

March 4, 2015

Yesterday came and went, bringing with it a storm that left three inches or so of wet, heavy snow. My day included a drive to my mother’s place through said storm with essential supplies, two stints of shoveling the walk and not a single word readied for this blog.

But I did spend some time digging around in the Billboard Hot 100 and its attendant Bubbling Under records from March 3, 1973. (I had to resurrect the Bubbling Under portion of the chart from information online; whoever transcribed the charts I once found in a crevice somewhere on the ’Net occasionally neglected to include that often fascinating portion of many charts.) And most of the records in that Bubbling Under section from that long-ago March 3 were utterly unknown to me.

There are probably two reasons for that lack of familiarity: They generally didn’t rise very high in the chart, and I wasn’t really listening to Top 40 in that season anyway, except for the brief times I was in the car. But from a distance of forty-two years, the reasons why I didn’t hear them back then don’t matter. What matters is that through the amazing numbers of old and rather obscure records posted on YouTube by music geeks like me, I’ve heard them now.

Bobby Goldsboro has popped up in these precincts on occasion. I recall my surprise at how much I liked “Summer (The First Time),” which went to No. 21 in the summer of 1973, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere during the past eight years how much I detest the bathetic “Honey,” which was No. 1 for five weeks on the pop chart and for two weeks on the Easy Listening chart in 1968. And I was pleasantly surprised as I listened to “Brand New Kind Of Love” yesterday. I can’t quite figure out what it reminds me of, but there’s something similar poking its way through the dust on my memory’s shelves. Or maybe it just sounds like 1973, which is always a welcome sound around here. Anyway, in the first week of March 1973, “Brand New Kind Of Love” was sitting at No. 125 in its first week of bubbling. It hung around for six weeks, peaking at No. 116.

Any record that starts out “Hello, Mrs. Johnson, you self-righteous woman,” is worth a listen or two around here, and Cal Smith’s country hit “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking” is one I’ve played more than that in the last day or so. Smith’s record was sitting at No. 115 during the first days of March in 1973, and would eventually get up to No. 64 (and to No. 1 on the country chart). The tale of the less-than-righteous calling out the self-righteous is a classic country music device, of course. The one that comes most quickly to mind is Jeannie C. Riley’s “Harper Valley P.T.A.,” in which the narrator’s momma takes on, as she calls them, the “Harper Valley hypocrites.” Smith’s irritation, however, lands solely on Mrs. Johnson even as he acknowledges that his moral shortcomings need some attention: “Me and the good Lord will have us a good talk later tonight.”

“Just get back! That’s where it’s at” is the chant that closes “Back Up” by the Manhattans, which was perched at No. 107 during the first days of that long-ago March. Slinky, funky and cool, “Back Up” was the twelfth single the New Jersey group had gotten in or near the Hot 100 since 1965, with none of them going higher than No. 68. They’d been a presence on the R&B chart, but with only one Top Ten hit: “One Life To Live” in 1972. In a few years, of course, the Manhattans would top the pop chart (and the R&B chart) with “Kiss And Say Goodbye,” and in 1980, they’d make the Top 5 on both charts with “Shining Star.” That was yet to come, however, and “Back Up” bubbled no higher and peaked at No. 19 on the R&B chart.

Mickey Newbury’s name showed up in this space a number of times during this blog’s first few years, but it’s been absent since 2010. I’m not sure why that’s the case, for Newbury – who passed on in 2002 – is pretty high on my list of performers who have been hugely overlooked. His “American Trilogy” – a medley of “Dixie,” “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic” and “All My Trials” – went to No. 26 in early 1972, and a year later, Elektra released the title track of his Heaven Help The Child album as a single. It was bubbling under at No. 106 in that chart of March 3, 1973, and in another three weeks, it went up only to No. 103 before going away. It’s a gorgeous piece. Here’s how it sounded on the album:

Catching Up With Mickey Newbury

October 12, 2011

Originally posted December 8, 2008

I was always a step or two behind Rick when it came to music.

When we were in our early teens in the mid-1960s, it seemed as if he knew all the titles of all the songs on the radio and the performers who recorded them. I, as I’ve said here before, knew a few and those just the most obvious: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Supremes and a couple of the other Motown acts that were inescapable. A kid would’ve had to be from Mars not to recognize songs by those folks.

And there were times I felt as if I were from Mars or some other place equally distant, as lost as I sometimes felt when we sat somewhere with the radio playing. Eventually, as I’ve written before, I shifted my ears and got my card stamped so I could rummage around in Top 40, becoming familiar – as 1969 turned into 1970 – with almost all of the stuff playing on the radio.

At the same time, Rick was skipping ahead. Oh, he listened to Top 40 as I did and knew that area of the music universe as well as I was coming to know it. But he was also beginning to dig into areas of the rock world that I had no clue existed. He was one of the first people I know who talked about Gram Parsons and his work with the International Submarine Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He was the only person I knew back in 1970 with a copy of the Byrds’ amazing 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. One night as we were listening to a radio station from someplace far away, we heard the strains of Mason Proffit’s “Two Hangmen.” The song astounded me; Rick already knew it.

And one day in late 1971, as we were doing nothing useful over at his house, Rick put on a 45 he’d bought recently: “An American Trilogy” by Mickey Newbury. The gentle and bittersweet melding of “Dixie,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “All My Trials” was so good that I had him play it twice. “I gotta get the album this comes from,” Rick told me. “I gotta.”

I don’t know if he ever did. Our paths diverged during the years I was in college, while he finished high school and began to find his own way into his adult years. I honestly forgot about Mickey Newbury for the most part, though he came to mind as I cringed whenever I happened to hear Elvis Presley’s bombastic take on “An American Trilogy.” Then, in August 2001, in a suburban Twin Cities thrift shop, I came across In A New Age, a 1988 CD that includes a live version of “An American Trilogy” and some other very nice tracks.

That put Newbury back on my watch list of performers. I learned that the 1971 album that included the trilogy, ’Frisco Mabel Joy, was released on CD in 2000 but it’s evidently out of print. I saw one copy offered through GEMM this morning that was priced at something more than $58. (There is some Newbury on vinyl out on the ’Net, but the sheer numbers of titles on my watch list mean I’ve never gotten around to buying any of it. I don’t think I’ve ever run into any of Newbury’s albums in the stores I’ve haunted over the years; if I had, they’d be on my shelves.)

And it was about a year ago that I came across a rip of ’Frisco Mabel Joy. I’m not sure where I found it, but it’s a good enough album that – after “The Future’s Not What It Used To Be” popped up the other day – I thought I should share it.

I’m not sure whether you’d call Newbury – who died in 2002 – a folk-singer, a country artist or a singer-songwriter. His influences seemed to come from all of those genres, and all are reflected in his music. And the man could write a song.

I still don’t know the album as well as I’d like to. Even so, some songs stick out. My favorites from ’Frisco Mabel Joy are the melancholy “Frisco Depot,” “How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song)” and the song from which the album’s title comes, “San Francisco Mabel Joy.” (Newbury recorded versions of “San Francisco Mabel Joy” on three albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s and included a new version on In A New Age in 1988.)

An American Trilogy
How Many Times (Must The Piper Be Paid For His Song)
The Future’s Not What It Used To Be
Mobile Blue
Frisco Depot
You’re Not My Same Sweet Baby
Interlude No. 2
Remember the Good
Swiss Cottage Place
How I Love Them Old Songs
San Francisco Mabel Joy

Mickey Newbury – ’Frisco Mabel Joy [1971]

How Long Ago It Truly Was

October 12, 2011

Originally posted December 2, 2008

I talked to my mother yesterday as she celebrated her eighty-seventh birthday. She’d been able to get to a meeting of her women’s group for the first time in a while, and she was in good spirits. We chatted briefly about that, about the gifts that the Texas Gal and I had brought her on Saturday, and about plans for the week ahead. After we hung up, I sat at my desk and tried to put into perspective how long ago 1921 actually was.

There are a few ways to do that. One is purely historical: World War I had ended just more than three years earlier and was still known simply as the Great War, as its sequel was still eighteen years in the future. Babe Ruth was twenty-six and had just completed his second season with the New York Yankees. The discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming was still seven years in the future; its widespread use as a literal lifesaver would come some years after that.

Another way of thinking about how removed we are from the year of 1921 is technological. Mom was born in a farmhouse not far from the little town of Wabasso, Minnesota. There was no electricity in the house; more than a decade later, the family was living on another farm near the small town of Lamberton when the area was first wired through the work of the federal Rural Electrification Administration.

I look at the stuff on my desk as I write. The only things on it that would be recognizable to someone visiting from 1921 would be my coffee mug and the small woven mat I use as a coaster, the box of tissues, the case with a pair of eyeglasses, the antique brass urn from India I use as a pen holder, maybe some of the pens (there may be a pencil or two in the holder as well) and a small, flat stone found in the Mississippi River. Everything else, from the computer, the monitor and the CDs to the headphones, the portable telephone and the two plastic pill bottles, would be strange, ranging from the disconcertingly odd to the utterly alien.

I recall a drive in 1975 or so. My folks and I had driven down to Lamberton and were taking my grandfather – my mom’s father – out for dinner for his birthday; the nearest nice restaurant was in the town of Sleepy Eye, about thirty miles away. As we drove along U.S. Highway 14, Grandpa and I looked out the window and saw a jet plane leaving a distant contrail just above the northern horizon. As we watched the airborne white line fade into the blue sky, Grandpa shook his head. “You know,” he said, “I drove away from my wedding in a horse-drawn buggy. And I saw men walk on the moon.”

My mom was born just six years after that horse-and-buggy wedding, and it’s astounding to think of the changes she’s seen – not all of them changes she’s approved of – as she’s lived into the cyber-age. (She doesn’t use a computer, though I occasionally show her something of interest on a computer either at my home or in the library at the assisted living center. She was fascinated by the fact that I could find pictures online of the small town in Germany from which her grandfather emigrated. I occasionally send emails for her to her distant cousins there, and she occasionally buys things on the ’Net with my help.)

And as I wrote this morning, I thought of one other way of putting into perspective how long ago 1921 was, a view that takes into account my own fascination with music history: In 1921, Robert Johnson was ten years old.

A Six-Pack of Futures

“The Future’s Not What It Used To Be” by Mickey Newbury from ’Frisco Mabel Joy, 1971

“Future” by the Panama Limited Jug Band from Indian Summer, 1970

“Future Shock” by Curtis Mayfield from Back To The World, 1973

“Future Games” by Fleetwood Mac from Future Games, 1971

“Future Blues” by Canned Heat from Future Blues, 1970

“The Future” by Leonard Cohen from The Future, 1992

A few notes:

Mickey Newbury’s music has popped up here once before, as an epitaph for Dave Thomson of Blue Rose. Newbury is one of those artists whose work I always intend to share here but always forget about when doing my minimal planning. ’Frisco Mabel Joy is a forgotten gem – some call it country, others folk-rock and still others tag it as singer-songwriter. But it’s a great album, and “The Future’s Not What It Used To Be” is only a taste of it. I’ll try to remember to post the whole album very soon.

Speaking of forgotten, that wasn’t the case with the Panama Limited Jug Band, which supplied the second track here. I hadn’t forgotten the group because, honestly, I’d never heard of them until early this year, when Lisa Sinder at the blog, Ezhevika Fields, posted Indian Summer, the group’s fourth “and best,” Lisa says, album. The whole album is filled with trippy pieces, entirely in synch with the aesthetic of the late 1960s and early 1970s. If I had to categorize the album, I’d call it a poor man’s Jefferson Airplane: Interesting but not nearly as good as the original. “Future” is pretty representative of the album.

The Canned Heat track is an adaptation of a much older blues track, as was a lot of the group’s catalog. In this case, the original recording of “Future Blues” was done in 1930 by Willie Brown, the same Willie Brown whom Robert Johnson name-checked in “Cross Road Blues.” As was typical of their approach, Canned Heat’s members had the tune do some work in the weight room and then put it on speed before sending it out into the world in 1970.

Speaking of typical approaches, the future Leonard Cohen envisions will be one dark and unhappy place to live, at least according to the title song of his 1992 album, The Future. Musically, it’s a fascinating track – as is the entire CD – but lyrically, it’s a downer. Cohen’s songs have never been particularly cheerful, but what’s most fascinating to me about “The Future” is the matter-of-fact delivery that Cohen gives it, as if he’s saying, “Of course the future will be an obscene train-wreck. What else did you expect?”

Mickey & Susan

August 5, 2011

Originally posted September 11, 2008

Well, let’s see if I can get through a short post this morning without making any stupid errors. (Even as I wrote about Richard & Linda Thompson’s song “Walking On A Wire” yesterday, my brain was telling my fingers, “Slow down, it’s not the same song. I know that album.” But my fingers wouldn’t listen. So my brain shrugged its figurative shoulders and went off to figure out how many patio blocks we need for the expanded bricks and boards bookcase here in the new place. My fingers kept on typing, and, well, there you go!)

So what is there at YouTube that connects with this week’s posts?

Well, the first thing I found ties into Tuesday’s post: Here’s a treat from the late Mickey Newbury, a performance of “An American Trilogy” from Live At The Hermitage, a DVD of (I think) a 1994 concert. Most folks associate the medley with Elvis Presley, who made it a featured portion of his concerts, but the trilogy was first recorded and released by Newbury. The single, Elektra 45750, went to No. 26 in 1971.

The individual who posted the video at YouTube notes that in a concert around that time, Newbury created the trilogy by spontaneously combining “a southern anthem (written by a northerner), a northern anthem (written by a southerner), and an old African healing song.”

Well, not quite. “Dixie” (originally published as “Dixie’s Land”) is generally credited to a northerner, Daniel D. Emmett, but “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” – set to pre-existing music – was written by Julia Ward Howe, who was not a southerner but a New York native who lived as an adult in South Boston. As to “All My Trials,” Wikipedia notes that it’s descended from a Bahamian lullaby.

Despite all that, the trilogy is a beautiful piece of music, and Newbury and violinist Marie Rhines do a nice job.

Moving on, here’s Susan Tedeschi and her band performing a strong version of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” on a 2003 episode of Austin City Limits:

Happy Thursday, all. I’m off to buy more patio block!

Calum ‘Dave’ Thomson, 1945-2008

August 5, 2011

Originally posted September 9, 2008

A few months ago, as I wrote about hearing from musicians whose stuff I had posted, I mentioned Dave Thomson of Blue Rose, whose 1972 self-titled album I shared here during the first week of April.

Dave wrote to me when the download link to his band’s album wouldn’t work. I sent him a CD of the album – which he said he’d not heard since the 1980s – and he sent me some pictures of the band (including the photo page above) and a portion of a memoir written by Rick Allen, who played organ for the group. I heard from Dave a couple times more, with him sending me notes about the band’s history and me eventually sending a scan of the record jacket from 1972.

I got a note last night from Dave’s wife, Alice Johnson. She told me she and Dave had enjoyed hearing Blue Rose and had made copies for friends. And she told me that Dave had died August 31.

I did some digging and found an obituary in the Morning Sun, a newspaper published in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan:

Calum David “Dave” Thomson
Jul 4, 1945-Aug 31, 2008

“Calum David ‘Dave’ Thomson, 63, of Shepherd, Michigan, passed away at St. Mary’s Hospital in Saginaw on August 31, 2008. Calum was born in Fort William, Ontario, on July 4th, 1945, to Russell and Jessie (MacMillan) Thomson. A talented musician, Calum entertained people with his music for most of his life. In 2001 Calum moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Michigan where he shared his life with Alice Johnson, whom he married on January 6, 2006, and who survives him.

“Besides his wife, Calum is survived by his father and his father’s companion, Lucille Maneval. He is also survived by three brothers; Kelly, Craig and Kenny, a son Davey, a daughter Sheli and several grandchildren. His step-children, Anita (Wade) Davis and Rob Johnson, as well as his step-grandchildren, Dru and Quinn Carson and Madylin Johnson, will also miss him. Calum was preceded in death by his mother and his brother, Dwight.

“A gathering of friends and family to celebrate Calum’s life will be held at the Shepherd United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall on Saturday, September 6, 2008, from 1 to 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Calum’s name to the charity of your choice.

“Arrangements have been entrusted to the Berry Funeral Home.”

Here’s a picture of Dave during his Blue Rose days:

Obviously, I didn’t know Dave well. But the fact that I knew him at all carries a little bit of weight this morning. And although anything I feel is minimal compared to the loss felt by his family and the others in his life, there is some sorrow here this morning. I never thought for a minute when I started this blog that it would bring me distant friends. It did, though, and now comes the realization that, having gained friends, there will be times when I lose them.

I guess the best I can do for Dave this morning is to share his music again. Here’s Blue Rose, the self-titled album from 1972. (Dave wrote “I’ll Never Be In Love Again,” “Chasin’ The Glow Of A Candle,” “Make You Happy” and “Show You A Way To Have Fun,” and co-wrote, with John Uribe, “Look What We’re Doin’.”)

Track list:
My Impersonal Life
Takin’ Love And Run
I’ll Never Be In Love Again
Debt Of Fools
Chasin’ The Glow Of A Candle
Sweet Thing
Make You Happy
Show You A Way To Have Fun
Look What We’re Doin’

Blue Rose –Blue Rose [1972]

And here’s the single version of “My Impersonal Life,” released as Epic single 10811:

Blue Rose – “My Impersonal Life”

And to close, here’s a track from Mickey Newbury’s 1988 album, In A New Age:

Mickey Newbury – “All My Trials”