Category Archives: Music

The love affair with automobiles

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Experts agree that almost everyone born in the US between 1950 and 1960 was conceived in the back seat of a Ford, General Motors, or Chrysler automobile.  The overwhelming majority of the comparative few exceptions were mainly Studebakers because of the convenience of the suicide-style back doors opening forward to allow more horizontal legroom.   The highest percentages go to the 1949 Ford Club Coupe, the 1954 Chevrolet Sedan, and the 1956 Ford Crown Victoria.

But I’ve digressed.  My point is, almost nobody was conceived in a pickup or passenger car with a floor shift or bucket seats.  And nobody, not one pregnancy resulted from sexual congress in a hotrod.  Which is the reason parents allowed youngsters of the day to build and drive them.  A young man with a hotrod had little time or need to devote himself to the pursuit of female company.

Naturally the music industry approved this means of birth control and tried to the best of its ability to stimulate interest in and sing the virtues of coffins on wheels, speed, running from the law and other non-sexual avenues of endeavor for young men.

Red Foley’s, ‘Hotrod Race‘ was the first of these:

After a tasteful passage of time this was answered by Charlie Ryan’s, ‘Hotrod Lincoln‘, claiming to be the person driving the Model A who passed Foley and the car he’d been racing against in ‘Hotrod Race’.

George Hamilton IV, in “If You Don’t Know” attempted to combine an interest in girls and hot cars by driving a ’54 souped up Ford Deluxe with high compression heads and overdrive, which succeeded for speed but had mixed results with females.

The Beach Boys were a bit late off the starting line with “Little Deuce Coupe” in 1964 because the sexual revolution had come along allowing babies to be conceived elsewhere than the back seats of automobiles.  However, I mention it here to demonstrate the lingering nature of fads, once begun.  Long after hotrods were no longer needed to protect the virtue of young men in the US, the sound of a burned out muffler still caused a faster heartbeat.

Robert Mitchum followed the formula in Ballad of Thunder Road, combining fast cars and running from the cops with filling up the spare space in the automobile with mountain whiskey instead of females.  The song led to many a high-speed chase around the cities of America providing thrills to both police, and teenagers.  And frequently ambulance and hearse drivers.

When the Nash Rambler hit the market nobody mistook it for a cool aphrodisiac setting for launching future generations.  The car was considered ugly, though it appealed so a certain type.  But since it wasn’t for the one thing, it must be for the other.  At least in the minds of the music industry:

Although I doubt many children begin their long journey toward birth in modern automobiles now, there are a lot of similarities to the hotrod part of the 1950s love affair.  People love being seen in Hum Vees and dooley trucks.  Everyone wants a SUV.  And a person still sees the occasional racy sports car.

Mostly today the guys don’t roll up their pants cuffs, though, and some do find themselves attracted to women.

Old Jules

The man who couldn’t cry

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Loudon Wainwright wrote and performed The Man Who Couldn’t Cry without making much of a splash.  Fairly typical of Loudon Wainwright, despite the fact he’s always had my vote for president or anything else he might want to do.

However, Johnny Cash is another man who has always had my vote and I’ll confess he does about as fine a job on the song as Wainwright.  As far as I know those two are the only people who’ve ever performed it.

Think about it.  We live in this amazing time.  The oldest, most musically astute of us probably couldn’t name more than a couple of 19th Century singers.  We know they sang and people loved their singing, Lola Montez, Lillian Langtry.  But we’ve never heard them do it.

For we 21st Century folks, though, Al Jolson’s still alive out there singing Mammy, Waiting on the Robert E Lee and Anniversary song.  In two part harmony with Lee Marvin singing I Was Born Under a Wandrin Star in Paint Your Wagon.  The Kingston Trio are their young selves being the Cumberland Three singing Civil War Songs, or as themselves rendering another South Coast and Seasons in the Sun.

It isn’t just the listening, either.  Incredibly, we can wander around on YouTube and watch young Lonnie Donnegan sing Jack of Diamonds and Chuck Berry perform Se La Vie Say the Old Folks.

A briefly popular song from 1961-62 used to run through my head, Dear One, by the Ravens.  I asked lots of people through the years if anyone remembered it with never a soul answering they did.  But there it is on YouTube.  Horrid song.  I can’t believe I loved it back when then was then.  But there you are.

But I’ve digressed.  I was listening to MP3 shuffling through songs, passing the time, and heard Johnny Cash singing The Man Who Couldn’t Cry.  I never recalled hearing it before.  Laughed and snorted, looked it up on YouTube to watch him sing it.  When Jeanne got home between jobs I played it for her to provide a laugh.

“Who’s that singing it?  That’s a Loudon Wainwright song!”

“Eh?  No, that’s Johnny Cash.”

“I know it’s a Loudon Wainwright song.  Look it up!”

Okay, spang robbed my macho.  Hell, until we met Jeanne had never heard of Loudon Wainwright.  [Nor a lot of her other favorite performers, I hasten to brag]  But here she is thanks to it being the 21st Century when all the singers of the 20th Century are still alive and young if they wanted to be, here’s Jeanne instructing me on whether that’s a Johnny Cash song, or a Loudon Wainwright song.

And the cool thing about that is the day is coming when nobody who loves Johnny Horton singing Miss Marcy will have been alive when Johnny Horton sang it.  People will probably dance to Al Jolson singing Anniversary Song and be as moved as they were in 1950.

At least as long as the Internet lasts.  Probably around December, this year.

Old Jules

Elvis Presley Blues

Old Jules:

I swore, readers, I wouldn’t post one damned thing, make one mention of Elvis Presley today. But that got me thinking about him. Hell, I danced to his first hit songs when they were fresh off the radio waves. I got dragged off to Nashville or Memphis, wherever to a visit of Graceland by a lady friend on her nickle. And came damned close to refusing even at that price.
But hell. Elvis was okay. Not great, but okay. Just a dumb sod with too much grease in his hair, same as almost everyone else those days.
And when they came out with that stamp, I did write that poem to him. Reading through it I can see I’ve been even stupider at times in my life than I am now. Law law law how’d I manage to survive my stupidity longer than he survived his? May by nobody writing poems to me.

Old Jules

Originally posted on So Far From Heaven:

The King Is Dead
Long Live The King

Behold, sweet sovereign of song,
creator, keeper, carrion king
of Rock and Roll,
how we miss you.

Old now, my liege, how we hum
how we whistle distant echoes
of your reign
and remember!

Not for you, sweet prince,
mediocre marble monuments,
bronze busts in barren halls.

How you were us!
How, in your dotage,
your swollen jowl,
your sallow cheeks,
your leaden eye
became our own.

Not for you, the canvas likeness hung on walls
with saints, small children, gods and golden men.
Not you!
For you, lord, the paper likeness,
the image on black velour;
in plaster lamps,
plastic icons,
and now this final homage
to your fiery youth.

With every moist touch of these lips, this tongue
we wash away the mucous of those later years
of yours and ours;
summon forth the young prince;
call back those vibrant…

View original 48 more words

Pre and post Elvis Imitators

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read so damned early in this year we’re stuck inside.  I tried looking forward into it and couldn’t see a thing I recognized.  Almost everything appears to be an imitation of something else and a lot of what’s being imitated came later than me paying it any mind.

However, this imitating thing has been going on a longish time.  Listening to the Late Marty Robbins talking about all the people he had to imitate before he ever got any popular songs of his own is a lesson in musical history.  Somewhere below you can actually hear him do it.

But for my generation the bulk of the imitating ended up being Elvis Presley stuff.  Steve Goodman explains it better than I could:

Even Johnny Cash imitated Elvis at a time when Johnny Cash was at the top of the charts:

But of course, imitation is the something-or-other of whatchallit, according to someone or other who’s frequently quoted.  And Elvis imitated Johnny Cash because turnabout is something-or-other.

A lot of you readers probably never even heard of Ferlin Husky, but back when Keith Kelt and I were kids listening to KENM radio in Portales, New Mexico, Ferlin was a big piece of the musical fare.  Along with Kitty Wells, Red Foley, Lefty Frizzell, Webb Pierce, Gentleman Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Snow and Hank Williams.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that one of Ferlin’s stunts was imitating most of them:

And for that matter, so did a much younger Merle Haggard:

Merle did it enough to draw the attention of the ones he imitated.  Here he is singing George Jones with George Jones and Johnny Cash with Johnny Cash:

I mentioned Gentleman Jim Reeves back around the time of Ferlin Husky but he got away from me.  Here he is a few years before anyone ever heard of Merle Haggard, but Johnny Cash was already on the charts:

Johnny Counterfit made a career of imitating them all and did a middling good job of it.  He could still do young Johnny Cash when Johnny Cash couldn’t do young Johnny Cash anymore.  [Afterthought:  Notice Chet Atkins sitting there in front of him while he’s playing.  Old Chet was one hell of a guitarist but he doesn’t appear to give Johnny Counterfit a particularly high approval rating.  Maybe Counterfit didn’t bow and scrape enough to suit him.]

I mentioned Marty Robbins earlier telling about how he used to have to imitate other singers before he got popular and eventually died.  It’s worth listening to him telling who he was imitating.  I’ll bet a lot of you never heard of Johnny Ray.

I’m including this non-imitation of Johnny Ray so’s you’ll have an appreciation for the tough job of work Marty Robbins had doing it.

Seems almost everyone these days is imitating something, judging from the way words such as ‘awesome’, ‘fail’, ‘epic’ and a hundred other good solid words have lost their meanings, been usurped by meanings from the mouths of television writers.

But I suppose it’s possible to do some imitating without being a fawning worshiper of fad or some mindless celebrity with a screenwriter feeding the memorable lines.

Wonder what ever became of Gentleman Jim Reeves.  I thought for a lot of years he was killed in the plane crash with Hawkshaw Hawkins and wossname, Patsy Cline.  But while I was looking all this up on YouTube I was reminded that was Cowboy Copas.  Still, I’m fairly certain Jim Reeves bit it around then, too.

Old Jules

Musical archeology

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Hell, it’s already January.  Damned year is almost over and I’ve got a lot to do.  Jeanne had a box here with what’s left of my old hundreds of cassette tapes I converted during the 1980s from vinyl LPs.  I’ve tried to get as much as possible from the local library and InterLibrary loan, but some of it just isn’t out there.

I say it isn’t, but probably a lot is on YouTube and available from Amazon if a person pays for it.  But I donealready paid for this back in the day when music was music and everyone was glad of it.

Time was I believed my favorite bluegrass album was Jonathan Edwards and Seldom Scene, Blue Ridge.

However, I eventually found this one elsewhere digitized.  The library was also helpful finding old Louvin Brothers I didn’t expect to be available anywhere.

On the other hand, I once believed The Red Clay Ramblers were the best bluegrass ever and had a lot on cassette.  And today nobody’s ever heard of them for the most part.  The Johnson County Library doesn’t have any of their work.

So most of what I have by RCR on tape will be all I ever listen to in the future once I convert it to MP3.  Then there’s Ned Sublette’s early years, a guy I used to know named Jerry Sires, along with [not enough] other tapes Jeanne salvaged from my ruins after Y2K.

A new project for 2015 and the damned year’s almost gone already.  These things take time.

Old Jules

Alice Cooper: “My fake beheadings are ‘way better then theirs!”

Alice Cooper covers the Bob Dylan song “Isis”

By Kevin Barrett, Veterans Today Editor (apologies to Bob & Alice, and Ted & Carol too if that will stop them from suing us)

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/09/04/alices-isis/

By Kevin Barrett, Veterans Today Editor (apologies to Bob & Alice, and Ted & Carol too if that will stop them from suing us)

I was “captured” by “ISIS” on the fifth day of May
Knew my head wouldn’t stay on my neck very long
So I gave them the slip and I rode straight away
For the Occupied country where I could not go wrong

I came to a studio of darkness and light
With a fake desert backdrop and a fake Arab town
There were Hollywood props on my left and my right
And a fake chopping block where I laid my head down

A mensch in the corner drew his ersatz sword
I knew right away it was not ordinary
He said “Should we chop your head off now or later?”
I said “For real?”. He said “That ain’t necessary”

He showed me where Fatty Bin Laden was faked
I gave him my neck and he gave me his word
That his chop wouldn’t hurt and my neck wouldn’t break
I said “That’s the best news that I’ve ever heard”

I was thinking about silver I was thinking about gold
I was thinking about diamonds and the Rothschilds too
As he lifted his sword my neck tingled so cold
That the nape-hairs stood upright and my throat turned blue

When he brought down that sword I almost crapped my pants
But it stopped one sixteenth of an inch from my neck
Then they altered the footage and added some gore
Though it wasn’t a triumph of special effects

Then they gave me a new face and twenty new names
And said “keep it quiet or we’ll chop it for real”
I accepted their money and half of the blame
And gave them my word that I never would squeal

On the flight to wherever my airplane was headed
The guy in the next seat was reading the news
When I saw my old face and read I was beheaded
I was sure glad I wasn’t in that poor schmuck’s shoes

They broke into my tomb but the casket was empty
There was no headless body, they knew they’d been had
The conspiracy theorists were yammering plenty
My “beheading,” they argued, was pathetically bad

They revealed my secret, but what did it matter?
The media never would print what they said
And so – bugger all their conspiracy chatter! –
I did well when I let “ISIS” chop off my head

Damned treadmill distractions

Hi readers.  I was on the treadmill down at the Olathe Community Center around 0530 this morning, walking to New Orleans, Fats Domino style when some guy in an orange jump suite completed the preliminaries to get his head chopped off.  Fairly unexpected thing on my end.  He explained his loss was a consequence of the US foreign policy in the Middle East.

But the guy in the black Ninja-like garb might have coerced him to say that.  Might have told him there were other body parts could be cut off in advance if it weren’t properly explained for viewers.  Afterward he offered up another guy in an orange jump suit and asserted he’d be next, depending on the activities of the US wossname, president in the White House.

Luckily the guy in the Ninja suit spoke with a British accent.  Gives the prez and all the lackeys an opportunity to send a drone to knock off someone we don’t like in the British Isles.  Maybe snag the British Museum and haul it off just to teach them a lesson.

But the fact is, the guy in the orange jumpsuit is probably not in a position to judge who’s at fault for his demise, unless it’s the Ninja.  Nobody ever said running around in pestholes full of poisonous human beings was going to be without some measure of risk.  Maybe it’s his own fault he was there, the orange jump suit guy.  If it was the fault of his government, I hope he had time to ask himself whether the fault existed back before the day he was kidnapped.  And if it did, was he aware of it.  And if he was cognizant of it, was it his own fault he didn’t beat feet out of harms way?  Or was it the fault of a government comprised of scum who aspire to run the United States?

I’m in a mood to say it was his own damned fault.  If he didn’t know it was a good place to get your head chopped off, he should have.

Same with all these damned US troops who reenlist after having gone over there already and seen it if they were too stupid to know before they enlisted the first time.  When one of them gets killed, hell, it ain’t as though he wasn’t asking for it.  Begging for it.

Too bad.  Maybe, though, it’s better in the long run.  The damned human gene pool doesn’t need any more stupidity than it’s already got, with a lion share in governments, pulpits, Pentagon-like places, and the Middle East.

Harmless stupidity takes place in safe environments.  Stupidity that gets people killed gets people killed.  Condolences to the kinfolks and hope you teach your other kids to use their heads instead of getting them chopped off.

Old Jules