The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself with being a FLANEUR, a dandy, a man of fashion. I surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. I became the spendthrift of my own genius, and to waste an eternal youth gave me a curious joy. Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensation. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the housetop. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now, absolute humility.
Compare the words Plato puts in the mouth of Socrates in the Phaedo:
. . . every pleasure and pain has a kind of nail, and nails and pins her [the soul] to the body, and gives her a bodily nature, making her think that whatever the body says is true. (tr. F. J. Church St. 83)
From Oscar Wilde to Plato to Hank Williams here channeled hauntingly through Kurt Nilsen and Willie Nelson:
I'm a rollin' stone all alone and lost For a life of sin I have paid the cost When I pass by all the people say Just another guy on the lost highway
Just a deck of cards and a jug of wine And a woman's lies make a life like mine On the day we met, I went astray I started rollin' down that lost highway
I was just a lad, nearly 22 Neither good nor bad, just a kid like you And now I'm lost, too late to pray Lord I paid the cost, on the lost highway
Now boys don't start your ramblin' 'round On this road of sin are you sorrow bound Take my advice or you'll curse the day. You started rollin' down that lost highway.
When the men on the chessboard Get up and tell you where to go And you've just had some kind of mushroom And your mind is moving low. Go ask Alice I think she'll know. When logic and proportion Have fallen sloppy dead, And the White Knight is talking backwards And the Red Queen's "off with her head!" Remember what the dormouse said: "Feed your head. Feed your head. Feed your head"
. . . Make the white queen run so fast she hasn't got time to make you a wife
'Cause it's time, it's time in time with your time and it's news is captured for the queen to use Move me on to any black square Use me anytime you want Just remember that the goal Is for us all to capture all we want, anywhere
Don't surround yourself with yourself Move on back two squares Send an instant karma to me Initial it with loving care Don't surround yourself
'Cause it's time, it's time in time with your time and it's news is captured for the queen to use . . .
Jimmy Elledge, Funny How Time Slips Away. Born January 8, 1943 in Nashville, Elledge died June 10, 2012 after complications following a stroke. The song, written by Willie Nelson, made the #22 slot on Billboard Hot 100 in 1961, and sold over one million copies. Elledge never had another hit. As a YouTube commenter pointed out, that does sound like Floyd Cramer tickling the ivories. A great song. I always thought it was a female singing.
Rosie and the Originals, Angel Baby, 1960. Perfect for cruising Whittier Boulevard in your '57 Chevy on a Saturday Night.
Norma Tanega, Walkin' My Cat Named 'Dog,' 1966. A forgotten oldie if ever there was one. If you remember this bit of vintage vinyl, one of the strangest songs of the '60s, I'll buy you a beer or a cat named 'dog.' One.
UPDATE 1/17: Dave B. tells me that I owe his wife Ronda a beer:
Yeah she remembered that song from the opening riff.
What a waste of a nice Gibson SG...
You are quite right, Dave: the girl is flailing at a Gibson SG standard. Clapton, a.k.a 'God,' played them before switching over to Fender Strats. I wanted an SG back around '67 or '68 but they were too much in demand. So I 'settled' for a Gibson ES 335TD. But then I did the dumbest thing I ever did a few years later.
Ildefonso Fraga Ozuna is better known as Sunny Ozuna of Sunny and the Sunglows fame. Their big hit was Talk to Me that made the #11 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in October, 1963. It is a cover of Little Willie John's effort of the same name from 1958.
The Sunglows became the Sunliners and came out with Just a Dream.
Baldemar Garza Huerta, also a Tejano, is better known as Freddy Fender.
Merry Christmas everybody. Pour yourself a drink, and enjoy. Me, I'm nursing a Boulevardier. It's a Negroni with cojones: swap out the gin for bourbon. One ounce bourbon, one ounce sweet vermouth, one ounce Campari, straight up or on the rocks, with a twist of orange. A serious libation. The vermouth rosso contests the harshness of the bourbon, but then the Italian joins the fight on the side of the bourbon. Or you can think of it as a Manhattan wherein the Campari substitutes for the angostura bitters. That there are people who don't like Campari shows that there is no hope for humanity.
Larry Verne, Mr. Custer (1960). "What am I doin' here?"
And now a trio of feminist anthems. Marcie Blaine, Bobby's Girl. "And if I was Bobby's girl, what a faithful, thankful girl I'd be." Carol Deene, Johnny Get Angry. Joanie Sommers did it first. "I want a cave man!" Nice kazoo work. k. d. lang's parody. Little Peggy March, I Will Follow Him. "From now until forever."
Meanwhile the guys were bragging of having a girl in every port of call. Dion, The Wanderer (1961). Ricky Nelson, Travelin' Man. (1961)
Addendum: I forgot to link to two Ray Stevens numbers that are sure to rankle the sorry sensibilities of our liberal pals: Come to the USA, God Save Arizona. If you are a liberal shithead do not click on these links! But if if you have any sense you will enjoy them.
W. V. O. Quine's famous collection of essays is named after this song. "From a logical point of view always marry a woman uglier than you." Jimmy Soul extends the thought, ripping off some of the lyrics of the calypso tune.
We are coming up on the 60th anniversary of the death of James Dean. When the young Dean crashed his low slung silver Porsche Spyder on a lonely California highway on September 30, 1955, he catapulted a couple of unknowns into the national spotlight. One of them was Ernie Tripke, one of two California Highway Patrol officers who arrived at the scene. He died in 2010 at the age of 88. But what ever happened to Donald Turnupseed, the driver who turned in front of the speeding Dean, having failed to see him coming? His story is here. In exfoliation of the theme that "speed kills" I present the following for your listening pleasure:
Carly Fiorina is beginning to look good to me, politically speaking. Let's see what we can scrounge up on the Carly/Carla/Carl/Karl/Karla theme.
Carly Simon, You're So Vain. Good video. This one goes out to Donald Trump. I like Trump and his cojones (metaphorically speaking), but a lack of gravitas condemns him. Reagan had the right blend of cojones and gravitas: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
Ray Barretto, El Watusi (an old '60s number featured in Carlito's Way). Don't ask me what it means.
“I graduated from Stanford with a degree in medieval history and philosophy -- there is life after a medieval history and philosophy degree,” she said happily. After graduation, Fiorina said, she was “completely unemployable” so she tried out law school.
“I was an obedient, goody two-shoes middle child,” she said of that decision, explaining that her parents wanted her to go. “Hated law school. Quit law school after one semester. And now my resume reads, ‘Medieval history and philosophy. Law school dropout.” Fiorina then went to work as a secretary. Six months in, two of her male colleagues saw her potential and asked if she wanted to learn the business.
“And still, in 2014, there is no other country on the face of the earth where a young woman can start out as a secretary and become CEO of the largest technology company,” she said.
This is where the politics comes in. “I’m a conservative because I think our policies unlock potential in people and I have seen too many lives and too many livelihoods sacrificed at the altar of liberal ideology and it happens all the time,” she said. Fiorina talked about the evils of bureaucracies and the virtues of entrepreneurship, education, jobs and freedom.
It was 31 years ago today, during a training run. Running pioneer James F. Fixx, author of the wildly successful The Complete Book of Running, keeled over dead of cardiac arrest. He died with his 'boots' on, and not from running but from a bad heart. It's a good bet that his running added years to his life in addition to adding life to his years. I've just pulled my hardbound copy of The Complete Book of Running from the shelf. It's a first edition, 1977, in good condition with dust jacket. I read it when it first came out. Do I hear $1000? Just kidding, it's not for sale. This book and the books of that other pioneer, George Sheehan, certainly made a difference in my life.
The atavism and simplicity and cleansing quality of a good hard run are particularly beneficial for Luftmenschen. Paradoxically, the animality of it releases lofty thoughts.
See here for a comparison of Fixx and Sartre. And here for something on George Sheehan. Now for some 'running' tunes.
Del Shannon, Runaway. Charles Weedon Westover was born 30 December 1934 and is best known for his 1961 #1 hit, "Runaway." Suffering from depression, Shannon committed suicide on February 8, 1990, with a .22-caliber rifle at his home in Santa Clarita, California. Following his death, the Traveling Wilburys honored him by recording a version of "Runaway".
Today, 20 July, is not only the 31th anniversary of Jim Fixx's death, but also the 50th anniversary of the release of Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone. Wikipedia:
The song had a huge impact on Bruce Springsteen, who was 15 years old when he first heard it. Springsteen described the moment during his speech inducting Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and also assessed the long-term significance of "Like a Rolling Stone":
The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother listening to WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody'd kicked open the door to your mind ... The way that Elvis freed your body, Dylan freed your mind, and showed us that because the music was physical did not mean it was anti-intellect. He had the vision and talent to make a pop song so that it contained the whole world. He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording could achieve, and he changed the face of rock'n'roll for ever and ever "
Dylan's contemporaries in 1965 were both startled and challenged by the single. Paul McCartney remembered going around to John Lennon's house in Weybridge to hear the song. According to McCartney, "It seemed to go on and on forever. It was just beautiful ... He showed all of us that it was possible to go a little further."Frank Zappa had a more extreme reaction: "When I heard 'Like a Rolling Stone', I wanted to quit the music business, because I felt: 'If this wins and it does what it's supposed to do, I don't need to do anything else ...' But it didn't do anything. It sold but nobody responded to it in the way that they should have." Nearly forty years later, in 2003, Elvis Costello commented on the innovative quality of the single. "What a shocking thing to live in a world where there was Manfred Mann and the Supremes and Engelbert Humperdinck and here comes 'Like a Rolling Stone'".
Your humble correspondent was lying in the sand at Huntington Beach, California, when the song came on the radio. It was like nothing else on the radio in those days of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. It 'blew my mind.' What is THAT? And WHO is that? I had been very vaguely aware of some B. Dylan as the writer of PPM's Don't Think Twice. I pronounced the name like 'Dial in.' That memorable summer of '65 I became a Dylan fanatic, researching him at the library and buying all his records. The fanaticism faded with the '60s. But while no longer a fanatic, I remain a fan, 50 years later.
This wonderfully creative but rarely played song by The Lovin' Spoonful dates from 1966. Six O'Clock is one of the songs that captures for me the 'magic' of those fabulous and far-off days. Same goes for Van Morrison and Them's Here Comes the Night (1965). It still sounds as raw and fresh as it did in '65. Tender and yearning, but with the metallic clang of the Dionysian.
Bob Dylan, I Shall be Free. This is the first time I've heard this particular delightful 1962 outtake. A real period piece in the style of Woody Guthrie with appearances by Marilyn Monroe, Anita Ekberg, Sophia Loren, John F. Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean's great granddaughter, fallout shelters . . . .
Del Shannon (Charles Weedon Westover), December 30, 1934 – February 8, 1990, known prmarily for his Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit, Runaway, 1961. "Suffering from depression, Shannon committed suicide on February 8, 1990, with a .22-caliber rifle at his home in Santa Clarita, California, while on a prescription dose of the anti-depressant drug Prozac. Following his death, The Traveling Wilburys honored him by recording a version of "Runaway"." (Wikipedia)
Dalida, O Sole Mio. I think I'm in love. "Dalida (17 January 1933 – 3 May 1987), birth name Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti, was a singer and actress who performed and recorded in more than 10 languages including: French, Arabic, Italian, Greek, German, English, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch and Spanish." [. . .]On Saturday, 2 May 1987, Dalida committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates. She left behind a note which read, "La vie m'est insupportable... Pardonnez-moi." ("Life has become unbearable for me... Forgive me.")" (Wikipedia)
The Singing Nun, Dominique, 1963. "Jeanine Deckers (17 October 1933 – 29 March 1985) was a Belgian singer-songwriter and initially a member of the Dominican Order in Belgium (as Sister Luc Gabrielle). She acquired world fame in 1963 as Sœur Sourire (Sister Smile) when she scored a hit with the her French-language song "Dominique". She is sometimes credited as "The Singing Nun". [. . .]
Citing their financial difficulties in a note, she and her companion of ten years, Annie Pécher, both committed suicide by an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol on 29 March 1985. In their suicide note, Decker and Pécher stated they had not given up their faith and wished to be buried together after a church funeral. They were buried together in Cheremont Cemetery in Wavre, Walloon Brabant, the town where they died. The inscription on their tombstone reads "I saw her soul fly across the clouds", a line from Deckers' song "Sister Smile is dead". (Wikipedia)
My favorite suicide song is Shiver Me Timbers by Tom Waits. James Taylor offers a beautiful interpretation. Is it really about suicide at sea? The reference to Martin Eden suggests to me that it is. But you might reasonably disagree.
Santo and Johnny, Sleepwalk (1959). Joe Satriani's cover blows the original and every other cover clean out of the water. Masterful guitar work. But wait a minute! What about old man Les Paul's version?
The Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy opened yesterday and I saw it. I grew up in Southern California in the '60s with all those songs, and so I had to see it. I'm glad I did. Trailer here. But not for the music of which there is little, but for the biography and backstory. The two heroes of the story are Brian Wilson and the woman who saved him, Melinda Ledbetter. The two villains are the abusive father, Murry Wilson, and the crazy shrink, Dr. Landy. It is probably true, though, that were it not for the hard-charging Murry there would have been no Beach Boys. He pushed them and negotiated their contract with Capitol Records.
Playlist 1. "Riding with the King" 2. "Ten Long Years" 3. "Key to the Highway" 4. "Marry You" 5. "Three O'Clock Blues" 6. "Help the Poor" 7. "I Wanna Be" 8. "Worried Life Blues" 9. "Days of Old" 10. "When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer" 11. "Hold On, I'm Comin'" 12. "Come Rain or Come Shine"
Being hung up on the '60s, there is and will be only one clown for me, Bozo the Clown. After Bozo I had no truck with clowns. I'm a serious man. But I can relate to this segment from the Seinfeld episode, "The Fire." It is one of the funniest in the whole series. But I suppose you had to be there. In the '60s I mean. With Bozo. The Clown. Now some songs featuring clowns.
Roy Orbison, In Dreams. Nice surreal video. "A candy-colored clown they call the sandman . . . ."
James Darren, Goodbye Cruel World. "I'm off to join the circus, gonna be a broken-hearted clown."
It would be nice to be able to expect from popes and presidents a bit of gravitas, a modicum of seriousness, when they are instantiating their institutional roles. What they do after hours is not our business. So Pope Francis' clowning around does not inspire respect, any more than President Clinton's answering the question about his underwear. Remember that one? Boxers or briefs? He answered the question! All he had to do was calmly state, without mounting a high horse, "That is not a question that one asks the president of the United States." And now we have the Orwellian Prevaricator himself in the White House, Barack Hussein Obama, whose latest Orwellian idiocy is that Big Government is the problem, not him, even though he is the the poster boy, the standard bearer, like unto no one before him in U. S. history, of Big Government!
In the mid-1960s the most celebrated folk musician of his era bought a house for his growing family at the southern edge of the Catskills, in the nineteenth-century painters’ retreat of Woodstock. He was a “protest singer,” to use a term that was then new. His lyrics—profound, tender, garrulous—sounded like they were indicting the country for racism (“where black is the color where none is the number”), or prophesying civil war (“you don’t need a weatherman to know the way the wind blows”), or inviting young people to smoke dope (“everybody must get stoned”). Fans and would-be acolytes were soon roaming the town on weekends, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Eccentric-looking by the standards of the day, they infuriated local residents. Nothing good was going to come of it. One of the town’s more heavily armed reactionaries would later recall:
[A] friend of mine had given me a couple of Colt single-shot repeater pistols, and I also had a clip-fed Winchester blasting rifle around, but it was awful to think about what could be done with those things. . . . Creeps thumping their boots across our roof could even take me to court if any of them fell off. . . . I wanted to set fire to these people. These gate-crashers, spooks, trespassers, demagogues were all disrupting my home life and the fact that I was not to piss them off or they could press charges really didn’t appeal to me.
The folk singer was Bob Dylan. The reactionary old coot with all the guns . . . well, that was Bob Dylan, too. At age 25, he was growing uncomfortable with the role conferred on him by the music he’d written at age 20. “I had very little in common with and knew even less about a generation that I was supposed to be the voice of,” he would later write in his memoir Chronicles.
And it ends like this:
If Dylan was the voice of a generation, it was not of the generation we think. He belonged to the generation before the one that idolized him, as did The Band. For them, the pre-baby boom frameworks of meaning were all still in place, undeconstructed and deployable in art. One of history’s secrets is that revolutionaries’ appeal in the eyes of posterity owes much to the traits they share with the world they overthrew. They secure their greatness less by revealing new virtues than by rendering the ones that made them great impracticable henceforth. There is no reason this should be any less true of Dylan. His virtues are not so much of the world he left us with as of the world he helped usher out.
Some, like Jesse Jackson, are still stuck inside of Selma with the Oxford Blues again.
Oxford Town is both topical and timeless. It is about the enrollment of James Meredith at the University of Mississippi in the fall of 1962. But neither Meredith nor Ole Miss are mentioned. This allows the song to float free of the events of the day and assume its rightful place in the audio aether of Americana.
Beach Boys, 409. With a four-speed manual tranny, dual quad carburetors (before fuel injection), positraction (limited slip differential), and 409 cubic inches of engine displacement. Gas was cheap in those days.
ZZ Top and Jeff Beck, 16 Tons. Tennessee Ernie Ford's 1955 #1 version.
Justin Timberlake, et al., 500 Miles. (From Inside Llewyn Davis)
We'll start with murder. David Dalton (Who Is That Man? In Search of the Real Bob Dylan, Hyperion 2012, pp. 28-29, hyperlinks added!):
Most folk songs had grim, murderous content (and subtext). In Pretty Polly a man lures a young girl from her home with the promise of marriage,and then leads the pregnant girl to an already-dug grave and murders her. In Love Henry, a woman poisons her unfaithful lover, observed by an alarmed parrot that she also tries to kill. So it was a bit bizarre that these songs should become part of the sweetened, homogenized new pop music.
[. . .]
The original folk songs were potent, possessed stuff, but the folk trios had figured out how to make this grisly stuff palatable, which only proved that practically anything could be homogenized. Clean-cut guys and girls in crinolines, dressed as if for prom night, sang ancient curse-and-doom tales. Their songs had sweet little melodies, but as in nursery rhymes, there was a dark gothic undercurrent to them -- like Ring Around the Rosies, which happens to be a charming little plague song.
The most famous of these folk songs was the 1958 hit Tom Dooley, a track off a Kingston Trio album which set off the second folk revival [the first was in the early '40s with groups like the Weavers] and was Dylan's initial inspiration for getting involved in folk music. [I prefer Doc Watson's version.] And it was the very success of the syrupy folk trios that inspired Dylan's future manager to assemble one himself: Peter, Paul and Mary. They would make Dylan, the prophet of the folk protest movement, a star and lead to consequences that even he did not foresee. Their version of Blowin' in the Wind would become so successful that it would sound the death knell for the folk protest movement. Ultimately there would be more than sixty versions of it, "all performing the same function," as Michael Gray says, of "anesthetizing Dylan's message."
Be that as it may, it is a great song, one of the anthems of the Civil Rights movement. Its power in no small measure is due to the allusiveness of its lyrics which deliver the protest message without tying it to particular events. It's topical without being topical and marks a difference between Dylan, and say, Phil Ochs.
And now for some love songs.
Gloria Lynne, I Wish You Love. A great version from 1964. Lynne died at 83 in 2013. Here's what Marlene Dietrich does with it.
Ketty Lester, Love Letters. Another great old tune in a 1962 version. The best to my taste.
1. Keith Burgess-Jackson quotes Jamie Glazov on the hatred of Islamists and leftists for St. Valentine's Day. Another very interesting similarity between these two totalitarian movements. Recalling past inamorata of a Saturday night while listening to sentimental songs -- is this not the height of bourgeois self-indulgence when you should be plotting ways to blow up the infidel or bring down capitalism? But we who defend the private life against totalitarian scum must be careful not to retreat too far into the private life. A certain amount of activism and engagement is necessary to keep the totalitarians in check.
2. On Thomas Merton: “All the love and all the death in me are at the moment wound up in Joan Baez’s ‘Silver Dagger,’” the man wrote to his lady love in 1966. “I can’t get it out of my head, day or night. I am obsessed with it. My whole being is saturated with it. The song is myself — and yourself for me, in a way.”
Dylan talks about Clayton in the former's Chronicles, Volume One, Simon and Shuster, 2004, pp. 260-261.
Mark Spoelstra is also discussed by Dylan somewhere in Chronicles. While I flip through the pages, you enjoy Sugar Babe, It's All Over Now. The title puts me in mind of Dylan's wonderful It's All Over Now, Baby Blue.Bonnie Raitt does a good job with it. Or perhaps you prefer the angel-throated Joan Baez. Comparing these two songs one sees why Spoelstra, competent as he is, is a forgotten folkie while Dylan is the "bard of our generation" to quote the ultra conservative Lawrence Auster.
Ah yes, Spoelstra is mentioned on pp. 74-75.
About Karen Dalton, Dylan has this to say (Chronicles, p. 12):
My favorite singer in the place [Cafe Wha?, Greenwich Village] was Karen Dalton. She was a tall white blues singer and guitar player, funky, lanky and sultry. I'd actually met her before, run across her the previous summer outside of Denver in a mountain pass town in a folk club. Karen had a voice like Billie Holliday's and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed and went all the way with it. I sang with her a couple of times.
In Chapter 42 of his Essays, Montaigne remarks that
We praise a horse for its strength and speed, not on account of its harness; a greyhound for its swiftness and not its collar; a hawk for its wing and not for its jesses and bells. Why then do we not value a man for what is his? . . . If you bargain over a horse, you remove its trappings, you see it bare and uncovered . . . . Why, when estimating a man, do you estimate him all wrapped and muffled up? . . . We must judge him by himself, not by his attire. (Tr. E. J. Trechmann)
I am tempted to agree by saying what I once said to my mother when she told me that clothes make the man, namely, that if clothes make the man, then the kind of man that clothes make is not the kind of man I want to be. (Women are undeniably more sensitive than men to the fact that the world runs on appearances. They have a deep intuitive understanding of the truth that the Germans express when they say, Der Schein regiert die Welt.)
But there is another side to the problem, one that the excellent Montaigne ignores. A horse does not choose its bit and harness, but has them imposed on it. A man, however, chooses how he will appear to his fellows, and so choosing makes a statement as to his values and disvalues. It follows that there is some justification in judging by externals. For the externals we choose, unlike the externals imposed on a horse, are defeasible indicators of what is internal. In the case of human beings, the external is not merely external: the external is also an expression of the internal. Our outer trappings express our attitudes and beliefs, our allegiances and alignments.
But enough philosophy! On to some tunes. We get things off to a rousing start this fine Saturday evening with
ZZ Top, Sharp-Dressed Man. This one goes out to Mike Valle who is definitely strutting his sartorial stuff these days.
David Dalton, Who is That Man? In Search of the Real Bob Dylan, Hyperion, 2012, p. 65:
As Dave van Ronk pointed out in his autobiography, many of the people involved in the first folk revival of the 1930s and '40s were Jewish -- as were the folkies of the '60s. Van Ronk reasoned that for Jews, belonging to a movement centered on American traditional music was a form of belonging and assimilation.
[. . .]
"The revelation that Jack [Elliot] was Jewish was vouchsafed unto Bobby one afternoon at the Figaro," Van Ronk recalled. "We were sitting around shooting the bull with Barry Kornfeld and maybe a couple of other people and somehow it came out that Jack had grown up in Ocean Parkway and was named Elliot Adnopoz. Bobby literally fell off his chair; he was rolling around on the floor, and it took him a couple of minutes to pull himself together and get up again. Then Barry, who can be diabolical in things like this, leaned over to him and just whispered the word 'Adnopoz' and back he went under the table."
Lacking as it does the proper American cowboy resonance, 'Elliot Charles Adnopoz' was ditched by its bearer who came to call himself 'Ramblin' Jack Elliot.' Born in 1931 in Brooklyn to Jewish parents who wanted him to become a doctor, young Adnopoz rebelled, ran away, and became a protege of Woody Guthrie. If it weren't for Ramblin' Jack, Guthrie would be nowhere near as well-known as he is today.
Pretty Boy Floyd. "As through this life you ramble, as through this life you roam/You'll never see an outlaw drive a family from their home." No? An example of the tendency of lefties invariably to take the side of the underdog regardless of whether right or wrong.
After a long and leisurely breakfast this morning with Peter Lupu, Mike Valle, and Richard Klaus, I stopped by Bookman's and got lucky. I found a used copy of Milton Steinberg's 1939 novel, As a Driven Leaf. The title is from Job 13: 24-25: "Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face. . . Wilt thou harass a driven leaf?" I learned about this novel from Joseph Epstein's recent WSJ piece, Balancing Faith and Reason.
And then I got lucky in the CD aisle, stumbling upon the soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis. I listened to it on the drive home with raindrops on the windshield and tears in my eyes. Here are some tunes from it:
John Lennon was gunned down this night in 1980 by Mark David Chapman. I remember that night well: a student of mine called me in the middle of it to report the slaying. Lennon was my least favorite Beatle due to his silly utopianism, as expressed in the lyrically inane 'Imagine,' but this tune of his from the 1965 Rubber Soul album is a gem, and more than fit to remember him by.
And I believe he penned Tomorrow Never Knows from the Revolver album, the best song I know of about meditation. It gives me goose bumps still, almost 50 years later.
What is wrong with people who don't drink or enjoy coffee? They must not value consciousness and intensity of experience. Poor devils! Perhaps they're zombies (in the philosophers' sense).
UPDATE (11/24): Up from a nap, I pour me a serious cup of serious java (Kirkland Portland Bold), and log onto to email where I find a note from Patrick Kurp who recommends Rick Danko and Paul Butterfield, Java Blues, one hard-driving, adrenalin-enabling number which, in synergy with the nap and the aforesaid java, has this old man banging hard on all synaptic 'cylinders' and ready for some more scribbling.
Chicory is a cheat. It cuts it but doesn't cut it.
"The taste of java is like a volcanic rush/No one is going to stop me from drinking too much . . . ."
The Man Who Wasn't There is one of my favorite movies, and the best of Ludwig van Beethoven is as good as classical music gets. So enjoy the First Movement of the Moonlight Sonata to the masterful cinematography of the Coen Brothers.
Here is the final scene of the movie. Ed Crane's last words:
I don't know where I'm being taken. I don't know what I'll find beyond the earth and sky. But I am not afraid to go. Maybe the things I don't understand will be clearer there, like when a fog blows away. Maybe Doris will be there. And maybe there I can tell her all those things they don't have words for here.
That is the way I see death, as an adventure into a dimension, into "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns," in which we might come to understand what we cannot understand here, a movement from night and fog into the clear light of day. It is a strange idea, I admit, the idea that only by dying can one come into possession of essential knowledge. But no more strange than the idea that death leaves the apparent absurdity of our existence unredeemed, a sentiment expressed in Peggy Lee's 1970 Is That All There is?
Hazy, warm memories of listening to this on the Bringing It All Back Home album . . . with my sweet girl at an after-party in some guy's pad following a night at the Sink on the Hill in Boulder, 1965 . . . filtered, rosy light . . . youthful bliss before Vietnam . . .
Before we get on to songs with 'I' in the title -- the word, not the letter or the Roman numeral -- we pause to note the passing of Jack Bruce, bass player for Cream who died a week ago. It is appropriate, therefore, that we should begin with
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, tr. R. J. Hollingdale, New York Review Books, 1990, p. 223, Notebook L, Aph. #67:
If we did not remember our youth, we should [would] not be aware of old age: the malady of age consists solely in our no longer being able to do what we could do formerly. For the old man is certainly as perfect a creature in his own way as is the young.
Sex, drugs, and rock & roll without the drugs. In memory of the recently late Paul Revere of Paul Revere and the Raiders, a '60s outfit with a garage-band sound I never much liked, which had a hit with the anti-drug Kicks with which I shall kick off tonight's offerings.
No “Cocaine” by Eric Clapton?! That’s a huge and surprising omission, unless you don’t take it to be either pro- or anti-drug. Clapton himself calls it anti-drug, so perhaps a Sunday supplement should ensue. On the kudos side, I’m glad that you labeled “Puff” and “Lucy” as only dubiously classified as drug songs, as both songs’ authors have vehemently and repeatedly protested their songs’ innocence.
My title indicates that my focus is on anti-drug sons. J. J. Cale's tune "Cocaine" is pretty clearly pro-drug, as witness the lyrics:
If you wanna hang out you've got to take her out; cocaine. If you wanna get down, down on the ground; cocaine. She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine.
If you got bad news, you wanna kick them blues; cocaine. When your day is done and you wanna run; cocaine. She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine.
If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on; cocaine. Don't forget this fact, you can't get it back; cocaine. She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie; cocaine.
True, Clapton has claimed that the song is anti-drug, but the claim is simply not credible. Generally speaking, artists' opinions about their works are not to be given much credence. Dylan is an example of one who has spoken nonsense about the meaning of his own songs.
Just read the above lyrics. The meaning is clear. You need cocaine to 'hang out' and to 'get down.' The second phrase means to party, to have sex, to have a good time, to jump up and dance. It does not mean to bring yourself down either physically or mentally. But then why "down on the ground"? Because it rhymes, and this is just a popular song the lyrics of which were scribbled in a couple of minutes. To write a song like this you start with a chord progression and a guitar riff and then find some words to go along with them.
And then we are told that cocaine "don't lie"; she takes you away from the phony workaday world of the uncool and puts you in touch with reality. And in her embrace there is an escape from bad news and a cure for the blues. If you've lost your 'mojo' and its on the sag and your 'thing' is gone, you can get it back with this stuff. And "she don't lie!"
There is simply no way this song could be interpreted as anti-drug. It is pretty clearly, though not obviously, pro-drug.
Clapton ought to 'man up' and admit it. Arguing that it is anti-drug would be like arguing that the Rolling Stones' Let's Spend the Night Together is a stern warning against premarital sex, or that their Under My Thumb is a feminist anthem.
That's why I didn't include Clapton's "Cocaine" on my list of anti-drug songs.
Jack Kerouac in a letter from 17 January 1962: "Everybody is making money off my ideas, like those "Route 66" TV producers, everybody except me . . . ." (Selected Letters 1957-1969, ed, Charters, Viking 1999, p. 326; see also p. 461 and pp. 301-302.) Here is the Nelson Riddle theme music from the TV series. And here is part of an episode from the series which ran from 1960-1964. George Maharis bears a striking resemblance to Jack, wouldn't you say? And notice Maharis is riding shotgun. Kerouac wasn't a driver. Neal Cassady was the driver.
Now dig Bobby Troup. And if that's too cool for you, here is Depeche Mode. Chuck Berry, the RollingStones, Dr. Feelgood, and others have covered the tune.
While I was making dinner, Susie put on a CD of Pete Seegar [sic] songs. I was struck once again by the oft-remarked fact that for half a century, the left has had all the good songs. That cannot be irrelevant.
By the way, the old commie's name is 'Seeger' not 'Seegar.' In the ComBox, some guy confuses him with Bob Seger! The Left has had all the good songs over the last 50 years? Nonsense. Here are 50 counterexamples.
The really interesting case is Bob Dylan. The Left can of course claim the early topical songs such as "Only a Pawn in Their Game" and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll. (Not that we contemporary conservatives don't take on board all that was good in these critiques of racism and Jim Crow.) But it wasn't long before Dylan distanced himself from politics and leftist ideology, a distancing documented in My Back Pages. And then came the absurdist-existentialist-surrealist phase represented by the three mid-'sixties albums, Bring It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde. After that, the motorcycle accident and another attitude adjustment culminating in a couple of masterful albums, John Wesley Harding and New Morning, in which religious and conservative themes come to the fore.
I'll give just one example, Sign on a Window, from the October 1970 album, New Morning. This marvellous version sung by Melanie Safka. The song concludes:
Build me a cabin in Utah Marry me a wife, catch rainbow trout Have a bunch of kids who call me 'Pa' That must be what it's all about That must be what it's all about.
Now for a few tunes from the NRO list with the NRO write-up.
1. Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who. The conservative movement is full of disillusioned revolutionaries; this could be their theme song, an oath that swears off naïve idealism once and for all. “There’s nothing in the streets / Looks any different to me / And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye. . . . Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss.” The instantly recognizable synthesizer intro, Pete Townshend’s ringing guitar, Keith Moon’s pounding drums, and Roger Daltrey’s wailing vocals make this one of the most explosive rock anthems ever recorded — the best number by a big band, and a classic for conservatives.
2. Don’t Tread on Me by Metallica. A head-banging tribute to the doctrine of peace through strength, written in response to the first Gulf War: “So be it / Threaten no more / To secure peace is to prepare for war.”
3. 20th Century Man by The Kinks. “You keep all your smart modern writers / Give me William Shakespeare / You keep all your smart modern painters / I’ll take Rembrandt, Titian, da Vinci, and Gainsborough. . . . I was born in a welfare state / Ruled by bureaucracy / Controlled by civil servants / And people dressed in grey / Got no privacy got no liberty / ’Cause the 20th-century people / Took it all away from me.”
5. Wake Up Little Susie by The Everly Brothers. A smash hit in 1957, back when high-school social pressures were rather different from what they have become: “We fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot.”
From time to time it is perhaps appropriate that we should relax a little the bonds that tether us to the straight and narrow. A fitting apologia for a bit of indulgence and even overindulgence is found in Seneca, On Tranquillity of Mind, XVII, 8-9, tr. Basore:
At times we ought to reach even the point of intoxication, not drowning ourselves in drink, yet succumbing to it; for it washes away troubles, and stirs the mind from its very depths and heals its sorrow just as it does certain ills of the body; and the inventor of wine is not called the Releaser [Liber, Bacchus] on account of the license it gives to the tongue, but because it frees the mind from bondage to cares and emancipates it and gives it new life and makes it bolder in all that it attempts. But, as in freedom, so in wine there is a wholesome moderation.
Sed ut libertatis ita vini salubris moderatio est.
. . .
Yet we ought not to do this often, for fear that the mind may contract an evil habit; nevertheless there are times when it must be drawn into rejoicing and freedom, and gloomy sobriety must be banished for a while.
Joan Baez, Rock Salt and Nails. "If the ladies was squirrels with high bushy tails/I'd fill up my shotgun with rock salt and nails." This is undoubtedly (!)the best version of this great Utah Phillips song.
A lonely soldier cleans his gun and dreams of Galveston.
A slacker standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona spies a girl in a flatbed Ford.
Johnny Rivers heads East via Phoenix and Albuquerque.
From Tucson to Tucumcari, Tehachapi to Tonopah, this sojourner of the American night has driven every kind of rig that's ever been made.
Update (9/1). Ed Farrell writes, "The Little Feat version of I'm Willin is a good one. But my favorite version will probably remain the one done by Seatraincirca 1970--which was the standard road song for Sierra climbing trips in late high school/college. Seatrain never really took off as a band but their musicianship was quite good though their style was difficult to pigeonhole."
That is a good version, indeed better than Little Feat's. There were a lot of great bands back in the day that never really made it. Another is Fever Tree. I remember hearing them circa '68 live at a club called The Kaleidoscope in Hollywood or West L. A. Give a careful listen to The Sun Also Rises.
Ed also recommends Seatrain's version of the Carole King composition, Creepin Midnight. Produced by George Martin.
Finally, please take a look at Ed's spectacular photography.
A musician needs a muse. George Harrison and Eric Clapton found her in Pattie Boyd. Here are five of the best known songs that she is said to have inspired. If you don't love at least four of these five, you need a major soul adjustment.
Once upon a time Once when you were mine I remember skies Mirrored in your eyes I wonder where you are I wonder if you Think about me Once upon a time In your wildest dreams In your wildest dreams In your wildest dreams.
Maybe somewhere down the road a ways You'll think of me and wonder where I am these days Maybe somewhere down the road when someone plays Purple Haze
[. . .]
Well it's all right, even if you're old and gray Well it's all right, you still have something to say Well it's all right, remember to live and let live Well it's all right, best you can do is forgive.
For some reason, The Monkees's Daydream Believer always puts me in mind of Jean H. who captured my fancy back in the first and second grades. I don't know why it should except for the line, "wake up sleepy Jean . . . ."
I remember my old pal Joe O. who I've known since kindergarten riffing on the "roovi do" line in the Randy and the Rainbows 1963 hit Denise, so I'll dedicate this one to him. Great video, by the way, from a time when America stood tall in the world.
List found here. Hyperlinks by BV to songs he is in the mood to revisit this Saturday night while he drinks a specialty boilermaker: a bourbon and sweet vermouth wine spodiodi with a Sam Adams Boston Lager 'chaser.' He will repeat as necessary to achieve the requisite mood. He drinks only one time per week, this time of the week. For some, alcohol is the devil in liquid form. For BV it is a delightful adjunct to a civilized life, one he can take or leave. To hell with Sharia and its 'liberal' and leftist enablers.
BILLBOARD (USA) MAGAZINE'S SINGLES CHART FOR WEEK OF:August 1,1964 TW LW Wks. Song-Artist 1 2 3 A HARD DAY'S NIGHT-BEATLES 2 1 7 Rag Doll-Four Seasons 3 6 6 The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena)-Jan & Dean 4 11 5 Everybody Loves Somebody-Dean Martin 5 18 4 Where Did Our Love Go-Supremes 6 9 7 Wishin' And Hopin'-Dusty Springfield 7 8 8 Dang Me-Roger Miller 8 3 11 I Get Around-Beach Boys 9 4 10 Memphis-Johnny Rivers 10 5 9 The Girl From Ipanema-Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto 11 13 6 Under The Boardwalk-Drifters 12 14 6 Nobody I Know-Peter & Gordon 13 7 8 Can't You See That She's Mine-Dave Clark Five 14 10 9 Keep On Pushing-The Impressions 15 20 7 I Wanna Love Him So Bad-The Jelly Beans 16 12 9 Good Times-Sam Cooke 17 22 6 How Glad I Am-Nancy Wilson 18 15 9 Try It Baby-Marvin Gaye 19 23 7 Farmer John-The Premiers 20 25 7 Steal Away-Jimmy Hughes