music friday: eric clapton, 1974

On this date in 1974, we saw Eric Clapton at the Cow Palace. The opening act was a band called Ross, about whom I remember nothing (they were label mates of Clapton at the time). Clapton was touring behind 461 Ocean Boulevard, which suffered, as every album he ever made after 1970, from not being Layla. Still, it was a good album in the laid-back mode that Clapton eased into around that time, with a hit single in Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff". Clapton was finally off heroin.

For the concert, Clapton almost disappeared. He wore shades and, at least part of the time, a floppy hat. His band:

George Terry - Guitar
Dick Sims - Keyboards
Carl Radle - Bass
Jamie Oldaker - Drums
Yvonne Elliman - Backing Vocals

My memory is that he let Terry take too many solos.

The setlist:

"Smile" - the Charlie Chaplin song
"Let It Grow" - the best song from 461 Ocean Boulevard
"Can’t Find My Way Home" - from his Blind Faith days
"I Shot the Sheriff" - 461
"Let It Rain" - from his first solo album
"Willie and the Hand Jive" - Johnny Otis song from 461
"Get Ready" - 461
"Badge" - the first Cream song of the night
"Matchbox" - the Carl Perkins song (see below)
"Layla" - the biggest disappointment of the night, but you can't bring Duane back from the dead
"Tell the Truth" - also from Layla
"Blues Power" - another from his solo debut
"Have You Ever Loved a Woman" - Layla
"Steady Rollin’ Man" - by his muse, Robert Johnson, from 461
"Crossroads" - perhaps the Cream song most identified with Clapton, also written by Johnson
"Little Queenie" - finishing with Chuck Berry

Derek and the Dominos, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash, "Matchbox":

 


music friday: day on the green 1974

43 years ago, we attended our first Day on the Green. (I eventually attended five. My second featured Robin Trower, Peter Frampton, Dave Mason, Fleetwood Mac, and Gary Wright. The third had The Who and The Grateful Dead. The fourth, Peter Frampton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Santana, and The Outlaws. Finally, my fifth and last had Led Zeppelin, Derringer, and Judas Priest.)

First up was Jesse Colin Young, who was at the peak of his post-Youngbloods career. I remember him being enjoyable. Here he is from late 1973:

Next, we got Joe Walsh and Barnstorm. This was just before they broke up, with Walsh going solo and eventually joining The Eagles. Again from 1973:

The co-headliner was The Band, who we had seen just a few months earlier with Dylan (the tour album, Before the Flood, had come out the previous month). From The Last Waltz in 1976:

Finally came Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. If you want to hear the entire 3+ hours, you can click on this link:

https://youtu.be/bTk2WKwgVLk

We saw them near the beginning of the tour, which was a reunion of the foursome. They were supposedly not happy with the results of the tour, playing in giant stadiums ... ah, but they got lots of money! As was often the case at Day on the Greens, people took toilet paper rolls to the top row of the upper deck and slowly unrolled them ... the best ones would completely unravel and float across the sky towards the center of the stadium. When CSNY began the acoustic part of the show (a bad idea in itself), the crowd had been there for many hours, and heard some great music. CSNY wasn't really doing it for me, at least, and I remember a guy sitting next to me shouting, when Crosby was admonishing us to quiet down for the acoustic stuff, "Sorry, Dave, the toilet paper guy's got you beat!"

Here they are from near the end of the tour:

 


music friday: hair

Let me get one thing out of the way at the start. I have never seen Hair, on stage or on screen. My memory is vague on this, but I think a lot of my friends went to see it in San Francisco, where it first ran in 1969, continuing on for a couple of years. I didn't go with them. You'd think Hair was right up my alley, between my love of rock and roll and my status as a wannabe hippie. But I am not a big fan of stage musicals in general, I didn't think the music in Hair was anything like the rock I loved, and what kind of hippies are there going to be in a play, anyway?

I suppose one day I should see it.

Meanwhile, I did have one encounter with Hair, a tale I have told many times. Here, I'll pull a quote from the first year of this blog, in 2002, slightly edited:

In January of 1981, a friend and I played hooky from work on Reagan's first Inauguration Day to attend a Punk Inaugural Ball at the Mabuhay, headlined by a drag band called Sluts a-Go-Go. It's been more than 35 years, but one thing from that night still sticks with me, when the Sluts sang "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" while incense burned. There I was, in a punk club at the dawn of the Reagan Era, listening to men in drag sing a Broadway version of hippiedom, and I'm not much for irony, for that matter ... in any event, I felt one with the band and the crowd, I wasn't alienated from America in that moment, I was as close to Hippie Community as I'd ever been in the actual hippie days, and I started to cry at the ridiculous wonder of it all.

I've often wondered what was the primary force that brought me to tears. Was it simply that I was amongst "my" people? Was there something brilliant in the performance by the Sluts?

Whatever. To this day, I can get choked up by any and all versions of "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In", including the actual finale of Hair, which is "The Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)". I don't know why, any more than I know why I was so taken by the Sluts a-Go-Go version in 1981.

Here are a few of those versions. First, the original version, a medley from the musical at the Tony Awards:

The Milos Forman film ... apparently this has a different ending than the stage musical:

A more recent version, on The View, for those of you who wondered what it would be like if Barbara Walters got swept up in hippiedom:

The hit version:

And finally, a clip of Sluts a-Go-Go:

 


music friday: back in the day

For the past 300 days, I have posted a Facebook link for my cousin Jonathan that goes to a video for a song from the past (almost entirely 1960s). Here are the 300 songs, with as many links as I could grab again on short notice (and, if possible, matching the links from the original posts). I'll continue to update this post over the next week or so until all of the songs have videos. All of these songs come from my ever-evolving Spotify playlist, "FM", which can be found here:

spotify:user:masoo:playlist:6BGYp4jkh4qeRDcIPXXYkY

1 Hot Tuna - Mann's Fate
2 Muddy Waters - I'll Put a Tiger in Your Tank
3 Mother Earth - I Need Your Love So Bad
4 Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young - Deja Vu
5 Janis Joplin - Kozmic Blues
6 Otis Redding - Shake
7 Ramblin' Jack Elliott - 912 Greens
8 Buffy Sainte-Marie - 97 Men in This Here Town
9 Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee - Stranger Blues
10 The Mothers of Invention - Hungry Freaks, Daddy
11 Joni Mitchell - Big Yellow Taxi
12 Howlin' Wolf - Killing Floor
13 Jefferson Airplane - Greasy Heart
14 Country Joe and the Fish - Section 43
15 Skip James - Devil Got My Woman
16 Traffic - Dear Mr. Fantasy
17 Cold Blood - If You Will
18 Bobby "Blue" Bland - Turn on Your Love Light
19 Phil Ochs - Outside of a Small Circle of Friends
20 Taj Mahal - Take a Giant Step
21 Judy Collins - In My Life
22 Cream - I'm So Glad
23 Sonny Boy Williamson II - Help Me
24 Joan Baez - There But for Fortune
25 The Rolling Stones - No Expectations
26 Little Walter - Juke
27 Big Brother and the Holding Company - Ball and Chain
28 Boz Scaggs - Loan Me a Dime
29 Richie Havens - Freedom
30 Nico - It Was a Pleasure Then
31 The Firesign Theatre - The Further Adventures of Nick Danger
32 Karen Dalton - It Hurts Me Too
33 Love - Seven and Seven Is
34 Creedence Clearwater Revival - Keep on Chooglin'
35 Etta James - I'd Rather Go Blind
36 Van Morrison - Cypress Avenue
37 Slim Harpo - Baby Scratch My Back
38 The Youngbloods - Darkness, Darkness
39 Peter, Paul and Mary - If I Had My Way
40 Ten Years After - Woodchopper's Ball
41 Robert Johnson - Love in Vain
42 Joy of Cooking - Brownsville/Mockingbird
43 Bob Dylan - Freight Train Blues
44 The Mamas and the Papas - Creeque Alley
45 Sam and Dave - When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
46 Led Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving You
47 Elmore James - Shake Your Money Maker
48 Delaney & Bonnie - Groupie (Superstar)
49 The Beatles - Revolution
50 Ian & Sylvia - You Were on My Mind
51 Buddy Miles - Them Changes
52 John Fahey - Red Pony
53 The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Foxey Lady
54 Richard and Mimi Farina - Pack Up Your Sorrows
55 The Velvet Underground - Heroin
56 Fairport Convention - Who Knows Where the Time Goes
57 Junior Wells - Stop Breaking Down
58 The Stooges - I Wanna Be Your Dog
59 Tower of Power - Back on the Streets Again
60 Margo Guryan - Someone I Know
61 The Sir Douglas Quintet + 2 - Song of Everything
62 The GTO's - I Have a Paintbrush in My Hand to Color a Triangle
63 Magic Sam - Sweet Home Chicago
64 Them - Gloria
65 Albert King - Blues Power
66 Malvina Reynolds - Little Boxes
67 The International Submarine Band - Luxury Liner
68 Sly and the Family Stone - I Want to Take You Higher
69 Laura Nyro - Save the Country
70 Leonard Cohen - So Long, Marianne
71 Yma Sumac - Ataypura
72 Johnny Jenkins - Down Along the Cove
73 Leon Russell - Delta Lady
74 Jimmy Reed - Oh John
75 Mary Hopkin - Those Were the Days
76 Mose Allison - New Parchman
77 Billy Preston - That's the Way God Planned It
78 Melanie - Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)
79 Cat Stevens - Miles from Nowhere
80 T-Bone Walker - Call It Stormy Monday
81 The Great Society - Somebody to Love
82 Grateful Dead - Cold Rain and Snow
83 Albert Collins - Frosty
84 Aretha Franklin - The Weight
85 Ken Nordine - Beige
86 Reign Ghost - Breadbox
87 B.B. King - You're Mean
88 Pretty Things - S.F. Sorrow Is Born
89 Lightnin' Hopkins - Take It Easy
90 Vashti Bunyan - Just Another Diamond Day
91 John Mayall - Room to Move
92 Wilbert Harrison - Let's Work Together
93 Blackburn and Snow - Stranger in a Strange Land
94 Grand Funk Railroad - Mean Mistreater
95 Willie Bobo - Spanish Grease
96 The Jim Kweskin Jug Band - The Sheik of Araby
97 The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - Tuesday's Blues
98 Little Milton - We're Gonna Make It
99 Pentangle - Pentangling
100 The Who - A Quick One While He's Away
101 Lamb - Barbara's Soul II
102 Otis Redding - Try a Little Tenderness
103 George Harrison - Beware of Darkness
104 Junior Wells - I Wish I Knew What I Know Now
105 Fotheringay - The Sea
106 The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along the Watchtower
107 The Beau Brummels - The Keeper of Time
108 Bessie Smith - Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out
109 Rotary Connection - I Took a Ride
110 July - Dandelion Seeds
111 Bob Dylan - If Dogs Run Free
112 Cream - Badge
113 Jean Ritchie - Barbary Allen
114 Ravi Shankar - Dhun (Dadra and Fast Teental)
115 The Paul Butterfield Blues Band - East/West
116 James Cotton - Turn on Your Lovelight
117 Jackie DeShannon - Laurel Canyon
118 Big Brother and the Holding Company - Turtle Blues
119 The 13th Floor Elevators - Roller Coaster
120 John Lee Hooker - She's Long, She's Tall (She Weeps Like a Willow Tree)
121 Neil Young - After the Gold Rush
122 B.B. King - Chains and Things
123 Carole King - Spaceship Races
124 Ananda Shankar - Light My Fire
125 Laura Nyro - Up on the Roof
126 King Curtis - Soul Serenade
127 Jimmie Rodgers - Waiting for a Train
128 Wilbert Harrison - Soul Rattler
129 Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity - Season of the Witch
130 Beach Boys - Sloop John B
131 Etta James - Money (That's What I Want)
132 Arthur Alexander - Anna (Go to Him)
133 Ultimate Spinach - Happiness Child
134 Willie Dixon - I Ain't Superstitious
135 Koko Taylor - Wang Dang Doodle
136 The Kinks - David Watts
137 Janis Joplin - Work Me, Lord
138 Muddy Waters - I Got My Brand on You
139 Country Joe and the Fish - Flying High
140 Buffy Sainte-Marie - God Is Alive, Magic Is Afoot
141 The Last Poets - Two Little Boys
142 Richard & Mimi Fariña - House un-American Blues Activity Dream
143 Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks - Waiting for the "103"
144 Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
145 Tim Buckley - Once I Was
146 Joan Baez - One Day at a Time
147 Lafayette Thomas - Claim on You
148 Country Weather - Carry a Spare
149 Love - Alone Again Or
150 Merry Clayton - Gimmie Shelter
151 The Band - King Harvest (Has Surely Come)
152 Karen Dalton - I Love You More Than Words Can Say
153 Buddy Guy - When My Left Eye Jumps
154 Jefferson Airplane - Embryonic Journey
155 Lonnie Brooks - One Sunny Day
156 The City - That Old Sweet Roll (Hi-De-Ho)
157 The Broadside Singers - Carry It On
158 Richie Havens - I Can't Make It Anymore
159 It's a Beautiful Day - White Bird
160 Charlie Musselwhite - Christo Redemptor
161 Delaney & Bonnie - Comin' Home
162 K.C. Douglas - Mercury Blues
163 F.J. McMahon - The Spirit of the Golden Juice
164 Swamp Dogg - Synthetic World
165 Jackie DeShannon - Put a Little Love in Your Heart
166 Tim Buckley - I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain
167 Loading Zone - Can I Dedicate
168 Holy Modal Rounders - Euphoria
169 Quicksilver Messenger Service - Pride of Man
170 Sly and the Family Stone - Dance to the Music
171 The Staple Singers - Move Along Train
172 Tom Rush - Urge for Going
173 Margo Guryan - Sun
174 Jesse Fuller - San Francisco Bay Blues
175 Sam and Dave - Soul Man
176 Yes - Every Little Thing
177 Ace of Cups - Simplicity
178 Santana - Soul Sacrifice
179 The Beatles - We Can Work It Out
180 Odetta - Take This Hammer
181 Elizabeth Cotten - Shake Sugaree
182 The Moody Blues - Never Comes the Day
183 The Chambers Brothers - I Can't Stand It
184 Woody Guthrie - I Ain't Got No Home
185 Pharoah Sanders - The Creator Has a Master Plan
186 Pentangle - Turn Your Money Green
187 The Rolling Stones - The Spider and the Fly
188 Geoff & Maria Muldaur - Me and My Chauffeur Blues
189 Mance Lipscomb - Sugar Babe
190 The Velvet Underground - The Black Angel's Death Song
191 Dusty Springfield - Son of a Preacher Man
192 Big Bill Broonzy - This Train
193 John Mayall - Snowy Wood
194 John Handy - Three in One
195 Fanny - Badge
196 The Mothers of Invention - Jelly Roll Gum Drop
197 Chuck Berry - It Hurts Me Too
198 Chicken Shack - I'd Rather Go Blind
199 Jimmy Rogers - That's All Right
200 The Allman Brothers Band - Whipping Post
201 Peter, Paul, and Mary - Moments of Soft Persuasion
202 Robert Johnson - Hellhound on My Trail
203 The Rolling Stones - Jumpin' Jack Flash
204 Ike and Tina Turner - River Deep Mountain High
205 The Blues Project - I Can't Keep from Crying Sometimes
206 Love - Signed D.C.
207 Lamb - Adventures of the Incredible Mr. Sandman
208 Jesse Fuller - How Long Blues
209 The Beatles - A Day in the Life
210 The Edwin Hawkins Singers - Oh Happy Day
211 Howlin' Wolf - How Many More Years
212 Kaleidoscope - Please
213 Joan Baez - Wildwood Flower
214 Donovan - Josie
215 Taj Mahal - Cluck Old Hen
216 Judy Collins - Someday Soon
217 The Cyrkle - Turn-Down Day
218 Junior Wells - Shake It Baby
219 Joni Mitchell - Night in the City
220 The Lovin' Spoonful - Summer in the City
221 The Staple Singers - Freedom Highway
222 The Grateful Dead - Turn on Your Love Light
223 Humble Pie - Take Me Back
224 Richie Havens - Handsome Johnny
225 Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity - Flesh Failures (Let the Sunshine In)
226 Velvet Underground - Run Run Run
227 Nico - These Days
228 Fats Domino - Lady Madonna
229 Jefferson Airplane - Won't You Try/Saturday Afternoon
230 Skip James - Look at the People Standing at the Judgement
231 Simon and Garfunkel - I Am a Rock
232 The Band - Stage Fright
233 Etta James - Seven Day Fool
234 Kilby Snow - Flop-Eared Mule
235 Peter, Paul, and Mary - The Great Mandella (The Wheel of Life)
236 Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising
237 Sun Ra - Spontaneous Simplicity
238 John Lennon - Remember
239 Yma Sumac - Tumpa (Earthquake)
240 Buffalo Springfield - Out of My Mind
241 Judy Collins - Early Morning Rain
242 Joe Cocker - Delta Lady
243 Blind Willie Johnson - Lord I Can't Just Keep from Crying
244 Love Sculpture - Sabre Dance
245 Otis Rush - Double Trouble
246 Fotheringay - Too Much of Nothing
247 The Doors - Light My Fire
248 T-Bone Walker - Shake It Baby
249 Buffy Sainte-Marie - The Vampire
250 Siegel-Schwall - Bring It With You When You Come
251 Laura Nyro - Eli's Comin'
252 Earl Hooker - Two Bugs and a Roach
253 The Mamas and the Papas - Dedicated to the One I Love
254 Leonard Cohen - Sisters of Mercy
255 John Lee Hooker - Boogie Chillun
256 The Byrds - My Back Pages
257 Sly and the Family Stone - M'Lady
258 Mother Earth - What Are You Trying to Do?
259 The Moody Blues - Legend of a Mind
260 Nico - Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams
261 Clarence Carter - The Road of Love
262 Bob Dylan - Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues
263 Chuck Berry - Around and Around
264 The Stone Poneys - Different Drum
265 Creedence Clearwater Revival - Lookin' Out My Back Door
266 Buddy Guy - Keep It to Myself
267 Gale Garnett - Our Time to Shine
268 The Nice - America
269 Jimmy Reed - Good Lover
270 Joni Mitchell - For Free
271 Jethro Tull - My Sunday Feeling
272 B.B. King - Paying the Cost to Be the Boss
273 Melanie - Mr. Tambourine Man
274 The Mothers of Invention - You Didn't Try to Call Me
275 Rotary Connection - Turn Me On
276 Charles Lloyd - Forest Flower (Sunrise/Sunset)
277 Harry Nilsson - One
278 Slim Harpo - I'm a King Bee
279 Staple Singers - When Will We Be Paid?
280 The Everly Brothers - Illinois
281 Janis Joplin - Little Girl Blue
282 Little Walter - Boom Boom Out Goes the Light
283 Fleetwood Mac - Love That Burns
284 Rev. Pearly Brown - Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning
285 Denise and Company - Boy, What'll You Do Then
286 Albert King - Crosscut Saw
287 Taj Mahal - The Celebrated Walking Blues
288 The Stone Poneys - Different Drum
289 The Fugs - The Belle of Avenue A
290 The GTO's - Miss Pamela and Miss Sparky Discuss Stuffed Bras and Some of Their Early Gym Class Experiences
291 Wilbert Harrison - Tropical Shakedown
292 Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Sure 'Nuff 'n' Yes, I Do
293 Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
294 Cold Blood - Funky on My Back
295 Van Morrison - The Way Young Lovers Do
296 Karen Dalton - How Did the Feeling Feel to You
297 Jr. Walker & The All-Stars - (I'm a) Road Runner
298 Kaleidoscope - Oh Death
299 Jackie DeShannon - Ooh, You Did It Again!
300 Mississippi John Hurt - Richland Woman Blues


music friday: sun records

I'm reading Peter Guralnick's biography of Sam Phillips (Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll), and thought I'd turn Music Friday into a Sun Records special.

Here is the first record actually released by Phillips on Sun, Johnny London, "Drivin' Slow" b/w "Flat Tire", from 1952:

From 1953, Rufus Thomas with an "answer record" to "Hound Dog", this one called "Bear Cat" (Joe Hill Louis on guitar). Phillips tried to claim this was a separate song, but he ended up settling, with Leiber/Stoller getting writing credit:

Next, "Mystery Train" by "Little Junior's Blue Flames" (Little Junior Parker), also from 1953 ... this would later be covered by Elvis:

And speaking of Elvis, his first single, from 1954, "That's All Right" b/w "Blue Moon of Kentucky":

 


music friday: i think it's daily mix 3

The Flying Burrito Brothers, “Christine’s Tune (Devil in Disguise).”

Jerry Jeff Walker, “I’m Gonna Tell on You.”

Arlo Guthrie, “Every Hand in the Land.”

John Hiatt, “Feels Like Rain.”

Karen Dalton, “Down on the Street (Don’t You Follow Me Down).”

Nick Drake, “River Man.”

Mary Gauthier, “Falling Out of Love.”

Kevin Ayers, “Girl on a Swing.”

Judy Collins, “I Think It’s Going to Rain Today.”

Steve Earle, “This City.”


joel selvin, altamont: the rolling stones, the hells angels, and the inside story of rock's darkest day, and gimme shelter (albert maysles, david maysles, charlotte zwerin, 1970)

I just finished Joel Selvin's book on Altamont, and then watched Gimme Shelter again. The concluding section of the book discusses Gimme Shelter. Selvin is less interested in assigning blame than in getting to the details behind the legend ... by the time we get to the movie, we've come to know many of the people who turn up in that movie, and have a better understanding of where they were coming from.

First, a few words about Selvin’s book, since I’ve written a lot about Gimme Shelter in the past. The book is long, detailed, and seems to be well-researched. Selvin was well-placed to write the book, being a Bay Area native who has had a long career as a music critic, and is an author of several books on music. In his afterword, he notes that “I knew better than to go to Altamont”, then offers the observations of friends who did attend (“[M]y friends knew nothing about what had really gone on. They had a good time ...”). This mirrors my own experience ... I had friends who went, and they returned speaking joyfully about “Woodstock West”. (In later years, they talked about how awful it was ... the vagaries of memory.) The book works in part as a warm-up for the movie, filling in what was largely left unreported in the film. But the movie is never far from Selvin’s mind:

That movie became the accepted account of the day, the official record of history, despite the fact that the Rolling Stones themselves were partners in the film’s production.... The story needed to be told, as fully and completely as possible. The tangled threads of the movie and the concert needed to be unbraided.

Selvin may be up to more than handing out blame, but he does make himself clear. “[W]hen all the facts are presented, it’s hard to see true responsibility lying with anyone but the Rolling Stones.” And he connects this to Gimme Shelter:

[W]hy did the Rolling Stones go through with the concert? That crucial decision – and the underlying determination that went into it – made the difference in everything that happened at Altamont. There is only one plausible reason: the final scene to the concert movie. There is no other good explanation for why Jagger and company proceeded with this concert in the days before the show as it unraveled in front of their eyes.... It is simply not true that this free concert was some magnanimous, beneficent gesture. The Stones wanted something out of the deal, and what they wanted was a big finish for their epochal movie that they hoped would document their magnificent return to glory.

What the book Altamont does is place the above in context. He doesn’t absolve everyone other than the Stones, but “The Hells Angels needed to be portrayed as they were – real people with names who were placed in a treacherous, untenable situation – not cardboard cutout villains. The role of the Grateful Dead and their ultimate betrayal by the Stones needed to be detailed.... The massive use of toxic drugs was not examined.”

So, Gimme Shelter. I have huge emotional reactions to the film every time I see it. Over the years, I have a more solid appreciation for the techniques and vision of the Maysles. But maybe "appreciation" is the wrong word, as is my reference to "Maysles". For on this watching, I decided the true artist was editor Charlotte Zwerin.

My friend Charlie Bertsch wrote a strong piece on the movie a few years ago. A big portion of that essay is devoted to refuting Pauline Kael’s take. She resisted the pull of “direct cinema”, emphasizing the “manipulative possibilities of filmmaking”. Charlie responds, “[T]he Maysles’ approach ... demands witnessing events without knowing how they will turn out”, as if this precludes the possibility of manipulation.

But Charlie also points us in the direction of what is really happening in Gimme Shelter when he rightfully praises the work of editor Charlotte Zwerin, “who earned co-director billing for the brilliant editing she did after filming was complete” [emphasis added]. He singles out scenes of Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts looking at footage from the film, which he calls “a brilliant idea for which Charlotte Zwerin gets the credit”. But if the Maysles want to fall back on "we don't stage stuff", those scenes would seem to contradict that idea. Jagger and Watts were invited, and filmed, by the filmmakers to watch the footage, which didn’t happen “naturally”.

Ultimately, the truest statement in Charlie’s piece is this: "The finished product’s success depends entirely on how the raw footage is edited together." No matter what the circumstances under which the Maysles worked, the film is made when Zwerin gets her talented hands on it. And film editing is as crucial, and as vulnerable to manipulation, as the shooting of the original footage. The Maysles may not have had a preformed idea of what they wanted the events to show, but Gimme Shelter requires that someone edit the footage. Charlotte Zwerin, whether working on her own or with the direction of the Maysles, manipulates the raw footage into the movie we see today. We can argue what Gimme Shelter is saying, but we can’t argue about the role the filmmakers had in making that statement. Michael Sragow, who Charlie quotes, is half right when he says “Gimme Shelter is not about manipulating events – it’s about letting events get away from you.” The latter part is true, which is one reason I find the movie so disturbing. But the first part is false.


music friday: from the modern rock charts for the week of june 8, 1996

#39: Primitive Radio Gods: “Standing Outside of a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand.” I’ve been downhearted, baby, ever since the day we met.

#19: Oasis, “Champagne Supernova.” Where were you while we were getting high?

#17: Jewel, “Who Will Save Your Soul? After all the lies you told.

#10: Butthole Surfers, “Pepper.” Flipper died a natural death.

#1: Tracy Bonham, “Mother Mother.” Everything’s fine.


music friday: big brother and the holding company

Not the band, the album: Big Brother and the Holding Company. It’s the much-disdained debut, a year before Cheap Thrills hit #1.

The production is crappy. The band recorded a single in September of 1966 that did nothing, and then recorded ten more songs at the end of the year. Nothing much happened until the band blew people away at Monterey in June of 1967. By August, Mainstream Records, who had the band’s contract, finally released the earlier songs in a rather haphazard manner. The album, which contained only ten songs and ran barely over 23 minutes, contained eight of the later songs, along with the earlier single ... two other later songs were released as a single. Columbia Records then took over the band’s contract and re-released the album with all twelve songs.

As I recall, the general feeling at the time was that Big Brother and the Holding Company didn’t capture the group’s live sound. Heard today, the thin production and psychedelic guitars make the album sound a bit like a lost garage rock classic. But there probably isn’t enough Janis to satisfy the new fans who thought it was Janis Joplin and Her Band of Amateurs. Columbia did what they could. Here’s the original album cover:

big brother

And here’s the Columbia re-release:

big brother columbia

In the meantime, the band did a short program on the local public television station just as Cheap Thrills was released that included this incendiary version of “Ball and Chain”:

The “underground” FM station took to playing this version at least as often as the one on Cheap Thrills. Meanwhile, Monterey Pop, which featured yet another fiery version of “Ball and Chain”, didn’t come out until December, and I don’t believe there was an audio version of the festival until 1992. Whatever ... both the public TV version and the Cheap Thrills version are great. (And just to show where many minds were, in Monterey Pop, the mid-song guitar break is edited out.)

At this point, that first album was almost forgotten, not a bad trick considering it was only a year old. Which is unfair, for there is some good stuff on there. “Down on Me” was an almost-hit that Janis carried with her into her solo career. “Woman Is Losers” is another good Janis showcase. “Light Is Faster Than Sound” is a cheesy pseudo-sci-fi effort. The version of the all-time classic “Coo Coo” is solid. And “All Is Loneliness” is special.

Still, it probably says something that I spent so much of this post about the first album talking about other music.


music friday: our 44th anniversary

Got married on May 26, 1973.

post-wedding

The #1 song in the U.S. that day was:

And at the wedding, I recited the lyrics to this song:

The lyrics:

I scare myself just thinking about you
I scare myself when I'm without you
I scare myself the moment that you're gone
I scare myself when I let my thoughts run
and when they're running
I keep thinking of you
and when they're running
what can I do?

I scare myself, and I don't mean lightly
I scare myself, it can get frightening
I scare myself, to think what I could do
I scare myself -- it's some kind of voodoo
and with that voodoo
I keep thinking of you
and with that voodoo
what can I do?

but it's oh so so so different when we're together
and I'm oh so so so much calmer; I feel better
For the stars have crossed our paths forever
and the sooner that you realize it the better
then I'll be with you and I won't scare myself
and I'll know what to do and I won't scare myself
and I'll think of you and I won't scare myself
and my thoughts will run and I won't scare myself