music friday: mick jagger's birthday

Mick Jagger spent his 34th birthday with the Rolling Stones, playing a Day on the Green concert in Oakland. It was the final show on the Some Girls tour, and tickets were $12.50. For your money, you got not only the Stones, but Santana, Eddie Money, and Peter Tosh. A Rolling Stone article about the tour asked, "Has the band lost that touring magic?"

Former Wailer Peter Tosh released his third solo album in 1978, Bush Doctor. It was his second album on Rolling Stones Records, and featured Tosh and Jagger trading vocals on "(You Gotta Walk And) Don't Look Back".

Eddie Money was a local favorite working out of Berkeley who had released his first album in 1977. It was a big seller and contained two hits, "Two Tickets to Paradise" and this one:

Santana was a bigger local favorite who, of course, were known world-wide. In 1978, they released a cover of Buddy Holly's "Well All Right":

The Stones made the fans wait more than two hours before they hit the stage. This was the setlist:

Let It Rock
All Down the Line
Honky Tonk Women
Starfucker
When the Whip Comes Down
Beast of Burden
Lies
Miss You
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
Shattered
Respectable
Far Away Eyes
Love in Vain
Tumbling Dice
Happy
Sweet Little Sixteen
Brown Sugar
Jumpin' Jack Flash
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

Some Girls was the Stones' last great album. A few years ago, they released a film of a 1978 concert in Texas. About that show, Chet Flippo, who penned the above-mentioned Rolling Stone article, wrote:

There have been bad shows on this tour, but Fort Worth was not one of them. It was the last small show of the tour, and the Stones gave it everything they had: these old pros, crippled by age and by dissipation, but still holding the flag high. Jagger’s defiance, missing in so many of the shows, returned for a while and Richards was — usually — leading the band. In “Beast of Burden” when Jagger pleaded, “Ain’t I tough enough?” it was a real question, not a rhetorical one. Thirty rows back, though, with everyone still standing, I was thinking: I’m thirty-four years old and I’ve seen rock & roll for seventeen years and I’d kinda like to sit down. Jagger is also thirty-four and he’s been doing rock & roll seventeen years and most of the time he acts like he’d like to sit down, too. Why does he keep this up? Just for these few moments of glory? I studied him through binoculars and his face showed no emotion whatsoever. During “Shattered,” he was mumbling the words, “I’ve been shattered” as he half-heartedly shook his cock. That’s been the extent of his 1978 theatrics: teasing the audience with whatever was in his pants and performing an intermittent striptease with his T-shirt. The audience reaction, even at this relatively supercharged show, was the same as at the other concerts I’d seen: at first buoyantly up and ready for the old Stones magic to wash over them. As that magic wanes, a certain listlessness sets in. At some of the outdoor shows, that listlessness turned to anger and stage-trashing.

“If the band’s slightly lacking in energy,” he mumbled after “Shattered,” “it’s because we spent all last night fuckin’. We do our best.” Well, I thought, I’m glad this is a good show because the bad ones these days are really painful. Jagger’s voice started cracking and Richards gave over his guitar solo in “Tumbling Dice” — usually a magical moment — to Ron Wood. A good show, very close to being a great one. If the Stones continue to work this hard, they can hold on to their championship title for a while yet.

Finally, for archival purposes, here is a poorly-recorded audio of the Oakland concert:


music friday: fillmore auditorium, july 19, 1967

On this date 52 years ago, Bill Graham presented one of those interesting mixes at the Fillmore that he was known for in those days. He was in the middle of what he called "The Fillmore Summer Series", which the previous month had included my first rock concert (Chuck Berry, Eric Burdon & the Animals, Steve Miller Blues Band). Wednesday, July 19, 1967 was the second night of a six-day stand featuring Sam & Dave and the James Cotton Blues Band.

Sam & Dave Poster

Bonnie MacLean did the poster. She and Graham had been married the month before.

Country Joe & the Fish were the opening act for the first three nights (The Loading Zone took over for the final three). Here they are a month earlier at the Monterey Pop Festival:

James Cotton played all six nights, and then stuck around for six more nights playing with The Yardbirds, Richie Havens, and The Doors. Here he is, live in 1967:

Sam & Dave in 1967:

Sam Moore in 2009:


music friday: listening

My nephew got me started on a long ramble when he asked me in an email, "How did your music listening habits change from your 20s to your 30s?" My reply:
 
My formative years ... well, I'm gonna say for many/most Americans, our formative years for popular music come in high school or a little before. I was in high school from 1967-1970. So, try as I might, part of me is stuck in that era, which is proven by Last.fm, which tracks my Spotify listening. I'll brag about listening to Billie Eilish like that means I'm old-but-hip, except when we run the numbers ... well, my top ten artists for June were Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Sleater-Kinney, The Kinks, Tim Buckley, Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Bowie, and Fleetwood Mac (notably, that last act was almost all the Peter Green years).
 
I'd extract two things from this. One, I was raised on guitar rock. It's not that weird that I would like Sleater-Kinney, where 2/3 of the band plays guitar. That also means I started disconnecting when synthesizers replaced guitars in pop bands ... outside of New Order, I wasn't a big fan, and that came around the time I turned 30. Two, not sure how it works here, but probably my #1 pop music influence in high school was the birth of "underground" FM radio. That's where most of my current nostalgia lies, and those top ten artists above were either played on those radio stations or were outgrowths of that.
 
Next, there was no way, at least to me, to predict hip-hop, which long ago replaced rock and roll as the primary pop music. I am appreciative of hip hop, and have my favorites, but really, it was mostly Beastie Boys who connected with me, because they were kinda like Led Zeppelin with rapping. I turned 30 in 1983. That was when Run-D.M.C and Public Enemy and such were beginning, so I caught the beginnings of that, but my favorite was still Bruce Springsteen. And while Prince covered all genres, and I saw him first in 1981, he had strong roots in guitar rock, so I wasn't really stretching out then, either. Beyond that, my favorites were bands like Hüsker Dü.
 
The only time I fell headlong into an emerging sound was punk. I first saw Patti Smith in 1976, Talking Heads and Sex Pistols in '78, Clash in '79. I could never call myself a punk rocker ... I had a job as a steelworker and was supporting a wife and two kids. But it's really the only time I felt strongly connected to a genre. When did this end? I don't know, I saw the fake-Clash in 1984, maybe that ends that period. And I was 31 in 1984.
 
So ... I don't think my musical tastes have changed nearly as much as I'd like to pretend. Noisy rock in the 60s, Bruce and then punk in the 70s, Prince and Hüsker Dü in the 80s, first three S-K shows in the 90s, Pink ... well, she's a little different, except when you see her in concert and get past the high-flying acrobatics, she and her band are very traditional guitar rock.
 
So to your actual question: Listening habits.
 
From my early youth until the Summer of Love in 1967 (when I turned 14), I listened to Top 40 Radio. Starting in the summer of 1967, I listened to FM radio, and I connected very much to a fantasy hippie world. The early-70s were more random, then Robin and I started going to concerts when we had a little extra money, so my 70s listening included lots of live music. Saw Bruce first in 1975, #1 life-changing artist for us. In the 1970s, the radio station that was once "Underground" was mainstream, but they still played what we now think of as Classic Rock, and I was still very attached to radio. Sometime in the 1980s, I found myself playing music I bought more than I listened to radio, although I had a few years in the mid-80s when I listened to college radio 24/7. And in 1983, I turned 30.
 
Nothing really changed in my listening habits from the mid-80s until 2002 or so. I was an early adopter of all-you-can-eat streaming services, so starting with Rhapsody and going into today's Spotify, my listening habits are fed by the idea that I can hear anything I want at any time in any place. Been doing that since I turned 50 or so. And while that gives me the chance to sample all kinds of music, see Last.fm above ... I listen to 60s music a lot. Well, 60s music and Billie Eilish (I remain a sucker for young girls/women with attitudes).
 
The real question is, how much of my changing listening habits came from getting older, and how much came because of emerging technology? Specifically, my listening is related to how radio came to me: Top 40, then FM Underground, then FM mainstream, then college radio, then a hiatus, then finally streaming. But WHAT I listen to, I assume, is tied to getting older. Maybe not so noticeably when I went from my 20s to my 30s (concerts I attended in 1982, when I was 29: Prince, Clarence Clemons, J Geils/U2, Clash/English Beat; in 1983, when I was 30: Prince, Marianne Faithfull), but by the time I was 40 ... well, I didn't go to as many concerts, for one thing. The only two artists I've obsessed about that started after I was 40 are Sleater-Kinney and Pink, and Pink isn't really an obsession.
 
So changes happen over the years, but they are gradual. And it is possible to stay current in your enjoyment of pop music, but most of my friends who are in their 50s and 60s, even the most music-obsessed ones, struggle to keep up. They want to hear the latest thing, but they'd rather listen to The Cure and Pavement. My glory years of music listening were the late-60s FM radio, and the mid/late-70s of fairly regular concert going. That is, Jefferson Airplane and The Clash have a special place in my heart.
 


music friday: top ten janet weiss sleater-kinney tracks

"Dig Me Out"

"Not What You Want"

"Get Up"

"Youth Decay" (these are in chronological order, but this would be my #1)

"One Beat"

"The Promised Land" (the Bruce Springsteen song, w/Janet on drums and harmonica)

"The Fox"

"Modern Girl"

"Let's Call It Love/Entertain" (New Year's Eve 2016, the last time I saw them together)

"No Anthems"

Bonus: Wild Flag covering Television and Patti Smith:

And a Spotify playlist:


god bless america for what

Oh lord, is this the land of the free? 
And can someone please explain this word called equality? 
’Tis the time for everyone to come to this country’s aid
And help repair the mess of this land that we’ve all made
You see kids are tired of growing up just to fight another war and singing God bless America
Unless they know, they know what for


music friday: rent

My wife is retiring. She might already be retired ... it's not clear to me. Part of me thinks her last day is Sunday, but of course she doesn't work on Sundays. So then I think her last day is today, Friday. But yesterday she went into the office and returned all of the equipment she had used over the years in order to work mostly from home. When she got back, she said she was retired, because she can no longer work from home, and she's not going in tomorrow, so it's a de facto retirement. As if to emphasize this, she went into the bedroom and unplugged her alarm clock. Said she would never use it again.

She spent 15 years working for Kaiser. They had a party for her. Lots of people told her how highly they regarded her. One of her best qualities is that while she's not exactly modest, she doesn't think she is anything special. If you point out to her that she is a good person, she replies that she's just like everyone else. If you tell her that not everyone does the right thing as often as she does, she deflects the praise. Still, I was glad to know that her long-time workmates forced her to listen to their praise. When she came home, she tried on some of the stuff they'd given her:

Robin retires

I walked off my factory job in August of 1984, 35 years ago. Robin immediately went out and got a job, then went back to school and got an MBA while she kept working. She has supported the family for the last 35 years, and you could say that she'll be supporting it for the next 35 years, too, since she made sure to put money aside for retirement. Understand, she doesn't like work. She's not someone like my father, who worked all his life and died within a year of retiring. She doesn't like work, never has, but for 35 years she supported our family so that I could goof off. I still can't believe it.

So here comes our golden years.


music friday: on this date in 1967

What actually happened on this date is a matter of dispute.

Bill Graham offered his "Opening the Fillmore Summer Series" with a six-night stand, June 20-25, at the Fillmore Auditorium. Jefferson Airplane were the headliners. They were coming off of their second album, the seminal Surrealistic Pillow. They were also coming off a performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, which took place just a few days earlier, June 16-18, with the Airplane playing the Saturday night show.

Second on the bill was Gabor Szabo, a prolific jazz guitarist who recorded five albums in 1967 alone. Here he is at Monterey in 1967, although in his case, we're talking about the Monterey Jazz Festival:

The opening act, at least the first night of the six-night stand, had also played at the Monterey Pop Festival. When Graham booked him for these shows, the man was mostly unknown. After playing the Fillmore shows and a few others on the West Coast, he signed on as the opening act for The Monkees, who were on their first U.S. tour. While our Fillmore man was American, he had hit first in the U.K. ... Monterey was the first time he got the attention of American fans, so to capitalize on that, it was thought that the Monkees tour would expose his music to a larger audience.

It didn't work out. His music wasn't quite what the Monkees fans were looking for, and he dropped out from the tour after eight shows.

Here he is, introducing himself to America:

There are many stories about what happened at that Fillmore stand. I'll let Airplane biographer Jeff Tamarkin tell the story, from his Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane:

What exactly happened that week at the Fillmore is a matter of conjecture, but from most accounts, the Airplane played the first night, June 20 (and perhaps the second), then canceled out of the rest. The official word was that Grace's voice gave out, forcing the Airplane to pass on the other shows, with Janis Joplin - newly benefiting from the Monterey raves - and Big Brother and the Holding Company replacing them. That's how Mitch Mitchell, drummer of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Sam Andrew of Big Brother and Bill Thompson all remember it.

Another popular version of the story goes like this: The Airplane, on that first night, saw what Hendrix was capable of doing to an audience and, although they did finish out the week, they switched the billing so that Hendrix could close the show. Yet another assessment - a minority opinion - has it that the Airplane stayed the whole week, closing the show as planned.

But one thing everyone agreed upon was that Hendrix took the old rulebook and threw it out the window. He married technology and technique in a visionary way, yet for all of the pyrotechnics and drama of his act, his music oozed soulfulness, sensuality and spirituality - there was nothing phony about it.

I don't want to let this go without noting again how diverse Bill Graham's concerts were in those days. A folk-rock band with psychedelic tendencies, a jazz guitarist from Hungary, and Jimi Hendrix.

Finally, a bonus. Big Brother may or may not have taken over for the Airplane during those Fillmore shows, but they (and Janis) definitely made a splash at Monterey. She's great in the movie, but they edit "Ball and Chain" to remove the psychedelic guitar solo. So here they are a couple of months before Monterey, from a little show that was broadcast on the local public TV station. It got some play on the underground FM radio stations ... it's a bit more raw than the version on Cheap Thrills:


music friday: elton john

There was a bit of discussion on the Rocketman post regarding Elton's music, so I thought I'd pick my ten favorite Elton John songs. I might say I'm not a big fan, but just being able to choose ten songs means I like him pretty well. I think these are in chronological order. I don't have much to say, so I'm just putting the songs out there.

"Your Song".

"Take Me to the Pilot". Neither Elton nor Bernie Taupin seems to have the slightest idea what this song is about, which is why I think it is the ultimate Elton John song: lyrics that sound meaningful but aren't, but no one cares because the chorus is so catchy.

"Country Comfort". I came to this via Rod Stewart, which explains the link. (My list of favorite Rod Stewart songs would be longer than ten.)

"Tiny Dancer". Repeating the link to the Almost Famous scene I used in the Rocketman post. That scene is really the only reason this song makes my list.

"Honky Cat".

"Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding". My second-fave after "Saturday Night". The lead guitarist's name is Davey Johnstone.

"Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock and Roll)". Why yes, I do prefer Elton the Rocker to Elton the Balladeer.

"Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting". My fave.

"The Bitch Is Back".

"Solar Prestige a Gammon". The ultimate extension of the "Take Me to the Pilot" school of lyrics, which are presented here in total (note that Elton sings these lyrics with the same happy abandon he uses for many more "meaningful" songs ... it's all the same to Elton):

Oh ma cameo molesting
Kee pa a poorer for tea
Solar prestige a gammon
Lantern or turbert paw kwee
Solar prestige a gammon
cool kar kyrie kay salmon
Hair ring molassis abounding
Common lap kitch sardin a poor floundin
Cod ee say oo pay a loto
My zeta prestige toupay a floored
Ray indee pako a gammon
Solar prestige a pako can nord