Tom Petty Has Died.

This was the first song most of us heard by Tom Petty, I’m pretty confident to say. At least those who were alive when that record, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came out. Some of us were confused, there was another band called the Heartbreakers out there already, playing around the neighborhood. But LAMF, that band’s first album, didn’t come out until late in 1977. Tom Petty’s band’s first eponymous elpee dropped in February, and with it this amazing song that seemed to meld southern rock, LA country and NY punk into a perfect song.

Petty turned out be a giant star who had at least a bit of the heart of a remnant. He kept playing with his high school band, all through his life, and he genuinely seemed to enjoy the whole process, the writing and performing and being a star while also being himself. He wrote and sang and performed everywhere since those early days, and has had scores of hits and a ton of fame, but this is the song that comes to me first and foremost when I hear something awful, like I did today.

Hiss Golden Messenger

I wish I could limit this to a song. Or a video. But the fact is that this is a fantastic band. Maybe the best I’ve ever heard. They’re that good. (Okay, this is overstatement, but I hope it got your attention.)

The problem is that they play classic rock, or classic country rock. This is a style of music that is so overplayed, so worn out, that you would think that creating new songs and sounds in the style would be impossible. But somehow Hiss Golden Messenger makes these old sounds sound fresh. The arrangements are fantastic. The songs are very good.

I find this confounding. Listening I hear Delaney and Bonnie meeting mellow Clapton, with some Allmans and Van Morrison, vocals by Steve Earle, a track here is a little like Dylan, that one is a little like the Band, but none of them ripoffs or lazily derivative. They use the phonemes of classic country rock and create a dream team. That is what this band does, on every cut, of the two albums I’ve listened to.

So, here are a few songs for your delectation. Rave on. These aren’t punk gods, like Hans Condor. They’re not innovators, but they’re not nostalgists either. They inhabit their music in a way that only the very best do. They are regular musicians trying to find a pay day. But I think you’re going to like what they do.

Lunch Break: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “Didn’t It Rain”

I feel like a stupid ignorant fuck, having lived nearly 65 years, being a music junkie, and having never heard of Sister Rosetta Tharpe till a couple of days ago, but I got a link to some of her stuff via my weekly NPR music email push, and there she was.

Not much I can say but, “wow.”

Check this out and you will see what I mean. Swear to fucking god.

 

“Pick On” Pink Floyd

Every week on my show on FNTSY (the Tout Wars Hour, 9-11 PM, ET every Thursday night he plugged shamelessly) I ask my special guest to reveal a favorite album, movie, TV show, athlete to watch, and food and the list, as Fantasy now spreads generations, is big fun.

There are wonderful surprises like Tim McLeod loving Sunburst Finish  by Be Bop Deluxe and Eno Sarris, being a fan of his namesake’s Taking Tiger Mountain by Storm.

A couple of weeks ago my special guest was Jeff Zimmerman, and when I suggested  that basic script for the show that week I also noted that during our final five minute  segment we do indeed review those pop items like players we like to watch and music  we like to listen to.

Jeff warned me in advance that he was not that much of a music person, and I  responded no problem, and there must be a Beatles or Stones or some kind of album or song in his head somewhere he liked and just do the best you can.

But, never, ever, ever, did I expect his actual entry to the list which is a blue grass cover of The Wall performed by Luther Wright and the Wrongs.

So, I went digging a little, and found the album, and during my guitar lesson that same week I asked my friend and mentor Steve Gibson if he knew about Luther and his band’s treatment of the Floyd.

Steve did not know The Wall specifically, but he was more than hep to Nashville musicians gathering and deconstructing famous albums and bands in a phenomenon known as “pick on,” as in “pick on Aerosmith” or “pick on AC/DC.”

I cannot say that this revisionism is totally my cup of tea as much as I like both the Floyd and blue grass. Clearly these guys are knockout musicians, but I think I actually prefer to hear them cover the Carters and Irish jigs, but just discovering this subculture of music was a kick and a half.

This is Luther’s treatment of my favorite tune from the Floyd album. I still prefer David Gilmour’s chorusy guitar ripping through, but this is still pretty good.

 

 

 

Rolling Stones, Brown Sugar

I just read Gene’s comment about the Political Correctness Police in the comments to the Now I’ve Got A Witness post (about the ranking of every Rolling Stones’ song). I started reading the list from the bottom up, and was noting the very excellent songs ranked near the bottom of the list. Short and Curlies, in particular, apparently because it is misogynistic ignoring the jamming instrumental track behind the lyrics.

In any case, I come at the Political Correctness Police a little differently. I believe people have a basic right to express their opinions, and I also believe people have a right not to be aggressively attacked with hateful speech. Since those two positions are not mutually exclusive, the resolution is one of constant negotiation with oneself and with those within earshot.

For me, there is a big distinction between words said by a person directly to another person in such a way that the implication is personal, and the same words issuing into the public space in a more general way. The former is hate speech, the later is hateful speech (if the subject is hate) and hate speech is perhaps not illegal but certainly morally reprehensible, while hateful speech can be extreme and uncomfortable and repulsive, but its immorality is far from automatic and should be given every benefit of the doubt.

Which brings us to the Rolling Stones’ Brown Sugar, which is certainly one of the most rampantly offensive and rocking songs in their oeuvre. A writer named Lauretta Charlton wrote a defense of the song in Vulture a couple of years ago,  and quotes Mick Jagger as saying, in 1995, “I never would write that song now. I would probably censor myself. I’d think, ‘Oh God, I can’t. I’ve got to stop. I can’t just write raw like that.’”

I can imagine a world without the hatred and history of Brown Sugar didn’t exist (I have a good imagination), and in such a world such a song probably wouldn’t exist. But that isn’t our world, and if in 1969 Jagger didn’t pour out the lyrics to the song (which he in subsequent years in live shows changed, because he felt uncomfortable singing the originals) as he did, our world would be a lesser place. Fuck those Political Correctness Police.

David Marchese ranks Brown Sugar as the 10th best Stones song of all time.

How Did I Miss This?

Just added Love It To Death, Killer and School’s Out to the album troika list, then decided I had to hear me some Alice. Went to youtube and stumbled upon this.

Appears to be a genuine attempt at a music video, way before music videos were a thing.

Not an A+ Alice song, nothing extraordinary about the video either, and guessing you guys have seen this before, but it’s very cool to see footage of Alice and the band in their prime.

Parallels to the 2016 election would be too easy:

Van Morrison and Bob Dylan, One Irish Rover

Van and Bob sitting on a hill with the Parthenon in the background, singing a Van Morrison song (that isn’t One Irish Rover) with acoustic guitar (Van) and harmonica (Bob).

Followed by One Irish Rover, both playing guitars, singing harmonies. Simple, but excellent nonetheless. With Van playing guitar quite nicely and hypnotically, kind of perfect. You probably don’t want less, and you certainly don’t want more.

There’s more after that, excellent Van, but the songs on the hillside are what got me here. Icons, maybe showing off, but simply.