The Good, the Bad, and the Dead

Wayne Cochrane might have penned The Last Kiss, and Pearl Jam might have proved its camp essence, but the big hit was from 1964, by J. Frank Wilson. I remember this time vividly as it was the first summer I was sick with what became known as Crohns Disease.

I had been sick for several months, losing weight and unable to keep any nourishment in me when it was determined that I needed to go to the hospital for tests and observation So, on the way to Monterey and the family’s summer vacation, they dropped me off at the hospital and went on their merry way.

I got my summer solace first, not being around them, second with books, and third with my transistor radio which blared Ferry Cross the Mersey, and Bits and Pieces chunks of Brit Pop, but also the maudlin Wilson song.

The Last Kiss, however, belongs to a strange genre of pop song known as death songs. Some of the more prominant?

  1. Teen Angel, Mark Dinning (1960): When I was in third grade (also 1960) our classmate, Don DeVincenzi’s sister died in a local accident just like this.
  2. Patches, Dickey Lee (1962): Evolved into Poor Side of Town in a few years.
  3. Laurie, Dickey Lee (1965): Lee clearly had some kind of necrophilia thing going on.
  4. Tell Laura I Love Her, Ray Peterson (1960): Peterson actually had a pretty good hit with Corina, Corina.
  5. Honey, Bobby Goldsboro (1968 ): Arguably the most loved/hated of the maudlin.

There are more for sure. The links above lead to YouTube files of the originals. But, J. Frank lurks below.

RIP Fats Domino

When rocknroll started selling in the mid-50s, there were lots of head-scratching media pieces. There was one interview with the perpetually smiling Fats Domino, who said, “What they call rocknroll, I been playing in New Orleans for 15 years.” And he was. He had 11 Top 10 singles when the competition was a lot stiffer (not that there wasn’t ALWAYS plenty of shit on the radio). All of them are at least fun, some are great. If this thing lets me post my two faves here goes. You could hardly imagine a simpler song than “My Girl Josephine,” which proves everything.

This one I like just as much. That rocking swing thing will never die.

He made people happy. You can’t have a better tombstone than that. RIP

Another Band Song-Ranked

I have to admit that I’ve never heard the last “Clash” album. Without Mick Jones they aren’t and can’t be The Clash and Strummer had some nerve pretending otherwise.

This Bill Wyman guy amazes me. How can anyone be so knowledgable and so clueless at the same time? Of course a lot of this has to be pure opinion, but I think the story of this band and therefore their best songs is simple: they started, they had talent, they developed their abilities to the fullest as much or more than any other rocknroll band ever, and they declined. But at least they declined experimenting rather than repeating themselves, musically anyway. As for the lyrics, the politics that began so refreshingly honest quickly devolved into boilerplate leftism. But even in decline they came up with a few more great songs.

To me it is completely and utterly obvious that the best Clash song is Complete Control.

New Old Song

Another cover, a song I wanted to do for decades. I was in a short-lived band called the Femme Fatales in 1981-82, with three girl singers fronting a hard pop/punk band. We played one gig, at CB’s, right after Christmas. I had a cassette off the board that was a remarkable document. The band was nails – me on guitar, Johnny Er on bass, the great Nicky D’Amico on drums and Andy Towns on keyboard and writing the songs. The girls sounded great at practice but on stage they couldn’t hear themselves and were awful. I had no idea. It was always really hard to hear the vocals on that stage, even close to the monitors which I was not. All I knew at first was that the band was nails and that the audience reaction was tepid. About three songs in I figured it out. We were just too loud, which was always the problem with girl singers in rocknroll bands: unless they screamed they couldn’t be heard above the volume. That was then, now it’s a piece of cake with technology. But the band broke up in acrimony right then, too bad because we had another gig a week later at the Left Bank in Mt. Vernon. Which we played with me and Andy singing. I had a tape of that too which is long gone, and I was eager to keep going as we were. but Johnny Er was brought really down cuz he had high hopes for the original lineup, and because he wanted to play guitar.

Anyway, I was trying to talk the Femme Fatales into doing this tune, which I always thought was just begging to be punked up. And finally I got my chance. It was recorded a couple of weeks ago but I accidentally posted the rough mix instead of the final mix. So here it is done as well as I can do it. Lead vocals Cecilia Webber, backups by Claire Webber and Nikki Bechtold, drums by the great Bill Stevenson, bass by Chris Beeble who also twirled the dials, guitars by me. Needless to say, turn it up.

https://girlsnextdoor.bandcamp.com/

 

The Story of Sister Rosetta Thorpe Part 1

While looking at more of Sister Rosetta, I stumbled onto this little documentary which is wicked good.

Thought her guitar might be a Guild also, but one of the Dixie Hummingbirds said her axe was all metal so I thought it might be a Wandre a la Buddy Miller, but who knows? There are some other vids of her playing what looks like a 335 E but not totally sure.

This is really good, though. It is also the first of I believe four 15 minute clips, so if you like this, there is more on YouTube….

Worst Lyrics to a Good Song

Bad lyrics and bad songs go together, as do good lyrics and good songs. Most songs have a good line or two, or a bad line or two, and the rest of the words are neither here nor there. I don’t mind. I like my mindlessness intentional. If you are attempting profundity you have to be profound. Don’t tell me that “the future’s open wide.” I had guessed.

Thinking about it, good songs with bad lyrics are pretty rare. Here is one. Great tune, great sound in its way, killer drum break, even the singing is good. But the words are one embarrassment after another, and enunciated proudly so you can’t avoid them. Right from the title: I’ll melt with you? Gosh. Easy, kid. Then into “there’s nothing you and I won’t do.” Really, nothing? I tell you flat out, pal, there are going to be problems.

And I especially like “making love with you was never second-best.” Just so she (and we) know he’s got a scorecard.

They never followed it up. I saw them open for Roxy Music in 1982 and they were terrible, but the words were unintelligible. The food was bad but at least the portions were small.

Any others come to mind?

 

 

Glen Campbell is Gone.

We knew this was coming. The Big A claimed him some years back and he had a dignified last stand.

But today, my first thought was Gentle on My Mind, which is I think the first time I ever knew his name.

My second thought was watching them shoot Rhinestone Cowboy, the movie, on Bank Street. By them I mean Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone.

My third thought was plumbing the depths of Campbell’s time in the Wrecking Crew and the Beach Boys.

But finally, really, this bit of corny soundtrack to a good movie he starred in and contributed the soundtrack is a testament to his giant talent and versatility and big hearted spirit. A little more country than rock ‘n’ roll, a little more mainstream than any of us would like, he cut a big swath across the culture. Good for him.