Song of the Week – Tired of Midnight Blue, George Harrison

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

In late 1974, George Harrison released Dark Horse, his fifth solo album that coincided with a concert tour.  Anyone who is familiar with this album or witnessed the tour knows that Harrison sounded different than he had ever sounded before.  His voice was suffering from laryngitis, the result of alcohol, drugs and over working.

His next album, Extra Texture, has often been considered as an inconsequential effort that was produced with little focus simply to take advantage of time available in A&M studios that would otherwise have gone unused (and to satisfy his contractual commitment to Apple/EMI).

But Extra Texture has a few highlights, like its lone single, “You,” that reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100.  Another is today’s SotW – “Tired of Midnight Blue.”

The song’s backstory is that Harrison wrote the it after a night out in LA where he was bored with the phony club scene and wished he had simply stayed at home instead.

The sun came into view 
As I sat with the tears in my eyes 
The sun came up on you 
And as you smiled, the tear-drop it dried.

I don’t know where I had been 
But I know what I had seen 
Made me chill right to the bone 
Made me wish that I’d stayed home – along with you 
Tired of midnight blue.

The track has a beautiful piano intro, played by Leon Russell.  In fact, it has one of Russell’s finest performances throughout.  Jim Keltner was on drums (and cowbell) and session man Paul Stallworth played bass.

Even Harrison’s least important records had some very worthwhile music to hear, and “Tired of Midnight Blue” is a textbook example.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – The Holdup, David Bromberg

IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

I was looking for something to watch on TV a few weeks ago and stumbled upon a David Bromberg documentary called David Bromberg Unsung Treasure. It was a pretty good show and can be streamed online here:

I remember seeing Bromberg live for the first time at the famous Passim’s coffeehouse in Cambridge’s Harvard Square back in the mid 70’s. I got to see him again a 5-6 years later at a free summer concert at Rogers Park in Brighton, MA.

Bromberg’s proficiency in all of the sub-genres of American roots music (blues, bluegrass, gospel, R&B), combined with his wicked sense of humor, always made his performances worth attending. Plus he’s a virtuoso on just about every instrument that has strings.

Today’s SotW is “The Holdup”, a song co-written with George Harrison. It appeared on two different Bromberg albums. It was originally on Bromberg’s first album in what’s come to be known as the “Harrison version” because George added his slide guitar to it. The one on Wanted Dead or Alive is known as the “Dead version” because several members of The Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia, Keith Godchaux and Bill Kreutzmann) played on it. I favor the Wanted Dead or Alive version (plus that album had one of the greatest album covers of all time!).

“The Holdup” opens with an intro of piano, guitars and percussion that sounds Spanish influenced. It romps along with high energy before mariachi horns begin to blare.

The lyrics are cousin to Harrison’s “Taxman” (US Revolver) in that “the holdup” refers to the government tax thugs coming to take your money.

STICK UP YOUR HANDS, YOU MUST STAND AND DELIVER,
MY STOMACH’S EMPTY, MY CLOTHES ARE ALL TORN.
OPEN YOUR HEARTS TO THE JOYS OF THE GIVER,
ALL OF YOUR POCKETS ARE TERRIBLY WORN.

THIS IS A HOLDUP, NO WAY TO MISTAKE IT,
WE’RE MEN OF VIOLENCE SO DON’T FOOL AROUND.
IF YOU HAVE MONEY, WE’RE GOING TO TAKE IT,
YOU’LL TRY AND STOP US, YOU’LL END UNDERGROUND.

SO HAND US THE MONEY, DON’T STAND THERE AND SHIVER,
TAX TIME IS COMING, GIVE ALMS TO THE POOR.
OR I´LL PUT A BULLET RIGHT THROUGH YOUR BEST LIVER,
WEALTH IS DISEASE AND I AM THE CURE.

Bromberg has played on the albums of a who’s who of great artists – Bob Dylan, Al Kooper, Ringo, Bonnie Raitt, etc. It’s worth checking out his work with all of these artists and more. He also still performs live in small venues, mostly up and down the east coast. Go see this “unsung treasure” while you have the chance.

Enjoy… until next week.

Song of the Week – Full Moon, Woods and Give Me Love, George Harrison

IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

It’s the end of another year, so I’ve been sorting through a lot of the new music I was exposed to this year, trying to compile my favorites. One song I’ve been listening to often is “Full Moon” by Woods, yet another Brooklyn based band. It’s from their 8th album of Americana, With Light and With Love.

“Full Moon” has a breezy Southern California feel. The intro has a strummed acoustic guitar, a wah-wah and a cool slide guitar that sounds like something from a George Harrison solo album. The lyrics are sung by Jeremy Earl in a high register that may remind you a little of Wayne Coyne’s work with The Flaming Lips.

The George Harrison comparison now has “Give Me Love” stuck in my mind.

That song, from 1973’s Living in the Material World, was a #1 hit when it was released. Its lyrics espousing peace and love and freedom and good karma are perfect concepts to think about as we approach the end of another year. And it still sounds great to me after all these years.

Happy New Year!

Enjoy… until next week.