SPEAK, ROCK AND ROLL MEMORY (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #124)

Thanks to commenter Chris, who put me on to this lovely little documentary about the life and death of Eddie Cochran, featuring extensive interviews with Cochran’s mother and more footage of his girlfriend, the great Sharon Sheeley, than I’ve seen anywhere else, ever (including what seems to be the only public airing of the song Sheeley wrote in his memory–an excellent song from what one can hear–a Sharon Sheeley song in other words). Also some great period footage of Eddie performing on TV and in the movies. It’s an easy watch. Take the time if you can:

 

PATIENCE, PATIENCE (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #123)

There’s been a first-verse-and-chorus-only version of Patty Loveless singing “Here I Am” (one of the contenders for her greatest recording) live on YouTube for years. Finally, there’s a full version (from Austin City Limits, no less, a place she always seemed especially relaxed). Double bonus since it’s preceded by “Tear Stained Letter” and catches her in her Best-Dressed-Woman-In-Nashville phase. These things can disappear, so catch it while you can!

“YOU KNOW, THEY DIDN’T HAVE GRIEF COUNSELING IN THE BRONX.” (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #122)

I found this through a mention in Greil Marcus’ mailbox. He says he can’t get past the part where DIon explains how “I Wonder Why” grew out of listening to bop at the Apollo. Funny, the hour and seven minutes I spent with it went by like “La Bamba.” To each, his own, but either way this would justify the existence of YouTube if every other video was a Nuremburg rally from 1936.

 

WILL MIRACLES NEVER CEASE….EVEN IN HOGTOWN? (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #121)

“There’s nothing better than 80,000 quiet Gator fans.”
(Peter Tom Willis, former FSU quarterback and radio announcer)

This has been true for eternity. Until now, when there’s suddenly one thing better….

This now my second favorite Swamp moment.

Of course, nothing can ever replace the first….

 

SOMETIMES, SOMETHING IS JUST NICE TO LISTEN TO…BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT CAN’T TEACH YOU SOMETHING, TOO (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #118)

Rock and rollers have always killed the Gershwin signature tune “Summertime.”

Sam Cooke killed it. Janis Joplin absolutely killed it. Billy Preston killed it.

Every one of them got more out of it than any pre-rock pop singer I’ve heard.

Glenn Frey and the Eagles went even further and wrote “Lyin’ Eyes,” (a better song) about the same girl.

But until this week, I never realized that the version which perhaps went the furthest didn’t even use the words. I can’t really convey what it was like to hear it drifting in from the other room, backing up “Hip Hug-Her” on Time is Tight, the super-fine box set Stax’s reissue label put out on Booker T and the MGs a generation back. Suffice it to say the Memphis boys conceded nothing to either Tin Pan Alley or Charlie Parker and from now on it will always be one of those records I reference spiritually when I catch myself wondering what all the dread and beauty felt like, just before the fall.

From ’66…And you can imagine it matching the mood at anything from a backyard barbecue to a flag-draped funeral.

 

MOST LIKELY YOU’LL GO YOUR WAY AND I’LL GO MINE (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #117)

I was never much of a Village Voice aficionado, so I’m neither here nor there–neither sad nor smug–regarding the demise of their print edition.

But all credit to whoever had charge of the last front page…and decided they wouldn’t go out with a whimper:

Bob, being a committed capitalist, does not always go along with the idea that his copyrighted material should be readily available on YouTube. Sometimes you can find his original recordings and sometimes not. This one doesn’t seem to be up there right now, so, in lieu of the crappily recorded live versions, re-mixes, etc. I offer Ms. LaBelle’s version, which exemplifies the notion that the world never does stand still…

WE ALL GOTTA BE BORN SOME TIME, SOMEWHERE, IN SOME COUNTRY OR OTHER….(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #116)

I normally don’t think much about Easy Rider. I saw the movie somewhere along the way and my general reaction was “I guess you had to be there.”

Then I ran across Ileana Douglas’ top ten movies at the Criterion Collection website (which you can view here), which led me to her twitter page, which led me to her podcasts, which you can sample here–highly recommended, just be sure you have some time on your hands because it’s kind of addicting.)

But one quote from her comments on the first time she saw Easy Rider stuck out.

…let me tell you, the first time I saw it on TV, all cut up, I thought: This is the movie that ruined our lives and turned us into dirty hippies? I just didn’t get it.

By “our’ and “us” she meant her own family, especially her father, who took the movie for a road map on how to live the rest of his life, an obsession that was bound to have an effect on his then five-year-old daughter.

Her father, as it happened, was the son of a famous Hollywood actor who called himself Melvyn Douglas (the family name was Hesselberg). Douglas herself, chose her grandfather’s profession and adopted his surname. And eventually she came to terms with both her “dirty hippy” upbringing and Easy Rider. Hence its inclusion in her Top Ten Criterion films (which I recommend reading in full–on top of her abundantly self-evident charms, she’s an excellent writer).

I’ll probably watch Easy Rider again at some point. Movies sometimes grow with repeated viewings. And no movie can be entirely without existential interest if the main characters are based on Roger McGuinn and David Crosby.

And I’ll keep Ms. Douglas’ reassessment in mind.

But I’m pretty sure one thing will stick in my craw. That’s the ending, which imagines the Modern Southern Redneck, not as the natural ally of hippie culture that he was (I’m speaking as someone who grew up around as many rednecks as Ileana did hippies), but as an extension of the Klan, come out from under the sheets and gone hunting hippies.

One can never say something-or-other didn’t happen to somebody-or-other somewhere-or-other some-time-or-other.

Maybe somewhere, sometime, some hillbilly killed a hippy for the frivolous reasons presented in Easy Rider (frivolous as in “I just don’t like them sons-a-bitches. Let’s shoot ’em!”)

For a better look at the real flavor of backwoods’ paranoia, I’d recommend Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort, which came out in the early eighties (and seemed to take something out of Hill, who was never quite the same again).

But you can get the gist from the music that defined the relationship between the hillbillies and the hippies–Charlie Daniel’s “Long-Haired Country Boy,” Hank Williams Jr.’s truly paranoid “Country Boy Can Survive,” and especially Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” which circles back to Viet Nam, catches up the whole story and brings it to its natural conclusion.

The message from the hardcore hillbilly has been the same going all the way back to the Scottish highlands.

Best leave me the hell alone.

In this respect, at least, Easy Rider took the easy way out.

Just like the rest of the country.

Left us with the movie–and the world–that defined my childhood…Which was much tougher, much funnier, didn’t tell a single lie, and didn’t have the answers either.

May have to write about that some day.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep in touch with that other world I didn’t quite grow up in, in the usual way. By listening…

 

THE DREAM? IT WENT THATAWAY….(Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #115)

Between Twitter, Facebook and the Blogosphere, I follow at least one of everybody. There’s no other way to keep up these days and, honestly, all of ya’ll bear watching.

I keep most of what I find to myself, but there was something today that forces me to respond.

Not there. It wouldn’t do any good, no matter where “there” happened to be.

Whatever social media was supposed to be in theory, in the mean old world where it operates, it’s an echo chamber where people go to feel and express two emotions at the exclusion of all else: rage and the warm glow of being told they are right….about everything.

Today, the extreme right wing white nationalist I follow on twitter linked to a record by a white man.

It was the first time she had heard it and  she was compelled to comment on it’s incredible beauty. By her profile she looks to be twenty-something. By her tart responses to anyone foolish enough to confront her on her own turf, she’s highly intelligent (extremists of every stripe often are).

She responded to this particular song as though it were an incredible piece of her white heritage which had been kept from her by the dark forces of a lost world.

She could hear it only as an example of white pride–could believe such things have been pushed to the margins (where their very creation is no longer conceivable in this Brave New World), and kept from her only by an insane application of diversity theory.

That’s the problem with throwing your Culture away.

When some piece of it bobs up among the waves that swept you away, whoever is looking for a life raft is apt to grab on….and make of it what they will.

The song?

What do you think.

By who?

Who do you think.

Just try to imagine hearing it for the first time on the other side of whatever journey brought that highly intelligent young woman to the place where she is now….a place where it sounds as it if could have emerged from those waves only after a thousand years of what she has convinced herself is the only viable reality….

Goodbye us.

I do sort of wonder what she’ll make of this, if she follows the YouTube thread…

Goodbye us?