I've been remiss in posting to YouTube (and here) a couple of songs I put up on Facebook...
The first, a cover of Steve Goodman's City of New Orleans (made famous by Arlo Guthrie), that I recorded on the eve of the election. Some of my trepidation regarding the results of the election come through in the vocal.
The second, a cover of Ray Davies' Thanksgiving Day, recorded for, well duh, Thanksgiving.
The San Francisco Bay Blues by Jesse "Lone Cat" Fuller has become something of a standard blues tune covered by everybody from Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan to Eric Clapton and Sir Paul McCartney - #quarantinehootenanny #69 of ???
A TV theme song? Well, yes. But it's much more than that. In 1968, when John Lennon was asked what American artists he was listening to, Beatle John replied, "Harry Nilsson." The other day I maligned Harry's over-blown cover (IMHO) of Badfinger's Without You, but this simple little song shows why I agree with John's admiration of Nilsson. It perfectly and memorably captures the playfulness, love, and range of emotion of the series in barely a minute. This song is also probably the first time I was a fan of a Harry Nilsson song, as I loved the show when it aired, and sang along with it each week. #quarantinehootenanny #63 of ??? is My Best Friend (Nilsson), aka The Courtship Of Eddie's Father Theme Song.
Another Badfinger song today, Without You (Pete Ham/Tom Evans). It was Pete Ham’s girlfriend who gave up a date night so he could go back to the studio and work that inspired the verses, but Pete didn’t have a good chorus. And then Tom Evans had a near breakup with his future wife, and wrote the chorus that brought the song together and gave it a title.
Paul McCartney called Without You as “the killer song of all time,” and I find it hard to disagree with Sir Paul’s assessment. It’s been covered literally hundreds of times, and the first massive hit with it, by Harry Nilsson, set the pattern for how it would be interpreted. I love Nilsson, and his vocal range is amazing, but frankly, I always found his version (and most of the versions since) to be a bit schmaltzy and over-produced. For me, the song is beautiful and powerful enough to work in a more restrained and simple arrangement, and nobody can ever top Badfinger’s original. #quarantinehootenanny #61 of ???
This is #quarantinehootenanny #60 of ???, and they've all just been Licks Off Of Records that I've learned. Specifically, this one is from a record by Martin Mull (and his Fabulous Furniture). I'd actually forgotten about this song many years ago. Then this week comic actor Fred Willard died. I first remember seeing Willard when he played Martin Mull's sidekick on Fernwood Tonight. One link led to another, and here we are.
During shelter-in-place, the local kids have been painting positive messages and pictures on small stones and "hiding" them around the neighborhood to be discovered by folks walking by. Photos set to original music.
"'Rock and Roll' is about me. If I hadn't heard rock and roll on the radio, I would have had no idea there was life on this planet. Which would have been devastating - to think that everything, everywhere was like it was where I come from. That would have been profoundly discouraging. Movies didn't do it for me. TV didn't do it for me. It was the radio that did it." - Lou Reed
Rock and Roll (Lou Reed) was the b-side Sweet Jane, from the Velvet Underground. #quarantinehootenanny #56 of ???
One of the first songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (along with manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham), As Tears Go By was first recorded by Marianne Faithfull (who recently survived COVID-19 associated pneumonia). Also, one of the first songs I ever learned to play on guitar. #quarantinehootenanny #54 of ???
Reaching way back to 1967 for To Love Somebody (B and R Gibb) from Bee Gees First, which was, oddly, their third album (the first two were only available down under). Even more odd, although I've been listening to this song nearly my whole life, I never thought to try to play it until this morning. #quarantinehootenanny #52 of ???
Carole King was already an extremely successful composer (with ex-husband, lyricist Gerry Goffin) when she embarked on her solo recording career. Tapestry, her second LP, became one of the best selling records of all time. This song, It's Too Late (King/Stern), is about lyricist Toni Stern's breakup with James Taylor. #quarantinehootenanny #51 of ??? #quarantunes
I can't believe I've done this 50 days in a row! #quarantinehootenanny #50 of ??? is The Psychedelic Furs' Love My Way (Ashton/Butler/Butler/Ely). Trivia: Todd Rundgren produced and played the marimba on the original.
I've played several Warren Zevon songs over the last 49 days, but today I want to focus on Warren's good friend and frequent collaborator, Jorge Calderon. Jorge's wife, Yvonne, passed away this last weekend from "complications of COVID-19." Jorge is also sick, but still fighting. This is a song from Warren's last album, The Wind, called El Amor de Mi Vida (Zevon/Calderon) for #quarantinehootenanny #49 of ???
Back in the early 80s I spent a lot of time at Whiskey a Go Go, the Roxy, the Starwood, and anywhere else there was live music in and around West Hollywood. In one of those clubs would be where I first saw the Plimsouls, and then rushed down to Tower Records to buy their first EP.
For a time they weren't known beyond the reach of the clubs and Rodney Bingenheimer's radio show, but that all changed after a couple of years, when they were picked up by Geffen, and A Million Miles Away (Case/Alkes/Fradkin) broke them all over.
The song was written in a booth in the back of Barney's Beanery, another place I used to spend a lot of time... #quarantinehootenanny #43 of ???
Who hasn't fantasized about writing a song about what a slut your ex has become, and then making your ex sing harmonies on the recording and it becoming one of the biggest hits of your careers? Oh, you haven't? Well Lindsey Buckingham pulled it off with Fleetwood Mac's Go Your Own Way (Hell, that was the theme of the entire Rumours album).
Trivia time: Lindsey and Stevie Nicks met in High School in Atherton (near Standford University) and went to (and dropped out of) San Jose State together before heading to LA to become rock stars. Mick Fleetwood initially just asked Lindsey to join the band, but Lindsey insisted he and Stevie were a team and he needed to hire them both.
We've got at least five more weeks of shelter-in-place here in the Bay Area, and what the people need is a way to make 'em smile. How about some early Doobie Brothers? Listen to the Music (Tom Johnston), written on 12th Street, downtown San Jose, a couple of blocks from San Jose State, and performed from my mountain home, just below Loma Prieta. #quarantinehootenanny #41 of ???
Before Tom Petty picked up a 12-string guitar, there was Roger McGuinn, and before Roger, Pete Seeger played 12-string, and inspiring Pete, there was Huddie (pronounced "Hyoodie") Ledbetter, also known as Lead Belly or Leadbelly, the "King of the 12-String."
Leadbelly was discovered by John and Alan Lomax, who had set out in the 1930's to record authentic folk music, wherever they could find it. The first sessions with Leadbelly took place at Angola Prison, in Louisiana.
Goodnight Irene is one of many traditional folk songs adapted and brought to the mainstream by Leadbelly. It has since been covered by too many artists to name, frequently covering up some of the darker lyrics.
George Harrison once said, "if there was no Lead Belly, there would have been no Lonnie Donegan; no Lonnie Donegan, no Beatles. Therefore no Lead Belly, no Beatles."
Not the song I thought I was going to do this morning. But as I was reaching for the guitar rack, it hit me: Love and Mercy, that's what we need tonight. This is from Brian Wilson's first solo album, as well as the title of the biopic about Brian's life. #quarantinehootenanny #37 of ???
Never My Love by The Association (R & D Addrisi) is another great song from my youth. About a year ago it was featured in the Jakob Dylan hosted documentary, Echo in the Canyon, about the 60's music scene in Los Angeles, with a great cover by Jakob and friends. #quarantinehootenanny #36 of ???
Blue Moon of Kentucky is today's #quarantinehootenanny (#35 of ???). Originally by Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys in 1945, it was covered by Elvis Presley as his first single in 1954, and it's been a standard ever since, covered by everybody from Patsy Cline to Paul McCartney to Tom Petty.
Today’s song was suggested by Kevin North (aka Kevy Nova): It's up to You by The Moody Blues (Justin Hayward), from one of each of our favorite albums, A Question of Balance.
I’m actually kind of embarrassed that it took this long, and a reminder from a friend, before I included a Moody Blues song here. Back in October of 1970, at the age of nine, my brothers and I rode the MTA down to Boston Garden, for what would be my first big rock concert, to see them when this album was still new. I’ve seen them many times since then, and Justin Hayward, solo in Napa just a couple of years ago.
And the hits just keep on comin'... In 1965 Michael Nesmith, done with Texas, and done with the Air Force, was living in Los Angeles, and working as the "Hootmaster" for the weekly hootenannies at Doug Weston's Troubadour in West Hollywood. He'd introduce the various acts, and play a few songs of his own, including this one: Different Drum.
Nesmith got his big break when he was hired to be part of the Monkees later that year. The producers of the show turned down this song, but it did get picked up by the Stone Poneys, featuring a young Linda Ronstadt, and it became her first hit in 1967. (Although the Monkees never recorded the song, Mike ran through a couple of verses for laughs in the episode "Too Many Girls" in 1966.) Nesmith finally recorded his own version, more true to his Texas roots, in 1972.
And that's the story behind #quarantinehootenanny #31 of ???
Keith Richards is the founder of one of rock's greatest bands: the X-Pensive Winos. Oh, you thought I meant that other band he's in, the Rolling Stones? Well, okay, Keith Richards is the founder or co-founder of two of rock's greatest bands. This song is from his first solo album (with help from the X-Pensive Winos), Talk is Cheap: Make No Mistake (K. Richards/S. Jordan) is #quarantinehootenanny #29 of ???
Yesterday I did a Roger McGuinn solo song, so today I'm going back to a Byrds classic, I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better, written by Gene Clark, but featuring Roger's 12-string sound. (Yes, I know, I chickened out of doing the full, correct middle break, but this is as close as I could get on short notice.) This song also covered brilliantly by the Flamin' Groovies and Tom Petty. Buy 'em all! #quarantinehootenanny #28 of ???
From Roger McGuinn's first solo album, following the final demise of the Byrds, comes I'm So Restless (R. McGuinn & J. Levy). Perhaps seeking some guidance from three of his most respected colleagues and coming up empty? #quarantinehootenanny #27 of ???
Here's one from the one-hit-wonders file: Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) by the Looking Glass (Elliot Lurie). This will go much better if you do all the do-do-do-ahs on the chorus, and maybe add in your own horn section - #quarantinehootenanny #25 of ???
"Unboxing" videos were all the rage at one time, but I never did one, and never really saw the point. Until now. A package has arrived, I don't remember what it is, and I'm very excited to open it up with you.
(There's a couple of skips in the video - I did not edit it, it's just some technical glitch, sorry)
Jules Shear is one of your favorite songwriters that you never heard of. He wrote the Bangles' hit, If She Knew What She Wants, co-wrote the Cyndi Lauper classic, All Through the Night, and If We Never Meet Again, covered by everybody from Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers to Roger McGuinn, and much more. This is a lesser known song of his called The Sad Sound of the Wind for #quarantinehootenanny #21 of ???
A change of pace today, with Daydream Believer as today's #quarantinehootenanny (#20 of ???). A big hit for the Monkees (after being turned down by a couple of other artists), it was written by John Stewart, then of the Kingston Trio (no, not that other Jon Stewart).
Stewart wrote a lot of great songs for many artists, including Never Going Back to Nashville for the Lovin' Spoonful; and one of the first songs I ever learned to play.
As a solo artist, however, Stewart only had a few hits in his long career. The biggest hit probably being Gold, featuring background vocals by Stevie Nicks and guitar by Lindsay Buckingham. ("Driving over Kanan, Singing to my soul, There's people out there turning music into gold.")
At one time in the mid-80s I worked his nephew James at a book store (yes, James Stewart, but not the actor). James got me a guitar strap signed by his uncle that was very cool.
Finally getting to Bob Dylan near the end of three weeks of #quarantinehootenanny with License to Kill (#19 of ???).
The Infidels album (co-produced by Mark Knopfler) came out in 1983, when I was in my early twenties and, after Dylan's born-again Christian trilogy, it represented his return to secular rock music that was relevant to my life at the time, and it became a favorite.
In the decades since, I've returned time and again to these songs - Jokerman, Neighborhood Bully, Don't Fall Apart on Me Tonight, and of course License to Kill - and found them still relevant. Along with Blood on the Tracks (of course), this is probably still my favorite Dylan album.
There's also a great version of License to Kill by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers from the Dylan 30th Anniversary all-star concert.
What are you doing to maintain your sanity during the Shelter-in-Place? Creating anything new? Catching up on some old show? I wanna know. We're supposed to practice "social distancing" but I think it should be about "physical distancing, social connecting." So, come on, and connect.
The Rolling Stones' Honky Tonk Women (aka Country Honk, depending on version, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger) is today's #quarantinehootenanny (#15 of ???).
According to Keith Richards, this song was born in Brazil, where he, Mick, Marianne Faithfull, and Anita Pallenberg spent some time. "Mick and I were sitting on the porch of this ranch house and I started to play, basically fooling around with an old Hank Williams idea. 'Cause we really thought we were like real cowboys."
"On Let It Bleed, we put that other version of 'Honky Tonk Women' on because that's how the song was originally written, as a real Hank Williams/Jimmie Rodgers, '30s country song. And it got turned around to this other song by Mick Taylor, who got into a completely different feel, throwing it off the wall completely."
I realize that the last two songs I did for #quarantinehootenanny had stories that involved George Harrison, so today (#14 of ???), I give you one of George's songs: Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth).
George says, "Sometimes you open your mouth and you don't know what you are going to say, and whatever comes out is the starting point. If that happens and you are lucky, it can usually be turned into a song. This song is a prayer and personal statement between me, the Lord, and whoever likes it."
In the summer of 1973, Give Me Love made it to the top of the Billboard 100, knocking My Love by Paul McCartney & Wings out of the #1 slot. Cover versions have been recorded by Sting, James Taylor, Elton John, and (my favorite) Dave Davies.
Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton is today’s #quarantinehootenanny (#13 of ???).
The song was written by Eric for his then wife, Pattie Boyd, who was the former wife of his best friend, George Harrison, and former lover of Ronnie Wood (then of The Faces, later of The Rolling Stones).
George met Pattie on the set of A Hard Days Night. You’ll see Pattie in some of the early scenes on the train. This song was written by Eric while he and Pattie were getting ready to head out to a party being thrown by Paul and Linda McCartney.
Pattie’s autobiography was originally titled “Wonderful Today,” but the American publisher changed it to “Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me.”
Songs allegedly written for Pattie Boyd (partial list?)…
“I Need You,” ”If I Needed Someone", "Something,” "For You Blue,” “So Sad”
“Mystifies Me,” “Breathe on Me”
"Layla,” "Wonderful Tonight,” “She’s Waiting,” “Old Love”
Badfinger's Take it All (Pete Ham) is today's #quarantinehootenanny (#12 of ???). There's a story to this song, if you care...
In 1971 Badfinger began their third album with George Harrison producing. Work on the LP stopped while George worked on the benefit Concert for Bangladesh. The guys from Badfinger were invited to be part of the house band at the all-star show.
As part of the Bangladesh concert, George would obviously play Here Comes the Sun. Not so obvious was that he decided to do it as an acoustic duo accompanied only by Badfinger's Pete Ham.
The only problem was, Pete was the rhythm guitarist (and piano). Joey Molland was lead guitar, and was upset that he was not chosen for the honor of being featured with George.
When they returned to Abbey Road to complete the album, George was busy turning Bangladesh into an LP and a film, and Todd Rundgren was brought in to produce.
This song, Take it All, was Pete's way of smoothing things over with Joey. The line, "the sun has shone on me," is in reference to Here Comes the Sun. He was telling Joey that any day, "The sun will shine on you," and reminding him of the stronger thing keeping the band together.
Put on your dancing shoes for #quarantinehootenanny #10 of ???: The Bee Gees' Nights on Broadway (Barry, Robin, & Maurice Gibb).
I don't usually add commentary to these but here I have to. When this LP (Main Course) came out, I had serious problems with the hits it produced, including this song. I'd been raised on the "real" original Bee Gees sound (I Can't See Nobody, To Love Somebody, Run to Me, Words, Massachusetts), and "going disco" was the end of my Bee Gees fandom.
Hearing this song recently, however, made me reassess. Beyond the dark themes (stalking), it's actually a well-structured song musically, behind the disco beat, with the alternating minor and major chords, the harmonies, etc. And, sheltering-in-place, I'm just willing to give any song a shot.
So, some of us "original vloggers" from 2006 have returned in the last week or so since the world shut down to shelter-in-place and practice social distancing. And we prodigal vloggers have been shocked to discover that YouTube is still here, and some of you never left! Can you freakin' believe it?
Been a while since I've posted videos (three years?!?), but in the new pandemic age of social distancing, and while the state of California is under an official shelter-in-place order, I've started posting again.
As long as we're pretty well confined to home, I've started doing a daily Quarantine Hootenanny video. The first three are presented below:
Warren Zevon's Splendid Isolation
Eric Clapton's Running on Faith (written by Jerry Lynn Williams)
The Freckle Song by Larry Vincent and the Pearl Trio (a favorite of my father's)