Archive for the ‘1995’ Category

Saturday Single No. 491

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

While sorting out tracks for our Follow The Directions project, I became intrigued by the number of times the word “southbound” showed up. There are twenty-four tracks in the RealPlayer with the word in their titles. (There are also two tracks by a late 1960s group that called itself Southbound Freeway and thirteen tracks from a 1975 Hoyt Axton album titled Southbound, but we’ll set those aside.)

Now, “southbound” and any other directionally tracks wouldn’t have qualified for the Follow The Directions project the way I originally envisioned it. I was thinking about titles with specific directions in them, like “Girl From The North Country,” which showed up when we did “North” the other week. But it’s my game and I can change the rule, so as we look for titles with the four directions, we’ll also look separately for titles with the suffixes “-bound” and “-ern” attached to the directions. It turned the project from four full installments to at least twelve and maybe more, sometimes maybe with fewer than the full complement of four titles per post, but we’ll work around that.

Having decided that, I went off to see how often musical journeys have taken folks in directions other than south. Given the influence of the South on American history and culture, I expected folks to be bound in other directions far fewer times. But I thought I’d look anyway.

“Northbound” nets us three tracks: the quiet “Northbound Bus” by the Flying Burrito Brothers from their 1976 album Airborne, and two versions of a gentle song titled “Northbound 35,” one by folk performer Richard Shindell (who’s showed up here before) on his 2007 album South of Delia and the other by True North, an Oregon-based bluegrass group that included the song on its 2014 album Elsebound.

“Eastbound” brings us one track, another quiet song: “Eastbound Train” by the early 1970s folk-rock group Wooden Horse. It’s on the groups’s self-titled 1972 debut.

When we search for “westbound,” we have to discard five of the eight tracks that show up, as they’re single releases on the Westbound label: Four by the Detroit Emeralds and one by Teegarden & Van Winkle. That leaves us with three tracks: A slow and sorrowful piece of Americana titled “Westbound Tomorrow” that the group the Robber Barons put on its 2004 album Dragging The River and two sprightly versions of “Westbound #9,” one of them the 1970 hit by the Flaming Ember and the other a track from jazz organist Charles Earland off of his 1970 album Living Black!

So southbound tops all the others direction-bound possibilities by an aggregate score of 24-7. And if we’re going to dabble in things southbound this morning, I think we’ll start with a song by country singer Pat Green that shows up four times: “Southbound 35.”

Green first recorded the song for his 1995 self-released debut album, Dancehall Dreamer, and included it on live albums in 1998 and 2000. (If I’m ever lucky enough to be anywhere in Texas when Green is scheduled to perform, I’d love to see him.) He re-recorded the song in a much tougher, guitar-heavy version for his 2001 album Three Days, but I prefer the earlier recording.

And all of that is why Pat Green’s “Southbound 35” is today’s Saturday Single.

‘They Won’t Tell Your Secrets . . .’

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Things start with a familiarly slinky piano riff joined by a girl group singing softly in the background. Then, enter Mitch Ryder.

“Sally,” he says, “you know I’m your best friend, right? And four years ago, I told you not to go downtown, ’cause you’re gonna get hurt. Didn’t I tell you you were gonna cry? Mm-hmm. So you kept hangin’ around with him.”

Then, sounding utterly fed up, Ryder hollers, “Here it is, almost 1968, and you still ain’t straight!”

And Ryder rolls into his own version of “Sally, Go ’Round The Roses,” one that works in the chorus to “Mustang Sally” along the way:

Ryder’s cover of the Jaynetts’ 1963 hit is on his 1967 album What Now My Love, and it’s just one of numerous covers of “Sally” in the more than fifty years since the Jaynetts’ hit went to No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100. Twenty-seven of those covers – including two in French – are listed at Second Hand Songs. There are certainly more covers of the song out there, but as usual, that’s a good starting place.

That list of twenty-five covers in English range in time from a 1965 version by Ike Turner’s Ikettes that doesn’t roam very far from the Jaynetts’ original to a 2012 version from the album Moving In Blue by Danny Kalb & Friends – Kalb was a member of Blues Project in the 1960s – that’s instrumentally exotic but vocally drab.

There have been plenty of others along the way. One that I’ve heard touted as worth hearing is a live performance from 1966 by the San Francisco group Great Society with Grace Slick. I found it uninteresting, as I did a 1974 version by the all-woman group Fanny (on the album Rock & Roll Survivors). Yvonne Elliman traded in the Jaynetts’ slinky piano for some weird late Seventies electronica when she covered the song on her 1978 album Night Flight, and that didn’t grab me too hard, either. More interesting was the funky 1971 version by Donna Gaines (later Donna Summer) released on a British single.

At a rough estimate, covers of “Sally” by female performers outnumber those by male singers by about a three-to-one ratio. Joining Ryder with one of the relatively few male covers of the tune was Tim Buckley, whose 1973 cover from his Sefronia album has an interesting folk vibe (though he wanders away from the lyrics and the melody for an odd bit in the middle).

Another folkish version of the tune comes from the British band Pentangle, who included the song on its 1969 album Basket of Light. The group’s version is one of my favorite covers, as is the version by the far more obscure group Queen Anne’s Lace, which put a cover of “Sally” on the group’s only album, a self-titled 1969 release.

But the honors for strangest version of “Sally, Go ’Round The Roses” that I came across go to singer Alannah Myles, who found an utterly weird – but compelling – Scottish vibe for the song on her 1995 album, A-Lan-Nah.

Saturday Single No. 395

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

The gardens are taking shape.

The strawberry boxes constructed two weeks ago are settled near the garden below the house. Both the bare root strawberries and the plants that the Texas Gal planted in them seem to be thriving.

In that garden below the house, we have numerous peppers – green bells, sweet bananas and chilis – as well as cabbages, eggplant, many onions and one plant each of celery, tomato and kohlrabi with many more of those last three planted in our spot in the community garden on the far side of the copse west of our driveway.

Why the split? Well, the Texas Gal is conducting an experiment. The past two years, we’ve planted potatoes in the garden just below the house along with a few other things. Last year, the peppers adjacent to the potato patch did very little until she dug the potatoes in early August. After that, the peppers thrived. The same was true of tomatoes two years ago.

Over the winter, we’ve read that potatoes are, in essence, unfriendly neighbors and that very little will thrive if planted nearby. So we will grow none this year, and she’s interested to see if the celery, tomato and kohlrabi do as well in the garden below the house without potatoes to subvert them as they tend to do in the community garden.

Along with the bulk of the tomatoes, kohlrabi and celery, our plot in the community garden is home to broccoli and zucchini and maybe cabbages. There are still bush beans, radishes and cucumbers to plant down there and pole beans and a few chili peppers to plant in the garden below the house. And we’ll need to find a spot for dill.

Most of the planting took place last weekend; a bit of it came just this morning before the rain came in. It’s likely to rain on and off all weekend, so the Texas Gal is not at all sure when she’s going to get the last bits done. When the last seeds and plants are in, we’ll settle into an eight- to ten-week period of watering and weeding – I often help with the former but only occasionally with the latter – that’s not quite as challenging as either planting time or harvest time.

And as the end of planting nears, bringing with it the somewhat less strenuous time of tending the gardens, I found one tune this morning that fits here neatly, one I was startled to realize I’d never shared here before.

Here’s Sheryl Crow’s cover of “Keep On Growing,” written by Eric Clapton and Bobby Whitlock. It’s from the soundtrack to the 1995 film Boys On The Side, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Now I Don’t Know How I Feel . . .’

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

I can’t write today, not after learning late last night that one of my oldest friends in this lifetime is undergoing life-altering surgery today. I might be able to say more tomorrow, but all I can do today is remember cherished times, reflect on how fragile all of us are, and tell him here and via thoughts through the ether that I’ll see him on the other side of his trials.

Here’s Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band with “Blood Brothers” from 1995.

A Landmark Preserved

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

A few times over the past five years, I’ve written about the building at 508 Park Avenue in Dallas, the building where Robert Johnson spent two days recording in 1937. I’ve written about the possibility that the building – dilapidated and in a difficult neighborhood – might be torn down. I’ve written about the sessions that Eric Clapton conducted there in 2004, recording several of Johnson’s songs in the same room where Johnson recorded them in 1937. And I’ve written about my two visits to the building, about standing at its doorstep and standing in the same place where both Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton had been.

But I’m not sure I ever shared here the very good news that, through a project headed by the Stewpot – a homeless shelter across the street from 508 – and the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, the building at 508 Park will be preserved and will become the centerpiece for what’s being called the Museum of Street Culture. The vacant building on the north side of 508 has been razed to create a space that will include an amphitheater, and a now-vacant lot on the south side of the building will become a community garden.

The plans for the museum and its programs are available at the website for the Museum of Street Culture, a website that includes a photo of Steven Johnson, the grandson of Robert Johnson, standing in front of the building where his grandfather recorded some of the most influential songs in blues history.

Here’s my photo of the door of 508 from one of my trips to Dallas.

And here is a selection – offered once before, in 2009 – of covers of some of the songs that Robert Johnson recorded during his two sessions in 508 Park Avenue in 1937:

A Six-Pack of 508 Park Avenue
“Stop Breakin’ Down” by the Jeff Healey Band from Cover To Cover [1995]
“Malted Milk” by Eric Clapton from Unplugged [1992]
“Traveling Riverside Blues” by John Hammond from Country Blues [1964]
“Love In Vain” by the Rolling Stones from ‘Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!’ [1970]
“Stones In My Passway” by Chris Thomas King from Me, My Guitar and the Blues [1992]
“I’m a Steady Rollin’ Man” by Robert Lockwood, Jr. & Carey Bell from Hellhound on My Trail: Songs of Robert Johnson [2000]

‘Like A Face In The Crowd . . .’

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Maps fascinate me. From the time I could unfold the bulky road maps of the early 1960s – free in those years at nearly every gas station – I’d trace routes from city to city, look for rivers and lakes and wonder what it would look like and feel like to, say, drive south along U.S. Highway 71 from the Canadian border at International Falls all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. (I’ve never done that, and the drive would be much less interesting now than it would have been in the 1960s because it appears that much of that highway’s route now follows the Interstate highways.)

Along with my fascination with maps came a love for place names. Whether they come from Native American traditions or from the names of places left behind by settlers or even from the less-than-fertile imaginations of suburban developers – a trail that leads figuratively here in Minnesota from Wabasha to New Prague to Woodbury – I’m captivated by the names of places every time I look at a map.

And that captivation finds its way into my life in a lot of ways. Most pertinent to this space is that I find myself listening to and collecting records and digital music files that use place names in their titles. I walked briefly through titles that include “Memphis” a couple of years ago. That may be the most popular of place names in my collection, but it’s not necessarily the most fun. Shortly after I began collecting mp3s in 2000, I came across the track listing of country singer Yearwood’s 1995 album Thinkin’ About You.

When I looked at that track listing, one song title stood out: “On A Bus To St. Cloud.” I’d never seen my hometown mentioned in a song, and I wondered if the city in question were instead St. Cloud, Florida. I got hold of a copy of the song and learned, happily, that it was my St. Cloud that was referenced. So I did a little bit of research. I found an interview with writer Gretchen Peters in which she said the inspiration for the song came when she was looking idly at a map and noticed St. Cloud, Minnesota. The name of the city intrigued her and provided the inspiration for what turned out to be a pretty decent song.

Yearwood was the first to record it, according to Second Hand Songs, with Peters recording her version a year later for her album The Secret of Life. Other covers listed at Second Hand Songs have come from John Joseph Nolis and the duo of Neyman & Willé. At Amazon, one finds versions by Leah Shafer, George Donaldson and other names that are unfamiliar (at least to me). One familiar name there is Jimmy LaFave, an Austin-based singer-songwriter whose work I enjoy; he put his version of “On A Bus To St. Cloud” on his 2001 album Texoma. And there are other covers out there, I’m sure.

But as I look for what sounds and feels definitive, I go back – as I often do – to the original. I’m astounded that it’s taken me this long – more than six years of blogging – to write about the song, but here’s Yearwood’s version of a tune that name-checks my hometown.

Saturday Single No. 325

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Well, it’s baseball in January.

Last October, my pals and I found ourselves unable to clear a Saturday for us to get together here on the East Side and play the second half of our two-part 2012 Strat-O-Matic baseball tournament. November didn’t work, either, and then came the holidays, so we decided we’d regroup in January. And today is that day.

Waiting in the wings for most of today’s action will be the 1920 Cleveland Indians, who won last spring’s first half by defeating the 1988 Mets 11-2. Rob owns of both those clubs, and he chose to guide the Indians during the finals. The winner of today’s eight-team tourney will take on the 1920 Indians in a best-of-three finals at the end of what could be a long day today.

Today’s first round pairings have another Cleveland Indians team – Rob said he’d play either the 1995 or 1996 Indians; he wasn’t sure which one he could find in his stash—facing Dan’s 1998 Atlanta Braves; my 1991 Minnesota Twins against Rick’s 1946 Boston Red Sox; my 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks against Rick’s 1990 Oakland Athletics; and Rob’s 1922 St. Louis Browns facing Dan’s 1970 Baltimore Orioles.

As always, I’m very much looking forward to having the guys here. And as frequently is the case, the Texas Gal will be taking her laptop and her books to study at the public library for much of the day, leaving us to our loud day of baseball and brotherhood.

Here’s “Blood Brothers,” one of the tracks recorded new for Bruce Springsteen’s 1995 Greatest Hits album. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Corrected since first posting.

‘Two’

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

A couple weeks back, I offered a post titled “One,” looking at songs/recordings that have the word “one” in their titles. As readers might reasonably infer from the title of this post, today’s we’ll take a look at “Two.”

(We’re never unwilling here at Echoes In The Wind to test a good idea’s elasticity. Over the next couple of months, I can see us stretching this particular brainblip as far as “Ten,” and depending on source material, we may then go back to “Zero” before calling it quits.)

It’s not impossible to figure out how many tunes in the mp3 library have the word “two” in their titles. But it would be time consuming. A search for the word brings up 756 tracks, but I’d have to account for – among others – the twenty-eight tracks of the 1997 album One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen and the forty tracks in the soundtrack to Season Two of the cable series The Tudors. I’d also have to ignore the soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for the 2010 film The Social Network, the entire catalogs of Fleetwood Mac and of a 1970s countryish band called Heartwood and a lot of single tracks, including “Driftwood” by the Moody Blues and “Ki Demon Sa-a” by Haïti Twoubadou (from the Putomayo collection of music from the French Caribbean). That combination of “two” sneaks into many places.

So I don’t know how many tracks lie in the library with “two” in their titles, but it’s plenty for our purposes this morning.

I may have said this before, but I’ve never quite known how I feel about Joe Jackson. From the time he showed up with Look Sharp! in 1979 through today, Jackson has seemed to shift from genre to genre, style to style, sometimes sounding accomplished and sometimes sounding tentative. I’ve listened to some of his stuff, and I can never quite figure him out. One thing I did like was 1983’s “Breaking Us In Two,” which went to No. 18:

The opening seconds of the Moments’ “Love on a Two-Way Street” provide one of the best introductions in 1970s pop soul. The guitar chords alternating with the piano followed by the thrumming strings (cellos, I would guess) set up the song perfectly. The 1970 record, the Moments’ first Top 10 hit, peaked at No. 3 on the pop chart, while over on the R&B chart, “Love on a Two-Way Street” was No. 1 for five weeks. The record was the peak of a pretty decent chart career, one that lasted  from 1968 into 1975 as the Moments and continued as Ray, Goodman & Brown to 1980 on the pop chart and to 1987 on the R&B chart.

A native of Windsor, Ontario, Jack Scott put nineteen records into the Billboard Hot 100 between 1958 and 1961. In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn describes Scott as a “rock and roll ballad-singer/songwriter/guitarist,” which doesn’t sound very distinctive. Scott’s “Two Timin’ Woman” came out in 1957 and showed up in That’ll Flat Git It, the multi-CD collection of obscure country and rockabilly records, and “Two Timin’ Woman” probably falls best in the latter category. The record did not make the charts; Whitburn lists it as a “Classic Non-Hot 100” record in Scott’s entry.

Staying with plaints about women from 1957 for a moment, I came upon “Two Headed Woman” from Junior Wells. Wells, writes Bill Dahl of All Music Guide, “was one bad dude, strutting across the stage like a harp-toting gangster, mesmerizing the crowd with his tough-guy antics and rib-sticking Chicago blues attack.” Though it was not one of Wells’ better-known outings, “Two Headed Woman” is a pretty good romp. I’m struck by the record’s odd rhythmic structure.

A few months back, the Texas Gal and I were lucky enough to see the Jayhawks when they came through town. I’d read plenty about the Minneapolis-based group over the years, but I hadn’t heard nearly enough of their recorded output, so I’ve been catching up lately. “Two Hearts” comes from 1995’s Tomorrow the Green Grass and provides a good example of the softer side of the band’s alt. country/Americana persona.

For this morning’s closer, I found a neat clip on YouTube. By the time March 1970 rolled around, the Beatles had broken up, but they hadn’t yet told the rest of the world. To promote (one assumes) the upcoming release of both the film and the album titled Let It Be, the group provided a clip to The Ed Sullivan Show of the group performing “Two Of Us,” which turned out to be the album’s opening track (and one of the best things on the album).

Saturday Single No. 293

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

When I got to the Echoes In The Wind studios this morning, there – sitting on the floor and shredding paper – were my two long-absent tuneheads: Odd and Pop. They insisted that they’ve been around these few months, but if they were, I was unaware of their presence, and I sometimes strained to find topics to write about and dithered on what tunes to share.

“All you had to do to find me,” Pop said this morning, “is pull your collection of Billboard annual Top Ten LPs down from the shelf. I was right behind those, thinking about a port on a western bay that serves a hundred ships a day.” Pop looked over at the shelf where the album Top Rock ’n’ Roll Hits from 1972 sits with its fellows, and then he looked up at me. “There’s a girl in that harbor town,” he added, a little wistfully. “Brandy is her name.”

Odd snorted. “I know, I know: No. 1 for one week in 1972!” He shrugged his shoulders. “But it’s not the worst of them from that year. After all, that was when the No. 1 record for two weeks was Chuck Berry’s ‘My Ding-A-Ling’.” Odd grimaced and moved his mouth as if something tasted very, very bad. Even Pop looked distinctly uncomfortable. He opened his mouth and then paused, as if trying to figure out how to defend the indefensible.

“And you,” I said, turning to Odd. “Where were you?”

“Oh, I moved around the shelves a little bit,” he said. “I started up at Fleetwood Mac, right next to Tusk. I do love that University of Southern California band!” His eyes looked in the distance, and his head bobbed for a moment before he muttered, “Don’t say that you love me!”

Pop rolled his eyes. “Come on,” he said. “That’s not all that strange. ‘Tusk’ went to No. 8 in 1979.”

“No,” Odd admitted. “It’s not all that strange, at least not anymore. When it came out, it was pretty gripping. But its WQ has dropped a lot over the last thirty-some years.”

“WQ?” Pop and I say simultaneously.

“That’s ‘Weirdness Quotient,’ a formula I’ve been working on for the past few months,” Odd told us. “It’s nowhere near usable yet, but I got the idea after I left the Fleetwood Mac section of the shelves and went over to the classical records for a while.” He cocked his head. “Did you know that you have an LP of Russian liturgical music?”

“Yeah,” I say. “It’s interesting in small doses.”

Odd nods. “Or even large doses,” he says happily.

Pop shook his head sadly. “No chart action there,” he said.

“And where did you go from the classical shelves?” I asked Odd.

“Oh, I thought I’d better go find this charthead here,” he said, pointing at Pop. “And there he was, mooning over some girl who works laying whiskey down. I mean, they should at least have had Brandy serving brandy!”

Pop shakes his head. “Too suggestive for the pop chart in 1972,” he said.

“Well, maybe,” Odd said. “Anyway, on the way to the Billboard LPs, I passed by those Baby Boomer Classic anthologies. You’ve got about nine of them.”

“Yep,” I said. “They’re decent, with some interesting choices.”

“And I noticed,” Odd went on, “that one of them featured the song ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Procol Harum.”

“Yes!” cried Pop. “No. 5 in 1967!”

“And I thought,” Odd said, “that maybe I might like a version of the song that’s maybe not so popular or well-known.”

Pop thought for a minute and then said, “I know of a version of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ that’s just about as strange as the original but much more obscure.”

“Did it make the charts?”

“Well,” Pop said, “it bubbled under at No. 101. So it wasn’t actually in the Billboard Hot 100.”

“Better and better,” said Odd. “I assume there is a video?”

“Oh, yes,” said Pop. “And it’s sublimely weird.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Odd.

And that’s how Annie Lennox’s 1995 cover of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” became today’s Saturday Single.

‘Service Engine Soon’

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Sometime this past summer as the Texas Gal was out and about, a message showed up on the dashboard of our Nissan Versa. “Service Engine Soon,” it said. She noted the message, continued on her way to work and made a couple of phone calls. The second call was to me.

“I called the guy at the dealership, and he said we really don’t need to worry about it,” she told me. “He said he’s been driving for six months with his ‘service engine’ light on. So I’m not going to worry about it. We can have it taken care of when we get the car set up for winter.”

That winterizing took place the other week. Over the years we’ve been in St. Cloud, the guys at one of the national franchise tire and repair places have been reliable and, it seems, very fair in their pricing. So last week, I took the Versa in to have the oil changed, get all the fluids and processes checked and have a tire leak repaired. And I asked the guys to see why the car was sometimes hesitating when I hit the gas and to find out what had made the “service engine” light come on.

After I dropped the car off, I wandered across the street for a burger, knowing that the work would take at least two hours. When I ambled back into the shop, I learned that analyzing the tire problem revealed that we needed four new tires and that the oil and everything else been taken care of. Everything except the “service engine” light. The mechanic working on the Versa showed me some papers with charts and graphs and readings. He told me something about a Bank One O2 sensor being out, which in turn was affecting the gas flow, and that was why the car was hesitating. He said, “You might want to talk to your dealership. The car’s only got 34,000 miles on it, so the part might be under warranty.”

I doubted that the part was under warranty, as the car was more than four years old, but I nodded and asked him what he thought his place would charge to replace the sensor. He gave me a price, and once I was home, I called the dealership where we bought the car, got the service department and explained what I wanted to know.

Well, the guy said, he couldn’t tell me what the price might be. They’d have to do their computer check to see what the problem was. Once they did that, they’d see if the part was under warranty. If the part was under warranty, the computer check was free; if it wasn’t, the computer check would cost us $100. I told him what I’d learned, that the other fellows said it was a Bank One O2 sensor. He told me that guys at “shops like that” often didn’t know what they were talking about, and I was better off coming in to the dealership.

I didn’t care for the attitude, so I thanked him and hung up. And a little later this morning, I’m taking the Versa into the national tire and repair chain for what the guys there told me should be no more than a thirty-minute repair. I’ll bring a book along and likely wander across the highway for a burger while they tend to the sensor. And I imagine that soon after that I’ll be on my way.

There are, I suppose, all sorts of car songs that could fit in here, but I’ve never been all that hepped up about car songs. So to close today, I’ve found a song whose title kind of fits into the scheme of tales automotive, even if the lyrics don’t quite work. Here’s the late Jeff Healey and the Jeff Healey Band with a track from their 1995 album, Cover to Cover. It’s a scorching version of Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breakin’ Down.”