Saturday Single No. 259

With the Texas Gal sleeping in and the catboys satisfied for the moment with a fresh supply of dry food, it’s time to take advantage of the Saturday morning quiet and wander down the random road in search of a Saturday Single:

First up is a live performance of “Southern Rain” by the Cowboy Junkies. The track comes from Waltz Across America, the live album the rootsy band released in 2000. Originally found on the 1992 release, Black Eyed Man, the song’s live version stretches a little longer than the studio version, but it retains the atmosphere of mysterious foreboding that makes the original track stand out. I won’t say the Junkies are one of my favorite bands, but I like their music a lot – I don’t think I’ve ever hit the “skip” button when their stuff has popped up at random – and “Southern Rain” is a good place to start this morning.

Next up is “The Day I Found Myself” by Honey Cone, one of those “Thank God you’re gone because I’m so much better without you” songs that pop up now and then. Honey Cone was a female R&B trio from Los Angeles that had ten records on or near the charts between mid-1969 and late 1972. Best remembered among those singles, I’m sure, is “Want Ads,” which went to No. 1 on both the pop and the R&B charts. “The Day I Found Myself” got to No. 23 on the pop chart and to No. 8 on the R&B chart.

If I read things correctly at All-Music Guide, the band Country Joe & The Fish went through major changes for several reasons in late 1968 and 1969, which meant, among other things, that the band that performed behind Joe McDonald at Woodstock was not the group that had recorded the group’s two brilliant 1967 albums: Electric Music for the Mind and Body and I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die. Maybe I should have known that, but I didn’t. What got me rummaging through the band’s history was our third stop this morning: “For No Reason” from the spring 1969 album Here We Are Again. The track is a dirge for times lost:

He wants to find men
Who can love for no reason,
Who open their hearts
To life of all seasons
But they’ve all gone, it seems
Off in their limousines—
I want to live where men
Can believe their dreams.

Kind of a downer on a sunny Saturday morning.

And we stay on the mellow side, with the RealPlayer settling on “Rocking Chair” by Lesley Duncan from her 1975 album, Moonbathing. Duncan, whose name has popped up here before, was one of England’s top session vocalists. According to AMG, she “sang on recordings by Elton John, the Dave Clark Five, Pink Floyd, the Alan Parsons Project, Michael Chapman, and Joyce Everson and the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar.” She also wrote “Love Song,” which John recorded on Tumbleweed Connection (and which shows up as a live duet by the two on Moonbathing.) All of that always makes me expect more than I get from Duncan’s solo work; “Rocking Chair” is pleasant but not much more than that.

And then comes the roar of “Holier Than Thou” from Metallica’s self-titled 1991 album. Metallica? In whiteray’s garden? Well, yeah. I wanted “Enter Sandman” in the RealPlayer, and I got hold of and ripped the CD but forgot to delete the rest of the album. So we’ll just touch down there long enough to recognize the alien landscape and then move on to our Saturday morning destination.

And we land on “Spike Driver Blues” by Mississippi John Hurt, who – as I know I’ve mentioned before – recorded some tracks for the Okeh label in 1928 and then faded out of memory until the blues boom of the 1960s, when he was rediscovered farming and still playing his repertoire of folk and blues near his home town of Avalon, Mississippi. The version of “Spike Driver Blues” that popped up this morning was the one recorded in New York City in December 1928. But at YouTube, I found a live performance of the tune recorded for the television show Rainbow Quest, hosted by folk legend Pete Seeger in 1965 and 1966. The thirty-nine episodes of the show, says Wikipedia, were recorded “at WNJU-TV (Channel 47), a New York City-based UHF station with studios in Newark, New Jersey. The shows were broadcast by Channel 47, primarily a Spanish-language outlet, to a very limited audience because only televisions equipped with a UHF antenna and tuner could receive them, and reception was difficult in an age prior to cable.”

I’d never heard of Rainbow Quest until this morning. There are various episodes available on DVD here, and I may have to get some of those. But for this morning, there’s this video of Mississippi John Hurt performing “Spike Driver Blues,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.


3 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 259”

  1. jb says:

    I have known you in the real world for a couple of years and in the virtual world for a couple of years before that, I understand your catholic taste and even your fondness for eastern European choral music, and yet I am gobsmacked to learn you’ve got some Metallica in your library.

    It’s as if I found a Miller Lite in your fridge.

  2. whiteray says:

    Well, I didn’t think it was quite that bad. Maybe on the level of Lone Star. (I wanted “Enter Sandman” because of its use as Mariano Rivera’s entrance tune; I respect the hell out of him.)

  3. David Lenander says:

    I LOVE that Country Joe & the Fish song. I even got the song book to learn it with the guitar chords, years ago. I love the way Barry Melton sings on the ending, setting up the concluding line.

    If you didn’t know Rainbow Quest, you should! There’s lots of it on YouTube, with the famous (Judy Collins, Mimi & Richard Farina, Jean Ritchie) and people you never heard of…. Or at least, that I never heard of…..

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