Posts Tagged ‘Eric Andersen’

Saturday Single No. 715

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

“This is an odd phone call,” my sister said the other day. “I’m dis-inviting you two for Christmas dinner.”

It wasn’t unexpected. The Texas Gal and I had already decided that we were going stay home on Christmas. And it wasn’t distressing, either, to be dis-invited. It makes perfect sense. We have our very small set of people we see – and then only briefly – during these Covid times, and my sister and her husband and their son have their pods (a usage I’ve begun to see more and more frequently but one I’ve not employed until this moment).

“That’s fine,” I said. “We’d pretty much decided to turn down any invitation, but you’ve come in ahead of us. What will we not be having for Christmas dinner?”

They’re having a ham dinner purchased in full from one of their nearby grocery stores. We’re planning – we think – lasagna, baked in a large pan that was a Christmas gift from my sister and her husband to us more than fifteen years ago, not long after the Texas Gal and I set up housekeeping together.

And as I told my sister that this week, the length of time we’ve owned that pan startled me, and that reminded me of the flexibility of time, how it bends and stretches and turns in its own ways, leaving those of us who use it to measure our lives baffled and bemused.

Fifteen years ago, we were midway through our time in our second apartment, the one in St. Cloud in the complex called Green Gable, just yards from the house where we would eventually live for more than nine years. In some ways – and this is not by any means a deep thought – it feels as if the time in that apartment was just moments ago. Still, I was forty-nine when we first moved there; now I am sixty-seven. We’d been together a little less than three years at the time; now we’ve been married for thirteen.

When we were first merging our households in 2001 and it became evident that the task of moving my stuff to her apartment was beyond our abilities and we’d need to hire the task out, she said to me, offhandedly, “Well, you’re almost fifty, you know.”

The comment, true though it was, startled me. I was forty-seven, but I’d never thought of myself as being close to that milestone. My reaction amused her, and the comment has come with us through the years, being updated every once in a while. These days, she tells me, “Well, you’re almost seventy, you know.”

And I am. And as this odd year of Covid plays out its last month, I think of years together, which is a grace I often thought I’d never have with anyone. And I think that lasagna for Christmas sounds perfect.

There are, as might be expected, no tracks on the digital shelves that include the word “lasagna” in their titles. As for “time,” there are too many to sort rationally, so I’ll just fall on one of my favorite tracks by Eric Andersen, whether it actually speaks to my thoughts above or not.

Here’s “Time Run Like A Freight Train” from Andersen’s 1975 album Be True To You. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 598

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

Time has gotten away from me.

I slept in a little. We ran some errands (which included finding a new – well, hardly used – sewing machine for the Texas Gal). We had lunch and then napped. And now I find myself heading toward late afternoon without having thought much at all today about this little space on the ’Net.

The day has slipped away (as has half of the year). But that’s what time does. It slips away from us, in measures short and long. And all we can do is run with it, embracing moments small and large as they come and go.

So here’s Eric Andersen with his “Time Run Like A Freight Train.” He recorded it twice: first in 1972 or 1973 for his album Stages. The master tapes for the album were lost, so he recorded it and released it on 1975’s Be True To You. In the early 1990’s, the lost master tapes were found, and Stages: The Lost Album was released in 1991.

This is the original version from Stages: The Lost Album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Like Shadows Bursting Into Mist . . .’

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

As I sort mp3s and do some research for the seventh chapter of the series Floyd’s Prism, I find myself reluctant to pass by at least one of the unusable items that comes up in the search for “Violet.”

I find it difficult to believe, but in six-plus years of blogging about music, I’ve never once mentioned the song “Violets of Dawn” in connection with its creator, Eric Andersen. I’ve cited the song twice, both times while writing about Rick Nelson and his 1969 album recorded live at the Troubadour. My not mentioning the source of the song is especially puzzling given the regard I have for Andersen.

So here, from his 1966 album ’Bout Changes & Things, is Eric Andersen’s “Violets of Dawn.”

I’ll be back tomorrow with “Violet.”

Let’s Get Mystical, Funky & Mellow

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Having landed in June 1972 for two earlier posts this week and having written a bit about what we might have been playing at KVSC-FM, the St. Cloud State student radio station, I thought I’d dabble a little more with what was going on forty years ago. So I headed to the Airheads Radio Survey Archive to see what the well-appointed progressive station had on its playlist during the first weeks of that long-ago month.

Well, pickings were pretty slim when I sorted for ARSA data for “progressive” stations, but I did come up with an album survey from KSJO-FM in San Jose, California, dated June 19, 1972. Here are the top twenty albums from that week at KJSO:

Obscured by Clouds by Pink Floyd
Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones
Honky Chateau by Elton John
Big Bambu by Cheech and Chong
America Eats Its Young by Funkadelic
Blue River by Eric Andersen
Foghat by Foghat
Rock and Roll Cutie by Randalls Island
Demons & Wizards by Uriah Heep
Grave New World by the Strawbs
Mousetrap by Spencer Davis
Sail Away by Randy Newman
Castles by Joy of Cooking
Roots and Branches by the Dillards
Lean On Me by Bill Withers
Angel Came by Black Oak Arkansas
Bump City by Tower of Power
So Tough by the Beach Boys
Preserve Wildlife by Mama Lion
Smokin’ OP’s by Bob Seger

Listed as “Hot Stuff” was All Day Music by War.

There is one bit of weirdness in that list: I find no evidence of a group called Randall’s Island or an album titled Rock and Roll Cutie. Randall’s Island was, however, the title of a 1970 album by Elliott Randall, and his next album was titled Rock and Roll City. That later album, however, was not released until 1973, according to both Wikipedia and All-Music Guide. I am baffled.

Beyond that, it’s an interesting mash-up, which was certainly the mode for a progressive station, I think. Several of those albums – the Eric Andersen, the Joy of Cooking and Exile on Main Street – are among my favorites, and I also enjoy the albums by Bob Seger, Bill Withers, Elton John, the Strawbs, the Dillards and Tower of Power.

Without listening to it for the first time in years, I would guess that Big Bambu is deeply dated, and I sadly have no clue about the Funkadelic and Beach Boys albums on that list, the latter of which was a roots-rock exercise that should really be given its full title: Carl & The Passions: So Tough.

Other than that, it’s an interesting mix, one that could provide a few hours of decent listening (and I chuckled when Mama Lion showed up here for the second time in just a few weeks). So let’s pull three tracks from that list of twenty-one albums, and we’ll try to make them something new to these precincts.

We’ll start with “The Wizard,” the opener to the Uriah Heep album. It’s a track that starts in a quiet acoustic mood and then works its way to something far heavier, a pattern that was especially popular with British bands, it seems to me. Led Zeppelin is the easiest other example to come up with, and the approach always sounds to me as if the bands were trying – purposefully or not – to bridge the gap between the British folk tradition (think of the quieter stuff of Fairport Convention) and the nascent heavy metal approach that now, actually, sounds almost sedate. The album, Demons and Wizards, went to No. 23; the best-known track from the album was the single “Easy Livin’,” which went to No. 39 in September of 1972.

Shifting gears, we’ll move to another opening track, this time “You Hit the Nail on the Head,” the opener to Funkadelic’s two-LP America Eats Its Young. Ned Raggett of All-Music Guide singles out co-producer and keyboard player Bernie Worrell for his “surging, never-stop keyboards . . . with his magnificent lead break on the opening ‘You Hit the Nail on the Head’ making for one of the best performances ever on Hammond organ.” The album went to No. 123 on the Billboard 200 and to No. 22 on the R&B Albums chart. One single, “Loose Booty,” bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 118, while another, “A Joyful Process,” went to No. 38 on the R&B chart.

As I wrote and listened this morning, I was also digging around in the Echoes In The Wind archives and I was stunned to realize that I’ve never shared Eric Andersen’s original version of “Blue River.” I’ve told the tale before, how the album Blue River was supposed to have positioned Andersen as the next big thing but that the master tapes for his next album, Stages, were lost and it was three years and a label change until Andersen’s next record – Be True To You – came out. All of that, however, makes Blue River sound like a stage-setter when it’s actually one of the great albums of the singer-songwriter era: melodic, literate, sometimes sweet and sometimes melancholy. It went to No. 169 on the Billboard 200, but commercial success – or its lack thereof – doesn’t really matter when you spend a little time with Andersen down on the Blue River.

Saturday Single No. 229

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Our long driveway yesterday afternoon was clear of snow and ice.

All winter long, the minor snowfalls had been pressed down, first into the dirt and then – for most of the season – into the packed snow that eventually turned to ice. Major snowfalls brought us a visit from the snowplow guy, but smaller snows – as has been the case for the three winters we’ve lived here – provided more raw material for what in effect was a mini-glacier that wound its way from the garage down to Lincoln Avenue.

I wrote a year ago during the Winter Olympics of my fear of slipping on the slick driveway and sliding to the bottom. This year’s driveway was slicker yet, and still we managed to get through the winter – this far, anyway – without taking a tumble. And yesterday afternoon, the glacier had gone. The driveway was clear.

But, to quote Chad & Jeremy, that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone.

Last night’s northwestern winds brought with them two or three inches of snow. It’s hard to tell, as the winds – having eased off to twenty-one miles an hour as I write – have tossed the snow around during the night. Not all of the driveway is covered again, but enough of it is to make me feel as if all the melting progress we’ve seen during the past few days has been in vain.

And the wind has left its minidrifts on the sidewalks as well. I truly do not mind shoveling snow. It’s good exercise, and – unless the snow is wet and heavy and deep – I find being outdoors in the cool air energizing. But keeping the sidewalks clear this winter has been a Sisyphean task. I am tempted to let this morning’s blown snow lie undisturbed until it melts. According to Weatherbug, that should happen Monday at the latest.

In the meantime, the wind continues to whip around the corner of the house, its moan making it the dominant feature of the day. So I thought I’d sort my music for tunes with “wind” in the title and visit six of them randomly in search of a tune for the day.

First up is “Prairie Wind,” the lengthy title tune from Neil Young’s 2005 CD. Many listeners seemed to hear the album as a return to the long-ago form of Harvest, but I thought that even though the ingredients of the 2005 album were tasty, they just didn’t jell into full form. That holds true for the title song, with the background singers and the lonely harmonica fighting an incongruous chorus of horns. It’s not an awful track, but Young has done much better.

From there we go back to what I think is 1964, and a performance of “Blow Wind Blow” by Muddy Waters and pianist Otis Span at the Newport Folk Festival. Both legends were in good form, and the audience was appreciative. The performance lacks the bite of Waters’ legendary take on “Got My Mojo Working” at Newport four years earlier, but it’s pleasant listening.

We move on to a 1964 recording of “Four Strong Winds” by country stalwart Bobby Bare. His take on Ian Tyson’s classic song is pretty straightforward with a minimum of interpretation. Still, country fans liked what they heard: The record went to No. 3 on the country chart – one of fifty-nine records Bare placed in the country Top 40 – and made it to No. 60 on the pop chart.

Fourth in our six-song trek this morning is a track by Terry Garthwaite and Toni Brown of the early 1970s folk-rock group Joy of Cooking. “As I Watch the Wind” comes from Cross Country, a country-ish album the duo recorded in Nashville in 1973. “And as I watch the wind tear the trees apart, I can feel your love still tearin’ at my heart.” Nice.

Folkdove was a 1970s French ensemble about which I know very little. Sometime during my early explorations of music blogs I found a copy of the group’s self-titled 1975 album. Our fifth selection, “The Wind and the Rain” comes from that album, and I might have found it interesting at the time I first found it. But the plain melody sung with just a simple drum for accompaniment wears on me this morning. I don’t recall the rest of the album, but “The Wind and the Rain” – brief though it is at 2:30 – goes on a bit too long for me this morning. Kind of like the real-world wind outside with its one-note song.

And we alight on Eric Andersen’s “Wind and Sand,” one of the meditative tracks that made his 1972 album Blue River a classic – sometimes forgotten these days, I think – of the singer-songwriter genre. The song is deceptively simple:

All alone a father sits
Thinking of his son.
Far away a mother sleeps
Her baby yet unborn.

Rain and wood and fire and stone,
Magic all across the land.
Seasons come and times will go
Right through your hand
Like wind and sand.

In a while a child will grow,
A bird will learn to fly.
Pretty soon a child will know
What it is to make a life.

Rain and wood and fire and stone,
Magic all across the land.
Seasons come and times will go
Right through your hand
Like wind and sand.

Long before the river goes
Far from where it was,
Long before it meets the sea,
A child will know of  love.

Rain and wood and fire and stone,
Magic all across the land.
Seasons come and times will go
Right through your hand
Like wind and sand.

And that simple elegance makes “Wind and Sand” today’s Saturday Single.