Song 10, Friday, 7/5/2013 -- Song for the Next War by Happy Joe, written by Joe Canzano. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Friday being Friends Day, today's song is by my friend Joe Canzano, who goes by the name Happy Joe for his most recent CD, which contains this track and a lot of other good music as well. The video visual is a bunch of stills about war, and they go very well with the song. I think this song ties in well with yesterday's song, which was also related to war. This song could have been written about the Iraq War, but everything in it would probably apply to the next war as well as the last one.
Song 9, Thursday, 7/4/2013 -- Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of the album cover, like a lot of these videos, but if you've never heard this song, it'll be worth your time to stare at that still while listening to the sounds. This makes another detour from the LSESF 2 cassette -- when I finish that tape, I plan to move to one called Eighties Favorites that contains this song, but I decided to get to this one early, because, well, it's the 4th of July, and this song seems appropriate for the day. I listened to and liked Bruce through the 1970s and early 80s, but I always felt he had the potential for an amazing track that he hadn't yet done. I first heard this one jumping out of a radio at a party with some friends of friends in the Hayward, CA area, and from the first time through the riff, it just grabbed me, only getting better from there. I felt this song was the first one with lyrics that dealt with the reality of Viet Nam head on, from a working class POV, and I understood the image of "the gas fires of the refineries" because I've seen them a few times myself, passing by on the highway at night.
Song 8, Wednesday, 7/3/2013 -- Time and Changes by Brewer & Shipley, written by Tom Shipley. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still showing the cover of the album Down in L.A. that contains the track, but one more time I'll say, if you play the video, you will at least hear a really good song. In the summer of 1971 a couple of musical friends I made in Atlanta turned me on to the music of Brewer & Shipley, who also had a hit a few months earlier that I'd heard on the radio. I collected most of their albums, but I didn't get around to their first one until about a decade later, living in Berkeley. I liked the whole album, as I did most of their other records, and this song especially, which is a love song with some interesting harmonies.
Song 7, Tuesday, 7/2/2013 -- Cornwall Blank by America, written by Dewey Bunnell. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of the Homecoming cover, but once again I can tell you, if you play the video, you will at least hear a really good song. A pair of my 70s Evanston friends from the band Lucky Mud had actually been bandmates of the America crew in an earlier incarnation, and pulled me a bit in their direction, but when I hooked up with Jeff Larson around the turn of the 80s, then I really started paying more attention to them, since Jeff is an even bigger fan of their sound than my Evanston friends, if that's possible. I heard and learned a lot of America songs from the radio throughout the 1970s, but under Jeff's influence, I got reacquainted with them, and this one had always been a favorite. It provides a good example of a song that moves beyond the traditional song structures used in the vast majority of songs, and it does so in a very impressive and memorable way.
Song 6, Monday, 7/1/2013 -- Tell Me All the Things You Do by Fleetwood Mac, written by Danny Kirwan. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of the cover of the album that contains the track, but once more I say, if you play the video, you will at least hear a really good song. In the mid-70s, I got a lot more interested in Fleetwood Mac after Buckingham and Nicks came on board, and then I decided to find out more about their earlier albums. The first time through Kiln House, this track almost jumped out of the grooves, and every time I hear it, it just sounds better. It also proves that you can write a good song with only one line for the lyric, especially if you can fill in all the musical spaces with guitar riffs this good.
Song 5, Sunday, 6/30/2013 -- Hot Burrito #2 by the Flying Burrito Brothers, written by Chris Ethridge and Gram Parsons. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a single still of Gram Parsons, but yet again I say, if you play the video, you will at least hear a really good song. The version of this song on my cassette comes from the 1972 Last of the Red Hot Burritos live album recorded on their 1971 tour. The version on the YT video comes from a live set at the Avalon Ballroom in 1969, and while it sounds fine, it doesn't have the knock-out punch of the later version. My good friend and 1980s Berkeley housemate Bob really liked this song a lot, and he talked me into getting the album. Even before I got to this track, I knew I'd gotten my money's worth in good music, but this song made it seem like a much better deal, so when it came time to put together some cassettes of my favorite album tracks for road trips, this one naturally rose to a place near the top of the list. I never learned all the lines, but on this song it doesn't seem to matter so much. Musically, the Burrito guys knew how to take rock in a country direction that still kept it really rockin'.
Song 4, Saturday, 6/29/2013 -- Big Boss Man by the Grateful Dead, written by Luther Dixon and Al Smith. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Back to the LSESF 2 tape... The YT video visual is just a single still of the electric skull logo, but once again, if you play the video, you will at least hear a really good song. The version of this song on my cassette comes from the 1971 Grateful Dead live double album recorded in March and April of that year, while the version on the YT video was recorded live on 2/23/71, so it's similar but not the same. My love affair with the music of the Grateful Dead got off to a slow start, and didn't really kick in until a couple of years after this track appeared, when I heard it and saw the tape of the live performance on a TV show. I knew the song from hearing a version of it growing up in the mid-60s, though I don't know who the artist was. I really liked the song, though, from the first time I heard it, and when I heard the Dead version, I liked it even more. Similar to my awakened interest in Joe Cocker after hearing High Time, I knew I'd have to get that live double album after I heard this track. And you've got to love that rock-and-roll spirit of defiance and rebellion directed at "the big boss man" who "ain't so big" as he might think he is.
Song 3, Friday, 6/28/2013 -- Ghosts of San Miguel by Jeff Larson, written by Jeff Larson. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Friday is Friends day, so today's song doesn't come from the LSESF 2 tape -- it comes from Jeff's 2008 release Left of a Dream, and it has gotten a decent amount of airplay on KFOG and other radio stations in the Northern California area. Someone took Jeff's song and added a bunch of stills from San Miguel to make a truly cool video. Jeff's song perfectly conveys the feeling of a place like the Spanish mission at San Miguel -- you can feel the ghosts in a place like that, and part of what you feel is the lingering sadness and the history of cruelty and violence that left its mark there. All of the elements come together on this track, from the lyrics to the vocal quality to the guitar textures, to paint a very clear and memorable picture that I come back to see again and again.
Song 2, Thursday, 6/27/2013 -- High Time We Went by Joe Cocker, written by Joe Cocker and Chris Stainton. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The video just shows the vinyl 45 playing on a turntable, so it's not much to look at, but if you play the video you will at least hear a really good song. In the summer of 1971 when this record climbed up the charts, I was in Atlanta, GA, hanging out at a place called The Aurora, and I didn't hear the radio very much, so I didn't catch this tune until some time in the fall. I liked Joe Cocker generally, and his records were mostly on my buy some day list, but hearing this track, I moved him up quite a few notches closer to the top of that list. This track really rocks, and the chorus lyrics convey the urgency of a message that it's time to do what you have to do. The verse lyrics almost don't matter, and Cocker's singing doesn't make them easy to understand, so for a long time, before the rise of the internet and easy ways to find out song lyrics, I didn't know what they were, but didn't really care. Now knowing the lyrics, the song story may be about going out to get more booze or something like that, which doesn't actually seem so compelling, but it doesn't change my love for the piece. I now also clearly understand how much Joe's singing style owes to Ray Charles, but when the track sounds this good, I can forgive him for that too.