Song 154, Tuesday, 11/26/2013 -- She Has Funny Cars by Jefferson Airplane, written by Jorma Kaukonen and Marty Balin. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual is just a still of the Surrealistic Pillow cover, but while that part doesn't move, the song really rocks the sound track of the video. I knew Surrealistic Pillow a bit from having heard some of it from friends, and it was one of the first albums I got when I started collecting LPs, but I didn't really know the record until I brought it home from the store. It didn't take long for me to find a place for it on my personal top ten list of RnR albums. This song opens the record, in a very rocking way, and Jorma's solo at the end of the track is still one of my favorite electric guitar lead breaks. The lyrics sound cool, with a sort of shifting point of view, and it's fun to sing along with the chorus, although the reality is that no one's mind is guaranteed, but maybe the writers meant those lines to be ironic, and the words certainly could work from that angle.
Song 153, Monday, 11/25/2013 -- Homeward Bound by Simon and Garfunkel, written by Paul Simon. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. While this song actually appeared on the Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme LP, strangely, the YT video visual is a still of the Bookends cover, and while you might not see much if you play the video, you will hear a very good song. As I recall it, I didn't own this single, but it was part of my high school Honor Society's collection, and when I became a member, I got access to that collection. I remember liking this record so much that I sometimes played it twice, and because I cared so much about the music, I often got to pick the records during our many Honor Society marathon hearts games. No one ever complained about my choice of music, so I would guess a lot of others liked this song enough to enjoy hearing it twice.
Song 150, Friday, 11/22/2013 -- King of Junk by Eddy Lawrence, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video is just a still of the Used Parts cover, but the song moves along pretty well even if the visual part of the video doesn't. Friday being Friend's Day, today's song is by my friend Eddy Lawrence, and it's the opening track from his 1992 CD Used Parts. I always liked this song a lot, and I felt like I knew the guy who was that King of Junk. Actually, when I lived in Berkeley during the '80s, I did know at least 1 or 2 kings of junk, and more than once I enjoyed surveying their kingdoms.
Song 149, Thursday, 11/21/2013 -- Pretty Polly by Judy Collins, which is her interpretation of a traditional folk song. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual is just stills of the Who Knows Where The Time Goes front and back covers, but the song should keep your attention for the length of the video even if it doesn't show you much. This song was on the b side of JC's Chelsea Morning single and since my record collection at the time consisted only of singles, I usually played the b sides as soon as I finished the a sides, so not long after I got home with this new single in hand, I heard this traditional folk song for the first time. Knowing nothing about the murder ballad tradition, I expected the line "I'm afraid you mean to murder me and leave me behind" to be followed by "Pretty Polly, are you out of your mind?" instead of "Pretty Polly, you guess it about right." JC takes this old song into some rocking territory, with the help of Steve Stills on guitar, along with some other fine players, building to a very powerful ending about who the killer must pay for his crime.
Song 148, Wednesday, 11/20/2013 -- Sugar Bowl by Captain Beefheart, who also wrote the song, which is credited under his legal name Don Van Vliet. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video is just a still of the Unconditionally Guaranteed cover, but the song moves the video along pretty well even if the visual doesn't. Previously I had heard a few cuts from Trout Mask Replica and they left an impression of an experimental rock sound that didn't move me at the time, but I didn't really know much about the Captain's music until one summer day in 1974, when I caught this song playing on an Atlanta radio station. The tune convinced me that I had to hear more of this guy's music, and I found that I liked a lot of it, including just about every other track on this album. The Captain had that classic bluesy voice that comes across on this track, plus some truly fine harp work. I also like the hints between the lines of the lyrics -- while the song would seem to be about how children like to raid a sugar bowl, I always heard the words as hinting at something else, that being something older kids happen to like because of its sweet taste.
Song 146, Monday, 11/18/2013 -- Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire, written by P.F. Sloan. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. When this song came out of the transister radio I and a friend were listening to one summer night in 1965, it really scared me, because it perfectly voiced the feeling of the time. It truly felt like the eve of destruction, for all of the reasons in the song, as well as many others, such as the assassinations that marked the era. The song had an undeniable power, and as scary as it was, I wanted to hear it again and again. While the nuclear destruction feared in that time did not happen, the kind of fools who would lead us to that destruction are still very much with us, such as billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who recently called for nuclear strikes on Iran. Powerful rich fools like that should remind us of the necessity to keep doing everything for peace that we possibly can.
Song 143, Friday, 11/15/2013 -- The Riley Boys by Carol Denney, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. Friday being Friends' Day, last Friday's song was by my '80s Berkeley housemate Bob Nichols, and today's song is by my other Berkeley songwriter friend Carol Denney, who also knew Bob pretty well. In fact, the three of us celebrated one Christmas Eve together at the house in Berkeley sitting by the fire in the living room, with no other friends or family members as guests. I think we shared songs, but I don't remember whether we shared gifts with each other or not. That memory aside, Carol's song for today is the title track from her most recent CD, and I don't know that I've ever met The Riley Boys but Carol's song could convince me that no matter how bad things might get at any one time, they would certainly be better if The Riley Boys were here. You can find out more about her CD here.
Song 142, Thursday, 11/14/2013 -- Me and My Uncle by Joni Mitchell, written by John Phillips. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video is from a 1965 TV appearance. I originally learned this song from the live version on a record called The Judy Collins Concert, but I couldn't find a YouTube video of JC doing it, so I settled for a Joni Mitchell version from the same era. John Phillips, who was Papa John of The Mamas and The Papas, wrote this song before that group came together. After I learned it, I added the tune to my sing-along western outlaw set, along with Midnight Rider (yesterday's song) and Friend of the Devil (Monday's song). For what it's worth, the Grateful Dead also did a well-known version of this song, but since they also did Friend of the Devil, I picked Joni's version for today.
Song 141, Wednesday, 11/13/2013 -- Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers, written by Gregg Allman and Robert Payne. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual shows the lyrics over a still of the Idlewild South album cover. I hadn't even heard of The Allman Brothers Band when I landed in Atlanta in June of 1971, but I quickly found out about these local heroes, who would soon get a lot better known with the release of their At Fillmore East record. It didn't take long to learn this tune from their previous record Idlewild South, since almost everyone I knew in Atlanta that summer had the album, and at sing-alongs I made it a companion song with yesterday's tune as part of a western outlaw set. Regarding silver dollars, I found an 1878 silver dollar in my father's wallet after he died, which I keep to this day.
Song 140, Tuesday, 11/12/2013 -- Friend of the Devil by The Grateful Dead, written by John Dawson, Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual is just a still of the American Beauty album cover, but while the video might not give you much to look at, it will give you a really good song for the listening. By the mid-'70s, I had learned this song well enough that I added it to a group of songs I would pick from if I found myself at a campfire sing-along, or, say, playing in a crowded bus station on a long night waiting out a 14-inch-plus snow storm, maybe in Toledo, Ohio, perhaps on the Sunday after Thanksgiving in November of 1974. No matter where I found myself, though, I could usually count on having enough other Grateful Dead fans in a sing-along crowd to help me out in case I momentarily drew a blank on one of the lines for this tune.