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.
Song 138, Sunday, 11/10/2013 -- Song for Adam by Jackson Browne, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual is just a still of The Very Best of Jackson Browne album cover and a few other stills of JB, but if you play the video, the song will probably move you even if the visual part doesn't. Back in the winter of 1972, I already knew about the songwriter Jackson Browne from a few Tom Rush covers of his songs, and I also knew that he had an album in the works, but when I heard this song on the radio one day, I really liked it a lot but I didn't know it was JB. When I found out, then I knew I really needed to get that new record. I didn't know the details behind the song, but I was certain that the songwriter was telling a true story, because I didn't think you could write a song like this just from your imagination -- I felt pretty sure that I couldn't. I understood what Jackson meant when he spoke about a friend who he thought was stronger than him, but who then may very well have taken his own life. I also understood Jackson's words about the candle that gets shorter every hour as it reaches for the day.
Song 136, Friday, 11/8/2013 -- Bean Boogie by Bob Nichols, who also wrote the song. There is no YouTube video of this tune, but you can hear it here. Friday being Friends' Day, I've posted another song by Bob Nichols, my old Berkeley housemate from the 1980s. During that era, Bob wrote and recorded a bunch of really good songs, and I still listen to those recordings a lot today. Sadly, Bob died before YouTube become a reality, so you'll find no YouTube videos of Bob Nichols songs, but at least you can hear a few of them here. I remember how excited Bob was when he met the guitar player who did the slide parts on this song, and I wish I knew the slide player's name, so I could give him some credit for all the fine leads he played on this track. I have no way to find an answer to that question, though, because my old friend who sings Babe, why d'you leave so soon? on this song, he was the one who actually left too soon.
Song 135, Thursday, 11/7/2013 -- Bargain by The Who, written by Pete Townshend. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is a still of the Who's Next cover, but though the visual might not move you, the song should get you moving in one way or other. In early 1971, fans of the Who, myself included, wondered if they would try to top Tommy, their most recent studio album, with an even more ambitious concept follow-up, and apparently Pete Townshend nearly slipped off the edge trying to do just that. Still, when Who's Next showed up at the end of the summer, no one complained that it was not some lofty concept record but just a really good album with some fine songs. I will admit that at first I missed the real message of this tune, about giving up material goods in the search for enlightenment, but the song always sounded really good to me, long before I understood the real meaning of the words.
Song 133, Tuesday, 11/5/2013 -- You'd Better Think Twice by Poco, written by Jim Messina. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is just a still of the cover of The Very Best of Poco, but if you play the video, you might not see much but you will hear a really good song. This tune comes from Poco's second album, simply called Poco. Shortly after that album's release, I knew a few people who had it, so I got to know it by sight from its cool cover, but I didn't hear them play it. Then one day I heard this song on the radio, and it sounded so good that I soon connected it with the album that it came from, and it proved to me that the album was more than just a pretty cover.
Song 132, Monday, 11/4/2013 -- Down to the Waterline by Dire Straits, written by Mark Knopfler. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is just a still of the Dire Straits cover, but the song moves along just fine even though the visual doesn't. For me, in the late '70s, not hearing a whole lot of new sounds that got my attention, I well remember the first time I heard Sultans of Swing on the radio, and I said to a friend, "Who is that guitar player?" I had to know the answer to that question, and another friend soon gave me the answer when he showed up at one of our music hangouts and played this song. After his set, we talked about Dire Straits, and not long after, when I got the album, the record version of this song sounded even better than I expected. I really like the guitar sounds that introduce the song, hinting at sounds you might hear on a wharf.
Song 131, Sunday, 11/3/2013 -- Indian Sunset by Elton John, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video is just a still of the Madman Across the Water cover, but if you play the video you'll hear an amazing song even if you won't see a whole lot. Before Elton John started dressing in a duck costume and singing about Crocodile Rock, he did some really good songs that I liked a lot better than most of his big pop hits. This song is definitely my favorite EJ track, and it influenced me more than a little in writing my song Vanishing Point. My grandfather said to me, more than a few times, that "it was shameful what the white people in this country did to the native Americans" (he called them the Indians, as everyone in those days did). Of course, the bad treatment of native Americans didn't end with Wounded Knee, and it continues to this day, but this song, and mine, both deal with the era that was truly the most shameful.