Song 158, Saturday, 11/30/2013 -- Smokestack Lightning by Mike Harrison, written by Chester Burnett (Howlin' Wolf). You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual is just a still of the Smokestack Lightning cover, but if you play the video, you'll hear a really good song even if you won't see much. Radio in the Chicago area was very good to me, and to other listeners, in the early '70s, though it didn't stay that way for long, as industry consolidation took a toll on playlists and variety, but in 1972, when this record got released, you could hear it on Chicago radio. I only had to hear it a couple of times to know I wanted the LP. At the time I didn't know anything about the history of this song, the rocking Yardbirds cover from March of '64 with Eric Clapton on lead, or the cooking Howlin' Wolf original from '56, but I would soon find out about all that because this song really sparked my interest. The words perfectly evoke the sight of a steam locomotive moving down a railroad track in the dark with epic simplicity, riding on an equally simple basic song structure built on a single riff and only one chord, and this version rocks out for over 12 minutes through variations around that single riff and that one chord.
Song 157, Friday, 11/29/2013 -- Butt Dialed by Gregg Cagno, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. Friday being Friend's Day, I decided to post this gem by my friend Gregg Cagno. Until I heard this song, I didn't even know it was possible to butt dial someone, and now that I know about it, I think it might explain a couple of calls I've gotten over the past year or so. I'd also like to use this post to deny the rumor that Gregg, John Gorka (Nothing But a Butt) and I (But But But) are planning a CD compilation called You Bet Your Butt. One further note -- for those confused about geography, Buttzville is in New Jersey, which is a state that all three of us (Gorka, Cagno and myself) have called home at some time in our lives, although for what it's worth, there is also a Buttzville in North Dakota as well.
Song 156, Thursday, 11/28/2013 -- Restless by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, written by Tom Petty. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual is just a still of the You're Gonna Get It cover, but while the video visual doesn't move, the song sure does, as it should, considering what it's about. On Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful for the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and I was even more so in the late '70s when I wasn't hearing a whole lot of new stuff that interested me. I followed yesterday's song by the Byrds with a song by TP because he and his crew obviously like the music of the Byrds as much as I do and it shows in their music, to the extent that one critic at the time of their first album release thought that one of the tracks from that LP (American Girl) was a Byrds cover, when it was actually an original song. From the first time I heard their second LP, I liked this song a lot, at least in part because I really relate to the message in the words. I opened the first song (Halfway Home) of my first album-length release (Going My Way) with the word restless. I understand exactly what Petty is saying in and between the lines of this song, and I know very well the feeling that he's expressing.
Song 155, Wednesday, 11/27/2013 -- Renaissance Fair by The Byrds, written by David Crosby and Jim McGuinn. You can find a YouTube video of this tune here. The YT video visual is just a still graphic of the Younger Than Yesterday cover, but while it might not show you much, this video will give you a lot to listen to in a very short time with a really tight rocking song. I knew The Byrds mostly from their hit singles, which I really liked, but in the early '70s as I had a chance to expand my LP collection, I made sure to get each and every Byrds album. I felt pretty good about each purchase, but Younger Than Yesterday sounded so much better than I had expected. I particularly like the interplay between the lead and rhythm guitars on this song, plus the way the words manage to evoke 3 of the 5 senses in only 3 lines, drawing you into a scene you can see, hear and smell.
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.