Song 79, Thursday, 9/12/2013 -- Revival by The Allman Brothers Band, written by Dickey Betts. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. When I landed in Atlanta in June of '71, I had never heard of The Allman Brothers, but it didn't take long for that to change -- you couldn't hang out on The Strip in Atlanta in the summer of 1971 without hearing and knowing about them. They were superstars in Atlanta, even though at the time you might not hear much about them in Chicago. In the middle of that summer, their 3rd LP, which was a 2-record live set called At Fillmore East, appeared all over the radio and record stores in Atlanta, and the brothers were even bigger. I heard all their records a lot that summer, because most of the people I knew there had them and listened to them a lot, so by the end of the summer I knew the music of The Allman Brothers very well. This song opens their second LP, Idewild South and hearing it might take you to a time when songwriters wrote lines like People can you feel it -- love is everywhere. That was a good time for music, and for believing in the power of love.
Song 77, Tuesday, 9/10/2013 -- Space Cowboy by Steve Miller Band, written by Steve Miller and Ben Sidran. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of the Brave New World cover, but you'll hear a really good song even if you won't see much by playing the video. If you only know Steve Miller as The Joker, you might not know just how good his first few albums were. When I first heard this song in the fall of 1969, not long after its release, it sounded to me like Miller just took the Lady Madonna riff, wrote another song around it and signed his name to it. I wondered why the Beatles would let Miller get away with it, but at the time I didn't know how much the Lady Madonna riff owes to a '50s jazz tune called Bad Penny Blues. Paul McCartney hasn't been shy about admitting where he got the inspiration for his riff, but at the time he was shy about playing drums and bass plus doing some background vocals for the Brave New World album, so his contributions were credited to Paul Ramon. All that aside, Steve Miller took that riff and rocked it a lot harder than the Beatles, also adding some other wonderful sounds plus some really stong lyrics, so long before I found out about Bad Penny Blues, I had forgiven Mr. Miller for copping the riff.
Song 75, Sunday, 9/8/2013 -- All Strung Out Over You by The Chambers Brothers, written by R. Clark. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of the album cover The Time Has Come, but play the video and you might not see much but you'll hear a really good song. I always liked the way this song starts on the second beat, but at first it sounds as if it's the first beat, and then it takes a musical turn that shows where the beat really is. The Chambers Brothers had a big hit in '68 with Time Has Come Today but I missed it, and I only caught up with them a couple of years later. When, a couple of years after that, I finally got the album, it had a lot more good stuff on it than I had expected, and this track especially -- this song, which opens the record, became an instant favorite the first time I played the LP.
Song 74, Saturday, 9/7/2013 -- Darkness Darkness by The Youngbloods, written by Jessie Colin Young. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of a Youngbloods album cover, but if you play the video, you'll hear a very good song even if you won't see much. Back to my All Time Favorites 1 cassette, this song was all over the radio in the fall of 1969, and it got a lot of airplay over the next 2 or 3 years. Despite all of that radio attention, I never got tired of hearing it, and was happy to finally get a copy of Elephant Mountain so I could hear it any time I wanted. As a songwriter, there are thousands of songs that I like listening to, and I admire the craft involved in so many of them, but I also have a small group, of maybe a couple of dozen songs, that I admire so much, I have a special category called I Wish I'd Written That. This song is one of those -- in the poetic lyrics I hear layers of meanings and deep reflections, all riding on a musical frame that feels just as poetic.
Song 73, Friday, 9/6/2013 -- Raised to Be a Lady by Carol Denney, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. Friday being Friend's Day, I decided to put up another song by my Berkeley friend Carol Denney. The YouTube video shows Carol performing this song at Berkeley's Freight and Salvage. If you like this song, it appears on her CD Cruel Lullaby and you can find out more about that here. I like all 3 of Carol's CD, and I listen to them a lot. In this song she gives her take on traditional ladies roles, with wit and some fine blues picking.
Song 71, Wednesday, 9/4/2013 -- World in Changes by Dave Mason, who also wrote the song. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still graphic, but if you play the video, you'll hear a moving live performance of a really good song even if you won't see anything moving. Dave Mason's first solo album Alone Together has a lot of good songs, many of which I heard on the radio in the fall of 1970, and this one became an instant favorite from the first time I heard it. It seemed like a truly appropriate song for that time of my life, as I had a lot to learn then, about people in general and a couple of women in particular, or maybe more than a couple.
Song 70, Tuesday, 9/3/2013 -- We Can Be Together by Jefferson Airplane, written by Paul Kantner. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of the Volunteers album cover, but if you play the video, you'll hear a really good song even if you won't see much. In the fall of 1969, I got a free copy of Volunteers just for subscribing to Rolling Stone, so I listened to the album a whole lot, since it was one of the first LPs I got. People have criticized the mix on this album over the years, and they're probably right, these song could have been mixed better, but I think they work just fine as is. As to the revolutionary message in the lyrics, I can enjoy the devil's advocate stance, but it seemed a bit BS at the time, and seems even more so now, though it doesn't stop me from enjoying the song. When they sing about being forces of chaos and anarchy, they're doing so through the medium of rock and roll, not free-form jazz, and rock has, as Chuck Berry and John Lennon reminded us, a backbeat, you can't lose it. When the J-plane sings about being lawless, hideous, dangerous, dirty, violent and young, they're mainly posing, as was clear not long after they releaed the LP when they appeared at Altamont and found themselves facing a group that was genuinely lawless, hideous, dangerous, dirty, and violent, though maybe not so young.
Song 66, Friday, 8/30/2013 -- A Bitter Song by Bob Nichols, who also wrote the song. There is no YouTube video of the tune, but you can hear it here. Friday being Friend's Day, I've included another song by my old Berkeley housemate from the '80s, Bob Nichols. He played this song for me before the time I moved into the house. We were hanging out playing our new songs for each other, and he played this one for me, along with a couple others. I thought it seemed like a good piece, though I couldn't picture exactly what a recording of it would sound like. By the time I moved into the Berkeley house in September of 1981 he had already recorded it, and when he played me the track I thought it sounded a lot better than I even guessed it would. In a couple of years Bob assembled 6 finished recordings, which became the basis of a tape he gave me of his band Moo. I have listened to that Moo tape hundreds of times over the last 3 decades, and it never gets old. This song has, if anything, become a lot more timely than it was when he wrote it -- the sad fact is that a line like "Big money bought ballots" describes the present political business as usual to a much greater degree than it did when he wrote and recorded it over 30 years ago.
Song 65, Thursday, 8/29/2013 -- Jesus is Just All RIght by The Byrds, written by Arthur Reynolds. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is a couple of stills of the 5 original Byrds (even though Roger McGuinn was the only original member still with the band when they recorded this track) plus a still of the psychedelic The Byrds logo from their 3rd album 5D, but listening to the song will make it worth watching the video even if the visuals don't. I still remember the first time I heard this song in the late fall of 1969, walking up a stairway in a building where someone was playing it very loudly, and I knew at that moment that The Byrds had a really good new record out that I would want to get as soon as I could. While other people have done good versions of this song, to me The Byrds version was the best one, from the first time I heard it. I always liked the lyrics of this song for the way a few simple lines can say a lot and suggest even more -- you can sing this song in a religous way, but you can also sing it as a way to side with the man who threw the money-changers from the temple.
Song 64, Wednesday, 8/28/2013 -- Station Man by Fleetwood Mac, written by Danny Kirwan, Jeremy Spencer and John McVie. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of the Kiln House album cover, but if you play the video, you'll hear a really good song even if you won't see a whole lot. In the mid-'70s I started catching up on some of Fleetwood Mac's records from their pre-Buckingham/Nicks era, and Kiln House has some really stand-out tracks, this being the second one to make this list. During the era when FM recorded this LP, some rock and roll songwriters were trying to get beyond the simple typical verse/chorus song form to a more linear beginning-to-end idea, with Suite: Judy Blue Eyes and Stairway to Heaven being notable examples. This Fleetwood Mac song works in the very same way, and to my ears it does so very well.