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 69, Monday, 9/2/2013 -- Chest Fever by The Band, written by Robbie Robertson. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a still of the To Kingdom Come album cover, but listening to a song this good will make it worth your time to play the video, even if there's not much to watch. Regarding what I posted recently about The Band, this song from their first LP is one of the few tracks where they do cut loose on a recording, and it really really rocks, from those classic Garth Hudson opening organ riffs to the final fade nearly 6 minutes later, just pausing briefly for a few moments with that bit about how it's long, long when she's gone. As far as the lyrics on this tune, I long suspected that the singer might have garbled them a bit to purposely make them hard to understand, and I remember a Robbie Robertson interview where he claimed not to remember them, so I thought it likely that maybe they weren't that good, although on this track it really doesn't matter. One of the wonders of the internet is that now anyone can find out the lyrics to well-known songs, and when I did finally look them up, the words on this one don't seem especially poetic or clever to me, but I also felt they were better than I expected.
Song 68, Sunday, 9/1/2013 -- Valentine's Day by Blood, Sweat & Tears, written by Steve Katz. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is just a few still graphics from the Blood, Sweat & Tears 4 album, but it's a really good song even if it's not much of a video. The LP had been out for almost year before I got around to hearing it, but when I did, I thought this song was one of their best. While David Clayton Thomas did most of the lead vocals for BS&T, guitarist Steve Katz sings lead on this one, which he also wrote, and he really puts his heart into the sad love story that unfolds in this ballad.
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.
Song 62, Monday, 8/26/2013 -- Porterville by Creedence Clearwater Revival, written by John Fogerty. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is mostly a still graphic of the first CCR album cover, but if you play the video you will hear a very good song even if you won't see a whole lot. I didn't know anything about CCR until they took us rollin' on the river in the spring of 1969, but a year or two later as I was expanding my LP collection I picked up that first album not too long after getting a copy of the second one (Bayou Country, which contained Proud Mary), and I thought in some ways it was a more interesting record than their other ones. The CCR sound basically arrived with their second LP, and it was a very good sound, but on that first album, while they were still sorting it out, they had some really good stuff that sounds a bit different from most of what they later did, and this song is a good example of that.
Song 61, Sunday, 8/25/2013 -- Child of the Moon by The Rolling Stones, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. You can find a YouTube video of the song here. The YT video visual is mostly a still graphic of the moon, with the lyrics added. The Rolling Stones were doing pretty well after Satisfaction but a couple of years later, as The Beatles moved into their Sgt. Pepper phase, The Rolling Stones followed them into the same sort of territory, and I wasn't quite so sure about the results. Then, just as the weather started getting warm in 1968, the magical single Jumpin' Jack Flash appeared. I got that single as soon as I could, and on the B side was this song, which sounded almost as good to me as the A side, and they both still sound as good, if not better, than when I first heard them.