Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"What Was I Thinking?" Songs of Shame #3

There was a begatting and another and more and more. I'll follow Chris Hillman through some of the permutations. Mr. Hillman started with
the Byrds,
sashayed over to the Flying Burrito Brothers,
slipped over to Manassas,
joined with Rich Furay (of Buffalo Springfield and Poco) and J.D. Souther to form The Souther, Hillman, Furay Band,
which broke up and he formed (one of many concoctions of) The Chris Hillman Band,
where he hung around for a while and then wamoosed to McGuinn, Clark & Hillman,
and then simply McGuinn & Hillman,
went back to The Chris Hillman Band,
the opted to join up with the Desert Rose Band,
leaving for McGuinn, Hillman & Crosby,
then just Hillman & Pederson,
soon to become Hillman, Pederson, Rice & Rice,
jaunting off with the Scotsville Squirrel Barkers,
and back to, you guessed it, The Chris Hillman Band.

If bands were weddings, Mr. Hillman would have, as Tom Waits would put it, "rice marks all over his face." Whew! Had my pick of the litter here for Song of Shame. Went with the biggest ego formation of the bunch, Souther, Hillman & Furay. And who could forget the lap-steely, whiny, cojones-less, JD Souther penned ballad, "Pretty Goodbyes" from "Wounded Heart".

Souther, Hillman, Furay and all the otherEagles/Jackson Browne-like bands were fronted by nicely head and chest coiffed brown/blonde hair California/Texas type with a coyote-charmed voice bleeding vulnerable (and badly worded but rhyming) lyrics enwrapped in a 2 or 3 male harmony. They were wolves in search of willing lambs.

"You don't want to hear it, but the words in my mouth
You don't wanna know it so I'll try not to shout
But I've been lonlelier with you than I was without
And now there's nothing to say but goodbye."

Meet you, love you, use you, dump you...but let me make that rhyme.


Baby, pretty soon when I'm gone well you can open your eyes
And have a good cry but say goodbye tell me goodbye
Say a pretty goodbye
Baby, you could be gone with a smile on your face
Instead of letting those good tears go to waste.

I can't believe I actually sang along with this song, blasting it as I drove down to the Jersey shore, in search of girl's hearts to break. (Not to song bark was worse than my patter bite)

Bruce couldn't come along any faster for me. I was in need of some substance and some true passion. No more coiffed boys for me.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Linkage (of the non-digestible type)

Recent blog sites added for our mutual enjoyment:

Dooney's Cafe to the Daily Clicks. Trying to figure out why Whisky Prajer isn't at this party. I especially enjoy the Dooney's Dictionary. Ambrose Bierce is chuckling somewhere.
Belgrade Blog Tongue in cheek or ridciculously scary, with occassional pictures you never see in newspapers.
Balkan Baby. Writes because he can and the inspiration hits him almost daily.
Estavisti He's Serbian, he's thinking, and he's usually teed off about something. Most probably will develop ulcers before he hits 30.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Not so Hot, Perhaps a Tad Nasty

Some while back, one of the kids, in an it's-raining-outside-I'm-bored-you're-a-poopyhead mood was doing some investigating. After checking out some dresser drawers, which yielded minimal items of interest, he was off to the desk. By the time I'd caught up with him, the drawers had all been pulled out and were hanging. It's a sight I'd become familiar with; my pants would look like that desk, all the pockets pulled inside out, as I searched for money to pay for another unplanned pizza delivery. As he hadn't yet discoverd the pleasure of hot underbaked dough, queasy red sauce, and peculiarly speckled pepperoni, he was molified by what he dug out from the back of one desk drawer.

He was busily chewing a cassette box. I slipped it away before he got to the cassette itself. Perhaps I should have let him chew that as well, get that bubbly baby saliva into all of the workings so I'd never be tempted to play the album again. He had rooted out this, an artifact of shame and degradation, Song #2 of the "What Was I Thinking" Songs of Shame, Black Oak Arkansas' "Hot 'n Nasty"

For those historians out there, Wikipedia's entry is an unbiased starting point. But, it's this
bio that sums up the group quite well, as the writer, Steve Huey from the All Music Guide, wielded a sharpened nib when penning his opinion.

Some excerpts:
1) (Black Oak Arkansas (BOA))"have remained a cult band thanks to their raw, primitive energy and the testosterone-fueled antics of lead vocalist/showman James "Big Jim Dandy" Mangrum.".
2) "When album sales dried up, Mangrum re-formed the band with more musically skilled veteran players and continued to tour".
3) "Black Oak Arkansas dates back to the mid-'60s, when a group of young, long-haired misfits headed by Jim Mangrum, unable to find work, turned to rock & roll.".
4) "...the group was unable to purchase equipment and ended up being arrested for grand larceny after stealing items from the local school in order to get money. They were nearly run out of town and went to live in the nearby hills".
5) "(The) band toured extensively, building a reputation as a raw, incendiary live act that made up for occasional musical deficiencies with energy and the explicit sexuality of Mangrum, who flaunted his body at every opportunity and became known for such antics as miming sex with the washboard he used for musical accompaniment".

My first exposure to the overly exposed Jim "Dandy" was at one of those concerts in the late 1970's where you had 4 groups playing, with hopefully one showing up sober and fully amp-equipped. Black Oak Arkansas showed up and, if one was using an averaging of measurements, the group's alcohol blood content would have been, oh say, .12 or so. Some seemed sober dry. Others were completely dipped. Their musicianship could be best described as knee-jerky and sloppy. Though there were supposedly only 6 members in the band, I recall a small army on stage. Whether they were kin or friends or folks they met outside the venue, I wasn't sure. What I was sure of was the cacaphony emanting from all corners of the stage.
Then there was Jim "Dandy" who became shirtless within seconds of appearing before a mike. I wasn't aware that lizard skin could be liquified, poured into an aerosol can, and then sprayed onto a person's body, hardening to a pants-shaped covering. Jim "Dandy" made me and the grope of groupies aware of this miracle instant clothing. He stalked about the stage, suggesting the act of singing and flexing his non-singing muscles. One of the sound roadies must have turned off the inputs of half of the guitar-hacking folks on stage and, all of a sudden, a song did appear out of the din.

When I come a knockin' at your door
Let me in and I'll tell you some more
No two men are ever the same
And they tell me
Jim Dandy is my name

Yeah they call me yeah Hot n Nasty
Yeah they call me uh Mister Fancy

We're not talking poetry here, just a collection of monosyllables. Unfortunately, a collection of words that stuck in my head for a good month or so. I even bought the album. An embarassing waste of time and vinyl. Criminally bad, but good for an occasional joke

Not to worry about the ex-cons. They're not lost; Google has tracked and mapped them here. They're coming back and you can keep an eye out for them here. Notice the continued heavy use of leather, specifically clothing that seemed to be using roadkill for source material. The thigh-high deer leggings allowed for stealthiness from groupies and law officers, I assume. This site even offers a look at the Black Oak Arkansas kin (their tagline, not mine).
A current MySpace site is also up. Seems they're still touring, mainly in the Mid West. There's even a Black Oak Arkansas Day appearance on Oct. 6th. Check your calendars.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


In the muck of 1970's-1980's teenaged boy-dom, love, lust, honor, disgrace, windblown hair, fat leather belts, virgin polyester shirts, and, above all, coolness toiled and bubbled in the pot of outward appearance resulting in a person of questionable appearance. How we ever got dates flying (and proudly at that) music as our male banner was a miracle. We were a mass of roiling complexes, or as my mother called them, komplekse. Going to an all-boys Catholic high school added another layer to the trauma times. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart were just a wee bit into recruiting for their forces. Success was minimal as discussing celibacy with teenaged boys was like discussing water conservation with a drowning man. As Peter deVries put so well, "Celibacy is the worst form of self-abuse.. We were well enough into self-abuse, intentional or otherwise, to add a dollop of that.
What with all the chemical changes, the physical changes, and the spiritual changes all converging simultaneously at the intersection of my wavering personality, a traffic circle of sorts was needed to keep the changes all flowing smoothly. Flowing eternally (for all time at that age seems both immediate and eternal) around that circle, true. But flow is always better than stoppage. As a teenager, no better flow circle existed than rock & roll songs. Lyrics to speak for you; music to calm your nerves to the point of coolness.

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer's "Lucky Man" was one such song (and is the first entry of Five "What Was I Thinking") Songs of Shame.

Reflecting a teenaged boy's deeply mis-thought conclusions that where there is royalty, horses, and satin in boatloads, there is the remote possibility of enthralling a teenaged girl. Greg Lake emotes:

"He had white horses
And ladies by the score
All dressed in satin
And waiting by the door"

(Satin was a big thing back then, evoking chastity, devotion, and (hopefully) wild sex. I can't explain it further than simply to say a teenaged boy's mental state has an agile and ever-shifting gearbox. This "Satin" thing is further evidenced in the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin", a cholesterol packed heart-stopper that boasts a level of treacle equal to "Lucky Man". But, I'll leave that song for WP or CP, if they so wish.)

Some acoustic guitar strumming and minor display of drumming follows. Greg Lake pronounces each word slowly and with his cultured British accent, as if the latter would add authenticity to this dismal shade of a ballad. When the refrain, "Oh, What a Lucky Man he was", comes along, he was is shouted out so that the last dunderhead of us in the crowd realizes that this Lucky Man, well he's not so lucky, is he? He's actually dead. Funereal organ grinding bops us over the head to make sure we got the point...again.

At that time in life, what with all of the confusion of being a boy-man, I guess death had its appeal as one's thoughts of it lent a seriousness to oneself without a great deal of reading and pondering. Morose was good. So was a pale pallor easily obtained, especially in the winter. Stockpiling these complexes was exhausting; my mother was right! I'd bricked myself in with all this thinking, supposing, and adapting of bad musical metaphors. What kind of musical model was I following? Wasn't there someone better?

After some additional lugubriousness, Lake concludes with,

"A bullet had found him
His blood ran as he cried
No money could save him
So he laid down and he died

What a loser this guy was!
No money to save him?!!? Where was the love and affection (if not the 37 vestal virgins that I'd thought were promised to him) that was supposed to get him through?
So he laid down and died.
A slacker. Lake's singing about the first slacker!

...and then the droning of Keith Emerson's organ noodlings, substitutions for my alleged sorrowful and confused feelings, all unearthed to show the girls that while I may be mumbling monosyllablically, I must surely be in possession of the warm & the fuzzies that lay about in easily mined abundance in the open pit that was my heart.

Nowadays, there are "Lucky Man" parodies galore. Young scamps laughing at their elders? Elders laughing at themselves? I'm hoping for the latter; let us get our jabs in first, before the young ones poke the roasting pig of our directionless teenaged emotions.
There's "Hungry Man", "Do You Feel Lucky, Man?", "Lucky Band". I will stop; it's cruel and unusual.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

April Snow

It's 34 F/1 C. There are snow flurries and grey skys and some accumulation of the white stuff on the grass. It's April, for God's sake, in Delaware. Productivity is going to hell as anyone parked near a window is glued to watchinf the scene outside as opposed to their screens. The little kid inside is screaming "Snow Day" as the managers wonder if we should be pulling down the window shades.
The Snow Grinches! In April.

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