The Most Classic Song By The Eagles

The Eagles came from obscurity at the beginning of the 1970s to world domination by the end of the decade and then the whole thing exploded in personality clashes, fighting and far too much dependence on cocaine and alcohol.

The origins of the band lie in Linda Ronstadt’s backing band and the late 60s and early 70s Los Angeles country rock scene. Randy Meisner had been a member of Poco and also played with Ricky Nelson in the Stone Canyon Band, Bernie Leadon had been a Flying Burrito Brother and Glenn Frey had played music with J.D Souther and collaborated with Jackson Browne. The original four members, Meisner, Frey, Leadon and Don Henley all ended up in the Ronstadt band and played together on her eponymous third album.

The four member band recorded two albums, Eagles in 1972 and Desperado the following year, before recruiting Don Felder for their next two records, On The Border and One Of These Nights. Later comings and goings notably included the replacement of Bernie Leadon with Joe Walsh, in time to record their fifth and most famous record, Hotel California. A sixth album, The Long Run led to the breakup of the band in 1980. They did eventually get back together, once the egos were tamed and the lawyers paid off, but nothing they did after 1980 counts as classic at all.

OK, on to the music. The Eagles started out with the influences of country and bluegrass pretty much defining the bare bones of the sound, but skilfully blended with the newly fashionable West Coast soft rock sound. They weren’t the first to do this, The Byrds and Burritos having got there already (and some might argue that The Grateful Dead were also in the mix too), and they certainly wouldn’t be the last, but there was something about their sound, melodic and with sweet harmonies that made them very FM radio-friendly, and their records sold pretty well too.

Of course, that wouldn’t last. By their third album a rockier sound was emerging and the trend towards a bigger, stadium-filling sound led to the departure of Bernie Leadon at the end of 1975. Leadon was a country player at heart and the band wasn’t really doing his thing any more. The arrival of Joe Walsh completely changed the balance. Guitar Rawk was dominant.

Hotel California was definitely the peak of their sound. The title track was everywhere in 1976, even in the UK in our long, hot last pre-Punk summer. Regularly voted as the “greatest guitar solo” (which it isn’t, because it is a duet) in many rock magazines, the track certainly has an epic quality, and it is both mysterious and nightmarish lyrically and with a haunting elegiac quality. It is almost certainly their most well-known song, but is it their classic?

I am going to argue that there is a need to listen to what they were doing before they became massive before making any kind of a choice. The band had done “epic” long before the arrival of Joe Walsh, especially with their second LP, Desperado, a concept album about the Old West, and they had also tackled elegiac subjects, notably on “My Man“, Bernie Leadon’s paean to about Gram Parsons. I also have a lot of love for their cover of Tom Waits’ “Ol’ ’55“.

As well as epic, The Eagles were adept at writing snappy tunes with terrific hooks and heart-rending ballads with soaring vocals, often courtesy of singing drummer Don Henley.

Personally, although the band gained a monumental stadium rock sound with the arrival of Joe Walsh, I think that the band also lost something with the departure of Bernie Leadon.

So, do I have a Classic Eagles Song? Indeed I do.


Earworms 20 September 2021

Flint Shingle, written and sung by Isobel Anderson, who suffers from Tinnitus.

Greetings earthlings, and welcome to your choice of songs that you wish you had written. One of mine, above. Followed by your wide and varied bunch – and as for Wyngate … !

If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be songs that you associate with a happy event. If it’s deeply personal, you can spare us the graphic description but just give us a general idea.

Worms should reach me by close of play on Sunday September 26. Many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe.

Al Green – Take Me To The River – severin: Every time I try to think of a song I wish I had written, I think “except for..” In this case, the bit about cigarettes could happily go. But the rest of it, as David Byrne commented “combines teenage lust with baptism. Not equates, you understand, but throws them in the same stew, at least.” Sums up my mid teens I think.

Unthanks – I Remember – severin: Written by Molly Drake, of course. Perfectly describes the way people revaluate their experiences in the light of subsequent events. In this case the assumption that you and your partner are having the same experience as if you were one person. Also love the voices (obviously) in this version and the simple arrangement.

Replacements – Answering Machine – tincanman: To be honest I didn’t think such a simple premise could capture how utterly forlorn I was feeling when I wrote this, but guess what? I was wrong. You certainly can.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – The Windmills Of Your Mind – tincanman: Many broken-hearted songs have been written about the end of a summer romance, but none with such drama and opulence (hence my choice of an opera singer’s version). It’s not my favourite song of all time, but the lyrics are fascinating and I’m glad I wrote it.

Sandy Denny – Bushes and Briars – Suzi: It took me some time to decide on a song for this week’s topic. Am of course limited by what’s in my music library, but I wanted to avoid the too obvious or too ambitious, or songs already listed in the Marconium. This is a favourite from Sandy’s eponymous 2nd album, released In September 1972 – we often quote the first line out of context – ‘I can’t believe that it’s so cold and there ain’t been no snow!’ Not the traditional folksong, but a meditation on past and present, faith and doubt.

Bob Dylan – Desolation Row – glassarfemptee: I’m a words man, and I even scribble poetry on occasion. But I’m never going to get a Nobel prize, unlike Robert Zimmerframe, who churlishly failed to turn up in Stockholm for the ceremony. As a spotty teenager, I was a lover of Keats, but also of the song-poems of Mr Dylan. I didn’t understand them, but that was part of the attraction. I’ve always loved the enigmatic, such as American Pie, and Whiter Shade of Pale. But none held a torch to Dylan. And one of the most poetic and impenetrable was Desolation Row, which I memorised at the time. Yes, it’s a dirge – but it’s the words that get you. And, of course, I wished I could have written it. Like many fine pieces of writing, it has a timeless quality that resonates with whatever seems dystopian at the time. In the age of Trump and Johnson, it’s hard not to feel that Desolation Row speaks to us – Take your pick from “They’re selling postcards of the hanging/They’re painting the passports brown”; “The riot squad they’re restless/They need somewhere to go”; “At midnight all the agents/And the superhuman crew/Come out and round up everyone/That knows more than they do”; and “And the only sound that’s left/After the ambulances go/Is Cinderella sweeping up/On Desolation Row.”

Robert Wyatt – Free Will and Testament – shoegazer: Mr Wyatt getting sad & philosophical.

Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah – MaggieB: Absolutely no doubt at all about this one.

Nirvana – Lithium – LongTallSilly: I’ve found my friends and they’re in my head. Say no more 🤟

Yann Tiersen – Meteorites – AliM: I love the poetry of this, delivered by the forlorn voice of Aidan Moffat. Many other songs were in the running, but this is my choice today.

Wings – Mull Of Kintyre – Wyngate Carpenter: I’ve never liked the song , but the royalties would’ve been nice, It’s not like I’d have to listen to it again.

The Most Classic Song By John Grant

I suppose that I came a bit late to the John Grant party. I’d never even heard of his band, The Czars and I didn’t really register his first solo album, Queen of Denmark when it was released in 2010, possibly because I spent about a third of that year actually working in Denmark and doing a weekly commute between Copenhagen and Bristol.

Oslo, Norway – June 14, 2019. The American singer, musician and songwriter John Grant performs a live concert during the Norwegian music festival Piknik i Parken 2019 in Oslo. (Photo by: PYMCA/Avalon/Gonzales Photo/Tord Litleskare/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

I first got into his music when he released his second solo album, Pale Green Ghosts in 2013. There was something about the title track that insinuated itself into my head. It was both hinting at confessions but also referencing the idea of being on the road, searching for something undefined. It clicked. This album also contained a single, “GMF” which was OK but jarred whenever I heard it on the radio. It was only when I bought the album and heard the unexpurgated version that I understood the song. It was only when I actually owned his music that I really began to actually listen to him properly and grasp what he was talking about.

Since then, John Grant has released three more studio albums and a live one (in 2014).

He is a difficult guy to pin down musically. He has used electronic music as a bedrock to much of his work, although his first album was recorded with the members of Midlake, but he also uses strings and brass to good effect, especially on his third album, Grey Tickles, Black Pressure‘s closer, “No More Tangles“.

Lyrically, he is always exploring emotional states, often his own, and he is sometimes driven by anger and self-loathing. Grant grew up in a strict Methodist family, which made his growing awareness of his own sexuality a big issue, one that he never really became comfortable about until he was in his 20s, after he’d left the USA and was living and studying in Germany. He isn’t always doom and gloom, though. His lyrics can sometimes be very funny, in a pretty caustic way and when he goes all out for life-affirming positivity, as he does on “No More Tangles” and “Disappointing“, a duet with Tracey Thorn.

At times, Grant is a torch-singer, albeit one who isn’t afraid to use electronic beats to bring the songs into the 21st century or using cynicism to defuse the risk of sentimentality. Cynicism is something that Grant deploys to good effect a lot, as well as some truly bizarre imagery, as on “Chicken Bones” from his first solo outing or “Voodoo Doll“on his third LP.

I don’t always want to listen to John Grant. His emotional pain cam be pretty overwhelming, especially on a song like “Queen of Denmark” or “Glacier“, but when you need him, he really hits the spot.

So, how can I categorise him? How can I choose a classic JG sound? Well, for me, I think the contemplative, emotionally-honest music is what he does best. It is the thing where he means the most. Therefore, click on the link below to find out what I have chosen.

My Classic Song Choice is HERE.

Blind and Stupid

Trouble with you is the trouble with me
Got two good eyes but we still don’t see
Come round the bend, you know it’s the end
The fireman screams and the engine just gleams

Robert Hunter used the Cannonball Express crash of 1900 to point out to the band and their community that using cocaine might give them great drive and focus but it was removing their critical faculties.

Just like the human race’s use of carbon energy sources over the past couple of centuries.

We’ve seen what great advances can be made by converting coal, oil and gas into energy and plastic and we really just want to keep on doing it. We can continue to ignore all the warning signs – the Lady in red in Hunter’s lyric – surely? Nothing bad will happen, will it?

And so now, as the next global assessment of how close our train is to the cliff edge arrives in two month’s time, we’re still squabbling over irrelevances and posturing while rain falls for the first time ever in Greenland, the Siberian permafrost is starting to release its lethal store of methane, giant wildfires throw even more carbon into the air, the ozone layer is opening up again and all animal life – including humans – now contains some plastic.

Anyone see any positive signs?

Please post something to cheer us up, a glimmer of hope. Or a song that sums up our suicidal journey.

Housekeeping: We’re getting near the storage limit of The ‘Spill, so I’ve started to delete old .mp3’s (mainly Earworms and Deadstuff). Everything has gone now before 2018 and I intend to delete all audio up to 1/1/2019, unless anyone objects.

Housekeeping Update: I’ve now deleted all audio files up to the end of 2018, which was mainly Earworms, gf’s jazz post choons and the Festive Spill. We’re now down to 75% of our storage capacity used, which is OK.

I Wish I’d Written: Jack Straw

Sorry, Ali, but this seems like too good an idea to use up in one Earworms post. I’m sure we all have at least one song that we’d love to have created if we only had the talent and imagination, so write a Spillpost about it, waxing as lyrical as you like. Here’s mine:

We can share the women, we can share the wine

We can share what we got of yours, ’cause we done shared all of mine

What a misogynistic way to start a song! What kind of people would talk like this and why would anyone want to sing those words? For many years, I just glossed over these thoughts, as I loved the way the song flowed in the version on Europe ’72 (and my vague memory of hearing it at Bickershaw) but, eventually, I figured out what was going on by actually listening to the whole lyric!

It helped that the next lines were sung by Jerry and then Bob on those renderings, as it indicated a dialogue and, once I’d discerned that Bob’s lines were addressed to Shannon, it became clear that he was speaking as the eponymous Jack. These were two men on the run from the law, one reckless and violent, the other capable of strategic thought.

The conversations and intervening descriptive lines re-iterate this difference, causing Jack to complain how Shannon’s behaviour is keeping them on the run, until we reach this ambiguous-but-not-really statement:

Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down

And dug for him a shallow grave and laid his body down

Continue reading

Earworms 13 September 2021

Good morning or whatever time it is with you, and welcome to your selection of Earworms about flight.

If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be songs you wish you’d written – not necessarily your favourite song, but one that you think is beautiful, or clever, or pertinent, or just admirable. It can be an instrumental if you like, music can be just as, if not more expressive than, words.

Worms should reach me by close of play on Sunday 19 September. Many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe.

A Certain Ratio – Flight – Shoegazer: Late take-off.

The Comet Is Coming – Astral Flying – severin: From the 2019 album that spawned a few Festive Spill picks. I liked them so much I bought the album.

Delta Spirit – Ballad of Vitaly – tincanman: Based on a true story: Father loses family in airplane crash, blames overworked air traffic controller, seeks revenge. As you do.

Marissa Nadler – Learning to Fly (Tom Petty cover) – tincanman: Marissa’s stark, almost eerie, covers often reveal a song has more to it than I thought. Her specialty seems to be speaking for mumbling men: Dylan, Cohen, Van Zandt, Kristofferson…

Oysterband – Milford Haven – Suzi: Flying as a metaphor for emotional liberation, as a woman frees herself from a stifling marriage. ‘She saw the moon over Milford Haven/ Stars in a flaming sky/ She stepped out into the sunrise/ And she found that she could fly.’ Lovely song.

Al Stewart – Flying Sorcery – Suzi: ‘You were always Amy Johnson from the time that you were small.’ Al’s delightful tribute to an aviatrix, from his Year of the Cat album.

Yola – Fly Away – severin: Fly away bird, meaning escape, basically. From a 2016 EP called Orphan Offering. Released before she was nearly famous.

Nina Simone – I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free – AliM: (See video top of page). Flight as a metaphor for freedom, again. “Well, I wish I could be / Like a bird in the sky / How sweet it would be / If I found I could fly / Oh, I’d soar to the sun / And look down at the sea / And then I would know / How it feels to be free …” Also memorable as the theme for Barry Norman’s Film Night, for those of us of a certain age.

Apocalypse Now Clip – Ride of the Valkyries (1979) Francis Ford Coppola – LongTallSilly: The ultimate flight song, must be an age thing! The beauty of the music in juxtaposition with the horror of war is so memorable!

Meute – Mental Health – LongTallSilly: Fight or flight? Definitely more chilled having discovered this techno playing brass band!!

Joni Mitchell – This Flight Tonight – MaggieB: This was recorded by at least 63 others, apparently, including Nazareth’s version.

The Most Classic Song By Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse died ten years ago. In her short life she recorded just two studio albums and released maybe a dozen singles, mostly taken from those albums, but her influence has been both massive and enduring.

Amy’s first album, Frank, was released in 2003. I’ve always liked the title, it has a double meaning, perhaps? Is she being frank about her life or is it a reference to Frank Sinatra. Wikipedia seems to think so, anyway.

It did OK, it was a critical success, but didn’t sell as many records as her 2006 follow-up, Back To Black, which was absolutely huge. As is the way when an artist dies too early, Frank sold bucket loads after Amy’s sad death.

I like Frank, it has some terrific tracks on it, but it is clearly the sound of a new, young artist finding her feet. Her performances, however, are really confident and self-assured. The voice is already there, as befits someone who had already been the main female vocalist with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Now, Back To Black. What can we say about that? Well, for a start, we have to talk about the production and what Mark Ronson did for the sound of Amy Winehouse, with the help of the Dap-Kings, the backing band of the late Sharon Jones.

The sound is very strongly influenced by 60s US girl pop groups, which were one of Amy’s influences while she was writing the songs for the album. When it comes down to it, Amy’s entire visual persona is basically Ronnie Spector anyway. In any case, Mark Ronson’s production really plays up the 60s sound, and this really gives the album a unity and coherence that was lacking in her debut. The fact that the album is pretty much a confessional exploration of her on-off-on again relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, who she later married, also contributes to the focus of the songs. To my ears, the whole album is a work of the highest quality, and can easily sit next to previous confessional works by other female artists. I am thinking about writers like Laura Nyro here.

Really, the classic Amy Winehouse sound is all over Back To Black, and it is from here that I am going to pick the classic. The problem is which song is it going to be?

The list of candidates is basically the entire album. Just look at what we have;

Rehab“, “You Know I’m No Good”, “Me & Mr Jones“, “Just Friends“, “Back to Black“, “Love Is a Losing Game“, “Tears Dry on Their Own”, “Wake Up Alone“, “Some Unholy War“, “He Can Only Hold Her and Addicted

Anyway, for me, there are two songs that are the real standouts here, and the one I’ve chosen will be at the end, as usual with a link for you to click.

Before that, though, I will make a few comments about her chaotic life and how she was treated by the media.

We cannot ignore the facts here. Amy was deeply involved in a scene where drugs and alcohol were de rigueur accessories to the music and socialising. She had some very druggy friends and her relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil was marked by instances of violence and a lot of drugs, including crack, which took a huge toll from her health, leading to the kind of lung damage seen in older emphysema sufferers. She was in a pretty out of control downwards spiral, and that is a terrible thing for someone with so much talent. She became infamous in the gutter press for he addictions, drunkenness and her stormy private life. She was hounded by the paparazzi 24 hours a day, because her story sold papers. This was a disgusting abuse of a fragile young woman with severe mental health and substance abuse problems. It was unforgiveable.

Rant over.

OK, the track I am choosing as the Classic Amy Winehouse Song is HERE.

Earworms 6 September 2021

Thanks to glassarfemptee for this image

Good day and welcome to your selection of songs about herbs and spices.

If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be flight, leaving the interpretation to you, as always, and worms should reach me by close of play on Sunday 12 September.

Many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe.

Simon and Garfunkel – Scarborough Fair – Suzi: Starting with the ovbvious! Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme…an old folksong re-arranged.

Pentangle – Let No Man Steal Your Thyme – Suzi: Traditional song warning young women about the fickleness of men, which originally appeared on their Sweet Child album in 1968. Here’s a stunning live version from forty years later.

Kate Rusby – Blooming Heather – Suzi: John Hudson and Eddi Reader join Kate in this old Scottish song also known as Wild Mountain Thyme or Will Ye Go, Lassie?

Transglobal Underground – Spice Garden – glassarfemptee: I know little of Transglobal Underground except that I like the concept, and I enjoy what little I have heard. Spice Garden is from the 2007 album “Moonshout”.

Marc Cary – Spices and Mystics – glassarfemptee: Let New York jazz pianist Marc Cary add a bit of spice to your life.

Puder – Spices – DebbyM: Puder is one of the projects of local musician Catarina Boutari (she was TheBoyWonder’s vocal coach for a while), here in a Puder Session with Tania Kruscik.

Rotfront – Vodka & Garlic – DebbyM: Emigrantski ragamuffin from Berlin.

Queen Latifa – When You’re Good To Mama – severin:“If you want my gravy, pepper my ragout, spice it up for mama, she’ll get hot for you”. From the soundtrack of the Chicago film and the best thing about it, in my opinion.

Husker Du – Too Much Spice – severin: I suppose there is such a thing. From their final (1987) album Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Obviously Scary, Sporty et al didn’t agree.

Duke Pearson – Chili Peppers – severin: Instrumental which was nominated for SB songs about flavours and probably should have ended up on one of the lists. I blame the guru. Which idiot was on duty that week?

Ben Bullington – Sage After Rain – tincanman: They say smell is by far the most powerful of the five senses, and so it is in the way his friend remembers his first and only true love by the smell of sage on her skin. sniffs

Adrian Sherwood – Marijuana Dreams – shoegazer: An inevitable drug reference tune.

Anne Briggs – Let No Man Steal Your Thyme (at Edinburgh Folk Festival 1963) – MaggieB: I fell in love with this song when it was used as the opening song for Alias Grace.

Joni Mitchell – Paprika Plains – AliM: A long one from Joni to finish up with. Or, with which to finish. Or something.

The Most Classic Track that is a version of a song associated with Elvis.

This week, I am taking a sideways step and, instead of picking a Classic Song by an artist, I am thinking about versions by other artists of songs that we think of as being essentially Elvis Presley tracks.

Now, Elvis wasn’t really a songwriter. He was an interpreter of the works of other people, so there are plenty of tracks that we might consider here. Indeed, some of the tracks made famous by Elvis had already been recorded by others, so I think we should include those too. So, not so much covers, rather other people’s versions.

One of the earliest songs recorded by Elvis was “That’s All Right, Mama“, originally recorded by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, who also wrote it. It is usually credited as being one of the first Rock ‘n’ Roll hits of the 50s. In the same session, Elvis also recorded “I Love You Because, which has subsequently been a hit for a number of people, not least Jim Reeves and Johnny Cash.

I’m not going to list out everything, because it would be pointless, but there are some pretty notable tracks from the earlier years, things like “Mystery Train“, Good Rocking Tonight“, “I Got a Woman“, “Heartbreak Hotel“, “Blue Suede Shoes“, “Hound Dog” and plenty of others, that we think of as real classic Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Of course, there are songs from the Elvis films (bothe before and after his time in the US Army) that have been covered by other performers, as well as a lot of Lieber and Stoller songs which have also been recorded by other people. Also, moving on into the 60s and 70s there are songs recorded by Elvis which might surprise some people, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face for example, or “Careful With That Axe, Eugene” (OK, I’ve made that one up). One real contender, to my mind is the Pet Shop Boys version of “Always on My Mind” , which is a favourite of mine.

So, the range of material is immense. It covers R ‘n’ R, Blues, Country (and Western), soul, Tinseltown choons, pop, ballads, standards, mawkish pap, pretty much everything.

The world is your oyster, so, go on, surprise me.

My choice is RIGHT HERE, though.

Earworms 30 August 2021

Paul Gallico’s The Snowgoose, televised in1971, had me sobbing as I watched it one Christmas at the same time as my brothers were trying to make me laugh while I ate a banana … strange what one remembers … I still have the book, but it’s too sad to re-read it … and a residual memory of banana down the nose …

Greetings all, and happy Bank Holiday to those that have one. Here’s a chance to chill out, with your selection of songs about books – time to run a bath, grab a paperback and listen to the playlist while you relax. A glass of something wouldn’t go amiss, either, but don’t nod off and drop everything in the foam.

If you have an earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be herbs and spices, and worms should reach me by close of play on Sunday 5 September.

Many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe.

Astrid Williamson – Paperbacks – glassarfemptee: Astrid Williamson is a Shetland singer and composer. “Paperbacks that you have given me, that I don’t read, but I like to see…”

Roy Buchanan – You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover – glassarfemptee: Roy Buchanan (who turned down an offer to join The Stones) does a Bo Diddley, er, cover!

Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights – glassarfemptee and Suzi: ghe: My all time favourite book song, Kate Bush still stirs the blood after a thousand listens. Suzi: Kate’s debut single in…1978? Really? Cathy’s ghost is there at Heathcliff’s window, pleading to come in. Classic song inspired by a classic book.

Broadcast – The Book Lovers – shoegazer: From 1996.

Die Toten Hosen – Hier kommt Alex (A Clockwork Orange) – DebbyM: This is the original hit version EVERYONE in Germany can sing along with, but there’s a wonderful unplugged version from later years if you’d care to look it up on the interwebs.

Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit (Alice in Wonderland) – DebbyM: I’m nominating this because I’m worried we’ll all think it’s too obvious, so it’ll get left out. Either that, or dozens of us send it in. I have loved this song forever and bother the neighbours with it if ever I’m in a mood.

Pearl and the Beard with Sophie Madeleine – Firework (On the Road) – DebbyM: Once upon a time (see what I did there?) I read that Katy Perry claimed this song was influenced by Kerouac. I was very upset when PATB disbanded, so I’m treating myself to their cover version here.

UOGB – Wuthering Heights – DebbyM: Another song I worried could be too obvious to be included. I very much hope that someone else has proffered the original version, but this is one of the greatest covers of all time, especially if you’re sat in the audience for the live version.

Janis Ian – Danger, Danger – tincanman: Janis is not a fan of banning books.

Dream Wife – Lolita – severin: She’s been his Lolita. Apparently.

The Cure – Killing An Arab – severin: They started their career with their most controversial song. Not a racist anthem although you can understand some people’s confusion over the title. Basically the denouement of Albert Camus’ The Outsider reduced to a few lines and a skeletal tune.

Olivia Chaney – A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – severin: I have sent this one in before but, you know, it was over two years ago. Sadly I am still on chapter three of the actual book.

Led Zeppelin – The Battle of Evermore – Suzi: Ringwraiths ride out and Sandy Denny duets with Robert Plant in this Tolkein-inspired epic.

Elvis Costello – Every Day I Write The Book – Suzi: ‘I’m a man with a mission on two or three editions,’ he says, as he observes different stages of their relationship as if they were chapters in a book. ‘ ‘Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal/ I’d still own the film rights and be working on the sequel.’ Pretty determined, then.

Action Pact – Keep It Ticking Over – wyngatecarpenter: Urging those who didn’t get on with education to exercise their mental faculties anyway – “See those books sitting on the shelf / They can’t harm your mental health”.

The Adicts – Joker In The Pack – wyngatecarpenter: Loosely based on A Clockwork Orange , one book that every 80s punk band seemed to be familiar with.

The Rolling Stones – Sympathy for the Devil – MaggieB: This week I have to post something from The Stones as a tribute to Charlie. Mick Jagger is on record as saying that Sympathy for the Devil was in part inspired by The Master and Margarita. (Marianne Faithful had presented him a copy I think). Here they all are, Brian Jones as well… RIP Charlie Watts.

Lil Nas X – Montero (Call Me By Your Name) – severin: Very loosely based on the 2007 book that was turned into the Call Me By Your Name film that won all those plaudits in 2017. Well, it uses the title and has a gay theme anyway.

The Strawbs – Lady Fuschia – AliM: (Gormenghast) Now poised above the castle walls / She looks her last on lonely skies / … Poor Fuschia. Such a waste.

The Most Classic Song By The Rolling Stones

Firstly, a disclaimer. I had decided last Monday that The Stones would be my subject for this week’s post, before the sad news about the death of drummer Charlie Watts, so this isn’t an obituary, nor is it a post about how Charlie Watts fitted into the overall Stones sound.

I wanted to look at The Rolling Stones because firstly, they are a band whose music I have enjoyed since they first emerged in the early 1960s and, secondly because love or hate them, they have been a significant musical for over half a century.

The first question for me is, seeing as the band has seen members come and go, which version should I use for a picture? Well, I decided to go with the line-up that first became famous back in the 1960s;

Of the five people in this photograph, only two of them are, appropriately perhaps, still in the band.

The band was originally the outcome of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, school friends since 1950 getting together and forming a band in 1962 with other friends, called The Blues Boys and sending a tape off to Alexis Korner, who liked what he heard and invited the band to meet him. Alexis Korner was pivotal in the careers of many 1960s musicians, via his group, Blues Incorporated. At this time, a certain Brian Jones was playing slide guitar for Korner, and the drummer’s seat was occupied by Charlie Watts. The rest, as they say, is history. Well, it would be apart from the fact that Bill Wyman joined the fledgling Stones a bit later on and Charlie Watts didn’t become the full-time drummer until early 1963.

The Stones started out playing nothing but blues and rock ‘n’ roll covers and soon became a popular act on the club circuit, eventually finding a manager, Andrew Loog Oldham and a record deal with Decca (the label that had previously rejected The Beatles on the grounds that guitar bands were old hat).

Having no writers in the band at this time, their first single was a Chuck Berry number, “Come On” and their second was a Lennon and McCartney cast off called “I Wanna Be Your Man“. The Beatles later recorded it for inclusion on their second album. Neither, it has to be said are contenders for The Classic.

Loog Oldham wanted songwriting royalties, so the band started writing tunes, but not very good ones. Still, it was the beginning of the Jagger/Richards writing partnership which has driven the band ever since.

Moving on, because the early Stones weren’t really putting out classic tracks yet, their first self-penned hits weren’t until 1965 with “The Last Time” and the more important “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction“. I am sure that for many people the latter song might be a contender for classic status.

However, it seems to me that we have to wait a bit longer for the Stones to really develop a distinctive sound that signals a band reaching a degree of musical maturity. I must say that I am not really a fan of their early albums and the first one that really shows me a band that is confident in what it is doing is 1966’s Aftermath, the first album with no cover versions the band released. When you think that the two biggest albums of 1966 were probably Blonde On Blonde and Revolver, Aftermath had to be pretty special to elevate the band to the heights where Dylan and The Beatles were residing. To be fair, it did a pretty good job, close, but not Classic. The two following albums, Between the Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request are quite odd really, experimental, lots of new ideas coming into the band and a dalliance with psychedelia that sits really uncomfortably with the band’s general approach to things. Still, Better Must Come as Delroy Wilson once sang.

Weirdly, as Brian Jones started to become more and more estranged from the rest of the band, mainly due to his addictions and insecurities (but mostly the drugs, to be honest) the music became stronger, and more coherent. The next album, Beggars Banquet is, for me where the Stones really hit their stride. The album is so packed with Classic contenders that it is entirely possible that some people will plump for one of its tracks as The Classic Song.

So, 1968, for me represents the beginning of the classic Stones period, those years when they really could lay claim to being the Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band on Earth (well, until Led Zeppelin came along perhaps). The Golden Years coincide with the band bringing in a guitarist to replace Brian Jones. Mick Taylor, who was only 20 when he joined the band in 1969, first played live on-stage at the famous Hyde Park gig a couple of days after the death of Brian Jones. Taylor plays on the band’s next five studio albums and the 1970 live album “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!“.

OK, I am biased here, probably, but this incarnation of the Rolling Stones represents a period of utter brilliance, musically. Yes, there is a lot of sexism and misogyny in the music, plus rock star excess, drugs and ego wars, but as the title of the last album on which Taylor played tells us It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll. In any case, if we were to expunge all those things from rock, blues and jazz, we might not have a great deal left.

So, we have a run of albums which I think holds the One True Stones Classic; Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main St, Goat’s Head Soup and It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll. Where to start? For me, the first three are the great ones, but I do like the later two, but perhaps not as much.

Exile is a fantastic album. The story of how it was recorded is one of those rock legend tales of weirdness, drugs and fragmentation, but, somehow, what emerged is probably the absolute essence of what the band was all about back in their heyday. The thing is though, classic though it sounds, it doesn’t contain The Classic. For that we have to look elsewhere. We have to look at the period where Brian Jones was falling to pieces and got sacked from the band and before Mick Taylor because a major part of the sound. Both Jones and Taylor feature on two songs apiece. The album is, of course Let It Bleed.

So, what is my choice? Tough call, to be honest. I could have chosen from both Let It Bleed or Sticky Fingers, or even from Beggar’s Banquet, but in the end it came down to two songs. I chose THIS ONE.

Earworms 23 August 2021

Myscelia – by Paul Godier

Greetings all, and welcome to your selection of songs about butterflies and moths. Many thanks to ghe for the beautiful photograph of his favourite butterfly, above.

If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be books – specific or general – and worms should reach me by close of play on Sunday 29 August.

Many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe.

Eddi Reader – Butterfly Jar – Suzi: About a possessive man who keeps his beloved in a butterfly jar – figuratively, at least.

Talvin Singh – Butterfly – Suzi: Lovely butterfly-inspired Asian fusion style instrumental.

Dessa – Matches to Paper Dolls – tincanman: Moth to flame is one of those annoying lazy songwriting cliches, but not in Dessa’s hands. Instead of telling us she and her ex can’t stay away from each other, she shows us how.

Nickel Creek – Ode To A Butterfly – tincanman: This isn’t usually a bluegrass crowd but the playing on this is too exquisite to keep to myself. Produced by Alison Krauss, it received two Grammy nominations and was cited by Time magazine in its Five Music Innovators of the Millennium edition.

Dianne Kralll – Just Like A Butterfly That’s Caught In The Rain – glassarfemptee: Canadian jazz singer Dianne Krall released Glad Rag Doll in 2012, and this is one of the tracks.

Casey Foubert and James McAllister – Big Moth – glassarfemptee: American duo Casey Foubert and James McAllister teamed up for “Music for drums”, and here is Big Moth.

Edvard Grieg – The Butterfly – glassarfemptee: There are loads of classical pieces inspired by the erratic flight of the butterfly. Here’s Edvard Greig’s effort.

The Cure – The Caterpillar – severin: “The day I stop is the day you change and fly away from me” Definitely a butterfly (or possibly moth) reference. From the height of Robert Smith’s Edward Scissorhands period.

Kylie Minogue – Butterfly – severin: No one else has made her feel like a butterfly and she’ll dance in the sunlight like she is one. So there. From 2000’s Light Years album.

Eros Atomus – Lepidoptera – DebbyM: A very young lad and The Voice of Germany finalist who apparently enjoys writing songs with long English words in them. In the Before Times, I’d sometimes take myself off for a day or two to a little town called Flensburg up on the border to Denmark, only two hours or so on the train. It’s got a lot of music going on for such a tiny place and both my worms today are from Flensburg musicians – and Sebastian, who produced TheBoyWonder’s first and only EP to date, is involved with both tracks. Small is the world etc. etc.

Onemillionsteps – Mothman – DebbyM: Since this track was recorded (9 or 10 years ago?) the band has pruned itself down to a trio, but they’re still a lot of fun with their charismatic front woman, Nora.

Jethro Tull – Moths – LongTallSilly: “Life’s too long as the lemming said” maybe not totally uplifting tale of suicidal moths! 😕

Kevin Ayers – Falling in Love Again – severin: “Girls flutter to me like moths around a flame” I wonder if Andy Williams enjoyed this performance.

The Jam – The Butterfly Collector – wyngatecarpenter: Classic b-side about Soo Catwoman…or Julie Burchill …or Peter Stringfellow …or any number of other candidates , but it’s probably not about an actual lepidopterist.

Siousxie & The Banshees – Cocoon – wyngatecarpenter: Banshees in an unexpectedly jazzy mood. I would’ve said this was where Robert Smith got the idea for Love Cats, but he wasn’t actually in the Banshees when they recorded this.

Sarah Vaughan, Hal Mooney & His Studio Orchestra – Poor Butterfly (Mercury Records 1956) – MaggieB: Such a great voice.

The Edgar Broughton Band – The Moth – AliM: Quite odd. From the 1970 Album, Sing Brother Sing. “There’s a moth on the wall, says his name is “Moth”.”

The Most Classic Song By Jimi Hendrix

This week, I am going to discuss one of the most important musicians of the 1960s, claimed by many to be the greatest guitarist of all time. We tend to forget that Hendrix’s musical career only really lasted from 1963 until his untimely death in 1970, and that includes the period when no one had ever heard of him when he was playing small venues in obscure places after his medical discharge from the military.

In 1964, Hendrix got a spot as a guitarist in the Isley Brothers’ backing band, before joining Little Richard’s backing band later the same year. This wasn’t a happy experience, Jimi and Richard didn’t get on and Jimi didn’t really like just being a sideman. Eventually, he got sacked and briefly rejoined the Isley’s band. He also worked with King Curtis and other R ‘n’ B acts before moving to New York to try and make a career for himself. The rest, as they say, is history, but sadly a very short piece of history, as he died in 1970 without completing his fourth studio album. Yes, Hendrix only released three studio albums and one live album in his lifetime, and it will be on those three studio albums where I shall be searching for the definitive Hendrix classic track.

We ought to remember that in 1966, Hendrix had no reputation behind him. He hadn’t made it in America, he came to the UK and pretty much kicked open the door of the London underground scene with his November ’66 gig at The Bag O’Nails club in Soho, a gig attended by all of the London scene’s glitterati; Mick Jagger, Lennon and MacCartney, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and other big names were all there to see a performance that, by all accounts was sensational. By the end of 1966, the first Jimi Hendrix Experience single, “Hey Joe” was released, followed by “Purple Haze” in March 67 and both the single “The Wind Cries Mary” and the band’s first album, Are You Experienced in May, two weeks before Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Listening to the album today, it is easy to forget exactly how different it was to pretty much anything that had come before it. Literally no one was doing anything like it. The important thing, for the purposes of this piece, is looking for classics, and there are options galore; “Foxy Lady“, “Third Stone from the Sun“, “I Don’t Live Today”, “Fire and the title track might all lay claim to being classics, as well as some of the other tracks.

So, in around six months, lots of potential classics to consider, with more to follow with the release of the second album, Axis: Bold as Love  just in time for Christmas 1967.

In between the two albums, the Experience had played at the Monterey Pop Festival, when Hendrix brought his London psychedelia to West Coast America. The Hendrix stage magic worked once again.

So, where are the possible classics on album #2? I’d suggest that we should look atSpanish Castle Magic“, “Wait Until Tomorrow“, “Little Wing“, “If 6 Was 9“, “Castles Made of Sand” andBold as Love” might all qualify.

Now, a slight aside, by way of explanation. I have listened to both these albums twice this week, as well as the non-album singles, and the thing that strikes me is that pretty much every track has something that adds another facet to the essential Hendrix sound. The range of the music is wide; psychedelic pop, blues, jazzy flourishes (courtesy of Mitch Mitchell’s drums), proto-funk riffs, soulful ballads and so on and lots of studio tricks and techniques, like phasing and backwards guitar and so on and they all contribute to the thing that made Hendrix so unique. Because of this, I want to advance a different argument this week, and that is that we have to wait until the third album, his masterpiece, the double album Electric Ladyland for the one overall classic that encapsulates the genius of Jimi Hendrix.

So, on to that album. Released in October 1968, it was a double album that seems to have been a difficult and frustrating experience, due to Hendrix insisting on multiple takes of tracks, often dozens of different ones and a shifting cast of different musicians turning up to play on various tracks. Notably, Noel Redding was absent for some of the recording, with Hendrix often playing the bass and guitar parts. Redding had formed a side project, the band Fat Mattress and this was one reason why he wasn’t always around, but it is also the case that Redding was dissatisfied with his role in The Experience and the way that Hendrix exerted complete control over the process of recording the music.

Musically, Electric Ladyland was a step forward from the two 1967 albums with some incredibly sophisticated music mixed in with the psychedelic pop and the bluesy jams. The album also contains a number of contenders for The Classic; Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)“, “Crosstown Traffic“, “Gypsy Eyes“, “Burning of the Midnight Lamp“, “All Along the Watchtower and Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” can all lay a claim to greatness, and quite rightly so, but I believe that the real classic is another song from the album.

OK, back to my earlier aside. I believe that the greatness is present in pretty much everything Hendrix recorded, but all the pieces only come together to produce the definitive musical statement once, on one track on Electric Ladyland. This track has pretty much everything that Hendrix was capable of producing musically and lyrically, with some stunningly beautiful guitar work and what was visionary studio technique for the time too.

I expect that fans will already know the track I mean. It is “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)“. Unfortunately, it isn’t available on YouTube. The Hendrix family is behind this. They get every unauthorised piece of Jimi’s music taken down whenever it appears online, and might presumably get it removed if it was to appear on here, if they found it.

So, if you know the music, you’ll have an opinion, but if you don’t, you’ll have to search around for it.

The Most Classic Song By The Jam

This week, I am looking at one of the most successful bands to emerge from the Year Zero of Punk, but who were never really punks themselves, and asking the burning question “What is the most classic Jam track”?

The origins of the band go back as far as 1972 where Paul Weller, then playing bass, and guitarist Steve Brookes formed the band while at school. The classic lineup of Weller on guitar, Rick Buckler on drums and Bruce Foxton on bass didn’t really emerge until after Steve Brookes left the band in 1976.

Adopting a sharp-suited Mod look, The Jam never looked like punks and never sounded like punks either, but were enthusiastically embraced by the burgeoning scene in 1976-77, releasing their first single “In The City” in April 1977, swiftly followed an album of the same name. With a sound that owed more to the 1960s Who and Kinks than early 70s Stooges, The Jam nevertheless became hugely popular. As a first album, the band hadn’t really found their true sound, but the basics were all in place. Their second album, This Is the Modern World was recorded and released within six months of the first one. To be honest, I think that they should have waited and worked on better songs because it is pretty threadbare and lacking in new ideas and inspiration.

We have to wait until 1978 for the real sound of The Jam to arrive with the release of their third LP, All Mod Cons. It contains at least two, and probably three tracks that sound like classic Jam. These are “In The Crowd” with its very Who-like lyrics about alienation and similarly Who-ish chords, “A Bomb In Wardour Street” and “Down In The Tube Station At Midnight“. We might also want to consider “To Be Someone” and “Mr Clean“. All in all, All Mod Cons is the sound of a band that has found its sound and knows exactly what it wants to say, finally breaking free of the accusations of being pro-Conservative reactionaries which had been circulating during 1977.

1979’s Setting Sons further consolidated the sound with Paul Weller continuing to write critically about the state of Britain in the late 1970s, notably on the album’s only single The Eton Rifles, but also on songs such as “Thick As Thieves“, “Saturday’s Kids” , “Private Hell” and “Burning Sky“. There is also the very Who-like “Little Boy Soldiers“. Setting Sons is a truly mature album.

The Jam followed Setting Sons with 1980’s Sound Affects which further developed the mature sound of the band. It is an album that Paul Weller has said is his favourite Jam album, and also admits that it was influenced by the Beatles album Revolver, something that is pretty clear when listening to the track “Start!” which went on to be the band’s second UK No One single after “Going Underground” a non-album single also released in 1980. Sound Affects is packed with excellent songs, and it is an album that is worth playing now, if only to see how far the band had travelled in their short life.

1982 brought us to The Gift , which was the band’s sixth and final studio album. To be honest, apart from “A Town Called Malice“, I think it isn’t that much to write home about. It isn’t necessarily bad, it just isn’t classic Jam, and you can understand why Weller wanted to move on to pastures new. He wanted to explore the direction in which the album was heading, but Buckler and Foxton didn’t want to go there, so that was it for The Jam.

Of course, The Jam released a lot of non-album singles, some of which epitomise the classic sound of the band and others, such as “Beat Surrender” and “The Bitterest Pill” that don’t.

Well, where do we go for that classic Jam track, the one that really sums the band up?

For me, this song here has it all. It is the whole sound and feel of The Jam in less than three minutes.

An Olympic Micro-Social

Hello, this is Tokyo calling!

Panthersan & DarceysDad in their natural environment

So yes, it happened. I met up with a familiar face. Panther brought the local knowledge; I brought the English weather. He bought the drinks (tea & coffee – Tokyo still on a Covid pan[dem]ic alcohol ban); I bought a random J-Metal CD from Tower Records. I thus claim it as a formal RR Social.

Another 25th anniversary – Holidays In The Sun 1996

Another year and no Rebellion write up for me as this year’s event got cancelled – it was replaced by a one day event on Saturday but I wasn’t quite feeling reckless enough – so I’m indulging in a trip down memory lane to mark the 25th anniversary of the first Holidays In The Sun (or HITS) as was then called. (Don’t worry , I won’t be doing a 25th anniversary post on every gig I’ve ever been to)

Continue reading

Earworms 9 August 2021

From Maggie B, see below

Greetings everyone, and welcome to your songs about what Suzi described as “the most bizarre topic so far” – things that animals would take photos of, if animals could take photographs. It certainly stumped me, and I thought of it. Anyway, some very inventive ideas, and some great music. The playlist is back to front, but I am beyond caring at this point and it makes no difference to the quality of the music.

If you have an earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. I am having yet another week off next week, but the theme for the week after will be butterflies and moths, and anything associated with them.

Butterflies and moths should reach me by close of play on Sunday 22 August. Many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe out there.

Jack Penewell – Hen House Blues – MaggieB: (See above) I thought hard about this one, and decided that a fox would certainly like photos of a henhouse for reconnaissance purposes – and as there is a blues for almost any topic you can name, here it is. I’m sure that a fox would relish some of the images too, although I think that they can only see in monochrome? Some fine pickin’ anyway, hope y’all like it🐔🦊

Mountain Goats – Possum By Night – shoegazer: No photo, but there is a video:

Pulling Mussels From The Shell – Squeeze – DebbyM: For seagulls everywhere. I quite fancy a day at the seaside now I’ve listened to this.

Bonnie Raitt – I Can’t Make You Love Me – DebbyM: For the horse involved in a certain Olympic incident a couple of days ago, which ended in tears for all concerned.

La Ila – Safest Shell – DebbyM: For any hermit crabs wanting to take part this week. Musicians local to me, I love this sound. If you like it, too, look out for the E.P. Crow has Flown.

Jenny Lewis – Rabbit Hole – glassarfemptee: Dog: I love sniffing rabbit holes. I dig them. I take photos of them too, in the hope that one of those furry things will photobomb me. (Rabbit Hole is from Jenny Lewis’ super album ‘On the Line’.)

Christine Bougie – Baby Bird – glassarfemptee: Cat: My tail is flicking as I crouch stock still to take a photo of my next meal. After all, I like to put photos of my food on Instagram. (‘Baby bird’ is an instrumental by Toronto guitarist Christine Bougie, who teamed up with Dafydd Hughes for the 2008 album ‘This is awesome’.)

Moussorgsky – Ballet De Poussins Dans Leurs Coques (Ballet of Chickens In Their Shells) from Pictures at an Exhibition – Suzi: Mother Hen is waiting anxiously with her camera, ready to take a photo of her chicks as they hatch out. She doesn’t have to wait long, just 1’12”.

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita – Ceffylau – Suzi: More horses, Welsh ones this time. We’ve already established that horses like to take photos, usually of other horses (see Skewball). They are rather vain creatures, but we forgive them because they’re so beautiful. These horses don’t seem to stay still though, so we must hope that there’s a fast lens on that camera.

Steeleye Span – Skewball – Suzi: Look, if you can have a talking horse that offers encouraging advice to his rider halfway through the race, and orders celebratory sherry, wine and brandy afterwards, you can surely have another horse photographing them both. It all makes perfect sense. This is the original Irish song which migrated to the US and was recorded by Lead Belly and many others, but having crossed the Atlantic the song lost the talking horse element, which I think is a great pity. Skewball was a real horse, which won many races in the 18th century, and I have no reason to think that it didn’t talk, or consume alcohol for that matter. The Kathryn Tickell Band – Yeavering – Suzi: Two hawks circle high above the tiny Northumbrian hamlet of Yeavering, close to the Scottish Border. Lifted by the mountain thermals, they gaze down, sharp-eyed, on the scattered houses below. Are there any mice about? Might as well take a photo…

The Kathryn Tickell Band – Yeavering – Suzi: Two hawks circle high above the tiny Northumbrian hamlet of Yeavering, close to the Scottish Border. Lifted by the mountain thermals, they gaze down, sharp-eyed, on the scattered houses below. Are there any mice about? Might as well take a photo…

Sidsel Endresen and Bugge Wesseltofte – Birds – severin: Well cats would probably photograph them and put them on their menus. Beautiful sad song which has absolutely nothing to do with the topic. Hurrah!

Ivor Cutler – Rubber Toy – severin: The lyric doesn’t fit the remit but the title does. Well for dogs it does anyway.

Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band – A Carrot is as Close as a Rabbit Gets to a Diamond – severin: Instrumental. But the title is probably true. Bunnies photographing carrots. I can see it.

Rush – The Trees – LongTallSilly: What the bushy tailed tree rats would photograph and send, so more could turn up to steal my plums 😖😖

The Cougars – Saturday Night at the Duckpond – AliM: And the usual gang is there, taking quack cocaine and flying with their mates – they’ll regret those Instagram shots in the morning.

Wire – Follow The Locust – wyngatecarpenter: Wyngate jnr’s pet gecko has , I’ve read very acute eyesight, but despite this it only seems interested in potential prey and only seems able to distinguish it as potential prey when it actually moves. So I think it would be interested in photographing moving crickets if anything. No songs about crickets , but if we’d gone for a bigger pet such as a bearded dragon we might be feeding it locusts. Got there eventually. As for what the song’s actually about your guess is as good as mine, but if any band were to write a song about animals taking photographs it would probably be Wire.

The Most Classic Song By The Doobie Brothers

I first encountered The Doobie Brothers in 1972, via their minor UK hit “Listen To The Music“, taken from their second album Toulouse Street. It used to get played in the pub where we all met up on Friday evenings, “we” being a small group of teenage hippies and fans of underground music. I heard a lot of new things in that pub.

I’d read about them in the music press but they really made a big impression on me the following year with the release of their third LP, The Captain and Me which contained two real stand out tracks in “Long Train Runnin’” and “China Grove“, neither of which troubled the UK singles charts, but which became hugely popular in alternative circles. What was being called “Southern Boogie” in the music press became a Big Thing in 1973, with bands as varied as Little Feat, The Doobie Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers all getting a lot of attention away from the regular chart scene. I was already aware of the Allmans but these other bands were definitely a new thing. I also got into the Flying Burrito Brothers around this time, via their 1972 Last of the Red Hot Burritos live album. The Eagles were lumped in too with the release of their Desperado album. Check shirts were also very popular, as were denim cowboy shirts and cowboy boots too, for both sexes.

Anyway, despite the Doobies being an L.A. band, they were, as far as the UK was concerned, southern boogie boys. They were hot property throughout 1974 and 1975, by which time they had released five albums and acquired Jeff “Skunk” Baxter as a guitarist and had toured the UK, appearing at the 1974 Knebworth Festival, second on the bill to The Allman Brothers. I was lucky enough to be there to see them, when they were probably at their musical peak, with Baxter adding his trademark guitar pyrotechnics to an incredibly high octane hour of music.

By 1976, the band had changed, with founding member Tom Johnston leaving due to ill health and another former Steely Dan member, Michael McDonald joining on keyboards and vocals.

This led to a shift in the band’s sound, with McDonald’s blue-eyed soul voice (which, incidentally I love a lot) ushering in a more mellow, soul and jazz-tinged sound which was very much in tune with the predominant vibe of mid-70s American FM radio. Two huge hits came from this period in “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “It Keeps You Runnin’“. FM radio and the new Doobies sound were a match made in Music Biz Heaven and the band were almost certainly bigger now than ever before. The Kenny Loggins song “What a Fool Believes” was another huge hit in 1979 when the US charts were mostly full of disco and dance-oriented songs, but was only a minor UK hit where New Wave, post-Punk and the burgeoning New Romantic scenes were pretty much the only games in town, although the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was just around the corner.

Of course, things couldn’t stay the same and gradually The Doobie Brothers melted away. Yes, there were some more hits but by the end of 1982, it was all over.

OK, what is the classic Doobie Brothers sound? Is it the joyous choogling guitar boogie or the cool Motown-influenced blue eyed soul? Well, despite loving the big Michael McDonald hits enormously, for me they aren’t really why I fell in love with the band in the first place. The songs that sum the band up for me are all on their first four albums. The classic Doobie sound is in tracks like “Black Water“, “Long Train Runnin’“, “Jesus Is Just Alright“, “Rockin’ Down the Highway”, “China Grove” and “Listen To The Music“.

I have to choose a Classic Song, though, and it is THIS ONE HERE.

First gigs…?

A while ago for obvious reasons we covered the last gig we went to. What about the first gig you ever attended? Can you remember that far back? If so what can you remember?

My first gig was Gary Numan at Leicester De Montfort Hall on Thursday 6th October 1983. The tour dates are listed on the back of the Warriors 7” that I’ve still got gathering dust in my collection. A few years ago when I was having a clear out for a car boot sale I came very close to parting with it, but in a moment of uncharacteristic sentimentality I decided against it just because of the tour dates.

Continue reading

Earworms 2 August 2021

Faster, higher and what’s the other one? 🤣 – LongTallSilly

Good evening everyone, and welcome to your songs about The Olympics, and what they symbolise to you. A fair old selection here, starting off with Deep Purple and Speed King, live in Japan (where else?) and a shout out to Darcey’s Dad, who is out there in the thick of it.

If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be photographs taken by animals. If animals could take photographs, what would they choose? For example… dogs might choose lampposts; cats might choose cardboard boxes; elephants might choose waterholes. I know it’s weird but it gives you scope for lots of bizarre shoe-ins as long as you can provide some justification in your comments.

Worms should reach me by close of play on Sunday 8 August. Many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe.

Jason Molina – 31 Seasons in the Minor Leagues – tincanman: As Yogi Berra famously supposedly said, sports is 90% mental and the other half is physical. Anyone can do the physical part of sportsball, Jason writes, but as Simone Biles showed us last week, sometimes you can’t.

808 State – Olympic – severin: From their 1991 album ex:el. It doesn’t have any words, but it’s called Olympic. Maybe it has been used as a theme for a sports programme but that’s not the sort of thing I would know.

Beths – Not Running – severin: Which is what I will be doing in the Olympics. Does this count?

Hercules and Love Affair – Hercules Theme – severin: You said we could do Greek Heroes. He’s the big one. Probably good at wrestling too.

John Lennon – Imagine – Suzi: Sung during the opening ceremony at this year’s Olympics. Still like the sentiments, however far off we may be from making them a reality.

Vangelis – Chariots of Fire (Titles) – Suzi: From the inspiring film of the same name. Familiar, perhaps, but glorious

Vangelis – Chariots of Fire (Five Circles) – Suzi: The five Olympic Rings, representing the world’s five continents.

Andrew Bird – glassarfemptee: Is there a topic Andrew Bird doesn’t fit? Here he is on Olympians. The lyrics are a bit enigmatic: he sings “Shaking out pills left and right/Who’s giving up the most?/No one’s gonna give you a medal/the competition rages/we are olympians”. Perhaps he’s concerned about doping. He hadn’t reckoned on DsD!

Belle and Sebastian – glassarfemptee: Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian loves to run, and ran the Glasgow marathon in three hours. So here’s his paen to athletics.

Ballboy – glassarfemptee: Ballboy reminisce of the heady day of a cycling gold medal “Relive the memories that take you back/To Athens and your rain-soaked sprint for gold”.

The Skids – The Olympian – shoegazer and wyngatecarpenter: From “Days in Europa”. / A suitably stirring tune , although I’m not sure the lyrics are so positive. I bet Shoey’s got there first.

Lotsa YouTube music so here is a playlist, plus individual links and comments below:

Loudon Wainwright – Swimming Song – severin: (which was on Desert Island Discs last week) performed live with Suzanne Vega and Richard Thompson. I haven’t been to the pool since March 4th 2020 but maybe in August I’ll tiptoe back.

Loose Articles – Kick Like a Girl – severin: For the women’s football team. Although I’m sure they don’t train like this.

Justin Brown – Burn Me Down – LongTallSilly: Now surfing is in tracks from Point Break must be involved! 🤟 Gnarly man✌️

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit – LongTallSilly: Very tenuous link, climbing in Olympics for the first time and this is the track me and my then climbing partner used to get us ready to push our limits!!!

Pink Floyd – Time – LongTallSilly: An athlete’s nightmare. “No one told you when to run, you’ve missed the starting gun!”

Deep Purple – Sail Away – LongTallSilly: With current typhoon conditions an empty sail might not be on the cards!

Jackson Browne – Running on Empty – AliM: This would be me. I think my running days are probably behind me.

Dogshite – Olympic Shame – wyngatecarpenter: International celebration of sporting achievement? Or travelling corporate circus used as a cover for clearing out undesirables and offering no benefit to the communities it parasitically inhabits? Discuss! (Track is at 32.45).

Spasticus Autisticus@The Paralympics London 2012 – MaggieB: I got something in my eye when I watched this.

The Most Classic Song By King Crimson

This week I grasp the nettle and deal with one of the bands that I have loved since I first heard their music in 1970. Yes, it is time to ask the question of Robert Fripp’s ever-changing, always different, often obtusely-difficult and long-lived many-headed Crimson Beast; What is the classic Crimson sound?

The image above is the current incarnation of the band, a three-drummer lineup which since 2014 has been ripping through the KC back catalogue, reinterpreting old songs, bringing new ways of playing and new ways of sounding and, importantly playing some old songs live for the very first time.

The genesis of this revived Krim comes from the recording and release of a 2011 album, A Scarcity Of Miracles, billed as being by Jakszyk, Fripp and Collins, i.e. Jakko Jakszyk, Robert Fripp and Mel Collins aided and abetted by Tony Levin and Gavin Harrison. It was described as a King Crimson ProjeKct, a label that has long been used for spin-off projects featuring various band members. All of the performers are now currently members on the latest lineup of King Crimson, together with Pat Mastelotto and Jeremy Stacey.

Anyway, what might we think of as Klassic Krim? I am sure that for a lot of people it means one or more of the following; swooping mellotron lines, doom-laden and fantastical lyrics, jazzy influences, snippets of modern European classical music, strange and obscure cover images, discordant juxtapositions of sounds, virtuoso musicianship, weird time signatures, Fripp’s seemingly endlessly-sustained guitar sound and a certain disregard for what anyone might think they ought to be doing. For others it might mean pretentious, po-faced, unlistenable progressive rock noise. Of course, it might be all those things at the same time, so where do we start?

In 1969, King Crimson sprang into being from the wreckage of Giles, Giles and Fripp, an unsuccessful attempt to make interesting music. The original line-up was Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Ian McDonald and Greg Lake, with Peter Sinfield as both a writer of lyrics and a non-playing band member who did the lights. They released one album, often called the “the album that invented Prog” or some other journalistic nonsense. It is certainly true, though, that In The Court Of The Crimson King wasn’t really like anything else around in 1969. I am sure that it is probably the only KC album that many people have heard, and it certainly seems to be the source of the only KC track that gets anything like regular radio play. That track is, of course “21st Century Schizoid Man“, which I am sure that many will think of as the classic KC song. Of course, the album contains other candidates. Both “Epitaph” and the title track fulfil the requirements perfectly well, having lots of swooping mellotron lines, doom-laden and fantastical lyrics etc.

In what turned into a regular occurrence, the band split up after this first album, with several different musicians, notably Keith Tippett joining for the band’s second record, In The Wake Of Poseidon, which, like the first had swooping mellotron lines, doom-laden and fantastical lyrics and the obligatory strange and obscure cover. In many ways, it seemed like a clone of the first album. We might see”Pictures of a City” (occasionally on the setlist of the current incarnation) and the album’s title track as representing aspects of the classic sound. Again, the band fell apart and several new people featured on their third album, Lizard, although Keith Tippett featured again.

Lizard is a difficult album to love. Indeed, for decades, until it was remastered by Steven Wilson in 2009, Fripp often seemed to dislike the record and never played any of its music on stage. I am not sure that any of the tracks on it could be considered as Klassic. Of course, like any other Krim fanatic, I own it and play it.

The fourth KC album, 1971’s Islands obviously features a completely new line-up of the band. It also sounds completely different to what had gone before. It has jazz musicians (including Tippett), a soprano voice and a string orchestra. It still doesn’t sound like anyone else, though. What it hints at is where Fripp’s mind is heading for the future. With two tracks that also pop up in the current band’s setlists, “Sailor’s Tale” and “The Letters” plus the album’s title track, there are three possible contenders for some kind of Klassic status.

After Islands, Fripp and Sinfield parted company, and Fripp was once again without a band. I am not going to go into the ins and outs of why Robert Fripp and his band colleagues never stayed together for long, but it is clear that Fripp is not an easy man to work with and is a pretty dominant character with strong ideas what is and isn’t King Crimson. I’d say that it is his single-mindedness and vision that makes each version of KC “real” and vital. If you want to read more about this side of things there is an excellent history of the band by Sid Smith titled In “In The Court Of King Crimson” and there are some interesting observations on the subject in an autobiography written by Bill Bruford, who became the drummer in the next KC band.

I think that the 1972-74 incarnation of King Crimson produced the greatest Krim music in the band’s long history. Although the line-up that recorded Larks’ Tongues in Aspic lost a key member, percussionist Jamie Muir shortly before the album was released in March 1973, the core membership of Robert Fripp, John Wetton, Bill Bruford and David Cross went on to release Starless and Bible Black and Red in 1974, the latter album without Cross, who had been sacked after the 1974 American tour.

For me, this trio of albums is where the real classic sound lies, even though the sound itself gradually becomes harder, more jagged, more intricate and more metallic with each release. None of these albums sound like anything else that people were releasing in this period. Indeed, they still don’t. They epitomise the whole KC ethos. They still have swooping mellotrons, doom-laden and fantastical lyrics, jazzy influences, snippets of modern European classical music, strange and obscure cover images (apart from Red), discordant juxtapositions of sounds, virtuoso musicianship, weird time signatures and Fripp’s seemingly endlessly-sustained guitar sound, but they also have a richness and depth in the percussion and in the variety of instrumentation, plus a seemingly perverse desire to play music that is technically boggling in its complexity.

There are classics aplenty here. “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Pts 1 and 2“, both instrumentals, define the blueprint for all three albums, and “Exiles” draws on the epic scale tracks of the first two albums augmented by a haunting David Cross violin melody which in many ways acts as a coda for all previous Crimson epics. “Easy Money” is another contender for the classic sound, but in a new way. It is hard, brutal even, but it shows the way forward. There are more instrumental tracks on the next album, two of which might be seen as classic. Both “Starless and Bible Black” and “Fracture” are the new sound personified, pointing the way to the sound on the third part of this album trilogy. With the exception of the live improvisation “Providence“, I would suggest that every track on Red, i.e. “Fallen Angel“, “One More Red Nightmare“, “Starless” and the title track are all definite Klassic Krim.

Of course, Red was the end of an era. The band was dissolved by Fripp and he went off to pastures new in New York. He reformed King Crimson 1981 and the band came back with a completely different sound and a new lineup, with only Bill Bruford retained. This version of the band saw the arrival of Tony Levin and Adrian Belew. Much as I love the music produced in the 1980s and 1990s by KC, I cannot in all honestly say that it represents the classic sound, mainly because it pretty much draws on and redefines what went before. I hear echoes from the past in much of it, even though the various permutations of members also produced some stunning new sounds.

So, for me, the classic sound of King Crimson comes somewhere from the 1969-1974 period. I knew before I started which track I was going to pick. I was lucky enough to see the band on tour in 2015 and when they played the track I am choosing I burst into tears.


Earworms 26 July 2021

Thanks to severin for the video, Four Horsemen at 8.30

Good morning, and welcome to your selection of songs about horsemen, specifically the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and what they represent, or more generally, just messing around on horseback.

If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. I’ve been nudged to come up with a more cheerful topic next time, so next week’s theme is songs about the Olympics, and what they mean to you. It could include specific sports, or Greek heroes, or unity, or hope, or whatever you can justify shoehorning into the topic.

Worms should reach me by close of play on Sunday 1 August (August already??) – many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe.

Bunny Wailer – Armagideon – severin: Mentions war but not the other three. No horses, I’m afraid. Released in the mid seventies and not 2012.

Olivia Chaney – The King’s Horses – severin: Look, if you think I’m passing up the chance to send this one in, you will never ever ever know me. Which, of course, you may be fine with. This version is a fairly early one from an EP that, I think, was only released online back in 2012.

Bat For Lashes – Horses of the Sun – severin: Her, again. Might be apocalyptic, might not. “We’re wild and on the run, bursting out of heaven like the horses of the sun”. From the 2012 Haunted Man album.

Pioneers – Poor Rameses – tincanman: The ska Pioneers got hooked on the ponies when their Long Shot, a song about a famous Jamaican race horse, paid out big. They spent the next 10 years at the track, collecting hard-luck tales about the race world.

Corb Lund & The Hurtin’ Albertans – Horse Soldier, Horse Soldier – tincanman: Man rode horses to war for centuries. Machines only unseated them in the last 75-100 years, but metal is no match for horse soldiers in war lore.

Seth Lakeman  – Childe The Hunter – Suzi: Death comes for the eponymous hero.  Lost on snowy Dartmoor, he kills his horse and hides inside the body, which turns out to be a very bad idea. Based on a true story. 

Kate Rusby – The Recruited Collier – Suzi: Plaintive song, beautifully sung, from the point of view of a young woman whose sweetheart has been tricked into joining the army.

Sandy Denny – John the Gun – Suzi: A chilling personification of war, relentlessly destroying all ideals of peace. 

Show of Hands – Coming Home – Suzi: Heartbreaking song about a modern day young soldier, sung by Steve Knightley, segues into a ballad from the Napoleonic wars, Bonnie Light Horseman, sung by Miranda Sykes. What a tragic waste of young lives war is, and has always been.

Seth Lakeman – 1643 – Suzi: Tale of a battle near Plymouth during the English Civil War.

Karine Polwart – Will Ye Go Tae Flanders? – Suzi: Scottish song from the Napoleonic Wars, also sadly appropriate for WWI.  ‘We’ll get wine and brandy, sac and sugar candy,’ – but these things don’t seem much compensation for what the young soldiers will face.

Colourbox – Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse – Shoegazer: With Charlie Bronson as Death.

Andrew Bird – When that Helicopter Comes – glassarfemptee: I can’t help think of Apocalypse Now when I hear this song, though it’s not really about that. But there’s a death connection, as Andrew Bird does sing “The dead are gonna wake and sing/And roll their bones in the grass”.

Andrew Bird – Three White Horses – glassarfemptee: Tangenital, because one of the horses are missing – perhaps killed in war. But these three horses are death related, as Andrew Bird sings “There’ll be three white horses when you go that way/You will need somebody when you come to die”.

Clint Mansell (music), performed by Kronos Quartet and Mogwai – Death is the road to awe – glassarfemptee: This is from the soundtrack to a movie (The Fountain) that I haven’t seen. DarceysDad enthused about the album years ago, and put this track on a CD for an RR social. As he is in Japan (working) for the Olympics, I am sure he won’t mind my contributing this one.

Son House – John the Revelator – DebbyM: although my Little’Un prefers this version: Taj Mahal – John the Revelator.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – Devil’s Ride – DebbyM: Theirs is is the kind of ‘English eccentricity’ I miss.

Christy Moore – Ride On – DebbyM: This song always makes my hair stand on end! 

Bellowhead – Cholera Camp – Suzi: War and Pestilence often go together, as they do in this splendid setting of a Kipling poem.  Powerful stuff.

Black Sabbath – War Pigs – LongTallSilly: War pigs is my favourite lullaby! Mainly because it was one of the few songs I can remember the lyrics to. A surprise my kids and grandkids survived me, but they all recognise Sabbath! 😉

Gillan – Mutually Assured Destruction – LongTallSilly: Another from the same horse (or is that stable?) Gillan’s bleak view coloured my teens! 

Aphrodite’s Child – The Four Horseman – LongTallSilly: One that covers the complete brief from the wonderful Aphrodite’s child.

Scott Walker – Funeral Tango – MaggieB: Death:  An interpretation of a Jacques Brel song, Ha hahaha haha…

Imagine Dragons – Radioactive – AliM: “I’m breaking in, shaping up / Then checking out on the prison bus / This is it, the apocalypse / Whoa … I’m radioactive, radioactive …”

The Most Classic Song By The Doors

I was going to write about The Doors a few weeks ago, but The Guardian pre-empted me. Anyway, it is time I crossed this one of my list (Actually, I don’t have a list. I wait for an idea to arrive and then I start thinking).

So, where to start? The Doors began in 1965, after LA film students Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek decided to work together. Manzarek was already a music in a band with his two brothers and drummer John Densmore joined soon after. I have no idea what this original lineup sounded like, so we can forget about them.

The real Doors came together later in 1965 when guitarist Robby Krieger replaced Manzarek’s brothers. They played on the LA club scene, eventually getting signed to Electra by Jac Holzman in 1966. Their eponymous first album was released at the beginning of 1967. This album pretty much created a template which the band pretty much stuck to throughout its existence. It certainly contains the bones of the Doors’ live set, and it contains what is almost certainly their best-known song “Light My Fire”.

Their second album, Strange Days was recorded in the summer of ’67 and added in more psychedelia and experimentation to the template. Many of the songs were already in existence at the time of the first album so there is a definite sense of continuity, with several tracks that also became live staples.

The thing that is always mentioned about the LA scene in the 1966-1968 period is the difference between what was happening in Los Angeles as opposed to the San Francisco sound. I think that these two albums encapsulate this difference pretty well. The sound is harder, more aggressive, more inspired by garage bands and far less comforting and, in the case of The Doors really very weird in an unsettling way.

Of course, Morrison, the massive ego, the grandiose baroque drug and alcohol-fuelled stream-of-consciousness lyrics and the confrontational stage presence is the key here. Clearly not a likeable man, Morrison definitely had more than a little something of the night about him and he played that up to the full. As he proclaimed “I am the Lizard King. I can do anything“, words taken from his poem “The Celebration Of The Lizard“, which ended up being set to music and performed on stage (it can be heard on the 1970 live double album, Absolutely Live).

The Doors went on to record further studio albums annually until the death of Jim Morrison in Paris in July 1971, three months after their final proper band album L.A. Woman. All of these albums were massive sellers, going Gold and Platinum pretty much everywhere. The Doors, it has to be said were a huge commercial success, playing sell-out gigs everywhere they performed. Of course, some of those gigs were not without controversy.

The thing about their post-67 output is that although the playing became more assured, confident and polished, Morrison’s life became more chaotic and unpredictable, as he descended into alcoholism.

Waiting For The Sun, their 1968 album is a more mellow version of the sound template, with some good songs, but also some weak material. A year later, The Soft Parade moves a bit further away from the template, bringing in a jazzier sound, horns and strings. For me, this is a pretty disposable album, and for 1970’s Morrison Hotel the band took a harder, bluesy direction. There is some good stuff on it, some less successful work as well, but perhaps we should see it as a dress rehearsal for 1971’s swansong, L.A. Woman?

So, L.A. Woman. Recorded in the band’s rehearsal space using a temporary studio setup, the album was pretty much constructed from scratch on the spot. Morrison seems to have reined-in his alcoholic excesses, which had marred the recording of their last two albums and the band found a groove that managed to return to the template and also incorporate the best parts of the experimentation and jazz and blues sidesteps that the last few albums had taken. It was their best album since the first, eponymous one. It was also the last one that Morrison would ever record.

So, where do we go for the classic Doors sound? Clearly, we have to look at the two early albums first, and then, I think, we need to look at the final one. After that, if we are so inclined, we can look at the middle three records, but, frankly I am not convinced that we will find the Classic Doors Song there.

Of course, we can make a case for the full-length version of Light My Fire from the first album, which also contains other contenders; Break On Through, Soul Kitchen and The End are all possibles, and we cannot ignore the two covers, Back Door Man and Alabama Song either. As a first album, The Doors really is a belter.

Looking at Strange Days, I think that the possibles are People Are Strange, Moonlight Drive and When The Music’s Over.

Finally, from L.A. Woman we have an embarrassment of riches. The title track and Riders On The Storm are the obvious two candidates, but I think that Been Down So Long, The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) and the blues cover Crawling King Snake all have the real Doors magic about them.

So, you pays your money and you takes your choice. What do you all think is the classic Doors sound? Is it the psychedelic garage rock of Light My Fire or perhaps the pop-psych of People Are Strange? Maybe it is the druggy Oedipal angst of The End or the psychotic jazz-blues of Riders On The Storm? How about The WASP, with its swampy, sweaty blues with its trippy imagery?

Which track is going to open the Doors of Perception for you?

For me, it is THIS ONE

Earworms 19 July 2021

Greetings everyone and welcome to your songs about friends, whether socially distant or not. As we launch into the brave new world of acting responsibly, I suspect we will need all the friends we can get.

If you have an earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be the four horsemen, death, famine, pestilence and war, or just some jolly songs about horse riders, if you prefer. Worms should reach me by close of play on Sunday 25 May.

Many thanks to all contributors, and stay safe. 🤗

Lee Scratch Perry – Yes My Friends – shoegazer: Nearly forgot. Here are some ramblings from Mr. Perry.

When Rivers Meet – Friend of Mine -glassarfemptee: Husband and wife bands seem to work well (White Stripes, Over the Rhine). And Grace and Aaron Bond seem to have taken the UK blues scene by storm this year. Here they are with a moody blues…

Richard Hawley – Nothing Like a Friend – glassarfemptee: As I get older, I feel more and more that friendship is a most precious thing. Richard Hawley seems to agree…

Tobias Jesso – Can We Still Be Friends – glassarfemptee: Canadian Tobias Jesso had a pretty good debut album with “Goon”, and this track talks of the importance of making up after you’ve fallen out with a friend.

Eliza Carthy – Willow Tree – DebbyM: Lover or a friend? I’ve sent this in because it’s one of my all-time favourites tracks EVER!

Chumbawamba – Add me – DebbyM: The definition of ‘friends’ might differ from generation to generation. Also, back in the day when Chumbawamba still existed as a band, they sent an email asking everyone on their mailing list to join Myspace and ‘befriend’ them, then they went and wrote this song…

Bill Withers – Lean on Me – DebbyM: For me, this is the definitive song about friendship. I’d like to dedicate it to everyone who held my hand (albeit virtually!) when I went through a rough patch a couple of years ago, particularly Ali ♥ (Back at you Debby, thank you – Ali xx)

John Martyn – May You Never – severin: I have read one account that says John M wrote this after a friend pulled him away from another guy in a bar when he was trying to start a fight with him. The guy in question having slept with John’s wife. No idea if this is a true story.

Joan Armatrading – Friends – severin: What it says on the tin. One of the lesser known tracks from the Me, Myself and I album. Doesn’t sound like any of my friends tbh.

Bat For Lashes – Laura – severin: About comforting a friend who is in a vulnerable state after a rather wild party.

Jessie Reyez – Fuck Being Friends – tincanman: Jessie and The Weeknd were born a year apart in different whiteish suburbs of Toronto, both the only child of immigrant parents. And that’s quite a co-incidence because there’s only a handful of people in the world with the same gift for making infectious pop with substance.

Three Degrees – When Will I See You Again – tincanman: If I thought of this song at all, which I didn’t, it was as disposable ’70s soft-soul. So I was surprised to read Frederick Joseph call it a classic in The Black Friend (a recommended read). He was right; I was wrong.

James Taylor – You’ve got a Friend – Suzi: Surely the most beloved, all-time classic song on the topic!

The Saw Doctors – Never Mind the Strangers – Suzi: Cheerful tribute by the band from Tuam, Co. Galway, ‘to all the people who’ve helped and stuck with us along the way… “Never mind the strangers/ ‘Cos I’ll always be your friend/ Until the end.”

Bottlejob – Who’s Your Mate? – wyngatecarpenter: Anti fascist Oi from London.

Pink Floyd – Ringing of the Division Bell – Maggie B: “When we were young and surrounded by friends” – sheer genius from Floyd.

Grateful Dead – Friend of the Devil – LongTallSilly: Just to beat Chris!! 😂🤣

Gotye – Somebody that I Used to Know – AliM: “So when we found that we could not make sense / Well, you said that we would still be friends / But I’ll admit that I was glad it was over…” Sometimes it’s best to admit defeat.

The Most Classic Song By The Byrds

Going back as far as 1964, The Byrds went through loads of changes in personnel and shifts in musical styles, even de facto leader and founding member Jim McGuinn changed his name to Roger. So, a band of nebulous qualities and with a rotating door membership policy. Can we even begin to talk about “Classic Byrds”?

Well, yes, I think we can, and the picture above will show you why I think this way. That is the original, “classic lineup” of David Crosby, Gene Clark, Michael Clarke, Chris Hillman, and Jim McGuinn (before he Rogered himself). I am not going to go through the bewildering mutations and changes in the band’s membership, although I will mention Gram Parsons, who found fame with the Flying Burrito Brothers (which at various times became a home for a number of other ex-Byrds).

So, The Byrds are often credited with inventing Folk Rock and Country Rock (a contentious claim, I think) and also with being the American Beatles, as well as inventing the music genre now called “jangle pop”, a term that annoys me to a massive degree, so I won’t repeat it.

The original lineup only lasted until February 1966, when Gene Clark left, just before the release of the groundbreaking but controversial single “Eight Miles High”, but by that time the band had already released two albums, Mr Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn! and were shortly going to record a third album, which was released in the summer of 1966 as Fifth Dimension. As Clark had been a major songwriter in the band, this third album saw a shift towards a different, more psychedelic sound, as well as more songs from David Crosby, whose massive ego saw his being sacked from the band in 1967.

OK, enough of the history and on with the music. As you might have guessed, I am going to see the classic song as coming from the classic early lineup, both with or without Gene Clark, but definitely with David Crosby.

Right from the beginning, The Byrds were known for their covers of Dylan songs, with their version of “Mr Tambourine Man” being their first single, which was not only released before Dylan’s version but also got to Number One on both the Billboard and UK charts. An instant classic? Possibly. Their first album also contained three more Dylan songs, plus Pete Seeger’s “The Bells of Rhymney” and Gene Clarks I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better, both of which might be considered for classic status.

Their second album also contained a couple of Dylan covers, as well as another Pete Seeger one, the title track “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, with words taken from the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes.

Their third album Fifth Dimension has a few more covers and arrangements of traditional tunes, but it also has the monumental “Eight Miles High” and McGuinn’s “5D” and “Mr Spaceman“, all of which hold a place in the hearts of most Byrds fans.

Their fourth album, Younger Than Yesterday, contains the honest but cynical “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and Dylan’s “My Back Pages” with the line “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” which inspired the album’s title.

The Notorious Byrd Brothers was their fifth album, and the last one to feature David Crosby, thus marking the end of the classic period. It contains two Goffin/King songs, “Goin’ Back” and “Wasn’t Born To Follow” and is probably the band’s peak involvement in psychedelic rock. Recorded in 1967, it was released in early 1968. Might we think of it as The Byrds’ SgtPepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? Or perhaps that is a step too far? It is certainly their most experimental album, their last psychedelic hurrah.

Anyway, what is my my choice for the classic Byrds song? It is a tough call, but this track is the one that for me epitomises their sound. CLICK HERE to hear my choice.