Thursday, September 28

Ladies and Gentlemen, from Los Angeles, California

The Doors named themselves after Aldous Huxley's narrative about mescaline, The Doors Of Perception, which got its title from a quote by William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite." Huxley took LSD on his deathbed and tripped to his death on November 22, 1963, the same day John F. Kennedy was shot.

On December 9, 1967, Jim Morrison was arrested at a concert in New Haven for breach of peace, resisting arrest, and indecent exposure. Police were called after he was seen backstage having sex with a young girl, and Morrison was angry that they were questioning him. The police arrested him when he exposed himself at the show, the first time a rock star was arrested in the middle of a performance. You can see him arguing with the police at the end of this video.

Without any further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, from Los Angeles, California (insert intro guitar riff)

Sunday, September 24

The Boss, rooted

The Boss’s fans could not have been ready for this latest release. There is not an electric guitar in sight. Like Eric Clapton some years back, the rocker has gone unplugged. Springsteen presides over a down-home, back-porch get-together recorded in his farmhouse living room in just three days without any rehearsals.

He plays an acoustic Gibson guitar and a harmonica, surrounded by the sounds of a five-string banjo, country fiddles, an accordion, an upright acoustic bass, and a horn and rhythm section composed of a tuba, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and drums.

This ensemble allows Springsteen to broaden the concept of folk music to show its intersection with traditional jazz and gospel music. And what irony: Folk purists and leftists, not least Pete Seeger himself, went ballistic when Bob Dylan “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, trading in topical songs for introspective rock.

It was a long road from “Blowin’ in the Wind” to “Like a Rolling Stone.” Now the Boss has moved in exactly the opposite direction, from rock to old folk, and we have come full circle.

Read the rest of Ron Radosh's review of Bruce Springsteen's We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.

Tuesday, September 19

Saturday, September 16

Lou Reed: Dirty Boulevard

"Dirty Boulevard", Lou Reed's poignant tale of Pedro, an immigrant kid with nine siblings, living in a hovel and beaten regularly by his father, but Pedro remains optimistic and hopes to escape. He finds a book on magic in a garbage can, looks up at the cracked ceiling and says “at the count of three I want to away”. Featuring arguably Reed's greatest chord progression since "Sweet Jane".

And back at the Wilshire,
Pedro sits there dreaming
He's found a book on magic in a garbage can
He looks at the pictures
And stares at the cracked ceiling
"At the count of 3," he says,
"I hope I can disappear"
And fly fly away,
From this Dirty Boulevard
I wanna fly... away...

Tuesday, September 5

Podcast: Original Stack O'Lee Blues

Original Stack O'Lee Blues
by Long Cleve Reed & Little Harvey Hull in the songster tradition. Circa 1927.

Saturday, September 2

The Rolling Stones: Sympathy for the Devil - Live at Altamont

The Altamont Free Concert was a famous rock music festival held on December 6, 1969. The concert featured The Rolling Stones and other bands such as Santana, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and Jefferson Airplane. Approximately 300,000 people attended the concert, and some speculated it would be "Woodstock West." Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles shot footage of the concert, including the infamous killing, and incorporated it into a subsequent documentary film entitled Gimme Shelter.

Much of the film chronicles the behind-the-scenes dealmaking that took place to make the free Altamont concert happen. The action then turns on the concert itself, in which security was provided by the Hells Angels.

As the day progressed, with drug-taking and drinking by the Angels and members of the audience, the mood turned ugly. Fights broke out during performances by Jefferson Airplane (at one point lead singer Marty Balin was knocked out by a Hells Angel) and the Flying Burrito Brothers. By the time the Stones hit the stage, the crowd was especially restless.

It was during "Under My Thumb" that a gun-toting fan, Meredith Hunter, was stabbed to death by a member of the Angels. However, "Sympathy for the Devil" is most often associated with the incident.

Jefferson Airplane: White Rabbit

White Rabbit is a psychedelic rock song from Jefferson Airplane's 1967 hit album Surrealistic Pillow, also released as a single, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in that form.

For Grace Slick and others in the '60s, drugs were an inevitable part of mind-expanding and social experimentation. With its enigmatic lyrics, White Rabbit became one of the first songs to sneak drug references past censors on the radio.

When President Nixon nearly tripped on LSD

Grace Slick, lead singer of the psychedelic '60s band Jefferson Airplane, talks about how she almost put LSD in President Richard Nixon's cup of tea.

The Band and Eric Clapton: Further Up On The Road

The Band's farewell concert, The Last Waltz, was held at Winterland in San Francisco in 1976. Guests from all periods of their career were invited to participate. The luminaries included Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, and Paul Butterfield. The four-hour performance was one of the most spectacular in rock history.

Here's The Band jamming up with Eric Clapton on Further Up On The Road.