"It's a holiday, it's a holiday ..."
Seemed like a pretty good intro to set the stage for the rest of the CD.
One of the songs that popped to mind right away when I thought of the concept. Kind of an obvious one, really.
I found a few songs that tied more directly to Valentine's Day, but they all tended to be on the bittersweet side. There's plenty of doom and gloom coming on disc two, so I went with a love song instead. Valentine's Day is a chance to tell someone special how you feel, so I figured this one would be an appropriate choice.
Rough Mix is a laid-back collaboration between The Who's Pete Townshend and Faces bassist Ronnie Lane. It's one of those albums that sounds like it must have been fun to make. Ronnie's on lead vocals on this one, and Eric Clapton's guesting on dobro and "foot".
Early on, Marillion were pegged by some critics as simply a clone of early Genesis. It probably didn't help their lead singer, Fish (yes, just "Fish"), liked to dress up in costumes the way Peter Gabriel did in Genesis' early days. Marillion developed their own sound, but the Genesis parallel hit again when Fish left the band, leading to the same "the band is finished without him" comments in the press that Genesis dealt with when Peter Gabriel went solo. Marillion brought on a new lead singer, Steve Hogarth, and continued on (and are still going today). This is from the first of the Hogarth-era albums.
And yes, at one point the band name was "Silmarillion" after the J.R.R. Tolkien book, but shortened in 1980 well before they released any recordings.
All right, this isn't about Earth Day, and the title isn't a match, but I thought the lyrics fit quite nicely.
I'm not really sure what the heck this song has to do with Arbor Day, but the title fits, so I used it.
Heywood's take on Memorial Day. Heywood Banks is a nightclub comic who is very strange, very funny and very clean. His shows are mix of straight standup, some really clever conceptual stuff that's kind of hard to explain, and his songs. He's recorded a number of CDs over the years, but if you haven't heard of him, I'm not too surprised. Dr. Demento does play his stuff occasionally, but otherwise he's kind of a Midwest phenomenon.
Two of Canada's most respected artists team up with ... Geddy & Alex from Rush.
When Billy Zoom left X after Ain't Life Grand, ex-Blasters guitarist Dave Alvin stepped in. He didn't stay long enough to appear on See How We Are (Tony Gilkyson plays guitar instead), but he did leave this song, one of the few X songs that John Doe and Exene didn't write.
Like "Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)", the title doesn't fit, but the lyrics seemed perfect for Labor Day to me.
A change from the usual "ghosts and goblins" Halloween song, taken from one of Reed's best albums. And for you Reed fans: Did you know that the "Rotten Rita" mentioned in this song is the same "Rita" that Reed eulogizes on the Magic And Loss album?
Fifteen years after the last Bonzos album (which was really a contract filler), five of the original Bonzos got together for a one-off single, originally intended to be released in time for the 1987 elections in Britain. The single wasn't completed in time, and finally came out in 1992, making it an even twenty years after the last Bonzos album.
Oh yes, and for non-Anglophiles: "pop your cross in the bin" isn't a religious comment: "cross" here means an "X", like you'd put on a ballot. So think "put your vote in the trash" instead.
The intro is an excerpt from the final episode of the original radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, originally broadcast on BBC Radio in 1980. The BBC television series was adapated from the radio series, and the five-book trilogy was adapted from both.
The conclusion to Captain Beefheart's eccentric masterpiece Trout Mask Replica, which shows up on lists of the best albums of all-time, as well as lists of the "most critically acclaimed albums you never actually play". I think Trout Mask is amazing, but the Captain really isn't for everyone. This is one of the more accessible songs on the album.
For you Beefheart fans out there: Did you know that four former Magic Band members have revived The Magic Band? The Captain is still retired from the music business, but John "Drumbo" French's vocals aren't a bad fit. They've got a CD out of Beefheart songs called Back To The Front which is pretty great.
Dan Orr is the producer of the morning show for WLVQ-FM in Columbus. He also leads his own band, the intentionally pretentiously named Dan Orr Project to do comedy songs for the show. The "DOP" also makes local live appearances, and a few songs have made it to Dr. Demento's radio show.
And by the way, if you're thinking "Hey, that's just a rip-off of 'Weird Al' Yankovic's schtick", then you could say 'Weird Al' is really just ripping off Allan Sherman ("Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh"), who probably got the idea from someone else. Relax.
"The Three Wise Men" are actually Andy Partridge, Colin Moulding and Dave Gregory, better known as XTC. The single was produced by David Lord, credited as "The Good Lord" on the single. The song is available on the 1990 XTC compilation Rag & Bone Buffet (Rare Cuts & Leftovers).
Scrawl (from here in Columbus, Ohio) did get several national releases out. Check 'em out. This is from their final album.
As much as I like "11:59 (It's January)", I didn't want to end the concept on such a dark note, so I added something a little perkier to wrap things up before the big finish.
Sums it up nicely, don't you think?
Well, we're going to start out on a confusing note. The song "Black Friday" is clearly about the 1929 Stock Market crash, based on the opening lines ...
When Black Friday comes, I'll stand down by the doorThe image of stockbrokers jumping from the ledges is definitely associated with the '29 crash. Here's the trouble though: the crash actually hit on Thursday.
And catch the grey men when they dive from the fourteenth floor
From an interview with Natalie Merchant in Melody Maker, September 22, 1984:
"Sometimes I research things, like the song Grey Victory is about Hiroshima, indirectly. In the refrain it says 'please build a future, darling, with our bomb'. I saw a propaganda film, something about 'be thankful that we lead the world, freedom lovers' - it was made in the Forties. And just the way this woman was talking to her baby, it really struck me. 'The world will be a safer place for you because we have the atomic bomb', that's pretty much what she was telling this child. But to research it...
"I didn't know that the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima was actually called Enola Gay, and when I found out I wanted to put it in the song, because the way the name sounded and just the image it makes doesn't sound like something that could kill 20,000 people like that."
Lou Reed's take on the old question "where were you ..."
From Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia:
The Watts Riot began on August 11, 1965 in Los Angeles, California when the Los Angeles Police pulled over Marquette Frye, whom they suspected of driving drunk. While police questioned Frye and his brother, a group of people began to gather around the scene. A struggle ensued shortly after Frye's mother Rena arrived on the scene, resulting in the arrest of all three family members. Police used their batons to subdue Frye and his brother, angering the growing crowd. Shortly after police left, tensions boiled over and the rioting began. What followed was six days of rioting that claimed the lives of 34 people, injured 1,100 and caused an estimated $100 million in damage.
The lyrics are also about the media coverage of the Watts Riots (and the media in general). I find it fascinating (and sad) that Frank's lyrics from 1965 still apply pretty well almost forty years later.
Boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and John Artis were convicted for the murder of three men in a controversial case. I don't know nearly enough to take sides, but there are a number of websites that argue Hurricane was guitly as sin, and a number of websites that argue exactly the opposite.
I've used Amy Rigby's live cover of the song instead of Dylan's original because ... well ... I'm not that crazy about Dylan as a singer, and this is a chance to let you hear Amy Rigby, who's a great singer and songwriter. Faulkner, Dylan, Heinz & Me is a rarities collection available from her official website.
I mentioned exceptions in the intro, and here's the first one. Obviously, the song isn't actually about my girlfriend's birthday. As I worked through the track list for disc two, I realized that a lot of songs about specific events tend to be pretty bleak. Subjects like wars, riots, deaths, fires and arrests don't usually lead to happy-go-lucky material, so I wanted to make sure I worked in a few nice days, and I'd certainly count this as a very nice day.
From "The Clean Water Act at 30" from the Sierra Club's web site:
On June 22, 1969, a rail car passing over the Cuyahoga River accidentally sparked a fire that sent flames soaring five stories off the water and floating downriver. The event, subsequently reported in the national media, is generally considered to be a galvanizing moment in America's environmental history, one that led directly to the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972."Burn On" was also used as the theme song for the film "Major League", about the Cleveland Indians. It was cruel, but hearing "Cleveland, city of light, city of magic" while the film showed Cleveland's industrial area was pretty funny.
1969 wasn't the only time the Cuyahoga River caught fire, just the first time America took notice. The 1952 fire was in fact much larger and more damaging than the renowned 1969 fire.
From Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia:
On Monday, May 4th, a rally [protesting the American invasion of Cambodia which President Richard Nixon launched on May 1] was scheduled to be held at noon, and University officials attempted to inform the campus community that the gathering was banned, by handing out 12,000 leaflets. An estimated three thousand people gathered on the university commons.
Just before noon the Guard ordered the crowd to disperse and fired tear gas. Because of wind, the tear gas had little effect on dispersing the crowd, some of whom were now responding to the tear gas with rock-throwing, yelling, and chants.
A group of seventy National Guard troops advanced on the protesters with fixed bayonets in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The National Guardsmen were wearing gas masks in the hot sun (obscuring their vision and causing heat exhaustion) and had little training in riot control. They soon found themselves trapped on a athletic practice field which was fenced on three sides, where they remained for ten minutes. The Guardsmen then began to withdraw back in the direction from which they had come, followed by some of the protesters.
When they reached the top of a hill, twenty-eight of the Guardsmen suddenly turned on the crowd and fired a 13-second fusillade of between 61 and 67 shots, killing four students and wounding nine. Only one of the four students killed was participating in the protest, and ironically one of the students killed, William Schroeder (who was observing but not participating in the demonstration) was a member of the campus ROTC chapter. Schroeder was shot in the back. Of those wounded, none was closer than 71 feet (22 meters) from the guardsmen. Of those killed, the nearest was 265 feet (81 meters) from the guardsmen.
Neil Young of the Folk-rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young quickly wrote and recorded a protest song in reaction to the shootings called Ohio. The song starts with:
Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'.
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin'.
Four dead in Ohio.
From AMG Allmusic:
It's near impossible to mention Deep Purple's 1972 classic "Smoke on the Water" and not immediately think of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's trademark guitar riff. Just about every guitarist in the world past and present has at some point plucked Blackmore's world-famous chromatic riff, which turned out to be the band's best-selling and most enduring single of their career. The song's lyrics contain a true story within: In December of 1971, the band was planning on recording their next album (Machine Head) at the Casino in Montreux, Switzerland, utilizing the Rolling Stones' Mobile Studio. But the plan was not to be -- on the same night the band arrived to begin recording, Frank Zappa was playing the venue, when a fire destroyed the Casino (due to an overzealous fan shooting a flare gun at the roof). The quintet immediately moved to the Pavillion, where recording finally commenced -- and "Smoke on the Water" was soon penned. Strangely, the band was not impressed initially with the song, and it was not issued as a single in the U.S. until more than a year after the March 1972 release of Machine Head (May 1973), where it peaked at number four on the charts. On the concert stage, the song would be extended to allow Blackmore to stretch out -- as evidenced by the lengthy version on their classic Made in Japan release.I also added a little clip taken from the actual show. The concert was released on a bootleg titled Swiss Cheese / Fire! that Frank Zappa's "re-bootlegged" as part of his Beat The Boots! series. Don Preston was starting his keyboard solo in "King Kong" when the flare hit the rafters. What you're hearing is singer Mark Volman reacting to the fire, making a joke about it, and then Frank asking people to leave.
From Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia:
On Sunday January 30, 1972, in an incident since known as Bloody Sunday, twenty-seven people were shot by British soldiers after a civil rights march in the Bogside area of the city of Derry, Northern Ireland. The march was organized by Derry MP Ivan Cooper to protest the internment of Irishmen in British occupied Northern Ireland.
This incident has been commemorated in the popular protest song by U2, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in which the song begins by expressing the anger of the singer at the events before evolving into a call for all Christians, both Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland to abandon sectarianism and "claim the victory Jesus won, on a Sunday, Bloody Sunday" (i.e. to fight to achieve a genuinely Christian society through Jesus Christ's victory over death in the resurrection on Easter Sunday). In the popular live recording Bono clearly states (during the intro) that "This is not a rebel song", although it is debatable exactly what he meant by "rebel" in this context, presumably he was indicating that the song was not intended to condone a violent response.
From Brian Cady's The Who This Month:
On the 2nd, The Who arrive in Montreal, Canada, disembarking from the plane wearing paper hats made out of French in-flight newspapers and singing the French national anthem. That evening they perform at the Montreal Forum. Early the next morning The Who and twelve members of their entourage are jailed in Montreal after Pete and Keith wreck their hotel suites. They manage to post bail at 1:15pm when the local promoter pays $5,995.34 in cash to the police station and they perform that night at the Boston Garden where they rail to the audience about the Montreal police.
Cast of Characters:
Cell #1:Also participating, but not named in the song: Mick Double (Keith Moon's drum roadie), Tony Haslam (road crew), and Mike Shaw.
- "Bill The Con" - Bill Curbishley (The Who's manager)
- "Wiggy" - John Wolfe (production manager)
- "Bobby" - Bobby Pridden (sound)
- "Micky Boy" - Mick Bratby (John Entwistle's PA)
- "The Admiral" - Mike Crowley (tour manager Peter Rudge's assistant)
- "The singer of The Who" - Roger Daltrey
- "Cousin Graham" - Graham Hughes (photographer and Roger's cousin)
- "The Birdman" - Pete Townshend
- "Dougal The Dane" - Dougal Butler (Keith Moon's chauffer & "partner in crime")
- Peter Rudge (tour manager) [not named in the song]
- "Me" - John Entwistle
- "Moonie" - Keith Moon
Ox was Entwistle's side project to let him play concerts while The Who was on a break from the road. This version of this song is also a bit of a CD rarity. When Mad Dog was issued on CD several years ago, a very different mix of "Cell Number Seven" was used for some reason. This is the original version, taken from the vinyl.
Many thanks to "WhiteFang" (the proprietor of thewho.info) in tracking down the last name to finish this off!
From The Who This Month:
Near the end of January, The Who's lawsuit against ex-managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp is settled with negotiations between Pete and Stamp. Pete receives a $1 million settlement of his U.S. copyrights to date and The Who gain rights to all their recordings from "Substitute" on. The night of the settlement Pete runs into Paul Cook and Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols at The Speakeasy. Mistaking them for Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, Pete tells them The Sex Pistols will have to carry the "rock 'n' roll banner" now as The Who are finished. Pete is appalled when the Pistols' reaction is to beg him not to let The Who break up. Pete, drinking heavily, tears up his million-dollar check, leaves The Speakeasy and passes out in the gutter where a policeman who recognizes him awakens him. The bobby explains that if he can get up and go on home, he won't have to arrest him. Pete will later write all of these events into the first verse of the song "Who Are You."I'm betting most of you have heard the regular studio version of "Who Are You", so I thought I'd toss in another rarity. This is taken from the documentary The Kids Are Alright, although it doesn't appear on the soundtrack CD. It's not as good as the official version, but I think it's a very cool alternate take on the song.
On the 29th, New Musical Express reports on the Pete/Sex Pistols meeting. Jones and Cook speak well of Pete in the article.
From Brian Cady's Who Album Liner Notes site:
WHO ARE YOU
Shot at Ramport Studios, London, May 9, 1978
Directed by Jeff Stein.
4'59 on video.
This was a promo video which originally ran on BBC1's Top Of The Pops August 3, 1978. It was supposed to be mimed to the single version's backing track with live vocals but, by the time it was finished, practically the entire song had been re-recorded. John remembers this as being one of Keith's greatest drumming performances. There are supposedly videos outside this movie which have slightly different audio mixes. This version is also included on the Who's Better Who's Best video.
From Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia:
On September 6, 1977 [Biko] was arrested at a police roadblock. He suffered a major head injury around September 6th while in police custody and was chained to a window grill for a full day. On September 11, police loaded him into the back of a car and began the 740-mile drive to another prison. He died en route. Police claimed his death was the result of an extended hunger strike.
On October 7, 2003, South African Justice Ministry officials announced that the five policemen who were accused of killing Biko would not be prosecuted because of insufficient evidence. They said a murder charge could not be supported partly because there were no witnesses to the killing. Charges of culpable homicide and assault were also considered, but because the killing occurred in 1977, the time frame for prosecution had expired.
What'd'ya know ... I snuck in another happy song!
From Mike Talks With Adrian Belew on Mike Keneally's website:
MK: Just from the tones on the new record, it's obvious that things are sparkling more for you now.Mike Keneally and Adrian Belew were guitarists in different editions of Frank Zappa's touring band. Adrian was also the lead guitarist in David Bowie's band for his Sound + Vision tour.
AB: My life is in so much better shape than it was, say, three or four years ago. I met my wife, Martha, in 1990...
MK: Would that be May 1, by any chance? (Note: "May 1, 1990" is the first song on Here.)
AB: That's May 1, 1990, the day we met in Orlando, Florida after the David Bowie Sound + Vision concert. And my life has just been going steadily up ever since.
From an interview with Michael Stipe in the September 26, 1994 issue of Newsweek:
"That's a song that I wrote to Kurt Cobain after he killed himself. [Pause.] I, um...I should be able to do this without getting emotional. [Pause.] I lost a friend in October -- River Phoenix was a very, very close friend of mine. And I've never suffered such a profound loss. I couldn't write for five months. We had started the record in September. I'd written two songs and then River died. And, having written Automatic for the People, I was not about to write another record about death and loss. So it took me five months to sit down and write again. Then, halfway through making Monster, Kurt died. At that point, I just threw my hands up and wrote 'Let Me In.'"
Here's the other exception. As long as we're hitting so many dark topics on this disc, I figured I might as well throw this one in as well. The event in question wasn't my idea, and I heard this song again as everything was happening. The lyrics really hit home hard. They meant a lot to me around then. It's such a great song I figured I'd include it, and remember, there's a happy ending to the story. You didn't forget track #6 yet, did you?
Being in Ohio, I've never been able to attend a CDX party in person. I can only imagine what goes on.
This one isn't a rarity, but more people are probably familiar with Three Dog Night's hit cover of the song, so this may be new to some of you. Newman's originals are always better than the covers.
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