Alex Ross – “Fascinating Rhythm: Celebrating Steve Reich” (2006)

September 30, 2009 at 8:12 pm (Music, Reviews & Articles)

This piece comes from The New Yorker, Nov. 13, 2006, on celebrated minimalist composer Steve Reich. He started out making truly mind-bending compositions using tapes & phasing techniques back in the mid-60s. His “Come Out” and “It’s Gonna Rain” are highly recommended, and early examples of phasing. By the end of each piece, your mind is truly fried. Without trying to be psychedelic, these compositions, using only the human voice, are like an acid trip in sound…


The other day, I watched as Steve Reich walked away from Carnegie Hall, where celebrations of his seventieth birthday were under way, and out into his native city. Trim and brisk, he darted into West Fifty-seventh Street, fell back before oncoming traffic, bopped impatiently in place, then darted forth again. He soon disappeared into the mass of people, his signature black cap floating above the crowd. Perhaps I should have lamented the fact that one of the greatest living composers was moving around New York unnoticed, but lamentation is not a Reichian state of mind, and I thought instead about how his work has blended into the cultural landscape, its repeating patterns and chiming timbres detectable all over modern music. Brian Eno, David Bowie, David Byrne, and a thousand d.j.s have paid him heed. On Fifty-seventh Street, Reich-inflected sounds may have been coursing through the headphones of a few oblivious passersby.

Three decades ago, New York’s leading institutions would have nothing to do with Reich. A riot broke out when Michael Tilson Thomas presented “Four Organs” at Carnegie in 1973: one woman tried to stop the concert by banging on the edge of the stage with her shoe. Now uptown is lionizing the longtime renegade. His birthday fell on October 3rd, and, in the ensuing weeks, Carnegie joined ranks with three other organizations to present a citywide festival. BAM began, with a program of Reich dances, choreographed by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and Akram Khan. Then the Whitney hosted a four-hour marathon, ranging from the eruptive “It’s Gonna Rain” (1965) to the medievally pure “Proverb” (1995). Carnegie took up the baton with a four-day weekend of concerts, including Reich’s most recent composition, “Daniel Variations,” written in memory of the slain journalist Daniel Pearl. Lincoln Center finished, with “You Are (Variations),” “Tehillim,” and “The Cave.”

The central event was a grand concert at Carnegie. Pat Metheny played “Electric Counterpoint,” the Kronos Quartet played “Different Trains,” and Steve Reich and Musicians played “Music for 18 Musicians.” The last is often pronounced Reich’s masterpiece, and on this occasion, swathed in Carnegie’s reverberant acoustics, it unfolded like a dreamscape, its piano and percussion pulses dissolving in a blur, its attenuated melodies shimmering in a haze of resonances, its rich chords suspended for long moments. At one point, the composer walked away from his piano and stood for a moment in a corner, watching his thirty-year-old wonder unfold. As the scattered rock stars in the audience might have attested, you can’t get any cooler than that.


Reich’s eureka moment occurred in the mid-nineteen-sixties, when he was living in San Francisco. He had taped a street preacher named Brother Walter shouting “It’s gonna rain!” during a sermon on Noah and the Flood, and he looped those words on two tape recorders. When he pushed play on both machines, he found that one was running slightly faster than the other, so that the loops went out of sync. The machines began writing contrapuntal patterns in the air, an electronic canon for two raging voices.

The eighteen-minute tape composition that Reich extracted from this accident is ominously compelling in itself, but his masterstroke was to apply the going-out-of-phase trick to instrumental music, in “Piano Phase” (1967), for two pianos. I heard that simple, stunning piece three times last month: at BAM, in its original version; at the Whitney, in a version for two marimbas; and at Carnegie, in a version created by the percussionist David Cossin, who plays it on digital sound pads. (A video of Cossin playing the other part was superimposed, giving him a Vishnu-like, four-armed appearance.) The opening section uses only the notes E, F-sharp, B, C-sharp, and D, which, when run together in rapid patterns, suggest the key of B minor. Halfway in, the note A is added to the series, tilting the harmony toward A major. This small change never fails to have a brightening, energizing impact. Pieces like this can leave you happy for hours, like drugs without the mess.

“Piano Phase,” along with Terry Riley’s “In C” and Philip Glass’s “Music in Similar Motion,” marked a turning point. After a spell of avant-garde complexity, these young American composers were rediscovering the elements of music—a steady beat, tonal chords. Yet their work was absolutely modern, without nostalgia, without a trace of “neo” or “post.” In subsequent years, Reich kept pressing forward: in “Drumming,” he applied what he called “music as a gradual process” on a symphonic scale; in “Tehillim,” he blended his modern language with ancient Hebrew cantillation; and in “Different Trains” and the video operas “The Cave” and “Three Tales” he competed with hip-hop innovators in combining recorded samples with live music. To hear the majority of Reich’s work in a few weeks was to be amazed by the Stravinsky-like precision of his solutions to a wide array of musical problems. One issue he has never fully resolved, though, is how to present amplified music in traditional halls. The superb Los Angeles Master Chorale, in particular, was hampered by muddy sound in Alice Tully Hall.

In the most recent pieces—“You Are (Variations),” Variations for Vibes, Pianos, and Strings, “Daniel Variations”—Reich has consolidated four decades of invention. Neon-lit textures have given way to dense, dusky landscapes, with tender lyrical passages at the heart of each piece. It’s as if Reich were finally letting himself look back in time, perhaps even indulging a secret Romantic urge. Yet, in the tribute to Daniel Pearl, there is also a new influx of coiled power: fleets of pianos and percussion tap out telegraphic patterns, warning of the next big crash.

Alex Ross

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Jim Morrison – “The Soft Parade”

September 30, 2009 at 8:04 pm (Jim Morrison, Poetry & Literature)

The soft parade has now begun on Sunset.
Cars come thundering down the canyon.
Now is the time & the place.
The cars come rumbling.
“You got a cool machine.”
These engine beasts
muttering their soft talk. A delightat
night to hear their quiet voices
again after 2 years. Now the soft parade
has soon begun.
Cool pools from a tired land
sink now in the peace of evening.
Clouds weaken & die.
The sun, an orange skull,
whispers quietly, becomes an
island, & is gone.There they are
watching us everything
will be dark. The light changed.
We were aware knee-deep in the fluttering air
as the ships move on trains in their wake.
Trench mouth again in the camps.
Gonorrhea. Tell the girl to go home
We need a witness to the killing.

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Billy Altman – “Captain Beefheart Knows He’s a Man” (1979)

September 30, 2009 at 6:35 pm (Captain Beefheart, Reviews & Articles)

This article on Beefheart comes from the April 1979 issue of Creem magazine…


Don Van Vliet has just spent the last fifteen minutes wandering around the conference room at Warner Brothers’ New York headquarters, investigating the possibilities of undoing the corporate environment. He has painstakingly adjusted and readjusted the dimmer switch until the lighting in the room matches the twilight outside, and he has also managed to pry open one of those standard office building windows, the kind that no one who works in places like this ever even gets near for fear that if they do try and get some fresh air in, some alarm will ring and a team of security guards will haul them away (“Mr. Smith, why would you want to tamper with the scientifically designed heating and cooling system of this structure? I mean, you have a window to look out of, don’t you? Which is better than many other employees here. A window with which to see the building next door, where other people work hard all day for their firm, just as you should for yours. Why do you wish to spoil things, Mr. Smith? Perhaps a talk with the company psychologist . . .”).

The Captain finally sits down, the two of us engage in the ancient Beefheartian ritual of cigarette exchanging – Don’s eyes light up when he sees that I’ve got a pack of Chesterfields and I am ecstatic when a tin of Balkan Sobranies materializes out of his travel bag – but soon he is up again, moving towards a corner of the room where a cardboard cut-out of Shaun Cassidy is standing. Don’s eyes move up and down as he takes in Shaun’s toothy grin, the long scarf, the open necked shirt, the tight slacks. “Can you imagine?” he exclaims. “That kid has more money than all of us. Well, so what? He deserves it. You know what I mean?” And with that, he assumes a John L. Sullivan stance, bobs and weaves a bit, waits for the opening and lands a lightning quick solid right jab to Cassidy’s jaw. “I like this place,” he laughs. “You know what I mean?”

TO BILLY, LOVE OVER GOLD – DON VAN VLIET reads the inscription on the front cover of my copy of The Spotlight Kid, a memento of my first meeting with Captain Beefheart back in early ’72. I’ve since seen him hand out autographs to admirers and give signed sketches to friends, and that little statement usually accompanies his signature. It is one of many phrases that Beefheart has graced the universe with over the years (“Earth – God’s golf ball, “”I’m not even here; I just stick around for my friends,” and “You can tell by the kindness of a dog how a human should be” are three other favorites), but in lieu of his unique relationship to both the world of music and the music industry itself (I hesitate to use the word “career,” since writing and playing music is just one of many things this man does brilliantly; if pressed, I’d have to say that his career is living and on that account, he’s got roughly ninety-nine percent of the rest of his race beat), it’s most assuredly the one that means the most. It has often been a struggle for him to do what he loves to do, and his refusal to be manipulated by the “accepted” rules and regulations of the music biz (x amount of records recorded during y amount of time; z number of tours per annum; etc.) has probably had a big hand in preventing him from becoming a household word, and has resulted in plenty of strange dealings with a number of record companies. But you wind up coming right back to that little slogan and it explains just about everything you’d need to know about Don Van Vliet.

“Beefheart freaks. I know the kind too well – ‘I just love Captain Beefheart. Wouldn’t want him over at the house, though!'”

The closest that Beefheart came towards trying it their way was towards the middle of the decade. In 1972 he’d given Warner Bros. Clear Spot, an album which, produced by Ted Templeman, was hoped to be the one to bring the Beefheart sound to a bigger than cult-sized audience. It didn’t happen, and after its commercial failure, Beefheart moved over to Mercury. 1974’s Unconditionally Guaranteed sported a cover showing him clutching dollar bills in each hand, with a mock warranty printed underneath the picture. One part stood out for me, though; it said: “Warning: Could be harmful to closed minds.” And so, even though the credits on the back were enough to let me know that something was indeed amiss here, what with producer Andy DiMartino getting not only co-arranging credit with Beefheart for all the songs but also co-credit for the songwriting, I gave the record a chance and was rewarded by an undeniably subdued, but nevertheless often captivating, set of songs. Ballads dominated here for the first time on a Beefheart album and odd time signatures were non-existent. But as I pointed out in my review of the record here in CREEM when it was released, ballads were certainly not without precedent in Beefheart land. Spotlight Kid has had them, as had Clear Spot, and I, for one, found no problem at all holding up songs like “Neon Meat Dream of a Octafish” and “Her Eyes Are a Blue Million Miles” side by side and enjoying the different glow from each of them.

Not much happened with the album, though, and Beefheart’s lone New York appearance that year proved to be one of the most depressing concerts I have ever attended in my life. The Magic Band had broken up shortly before this particular tour had begun and Beefheart, assembling what musicians he could under the circumstances, went through the tour like a man whose feet had been cut out from under him. The band tried hard to accompany Beefheart as best they could, but as he himself will tell you, it takes a lot of “unlearning” to play his music correctly. The audience that night was the kind that, unfortunately, I’d seen too many times at Captain Beefheart shows. Mostly Zappoids, coming doped up to see the ‘bizarre’ Beefheart be weird. They yelled and screamed throughout all the slow songs – and many grew hostile when it became clear that this wasn’t going to be an evening of Dadaist entertainment. I only made it through about half the set and finally I just became so overwhelmed by sadness that I had to leave.

“I own some land in California – as if anyone can own land – up north near the Oregon border; I think it’s a quarter of an acre or a third, I’m not really sure. All I need is a window looking on the ocean.”

A second Mercury album came out in ’75 and to Beefheart it was the final straw. Entitled Bluejeans and Moonbeams, the record was mostly outtakes from the previous record and rough takes with instruments overdubbed. Beefheart didn’t want it released and it went out without his approval. Beefheart had suddenly disappeared and the company was going to make sure that he honored his contract, one way or another. Where he disappeared to was home in Northern California, where he and his lovely wife Jan simply went on with their life together – painting, writing, reading, loving, breathing.

In 1976, a new Magic Band started to get assembled and, as with the original Magic Band, it got pieced together slowly and without any real kind of search. The right players just started appearing. Jeff Tepper had met Beefheart years before and Beefheart had given him a drawing which Tepper had framed and put up on the wall of his house. The two of them met again and Tepper, a sensitive guitarist, began playing with Beefheart. Richard Redus, the other guitarist, was a visitor at Beefheart’s house during the recording of Trout Mask Replica (“We talked about the beautiful eucalyptus trees in Woodland Hills,” Beefheart recalls) and he joined the fold after a stint with Zappa. Drummer Robert Williams and bassist/keyboard player Eric Feldman formed the rhythm section, and the Magic Band was back in business.

Late in ’77, the new band went on tour, performing a set of old and new songs. All skepticism that I may have had was wiped out as soon as I heard new songs, like “Floppy Boot Stomp and “Bat Chain Puller,” (or not only was Beefheart in amazing vocal form, considering his lengthy exile, but the band sounded completely attuned to the textural and rhythmic slants and turns of Beefheart’s decidedly singular muse. The Captain seemed more relaxed onstage than I’d ever seen him, and, when he finally took out his horn for “Veteran’s Day Poppy” and let loose that shrill shrieking cry of humanity, I knew all was well with the world. After a few months of negotiations, Beefheart had a new recording deal worked out with good old Warner Brothers.

“I’m totally happy with this album. I just had a blast, and I mean a blast, doing it. Glen Kolotkin, the engineer, is just brilliant. This is the first time you can hear my voice the way it really is. Glen did Stravinsky’s last record. I’ve always used my voice as an instrument but these people never realized that. What a job he did. When I heard ‘Bat Chain Puller’ it just knocked me down. He got my voice the way it is. You know what I mean?”


Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) is an extraordinary achievement, considering both what Beefheart, has been through the last few years and the fact that the new Magic Band was put together basically from scratch. It’s perhaps the most well rounded Beefheart album ever, letting loose all facets of Beefheart’s extraordinary personality. One doesn’t hear much truly sensual music these days, and it’s a joy to hear “Tropical Hot Dog Night,” with its swirling melodies and counter melodies mustering up sweet jungle fever, and “Candle Mambo,” filled with such simple and beautiful imagery (When I’m dancing with my love/The shadows flicker up above/Up above the shadows do the candle mambo”). The album as a whole just soars and frolics, filled with humor and love. And with the addition of trombonist Bruce Fowler, the Magic Band’s sound takes on a whole new dimension. (“Is he too much?” laughs Beefheart. “Slide trombone and two slide guitars is it! You know what I mean?”).

“You know they’ve found a use for cockroaches and it’s pretty good. What it is is that they predict earthquakes by their behavior. Is that hip? I knew they were worth it. They are beautiful things.

If the new wave has been good for anything, it’s been the opening up again of various ways of expressing oneself musically and a break way from the creeping, emotionally deadening blandness 6f mainstream 70’s music. Don Van Vliet was new wave before there was a new wave, and he was playing fusion music before there was fusion music. Captain Beefheart is a person whose life and art are one and the same. Simply put, he is a man who is free. You know what I mean?  


Billy Altman 

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Hunter S. Thompson – “Security” (1955)

September 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm (Life & Politics, Reviews & Articles)

An early writing by HST, when he was 17…


Security … what does this word mean in relation to life as we know it today? For the most part, it means safety and freedom from worry. It is said to be the end that all men strive for; but is security a utopian goal or is it another word for rut?

Let us visualize the secure man; and by this term, I mean a man who has settled for financial and personal security for his goal in life. In general, he is a man who has pushed ambition and initiative aside and settled down, so to speak, in a boring, but safe and comfortable rut for the rest of his life. His future is but an extension of his present, and he accepts it as such with a complacent shrug of his shoulders. His ideas and ideals are those of society in general and he is accepted as a respectable, but average and prosaic man. But is he a man? has he any self-respect or pride in himself? How could he, when he has risked nothing and gained nothing? What does he think when he sees his youthful dreams of adventure, accomplishment, travel and romance buried under the cloak of conformity? How does he feel when he realizes that he has barely tasted the meal of life; when he sees the prison he has made for himself in pursuit of the almighty dollar? If he thinks this is all well and good, fine, but think of the tragedy of a man who has sacrificed his freedom on the altar of security, and wishes he could turn back the hands of time. A man is to be pitied who lacked the courage to accept the challenge of freedom and depart from the cushion of security and see life as it is instead of living it second-hand. Life has by-passed this man and he has watched from a secure place, afraid to seek anything better What has he done except to sit and wait for the tomorrow which never comes?

Turn back the pages of history and see the men who have shaped the destiny of the world. Security was never theirs, but they lived rather than existed. Where would the world be if all men had sought security and not taken risks or gambled with their lives on the chance that, if they won, life would be different and richer? It is from the bystanders (who are in the vast majority) that we receive the propaganda that life is not worth living, that life is drudgery, that the ambitions of youth must he laid aside for a life which is but a painful wait for death. These are the ones who squeeze what excitement they can from life out of the imaginations and experiences of others through books and movies. These are the insignificant and forgotten men who preach conformity because it is all they know. These are the men who dream at night of what could have been, but who wake at dawn to take their places at the now-familiar rut and to merely exist through another day. For them, the romance of life is long dead and they are forced to go through the years on a treadmill, cursing their existence, yet afraid to die because of the unknown which faces them after death. They lacked the only true courage: the kind which enables men to face the unknown regardless of the consequences.

As an afterthought, it seems hardly proper to write of life without once mentioning happiness; so we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?

Hunter S. Thompson

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President Obama’s Weekly Address (Sept. 26, 2009)

September 27, 2009 at 8:34 am (Life & Politics)

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Frank Zappa – “Lumpy Gravy” (1967)

September 25, 2009 at 1:09 am (Frank Zappa, Music, Reviews & Articles)

Another chapter from the online book Zappology: Zappa Observations, Minutiae and Conceptual Continuity Connections, written by Chris Federico (circa 2002 – but recently updated). Here is the link if anyone wants to check out more from him


After contacting symphonic session musicians through trombonist Kenneth Shroyer, who’d played on Absolutely Free, Frank formed the one-off Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, made up of the musicians and characters as they appeared piecemeal on the album, rather than in any simultaneously orchestral and vocal performances. The Chorus was actually a speaking cast, its members’ dialogue taking the place of sung lyrics. They were recorded conversing with their heads stuck inside a Steinway grand piano during several sessions at Apostolic Studios in New York City. The chats were improvised, but they followed Frank’s general thematic guidelines. He amassed eight or nine hours of conversation from which to select; further snippets were heard in a few spots on following albums, but the piano characters returned with prominence on Civilization, Phaze III (1994), which clarified and continued the plot (all the way to the end of the world) from where it had left off on Lumpy Gravy, using old characters from that album and new, freshly recorded “piano people.”

The album features three Mothers; Bunk Gardner plays woodwinds and brass, while the others — Roy Estrada and Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood, the latter often using the voice of his alter-ego, Larry Fanoga (“Almost Chinese, huh!” and “Drums are too noisy when you got no corners to hide in”) — are listed as members of the Chorus. Other enclosed-perspective piano inhabitants are played by studio staff members, Louie the Turkey from the Garrick Theater audience, and Spider Barbour of Chrysalis, another group recording at Apostolic at the time.

Completed in 1967, this two-sided piece featured the earliest commercial appearance of Frank’s orchestral music. Some of the material was even recorded with a fifty-piece Los Angeles orchestra. The album was commissioned by Nik Venet of Capitol Records, who’d formerly signed the Beach Boys. It had been assumed that Frank was contractually free to compose and conduct, since MGM had only signed him as a musician and vocalist along with the rest of the Mothers. The latter company disagreed, threatened to sue, and finally bought the master tapes. It was just as well; Capitol’s engineers had messed up the countless edits, requiring Frank to reconstruct the album. He and engineer Gary Kellgren labored over this unexpected task at Mayfair Studios in New York City. All in all, the release of the album was delayed for over a year.

The album’s title, originally taken from a television commercial for Aloma Linda Gravy Quick, describes Zappa’s upsetting of the “smooth” textures of popular orchestral music. His congealing of dyed-in-the-wool classical forms is achieved through utter compositional freedom, as well as intrusions of hard reality: the “lumps” of the imperfect real world, much more interesting than the dull familiarities of antiquated musical forms. The lumps are the “meat of the matter,” and also happen to be the tastiest part of the gravy. Frank is opting for meat rather than vegetation: substance, not to mention the variety (and humor) of reality, rather than derivative musical uniformity. Upcoming titles will update this idea (Uncle Meat and Burnt Weeny Sandwich most drastically, but also, a bit less directly, Hot Rats and Weasels Ripped My Flesh).

The front-cover photo, backdropped in gravy brown, features Frank in a non-hip, comfortable outfit, staring proudly up at the spectator from his laboratory like a worker after a long day. He’s wearing a shirt occasionally aired onstage that advertises Pipco, a Santa Barbara, California pipe company that has made shirts to sponsor little-league teams (although Frank won’t learn of the shirt’s origins until long after 1967). The clothing-store dummy inside the gatefold hearkens back to the plastic people on Absolutely Free.

The opening theme will return in “Bwana Dik,” a song about a guy’s fixation on penis size, on Fillmore East, June 1971. Sneaking the theme of an album that partially deals with male hang-ups into a song about genitals is characteristically crafty. The subject is also alluded to beyond Motorhead’s monologue on Lumpy Gravy, when a cigar is brought up during Roy and Louie’s dialogue.

The slow, lovely introduction to the instrumental version of “Oh, No” is a revisited 1962 theme that Frank wrote for the World’s Greatest Sinner soundtrack. The snatch of surf guitar that’s heard after Spider says “A bit o’ nostalgia for the old folks!” comes from the 1963 song “Hurricane,” which Frank produced for Conrad and the Hurricane Strings at his Studio Z.

In light of Motorhead’s car-engine reference “Bored out, 90 over,” All-Night John’s later statement, “Round things are boring,” suggests that the word “boring” can be heard as the less apparent verb, rather than the obvious adjective. Elements on the album — the drum, the merry-go-‘round and the vicious circle — are round things; so is the record itself. These things are perhaps now “boring” into the society Frank wishes to infiltrate and change with his music (this optimism will diminish in time). In his 1968 essay “The New Rock,” Frank will write, “It’s something of a paradox that companies which manufacture and distribute this art form (strictly for profit) might one day be changed or controlled by young people who were motivated to action by the products these companies sell.” The ants (round things, in their own ways) on the back cover of 1975’s One Size Fits All are boring into the crumbling cityscape. “Round things are boring” also appears as one of many messages bordering the circular star map on that back cover; the confinement of such a limitless place that “fits all” as the universe (or music) to a convenient, measureable shape just to accommodate our filtered minds is boring in the dull sense. (See the section on Apostrophe (‘) for more on boring, round stuff.)

The second half’s opening vocal, which sounds like an attempt by a drunk guy to sing along with the mainstream music that’s been darting in and out — something like “ba-BOMP-BODDY!” — will, with the release of The Lost Episodes (1996), be revealed as a fragment of “Ronnie Sings?”, a recording of Frank’s boyhood friend Ronnie Williams (who introduced him to Paul Buff of Pal Studios, which eventually became Studio Z) making rough-throated scat sounds to Frank’s guitar accompaniment in an Ontario living room in 1961 or ‘62. Ronnie’s booger-saving, fart-lighting and accidental urine-creature-making activities will figure among the subjects of “Let’s Make the Water Turn Black” on the Money album; that song will also cut momentarily to the voice. It figures into the Lumpy Gravy plot as a “little pig with wings” (even though it sounds more like a goat with emphysema).

The pig will fly around inside the piano again on Civilization, Phaze III. In 1974, Frank will record a long, comical piece called “The Adventures of Greggery Peccary,” concerning a pig who sits in his office and comes up with trends to sell to the gullible consumers of the world. When talking about the pigs not being able to question any part of their system, lest their livelihoods be threatened (the perspective-clouding “smoke” must remain), Spider mentions “that thing on their neck,” a precursor to the tie markings on Greggery.

“Merry-Go-‘Round” was a song by Wild Man Fischer, a discovery of Zappa’s who would eventually record the tune for an album on Frank’s Straight label. A funny-farm alumnus, Fischer wrote simplistic, nursery rhyme-type tunes. Spider’s statement about robotic servitude, presumably to either work or fashion — “The thing is to put a motor in yourself” — refers back to Motorhead’s automobile tales earlier on the album, as well as “Merry-Go-‘Round.”

Louie’s excited recount of ponies trying to kill him ends up as a joke, when he talks about picking up sticks to throw at his assailants, and Roy interrupts with “Pick-Up Sticks?”. Mentioning the childhood game refers back to the groping for innocence in “Merry-Go-‘Round,” as well as Motorhead’s earlier line about getting “another pickup.” (Even this could be double-edged, considering the nature of his recollections; girls are “picked up.”)

Roy’s “Amen” is included as a reference to the name of the studio, Apostolic. The stanza that ends with “Just one more time” features Captain Beefheart’s vocals from Studio Z, circa 1963.

Chris Federico

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Rolling Stone – “Grateful Dead Records” (1967)

September 24, 2009 at 7:11 pm (Music, Reviews & Articles, The Grateful Dead)


A Nov. 23, 1967 news item from the 2nd issue of Rolling Stone. Writer unknown (could be Jann Wenner…?). Notice 2 things in this brief article – the misspelling of “New Potato Caboose” and mention of Simon & Garfunkel possibly working with The Dead, on what was to eventually become their Anthem of the Sun album…  


The Grateful Dead hopes to have some new records out soon, particularly a single in November and an LP in January. If the group obtains the approval of Warner Brothers, the January release will be a two-record set chock full o’ goodies.

Some of the titles already recorded for the LP include “Alligator,” “No Potato Caboose,” and “Dark Star.” The single is an as yet unnamed original tune.

Live tracks may also be included. Warner Brothers is setting up an eight-track remote tape unit at concerts the Dead are doing November 10 and 11 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The Dead hopes to include a marching band on their LP and make use of the arranging talents of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, who have indicated a desire to help the Dead while in Los Angeles during November.

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The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy for the Devil” (Trailer – 1968)

September 24, 2009 at 9:30 am (Cinema, Music, The Rolling Stones)

The trailer for the Jean-Luc Godard rockumentary of The Stones from 1968. Also known as One Plus One

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President Obama’s Weekly Address (Sept. 19, 2009)

September 20, 2009 at 12:13 am (Life & Politics)

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Jim Morrison – “The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)”

September 19, 2009 at 10:04 pm (Jim Morrison, Poetry & Literature)

I wanna tell you ’bout Texas Radio and the Big Beat
Comes out of the Virginia swamps
Cool and slow with plenty of precision
With a back beat narrow and hard to master
Some call it heavenly in it’s brilliance
Others, mean and ruthful of the Western dream
I love the friends I have gathered together on this thin raft
We have constructed pyramids in honor of our escaping
This is the land where the Pharaoh died
The Negroes in the forest, brightly feathered
They are saying, “Forget the night.
Live with us in forests of azure.
Out here on the perimeter there are no stars
Out here we is stoned – immaculate.”
Listen to this, and I’ll tell you ’bout the heartache
I’ll tell you ’bout the heartache and the loss of God
I’ll tell you ’bout the hopeless night
The meager food for souls forgot
I’ll tell you ’bout the maiden with raw iron soul
I’ll tell you this
No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn
I’ll tell you ’bout Texas Radio and the Big Beat
Soft drivin’, slow and mad, like some new language
Now, listen to this, and I’ll tell you ’bout the Texas
I’ll tell you ’bout the Texas Radio
I’ll tell you ’bout the hopeless night
Wandering the Western dream
Tell you ’bout the maiden with raw iron soul.

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