Posts Tagged ‘RIP’

“Money Becomes King” is one of those “pithy, hard-headed songs” the late Tom Petty will be remembered for.

Back when I taught Principles of Economics, I started each class with a musical representation of economic ideas, with songs from a wide variety of musicians ranging from John Lee Hooker and Johnny Cash to The Kinks and The Coup—and Petty.

If you reach back in your memory
A little bell might ring
About a time that once existed
When money wasn’t king
If you stretch your imagination
I’ll tell you all a tale
About a time when everything
Wasn’t up for sale

There was this cat named Johnny
Who loved to play and sing
When money wasn’t king.

We’d all get so excited
When John would give a show
We’d raise the cash between us
And down the road we’d go
To hear him play that music
It spoke right to my soul
Every verse a diamond
And every chorus gold

The sound was my salvation
It was only everything
Before money became king.

Well I ain’t sure how it happened
And I don’t know exactly when
But everything got bigger
And the rules began to bend
And the TV taught the people
How to get their hair to shine
And how sweet life can be
If you keep a tight behind

And they raised the cost of living
And how could we have known
They’d double the price of tickets
To go see Johnny’s show?

So we hocked all our possessions
And we sold a little dope
And went off to rock ‘n’ roll.

We arrived there early
In time to see rehearsal
And John came out and lip-synched
His new lite-beer commercial
And as the crowd arrived
As far as I could see
The faces were all different
There was no one there like me

They sat in golden circles
And waiters served them wine
And talked through all the music
And to John paid little mind
And way up in the nosebleeds
We watched upon the screen
They hung between the billboards
So cheaper seats could see

Johnny rocked that golden circle
And all those VIPs
And that music that had freed us
Became a tired routine
And I saw his face in close-up
Tryin’ to give it all he had
Sometimes his eyes betrayed him
You could see that he was sad

And I tried to rock on with him
But I slowly became bored
Could that man on stage with everything
Somehow need some more?

There was no use in pretending
No magic left to hear
All the music gave me
Was a craving for lite-beer
As I walked out of the arena
My ears began to ring
And money became king.

And here’s a performance, albeit unrelated to economic representations, that shouldn’t be missed or forgotten:

RIP in 2016

Posted: 5 January 2017 in Uncategorized
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“Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!” was Joe Hill’s advice to “Big Bill” Haywood in one of the last telegrams he sent before being executed in 1915.

But that doesn’t mean we should fail to mark notable deaths in 2016. Here are some of the ones I noted on the blog:

Paul Kantner

Jazz Record Mart

Gato Barbieri

Merle Haggard

Daniel Berrigan

Rudy Van Gelder

Fred Hellerman

Speaking of Joe Hill, here are two songs—one from a famous singer who’s no longer with us, and one from someone who fortunately still is. . .

Fred Hellerman was best known as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter with the folk group the Weavers from the late 1940s to the mid-60s. During and after the group’s existence, however, he also maintained a varied career behind the scenes in the music industry that included working as an arranger, session musician, and producer. In addition to writing songs for other performers, he also contributed music to motion pictures and the theater.

During the Red Scare, when the Weavers were barred from television, Hellerman was forced to record under the pseudonym Bob Hill.

The usual assumption is that the Weavers started their recording career with Gordon Jenkins at Decca Records, adapting their folk sound into an early-50s popular style but this song, from disc one of Goodnight Irene:The Weavers, 1949-1953, dispels this notion, going back to the quartet’s true recording debut, for Charter Records in 1949.

Rudy Van Gelder RIP

Posted: 28 August 2016 in Uncategorized
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Most of what I know of and appreciate in modern-classic jazz was made possible by recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder [ht: sw].

In Van Gelder’s hands, even the most furious music maintains a refined clarity, a center of calm assurance amid the turbulence. . .

And so it was, in both studio sessions (such as Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch) and live recordings (like John Coltrane’s Live At The Village Vanguard). 

“O Death” was one of the most haunting pieces of music ever sung by the late Ralph Stanley.

It’s also the appropriate theme after yesterday’s Brexit vote—the political stunt by David Cameron that will now have the anti-immigrant “take control” forces in Europe braying for more.

Trump

And, according to some, it helps explains Donald Trump’s popularity in the United States.

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For those of us of a certain age, especially those of us raised in Catholic households, Father Daniel Berrigan—through his activism and poetry, against war and militarism, racism, poverty and inequality—was one of the true consciences of a church and a nation.

Merle Haggard RIP

Posted: 6 April 2016 in Uncategorized
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Merle Haggard was, for me, the undisputed king of the Bakersfield sound.

Merle Haggard, one of the most successful singers in the history of country music, a contrarian populist whose songs about his scuffling early life and his time in prison made him the closest thing that the genre had to a real-life outlaw hero, died at his home in California, on Wednesday, his 79th birthday. . .

Mr. Haggard had an immense influence on other performers — not just other country singers but also ’60s rock bands like the Byrds and the Grateful Dead, as well as acts like Elvis Costello and the Mekons, all of whom recorded Mr. Haggard’s songs. Some 400 artists have released versions of his 1968 hit “Today I Started Loving You Again.”

He was always the outsider. His band was aptly named the Strangers.