Wednesday, October 29, 2014

G Chug

I haven't recorded much lately but this song sounded pretty good in the car. I probably recorded this 5 or 6 years ago. "G Chug" is a setting on my Fender G-DEC amp and I like its crunchiness. The default rhythm that comes with it is relentless and it seems to dictate what the guitar is doing.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Boston Trilogy 2014

Jimmy Webb wrote a book about songwriting back in 1998 called TUNESMITH and thanks to Gavin O'Keefe's recommending it to me, I finally read it. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had taught myself many of the tricks he advocated. In fact, it reminded me that one of my old songs from the early 70s was written on the piano with Glen Campbell in mind, and it was Jimmy Webb songs that made Campbell into one of the biggest cross-over stars of that time. So I redid "Boston Trilogy" and asked Gavin to add some viola and voila! A Knees Calhoon Jimmy Webblike song.


Back in the 90s when I recorded just about all of my original songs on a Yamaha 4-track cassette recorder, I did this song for the first time. Is the 2014 version better? That's the question I ask myself every time I redo a song.




Thursday, September 11, 2014

Maybe It's the Wind

In the future, which is now, when books are digitized and transmitted as a couple of million bytes of data, will there be any excuse for listing the words of a song in a book and NOT providing an mp3 (or whatever) so the reader can hear the song as he reads it?

Back in the mid-60s when Jim Thompson wrote SOUTH OF HEAVEN he may have had a melody and arrangement in mind for this song, but only the lyrics were included in the book. That was then. Here in 2014 when Knees Calhoon spied the lyrics, which conveniently rhymed and had rhythm, he decided to see how they sounded sung over the first chord pattern that occurred to him.


Knees' Disclaimer: I moved some of the lines around to get the song to fit a three-verse pattern. I have a feeling that the song, as imagined and maybe produced by Jim Thompson, was more sophisticated, and probably better, than my version. It's doubtful that Jim would have opted for two vocal lines, an octave apart, each run through a harmonizer that raised the bass one and lowered the high one. It's reminiscent of one of my favorite scenes from Get Smart. Max is getting some spy equipment from Carlson for an assignment where he'll be undercover as a reporter. He gets a camera (which Carlson explains is actually a tape recorder) and a tape recorder (which is a camera). Max asks Carlson why he didn't keep the camera a camera and the recorder a recorder and Carlson replies: "Because my mind doesn't work that way."

It's not easy to decipher my singing so here are the lyrics, copyright by Jim Thompson

A while ago as I sat there, counting the cracks in the floor,
Trying to blot out the future, to forget all that happened before,
I heard a baby crying, and I saw a face I’d known.
But the kid was dead and the face and head were crying there alone.
Wailing in infinite sorrow, sucking its finger tips
Till nothing was left but the marrow and the feebly gnawing lips,
But maybe it’s the wind, kid. Maybe it’s the wind.

The devil and a bearded saint peeked through the door at me.
The devil had a smoky taint, the saint a golden key.
The devil laughed, and he said to him, “I keep all whom I take.”
And he bound me there to that very chair with a ten-foot rattlesnake,
Then I heard the woman’s scream when the club came down on her back,
And the starving hounds on the grassy mounds where the dead fight off attack,
But maybe it’s the wind, kid. Maybe it’s the wind.

Maybe it’s the wind that aching hungry breeze
That blows all hell loose through the lid of one contagious sneeze?
Or the gasps for breath as the rope brings death while mob-fire turns bodies black,
Or the mad men, the bad men, and the sad and the glad men who rape and murder and sack,
Where the bombs explode and the shells erode where the sinned-against have sinned,
But maybe. Just Maybe. Maybe it’s the wind.
Maybe it's the wind.
Maybe it's the wind.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cherokee Fiddle

I like doing songs I have an attachment to, for one reason or another. Cherokee Fiddle was written by Michael Martin Murphy in the early 80s and was a big hit by Johnny Lee in the Midnight Cowboy movie. It's about a guy who played fiddle for tips in Durango CO when the train came in filled with tourists. His name was Scooter. I saw him play many times and a few times he played a song or two with my band at the Palace Cabaret or Francisco's in the early 70s.


From the first time I heard this song I knew it was about Scooter, but to be sure I asked Michael Murphy and he assured me it was, although he mainly remembered seeing Scooter in Silverton. I asked him in Las Cruces NM in the mid 80s when he was in town for a concert and judging a songwriting contest. I saw the concert -- fantastic -- and the song I played electric piano on won the contest.

 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blackbird

In keeping with my tradition of doing songs I should not do, may I present a Paul McCartney song. I've always been fascinated by the chords he plays in this song and when I got the Beatle book with all of the scores written accurately, I finally had a chance to learn the song properly. Unfortunately, though I learned how to form the chords, I never have been able to play them rhythmically. Only three strings are played at a time -- the rest are muted -- and I never could get it right. So I used Band in a Box for the drums and bass, and played the rhythm using standard chords. Then I added the real chords as "stings". To make the stings more accurate, I actually recorded the drums, bass, rhythm and stings at about half speed, then sped the song up with Audacity's Tempo Change (which doesn't change the key of the song) to add the vocals.

 
As you may or may not know, I've been on a Beatle kick since reading Volume One of Mark Lewisohn's trilogy of Beatle history, TUNE IN. Then I got the huge book he wrote in the 90s listing technical data on all of the Abbey Road sessions. I'm still mired in it. Fascinating!

My fantasy: What if Paul were to spend an hour speed-listening to my 60 original songs and picking out the 18 that he thinks we could do the best. Then we spend a week at Abbey Road with him producing the album, playing drums, bass and whatever else he might want, and maybe adding some harmonies. At the end of the week we'd have a super album of originals that otherwise would never be heard outside of a few people I know. Surely it would be better than what's played on the airwaves now.

I imagine every state has several old songwriters like me who scribbled some sketchy songs in the past 50 years that have gone relatively unheard and unrecorded. Instead of hunting for the next perky video star, maybe it might be more fruitful for music moguls to find a trove of almost-forgotten masterpieces? I bet there are thousands of them out there.

Finally, everything about this song is shoddy compared to the McCartney version. I should be shot. Gavin O'Keefe added a viola solo to the instrumental verse and I outscreeched it with my ES-335 set at Blues House distortion. Here's an earlier take of the song without the ill-advised guitar and viola.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Long Black Veil

One of my favorite songs with a plot, Long Black Veil is a lot more modern than you might think. It was written in 1959 by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkins and it's so well done that it sounds like a classic 19th century hillbilly anthem. Thanks to Gavin O'Keefe's haunting viola chops this version seems to have banshees flying through the trees above the lonely graveyard.

 

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Family Values Polka

I don't really know what to call this song. It might have been called "Hooray, My Father's Going to Be Hung". Back in the 70s when the Calhoon Brothers used to play it at the Las Cruces Inn we called it "The Perverse Polka". I found the song in a 25 cent paperback book back in the early 60s when I was just learning folk guitar and was always looking for chord books. I wish I still had the book, (something like "Fifty Famous Folk Songs") since it might have had more tunes with lyrics like these. It had simple piano notation and chords so I think the melody I'm using is close to what the actual folk song's was. 


I think there were four verses in the book but felt I needed to flesh out the family a bit and added the ones for the sister and family. Then I apparently abducted the Chipmunks and forced them to sing it for me.



Hooray! Hooray! My father’s gonna be hung
Hooray! Hooray! The dirty lyin bum.
He was oh so mean to me when I was very young.
Hooray! Hooray! They’re gonna hang my father.

Hooray! Hooray! My mother’s gonna be shot.
Hooray! Hooray! The filthy drunken sot.
She was oh so mean to me when I was just a tot.
Hooray! Hooray! They’re gonna shoot my mother.

Hooray! Hooray! My brother’s gonna be destroyed.
Hooray! Hooray! That nasty little boy.
He always used to try on me the things he read in Freud
Hooray! Hooray! They’re gonna wreck my brother.

Hooray! Hooray! My sister’s gonna be maimed.
Hooray! Hooray! That stuck-up vicious dame.
She would torture all our pets and make me take the blame.
Hooray! Hooray! They’re gonna maim my sister.

Hooray! Hooray! My uncle’s gonna be hurt.
Hooray! Hooray! That creepy sex pervert.
He was oh so free with me when I was just a squirt.
Hooray! Hooray! They’re gonna hurt my uncle.

Hooray! Hooray! My family’s gonna be wiped out
Hooray! Hooray! We deserve it all, no doubt
It’s a wonder we didn’t kill each other when I was just a sprout
Hooray! Hooray! They’re gonna wipe out my family.
 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Talking All-Knowing Dude

At the same time I made Pomp and Circumflex I did another tune like it, but this time in a C&W mood. I called it "The All-knowing Dude" and it contains the obligatory guitars in the background with dialog over it that was captured from Jim Weiler's trip to Utah or some other tedious state. The words made sense when Jim spoke them into a microphone as he drove, but by the time they had been transferred to a computer and analyzed and deciphered by software, they came out a little different. But maybe they still make sense to some of us?


 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Talking Pomp and Circumflex

I'm sorry to subject you to this but this song has been on my hard drive for a few years and it's time it made it up into the cloud. Here's the Pomp and Circumflex story.

Back in 1999 or so I wanted to play some over-the-top guitar on top of a slow, soulful background -- sort of like Roy Buchanan used to do -- so I laid down a dozen or more verses of the first "Hotel California"-like chord progression that occurred to me. Drums, bass and organ. Then I played over it twice with what I considered consenting guitars. To me it sounded like the perfect music for a porn film and I called the song "Pomp and Circumflex".

But I wasn't satisfied. I needed some lyrics -- 9 minutes' worth. Luckily, at that time my friend Jim Weiler just returned from a solo road trip out Utah way and while driving in his Toyota Tacoma he recorded his impressions. And he probably added some homespun philosophy. It's hard to tell because he played the mini-cassette recording of his trip, which had plenty of truck noise behind his voice, on cheap speakers and used the prevailing voice recognition software of the time to come up with a transcription for me. 

I believe there is some underlying truth to the lyrics, but perhaps not the truth that Jim meant. What do you say?


  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Altar Boy Blues

For some reason I felt inspired last Saturday and wrote the lyrics of a song, then recorded the song today. As is my habit, I picked the first melody that occurred to me and since it's a blues song, it's probably the first melody that would occur to anyone. The lyrics were easy to write since I was writing about something I used to know something about: being an altar boy and having to get up at 6 a.m. to serve 6:30 mass. I never had any problems with the priests back in the 50s -- the nuns were the ones I had to watch out for -- but the current zeitgeist dictates that I suggest a bit of debauchery in the priest/altar boy relationship, so I did.


To provide a bit of 1950ish Catholic ambience I decided to add, as a roving chorus, a lone voice intoning the Latin responses that altar boys of the pre-1960s era had to say in response to the priest's ejaculations. After almost 60 years I still remember most of them by heart, sad to say. 

Okay, because of popular demand, here are two more versions of the song.



ALTAR BOY BLUES


Well you wake up inna mornin
Gotta serve that early mass
If you don’t make it by 5:30,
Father Damien will have yo ass,
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till dat priest done said his piece
You his prisoner and his slave.

Well you put on a grimy cassock
And a surplice with big sleeves
Then you light up all the candles
And get down upon your knees,
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till dat priest done had his fill
You his prisoner and his slave.

Well you answerin all his questions
In some crazy ancient tongue
When all you wanna say is
“Lemme outta here while I’m young,”
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till dat priest has done his deed
You his prisoner and his slave.

The time rolls by so slow
And you keep watchin yo behind,
The priest’s got Latin on his lips
But Greek is on his mind.
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till that priest done seen his god
You his prisoner and his slave.

Well de mass is finally over
You stop feeling like a fool
You just got one more year of this
Den you can go to public school
You got the altar boys blues
Ain’t no joy for you today
Till that priest done say Amen
You his partner and his slave.
Let em get you when you young
You’ll be servin to your grave
If you let em have their way with you
You gonna serve your life away.
  


The LATIN LOW MASS — Altar Boy’s Responses

Ad Deum qui laetificat, juventutem meam.
Quia tu es, Deus, fortitude mea: quare me repulisti, et quare tristis incedo, dum affligit me inimicus?
Et introibo ad altare Dei: Ad Deam qui laetificat juventutem meam.
Spera in Deos quoniam adhuc confetibor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper: et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
Ad Deum qui laetificat, juventutem meam.
Qui fecit caelum et terram.
Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam. Amen.
Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beate Mariae semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistae, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi, Pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opera mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos et te, Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
Amen. Amen.
Et plebs tua laetabitur in te.
Et salutare tuum da nobis.
Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
Et cum spiritu tuo.
Kyrie, eleison. Christe, eleison. Christe, eleison. Kyrie, eleison.
Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostrum, totsiusque Ecclesiae suae sanctae.
Habemus ad Dominum.
Dignum et justum est.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus, Deus Sabbaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra Gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domine. Hosanna in excelsis.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Standing

I've been concentrating on books lately and neglecting my music but I managed to squeeze out a song over the weekend before my computer started giving me fits. So this is the final version of this song written by Joss Whedon and sung by Anthony Head in "Once More with Feeling", the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I need to do every track over, but with my computer injecting audible glitches at random times I'm pretty sure I'm retiring this song and probably looking into getting another computer.


As I approach my 70s I find that I have to lower every song a few keys because I can't sing as high as I used to. So even though I knew the song was in F (I have the chord book for the episode) I tried it in D and found that there are no high notes in the melody. The song sounded quite dull and lifeless with me singing so low. So I did it again in F and it has a bit more zest to it now. It made me feel young again, singing a song in its original key.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

And the Firm Soil Win of the Wat'ry Main

This is the third song I wrote for the April project for the Cover Album Project Band, giving me a trio of tunes with strange titles: The Advantage on the Kingdom of the Shore, That Time Will Come and Take My Love Away, and now, And the Firm Soil Win of the Wat'ry Main. For this third song, I let myself be inspired by a particular "style" in Band in a Box called "Dr. John". The program plays the piano, drums and bass so well I kept them all for the audio, and only added guitars, organ and vocals.

I can't wait until all 14 of the lines in Shakespeare's Sonnet #64 are turned into original songs by the members of the group so I can listen to them as an album on the stereo of my new 2010 Impala.


Words and music by Knees Calhoon


Inspired by line 7 of Sonnet #64 by William Shakespeare

Oh de tide roll in
And de tide roll out
Like a kitchen door
In a crabshack down sout'
Dere ain’t no lotion
Like de ocean, when yo dry.

Oh de land grow slow
And de water flow fas’
Dey each one race
Don’ wanna come in las’
And dere ain’t no motion
Like de ocean, Ah tell you why.

And the firm soil win of the wat’ry main
What de hell kind of language is dat?
But you ask anyone and dey’ll all say
Dat Shakespeare was some groovy cat.

Oh you got ebb and flow
All night and day
You got to and fro
Every which a way
And dere ain’t no potion
Like de ocean, when yo high.

And the firm soil win of the wat’ry main
Shakespeare musta been quite a sight
Throwin’ out words jus’ like a man insane
Took him 64 tries to get it right.

So let’s say hello
To our frien’ de moon
It’s a summer night
He’ll be rising soon
And dere ain’t no notion
Like de ocean, when you die.
  

And the firm soil win of the wat’ry, wat'ry main

Here's a link to the video I made for the group:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Carmelita

My daughter Naomi and her family are in Vancleave visiting and the great duo of Fender and Naomi once again got together for a song. (See "Sometimes You Just Cain't Win" from the December 2012 blog.) This time it's a classic stoner song written by Warren Zevon. It turned out so well Naomi and I are planning another vacation for her that will result in a dozen or so of our quaint duets.

 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

If the Satellite Went Down Tonight

This is a song done for the Cover Album Project Band's latest monthly challenge, Someone You Used to Know. I suggested the topic because I wanted to do a Knees Calhoon version of a song by Terry Törnblom called "If the Satellite Went Down Tonight". So I took Terry's clear, simple song and added tracks until it was properly overproduced, and voila!


 Here is a link to the video on YouTube:


 


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Willin'

I don't know why I did this song other than it is a great old tune and it fits in with some of my other covers. I used the keyboard for the bass and actually played some piano, something I've been away from for the past few years.


 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

That Time Will Come and Take My Love Away

I picked another line from Sonnet #64 to do, and this time it was actually a more normal line: "That time will come and take my love away." That's a fairly bleak sentiment and the words I wrote all pretty much echo it, blaming time for all that we lose in life. But, ironically, I seem to have come up with the happiest, bounciest music I've done in years to go with the dreary lyrics. I call it "artistic juxtaposition". But mainly I just strung together some 80s cliches and used my favorite guitar setting on the Fender G-Dec amp: Blues House. Fun times.


Baby I saw it comin
It came screamin out of the dawn

Time was just playin a game with me
It was movin me like a pawn
Just when I thought I had it all worked out
I was just about to make my play
Time come along and take my love away.

We wuz just two young fools in love
From the very first day we met
We thought we’d live forever
We were ridin out a sure bet
But now there ain’t no doubt about it
Sure as nighttime follow day
Time’s Gonna Come and Take My Love Away

I told you all about my plans
All the things I was gonna be
You tole me that you shared the dream
And you’d do it all with me
But we wuz just kids, foolin ourselves
And sure as nighttime follow day
Dat Time Gonna Come and Take Yo Love Away

Baby we saw it comin
It came screamin outa the dawn
Time was just playin a game with me
It was movin me like a pawn
Just when I thought I had it all worked out
I was just about to make my play
Time come along an take my love away
That Time Will Come And Take My Love Away.


And of course, if you prefer to see the video I made for the project, here it is.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Advantage on the Kingdom of the Shore

Here's the deal: we (an online music-making group called the Cover Album Project Band) picked a Shakespearean sonnet, #64, and each picked a line from it to inspire an original song. For an added frisson, the song was supposed to feature the ii - V - I chord progression prominently. My line was "The Advantage of the Kingdom of the Shore" and here is what resulted.


Gavin O'Keefe, the Ramble House artist, provided the soaring eagle and seagull calls on his viola.
 

Who wouldn’t want to live
Where the tide sets the pace
Who wouldn’t want to hear
The ocean’s vibrant roar
Who wouldn’t want to have the great advantage
The advantage on the kingdom of the shore.

Who wouldn’t want to lie
In a gentle valley
Who wouldn’t want to fly
Up where the eagles soar
Who wouldn’t want to have the great advantage
The advantage on the kingdom of the shore.

Mountains to the east
Ocean to the west
Livin on the edge of land
Is like ridin on the crest
Of a wave that never ends
And never asks for more
It’s the seacoast advantage
On the Kingdom of the Shore

Who wouldn’t want to fight
With the water at your back
Who wouldn’t want to know
About the times that went before
Who wouldn’t want to take the great advantage
The advantage on the kingdom of the shore.

Desert to the east
Water to the west
Livin on the coast
Is like flyin on the crest
Of a wave that never ends
And always knows the score
It’s the seacoast advantage
On the Kingdom of the Shore

 

 Here is a video I made for the CAPB:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You

I was inspired to do this old Bob Dylan tune by hearing it done by Hit & Run, a band I was in back in the mid-70s in Farmington NM. I had found an old reel-to-reel tape of a night at Dizzyland Liquors (Dizzy's) and it brought back some wonderful memories. I asked Gavin O'Keefe to add a viola part, especially on the choruses, and our system of sharing files between Mississippi and Maine seems to be working.


Here's how it sounded back in 1974 at Dizzy's with Hit & Run playing it. Fender on guitar and vocals; Bill Smith on bass and vocals; Johnny Cunningham on drums.

TONIGHT I'LL BE STAYIN (HIT & RUN) 

You can hear the whole night at Dizzy's at this link:

 
 
 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Honks

I actually recorded these back in June of 2006 not long after I bought a new amp, a Fender G-Dec, that had drums and all kinds of effects built-in. Back then I was recording a song a night and calling them "Nightsongs". I used to have them up at the Ramble House web site but I phased them out when I started Knees Calhoon's Midnight Ramble.

It occurred to me that I rarely play any solos in the songs I've been covering, so here's some picking, the way I did it back in 2006.


Bill Jourdan, a great and wise steel guitar player I used to play with in 1966, and I were listening to a Dixieland song one time and I remarked that it sounded like everybody was soloing all at once. "That's exactly right," Bill said. So, in that spirit, I recorded about a half dozen solos over the same bass-drums track and played them all at the same time.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Holy Man Part 2

Our previous song was written by Richard A. Lupoff back in the 60s and recently put to music by Knees Calhoon. But when Dick heard the tune he was inspired all over again and wrote three more verses for it, bringing it up to date, in a sense. I first thought about redoing the whole song as a nine-minute opus, a la THE UPCHUCK BLOWOUT WEST TEXAS HIGHWAY BLUES but luckily I had an epiphany before I spent too much time trying to play guitar or sing for 9 minutes straight without making a major mistake. My epiphany? Stevie Wonder. Didn't li'l Stevie put out his first big song, FINGERTIPS, as Part 1 and Part 2? Didn't a song that was written in two parts, 50 years apart, deserve to be considered a masterpiece and sequel, like the Godfather stories? Yes. So here's how the night that began as a drugged-out ritual of exploration ended up, two generations later.


Ommmmm Ommmmm Holy man, Oh Holy man
Ommmmm Ommmmm Get you high Oh yes he can

The years flew by, you’d think I’d hit the big fast-forward key
I look into the mirror and I say, this cannot be
My rocker friends no longer rock, I can’t believe they’re gone
But Bob and Nick have left this world, and Jerry too, and John
Old Mozart seems my meat these days, my energy is low
And weed no longer moves my soul, the time moves much too slow
The kids I see on TV now, I feel more like their father
And if they try to show me how I tell them not to bother

Ommmmm Ommmmm Holy man, Oh Holy man
Ommmmm Ommmmm Get you high Oh yes he can

The politics that once outraged, I called for revolution
Now I’ll leave it for somebody else to work out the solution
I’d rather drink a glass of wine and read a good whodunit
Than climb into a hotrod car and hit the gas and gunnit
But someone needs to raise his fist and smash the social order
And call upon the decent folks who wait there at the border
And so I’ll leave it up to you to keep the banner flying
And keep on living all your life and never think of dying

Ommmmm Ommmmm Holy man, Oh Holy man
Ommmmm Ommmmm Get you high Oh yes he can

It’s been a great and happy life, to start with Benny Goodman
Scarecrow, and Beast, and Toto too, and don’t forget the Tin Woodman
The lady that I met that night, her guru was a wizard
He got me high, he laid me low, my head was in a blizzard
She’s with me still, our life has been a long fantastic pleasure
Our kids are grown, they’re on their own, each one’s been a treasure
And so I leave you to your chores, do everything in style
So when at last you close your eyes you do it with a smile.

Ommmmm Ommmmm Holy man, Oh Holy man
Ommmmm Ommmmm Get you high Oh yes he can

 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Holy Man

We've got a real treat for you here at the Midnight Ramble, a long-forgotten song by a famous writer done up modern-style by Knees Calhoon. Richard A. Lupoff is the famous writer and if you've been into SF, mystery, fandom, criticism, ERB or radio during the past 60 years, you know of Dick Lupoff and his works. Ramble House has published several of his books and now he shows his chops as a songwriter.

The lyrics were written by Dick back in the late 60s and John Cippolina of Quicksilver Messenger Service played around with some chords for it, but it was never recorded. Dick had forgotten all about it until he found a carbon copy of the lyrics while looking through his files. He sent them to me and I, of course, laid down some tracks, using the first chords and melody that occurred to me. Here's what resulted:


After I'd done the drums and bass with Band in a Box and added guitars and vocals I sent the MP3 to Gavin O'Keefe in Maine and he added some viola parts to the choruses. That's how it's done in 2013. It might get even better in 2014. 

Ommmmm Ommmmm
Holy man, oh Holy man
Ommmmm Ommmmm
Get you high oh yes he can

A lady took me home with her to see a holy man
He lived upstairs in a big old house that used to be a band’s
She said he’d get me super high, he’d put my head on straight
I think it was Mill Valley or it might have been the Haight
He let me in the door, I saw he had a holy look
He made me sit down on the floor and read a holy book
He started in to talk to me, I said I get the point
He performed a holy sacrament and handed me a joint.


Ommmmm Ommmmm
Holy man, oh Holy man
Ommmmm Ommmmm
Get you high oh yes he can

I looked around the room, the music must have been The Dead
It isn’t for your ears, he said, it’s strictly for your head
I coughed and asked him for a coke to ease my coughing spell
He said he never sold his coke to any infidel
He lit a funny candle just to make me feel at home
He looked me straight between the eyes and made me say an om
He handed me a bowl of rice – get ready for the land!
I said I’m just a rock and roll musician in a band.


Ommmmm Ommmmm
Holy man, oh Holy man
Ommmmm Ommmmm
Get you high oh yes he can

He looked like I’d spit on the floor, his face was a tip-off
That heavy ego-trip you’re on is an energy rip-off
The karma of your vibes is bad, you better meditate
Upon the great mandala, man, before it gets too late
Just then my lady friend came back with some ginseng tea
The holy man took one red cup and offered some to me
Before I took it from his hand I said – Here is where I stand
I’ll never make no holy man, I’ll just rock it with my band.


Ommmmm Ommmmm
Holy man, oh Holy man
Ommmmm Ommmmm
Get you high oh yes he can.


 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The House at Pooh Corner

This is one of my favorite songs by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band who were probably Colorado's biggest band back in the 70s. They seemed to us in Durango as the kind of band we wanted to be -- not very commercial but still hip. I sort of threw the song together and played some keyboard in place of a wahwah guitar. I could have sworn I had a wahwah pedal but it must have gotten mislaid when we moved from Shreveport 5 years ago. This song has good words and chords and should be redone by some modern band.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sometimes You Just Cain't Win

This song has a history and I'll try to keep it short. The first time I heard it was early 1970, when I and my pregnant wife, Joyce, were living in Farmington NM. I had just gotten out of the army and we were pondering our future. I had an offer of an electronics job from National Cash Register but it was in Gallup NM. We were living in a $50 a month rent house on Vine Street, about three blocks north of Main, and right there on Main Street was The Copper Penny, a bar once owned by a good friend of the Tucker family.

So one Friday night I walked down to the Penny and checked out the band. Before I went into the army in March of 1967 I had played in a couple of bars in town. I asked if I could sit in on a couple of numbers and it was fun. I hadn't played in a bar in over three years. At the break the bass player, Max Herrera, came over and spoke the immortal words, "Hey Fenner, wanna play some lead?" Of course I wanted to play some lead.

The job was in Cortez CO, about 70 miles away. Friday and Saturday night, $35 a night. The band was Max, a drummer, me and the front man, Smoky Stover. None of us knew the other, but Smoky knew many old C&W songs that were quite easy to follow. It was an excellent, low-pressure opportunity for me to teach myself some C&W licks.

The job lasted for the rest of the year and I got to know Smoky. He had been a "lawman" most of his life, but loved to sing so he did them both somehow. He even wrote some tunes and one of them was recorded by George Jones.


Smoky and his wife and I would drive up to Cortez every Friday and Saturday and she'd sit next to the bandstand, and Smoky would put on his huge cowboy hat and start singing. On the breaks I'd go out and smoke. It was a great way to spend those nights and $280 a month wasn't bad, either.

Later on, Linda Ronstadt sang the song on an album and my daughter, Naomi, used to sing it around the house when we were living on Gallagher Street in Las Cruces NM. I happen to have a recording we made on the 4th of July when Naomi was a teenager. Maybe 1985? You can tell it's the 4th because on the recording is the sound of a bottle rocket going off in the street outside the house.