Friday, April 26, 2013

Who's Roscoe Holcomb?

who's Roscoe Holcomb?

let's start with this...
have you ever heard the phrase
"high, lonesome sound"?

Roscoe is the man that was first described
as having it, by John Cohen

Why was it you stopped playing music for a while?

     They (Baptists) seemed to think it was wrong.  I used
to think it was too.  I get disgusted with it yet, cause I try
and try and it don’t seem I’m doing good at it, and get
disgusted and think sometimes I’ll quit anyway.  I like it
and I don’t like it;  I love to hear it and I love to play

sometimes, but after so long a time I get burned out
with it. 
Long as I’m able to work and do, it ain’t so bad – been
used to it all my life.  When I can’t do nothing it worries
me and you don’t feel like playing anymore.

read the rest of this interview
with Mr. Holcomb here:

- 30 -


Bob Dylan says music "ain't worth nothing anyway'."

Acoustics, they are a-changin',
complains unhappy Dylan

Legend derides 20 years
of 'atrocious' recordings
- including his own

Oliver Burkeman in New York
Thursday August 24, 2006
The Guardian

Forty years ago, at a Manchester concert,
an outraged folk music purist yelled "Judas!"
at Bob Dylan when he put down his acoustic
guitar and plugged in an electric one.

Now, though, it is Dylan's turn to berate
modern music technology: in an interview published this week,
the 65-year-old songwriter dubs modern recordings "atrocious"
and claims no one in the past 20 years has released a record that
has sounded any good.

"You do the best you can, you fight technology
in all kinds of ways, but I don't know anybody
who's made a record that sounds decent in the
past 20 years, really," Dylan tells the novelist
Jonathan Lethem for Rolling Stone magazine.

Responding to claims by record companies and some artists
that illegal downloading starves them of income, he says:
"It was like, 'everybody's gettin' music for free'.

I was like, 'well, why not? It ain't worth nothing anyway'."

His main criticism of contemporary CDs
is the lack of sound clarity arising when
producers try to make each strand of a
recording as uniformly loud as possible.

"You listen to these modern records, they're atrocious,
they have sound all over them. There's no definition of
nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just, like ... static."

the rest of this article,
as well as many other interesting
articles and reviews by some excellent
writers can be found 24/7 at one of
my favourite web stops:



Phil Ochs reviewing Bob Dylan


an interesting blast from the past...

because of who is writing about who, certainly 
but also because of the issues and language 
raised in what was at the time 
a journal of record for musicians 
and listeners...

The Art of Bob Dylan's 

``Hattie Carroll''

by Phil Ochs

From Broadside 48 July 20 1964; page 2 


`After Judy Collins' N.Y. Town Hall concert in which she
performed Bob Dylan's ``Hattie Carroll'' (BROADSIDE #43),
I overheard a well-known commercial folk singer criticizing
it as ``another one of those black and white songs.'' Another
act I know said the song was no good because it was too preachy.

It's a sad comment on the folk community when normally
intelligent people can totally misunderstand such an
important work. I believe this song could add a new
dimension to topical songs that has been missing too often
in the past. I'd like to use the song as an example to some
of the writers who contribute to BROADSIDE.

There are many pitfalls that Dylan might have fallen into
while treating such a delicate and difficult subject. It would
have been easy to describe the event and ask, ``Wasn't that
a terrible shame, don't let her die in vain'', and put the usual
sarcastic ``land of the free'' line at the end. I think this all
too simple artless approach is what the LITTLE SANDY
REVIEW critics are rightfully opposed to.

In line after poetic line Dylan brings out all the pathos
and irony of a tragic crime. He never gets trapped trying
to fit a thought into a prescribed rhyme form. What more
effective beginning could he have chosen than to use the
sound of the name William Zantzinger and the description
of the weapon, ``with a cane that he twirled round his
diamond ring finger,'' to carry over to the man?

He gives the setting in the first verse and asks that those who
would shed a tear over the murder to wait and listen to more.
In the second verse he describes Zantzinger's connections
with ``high office relations in the politics of Maryland who
reacted to his deed with a shrug of the shoulder.'' Once again
he deftly understates the evil, never making the mistake
of calling him a brute or coward and ruining the narration.

Dylan describes Hattie Carroll as a ``maid of the kitchen'',
not a downtrodden maid or a poor Negro woman. He brings out the pathos or her life perfectly with ``she never sat once at the head of the table.'' 

The description of the murder has to be one or the classics
of American folk music: ``the cane sailed through the air
and came down through the room, doomed and determined
to destroy all the gentle, and she never did nothing to
William Zantzinger.'' I listened to Bob's third record with
him before it was released, and the song that moved him
most was Hattie Carroll. 

read the rest of the review here 

ps - the original review came with this PS..

Note: Bob Dylan is to be at Newport Folk Festival
workshop on topical songs Fri. afternoon, July 24, along
with Phil Ochs, Malvina Reynolds, Johnny Cash, Jimmy
Driftwood, Frank Proffitt, The Chad Mitchell Trio, and
others. Pete Seeger will host this workshop which will
deal with Broadsides old and new.'  

learn more about
Phil Ochs fast


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Big Stars going thru Big Changes

Big music stars are just like the rest of us-
as they grow and mature into Major Artists,
they go thru changes walking down the road of life.

As their careers span the decades, it's possible
to look back and see more clearly the phases
of their artistic evolution...

David Lee Roth
the "It's My Band, Man" years

Jeff Beck
the "Available for Weddings
& Corporate Functions" years

the Allman Brothers
the "Be My Beatles" years

George Harrison
the "Scary Old Guy in the Park" years

Mel Tillis
the "Clint/Caan" years

Mick Ronson
the "Gay Caballero" years

Rod Stewart
the "Love Me in Latex" years

Ted Nugent
the "Gaylord" years

Ted Nugent
the "Manscaping Pioneer" years

Eddie Rabbit
the "Che" years

Ronnie Milsap
the "Stevie Ray Wonder" years

Ronnie Milsap
the "Trans" years

Bob Dylan
the "I serve Lord Satan" years


Old School Hip-hop comics

Singer-songwriter comics!

... half a dozen cheap shots at the expense
of those singer-songwriters who are just so
everywhere these days...


Monday, April 15, 2013

Lord Invader, Rum & Coca-Cola

Sometimes there's a story that connects so many dots
and resonates so curiously across the decades that it's
almost scary.

This one connects Trinidad and Harlem, the Dick
van Dyke Show with Mose Asch and Pete Seeger,
America's leading soft drink and Leonard Cohen...

It's a story of a song, in the popular form from
a small Caribbean island that became one of the
biggest hits of the decade. It's a saga of intellectual
property and a quest for justice.

It's the tale of a soca song called Rum and Coca-Cola,
and a man they called Lord Invader, who walked tall
in Trinidad and Harlem as a master of soca, and as
a man wronged, who fought back and got lucky...

      "Since the Yankees came to Trinidad

      They have the young girls goin' mad.

      The young girls say they treat 'em nice

      And they give them a better price.

Lord Invader wrote Rum and Coca-Cola  was about
life in Trinidad during an invasion by American
soldiers during World War 2. One of those invaders
took the song home, and proceeded to flog the song
as his own.

Along the way, he deleted most of the social commentary
but the song would still be banned by some stations
because it mentioned an alcoholic beverage.

It found its way to The Andrews Sisters, who sang it
without appreciating the references to prostitution
and imperialism... they just needed a song, and
they liked the beat.

Good instincts- the song would be one of their biggest
hits, spending 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard chart.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were at stake when
the case came to trial...and the case turned on a little
booklet of lyrics,k created to sell at the merch table
in the club where Lord Invader and his peers performed.

      They buy rum and Coca-Cola,

      Go down Point Cumana.

     Both mother and daughter

    Workin' for the Yankee dollar.*"

People's Songs

There is a remarkable site where you can read
the whole story of Calypso on Trial. It's one of
those sites created by someone on a mission
from God to tell a big story well, and it left me
wishing that there were more places where one
could find the stories of more songs...

You can hear Lord Invader talk about calypso
and how he came to write the song - as well
as his version - right here!

* this is a line Leonard Cohen would quote over the years...

- 30 -


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Selling Sweet Sounds

it's not all about guitars
and CDs you know...

would later become the inspiration for an immortal single....

not sure what this does, actually...

can't do that with your Ipod, can you?

just listen.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spasticus Autisticus

How could anyone, anywhere have a problem
with the United Nations declaring "The International
Year of the Disabled" in 1981?

Such designations are meant to draw attention
to different aspects of the human condition,
to goad politicians and others into learning more
and doing more about the challenges different
people face here on earth- the disabled, refugees
and so on and so on...

And yet, in England at least, there was a man
who took great exception to the whole idea of
an "international
year of the disabled", and he
set out to do something about it.

His name was Ian Dury, and as it turned out
he was profoundly qualified to speak - and in
fact sing -to the issue.

Dury was himself disabled. In 1949, at the
age of seven, he had contracted polio from
a mouthful of water taken in a public swimming
pool and nearly died.

After a year and a half in hospital, he was sent
to Chailey Heritage and Craft School. Founded
in 1894, it was run by a charitable organization
called the “Guild of the Poor Brave Things”.
Far from coddling the the kids, the school
believed in toughening them up and in Dury's
case, it seems to have worked although perhaps
not in the way intended.

Thirty years later, the UK was in the throes
of punk culture and Dury was at the forefront.
In 1979, his unique blend of punk aesthetics
and English music hall traditions
led to a number
one single called "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick".
Concerts with his band the Blockheads were
staggering popular events at home and in Europe.

He thought the Year of the Disabled was patronizing
and ‘crashingly insensitive’. His response was to
write a song  against the naivety and arrogance
of well-meaning liberals that would speak to his
life as a disabled person and with any luck, be
banned from the airwaves

The song was banned by the BBC and other UK stations.
chief executive of the Spastics Society, expressed
the fear that it would "strengthen people's mistaken
or wrong images about disability and spastic people
in particular

Dury felt it was "it was the second best song"
he'd ever written.

Spasticus Autisticus

by Ian Dury and Chaz Jankel

I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus
I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus
I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus

I wibble when I piddle
Cos my middle is a riddle

I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus
I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus
I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus

I dribble when I nibble
And I quibble when I scribble

Hello to you out there in Normal Land
You may not comprehend my tale
or understand
As I crawl past your window give me
lucky looks
You can be my body but you'll never
read my books

I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus
I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus
I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus

I'm knobbled on the cobbles
Cos I hobble when I wobble

So place your hard-earned peanuts
in my tin
And thank the Creator you're not
in the state I'm in
So long have I been languished
on the shelf
I must give all proceedings
to myself

I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus
I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus
I'm spasticus, I'm spasticus
I'm spasticus autisticus

54 appliances in leather and elastic
100 000 thank yous from 27 spastics

Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus

Widdling, griddling, skittling,
diddling, fiddling, diddling,
widdling, diddling spasticus

I'm spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus
Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus

Spasticus, spasticus
Spasticus autisticus

I'm spasticus!
I'm spasticus!
I'm spasticus!
I'm spasticus!
I'm spasticus!
I'm spasticus!
I'm spasticus!

More than 30 years later, there came a moment
of curious redemption for Ian Dury and his song....

... when it was used to open the summer
games in London.
Behind Stephen Hawking,
the dance act Orbital started a mash-up of
his voice, which lead the Graeae Theatre Company
of disabled performers into singing "Spasticus
Autisticus" to the thousands of people in the
stadium and millions watching on television
around the world.

‘Spasticus Autisticus’: The day the BBC banned Ian Dury

Paralympics 2012: Ian Dury's Spasticus Autisticus was electrifying

The song once banned by the BBC was superbly reclaimed at the Paralympic opening ceremony.

Terence Blacker: 'Spasticus' and the crime of condescension