Long Ryders – Looking For Lewis and Clark

How can you not like a band who counts Gram Parsons and Punk Rock as their biggest influences? They have a great raw sound. This American band was very successful in the UK in the mid 80s. They had a chance to break big but broke up before they took an offer from one of their label mates.

The Long Ryders were formed Thanksgiving 1981 in west Los Angeles, California and fell in with the ’80s Paisley Underground scene (Red on Green, the Bangles, the Dream Syndicate, the Rain Parade), and widely considered as one of the forerunners of the alt-country genre.

They made their debut with the EP 10-5-60 in 1983, which had a strong garage folk-rock sound. After that they released 3 studio albums in the 80s and then they released Psychedelic Country Soul in 2019 after numerous reunions.

In 1986 they were in Spain headlining the Barcelona festival to over 100,000 which was broadcast live on national radio. In Canada, the Toronto Daily Mail called them “the best thing to happen to roots rock since The Band.” Then in Italy they played eighteenth century opera houses and the press and rock critics loved them.

They built a dedicated following…especially in Europe. However band members Tom Stevens and Stephen McCarthy left the band in 1987 despite the offer of an opening spot on tour with Island Records labelmates U2. The Long Ryders then broke up.

They released their second album State of Our Union in 1985 and Looking For Lewis and Clark became their signature song. It was written by guitarist Sid Griffin. Griffin also wrote books on Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, and Bluegrass music.

Looking for Lewis and Clark peaked at #2 in the UK Country Chart and #59 in the UK pop chart in 1985.

Looking For Lewis and Clark

I thought I saw some diplomat hawking secret plans in the park
I thought I saw my President walking through Harlem late after dark
In a world of love where they burn like Nero
You write them a check and you then add zero
In a world of love where they burn like Nero
You write them a check and you then add zero
Looking For Lewis And Clark

I was standing alone in Mabuhay Gardens (looking for Lewis and Clark!)
I was thinking about the late Tim Hardin
Well, when Tim get to heaven hope he told Gram
About the Long Ryders and just who I am
Yeah, no one gave Tim reason to believe
So he just packed his bags to leave

Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark

I thought I saw my government running away with my heart
I thought I heard Mubute anthems in Johannesburg after dark
You can find them in the yellow pages, baby
That’s where you get your kickbacks from the Navy
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark

I said a Louie-Louie Lou…
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark
Looking for Lewis and Clark

….

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

40 thoughts on “Long Ryders – Looking For Lewis and Clark”

  1. Sometimes I think- how did some like a Keith Richards- survive the 60’s -70’s and some like Parsons fail to make it? Parsons one of the great losses from that period I think.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. a friend of mine- I think I told you stayed in the motel room where Parsons died. He had a hard time talking his wife into it !!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yea… I don’t see Jen going for that at all. I told her about Janis’s room…and I would be alone no doubt.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is really catchy music and lyrics from the start. Then I start to get the feeling they are trying to do too much with one song. Not sure if that makes sense or not. Anyway, they definitely should have made it big here in the Midwest, imo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t believe how big they were in the UK…and wasn’t known here. I will feature another song by them…a more simple one to the point. This was the one they were known for so I thought I would use it first…it is busy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That thought went through me also.

        The UK accepted straight out rock and roll more than America did at the time.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. not bad at all. I don’t think I have heard it or of them before, but this one suggests they’re worthy hearing a bit more of… can hear a lot of influences in there. They sound sort of British to me, maybe that’s why they did better there

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would seem Canada and the UK liked them a lot. When I was writing it I was wondering it you ever heard them. Great sounding band though.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL…I was hoping you and Dave would have heard of them since they were big in Canada…but no dice! They are pretty good though.

      Like

  4. Max you finally stumped me – most of the songs you’ve featured I’ve at least heard of the band. This one never heard of at all – and agree don’t get it at all why they didn’t make it here. I would say they blew it not opening for U2 but then again so did Lone Justice and we’ve already discussed how they ended up

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What surprises me is how big in the UK they were at the time. I’m going to post some other music by them…some good stuff. They remind me a little of Green On Red. Not the singing but the style.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Another band I have heard of but don’t know much about. Yes looking forward to more by these guys. Meant to say before I dig the lead singers side burns. He looks like he was dropped in straight from some 60s Nuggets garage band

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, “Looking for Lewis and Clark” is one of these songs where only after a few bars you know you love it. I had never heard this tune before, nor did the name of the band ring any bell. It’s a straight simple rocker that once again proves music doesn’t need to be complex to be great.

    Why The Long Ryders became popular in Britain but apparently never broke through in the U.S. is puzzling to me. I immediately pulled up their debut album and currently listening to the opener “Final Wild Son” – great country rocker! They sound very American and you’d think it’s a sound that would appeal to people in this country!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes you would think so but at the time that sound is what probably done them in… it didn’t have that polished sound and that is the very reason I love these guys…. probably wrong timing…I wish they would have went on the U2 tour….that could have helped.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This band… with a little luck could have been way up in the music world…this band and Guadalcanal Diary I’ve really taken a liken to.

      Like

  7. I had been a fan of LR since I heard their single “Tell It To The Judge on Sunday” on a jukebox back in ’84. They were all great guys, dedicated to the sound that they were producing, but America was starting to get burnt out on the “Americana” sound at that time. They also received some flak for doing a Miller Beer commercial. In one of their first compilation album’s liner notes, Sid states that if they were around a few years earlier or later, things would have been a lot better for the band. If you ever want to hear a great alt-country party album, get Danny and Dusty “Lost Weekend” from 1985. Members of LR, Dream Syndicate, and Green on Red got together for a drinking/recording weekend, and the result is stewed perfection. LR will always be in my Top 10 favorite bands, and Tom Stevens will be missed dearly, I wrote about him in one of my blogs earlier this year.
    https://luegra.design.blog/2021/03/25/billy-strings-the-grammys-tom-stevens-rip/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment. In the 80s I didn’t like the modern “sound”…I was a teenager through that time but kept on listening to The Band, Beatles, The Who, and The Stones because I didn’t like the modern sound to the than top 40. If I would have known more about these guys and more acts like them… I would have liked the 80s much more.

      I loved what I’ve heard from them. I’m going over to check your post out now…thank you.

      Like

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