Paul Kelly – To Her Door… and more

This extended from my last chat with CB… we had Graham Parker last week and Paul Kelly was brought up. I ran out of time last week to write this one up. I really like great storytellers…and Paul Kelly is one of them. His music touches on many styles. Country, rock, folk, reggae, bluegrass,  and touches of many more styles. He has been described as the poet laureate of Australian music. He writes about everyday life that many people can relate to. I’ve seen this stated about him… Paul Kelly’s songs dig deep into Australia: how it feels, looks, tastes, sounds.

Today I’m going to give you a small sample platter of this great artist. 

Here is a very short bio of Paul Kelly.

Paul Kelly was born in 1955 is from Adelaide, Australia. Debuted in Hobart, Australia, 1974; moved to Melbourne and performed in pubs, 1976; formed band the Dots, released albums Talk, 1981, and Manila, 1982; moved to Sydney, 1984; released Post with Steve Connolly and Ian Rilen, 1985; formed as Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, released Gossip, 1986; regrouped as Paul Kelly and the Messengers, released Gossip in the U.S., followed by Under the Sun, 1987; published collected writings volume Lyrics, 1993; formed new lineup with Shane O’Mara, Bruce Haymes, Peter Luscombe, Stephen Hadley, and Spencer Jones. Kelly is still releasing albums. His last album was Paul Kelly’s Christmas Train released in 2021. Altogether he had 28 studio albums, 6 live albums, 8 compilation albums, and an incredible 64 singles.

He also comments on important social and historical events and their significance to Australian identity and life. Several of his songs highlight the plight of Australia’s Indigenous people including ‘Maralinga (Rainy Land)’, a song about atomic testing by the British in Australia’s outback and its effects on the Indigenous people of that area. He and Midnight Oil were some of the artists who contributed to the album  Building Bridges – Australia Has A Black History. All sales proceeds were donated to the National Coalition of Aboriginal Organisations.

The first song I listened to by Paul Kelly was “To Her Door.” It reminded me of Steve Earle or Springsteen. Not because of his voice but because of the songwriting. The story…the way lyrics flow and ebb and fit together like a puzzle. All the while this is going on the music has great dynamics that rise up to meet the lyrics head-on and punctuates it. The song was released in 1987 and was on the album Under The Sun that peaked at #14 in Australia. 

That album also produced the single Dumb Things. This song has a shuffle that jumps. It starts off with a cool harmonica blasting and invites you in. This character-driven song stuck with me for days. This one peaked at #36 in Australia and #17 on the Billboard Alternative Charts in 1987.

Now it’s time for a pure rock song by Kelly called Darling It Hurts. This song was off of the album Gossip released in 1986. The song peaked at #25 in Australia and #19 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts. 

This one is called Bradman and it’s off of Gossip as well. It has a sports connection. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about Cricket but the song is great. It’s about Sir Donald Bradman, arguably…. the greatest ever cricketer (and definitely the greatest ever Australian cricketer). This one peaked at #51 in Australia and was part of a double A-sided single along with the song Leaps and Bounds

I’m going to close this on this song or I could go on for pages. This song is called Careless. It was released in 1989 on the album So Much Water So Close to Home. It’s an incredibly catchy song but a song that means something. Like a mixture in a bottle, like a frozen over lake, Like a long-time, painted smile I got so hard I had to crack, You were there, you held the line, you’re the one that brought me back

If you liked what you have heard…do some homework and look this artist up…you won’t be sorry. He will now remain on my playlist. I’ve given you a few samples but it’s so much more to explore. 

Rock Critic David Fricke: “I have had the pleasure and privilege of seeing Paul Kelly in performance more times than I can count – although it’s still not enough. I’ve seen him in performance in the Northeast and Southwest Hemispheres, unplug and plugged in, solo, with his band and, on one memorable evening in New York, on stage exchanging songs, quips and composing tips with Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Michelle Shocked and Allen Toussaint. If memory serves me right, Paul actually sang a few bars of Fats Domino’s‘Blueberry Hill’ one thanksgivings back in the mid 80s at my apartment in Manhattan as he pored over a road atlas- his forefinger on the city of New Orleans – and excitedly pointed out the route he was taking on a car trip through the southern United States”

Now here is one for the road…this song’s title appealed me right away… “How to Make Gravy.”

How To Make Gravy

Hello Dan, it’s Joe here
I hope you’re keeping well
It’s the 21st of December
And now they’re ringing the last bells
If I get good behaviour
I’ll be out of here by July
Won’t you kiss my kids on Christmas Day?
Please don’t let ’em cry for me

I guess the brothers are driving down from Queensland
And Stella’s flying in from the coast
They say it’s gonna be a hundred degrees, even more maybe
But that won’t stop the roast
Who’s gonna make the gravy now?
I bet it won’t taste the same
Just add flour, salt, a little red wine
And don’t forget a dollop of tomato sauce
For sweetness and that extra tang

And give my love to Angus, and to Frank and Dolly
Tell ’em all I’m sorry, I screwed up this time
And look after Rita, I’ll be thinking of her
Early Christmas morning when I’m standing in line

I hear Mary’s got a new boyfriend
I hope he can hold his own
Do you remember the last one? What was his name again?
Ahh, just a little too much cologne
And Roger, you know I’m even gonna miss Roger
‘Cause there’s sure as hell no one in here I want to fight

Oh, praise the Baby Jesus, have a Merry Christmas
I’m really gonna miss it, all the treasure and the trash
And later in the evening, I can just imagine
You’ll put on Junior Murvin and push the tables back

And you’ll dance with Rita, I know you really like her
Just don’t hold her too close
Oh, brother, please don’t stab me in the back
I didn’t mean to say that, it’s just my mind it plays up
Multiplies each matter, turns imagination into fact

You know I love her badly, she’s the one to save me
I’m gonna make some gravy, I’m gonna taste the fat
Ahh, tell her that I’m sorry, yeah, I love her badly
Tell ’em all I’m sorry, and kiss the sleepy children for me
You know one of these days, I’ll be making gravy
I’ll be making plenty, I’m gonna pay ’em all back

Yeah, do-do-do-do, do-do
Do-do-do-do, do-do


Who – Relay

This was a non-album single released in 1972. It was released between Who’s Next (1971) and Quadrophenia (1973).

Pete Townshend wrote this… it was part of his “Lifehouse” project, which was a film script featuring The Who in a future world where rock ‘n’ roll saves the masses. The Who scrapped plans for the concept double album and released most of the songs on Who’s Next…pretty much agreed their best album and one of the best in rock period.

Townshend’s use of the ARP synthesizer on Who’s Next was groundbreaking. He didn’t just add texture to it but the ARP became part of the structure of the songs. This was not like today’s synthesizer where you just took it out of the box. It had to be programmed and connected together…and not many people knew how to do it. He took a risk using it because technology in general always moving ahead, Who’s Next could have sounded dated a few years afterward but it still sounds fresh and interesting today…unlike some other synth music.

They played this song on the Russell Harty Show and Harty looked terrified of The Who. Harty was a gay man which was secret in the 1970s… Keith knew this and you could tell he thought Keith Moon was going to say something out loud in an interview but of course Keith didn’t. He was messing with Harty and the interview is both funny and demented to watch. I keep thinking….an interview like this would not happen today. What makes the interview funnier is how Daltrey and Entwistle just chill in the background while Moon and Townshend torment Harty.

Who is The Who? The History of the Legendary Band - Backstage Stories -  Page 2 of 31

They were joking around with Harty and you could see Harty tense up a bit when Moon stripped down to his underwear. Moon and Townshend then preceded to rip and tear each other’s shirt off.

Harty asked them some questions and if they were all married. That was when Moon started to talk about messing with Harty’s sleeves (as Pete and Keith did to each other) he said to Harty “You leave his sleeves alone… personal them ay…Can’t touch the interviewer can we? Hey he is in command isn’t he? You can make everyone else look like a right twit as long as you don’t have a go at him. How long have you been happily married? ” You have to wonder by the look on Harty’s face if he thought Moon was going to say something out loud…he did know Harty was gay…but of course, Moon didn’t…he was just having fun with him.

Someone put all the Rusell Harty short interview segments together from the documentary The Kids Are Alright…I have it below.

Anyway…a good song and it peaked at #21 in the UK, #50 in Canada, and #39 on the Billboard 100 in 1972.


You can hear it in the street, see it in the dragging feet
The word is gettin’ out about control
Spies they’ve come and gone, the story travels on
The only quiet place is inside your soul

From tree to tree, from you to me
Travelin’ twice as fast as on any freeway
Every single dream, wrapped up in the scheme
They all get carried on the relay

Relay, things are brewin’
Relay, something’s doin’
Relay, there’s a revolution
Relay, relay
(Hand me down a solution, yeah)
Pass it on, come on, a relay

Someone disapproves, what you say and do
I was asked to see what I could really learn you
Don’t believe your eyes, they’re tellin’ only lies
What is done in the first place don’t concern you

From tree to tree, from you to me
Travelin’ twice as fast as on any freeway
Every single dream wrapped up in the scheme
They all get carried on the relay

Relay, things are brewin’
Relay, something’s doin’
Relay, there’s a revolution
Relay, relay
(Hand me down a solution, yeah)
Pass it on, pass it on, pass it on, hey you, pass it on

We’re on the relay, get a movin’
Get on a movin’ on
The relay, the relay
The relay, the relay

Lynyrd Skynyrd – You Got That Right

When my times up, I’ll hold my own
You won’t find me in an old folks home

A great duet between Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Steve Gaines on the album Street Survivors. The album peaked at #5 on the Billboard Album Charts, #3 in Canada, #13 in the UK, and #36 in New Zealand in 1977-78.

In 1975 Ed King quit the band in Pittsburgh after he couldn’t take the madness anymore. That tour was called the Torture Tour because they hardly had any breaks at all. In that band alcohol and drugs were very prevalent. It’s difficult to tell what Lynyrd Skynyrd enjoyed more… consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol and drugs… or writing rock songs warning about consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol and drugs. This song isn’t about drugs but many were.

Gaines replaced Ed King as the band’s guitarist in 1976 but died in the 1977 plane crash that also claimed the lives of lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and Gaines’ sister Cassie, who was a backup singer for the group. This song provides a glimpse of songwriting and guitar talent.

lynyrd skynyrd - You Got That Right B

Steve Gaines was a special talent. He wasn’t into drinking, drugs, or fighting like the other guys were.  I personally believe he would have gone far in music outside of that band. There is guitar playing on Street Survivors which you never heard with that band before. Very sophisticated chord patterns and riffs with songs like “I Never Dreamed.

Steve joined the band as a guitarist in 1976. Gaines had an immediate impact, writing or co-writing four of the eight songs on Street Survivors, which was released three days before the group’s plane crashed in Mississippi, killing Gaines, his sister Cassie (a backup singer with the group), and Van Zant.

On Street Survivors two songs had another person singing lead vocals…and that would be Steve Gaines. Van Zant let him sing one by himself (Ain’t No Good Life) and he shared vocals with this song for a duet. It would be the only album during the classic period that Van Zant didn’t sing lead.

You Got That Right peaked at #63 on the Billboard 100 and #69 in Canada after the crash. What’s Your Name was the first single and reached the top twenty in America and #6 in Canada.

You Got That Right

Well I’ve heard lots of people say
They’re gonna settle down
You don’t see their faces
And they don’t come around
Well I’m not that way
I got to move along
I like to drink and to dance all night
Comes to a fix not afraid to fight
You got that right
Said, you got that right
Sure got that right
Seems so long I been out on my own
Travel light and I’m always alone
Guess I was born with a travelin’ bone
When my times up, I’ll hold my own
You won’t find me in an old folks home
You got that right
Well you got that right
Said, you got that right
Sure got that right
I tried everything in my life
Things I like I try ’em twice
You got that right
Sure got that right
Travelin’ around the world, just singing my song
I got to go, Lord I can’t stay long
Here comes that ol’ travelin’ jones once again
I like to drink and to dance all night
Comes to a fix not afraid to fight
You got that right
Said, you got that right
Well you got that right
Sure got that right

My Favorite 20th Century James Bond Movies…

I love James Bond movies. I’ve watched a few of the new ones, but they mostly miss an essential ingredient of why I like James Bond. The gadgets…I love the gadgets and they are few and far between in the new movies…so my favorites will be the 20th-century movies. I have watched the new ones…but not enough to rank them. I do like them like Skyfall and others. I just know the older ones better…and would that surprise any of my readers? Plus…to me…Sean Connery has never been topped.

I’m not going into big detail…but what I remember the most about them.

What are your favorites?

10. Live and Let Die (1974) 

This was Roger Moore’s debut in the role. It does have a Blaxploitation movie feel to it because of when it was made…and a killer theme song. I love the speedboat chases of this one.

9. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

This is one that Connery came back after being absent in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Not as good as his 1960’s Bond films but as always…a fun movie to watch.

8. Thunderball (1965)

Not as good as the top 3 of this list but the lavish sets work. I also love the Astin Martin with the bullet shield. The jetpack is pretty cool also.

7. The Living Daylights (1987)

Timothy Dalton played Bond in an intense way and it worked. I like Dalton’s Bond. He was a little more serious and it worked great.

6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

George Lazenby’s one-shot at James Bond was great. I’m sure his agent was fired after telling him one was enough…he would be typecast. What a dumb decision that was! Good one where James Bond gets married.

5. You Only Live Twice (1967)

I loved the small one-man helicopter named “Little Nellie” in this one. Connery was a badass in this one. I also like the giant lair of Blofeld.

4. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

For me, this was Roger Moore’s best Bond movie. You see a young Barbara Bach who would marry Ringo Starr a little later on. The opening squence may be my favorite of any of them.

3. From Russia With Love (1963)

This one could have been number 1 easily also with me. The top 3 are hard to beat. This one is a little longer but never gets boring.

2. Goldfinger (1964)

Goldfinger is usually on top of every list I’ve seen and it could have been on this one also but Ursula Andress tipped the scales for…

1. Dr. No (1962)

In 1962…I can’t imagine the impact Ursula Andress walking out of the water must have had on audiences. It is burned into my brain. I would love to live where Doctor No did.

Santana – Black Magic Woman ….Under The Covers Tuesday

This song was not written by guitarist Carlos Santana but by the great guitarist for Fleetwood Mac. No not Lindsey Buckingham or Bob Welch…but the great blues guitarist Peter Green. I have to admit I like both versions about the same. Two legendary guitar players make this song come alive. I always thought Santana wrote it until a few years ago.

This song was Santana’s first single from their second album Abraxas. The album was released in 1970. It was a year after their acclaimed appearance at Woodstock. That performance launched Santana into national fame. When Carlos Santana played Woodstock, he had yet not released an album.  He was one of the most unknown artists.  Basically, his manager, Bill Graham, forced the band’s way onto the bill.  A couple of weeks later, riding the great press from his Woodstock performance, Santana released “Black Magic Woman” and the rest is history.

Peter Green made friends with an occult group that dabbled in black magic. In turn, they turned Green on to acid which untimely destroyed him. He left Fleetwood Mac a couple of years after that. Green was probably happy that Santana covered this song. Green was convinced to give all of his money away. The royalties from this song helped him later on to live. He ended up taking jobs wherever he could find work, including one as a grave digger.

Fleetwood Mac’s version peaked at #37 in the UK charts in 1968. It was a non-album single. It later appeared on the band’s 1969 compilation album, The Pious Bird of Good Omen. Fleetwood Mac played the song on their last tour with Stevie Nicks singing it from a woman’s point of view. It just didn’t have the power that the original band did.

Santana’s version peaked at #4 on the Billboard 100 and #4 in Canada in 1970-71.

Christine McVie: “Something snapped in him, he dropped this fatal tab of acid and withdrew. He still has this amazing power, but it’s negative. You don’t want him around. We’ve all cried a lot of tears over Peter. We’ve all spent so much time and energy talking him into more positive channels. He’ll just sit there and laugh. ‘FUCK IT . . .’”

Santana: “I used to go to see the original Fleetwood Mac, and they used to kill me, just knock me out, to me, they were the best blues band.”

Mick Fleetwood: “Three minutes of sustain/reverb guitar with two exquisite solos from Peter.”

Santana AND Green

Black Magic Woman

Got a black magic woman
Got a black magic woman
I’ve got a black magic woman
Got me so blind I can’t see
That she’s a black magic woman
She’s trying to make a devil out of me

Don’t turn your back on me, baby
Don’t turn your back on me, baby
Yes, don’t turn your back on me, baby
Stop messing ’round with your tricks
Don’t turn your back on me, baby
You just might pick up my magic sticks

You got your spell on me, baby
You got your spell on me, baby
Yes, you got your spell on me, baby
Turnin’ my heart into stone
I need you so bad
Magic woman I can’t leave you alone

Graham Parker – Howlin’ Wind

CB and I have been talking and when that happens… some cool music is discussed. This is an artist I should have checked out long long ago.

Graham Parker is someone I’ve heard of …but never actually heard. I’ve lived with this album for a week or so. What I’ve heard is some smooth groove music that Parker contrasts with his intense lyrics. I hear a little punk influence in the lyrics and voice. If I had to compare him with someone…it would be Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson but with a touch of Van Morrison and The Band sprinkled in on this album.

A little more about Graham Parker…after that, I’ll get on about the album. This is an extremely condensed beginning for Graham up until the debut album.

Graham Parker and the Rumour

Graham Parker was born in East London in 1950 and was the right age to catch The Beatles when they hit. He and his friends had a band that adopted the haircuts, sweaters, and boots but they never really learned how to play their instruments. He did a guitar and started learning it. Later on, when he was around 15 he started to listen to soul music, Motown, ska, and especially Otis Redding.

He started to improve on guitar and played bars and clubs. He even appeared on a television show in Gibraltar and played a few of his own songs. After that, he was asked to join a psychedelic band named Pegasus. He soon tired of that music and started to concentrate on R&B songs like The Midnight Hour. He then met the manager of Brinsley Schwarz. With ex-members of Brinsley Schwarz and ex-member Nick Lowe producing them…they made his debut album Howlin’ Wind. His band had a name at this point…The Rumour.

The Rumour would be Graham’s backing band for years. They also recorded their own albums separately and did three in all. They broke up in 1980 and then reformed and started to back Parker up again in 2011 and remain his backup band to this day.

The album is great. There is not a bad song on it. The second side rocks a little more than the first so it evens it out. I hear rock, reggae, rockabilly, R&B, Soul, rock, and a touch of jazz in spots. His voice is so damn convincing…you automatically take notice as he sneers his way through it. He can get raspy and then stay smooth. There is a variety on this album…he was not stuck on one style…he spread it about and his debut album is balanced and wonderful. It was a perfect marriage between Parker and The Rumour. Also, I have to give Nick Lowe some credit. He keeps it sparse…no studio tricks just straight-ahead music.

I’ve mentioned Van Morrison and I have to say Springsteen also. If you like those artists…you should like this Graham Parker album. Don’t get me wrong…he doesn’t copy them…he has his own original thing going on but it has some of the feel of those artists. I’ve listened to this album at home, in the car, and at work. It kept getting better as I was going through it.

Give this album a shot.

  1. “White Honey” – 3:33
  2. “Nothin’s Gonna Pull Us Apart” – 3:21
  3. “Silly Thing” – 2:51
  4. “Gypsy Blood” – 4:37
  5. “Between You and Me” – 2:25
  6. “Back to Schooldays” – 2:54
  7. “Soul Shoes” – 3:13
  8. “Lady Doctor” – 2:5
  9. “You’ve Got to Be Kidding” – 3:30
  10. “Howlin’ Wind” – 3:58
  11. “Not If It Pleases Me” – 3:12
  12. “Don’t Ask Me Questions” – 5:38

Graham Parker: “When I’m writing, I don’t write angry or think angry, so I appreciate that you noticed this, and thank you, sadly, all critics see or hear is anger. Not me, though. ‘With a little humor, always with a little humor.’” 

Graham Parker: “I’ve always tried to be playful, starting with Howlin’ Wind, not dumb, not goofy, but playful. I’m a fan of humor. People have always thought I was pissed off, but really, I was just joking around. They don’t get it or they’re not hearing me. I have always loved to tickle people.”

Originally released in 1976, from the album ‘Howlin’ Wind’. This remix was released as a single in 1978 from the album ‘The Parkerilla’.

Joni Mitchell – Help Me ….Canadian Week

I remember hearing this song on WMAK-AM in the seventies on my sister’s Vega radio. The car that she carried a case of oil in the hatchback because it burned it more than gas.

This song was on the great album Court and Spark. Joni tried using LA’s best session players for this but it didn’t work like she wanted. She then used jazz musicians to back her on this album. Joni’s songs can be complicated because Graham Nash once said that she played in so many different open chord tunings…that she made some of them up. The jazz band she used was The L.A. Express, led by saxophonist Tom Scott.

Joni Mitchell not only wrote her own songs but was also her own producer. That is not very common with female or male artists on the whole. This song was Mitchell’s biggest hit that she had. That surprised me…I would have thought it would have been Big Yellow Taxi. I always compared her voice to a slide whistle we had as kids. That’s not a put-down…but she can cover the gambit with her voice from low to extremely high.

Joni Mitchell - A Chronology of Appearances

Who did she write this song about? Some say it was Jackson Browne who she had just broken up with and some say it’s Glenn Fry. Whoever it’s about she left it open enough so that anyone can relate to it. The song peaked at #6 in Canada and #7 on the Billboard 100.

Prince, who was a huge fan of Mitchell, even mentioned it on “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” from his 1987 album, Sign ‘O’ the Times.

She said, “Sound like a real man to meMind if I turn on the radio?”“Oh, my favorite song, ” she saidAnd it was Joni singing: “Help me, I think I’m falling”

Joni Mitchell: “A throwaway song, but a good radio record.”  “My record companies always had a tendency to take my fastest songs on album for singles, thinking they’d stand out because they did on the LPs. Meantime, I’d feel that the radio is crying for one of my ballads.”

Help Me

Help me
I think I’m falling
In love again
When I get that crazy feeling, I know
I’m in trouble again
I’m in trouble

‘Cause you’re a rambler and a gambler
And a sweet-taIking-ladies man
And you love your lovin’
But not like you love your freedom

Help me
I think I’m falling
In love too fast
It’s got me hoping for the future
And worrying about the past
‘Cause I’ve seen some hot hot blazes
Come down to smoke and ash
We love our lovin’

But not like we love our freedom
Didn’t it feel good
We were sitting there talking
Or lying there not talking
Didn’t it feel good
You dance with the lady
With the hole in her stocking

Didn’t it feel good
Didn’t it feel good
Help me
I think I’m falling
In love with you

Are you going to let me go there by myself
That’s such a lonely thing to do
Both of us flirting around
Flirting and flirting

Hurting too
We love our lovin’
But not like we love our freedom

Rush – Closer To The Heart ….Canadian Week

There are some bands that I would not want to meet in real life. There are other bands that seem like the nicest people in the world and Rush is one of them. With Rush’s music…I normally like sloppy bands…and I mean that in the best way. The Stones, Who, Zeppelin, and Beatles were all sloppy in some ways. With Rush…no sloppiness is allowed…everything is on point.

I would love to meet the two surviving members of Rush. I’ve never been a huge fan but I’ve watched their documentary (Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage) over and over again. I would encourage all of you to watch it. Even if you are not a fan…you WILL like these guys on a personal basis.

I have a great respect for their musical ability. A trio is not easy to play in…I’ve been the bass player in a couple and you have to work to keep it all together. All three of them are/were massively talented. Neil Peart is in the top 5 Rock Drummers of all time without a doubt. Geddy Lee, the same with bass and Alex doesn’t get as much attention as the other two but he is great as well.

I do like their radio hits like Tom Sawyer, Limelight, Working Man, Red Barchetta, and a few others. One thing about some of Rush’s lyrics…I think…hmmm will I be tested on this when I’m finished? I listened to many of their albums with a cousin of mine. I liked Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves, Hemispheres, and some of A Farewell to Kings.

Closer To The Heart has a chorus that is extremely universal. Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson says this song is the ultimate Rush song. It was on their album A Farewell To Kings released in 1977. It was written by Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, and for the first time… an outside writer…Peter Talbot.

The song peaked at #76 on the Billboard 100, #36 in the UK, and #44 in Canada in 1977-78.

In 1981 a live version peaked at #21 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts.

Geddy Lee: I remember when we had to bring it back into the set for the Rio shows, as there was such a demand to hear it and we’d stopped playing it for a while. It’s always resonated with people for some reason, and it was a hit as far as we’ve ever had a hit. It got us on the radio, the kinds of radio that would never normally associate with us, so it was as close as we ever came to a pop song, especially at that point. Over here in the UK it had that effect, and in the US too.

Closer To The Heart

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones who start
To mold a new reality
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart

The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart
Yes, closer to the heart

Philosophers and plowmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart
Yes closer to the heart, yeah, oh

Whoa, whoa
You can be the captain
And I will draw the chart
Sailing into destiny
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
Well closer to the heart, yeah
Closer to the heart
Closer to the heart
I said closer to the heart
Well closer to the heart, yeah
Closer to your heart
Closer to your heart, whoa

John Denver – Sunshine On My Shoulders

The post starts with John Denver and ends with Frank Zappa and Dee Snider from Twisted Sister…

John Denver’s reputation went down after the 70s and really unfairly. He was noted as square and sometimes rejected by his musical peers. That is sad to me because he was a great songwriter, guitarist, and singer. He didn’t get much street cred until…you will see at the bottom.

During the “We Are The World” filming featuring dozens of pop stars, Willie Nelson cracked, “If a bomb hit this building, John Denver would be No. 1 again.” Everybody laughed – and sneered. And the image of Michael Jackson, Kenny Rogers and others mocking Denver is a sad one. It showed just how low he’d fallen on the barometer of pop music.

Denver was an easy target for critics and peers. Robert Christgau dubbed him “the blandest pop singer in history,” and compared him to James Taylor…  “If James is a wimp, John is a simp, and that’s even worse.” I don’t think all the criticism was fair. Some of his music was really good to great like Rocky Mountain High, Sunshine on My Shoulders, and Take Me Home Country Roads.

Denver was a huge star in the early to mid-seventies.  I’m not a huge fan by any means but he did have a few songs I liked. He was a songwriter, musician, activist, and actor, and he sold millions of records (over 33 million). He was never known to be cool or hip but he was John Denver and he did things his way.

Lyn Helton
9/23/1971, NOV 8 1971 Dies of Cancer – Mrs. Lyn Helton, 20 the mother who tape-recorded her thoughts on death as cancer was taking her life, died Sunday at Denver’s Children’s Hospital. Credit: Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)

Denver wrote this song in Minnesota on a rainy spring day. It first appeared on John Denver’s 1971 album Poems, Prayers & Promises. This song got a big boost when it was used in a November 1973 made-for-TV movie called Sunshine, a tale about a woman dying of cancer who recorded tape messages for her child in her final days. It was based on a true story of Lyn Helton who would listen to John Denver’s music.

The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard 100 and #1 in Canada in 1973. It was included in his Greatest Hits album that year.


The PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) was a group founded by Tipper Gore that was designed to provide censorship and/or warning of offensive material in regard to music albums that had things that parents would find offensive such as profanity, obscene images, lyrics, descriptions of sexual and/or violent matters, etc.

In 1985, several hearings were held to discuss the possibility of certain albums being required to have a ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker placed on the cover. Many musicians were understandably against this action, and some of those musicians were even invited to come and speak their minds about this issue. Three stand out in particular. Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, Frank Zappa, and maybe most notably, John Denver.

Frank and Dee spoke out against it of course and they were afraid of John Denver being in favor of it…and Congress was counting on it. Well, that didn’t happen. John gave arguably the sharpest testimony out of anyone who testified. He was eloquent and blunt. The looks on the faces of Congress say it all. Inviting John Denver to testify backfired for Congress.

John Denver on the TV Movie: “It was the true story of Lyn Helton, an incredibly courageous lady who chose to live her short life to the fullest even though she knew she would die of a rare bone cancer in a matter of months. It seems that in the last year of her life she found some happiness in my music. I was most honored to have my songs used as part of that television show.”

John Denver: “On one level it was about the virtues of love. On another, more deeply felt level, it reached for something the whole world could embrace.”

Dee Snider of Twisted Sister talks about John Denver. It should start at the place Dee talks about Frank and John.

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happySunshine in my eyes can make me crySunshine on the water looks so lovelySunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a day that I could give youI’d give to you a day just like todayIf I had a song that I could sing for youI’d sing a song to make you feel this way

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happySunshine in my eyes can make me crySunshine on the water looks so lovelySunshine almost always makes me high

If I had a tale that I could tell youI’d tell a tale sure to make you smileIf I had a wish that I could wish for youI’d make a wish for sunshine all the while

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happySunshine in my eyes can make me crySunshine on the water looks so lovelySunshine almost always makes me highSunshine almost all the time makes me highSunshine almost always

Jethro Tull – Locomotive Breath

The song hits you like a sack of bricks when the piano intro concludes. It’s powerful, strong, and perfectly pieced together. It reminds me a little of Band On The Run (or the other way around)… as the song is in sections.

I’ve been posting songs, movies, and pop culture posts since 2017 but somehow I’ve missed posting anything about Jethro Tull. I thought today would be the day to correct that…the voice, guitar, and the flute…yea rock and roll flute. Ian Anderson wrote the song but it took a few tries to record it. Anderson explained to the band to imagine a boiler building up pressure until it explodes or a train going off the tracks after gaining speed. He said he wrote it about the overpopulation on Earth.

The song was released in 1971 on the album Aqualung. The song didn’t chart. It was re-released in 1976 and this time it was a different story. The song peaked at #62 on the Billboard 100 and #85 in Canada and has come a classic radio staple. The album Aqualung was huge… it peaked at #7 on the Billboard Album Charts, #5 in Canada, and #4 in the UK.

The song was recorded in pieces and put together and everything fell into place. I feel very safe in saying that it contains one of the best flute solos in rock…of course, that list is not long.

I will say this about Ian Anderson. Like David Byrne, Van Morrison, Freddie Mercury, Neil Young, and a few more…you know when Anderson opens his mouth to sing that it’s him…and very distinctive voice…and the best rock flute player ever!

Ian Anderson:  “When I wrote it, I wasn’t deliberately setting out to write a piece of music on a particular subject. But it evolved during the writing process into being not terribly specific but about the issues of overcrowding – the rather claustrophobic feel of a lot of people in a limited space. And the idea of the incessant unstoppable locomotive being metaphor for seemingly the unstoppable population expansion on planet Earth.

When I look at it today, it does, for me, become very crystallized in being a song about unmanageable population expansion. It’s something that concerns me even more today than it did back when I wrote it, when the population of planet Earth was only about two thirds of what it is today. So in my lifetime alone, we’ve seen an enormous increase in population, and an enormous increase in the degree to which we devour our limited resources. So the idea of population planning and management is something that I think we ought to be thinking about a lot more than we do. Does that mean I think we should sterilize everybody after the age of 30? No, of course not. The size of the family you want to have is going to be your choice. But, you should make that choice knowingly, wisely, and responsibly.”

Locomotive Breath

In the shuffling madness
Of the locomotive breath
Runs the all-time loser
Headlong to his death

Oh, he feels the piston scraping
Steam breaking on his brow
Old Charlie stole the handle
And the train it won’t stop
Oh no way to slow down

He sees his children jumping off
At the stations one by one
His woman and his best friend

In bed and having fun
Oh, he’s crawling down the corridor
On his hands and knees
Old Charlie stole the handle
And the train it won’t stop going
No way to slow down

He hears the silence howling
Catches angels as they fall
And the all-time winner
Has got him by the balls
Oh, he picks up Gideons bible
Open at page one
I thank God he stole the handle
And the train it won’t stop going
No way to slow down

No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down

Big Star – Mod Lang …. Power Pop Friday

A song by the band Big Star. This song was on Radio City and released in 1974…their second album and follow-up to their debut…Big Star #1 Record.  Although Chris Bell had quit the band after the release of #1 Record.

After the failure of their first album, singer/songwriter guitar player Chris Bell quit Big Star. Alex Chilton didn’t know if Big Star was going to make another album. He continued making demos because he could always do a solo album. The two other members, drummer Jody Stephens and bass player Andy Hummel weren’t sure either what was going to happen. They had talked about ending the band.

Worn Frets

Their record company Ardent was under the Stax umbrella. They sent out invitations to all of the major rock journalists of the day in 1973. They invited them to Memphis to see Ardent’s roster of bands but most of all Big Star. The rock writers loved Big Star. Many legendary writers were there including Lester Bangs. They played at Lafayette’s Music Room.

Radio City is not as polished as their debut album but it’s just as good and many say better. Chilton remained the constant variable that made the band’s music soar. His September Gurls is among the band’s finest songs and one of the prototypical power pop songs.

This song was the B side to one of their most famous songs, September Gurls. They released 3 studio albums in the seventies. All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time. For a band that never charted a record that isn’t too bad. When their albums were finally discovered by later bands, they influenced many artists such as The Replacements, REM, The Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Big Star did returned in 1993 with a new lineup when guitarist Jon Auer and bassist Ken Stringfellow joined Chilton and Stephens. Auer and Stringfellow remained members of the Posies. In 2005 the reformed band released their last album called In Space.

Whenever I write about this band, I always have to stop myself from gushing about them. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people know? No, and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by the original Big Star to enjoy.

Drummer Jody Stephens“All of a sudden I’m playing with these guys that can write songs that are as engaging to me as the people I’d grown up listening to, so I felt incredibly lucky.” 

Alex Chilton: “I really loved the mid-’60s British pop music, all two and a half minutes long, really appealing songs. So I’ve always aspired to that same format, that’s what I like.”

Mod Lang

I can’t be satisfied
What you want me to do?
And so I moan
Had to leave my home

Love my girl, oh yeah
She got to save my soul
I want a witness, I want to testify

How long can this go on?
How long can this go on?

All night long I was howling
I was a barking dog
A-how, a-how

I can’t be satisfied
What you want me to do?
I want a witness, I want to testify
How long can this go on?
How long can this go on?

All night long I was howling
I was a barking dog
I want a witness, I want to testify

Sting-Ray Afternoons: A Memoir ….by Steve Rushin

I saw the cover of this book and I knew I would be interested. Steve Rushin is a writer and was hired by Sports Illustrated when he was 22 in 1988. He describes growing up in Minnesota during the seventies…but you could have lived anywhere to get the references. He is witty with a good sense of humor. He writes it like he is actually living it real time and that makes it enjoyable.

If you are looking for action this is not for you. He didn’t fall into addiction, turn to crime, or become a sports or music star. His family was not rich but middle class. It’s just what life was like during the 1970s in an American nuclear family. I just read his sequel “A Night At White Castle” about him leaving home in the 1980s and going to college. That one is great as well…a more teenage look at the 1980s.

The title draws inspiration from the Sting-Ray bicycle that was popular at the time. Banana seat luxury as I remember. I usually got Huffy bikes but I did have one Sting-Ray. It was a banana yellow 3-speed. I loved that bike and it represented freedom and a way to get 2-5 miles away from home at the time. It worked until a little later and my first car took its place.

Steve brings up things that you are sure to remember. Romper Room, Sesame Street, board games, toys, music, sports, and about everything seventies connected. He also will tell the history of some things like Boeing 747s and how other things came about. He talks about his family vacations and the places they go and the trouble that happens. His Dad was an 8-Track 3m tape salesman…he travels all over the world selling 3m tape. When 8-tracks go out of style he switches to videotape.

The Rushin family could be any family in America at that time or in most other countries. If you are that age…this will bring back a lot of memories. All of his siblings grow up to be successful. Two of them went to college on full hockey scholarships and one sister…became a doctor.

The book reminded me of my fears and insecurities growing up that I had completely forgotten about with school situations, family arguments, and everyday life. If you grew up in the seventies or would like to know how it was…this is the book to read. I will say this is not a fact book about the 70s but an eyewitness who lived it telling us the human side.

If you want to see some pictures from the book…here is a PDF Stingray with just pictures. 

Steve ended up marrying Rebbecca Lobo the famous WNBA star.

Ron Wood / The Tragically Hip – Seven Days

There’s kissing in the valley,
Thieving in the alley,
Fighting every inch of the way.

I’m really happy to be posting again! I thought I would start off with a cool under-the-radar Bob song. I’ve caught up with work projects for the most part right now. I had a good time off but I missed interacting with all of you.

Ronnie Wood performed this song at Bob Dylan’s 30th Anniversary concert. When I first heard it I took an immediate liking to it. I heard this and also George Thorogood doing another Dylan song called Wanted Man.

I also found another version that is really great by the Canadian band The Tragically Hip (video at the bottom of the post). They have the same rawness that Wood had in his…great version. It’s the groove of this song that makes it.

I’ll have a full Tragically Hip post coming soon.

Seven Days Written lyrics

Some of the original written lyrics

This song was written by Bob in March 1976, at Shangra La Studios in Malibu. Eric Clapton was recording the No Reason To Cry album…Bob Dylan offered Clapton Seven Days but he turned it down. Ron Wood was there and he took it for his next album and did a good job of it.

I like Wood’s voice. For me, his best job on lead vocals was Ooh La La by the Faces but this one comes in a close second. I usually will take the studio versions with most songs…but not this one. He has more drive in the live version video. Here is a cleaner version of the Tragically Hip

The song has been covered many times as has many Dylan Songs. Artists such as The Tragically Hip, Joe Cocker, and others. No studio version by Bob has surfaced as far as I know. He has covered it live a few times.

Ron Wood:  “Bob played it (“Seven Days”) to me and Eric in the studio, and he said to Eric “You can have this song if you want it.” And I took him up on it and Eric didn’t.” 

Seven Days

Seven days, seven more days she’ll be comin’
I’ll be waiting at the station for her to arrive
Seven more days, all I gotta do is survive.

She been gone ever since I been a child
Ever since I seen her smile, I ain’t forgotten her eyes.
She had a face that could outshine the sun in the skies.

I been good, I been good while I been waitin’
Maybe guilty of hesitatin’, I just been holdin’ on
Seven more days, all that’ll be gone.

There’s kissing in the valley,
Thieving in the alley,
Fighting every inch of the way.
Trying to be tender
With somebody I remember
In a night that’s always brighter’n the day.

Seven days, seven more days that are connected
Just like I expected, she’ll be comin’ on forth,
My beautiful comrade from the north.

There’s kissing in the valley,
Thieving in the alley,
Fighting every inch of the way.
Trying to be tender
With somebody I remember
In a night that’s always brighter’n the day.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Was I Right Or Wrong

This song tells a tragic tale of a son going off for fame and coming back home for the acceptance of his parents but he finds out…they died. They recorded this track in Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama. It was before they were signed to a contract. Shooting Star which came after this song…. covered a small portion of this but the star in this song lives but doesn’t get satisfaction out of the outcome.

At first I got lost, then I got found
But the ones that I loved were in the ground

It was on an album called First and Last. It was released in 1978 after the crash. It covered the demos they made at Muscle Shoals. The owners of the studio thought they would be signed because their songs were very good and they had everything arranged before recording…so it was quick. After they were not signed…Ronnie Van Zant promised the recording studio owners that he would mention them in a song if they hit. They thought…yea right! A man of his word…a couple of years later in Sweet Home Alabama he did “Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers and they’ve been known to pick a song or two (yes they do).

I wouldn’t dare compare this to a normal release but it has it’s charm all the same and shows how advanced the band was in the early seventies. Van Zant worked his band members hard to get them in shape. They practiced in an old cabin with no air conditioning in Florida. He would make them go through songs until they were perfect…they nicknamed the place Hell House.

Ronnie Van Zant was a great and sometimes underrated songwriter. The band members have said that he never wrote lyrics down on paper. The band would be practicing and he would hear a riff or a chord progression he liked and would tell them to keep going through it over and over. After thinking about it he would start singing what he came up with.

They were not a jam band (again the Allmans were) but a song band that played their 3-5 minute songs and got off the stage with the exception of the lengthy Free Bird. They were planning to release this before the crash.

No one wanted to sign them because they couldn’t figure out what they were. Record executives said they sounded too much like The Allman Brothers. Which that in itself is just stupid. The executives thought anyone from the south sounded like the Allmans. The Allmans had jazz influences and Lynyrd Skynyrd drew inspiration from British acts like Free and lead singer Paul Rodgers. They were completely different in every way.

Al Kooper met and signed them to a contract back in 1973. Kooper had worked with Jimi Hendrix, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and Bob Dylan. He said Lynyrd Skynyrd were the best arrangers of songs he ever met plus the most organic musicians he worked with. That is high praise coming from Al Kooper.

Another song off of this album is called Comin’ Home which is really good.

Was I Right Or Wrong

Like a restless leaf in the autumn breeze,
Once, I was a tumbleweed
Like a rolling stone, cold and all alone,
Livin’ for the day my dream would come

Never cared for school or any golden rules
Papa used to always say I was a useless fool
So I left my home to show ’em they was wrong
And headed out on the road, singin’ my songs

Then one sunny day, the man, he looked my way
And everything that I dreamed of, it was real
Money, girls, and cars and big long cigars
And I caught the first plane home so Papa would see

When I went home to show ’em they was wrong
All that I found was two tombstones
Somebody tell me, please, was I right or wrong?
Lord, it’s such a sad song

At first I got lost, then I got found
But the ones that I loved were in the ground
Papa, I only wish you could see me now
Take a listen Papa, I learned how to play my guitar, superstar
Play one for momma now

If there’s any way that you can hear what I say
Papa, I never meant to do you wrong
All the money, girls, and cars,
And all the world’s long cigars,
Papa, I just want you to know,
They couldn’t take your place

When I went home to show ’em they was wrong,
All that I found was two tombstones
Somebody tell me please, was I right or wrong?
Lord, it’s such a sad song
At first I got lost, then I got found
But the ones that I loved were in the ground
Somebody tell me, please, was I right or wrong?