John Denver – Take Me Home Country Roads

This John Denver song I really like. 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, actor, and he sold millions of records (over 33 million). He was never known to be cool or hip.

Denver was an easy target for critics and peers. Robert Christgau dubbed him “the blandest pop singer in history,” and comparing 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…

Denver wrote this song with his friends Bill and Taffy Danoff. Denver was in Washington, DC to perform with the Danoffs, and after the show, they went back to the couple’s home where they played him what they had of this song. Denver almost didn’t make it because he was in a car wreck and injured his thumb.

The Danoffs have stated they were hoping to get Johnny Cash to record this song when they wrote it. They almost didn’t play it for Denver because they didn’t think it fit his style.

Denver helped them complete the song, and the next night they sang it together on stage. Denver knew he had a hit song on his hands, and brought the Danoffs to New York where they recorded the song together – you can hear Bill and Taffy on background vocals.

The song peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100 and #3 in Canada in 1971.

 

From Songfacts

The country roads in this song are in West Virginia, but Denver had never even been to West Virginia. Bill and Taffy Danoff started writing the song while driving to Maryland – they’d never been to West Virginia either! Danoff got his inspiration from postcards sent to him by a friend who DID live there, and from listening to the powerful AM station WWVA out of Wheeling, West Virginia, which he picked up in Massachusetts when he was growing up.

Bill Danoff told NPR in 2011: “I just thought the idea that I was hearing something so exotic to me from someplace as far away. West Virginia might as well have been in Europe, for all I knew.”

The Danoffs were in a band called Fat City at the time they wrote this. They later formed the Starland Vocal Band, who had a big hit with “Afternoon Delight” in 1977. There was some speculation that Denver somehow screwed the Danoffs when he became famous and they remained in obscurity, but the couple always defended Denver in interviews, pointing out that he brought Fat City on tour and helped them get a record deal with his RCA/Windsong Records. Denver also recorded several other songs Bill Danoff wrote.

The Shenandoah River is in West Virginia, running right through Harper’s Ferry into the Potomac. The Blue Ridge Mountain Ranges run in a strip from northeast West Virginia to its southwest across the eastern part of the state. Clopper Road originates in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It was a single lane road, but is now a busy four-lane road that heads to Germantown, Maryland. No country road anymore… not even close! It is attainable by exiting off of I-270 at Exit 10.

This was released as a single in the spring of 1971. It broke nationally in mid-April, but moved up the charts very slowly, as Denver was a little-known singer. To this point, Denver’s biggest success was writing “Leaving On A Jet Plane,” which he performed as a member of The Chad Mitchell Trio but was a hit for Peter, Paul and Mary in 1969. Denver pushed RCA records to keep promoting “Take Me Home Country Roads,” and their persistence paid off when it became a huge hit that summer. It was Denver’s first hit, and the first of 13 US Top 40 hits he scored in the ’70s.

Denver charted earlier in 1971 with “Friends With You” at #47, but “Country Roads” established him as a crossover artist with appeal to Pop, Country and Easy Listening audiences. >>

Clopper Road is still there. It is a four lane road from Qince Orchard Boulevard to just past Rt. 118 where it returns to a two lane road. The end of Clopper Road is in a town called Boyds. From Rt. 118 to the end, the road is much like it was in 1969 through the mid-1980s.

In 1969, it really did seem idyllic in a way. Other than the farms and a few houses, there was nothing between Gaithersburg and Boyds other than the few stores and a few businesses in Germantown, and a gas station/country store at the corner of Clopper Road and Rt. 118.

Today, the road is built up from Quince Orchard Road to Seneca Creek, but the last mile or two is like it was back then. The concrete batch plant has been gone for a number of years, the old B&O railroad flag stop is now a MARC commuter rail stop for Boyds, but the rest of Clopper Road has been sold to housing developments. The trip from Rt. 118 to Boyds and to Dickerson beyond is still one of the nicest and peaceful drives in the Metropolitan area. >>

After hearing the first verse, most people feel compelled to sing the chorus, especially in a group environment or if alcohol is involved. The St. Louis Blues hockey team learned this on February 9, 2019 when they played the song during a break in the third period of a game against the Nashville Predators. When play resumed, they faded the song just as it was getting to the chorus, but the crowd sang it anyway and a tradition was born. It helped that the team was winning: they ended up going all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 49 years. Laura Branigan’s “Gloria” also soundtracked the team that season.

Take Me Home Country Roads

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River,
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Blowin’ like the breeze

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

All my memories gathered ’round her
Miner’s lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine
Teardrops in my eye

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

I hear her voice
In the mornin’ hour she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
And drivin’ down the road I get a feelin’
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

Take me home, now country roads
Take me home, now country roads

Where is…The original Death Star model from Star Wars now?

It’s unbelievable how close this famous movie prop came to being lost.

The model used in the film along with some other props were thought to be garbage after the movie finished filming.

Many of the props were kept in a facility called Dollar Moving and Storage. The storage unit was rented by the studio and upon completion of postproduction, the studio decided they no longer wanted to pay rent and ordered everything in storage to be discarded. An employee named Doug W. rescued many of the props from the garbage including the Death Star. In a world before ebay…who knows what was lost.

Doug displayed the Death Star in his home in California for about a decade. Around 1988, Doug moved to Missouri and stored the Death Star at his mother’s antique shop (Sutter’s Mill Antiques, later renamed The Mexican Hillbilly) in Missouri.

Todd Franklin, a Star Wars collector living in the area, drove by the antique shop and was immediately convinced it had to be the original Death Star model. Todd wondered how and why the original Death Star was in Missouri. He made some calls and was convinced it was the one. He was going to buy it but before he got back it was sold to another person named Mark who was the owner of a country and western music show called Star World. Mark displayed the Death Star in the lobby.

In 1994 Todd, his brother Pat, and friend Tim Williams traveled to Star World who was going out of business. The Death Star was being used as a trash can in the corner! Todd made an offer and bought it on the spot. All three owned it and contacted Lucasfilm but they did not want to buy it back.

In 1999 Gus Lopez contacted Todd, Pat, and Tim and negotiated a price. Now, Gus owns the famous Death Star.

Since then, Lopez has had the original Death Star on display in a custom-made case in his home, and he even loaned it to the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle (though Lopez refers to it by its former name: the EMP (Experience Music Project) Museum) for a five-year stint.

Gus Lopez: “The EMP gave it top billing in the museum with a prominent spot at the center of one of the main rooms. I got a kick out of reading about the Death Star in local tourist literature and walking by the Death Star on display at the museum to hear conversations from people telling their stories about what Star Wars meant to them. And now the Death Star is back home, where I see it every day. And when I look at it, I am still amazed it survived its long journey and is sitting right in front of me.”

Image result for original death star

 

Bob Dylan – A Simple Twist Of Fate

This song was on Blood On The Tracks, a brilliant album by Bob released in 1975. This wasn’t a hit but it was a great song. The album though was a hit…peaking at #1.

As with other Dylan songs, the words keep me in this one. I also like the way he sings it…he sings it like he has lived it. People tell me it’s a sin, To know and feel too much within, I still believe she was my twin, but I lost the ring, She was born in spring, but I was born too late, Blame it on a simple twist of fate.

This album was made when he was having trouble with his wife Sara. Dylan denies the album is about the two of them.

In Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of all time in the early 2000s, Blood on the Tracks came in at Number 16.

Jacob Dylan about Blood on the Tracks: ‘When I’m listening to ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues,’ I’m grooving along just like you. But when I’m listening to Blood on the Tracks, that’s about my parents.’ 

From Songfacts

This song is from Blood on the Tracks, the 15th studio album by Bob Dylan, which made the album charts at #1 in the US and #4 in the UK. Blood on the Tracks is also legendary amongst Bob Dylan fans and critics, regarded as one of the high points of his career and standard against which future Bob Dylan albums were compared.

Dylan’s son Jakob Dylan has stated that the songs from Blood on the Tracks are “his parents talking.” Although Dylan denies that the album content is autobiographical, most of the lyrics have a confessional nature.

Covers of “Simple Twist of Fate” include Joan Baez (1975), The Jerry Garcia Band (1991), Concrete Blonde (1994), Sean Costello (2005), The Format (2005), Bryan Ferry (2007), Jeff Tweedy (2007), and Stephen Fretwell (2007). The Jeff Tweedy cover was also used on the soundtrack for the film I’m Not There .

A Simple Twist Of Fate

They sat together in the park
As the evening sky grew dark
She looked at him and he felt a spark
Tingle to his bones
‘Twas then he felt alone
And wished that he’d gone straight
And watched out for a simple twist of fate

They walked along by the old canal
A little confused, I remember well
And stopped into a strange hotel
With a neon burnin’ bright
He felt the heat of the night
Hit him like a freight train
Moving with a simple twist of fate

A saxophone someplace far-off played
As she was walkin’ on by the arcade
As the light bust through a beat-up shade
Where he was waking up
She dropped a coin into the cup
Of a blind man at the gate
And forgot about a simple twist of fate

He woke up, the room was bare
He didn’t see her anywhere
He told himself he didn’t care
Pushed the window open wide
Felt an emptiness inside
To which he just could not relate
Brought on by a simple twist of fate

He hears the ticking of the clocks
And walks along with a parrot that talks
Hunts her down by the waterfront docks
Where the sailors all come in
Maybe she’ll pick him out again
How long must he wait?
One more time, for a simple twist of fate

People tell me it’s a sin
To know and feel too much within
I still believe she was my twin
But I lost the ring
She was born in spring
But I was born too late
Blame it on a simple twist of fate

Loretta Lynn – Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)

The title alone is worth a listen or two. Loretta had some great song titles.

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard Country Charts in 1967. The song also earned Lynn her very first Grammy nomination for Best Country & Western Performance.

The song was written by Loretta Lynn and Peggy Sue Wright. Peggy Sue Wright is Loretta’s younger sister.

Loretta Lynn: “I looked at what she had on paper, and I kind of knew what she was trying to say. It’s like when there’s twins, the old saying is, ‘What one can’t think of, the other one can.’ I’ve always had this feeling with Peggy that I am kind of inside her head. Maybe it’s because she means so much to me. We can look at each other and know what the other is thinking. Sometimes it’s not good to be like that, but when the song was finished, we both thought it was great.”

From Songfacts

In her first #1 country hit, Loretta Lynn is fed up with her alcoholic husband who gets drunk with his buddies and comes home expecting to get frisky with his neglected wife. Lynn could certainly relate to the scenario, as almost all of the turmoil in her nearly 50-year marriage was caused by her husband’s alcoholism, but a different marriage inspired the song. Her sister Peggy Sue was struggling with the same issues in her first marriage and brought the song idea to Lynn, who fleshed it out. Peggy Sue was following Lynn’s path as an aspiring singer who was trying to carve out a career while raising children and making her marriage work.

Peggy Sue, who went on to marry singer/songwriter Sonny Wright, released her debut album, Dynamite!, in 1969.

In 1967 Lynn’s brother Jay Lee Webb released the answer song “I Come Home A-Drinkin’ (To a Worn Out Wife Like You),” which peaked at #21 on the country chart.

Lynn became the first female country singer to have a gold-certified album when Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind) earned the honor in 1970, with over 500,000 copies sold.

Tammy Wynette covered this on her debut album, Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad, in 1967.

Gretchen Wilson sang this on the 2010 album Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn.

This was used on the 2007 Friday Night Lights episode “I Think We Should Have Sex.”

Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)

Well you thought I’d be waitin’ up when you came home last night
You’d been out with all the boys and you ended up half tight
But liquor and love they just don’t mix leave the bottle or me behind
And don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind

No don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind
Just stay out there on the town and see what you can find
‘Cause if you want that kind of love well you don’t need none of mine
So don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind

You never take me anywhere because you’re always gone
And many a night I’ve laid awake and cried here all alone
Then you come in a kissin’ on me it happens every time
No don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind

No don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind
Just stay out there on the town and see what you can find
‘Cause if you want that kind of love well you don’t need none of mine
So don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind
No, don’t come home a drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind

The Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane

This song was probably the first song that made me aware of The Velvet Underground. This song was on the album Loaded. Lou Reed wrote this song and the album was an attempt to write more of a commercial album.

This was Reed’s attempt at writing a hit for the Velvet Underground, who were highly influential, but commercially doomed. Loaded was the band’s last album, and the title was a reference to the record company mandate that the album be “Loaded with hits.”

The album was released on November 15, 1970. Loaded was ranked 110 on Rolling Stones list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

 

From Songfacts

The Velvet Underground leader Lou Reed wrote this song as a surreal look at the life of a rock star. Reed included the song in his live sets; it appeared on his album Live at Max’s Kansas City in 1972 and on another live album, Rock n Roll Animal, in 1974. The version on Rock n Roll Animal, which was recorded at a New York show on December 21, 1973, features the twin-guitar work of Steven Hunter and Dick Wagner, who Reed employed to rock out his songs on tour.

Released as a single, this live version of the song heralded a new sound for Reed, one he quickly abandoned when he fired Hunter and Wagner at the end of the tour and disavowed the album. Reed released his intentionally awful Metal Machine Music album the following year, while his bygone guitarists joined Alice Cooper on tour, with Wagner becoming Cooper’s songwriting partner. In our interview with Dick Wagner, he explained: “He claims that he didn’t like the Rock n’ Roll Animal album, but at the time he sure loved it. A lot of the songs were from the Velvet Underground days, and I wanted to take them out of that placid performance of the songs and make it more for the concert stage and the stadiums, so I did some majestic arranging with some of the songs – that’s what I do. Within the context of the band and how to deliver the songs, it really worked. I guess Lou doesn’t really like it that much, but that’s kind of a lie.”

There was a great deal of acrimony during recording of the album, and Reed left before it was finished. In his absence, “Sweet Jane” was edited down, with a wistful coda removed from the song. This angered Reed, who told Rolling Stone magazine that if he knew they were going to press on with the album, “I would have stayed with them and showed them what to do.” The full version of the song can be heard on the album Live at Max’s Kansas City, recorded in 1969. 

This song appears on the album 1969: The Velvet Underground Live, which was released in 1974. This is the double album with the famous gatefold revealing a leggy model in sparkling go-go boots and hot pants showing some can, on a vibrant green background; very sought-after by today’s VU collectors. There, “Sweet Jane” has a significantly different chord progression and lyrics; it was still a work-in-progress.
Captured on the bootleg recording of Lou Reed’s last night performing live with The Velvet Underground, which happened through the tail end of the Loaded sessions, is one Jim Carroll. As told in The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side, Carroll can be heard ordering a Pernod and discussing the drug Tuinal. Carroll would later write The Basketball Diaries.

Reed did a parody version on his 1979 album Live – Take No Prisoners.

The original lyrics were, “Jane in her corset, Jack is in his vest, and me I’m in a rock n’ roll band.” Lou changed them to “Jack is in a corset, Jane is in a vest” to portray the wackiness of rock stars. 

Mott the Hoople covered this on their All the Young Dudes album, which was also produced by David Bowie – Reed fully endorsed this cover and even did a reference vocal to help them out. Another version Reed liked was the one recorded by Brownsville Station on their 1973 album Yeah!.

Other notable covers of this song include versions by Cowboy Junkies, 2 Nice Girls, Phish, The Kooks, Gang of Four, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Reed himself appeared with Metallica (Metallica!) on October 25, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City to perform “Sweet Jane” at the concert to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Q Magazine rated “Sweet Jane” at #18 on its list of 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, and Guitar World rated it at #81 on its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos, while Rolling Stone ranked it #335 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

 

Sweet Jane

Standin’ on a corner
Suitcase in my hand
Jack’s in his car, says to Jane, who’s in her vest,
And me, I’m in a rock n’ roll band.
Ridin’ in a Stutz Bearcat, Jim
You know,those were different times
All the poets studied rows of verse,
And those the ladies rolled their eyes

Sweet Jane, sweet Jane, sweet Jane

Now, Jack, he is a banker
And Jane, she is a clerk
And the both of them are saving up their moneys
And when they come home from work
Sittin’ by the fire
The radio does play
The classical music there, Jim
The march of the wooden soldiers
All you protest kids
You can hear Jack say, get ready, ah

Sweet Jane, come on baby,sweet Jane, oh-oh-a,sweet Jane

Some people, they like to go out dancing
And other peoples, they have to work. Just watch me now
And there’s even some evil mothers
Well they’re gonna tell you that everything is just dirt
Y’know that, women, never really faint
And that villains always blink their eyes, woo
And that, y’know, children are the only ones who blush
And that, life is, just to die
And, everyone who ever had a heart, oh
That wouldn’t turn around and break it
And anyone who ever played a part, whoa
And wouldn’t turn around and hate it

Sweet Jane! Whoa-oh-oh! Sweet Jane! Sweet Jane Sweet Jane

Heavenly wine and roses
Seem to whisper to her when he smiles
Heavenly wine and roses
Seem to whisper to her, hey when she smiles

Lala, lala,lala, lala, lala, lala, lala,lala

Sweet Jane
Sweet Jane
Sweet Jane
Sweet Jane
Sweet Jane

Neil Young – Long May You Run

Always a favorite Neil Young song of mine. This was the title song on the joint album by Neil Young and Stephen Stills. Stills and Young wrote separately for the album, which Stephen contributing four songs, and Young adding five, including the title track.

It was going to be a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young album but Crosby and Nash to leave for a while for commitments. Stills and Young scrubbed the tapes clean of any contributions made by their bandmates and resolved to keep the album a Stills-Young release. It would end up being credited to the Stills-Young Band.

Stills and Young toured on the album but after a few dates…Neil Young abruptly left the tour and sent a telegram to Stills…“Dear Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil.”

The song did chart in the UK at #71 in 1976.

 

From Songfacts

Neil’s beloved Pontiac hearse, “Mort” (a.k.a. “Mortimer Hearseburg”), was the inspiration for this song. Neil drove “Mort” from Toronto to Los Angeles, where he met Stephen Stills and formed Buffalo Springfield.

Neil was in Canada driving to Sudbury when ‘Mort’ broke down in Blind River, June 1965. (Which is contradictory to the lyrics; “well it was back in Blind River, in 1962, when I last saw you alive”).

In 1976, Stephen Stills and Neil Young formed The Stills-Young Band and released an album called Long May You Run, which turned out to be somewhat ironic when the collaboration quickly stalled.

Stills is a longtime collaborator of Neil’s, having worked with him first in Buffalo Springfield and then in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. However, they had a falling out only nine days into the Long May You Run tour. Young decided to abandon the project, leaving Stills with a mere telegram to explain his departure. It read: “Dear Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil.”

In addition to Young’s compilation album Decade this also appears on his 1993 album Unplugged

The last ever Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien on Friday January 22, 2010 finished in style when O’Brien’s final musical guest, Neil Young, performed this song in what appeared to be a poke at NBC. O’Brien had been asked to move his slot to 12:05 a.m., and the TV host refused to move his show to such a late hour, and instead negotiated a $45 million exit deal.

Neil Young performed this song at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games to a rousing ovation of Canadian audience members. 

 

 

Long May You Run

We’ve been through some things together
With trunks of memories still to come
We found things to do in stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining in the sun
Long may you run.

Well, it was back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift on the long decline
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining in the sun
Long may you run.

Maybe The Beach Boys have got you now
With those waves singing “Caroline”
Rollin’ down that empty ocean road
Gettin’ to the surf on time.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining in the sun
Long may you run.

Foghat – Slow Ride

This is a fun song to hear once in a while. This song was written by the group’s lead singer, David “Lonesome Dave” Peverett. Many air guitars have been played with this song.

This song peaked at #20 in the Billboard 100 in 1976. They were a British band that never had much success in the UK…but they did have a lot of success in America.

Their bass player Tony Stevens quit and was replaced by their producer Nick Jameson. Nick had played bass in his first band so they asked him to join. They all jammed with each other for around 6 hours and this song came out of it. Although it is credited to Peverett, it is said to be written by the entire band with big contributions from Jameson.

Foghat got their name when Peverett came up with the word while playing a Scrabble-like game with his brother. Peverett convinced the band to go with it instead of Brandywine.

From Songfacts

The album version of this song, which runs 8:14, has become a classic rock staple. While the “slow love” theme is common in R&B music where the tempo is more congruent with the lyrics, this is a rare rock song that pulls off the feat. The famous guitar riffs change speed and climax near the end, effectively simulating a lovemaking session. Those who are feeling strong can use the album version, but a single cut down to 3:56 with a fade out ending is also available.

A ’70s classic, this was used in the movie Dazed and Confused, which was set in that era. The song also appeared on The Simpsons, Seinfeld, That ’70s Show and My Name Is Earl.

This song is featured as a playable song in Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock. It is a cover of the 3:56 version, but instead of fading, an original ending was added leaving the singer belting out “SLOW RIDE” and having a bass solo before ending. 

In 2008, American Idol contestants Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta performed this song as a duet on the competition show. It went over so well, their rendition was released as a single, going to #105 in the US.

Slow Ride

Woo!

Slow ride, take it easy
Slow ride, take it easy
Slow ride, take it easy
Slow ride, take it easy

I’m in the mood
The rhythm is right
Move to the music
We can roll all night

Oh slow ride
Oh slow ride, take it easy
Slow ride, take it easy

Slow down, go down, got to get your lovin’ one more time
Hold me, roll me, slow ridin’ woman you’re so fine

Woo

I’m in the mood
The rhythm is right
Move to the music
We can roll all night, yeah

Oh
Slow ride, take it easy
Slow ride, take it easy

Slow down, go down, got to get your lovin’ one more time
Hold me, roll me, slow ridin’ woman you’re so fine

Slow ride, easy, slow ride, sleazy
Slow ride, easy, slow ride, sleazy
Slow ride, sleazy