Steely Dan – Hey Nineteen

I want to make an announcement (clears throat) Saturday I will have something different…I will be interviewing a Disc Jockey…he will answer some of my and other blogger’s questions that I requested.  He has been kind of enough to do this through email.

This song will always be linked to John Lennon to me. The reason for this is right after John was murdered this was huge and on the charts. I listened to the radio religiously back then and got to know this one well.

Steely Dan were essentially the duo Donald Fagen (vocals & keyboards) and Walter Becker (guitar & bass) who formed the partnership in 1972 and used an ever-changing cycle of musicians. They took their moniker from the name of a female sex toy featured in Naked Lunch by William Burroughs.

Becker and Fagen parted ways in 1980, leaving “Hey Nineteen” un-played until their  1993 reunion.

The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 and #5 in Canada in 1981. The song was on the album Gaucho which peaked at #9 in the Billboard Album Charts, #18 in Canada, and #27 in the UK in 1980.

From Songfacts

In this song, an older man is seducing a 19-year-old girl. He’s a bit conflicted, as her inexperience frustrates him when she doesn’t even remember Aretha Franklin. However, on this particular night and with the help of some Cuervo Gold tequila, everything is wonderful.

Steely Dan used a variety of musicians on their albums. On this track, Hugh McCracken played guitar, Rick Marotta was on drums, and Victor Feldman and Steve Gadd added percussion. Walter Becker also added guitar, and Donald Fagen played the Fender Rhodes electric piano and the synthesizer.

Roger Nichols, who was one of the engineers on the Gaucho sessions, fashioned a drum machine they used on this track. Dubbed “Wendel,” it was one of the first of its kind, and it allowed them to record Rick Marotta’s drum parts and play them back with perfect precision.

The LM-1, which was the first programable drum machine sold to the public that sampled real instruments, was introduced in 1980, the year Gaucho was released, so many assumed that’s what Steely Dan used. They didn’t, but there was a connection. Roger Linn, who created the LM-1, told Songfacts: “By coincidence, Roger and I had both bought our first computers in around 1975 at a place called Computer Power and Light in Studio City, an area of Los Angeles. Wendel used that same computer and a early but high-quality digital audio interface, running a program he had written to enter simple looping beats on the screen. A very creative and talented guy.”

Hey Nineteen

Way back when in sixty seven
I was the dandy of Gamma Chi
Sweet things from Boston
So young and willing
Moved down to Scarsdale
And where the hell am I

Hey nineteen
No we can’t dance together
No we can’t talk at all
Please take me along
When you slide on down

Hey nineteen
That’s ‘Retha Franklin
She don’t remember the Queen of Soul
It’s hard times befallen
The sole survivors
She thinks I’m crazy
But I’m just growing old

Hey nineteen
No we got nothing in common
No we can’t talk at all
Please take me along
When you slide on down

Nice
Sure looks good
Mmm mmm mmm
Skate a little roller now

The Cuervo Gold
The fine Colombian
Make tonight a wonderful thing
Say it again

The Cuervo Gold
The fine Colombian
Make tonight a wonderful thing

The Cuervo Gold
The fine Colombian
Make tonight a wonderful thing

No we can’t dance together
No we can’t talk at all

Who – Another Tricky Day

This was the first album the Who made without Keith Moon called Face Dances. Kenney Jones was playing drums and the album had a substantial hit with You Better You Bet. It was also the first new Who album I ever bought. The other ones had been collections of their older hits. I can’t say that I don’t the Moon version of the Who but the album did have some good songs on it.

This song is one of the best songs off of Face Dances. To my surprise it was not released as a single.

The album peaked at #4 in the Billboard Album Charts, #2 in the UK, and #1 in Canada in 1981.

Roger Daltrey: “Pete’s a very complicated bunch of people… And you never know which one of him you’re going to get. There’s one that’s so wonderful, so caring, so spiritual. But there are others that are horrendous-and I mean horrendous…. That’s the madness of genius, so I accept it. I don’t judge him. I love him. I love all of hims.”

Another Tricky Day

You can’t always get it
When you really want it
You can’t always get it at all
Just because there’s space
In your life it’s a waste
To spend your time why don’t you wait for the call

(Just gotta get used to it)
We all get it in the end
(Just gotta get used to it)
We go down and we come up again
(Just gotta get used to it)
You irritate me my friend
(This is no social crisis)
This is you having fun
(No crisis)
Getting burned by the sun
(This is true)
This is no social crisis
Just another tricky day for you

You can always get higher
Just because you aspire
You could expire even knowing.
Don’t push the hands
Just hang on to the band
You can dance while your knowledge is growing

(It could happen anytime)
You can’t expect to never cry
(Patience is priceless)
Not when you try to fly so high
(Just stay on that line)
Rock and roll will never die
(This is no social crisis)
[etc.]

Another tricky day
Another gently nagging pain
What the papers say
Just seems to bring down heavier rain
The world seems in a spiral
Life seems such a worthless title
But break out and start a fire y’all
It’s all here on the vinyl
(No crisis)
[etc.]

[Repeat verse 1.]

(Just gotta get used to it)
Gotta get used to waiting
(Just gotta get used to it)
You know how the ice is
(Just gotta get used to it)
It’s thin where you’re skating
(This is no social crisis)
[etc.]

Just another tricky day for you fellah

Bon: The Last Highway…by Jessie Fink

This book covers the last three years of Bon Scott, the lead singer of AC/DC.

Bon: The Last Highway is a fun read. It gives you more than just a look at Bon Scott. It gives you a peek in the world of Rock and Roll in the 1970s. It was a much more of a loose time then compared to now to say the least…both good and bad. The music business was a completely different ballgame than now.

Although this just covers the last three years of his life…you get to know Bon pretty well. I knew nothing about the guy until I read the book. He seemed to be well read, likeable, and a basically good guy to his friends and fans. O f course he did  have substance abuse  problems that haunted him.

There are a lot of stories about fans coming up to him and starting friendships. Fink interviewed other bands and most if not all had great things to say about Scott. He did find people who never have been interviewed and got stories that never have been published.

The working relationship between Bon and the Young brothers surprised me the most. Bon wrote the lyrics and they would censor what he wrote. Nothing political or controversial. They didn’t want the formula to be messed with. Offstage they didn’t tend to hang out as much with each other.

I never knew how popular Scott was in Australia even now. His grave site has become a cultural landmark; more than 28 years after Scott’s death, the National Trust of Australia declared his grave important enough to be included on the list of classified heritage places. It is reportedly the most visited grave in Australia.

The two things that author Jesse Fink concentrates on is how Bon died and if Bon did write some or most of the lyrics to the Back In Black album that was released after his death.

As far as the way the man died…Fink has some theories and they center around heroin. He interviewed some that has never been interviewed and got their story around Bon and the ones around him that night. The coroner’s report lists “acute alcohol poisoning” as the cause of death, classified under “death by misadventure.” Fink talked with people with him when he died on February 19, 1980.

The Young Brothers  have denied they ever used any of his lyrics on Back in Black…but AC/DC did cut a deal with the Scott family for a share of royalties on the album. In interviews they have denied it but did contradict themselves in others.

Below is an excerpt from the book  where more was said about the subject than any other time.

Then in 1998 Elissa Blake of Australian Rolling Stone caught him napping.

BLAKE: Have you ever thought about quitting?

ANGUS: The only time was when Bon died. We were in doubt about what to do but we had songs that he had written and wanted to finish the songs. We thought it would be our tribute to Bon and that album became Back In Black. We didn’t even know if people would even accept it. But it was probably one of our biggest albums and the success of that kept it going. We were on the road with that album for about two years so it was like therapy for the band after Bon’s death.

Bizarrely, before and since, Angus went with an altogether different story.

1981: “Some things we can’t do, you know, that was strictly Bon’s songs, and things.”

1996: “No, we were gonna start working on the lyrics with him the next week [after he died].”

1998: “The week he died, we had just worked out the music and he was going to come in and start writing lyrics.”

2000: “Bon was just about to come and start working with us writing lyrics just before he died.”

2005: “There was nothing [on Back In Black] from Bon’s notebook.”

It’s a line the band now doggedly sticks to despite mounting evidence that Bon’s lyrics were used. As Ian Jeffery admitted to me, cagily: “Not totally certain about Back In Black but I seem to remember a couple of words, lines [of Bon’s being on there]. Maybe not.”

Fink talked to Scott’s ex girlfriends and friends in his life and many claim that he did write many of the lyrics to You Shook Me All Night Long as well as other songs. Others say he had said some of the lines in letters. He basically gives you what he found and lets you make up your mind.

I would recommend this book to rock fans…and to AC/DC fans who mostly only know Brian Johnson as the lead singer.

Talking Heads – Once In A Life Time

Same as it ever was

David Byrne at his visual performance best with this video. According to David Byrne’s own words, this song is about how we, as people, tend to operate half-awake or on autopilot. Or perhaps a better way of explaining that statement is that we do not actually know why we engage in certain actions which come define our lives.

The members of Talking Heads…David Byrne, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz and Jerry Harrison – all contributed to the writing of this song along with the track’s producer, Brian Eno. And “Once in a Lifetime” itself originated from jam sessions. With this album the band wanted a more democratic process instead of Byrne writing all of the songs.

The song was on the Remain in Light album released in 1980. The song peaked at #103 in the US Billboard Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chat, #28 in Canada, and #14 in the UK in 1981.

In 1985 the song peaked at #91 in the Billboard 100 with a live version of the song off of the album Stop Making Sense.

The video was huge back in the early 80s and that is where I found the song. It was choreographed  by Toni Basil.

For this album they would improvise in the studio and take bits and pieces out. Their own version of  “sampling” and “looping.” The 1973 Afrobeat record by Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, became the inspiration for the album

Brian Eno: “It had all been done,” Eno says, “and the only thing left worth doing was some sort of urban pessimism of some kind, and that record is terribly optimistic in a way. It’s very up and, like, looking out to the world and saying, ‘What a fantastic place we live in. Let’s celebrate it.’ And I think we knew that was a fresh thought at the time.”

David Byrne:Most of the words in ‘Once in a Lifetime’ come from evangelists I recorded off the radio while taking notes and picking up phrases I thought were interesting directions. Maybe I’m fascinated with the middle class because it seems so different from my life, so distant from what I do. I can’t imagine living like that.”

From Songfacts

This song deals with the futility of not being happy with the things you have. Like trying to remove the water at the bottom of the ocean, there’s no way to stop life from moving on. The forces of nature (like the ocean) keep you moving almost without your conscious effort – like a ventriloquist moving a puppet.

Some of these evangelist recordings also made their way to a 1981 album called My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, by David Byrne and Brian Eno.

This stalled at #103 in February 1981, but when MTV launched that August, they played the video a lot, giving the song much more exposure.

David Byrne’s choreography in the video was done by the Toni Basil, who had a hit as a singer with “Mickey.” It was a very odd video, and for many viewers it was the first look they got at the Talking Heads (or at least Byrne – the full band didn’t appear in a video until “Burning Down the House” two years later).

As you watch David Byrne spasm like a malfunctioning robot interspersed with gesturing in Martian sign language, ponder this excerpt from the book MTV Ruled the World – The Early Years of Music Video, in which Toni Basil fills in some details about the choreography for this video: “He [Byrne] wanted to research movement, but he wanted to research movement more as an actor, as does David Bowie, as does Mick Jagger. They come to movement in another way, not as a trained dancer. Or not really interested in dance steps. He wanted to research people in trances – different trances in church and different trances with snakes. So we went over to UCLA and USC, and we viewed a lot of footage of documentaries on that subject. And then he took the ideas, and he ‘physicalized’ the ideas from these documentary-style films.”

Basil adds: “When I was making videos – whether it was with Devo, David Byrne, or whoever – there wasn’t record companies breathing down anybody’s neck, telling them what to do, what the video should look like. There was no paranoid A&R guy, no crazy dresser that would come in and decide what people should be wearing, and put them in shoes that they can’t walk in, everybody with their own agenda. We were all on our own.”

Basil also directed and choreographed the video for the Remain In Light track “Crosseyed And Painless,” which features dancers from a crew called The Electric Boogaloos. None of the band members appear in it.

Some critics have suggested that “Once In A Lifetime” is a kind of prescient jab at the excesses of the 1980s. David Byrne says they’re wrong; that the lyric is pretty much about what it says it’s about. In an interview with NPR, Byrne said: “We’re largely unconscious. You know, we operate half awake or on autopilot and end up, whatever, with a house and family and job and everything else, and we haven’t really stopped to ask ourselves, ‘How did I get here?'” 

Brian Eno produced this song and wrote the chorus, which he also sang on. David Byrne wrote the verses, which he talk/sings in an intriguing narrative style. Remain In Light was the fourth Talking Heads album, and the third produced by Eno, whose artistic bent and flair for the unusual were a great fit for the group.

Unlike their previous album, the songs on Remain In Light were mostly written in the studio (Compass Point, the Bahamas) and all credited to the four band members plus Eno.

A surprising number of musicians cite “Once In A Lifetime” as one of the best songs ever recorded. Here are three:

Charlotte Church, who named it the first song she fell in love with. “The first time I heard it, my mind was blown,” she told NME. “There’s so magic in that song. I think David Byrne is an absolute G.”

Nick Feldman of Wang Chung, who loves the “almost randomly cacophonous keyboard burblings, the wonderful bass line and rhythm section groove and David Byrne’s slightly preacher-like vocals.” He told Songfacts: “When my personal life started to unravel many years later, the lyrics to this song still resonated for me. Byrne’s mesmeric and intense physical performance in the video to this track still compels today, and compliments and reflects the music it is interpreting.”

Glen Ballard, who produced and co-wrote hits for Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews and Aerosmith. “That song can’t be touched,” he said in a Songfacts interview. “I listen to it like once a month because everything about it is so perfect.”

The video broke new ground when it was exhibited at the New York Museum of Modern Art as part of a 1982 exhibition called “Performance Video.” The exhibit helped explain to parents what their kids were watching on MTV. It explained how the “Once In A Lifetime” video “expands upon the song’s complex interweaving of moods and images as well as Byrne’s interest in African music and percussion.”

When Talking Heads toured to support their next album, Speaking in Tongues, in 1983, Byrne did the movements from the video when he performed the song. Not only that, he added movements to other songs they performed on that tour as well, making for some very unorthodox visual expression. Audiences were used to seeing pyro and flashing lights, but had never seen anything like the full band running in place (“Burning Down the House”) or Byrne turning himself into a human corkscrew (“Life During Wartime”). The experience was so striking it got the attention of director Jonathan Demme, who filmed a few of the shows and turned it into the acclaimed concert film Stop Making Sense.

This was used in the pilot episodes of That ’80s Show (2002) and Numb3rs (2005). It was used twice on The Simpsons (“Days of Future Future” – 2014, “Trust But Clarify” – 2016) and in these series:

The Deuce (“Morta di Fame” – 2019)
Being Erica (“Being Adam” – 2010)
Chuck (“Chuck Versus the Suburbs” – 2009)
WKRP in Cincinnati (“Real Families” – 1980)

It also shows up in these movies:

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
Secret Window (2004)
Rock Star (2001)
Alice and Martin (1998)

The live version from Stop Making Sense was used in the opening sequence of the 1986 movie Down And Out In Beverly Hills, which shows a homeless Nick Nolte pushing his grocery cart of possessions around Los Angeles and doing some dumpster diving. His character is in a classic, “How did I get here?” situation, but soon his fortunes take a turn. This version of the song was re-released as a single that year and charted at #91 in America.

The Exies released a haunting version of this song in 2006, releasing a video to go with it. It has also been covered by Smashing Pumpkins and sampled by Jay-Z on his song “It’s Alright.”

Phish covered the entire Remain In Light album on Halloween, 1996 at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta. It took up the entire second set of their show and featured guest brass players. The performance is considered one of the best Phish “album-cover” attempts. 

Benin superstar Angélique Kidjo covered this song along with the rest of Remain in Light in 2018. She explained to Mojo: “I wanted to bring the resilience of the Africans, and the joy, despite everything they throw at us.”

On May 5, 2018, Kidjo sang “Once In A Lifetime” with David Byrne at Carnegie Hall. She told Mojo: “It was not rehearsed or planned. I think if I thought about it I wouldn’t have been able to sing one note.”

In his 2019 Broadway production American Utopia, David Byrne evokes this song a few times, doing the movements associated with it and at one point asking, “How did I get here?” He does the song in the play as well, and on February 29, 2020, Byrne performed it on Saturday Night Live with his cast members. Later that year, American Utopia was released on HBO as a movie.

Once In A Lifetime

And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was

Water dissolving and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Under the water, carry the water
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean!
Water dissolving and water removing

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again into silent water
Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

You may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
You may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say yourself
“My God! What have I done?”

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again into the silent water
Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Look where my hand was
Time isn’t holding up
Time isn’t after us
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Same as it ever was
Letting the days go by
Same as it ever was
And here the twister comes
Here comes the twister

Letting the days go by (same as it ever was)
Same as it ever was (same as it ever was)
Letting the days go by (same as it ever was)
Same as it ever was
Once in a lifetime
Let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by

Replacements – Here Comes A Regular

Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst
after a hard day of nothin’ much at all

I can’t tell you how much I like this ballad by The Replacements. This song sounds so authentic that it hurts. I don’t normally try to interrupt songs. They mean different things to different people but this one hit home for me…I knew people like this and I spent my fair share of  time in bars playing to drinking customers.

The song is sad but an honest portrait. It’s a lonely life but a comfort to have people to be lonely with… but it also is a signal  that you could be spiraling slowly down. I have never been drinker but I did haunt some clubs (mostly playing music) in my earlier days nursing a drink into the night. I remember one night being at a club at 2am in the morning…thinking why the hell am I still here? That is when my days of being a regular stopped.

Tim is the fourth studio album by  The Replacements. It was released in October 1985 on Sire Records. It was their first major label release. Paul Westerberg wrote this song and played acoustic.

The Replacements - Tim cover.jpg

You’re like a picture on the fridge that’s never stocked with food
I used to live at home, now I stay at their house

Here Comes A Regular

Well a person can work up a mean mean thirst
after a hard day of nothin’ much at all
Summer’s passed, it’s too late to cut the grass
There ain’t much to rake anyway in the fall

And sometimes I just ain’t in the mood
to take my place in back with the loudmouths
You’re like a picture on the fridge that’s never stocked with food
I used to live at home, now I stay at the house

And everybody wants to be special here
They call your name out loud and clear
Here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one here today?

Well a drinkin’ buddy that’s bound to another town
Once the police made you go away
And even if you’re in the arms of someone’s baby now
I’ll take a great big whiskey to ya anyway

Everybody wants to be someone’s here
Someone’s gonna show up, never fear
’cause here comes a regular
Call out your name
Here comes a regular
Am I the only one who feels ashamed?

Kneeling alongside old Sad Eyes
He says opportunity knocks once then the door slams shut
All I know is I’m sick of everything that my money can buy
The fool who wastes his life, God rest his guts

First the lights, then the collar goes up, and the wind begins to blow
Turn your back on a pay-you-back, last call
First the glass, then the leaves that pass, then comes the snow
Ain’t much to rake anyway in the fall

Famous Rock Guitars Part 5

Back as promised…I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea so to speak but I hope you enjoy it. This is obviously the 5th edition of this series. In Part 1, Part2, Part 3, and Part 4. We covered Brian May’s Red Special, Willie Nelson’s Trigger, George Harrison’s Rocky, Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat, Bruce Springsteen’s guitar, Neil Young’s Old Black guitar, John Lennon’s Casino + a Bonus, and Keith Richards Telecaster.

Today will we look at:

Paul McCartney’s Hofner Bass and Eric Clapton’s Blackie.

Paul McCartney’s Hofner Bass and the MISSING Hofner Bass

paul mccartney hofner bass | Tumblr | Paul mccartney, Beatles john, Beatles  photos

Paul’s bass is maybe the most iconic guitar/bass of all time in rock music. You see this bass and you think Beatles. I see the attraction to this bass. I have a Hofner copy and I’ve played a Hofner a few times. They are ultra light and have a nice feel to them. The Hofner is really easy to play.

Lets start with the Hofner he bought in Hamburg in 1961…we will call it The Cavern Bass or Hofner#1.  It was played on some iconic Beatles recordings including their very first studio outing in June 1961 in Hamburg, their first single Love Me Do in 1962 and their first two albums, Please Please Me and With The Beatles in 1963. It’s the one you hear on “She Loves You, “Twist and Shout”, it was played in Hamburg, at The Cavern Club, and at Abbey Road.

In 1965 he sent it in to get it worked on…it was  sprayed with a darker sunburst and the pickup guard removed.

It was last seen in the 1969 footage from Twickenham Studios, where the Beatles were filming “Let It Be.” Soon afterward, it was stolen, most likely from a closet at EMI’s Abbey Road studio, along with Harrison’s Gretsch Tennessean and second Ric 360-12. People are still looking for that bass guitar.

These two pictures show the same Bass…the Cavern Bass…notice the different colors and the removed pick guard…but same bass.

Pin on Men and their guitarsPin by Lynne Jones on THE BEATLES | Paul mccartney beatles, Lennon and  mccartney, Paul mccartney

In 1963 Paul bought another Hofner bass that he used as his primary bass and played it from then on and still does. We will call it Hofner #2. He didn’t retire the Cavern Bass but just used it as a back up to Hofner #2.

Here are the two basses labeled…the #1 is the lost/stolen Cavern bass and the #2 is the 1963 bass he used throughout the Beatles. Paul is still looking for the Cavern Bass and the Hofner company has a webpage describing the bass and trying to get it back for Paul.

The Daily Beatle has moved!: The Höfner setlist

I have to wonder who has this bass. Odds are they don’t know what they have… if it survives. I hope Paul gets it back… he loves instruments and still has many of the instruments he used with The Beatles… Hey…lets go out and find this bass…that would be one way to meet him!

***From the  mid-sixties on he would use a Rickenbacker bass which produced brighter and clearer bass sound. He famously used one on Sgt Pepper. He used both basses through the years.

Paul McCartney on the set of Magical Mystery Tour in 1967 playing his  painted Rickenbacker 4001S bass. | Paul mccartney, The beatles, Lennon and  mccartney

Eric Clapton’s Blackie

The Guitar Center Puts Eric Clapton's Legendary Stratocaster on Display -  Bloomberg

Eric built this guitar in around 1970 from different Fender Strats…here is Eric telling the story.

Eric Clapton: “I was in Nashville and I went into this shop called Sho-Bud where they had stacks of Fender Strats going for virtually nothing because they were so unfashionable and unwanted,” 

“I bought a big pile of them all for a song – they were really cheap, like $300 or $400 each – and I took them home and gave them out. I gave Steve Winwood one, I gave Pete Townshend one, I gave George Harrison one and I kept a few, and I made Blackie out of a group of them. I took the pickups out of one, the scratchplate off another, the neck off another and I made my own guitar, like a hybrid guitar that had all the best bits from all these Strats.”

Blackie would be the main guitar used on every one of Eric’s albums for 15 years. During that time, Eric and Blackie would rack up an impressive number of hits, including “Cocaine,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Wonderful Tonight,” and “Lay Down Sally.”

in 2004, Eric worked with Christie’s to auction the legendary guitar off. The winner paid $959,000 for Blackie, with most of the proceeds again supporting Eric’s Crossroads Center.

Eric Clapton's Blackie: History of the Great Fender Stratocaster |  Guitarriego

Blasters – Border Radio

You can hear, feel, and get a thrill from this song that was obviously influenced by early rock and roll. It’s like a car that hits you and just keeps rolling on…and you never catch the license plate…but you still feel honored to get hit by this one.

The Blasters released this song in 1981 and it was off of their self titled album.

The Blasters (album).jpg

The song was written by Phil Alvin  wh o was the guitarist, singer, and main songwriter for the band.  The band produced a range of “rockabilly, country, blues, and New Orleans roadhouse R&B.”

I have never known the band well but I have recently started to get into them. Just some great pure music with a groove.

Border radio’s greatest asset was the sheer reach of its signal. Free from U.S. regulation, signals ranged from 50,000 to 500,000 watts. Listeners could often hear radio signals coming through barb wire fences, bed springs and dental work. The signal was so powerful that the “X” stations would often overpower stations broadcasting from American soil. Signals from border radio stations could sometimes be heard as far away as Russia… Wolfman Jack came from a Border Radio station.

Border Radio

One more midnight, her man is still gone
The nights move too slow
She tries to remember the heat of his touch
While listening to the Border Radio

She calls toll-free and requests an old song
Something they used to know
She prays to herself that wherever he is,
He’s listening to the Border Radio

This song comes from nineteen sixty-two
Dedicated to a man who’s gone
Fifty thousand watts out of Mexico
This is the Border Radio
This is the Border Radio

She thinks of her son, asleep in his room
And how her man won’t see him grow
She thinks of her life and she hopes for a change
While listening to the Border Radio

This song comes from nineteen sixty-two
Dedicated to a man who’s gone
Fifty thousand watts out of Mexico
This is the Border Radio
This is the Border Radio

They play her tune but she can’t concentrate
She wonders why he had to go
One more night and her man is still gone
She’s listening to the Border Radio

This song comes from nineteen sixty-two
Dedicated to a man who’s gone
Fifty thousand watts out of Mexico
This is the Border Radio
This is the Border Radio

Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me

I heard this song quite a bit when covid started. I heard it yesterday and didn’t want to scream…it’s a song I like again.  it was the lead single from their third album Zenyatta released in 1980.

The Police recorded this in Holland over a period of months. The song started as a Hammond organ-based soul track then evolved through various complex arrangements, until it was eventually reduced to it’s simplest elements.

The band made a video for this song in 1980 that MTV put in rotation when they launched the following year. This is another video I remember being played heavily on MTV.

The song peaked at #1 in the UK, #2 in Canada, and #10 in the Billboard 100 in 1980. The band re-recorded the song in 1986 as Don’t Stand So Close to Me ’86’ and it peaked at #46 in the Billboard 100, #24 in the UK, and #27 in Canada.

This won the 1981 Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Group.

From Songfacts

This song is about a teacher who lusts after one of his students. Sting was a teacher before joining The Police, and was no doubt the subject of young girl fantasy, but he insists the lyric is not based on personal experience. Putting the speculation to rest, he explained on the DVD for his 2001 All This Time album that he made up the story. 

The line, “Just like the old man in the book by Nabokov,” refers to the novel Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which is about an older man who pursues underage girls. Sting based this song on the book. Sting mispronounces the author’s name – the “bo” should be stressed. Also, in the novel Lolita, Humbert is not quite an old man. 

In the UK, this sold 900,000 copies and was the best-selling single of 1980.

The Police reunited in 1986 to record updated versions of some of their old songs. The reunion brought out old hostilities, and this was the only song they completed. The new version was released as a single titled “Don’t Stand So Close To Me ’86,” and included on their greatest hits album Every Breath You Take – The Singles.

In 1985, Sting worked with Dire Straits on “Money For Nothing,” which has a chorus that sounds very similar to this (compare the lines “Don’t stand so close to me” with “I want my MTV”). Sting did not want a songwriting credit, but his record company thought he should get one so they could receive royalties.

 In the video, the guys are larking about a school in graduation gowns, with Sting going through a few costume changes and taking his shirt off at one point. They’re clearly having fun and messing around with each other – it’s a good snapshot of how they could get on in their early years.

They also made a video for the 1986 version of the song, this one directed by Godley & Creme. No shenanigans in that one, just the band looking somber amid many dated special effects.

The race horse Zenyatta is named after the album Zenyatta Mondatta. The horse is owned by Jerry Moss, who signed The Police to his label A&M Records.

This is an example of Sting’s “work backward” method. “I pluck a title from the air, just free-associating, and then try to figure out a story that it could apply to,” he wrote in Lyrics By Sting. Fascinated by the dangerous obsession at the center of Nabokov’s novel, he “transposed this idea to a relationship between a teacher and his pupil. Wanting by this time to identify whatever my sources were, I conspired to get the author’s name into the song with one of the loosest rhymes in the history of pop. Well, I thought it was hilarious, but I caught some flak.”

This was used in The Simpsons episode “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister” and in the Glee episode “Ballad” (2009).

On The Office, Kevin is the singer and drummer in a Police tribute band called Scrantonicity (a play on the album title Synchronicity). In the season 2 finale, “Casino Night,” Jim and Pam watch a video of Scrantonicity performing “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.”

This was featured in the first-season Friends episode “The One Where Underdog Gets Away,” where the character Joey appears on a poster for venereal disease treatment. The song plays when they show the posters all over New York City. 

When Stewart Copeland put together the 2006 documentary Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out, he created new versions of some of the songs using the original masters and outtakes. “The version of ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me’ comes from both studio recordings because we re-recorded it – strangely, no one can remember why – but we re-recorded it in a different key and I jammed both of those versions together, which was a hell of a puzzle to figure out the transition keys,” he told Songfacts. “I used Sting’s overdubs because he did some amazing overdub work with the new version of ‘Don’t Stand So Close To Me,’ which I used on the original backing track.”

In the video, Sting is wearing a T-shirt for the band The Beat (known in America as The English Beat) in some scenes. The Beat was an opening act for some shows on the Ghost in the Machine tour.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Young teacher, the subject
Of schoolgirl fantasy
She wants him so badly
Knows what she wants to be

Inside her there’s longing
This girl’s an open page
Book marking, she’s so close now
This girl is half his age

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

Her friends are so jealous
You know how bad girls get
Sometimes it’s not so easy
To be the teacher’s pet

Temptation, frustration
So bad it makes him cry
Wet bus stop, she’s waiting
His car is warm and dry

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

Loose talk in the classroom
To hurt they try and try
Strong words in the staffroom
The accusations fly

It’s no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Nabakov

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me
Don’t stand, don’t stand so
Don’t stand so close to me

Rick James – Super Freak

NOT to be confused with the MC Hammer song U Can’t Touch Thiswho sampled this classic intro. MC Hammer sampled the famous bass line for his biggest hit, U Can’t Touch This. James filed suit against Hammer, which ended in an out-of-court settlement giving James a songwriting credit on the track.

This resulted in Rick James only Grammy Award when “U Can’t Touch This” won in 1991 for Best R&B Song….Life just isn’t fair.

Super Freak peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100, #40 in Canada, and #4 in New Zealand in 1981.

When James exclaims, “Blow, Danny!,” he’s talking to his sax player Daniel LeMelle just before his solo.

The song featured backup vocals by The Temptations.  You will hear James point it out in the song when he says: “Tempations sing.” Temptation member Melvin Franklin was Rick James’ uncle.

One story bout Rick James… He dodged the Vietnam War draft by heading across the Canadian border from his hometown of Buffalo. But as soon as he got into Toronto, three drunk guys tried to beat him up for going AWOL. Some other guys came over to help Rick out… Two of those guys were Garth Hudson and Levon Helm, then playing backup for Ronnie Hawkins…later The Band. He also became friendly with Joni Mitchell and she introduced him to Neil Young…Rick and Neil would soon form a band called the Mynah Birds.

Rick James: “I wanted to write a silly song. I was in the studio and everything else for the album (Street Songs) was done. I just put ‘Super Freak’ together really quickly. I wanted a silly song that had a bit of new wave texture to it. So I just came up with this silly little lick and expounded on it. I came up with the bass part first. Then I put a guitar on it and keyboards, doing the ‘ehh ehh,’ silly keyboard part. Then I found a tuning on my Oberheim OB-Xa that I’d been wanting to use for a long time – it sounds like ghosts. And I put a very operatic vocal structure on it ’cause I’m really into opera and classical music. You probably hear a lot of that in my music. So I put (sings in a deep voice) ‘She’s all right’; very operatic, sort of funny, stuff.”

From Songfacts

This song is about a girl who is very adventurous sexually, especially with members of a band. A “freak” is slang for someone willing to try various fetishes, thus a “Super Freak” will try just about anything. James was famous for his penchant toward “freakish” behavior, which got him in trouble with the law when he and his girlfriend were arrested for kidnapping another girl for sex.

Explaining how he came up with this song, James he told Musician magazine in 1983:

“Super Freak” was the biggest pop hit for Rick James, reaching #16 in the US. He had just modest success on the Hot 100 but had four #1 R&B hits and secured a legend as a prolific producer and innovator of funk. The big R&B hit from the album was “Give It to Me Baby”; “Super Freak” made #3.

This was released in the summer of 1981, around the time MTV went on the air. With director Nick Saxton, James made videos for “Give It To Me Baby” and “Super Freak,” hoping to get them on the network. At the time, however, MTV refused to play videos by black artists, and they rejected them, continuing to feed America a steady stream of rock and EuroPop. This refusal to play black music was a holdover from radio station programming, where conventional wisdom was that you would lose your white listeners if you played black music. The first black artist to make MTV with a new song was Musical Youth, who despite adapting a song about smoking marijuana, was a lot less scary to network executives than the glitter-vested James singing about kinky sex. This color barrier was shattered by Michael Jackson, who brought a new sound and sophistication to the network with the videos for his Thriller album.

Even though the network didn’t play this video, Rick James eventually made peace with MTV and put their co-founder, Les Garland, in the video for Eddie Murphy’s song “Party All the Time,” which James produced. As for exactly why MTV passed on “Super Freak,” their director of acquisitions, Carolyn Baker, explained in the book I Want My MTV: “It wasn’t MTV that turned down ‘Super Freak.’ It was me. I tuned it down. You know why? Because there were half-naked women in it, and it was a piece of crap. As a black woman, I did not want that representing my people as the first black video on MTV.”

Over the years, the word “freak” became very popular in hip-hop and R&B lyrics. It’s a versatile word that can be used as both a verb (“Freak Me”) and a noun (“The Freaks Come Out At Night”). Use of the word peaked in the mid-’90s with the phrase, “Get your freak on.”

The Dutch dance duo The Beatfreakz covered this in 2006. Their version reached #7 in the UK, the first time this song charted in Britain as Rick James original version wasn’t a hit there.

In the movie Little Miss Sunshine, the little girl Olive does a wonderfully inappropriate dance to this song in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant.

It also shows up in these movies:

A Madea Family Funeral (2019)
Love, Simon (2018)
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Suicide Squad (2016)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins (2008)
Norbit (2007)
American Dreamz (2006)
Biggie and Tupac (2002)
Batman Returns (1992)
Doctor Detroit (1983)

And in these TV shows:

Scandal (“It’s Handled” – 2013)
The Simpsons (Treehouse of Horror XXIV – 2013; Treehouse of Horror X – 1999)
Ugly Betty (“Derailed” – 2007)
Two and a Half Men (“Squab, Squab, Squab, Squab, Squab” – 2005)
Gilmore Girls (“We Got Us a Pippi Virgin” – 2004)
King of the Hill (“Returning Japanese” – 2002)
Boy Meets World (“Shallow Boy” – 1996)
In Living Color (“The Black Man’s Guide to Understanding the Black Woman” – 1990)
The A-Team (“The Heart of Rock N’ Roll” – 1985) 

A Los Angeles DJ named Alonzo Miller is credited as a writer on this track along with James. Miller worked on the lyrics with James, helping tone them down so the song had a better chance of getting airplay and crossing over to a white audience. Miller was able to get the song played at the station where he worked, KACE.

Super Freak

She’s a very kinky girl,
The kind you don’t take home to mother;
She will never let your spirits down,
Once you get her off the street.

She likes the boys in the band,
She says that I’m her all time fav’rite;
When I make my move to her room,
It’s the right time; she’s never hard to please.

That girl is pretty wild now;
The girl’s a super freak;
The kind of girl you read about
In the new wave magazines.
That girl is pretty kinky;
The girl’s a super freak;
I’d really like to taste her
Ev’ry time we meet.
She’s all right; she’s all right;
That girl’s all right with me yeah.
She’s a super freak, super freak,
She’s super freaky; super freak, super freak.

She’s a very special girl,
From her head down to her toenails;
Yet she’ll wait for me at backstage with her girlfriends,
In a limousine.

Three’s not a crowd to her, she said;
“Room 714, I’ll be waiting.”
When I get there she’s got incense, wine and candles;
It’s such a freaky scene.

That girl is pretty wild now;
The girl’s a super freak;
The kind of girl you read about
In the new wave magazines.
That girl is pretty kinky;
The girl’s a super freak;
I’d really like to taste her
Ev’ry time we meet.
She’s all right; she’s all right;
That girl’s all right with me yeah.
She’s a super freak, super freak,
She’s super freaky; super freak, super freak.
Temptations sing; oh, super freak,
Super freak, the girl’s a super freak; oh.

She’s a very kinky girl,
The kind you don’t take home to mother;
She will never let your spirits down,
Once you get her off the street.

Donnie Iris – Ah! Leah!

This song I first heard and viewed on MTV. I didn’t hear it on radio a lot but I liked it. It was in a heavy rotation on MTV and the song was undeniably catchy.

Donnie Iris (Dominic Ierace) was a member of The Jaggerz, who had a hit in 1970 with “The Rapper.” He later became a member of Wild Cherry, where he met keyboard player Mark Avsec, and the two formed a musical partnership.

Donnie Iris and Mark Avsec wrote this song. It peaked at #29 in the Billboard 100 and #6 in Canada in 1981.

One way Iris got his sound was vocal stacking. The backups was overdubbed close to 60 times. They spent days in the studio just working on the backup vocals.

Iris and Avsec released their last studio album in 2010.

Donny Iris: “Mark and I wrote that together in my basement, around the piano, and originally Mark had the idea of an anti-war song. It started out just as a chant – it’s not a chick’s name, it’s not a certain person or individual, in particular. We wanted to have a hook, or a chorus, to the tune, that sounded almost like a Gregorian chant, and somehow Mark came up with the ‘Ah, Leah’ just like a chant. I said, ‘You know what, Mark, that’s a chick’s name,’ so that’s how we named it ‘Ah, Leah.’ It just so happens that there was a girl by the name of Leah who had dated one of the guys in The Jaggerz years ago, and I always loved that name. She was a very pretty girl, and I always loved her name. So instead of a war tune, which we messed around with and messed around with and didn’t have anything in there that we liked to make it an anti-war song, it just turned out as being a love song. It was a total change in direction, and that happened with several of our songs. We were coming up with stuff and, you know, sometimes you just do something and in the end you hate it. That’s what happened. We hated that… the way it was coming out as an anti-war song, and when we finally figured it was a nice way to do a love song, then we were happy with it.”

From Songfacts

Iris: “It sounds kind of passionate, when you talk about not being able to be with a chick, and every time you see this girl, you just go nuts, but it ain’t right, you know, something’s wrong with it. We thought that it was a passionate kind of tune.”

Iris credits the songwriting of Mark Avsec as key to their success. He explains how they come up with their songs: “We’ll go into the studio and put down rhythm tracks, and sometimes we’ll get together for 3 or 4 days and put down 15-20 different tracks of musical pieces. Then the group goes home, and Mark will take the songs home, write the lyrics, and we’ll check it out. If we like it, we’ll keep it if we think it’s good. If not, we’ll maybe go for another lyric, or a different track, but he’s unbelievable that way – just a brilliant songwriter, it’s like he does it in his sleep. And he brings them into the studio, and I’ll sit down, I’ll go over it with him, and together we’ll work out the melodies and stuff.” (Thanks to Donnie Iris for speaking with us about this song. In 2006, he released Ellwood City, which is available on donnieiris.com. Check out our interview with Donnie Iris.)

Ah! Leah!

Leah
It’s been a long, long time
You’re such a sight
You’re looking better than a body has a right to
Don’t you know we’re playing with the fire
But we can stop this burning desire
Leah

Ah! Leah!
Here we go again
Ah! Leah!
Is it ever gonna end?
Ah! Leah!
Here we go again
Ah! Leah!

I see your lips
And I wonder who’s been kissing them
I never knew how badly I was missing them
We both know we’re never going to make it
But when we touch
We never have to fake it
Leah

Ah! Leah!
Here we go again
Ah! Leah!
Is it ever gonna end?
Ah! Leah!
Here we go again
Ah! Leah!
We ain’t learned our lesson yet

Baby, it’s no good
We’re just asking for trouble
I can touch you
But I don’t know how to love you

It ain’t no use
We’re headed for disaster
Our minds said no
But our hearts were talking faster
Leah

Ah! Leah!
Here we go again
Ah! Leah!
Here we go again
Ah! Leah!
Leah, Leah, Leah
Ah! Leah!
Here we go again

Ah! Leah!
Leah
We’re never, ever, ever gonna make it, yeah
Ah! Leah!
Here we go again
Ah! Leah!
We’re never gonna make it
Ah! Leah!

REM – Orange Crush

This song is for Song Lyric Sunday for Jim Adams’s blog. This week’s prompt is  Apple/Banana/Cherry/Olive/Orange/Strawberry… I hope all of you have a wonderful Sunday!

I really liked REM when this came out but with this album I became a huge fan. The song was off of their album Green. Orange Crush peaked at #1 in the Billboard Alternative Charts and Mainstream Rock Hits, #28 in the UK, and #5 in New Zealand in 1989. (sorry I could not find Canada)

Orange Crush was my favorite soda growing up but this one is not about that. They got this name from Agent Orange…an awful chemical used in the Vietnam war.

Agent Orange was used to devastating effect during the Vietnam war. A toxic mix of herbicides and defoliants, nearly 20 million gallons of the it was sprayed over forested areas by the US military over a nine-year period up to 1971.

The idea was to root out guerrillas from rural communities and force people into American-controlled urban cities. It’s estimated that 400,000 were killed or maimed and it caused 500,000 children to be born with severe defects. Veterans on both sides of the conflict, meanwhile, have shown increased rates of cancer and nerve disorders. Returning US soldiers were also subject to accelerated instances of their wives having miscarriages or infants born with abnormalities.

The song was credited to all members of REM as were their other songs. The drill sergeant heard in the background during the middle is an imitation by Stipe.

Michael Stipe: “The song is a composite and fictional narrative in the first person, drawn from different stories I heard growing up around Army bases. This song is about the Vietnam War and the impact on soldiers returning to a country that wrongly blamed them for the war.”

Guitar Player Peter Buck: “I must have played this song onstage over three hundred times, and I still don’t know what the f*** it’s about. The funny thing is, every time I play it, it means something different to me, and I find myself moved emotionally. [Playwright/composer] Noel Coward made some remark about the potency of cheap music, and while I wouldn’t describe the song as cheap in any way, sometimes great songwriting isn’t the point. A couple of chords, a good melody and some words can mean more than a seven-hundred-page novel, mind you. Not a good seven-hundred-page novel mind you, but more say, a long Jacqueline Susann novel. Well alright, I really liked Valley of the Dolls.”

From Songfacts

Orange Crush was an orange flavored soft drink. In this case, though, it was meant to refer to Agent Orange, a chemical used by the US to defoliate the Vietnamese jungle during the Vietnam War. US military personnel exposed to it developed cancer years later and some of their children had birth defects. The extreme lyrical dissonance in the song meant that most people completely misinterpreted the song, including Top Of The Pops host Simon Parkin, who remarked on camera after R.E.M. performed the song on the British TV show, “Mmm, great on a summer’s day. That’s Orange Crush.”

Stipe’s father served in Vietnam in the helicopter corps.

Stipe sometimes introduced this in concert by singing the US Army jingle, “Be all that you can be, in the Army.”

This was not the first R.E.M. song to deal with the Vietnam War. That distinction goes to “Body Count,” an early unreleased song that they played live many times.

This was used in the 2007 drama Towelhead, starring Maria Bello, Chris Messina and Summer Bishil.

The song’s meaning keeps changing for Peter Buck. He wrote in the In Time liner notes:

Orange Crush

(Follow me, don’t follow me)
I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my orange crush
(Collar me, don’t collar me)
I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my orange crush
(We are agents of the free)
I’ve had my fun and now it’s time
To serve your conscience overseas (over me, not over me)
Coming in fast, over me

(Follow me, don’t follow me)
I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my orange crush
(Collar me, don’t collar me)
I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my orange crush
(We are agents of the free)
I’ve had my fun and now it’s time
To serve your conscience overseas (over me, not over me)
Coming in fast, over me

(Follow me, don’t follow me)
I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my orange crush
(Collar me, don’t collar me)
I’ve got my spine, I’ve got my orange crush
(We are agents of the free)
I’ve had my fun and now it’s time
To serve your conscience overseas (over me, not over me)
Coming in fast, over me

Famous Rock Guitars Part 3

Now we continue our quest of famous guitars and the artists cherish them… Here was Part 1  and Part 2.

Bruce Springsteen and  Neil Young’s guitars

Bruce Springsteen’s Guitar

Bruce has stuck with this guitar from the first album until now. You see this guitar on his Born to Run album. When I saw him in 2000 he was playing it. Bruce bought this in 1972 in Phil Petillo’s Neptune New Jersey guitar shop for $185. Now the guitar  is said to be worth between $1 million and $5 million…pretty good investment Bruce!

The guitar is a composite assembled from parts from at least two other Fender guitars. The bolt-on neck dates from a 1950s Fender Esquire guitar. The Esquire decal on the headstock indicates that the neck came from the single-pickup variant of Fender’s more-popular two-pickup Telecaster. The body is a 1950’s Telecaster

The guitar had been originally owned by a record company and was part of the payola scams of the 1960s. It was rigged with four pickups wired into extra jacks that would each plug into a separate channel on the recording console.

Petillo removed the extra pickups and returned the guitar to original Telecaster shape before he sold it Springsteen, but a huge side effect of the routing was that the Tele was now really light, giving it a sound a feel unlike any other.

Bruce had Peillo modify it over the years. He added his  triangular Precision Frets, a six saddle titanium bridge, and custom hot-wound waterproofed pickups and electronics so they could better survive a sweat-soaked 4 hour show.

Bruce has now retired the Esquire from road duty, so these days Springsteen plays clones on stage, but still records with the original.

Neil Young’s “Old Black”

Neil Young is known mostly as a singer songwriter but he is a hell of a guitar player. He is one of my favorite rock guitarists. He doesn’t play lightning quick and that is a good thing…it’s playing with feel that many guitar players forget about.

Neil Young acquired Old Black in 1968 through a trade with Buffalo Springfield member Jim Messina, who traded Old Black for one of Young’s orange Gretsch guitars (Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins).

The guitar made a humming sound so he dropped it off at a guitar shop in LA. When he came back, the shop had closed for good and lost one of the pickups. To replace the lost pickup, Neil added a Gretsh pickup that didn’t quite sound the way he wanted, but it stayed that way until Larry Cragg found an old Firebird pickup and installed it. Then Old Black was restored to its former glory and that Firebird pickup is still installed on the guitar today. It was roughly resprayed to jet black, and received a new Tune-o-matic bridge (not available when the guitar was produced) and a B-7 model Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.

The neck pickup has always been the original P-90 pickup, but it is covered by a metal P-90 cover. Neil is still playing Old Black to this day and he said he will until he dies.

Billy Squier – Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You

If there ever was ever a year I was looking forward to Christmas…this is the one…This Christmas song that doesn’t get played a bunch here. I’ve always liked it since is was released. It was written by Billy Squier and was the B side to the single “My Kinda Lover.”

In 1981 MTV made it’s debut and Billy Squier’s career was going strong with the 1981 release of the Don’t Say No album. MTV at the beginning had a more family atmosphere. The crowd in this sing-a-long included technicians, the secretaries, the executives, the production assistants.

The video was filmed at the Teletronics MTV studio.

 VJ Nina Blackwood: “It was taped at our original Teletronics Studio on West 33rd Street and featured our original studio crew, who we all loved and were very close to, along with all the people from the MTV offices,” “Everybody traipsed down to the studio from 44th Street & 6th Ave for the taping. Billy Squier’s career was on fire at this time, and since he lived in NYC, he was a frequent guest at the studio, so it was appropriate that he was chosen for the video.”

“Pretty much what you see on camera is an accurate representation of the celebratory and fun feeling that was happening,” Blackwood said. “It was like one big happy family, which sums up the entire vibe of the early days of MTV. One of a kind experience. When I watch all of these early MTV Christmas videos, the overwhelming sensation I come away with is that of joyous love.”

Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You

Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
Share the joys of laughter and good cheer
Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
And a feeling that will last all through the year

On the corner carolers are singing
There’s a touch of magic in the air
From grownup to minor no one could be finer
Times are hard but no one seems to care
Christmas Eve and all the world is watching
Santa guides his reindeer through the dark
From rooftop to chimney, from Harlem to Bimini
They will find a way into your heart

Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
Share the joys of laughter and good cheer
Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
And a feeling that will last all through the year

Just outside the window snow is falling
But here beside the fire we share the glow
Of moonlight and brandy, sweet talk and candy
Sentiments that everyone should know
Memories of the year that lays behind us
Wishes for the year that’s yet to come
And it stands to reason that good friends in season
Make you feel that life has just begun

Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
Share the joys of laughter and good cheer
Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
And a feeling that will last all through the year

So when spirits grow lighter
And hopes are shinin’ brighter
Then you know that Christmas time is here

John Mellencamp – Jack and Diane

Anyone who grew up in the eighties is going to know this one. This was a big MTV and radio song in 1982. It was on the American Fool album which was his breakthrough. This song helped Mellencamp forge his identity, which was a struggle for him. John was still going by stage name John Cougar at this time. He would use Mellencamp for the follow up album Uh-Huh in 1983.

Mellencamp was inspired by the drum break in Phil Collins In The Air Tonight and asked his drummer Kenny Aronoff to come up with a drum break for this song.

The American Fool album produced two top 5 hits. It peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts and Canada…and #35 in the UK. The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, and #25 in the UK.

Mick Ronson played guitar, provided backup vocals, and helped arrange this song.

John Mellencamp: “The image that was given to me by the record company was so far off base of who I was and what I wanted to do,” he said in his Plain Spoken DVD. “I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I knew what I didn’t want to do. I did not want to be Johnny Cougar, I did not want to sing love songs, I did not want to be the next Neil Diamond, which is what they wanted.”

“I had to figure out what my image was, and I had a girl say to me, ‘John, just be a pair of blue jeans. That’s what you are.’ And the great thing about blue jeans is, you can dress them up, or you can dress them down.”

From Songfacts

A song about a high school couple falling in love, Mellencamp wrote “Jack & Diane” as a tribute to life in the rural working class. The inspiration was his hometown of Seymour, Indiana, which had a population of about 13,000 when it was released. The song has a very nostalgic feel, but paints a picture of a couple whose best years will soon be behind them. In a 1982 interview with The LA Herald Examiner, Mellencamp explained: “Most people don’t ever reach their goals, but that’s cool, too. Failure’s a part of what you’re all about anyway. Coming to terms with failed expectations is what counts. I try to write about the most insignificant things, really. I mean, someone who picks up a copy of Newsweek, then sits down and writes a song about the troubles in South America – who cares? What’s that song telling us that we don’t already know? Write about something that matters to people, man.”

In Campbell Devine’s authorized biography of Ian Hunter and Mott The Hoople it is revealed that this song was heavily influenced by Mick Ronson. The multi-talented Ronson (1946-1993), who was best known as a guitarist, recorded as a solo artist as well as playing lead guitar for both David Bowie and Ian Hunter (as Hunter-Ronson). In the book, Mellencamp says he’d thrown the song on the junk heap, adding: “I owe Mick Ronson the song… Mick was very instrumental in helping me arrange that.” 

Some of Mellencamp’s high school photos and home movies were used to make the video, which was pretty much an afterthought. His record company hired Jon Roseman Productions to make videos for the songs “Hurts So Good” and “Hand To Hold On To.”

Paul Flattery, who worked for that production company, explained in the book I Want My MTV that Mellencamp made a special request after those videos were completed: “He said, ‘Look, there’s a song on the album the label doesn’t believe in. But I do. Can you do me a favor and save one roll of film, shoot me singing the song, I’ll give you some old photos and stuff and then you cobble it together for me?

The song was ‘Jack & Diane.’ So we stole some editing time in LA. We projected slides on the edit room wall, and we had the tape-op wear white gloves to do the clapping. We didn’t charge John a cent.”

Mellencamp spent a long time crafting this song in an effort to make it a hit. This was part of his plan to become so successful he could ignore critics and tell his record company to stick it. But first, he had to make some concessions, like changing his name.

His manager named him “Johnny Cougar,” and he went along with it, scoring an Australian hit with “I Need A Lover” in 1978. A year later, he altered his moniker to “John Cougar,” which is how he was billed on the American Fool album. The first single, “Hurts So Good” became a huge hit and got him on MTV, and when “Jack & Diane” followed, it accomplished his mission of autonomy through hits.

When he released Uh-Huh in 1983, it was as John Cougar Mellencamp, with songs that were less crafted and more inspired, especially “Pink Houses.” He lived up to his reputation of being difficult, but it didn’t matter because he could call the shots.

Jack and Diane were a interracial couple in the first version of this song, inspired by the blended couples Mellencamp saw during his live performances (Jack was black, Diane was white). He took the race part out of it and made Jack a football star after an executive from his record company heard what he was working on and asked him to do so in an effort to make the song more relatable and therefore boost its hit potential. With race removed from the equation, a broader swath of Mellencamp’s audience identified with the song, especially in the Midwest. He says that lots of folks have told him that the characters are just like them.

Following Phil Collins’ template from the 1981 hit “In The Air Tonight,” Mellencamp ordered a drum break in the middle of this song. His drummer, Kenny Aronoff, had to come up with it on the spot, proving his mettle when he did so. In a Songfacts interview with Aronoff, he told the story:

“I walk into the studio and the co-producer has a Linn LM-1 drum machine. I’d never seen a drum machine before. I’m being told that they’re using this on the song ‘Jack & Diane’ that we were having trouble coming up with an arrangement for. I’m devastated that I’m going to be replaced by a drum machine. I grab the drum machine, I get the manual, and I program the drum part. I’m in the lounge, really bummed out and wondering, ‘What’s the future of the drummer?’ This is 1981. I’m wondering, ‘Will that machine replace us?’

Two hours later, I’m summoned into the control room, where John tells me, ‘I need you to come up with a drum solo or something after the second chorus.’ At that moment, I was absolutely terrified and excited. Excited because I’m now going to be playing on the record. Terrified because I knew that I had to save the song in order to save my career. Because if I didn’t come up with it, they’d replace me. Two people had already been fired in the band and when I joined two years prior, I was fired from playing on the record. So, this was a scary moment for me.

The long and short of it is, I come up with this part on the spot and it becomes a #1 hit – John’s biggest hit ever. That and ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins are probably the two most air-drummed solos on pop radio, ever [even Mellencamp air drums it in the video]. It’s not technically hard, but I was forced to create that on the spot.”

Up until the big drum break, a drum machine was used on this song, but drummer Kenny Aronoff gave it a human touch not just for the break, but also the section that immediately follows. “When I got into the groove after the drum solo, the drummer that influenced me to hit the floor tom on beat four was Steve Gadd from a recording he did on a Chick Corea album, and the song was called ‘Lenore,'” Aronoff told Songfacts. “Steve Gadd would always hit the beat on beat four. I thought that was cool, so even though I don’t sound anything like Steve Gadd and nothing like he was playing on the Chick Corea record, that track influenced me to hit the floor tom, which made my hi-hats open.”

The only musical couple song that can rival this one for popularity is the standard “Frankie And Johnny. Most other hit songs of this nature were cribbed from literature or film, like “Romeo And Juliet” and Bonnie And Clyde. In 1978, Raydio had a hit with “Jack And Jill.”

Weird Al Yankovic planned to parody this song on his 1983 debut album as “Chuck And Diane,” making fun of the royal couple Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Yankovic couldn’t get Mellencamp’s permission to do the parody (which he asks as a courtesy, as anyone can parody a song as long as proper royalties are paid), so he used the lyrical content for an original song called “Buckingham Blues” instead. Yankovic did parody the song on the 2003 Simpsons episode “Three Gays Of The Condo,” where he sang it in animated form as “Homer And Marge.” 

This is the only #1 Hot 100 hit in Mellencamp’s career, and based on streams and downloads, his most popular song.

The Sun October 10, 2008 asked Mellencamp if it bothered him being best known for this little ditty. He replied: “That song is 30 or so years old and it gets played more today in the United States than it did when it came out. As much as I am a little weary of those two, I don’t know any other two people in rock and roll who are more popular than Jack and Diane. Some people probably think there’s a place in hell for me because of those two people! But it gave me the keys to do what I want. I’m 57 today. I’ve lived the way I wanted to live, sometimes recklessly and stupidly, but still been able to do that. I’ve been able to live on my whims, that’s what Jack and Diane gave me, so I can’t hate them too much.”

In 2012, a film was released called Jack & Diane, but Mellencamp had nothing to do with it, and the song is not used in the movie. In the film, Jack (played by Riley Keough) is a girl, and she and Diane have a lesbian relationship. Mellencamp said in a statement: “You don’t hear my song in the film, and I played no part in suggesting or offering this title. It’s most apparent that the lead characters were named with the hope that the familiar title might resonate in some people’s minds. I guess that’s OK to do, strictly from a legal perspective, but riding on someone else’s coattails and having a moral compass is left up to each individual.”

Mellencamp mentioned the title characters again in his 1998 song “Eden Is Burning.” The first line is, “Diane and Jack went to the movies.”

Jack and Diane

A little ditty ’bout Jack & Diane
Two American kids growing up in the heart land
Jack he’s gonna be a football star
Diane debutante in the back seat of Jacky’s car
Suckin’ on chilli dog outside the Tastee Freez
Diane sitting on Jacky’s lap
Got his hands between her knees
Jack he says:
“Hey, Diane, let’s run off behind a shady tree
Dribble off those Bobby Brooks
Let me do what I please”
Saying oh yeah
Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone
Sayin’ oh yeah
Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone
Now walk on
Jack he sits back, collects his thoughts for a moment
Scratches his head, and does his best James Dean
Well, now then, there, Diane, we ought to run off to the city
Diane says:
“Baby, you ain’t missing nothing”
But Jack he says:
“Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone”
Oh yeah
He says: “life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone”
Oh, let it rock, let it roll
Let the bible belt come and save my soul
Holdin’ on to sixteen as long as you can
Change is coming ’round real soon
Make us woman and man
Oh yeah, life goes on
A little ditty ’bout Jack and Diane
Two American kids doin’ the best they can

Fleetwood Mac – Hold Me

Stevie Nicks always got more attention in Fleetwood Mac but I’ve always favored Christine’s songs. McVie has written some superb pop songs. This video I saw many times on the still new MTV.

Fleetwood Mac singer/keyboard player Christine McVie wrote this song with Robbie Patton, a singer who had a US hit in 1981 with “Don’t Give It Up,” which features guitar by Lindsey Buckingham.

This song was inspired by Christine McVie’s relationship with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson. After she split with Fleetwood Mac bass player John McVie, Christine dated Wilson for several years before they broke up in 1981. Wilson died in 1983 in a drunk-drowning accident.

Hold Me was on the Mirage album released in 1982. The band recorded the album at the Château d’Hérouville outside of Paris… they filmed the video for this song in the Mojave Desert outside of Palm Springs. The album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, #5 in the UK, and #4 in Canada in 1982.

Fleetwood Mac - Mirage (1982, Vinyl) | Discogs

The song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #7 in Canada, and #94 in the UK.

Christine McVie on Mirage getting overlooked:  “It does, and I don’t know why,” she says. But, she adds, “As it stands today, a lot of people know every track on it. Which is quite unbelievable. So I just take it for what it is.”

I suppose we all felt in a way that what we were doing was kind of an homage to Rumours, in the sense that, obviously, after Rumours we went completely the opposite way and made a double album of an entirely different nature with Tusk. And for Tusk we had done this hugely long tour. Two world tours, I believe. Then we all disappeared for a few years. But we have a habit of doing that, Fleetwood Mac. Just kind of taking quite long hiatuses. And as we got together again, I think it was Mick who had this idea that perhaps we should enter another bubble-like situation, which was similar to what we had done for the Rumours album, when we recorded in Sausalito. Just taking us away from familiar things, like our families. There was the idea that maybe something would emerge from there that was completely different. Maybe it would make us more creative. And I think it worked, to an extent. It was definitely an unusual experience.

From Songfacts

Robbie Patton toured as an opening act with Fleetwood Mac in 1979 and McVie produced his albums Distant Shores (1981) and Orders From Headquarters (1982).

The video for this song was inspired in large part by the works of the Belgian painter Magritte, whose paintings appear in the clip. It was directed by Steve Barron and shot in the Mojave Desert. The combination of extreme heat and band tension made for a very difficult shoot. Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks had all started solo projects, and getting the band to collaborate was a lesson in futility. The video’s producer Simon Fields said in I Want My MTV by Craig Marks, “John McVie was drunk and tried to punch me. Stevie Nicks didn’t want to walk on the sand with her platforms. Christine McVie was fed up with all of them. They were a fractious bunch.”

The video was subpar, but it was a fresh Fleetwood Mac video, which was good enough for MTV, which in 1982 was desperate for new clips by rock artists, especially established ones. Fleetwood Mac’s video for “Tusk” was one of the few they had available when they launched on August 1, 1981.

Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham share the lead vocals on this track.

Hold Me

Can you understand me
Baby don’t you hand me a line
Although it doesn’t matter
You and me got plenty of time

There’s nobody in the future
So baby let me hand you my love
Oh, there’s no step for you to dance to
So slip your hand inside of my glove

Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me

I don’t want no damage
But how am I gonna manage with you
You hold the percentage
But I’m the fool payin’ the dues

I’m just around the corner
If you got a minute to spare
I’ll be waitin’ for ya’
If you ever want to be there

Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me

Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me
Hold me, hold me, hold me