Waging Heavy Peace

An Autobiography by Neil Young. Neil is one of my favorite artists. He tells some history about Buffalo Springfield and CSNY and also the Mynah Birds with Rick James. Neil Young and Rick James in a band together…its just hard for me to imagine that.

He gets into how he started his music career with his first band and how he loves Crazy Horse.

Now all of these stories are great but… this is during the period he came up with PONO music… a high-end music player that plays music with much more quality than CDs or mp3s. This venture eventually failed years later but he is very excited about it in the book. That is great but sometimes it seems forced. I honestly don’t think he was plugging PONO…I think he was just that excited about it. His enthusiasm is unquestionable.

Cars…the man loves cars. I admire that in him but again he talks A LOT about electric cars and hybrids. Then he combines the two…PONO music systems being installed into…fuel efficient cars. I will admit it is interesting and you get to see what makes the man tick.

Some of it reads like a diary because that is the way he wrote a lot of it. He will say he is going to Hawaii and then a page or two later…he will tell you he made it there. It’s like being in conversation with someone who will just switch subjects on a whim. Neil tends to ramble.

He is part owner in Lionel Trains and you can feel his love of trains coming through the pages. He also talks about his quadriplegic son and the Lionel Train control he designed for his son to operate the trains. That I found really heart touching. He really tries to connect with his son and that is what the album Trans is all about.

He goes through his drug and drinking problems, medical problems, marriage problems, and every single car or bus he has had in his life…which again he just loves any kind of vehicle.

The disappointment for me was Neil didn’t talk enough about the music. Yes, you will learn more about Neil Young. I did learn many things about him that I didn’t know. The problem is he spreads the music sections out and just when he gets on a roll, you are thinking… cool he is writing about playing with Buffalo Springfield and also where they hung out…here comes the PONO Music bit or more car information.

I guess the best way to sum it up is yes you will get a lot of the musical info you are looking for but you have to wade through a lot of rambling.

Overall if you can find this book 2nd hand, get it. If you are looking for a definitive Neil Young bio this is not the one… He does have great things to say about the members of CSNY, Buffalo Springfield, and Crazy Horse. Maybe I wanted another Testimony or My Cross to Bear…this wasn’t it…but what did I expect? It’s Neil Young and he is going to do what he wants to do… that is the reason we love him.

I will admit this…after he mentions all the vintage cars and busses he has owned his enthusiasm rubs off…I started to look these models up and reading about them… but it wasn’t what I had in mind going into the book.

A Brief Word with Pete Best

One day in 1987 (I cannot pin down the day)… My friend Paul and I heard on the radio that Pete Best was going to show up at a used record shop…The Great Escape near Vanderbilt… for a book signing. I was a bigger fan than Paul. I was nervous when I walked in because there was the guy I’ve read about in all of those books in person. The man that really got left at the altar. After reading as much as I did about the Beatles…I was twenty and they were more like characters out of a book… not real people.

We were flat broke and could not buy the book but I was told by the staff that was ok…he would still sign. What did I do? I walked over to a magazine rack with free newsletters and it just so happened that there was a newsletter (Cavern City Tours) about the Beatles. I didn’t think a thing about it but there on the front was John, Paul, George and……..Ringo. I was too busy thinking about what I was going to say to him. I didn’t want to say what the other people were saying…don’t you hate the Beatles now? That was terrible of them! On and on…

I thought of something quick and I went to the table…laid the newsletter in front of him with Ringo’s smiling face and Pete was gracious enough to sign it with no dirty looks or a comment and I asked him…Have you talked to Astrid Kirchherr lately? He said yes, in fact, he just talked to her in the last month. I also asked him if he talked with Klaus Voorman and he told me no he didn’t keep up with him…Why I asked those questions I don’t know. I just wanted to think of something different than what he was being asked.

He took the time and talked with me for a couple of minutes which was really nice. I can’t remember anything that was said after the questions…probably just pleasantries. Just knowing this guy was in Hamburg in the early 60s at the beginning of the Beatles as we know them was incredible.

After I walked away…did I think wow this poor guy went through hell? Nope…All I could think was I met a Beatle! I still feel bad about that.

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Since The Beatles Anthology Pete is not a poor guy at all…money wise… He got millions off of that release because they used some of the tracks he played drums on. I read where Paul McCartney himself called Pete and told him wrongs needed to be righted and some money would be there for Pete and that he could take it or leave it…Of course, Pete took it and that was the right thing to do.

The Beatles made the right choice in Ringo but I’m glad they included Pete on that release so he could share in some of the glory and money… Listening to the tracks Pete played drums on there is no question that Ringo fit the Beatles best…no pun intended.

John, Paul, and George have said they regretted how it was handled… but not the outcome.

 

My Cross To Bear

I was never a huge Allman Brothers Band fan. I always respected them and I liked their radio songs and heard enough of Duane Allman to know he was a great slide guitar player. I also knew Gregg could make any song his song because of his vocals. I never really wanted to know more about them.

A friend of mine recommended Gregg Allman’s autobiography My Cross To Bear. I have a 72-mile round trip car ride to work every day so I downloaded the audio version. I took a  chance on this one a couple of years ago and I really enjoyed it.  I also downloaded the E-book after I finished it.

The Allman Brothers have always been known as the Godfathers of Southern Rock. I never considered them Southern Rock…like Gregg himself said… they were a blues band with some jazz thrown in and they were from the south.

The audiobook is narrated by Will Patton who does a great job of channeling Gregg.

It is like having Gregg over on your back porch telling you these great stories. He is very down to earth and does not try to make his mistakes sound like someone else’s fault. If you want to know about Duane Allman get this book. He is honest about his brother…warts and all. He doesn’t try to whitewash himself either.

He starts at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction where he was sick, miserable, and bloated because of his drinking problem…from there he starts going back through his personal history and the many ups and downs of the Allman Brothers. He covers the bands that Duane and he formed…The Escorts, The Allman Joys (which I would have kept that name) and Hourglass.

Hourglass made a couple of albums of original material and covers but the record company made them “pop” everything up. They would not let them play with an edge. The Escorts and Allman Joys were cover bands… very good cover bands.

After reading the book I have started to listen to the Allman Brothers more. He gives you some funny stories and you see how close that band was in the early days before Duane and Berry Oakley died. He mentions his struggles with Dickey Betts, alcohol, drugs and wives. You also read about a “foot shooting” party…

He also talks about being on stage noticing Eric Clapton among the audience. That led to the Layla sessions. Eric was a big fan of Duane’s slide playing.

You learn some history about a cover band’s travels, trials, and tribulations in the mid-1960s…youtube has a few crude recordings of the Allman Joys live in the mid-60s. Below is The Allman Joys version of Help. I would have never thought it was Gregg Allman singing.

If you are a music fan you will probably enjoy this book.

 

Help by the Allman Joys in 1966

 

 

 

 

Alone in the Wilderness

When someone brought a DVD of this for me to watch. I thought it was going to be boring. I ended up watching it twice in one sitting. It will draw you in.

A 50-year-old man named Dick Proenneke is in Twin Lakes Alaska in 1968 and films himself building a retirement cabin. He starts out by staying in a friends cabin. He starts gathering wood and making some of the tools he uses on the way.

This man…is a real man. if he needs a spoon…he starts carving himself out one. He builds this cabin and makes everything including wood hinges for the door. He gathers rocks from somewhere down the lake and brings them back…at then he starts building his chimney.

He is by himself and sets up the camera everywhere he goes. He goes out fishing when he is hungry and hunting for meat for the winter only taking what he needs.

He makes most every from scratch. He uses his tin canisters for different things. He buries one and covers for a refrigerator. The only help he receives is a pilot friend of his that lands every now and again to deliver supplies. He is a master craftsman, to say the least.

It doesn’t sound that special but I have watched it 2 more times since the night I watched it twice. He makes it look so easy.

He filmed enough to have a few more short documentaries which were released but nothing matches that first one. This man made me feel like a mouse. He is so talented and tough.

He ended up staying there until 1999 and then left to live with his brother at age 82. Dick passed away at 86 in 2003. The cabin is still there and is in the National Register of Historic Places.

Neil Young and John Fogerty Lawsuits

In the eighties, two lawsuits popped up pertaining to these two artists.

Neil Young was basically sued for NOT sounding like himself by David Geffen and John Fogerty was sued for sounding too MUCH like himself by Saul Zaentz and Fantasy Records.

In the early eighties, David Geffen signed Neil Young to a huge contract to Geffen Records. Neil who will do his own thing no matter what or when…released an album called “Trans” his foray into electronic music. Geffen wanted another “Harvest” with another Heart of Gold or Old Man…instead he got “Computer Age” and “We R in Control” with Neil singing through a Vocoder. After that Neil was asked to do more rock and roll by a Geffen record company executive…the record company was thinking more of the lines of the harder rock Rust Never Sleeps…so Neil gave them rock and roll all right… “Everybody’s Rockin” an album full of early fifties Doo-wop and rockabilly sounding songs. The record company was not amused…he then released an album full of country music… In his contract, Neil had full artistic freedom.

Geffen had claimed the new albums were  “unrepresentative” of Neil’s music.

Geffen sued him for 3.3 million dollars but the case was settled and Geffen had to apologize to Neil.

In 1985 John Fogerty finally broke his silence with the album Centerfield. He had not released anything since 1975. He was involved with legal hassles and could not make music. Centerfield was a good album that signaled to the world John was back. He then was sued by Fantasy Records owner Saul Zaentz who signed the great Creedence Clearwater Revival to a terrible contract with Fantasy Records that kept John…the main songwriter and singer under contract forever. On top of that John gave up his copyrights to his CCR songs to Saul and Fantasy just to get out of that contract. The first single off of the Centerfield album “Old Man Down the Road” shot up the charts. Saul sued claiming it sounded too much like an old Creedence song that John wrote and sang called “Run Through the Jungle”. So he was being sued for plagiarizing himself. John would take his guitar to court to demonstrate how he wrote the two songs.

John won the case in 1988 and a lot of other musicians breathed a sigh of relief because other artists could have been sued for sounding like their younger selves if John would have lost. John countersued Fantasy Records for legal fees and it went to the Supreme Court in 1994…. they ruled in favor of Fogerty.

 

 

 

The Incredible Hulk

On Friday nights in the late 70s and early 80s there was nothing else I wanted to do but watch The Incredible Hulk. Today we have an awesome looking CGI Hulk but back then we also had an awesome looking Hulk named Lou Ferrigno who could do some damage. Bill Bixby who starred as Dr. David Banner was a good actor who was good at anything he did.

The writing was smart and Bixby explored David Banner’s character to great lengths.

David Banner was looking for hidden strength all people can have if they get into an emergency situation. Frustrated by not being able to save his wife in a car accident he thought he found the key to strength but he accidentally gave himself an overdose of gamma radiation. Now, whenever he gets angry or upset he turns into the Hulk.

Jack Colvin played Jack McGee a reporter would stop at nothing to find out more about the Hulk. The most famous line in the show was an annoyed David Banner telling the persistent reporter Jack McGee “Mr. McGee don’t make me angry…you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Versions of this have made it into the current Marvel movies.

Banner would hitchhike all over looking for a cure for his…problem… constantly hounded by Jack McGee who thought the Hulk killed Banner but of course, the Hulk was David Banner.

David would always find someone in trouble and in need of help. The story’s bullies would then come and harass the person that befriended David and then pick on David. Wrong choice…out comes the Hulk and the mayhem starts and Jack McGee would be just a little late missing David Banner. As the show progressed Jack did find out that someone was turning into the Hulk and that the Hulk wasn’t just roaming the countryside like Bigfoot. David had to keep this from him and keep on the move.

The show had well-written stories and a good actor in Bill Bixby. It was just as much about David Banner as the Hulk. The show balanced the two well.

The one thing I remember is the eyes…When David Banner changed into the hulk those eyes were frightening. The special effects for this show were very good considering the time it was made.

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The intro…

Dr. David Banner, Physician/Scientist, searching for a way to tap into the hidden strengths that all humans have. Then an accidental overdose of gamma radiation interacts with his unique body chemistry. And now, when David Banner grows angry or outraged, a startling metamorphosis occurs.

The creature is driven by rage and pursued by an investigative reporter.

The most iconic part of the show is David hitchhiking away at the end of each episode with a piano melody named “Lonely Man” playing in the background.

 

 

1980’s Music

To be truthful I never was enamored of the 1980s very much. I spent my teenage years stuck in that MTV decade. As far as music…I didn’t give up my loves…Beatles, Who and Stones although that was not the most popular choice then. Personally, I didn’t like the 80’s music much at all…Michael Jackson, Madonna and a long string of synth and big hair bands were terrible to me. I hated the sound of fake drums and the tinny guitars from the so-called heavy bands. Raw was out in the 80’s in popular music and it showed.

The Heavy Metal guitar players would learn classical riffs and then continue to put them in every solo. It was more about technique than feel. Feel and looseness was gone. It was about who could play the fastest and it didn’t matter if it fit the song or not… It seemed no one played for the song anymore.

Not saying I hated everything…I really liked… Bruce, Tom Petty, Prince, John Mellencamp, The Bangles, The Wilburys, U2, REM, Dire Strait and some great one hit wonders. AC/DC I didn’t appreciate as much at the time but they at least had a rawness to them.

I remember the radio stations playing Phil Collins over, over, over and over some more. If they weren’t playing him…they played Genesis. I had my fill of Phil…I believe everyone did then…

It was the era of big-selling albums…. Born In The USA, Purple Rain, Thriller, Pyromania, Back In Black, Brothers In Arms, 1984, Synchronicity and The Joshua Tree.

The performers I held high…The Stones (Dirty Work), The Who (It’s Hard) and Paul McCartney (Pipes of Peace) made the worst albums…in my opinion of their careers…all in the 1980’s. You can hear the 80’s sound infiltrated all of them.

ZZ Top made Eliminator and Aerosmith made Permanent Vacation and then continued to make the same album over and over again…

I am not the biggest fan of Guns and Roses and Nirvana but I do credit them for helping to wipe the 80’s of big hair bands…like squashing an irritating bug.

There are songs that take me back to good times in that decade. Salt In My Tears, Going for a Soda, Come on Eileen, Darlington County, Raspberry Beret, All The Good Ones are Taken, Walking on Sunshine, Starting Over, Old Man Down the Road, Video Killed the Radio Star etc….

It wasn’t enough to listen to the radio but we just had to see the video. Videos took over as the most important thing. Videos had been an important tool since the 60’s but in the 1980’s they were the driving force…. A bad video could kill a career…. ask Billy Squire.

Video killed the radio star… truer words were never spoken.

 

 

The Traveling Wilburys

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For the Love of the Dodgers

What if my dad would have been a Yankees fan like his brothers? I would have grown up rooting for a team that won more than any other. My life could have been different….nah….I’m happy that he passed down his love of the Dodgers. His brothers grew up in the 50’s fans of the Yankees…My dad always went for the underdogs which would have been Brooklyn then….the only championship they won was in 1955 before moving to LA. I remember when I was a small kid, my dad, watching a World Series with the Dodgers against a team in yellow and green uniforms…That would have been the 1974 world series against the Oakland A’s.

I started to watch baseball in 1977 and started to follow the Dodgers. Once in a while I would be lucky and catch them on Saturdays and Monday nights on the 3 channels we had then. I also would be able to listen on the radio when they played the Reds, Cardinals or Braves…. I never lived anywhere near California but that doesn’t matter. Ron Cey, Davey Lopes, Steve Garvey and Bill Russell were in that great infield. My favorite player was Ron Cey….I played 3rd base in little league just because of him. They made it to the World Series that year….I thought that happened every year…. They lost that year to the Yankees and Reggie Jackson hit 3 home runs…I still don’t like that man. I liked the Dodger’s Reggie (Reggie Smith) much better…The next year they made it again….again they were beaten by the Yankees…helped by a terrible call when Reggie Jackson…see a pattern here?…intentionally stepped in front of the ball to deflect it…but it wasn’t called. I knew how my Dad felt in the fifties. They made it to the World Series again in 1981 and finally,…finally they won…not only did they win that year….they beat the Yankees…It was my happiest time being a Dodger fan. It even beat 1988 when Kirk Gibson hit his home run and they won.

After 88 they changed owners to Fox….which sucked because they didn’t know how to run a baseball team and was only interested in broadcasting rights. Then a carpet bagger named Frank McCourt bought the team in 2004. That was probably the worst day in Dodger history. The guy was/is a crook and would not spend on the team. He used the team as his personal piggy bank. I wanted to use him as a piñata and beat him until he sold the Dodgers to a real owner. MLB finally took the team away from the jerk…

Now in 2017 they finally made it back to the World Series. My son who really started to watch seriously for the first time this year saw them one game away from winning it all….He was disappointed but I’ve been here before…They will win it with the ownership and the front office they have…..

I love the new team Kershaw, Turner, Jansen, Bellinger, Seager etc… I do believe they will win it all…..

But…you never really forget your childhood heroes…

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The Roster of the 1977 Dodgers

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