Al Kooper: Backstage Passes Backstabbing Bastards

This is an autobiography of Al Kooper. Al has worked with many people in the music industry. He was a songwriter, musician, producer, A&R man and everything in between.

His book is well written and Al uses humor all the way through.

A few of his career highlights are helping to form Blood, Sweat, and Tears, playing the organ on “Like a Rolling Stone” (although he didn’t know how to really play organ), organized the Super Sessions with Stephen Stills and Mike Bloomfield, found and signed a band while in Atlanta named Lynyrd Skynyrd. While in Atlanta he started a record label called “Sounds of the South” in conjunction with MCA records.

He goes over working with Lynyrd Skynyrd and how their first three albums were recorded and why they parted company. Another band that he signed was Mose Jones who was going to be his Beatles type group to counterpoint the Lynyrd Skynyrd Stones sound for his label. Mose Jones ended up being ignored my MCA.

There is so much musical history this man was involved in…he makes light of getting called Alice Cooper on many occasions.

In Al Kooper’s words 

Let’s clear the air.
This is not a book by or about Vincent Furnier (né Alice Cooper.) It is a book by and about Al Kooper. If you don’t know who Al Kooper is, that’s fine. But don’t let that stop you from perusing these eye-opening accounts of encounters with Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Gene Pitney, The Royal Teens, Bill Graham, Quincy Jones, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Mike Bloomfield, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Harrison, Miles Davis, The Tubes, Nils Lofgren, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and all the other wonderful people I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with over the last forty years.

What was really interesting to me is he shared the same manager (Stan Polley) as Badfinger and was able to get out of his clutches with at least some of his money intact. I picked the book up cheap and I really have enjoyed it. I would recommend this to music fans. Many funny stories and he is such a talented musician.

Another quote from Kooper on the Like A Rolling Stone Session… Tom Wilson was the producer who knew Kooper didn’t normally play the organ.

Thirty seconds into the second verse of the playback, Dylan motioned toward Tom Wilson. “Turn the organ up,” he ordered. “Hey, man,” Tom said, “that cat’s not an organ player.” Thanks, Tom. But Dylan wasn’t buying it: “Hey, now don’t tell me who’s an organ player and who’s not. Just turn the organ up.” He actually liked what he heard!

Al Kooper and Bob Dylan

alkooper bob.jpg

George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, and Al Kooper

alkoopergeorgeharrison.jpg

Jimi Hendrix and Al Kooper

alkooper_jimihendrix.jpg

Al Kooper…he wanted to set the record straight

alkooperalice.png.

Johnny Cash – I’ve Been Everywhere

I don’t think any performer is as popular and liked across generations and genres as Johnny Cash. I’ve met hard rock, country, and blues fans who love him. He was/is an American Icon.

Hank Snow made this song popular in 1962 by taking this song to #1 on the Country chart and #68 on the Billboard 100. Johnny covered this song in 1996 and it’s the version I remember. Cash had a way of making a song his own…

From songfacts.

Johnny Cash recorded a popular version of this song that was used in commercials for Comfort Inn and also in the 2004 remake of the movie Flight Of The Phoenix. Other artists to record the song include Rolf Harris, Lynn Anderson, Willie Nelson, and The Statler Brothers. This was written by the Australian songwriter and country singer Geoff Mack.

“I’ve Been Everywhere”
I was totin’ my pack along the dusty Winnemucca road,
When along came a semi with a high and canvas-covered load.
“If you’re goin’ to Winnemucca, Mack, with me you can ride.”
And so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside.
He asked me if I’d seen a road with so much dust and sand.
And I said, “Listen, I’ve traveled every road in this here land!”

I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve a-had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

I’ve been to
Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota,
Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota,
Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma,
Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma,
Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo,
Tocopilla, Barranquilla, and Padilla, I’m a killer.

I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve a-had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

I’ve been to
Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana,
Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana,
Monterey, Faraday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa,
Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa,
Tennessee to Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake,
Grand Lake, Devil’s Lake, Crater Lake, for Pete’s sake.

I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve a-had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

I’ve been to
Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika,
Schefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica,
Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport,
Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond du Lac, Davenport,
Idaho, Jellico, Argentina, Diamantina,
Pasadena, Catalina, see what I mean-a.

I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve a-had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

I’ve been to
Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravelbourg, Colorado,
Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, El Dorado,
Larimore, Admore, Haverstraw, Chatanika,
Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika,
Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City,
Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City, what a pity.

I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve a-had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.

I’ve been everywhere.

Helpdesk Calls – Sally’s Computer

Sally’s Computer

I have worked in IT for twenty years and back in the 90’s, I got my start by working on a Helpdesk for a restaurant chain. Back in the late 90s people just didn’t know much about computers…they were hired to serve, cook or whatever… not to be a tech. I couldn’t stand the rude techs who talked down to people. It took patience at times but it was nice helping people.

But…it was hard not laughing at times. Some people thought a computer didn’t work with the natural laws of life like everything else.

I took one call from a lady named Sally. She told me her computer would not turn on. Well, I had Sally go through the cords and electrical cables on the back of the computer right after checking the power button. This restaurant she was working at had a very small office…not too much bigger than a broom closet. Anyway, I was walking her through it and describing what she was looking for…

I hear her moving things around and I heard her say OOOW! I didn’t think anything of it but then I heard an OOHHHH! I asked her if she was alright and she said yes she had hit her head. Ok, we continued on our journey and  I was telling her to make sure it was plugged in…another very loud BUMP…OOWW… She said she hit her head again.

I asked her again if she was alright…Sally was a trooper…I thought maybe a little clumsy but a trooper nonetheless.

I wanted to make sure she wasn’t holding the network cable instead of the electrical cable so I asked her what color the cable was in her hand…she said she didn’t know…Ok…

I then asked, Sally you can’t tell what color it is? Sally said no, she said she didn’t know what color it was because there was no light in the office. She said she was in the dark.

I thought maybe a light bulb had gone out in the office…Nope…

Sally then proceeded to tell me that the electricity had been out in the office for over an hour.

Holding back the laughter I told Sally that could very well explain her computer problem.

 

Counting Crows – Mr. Jones

If you were reading music magazines in 1993 you know this band was really overhyped. There is no way any band could have lived up to it. When I heard this song though I could tell the singer listened to Van Morrison because some of the phrasings are the same. In 1993 The song went to #5 on the Hot 100 Airplay, #1 in Canada and #28 in the UK.

From Songfacts about the song.

This was written by lead singer Adam Duritz and guitarist David Bryson (the other three band members also got composer credits). On an episode of VH1’s Storytellers, Adam explained: “It’s really a song about my friend Marty and I. We went out one night to watch his dad play, his dad was a Flamenco guitar player who lived in Spain (David Serva), and he was in San Francisco in the mission playing with his old Flamenco troupe. And after the gig we all went to this bar called the New Amsterdam in San Francisco on Columbus and we got completely drunk. And Marty and I sat at the bar staring at these two girls, wishing there was some way we could go talk to them, but we were too shy. We kept joking with each other that if we were big rock stars instead of such loser, low-budget musicians, this would be easy. I went home that night and I wrote a song about it. I joke about what it’s about, that story. But it’s really a song about all the dreams and all the things that make you want to go into doing whatever it is that seizes your heart, whether it’s being a rock star or being a doctor or whatever. Those things run from ‘all this stuff I have pent up inside of me’ to ‘I want to meet girls because I’m tired of not being able to.’ It is a lot of those things, it’s about all those dreams, but it’s also kind of cautionary because it’s about how misguided you may be about some of those things and how hollow they may be too. Like the character in the song keeps saying, ‘When everybody loves me I will never be lonely,’ and you’re supposed to know that that’s not the way it’s gonna be. I knew that even then. And this is a song about my dreams.”

Mr. Jones

Sha, la, la, la, la, la, la
Mmm
Uh huh
I was down at the New Amsterdam
Staring at this yellow-haired girl
Mr Jones strikes up a conversation
With a black-haired flamenco dancer
You know, she dances while his father plays guitar
She’s suddenly beautiful
We all want something beautiful
Man, I wish I was beautiful
So come dance the silence down through the morning
Sha la, la, la, la, la, la, la
Yeah
Uh huh
Yeah
Cut up, Maria!
Show me some of that Spanish dancin’
Pass me a bottle, Mr Jones
Believe in me
Help me believe in anything
‘Cause I want to be someone who believes
Yeah
Mr Jones and me
Tell each other fairy tales
And we stare at the beautiful women
She’s looking at you
Ah, no, no, she’s looking at me
Smilin’ in the bright lights
Coming through in stereo
When everybody loves you
You can never be lonely
Well, I’m gonna paint my picture
Paint myself in blue and red and black and gray
All of the beautiful colors are very, very meaningful
Yeah, well, you know gray is my favorite color
I felt so symbolic yesterday
If I knew Picasso
I would buy myself a gray guitar and play
Mr Jones and me
Look into the future
Yeah, we stare at the beautiful women
She’s looking at you
I don’t think so
She’s looking at me
Standing in the spotlight
I bought myself a gray guitar
When everybody loves me
I will never be lonely
I will never be lonely
Said I’m never gonna be
Lonely
I wanna be a lion
Yeah, everybody wants to pass as cats
We all wanna be big, big stars
Yeah, but we got different reasons for that
Believe in me
‘Cause I don’t believe in anything
And I wanna be someone to believe, to believe, to believe
Yeah!
Mr Jones and me
Stumbling through the Barrio
Yeah, we stare at the beautiful women
She’s perfect for you
Man, there’s got to be somebody for me
I wanna be Bob Dylan
Mr Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky
When everybody love you
Oh! Son, that’s just about as funky as you can be
Mr Jones and me
Starin’ at the video
When I look at the television, I wanna see me
Staring right back at me
We all wanna be big stars
But we don’t know why, and we don’t know how
But when everybody loves me
I’m wanna be just about as happy as I can be
Mr Jones and me
We’re gonna be big stars

Del Amitri – Roll to Me

In 1995 “Roll to Me” peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada and #22 on the UK charts. I liked the song the first time I heard it and it is incredibly catchy.

Ironically it was the bands biggest hit and they did not like the song.

From songfacts

Del Amitri toured the US when this became a hit, but they played the song reluctantly, often telling the audience that it was something they had to do. Del Amitri wasn’t able to get a foothold in the States, and this was their last hit there.

 

Roll to Me

Look around your world pretty baby
Is it everything you hoped it’d be
The wrong guy, the wrong situation
The right time to roll to me
Roll to me
Look into your heart pretty baby
Is it aching with some nameless need?
Is there something wrong
And you can’t put your finger on it?
Right, then roll to me
And I don’t think I have ever seen
A soul so in despair
So if you want to talk the night through
Guess who will be there?
So don’t try to deny it pretty baby
You’ve been down so long you can hardly see
When the engine’s stalled and it won’t stop raining
It’s the right time to roll to me
Roll to me
Roll to me
And I don’t think I have ever seen
A soul so in despair
So if you want to talk the night through
Guess who will be there?
So,
Look around your world pretty baby
Is it everything you hoped it’d be
The wrong guy, the wrong situation
The right time to roll to me
The right time to roll to me
The right time to roll to me…oooh

Cheap Trick

I’ve always admired Cheap Trick. First of all, they didn’t look like any other band. They had two bonafide looking rock stars in lead singer Robin Zander and bassist Tom Peterson. Their great guitar player Rick Nielsen looked like Huntz Hall from the old Bowery Boys films and the drummer Bun E Carlos looked like an old uncle you would have somewhere.

They were a hard-working band from Rockford Illinois in the mid-70s. None of their first three albums made it in the top 40 but they did have a single to chart…a single off their third album “Heaven Tonight” was the first to chart in America…”Surrender” (Studio Version) peaked at #61 on the Billboard 100 in 1978. They were not getting any traction in America but in Japan, they were getting huge.

They toured Japan in 1978 with a Beatlemania atmosphere and played at Budakon and recorded a live album there. “Cheap Trick at Budakon” is what finally broke them in America in 1979.

I got to see Cheap Trick in 1984 in Opryland and I  became a fan. They had some great rockers but also some power-pop gems like “Voices.” The albums I like are Heaven Tonight, Dream Police, In Color and of course Live at Budakon.

They never had that milestone studio album that really marked their career like some bands but they made enough good music to be remembered. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.

Voices

You didn’t know what you were looking for
Till you heard the voices in your ear

Hey, it’s me again
Plain to see again
Please, can I see you every day?
I’m a fool again
I fell in love with you again
Please, can I see you every day?

You didn’t know what you were looking for
Till you heard the voices in your ear
You didn’t know what you were looking for
Till you heard the voices in your ear

Words don’t come out right
I try to say it oh, so right
I hope you understand my meaning
Hey, it’s me again
I’m so in love with you again
Please, can I see you every day?

You didn’t know what you were looking for
Till you heard the voices in your ear
You didn’t know what you were looking for
Till you heard the voices in your ear

I remember every word you said (word you said)
I remember voices in my head (in my head)
I remember every word you said (word you said)

(I) Your voices 
(Heard your voice) Cool voices 
Warm voices
It was just what I needed to

(Words) Cool voices 
(Don’t seem right) Warm voices
Your voices
It’s just what I needed for

(Love) Warm voices
(Is the word) Your voices
Cool voices
It was just what I needed to

(I) Your voices 
(Heard your voice) Cool voices 
Warm voices
It was just what I needed to
Just what I needed to
Just what I needed

You didn’t know what you were looking for
Till you heard the voices in your ear
You didn’t know what you were looking for
Till you heard the voices in your ear

Tombstone – 1993

I’m always late to the party discovering movies and bands…I saw this movie for the first time last year. I just started to get into westerns in the past couple of years when I discovered “Have Gun Will Travel” and the black and white 30-minute episodes of Gunsmoke.

This is a classic movie. Val Kilmer fan was fantastic in this film. The entire cast did a great job but the way Kilmer portrayed Doc Holliday was iconic. The movie centers around the Earp brothers arriving in Tombstone to make their fortune but they get pulled into fighting the “Cowboys.”

I’m not sure how accurate it is to the real story but its a very entertaining movie nonetheless and I cannot believe I didn’t see this years ago. If you haven’t seen it…make plans to see it. I don’t think you will be disappointed. You will never hear the word “huckleberry” the same again.

The cast included Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Charlton Heston, Jason Priestly, Jon Tenney, Stephen Lang, Thomas Haden Church, Dana Delany, Paula Malcomson, Lisa Collins, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Michael Rooker, Billy Bob Thornton and Billy Zane.

I looked up the Oscars for 1993 and it is a crime that Val Kilmer wasn’t nominated for anything.

The trailer for Tombstone