Beatles – Happiness Is A Warm Gun

This song took a while to grow on me but it did and became one of my favorites from the White Album. The song is divided into three different sections that fit together and climaxing at the end with the great chorus Happiness is a warm gun (bang bang shoot shoot). It has a fifties sound with the backup vocals.

John saw an article in a gun magazine that George Martin had in the studio. The article was titled Happiness is a Warm Gun… John: “Wow! Incredible,’ you know, the fact that happiness was a warm gun that had just shot something or somebody…I thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say.”

Image result for the happiness is a warm gun magazine cover   The magazine in question was the May 1968 edition of “American Rifleman,” which contained an article entitled “Happiness Is A Warm Gun.” This article, written by Warren W. Herlihy, relates the author’s pride in his 18-year-old son John who has been shooting guns since the age of seven.

The song seems to have had drug references in the song although John usually denied them. The line “I need a fix ’cause I’m going down” does point that direction. According to Paul and others around him at this time, John was into heroin.

Paul McCartney said:  “and so his songs were taking on more references to heroin. Until that point, we had made rather mild, rather oblique references to pot or LSD. Now John started to be talking about fixes and monkeys and it was a harder terminology which the rest of us weren’t into. We were disappointed that he was getting into heroin because we didn’t really see how we could help him…It was a tough period for John, but often that adversity and that craziness can lead to good art, as I think it did in this case.”

The chorus is what won me over at first but the lyrics are fascinating in the first section.

She’s well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand like a lizard on a window pane.
The man in the crowd with the multi-colored mirrors on his hobnail boots.
Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime.
A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust.

Lennon said that the Mother Superior jump the gun section was about Yoko.

John:  “She was rabbiting on in the car one day, and I said, ‘mother superior jumped the gun again,’ because she’s always one jump ahead.  So that was Yoko really.  It was camp.”

The White Album was a stressful album to make but there were some fun and camaraderie during this time also. One such occasion was the recording of this song. All four Beatles have been quoted as saying they liked the song, Paul even naming it as the best on the White Album.

 

From Songfacts

In the last section of the song, the backing vocals are “Bang, Bang, Shoot, Shoot.” 

A popular theory is that Lennon meant for this to be a drug metaphor for doing heroin:

“Needing a fix”

“Jump the gun” – meaning to cook it up

“Bang, Bang, SHOOT, SHOOT”

“When I hold you in my arm, nobody can do me no harm” – heroin addicts tell how when you’re on it, nothing can do you no harm and Lennon’s overall nature seem to point to this 

This was banned by the BBC for sexual symbolism. They thought the gun was a phallic symbol.

The original line “When I hold you in my arms and feel my finger on your trigger…” appears in unreleased, bootlegged versions of “I’m So Tired” as “When I hold you in your arms, when you show me each one of your charms, I wonder should I get up, and go to the funny farm.” This could mean the line was originally sexual but was put in as a metaphor for a gun later on. 

The final doo-wop chorus of this song has the exact same chord progression as “This Boy,” just in a different key.

The phrase “happiness is a warm gun” is a play on a Peanuts comic strip from 1960 where Lucy hugs Snoopy and says, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” That phrase became a popular slogan, appearing on mugs, T-shirts and lots of other merch.

Tori Amos covered this on her 2001 album Strange Little Girls. All the songs on the album were written by men – Amos took on different characters to interpret them from a woman’s point of view. Yoko Ono had to approve this, and she did.

The Breeders covered this on their 1990 album Pod

This is the song that inspired 2Pac to cast his gun as his girlfriend in “Me and My Girlfriend”: “She’s the only woman I need!”

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

She’s not a girl who misses much
Do do do do do do, oh yeah

She’s well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand like a lizard on a window pane.

The man in the crowd with the multi-colored mirrors on his hobnail boots.

Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy working overtime.

A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust.

I need a fix ’cause I’m going down
Down to the bits that I left uptown
I need a fix ’cause I’m going down

Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun

Happiness is a warm gun (bang bang shoot shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun, mama (bang bang shoot shoot)
When I hold you in my arms (oh, yeah)
And I feel my finger on your trigger (oh, yeah)
I know nobody can do me no harm (oh, yeah)
Because, (happiness) is a warm gun, mama (bang bang shoot shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is (bang bang shoot shoot)

Happiness is a warm, yes it is, gun
Happiness (bang bang shoot shoot)

Well don’t you know that happiness (happiness) is a warm gun, (is a warm gun, yeah).

CSN&Y – Woodstock

The intro and the harmonies are great in this song. One of my favorite CSN&Y songs. This song was written by Joni Mitchell. She did not perform at Woodstock. The fear of missing the Dick Cavett Show is what actually led to Joni Mitchell canceling a scheduled appearance at Woodstock. Her manager David Geffen convinced her that it was more important for her career to do the Cavett Show than it was to appear at Woodstock.

The song was on Déjà Vu that peaked at #1 in 1970. Woodstock peaked at #11 in the Billboard 100 in 1970.

Joni Mitchell: “I was one of the many who were thwarted,” “That was the place every kid wanted to be. I got to the airport with CSN and our agent, David Geffen, and our manager, Elliott, on a Sunday night. It was a catastrophe. I had to do The Dick Cavett Show the following day, and it was Geffen who decided we can’t get Joni out in time. So he took me back to his suite where he lived, and we watched it on TV. I was the deprived kid who couldn’t go, so I wrote it from the point of view of a kid going. If I had been there in the back room with all the egomaniacal crap that goes on backstage, I would not have had that perspective.”

From Songfacts

That Tuesday, Mitchell, David Crosby and Stephen Stills all appeared on The Dick Cavett Show. Crosby has said that he and Stills were talking about the festival, and Mitchell wrote the song based on their experience there. Mitchell, however, claimed that she wrote the song before the band returned.

Joni Mitchell watched coverage of the Woodstock festival from a New York City hotel room. She had given up religion long ago, but found herself going through a “born-again Christian trip” when she wrote this song. Said Mitchell: “Suddenly, as performers, we were in the position of having so many people look to us for leadership, and for some unknown reason, I took it seriously and decided I needed a guide and leaned on God. So I was a little ‘God mad’ at the time, for lack of a better term, and I had been saying to myself, ‘Where are the modern miracles?’ Woodstock, for some reason, impressed me as being a modern miracle, like a modern-day fishes-and-loaves story. For a herd of people that large to cooperate so well, it was pretty remarkable and there was tremendous optimism. So I wrote the song ‘Woodstock’ out of these feelings.”

Joni Mitchell released this the same year on Ladies of the Canyon. It was also the B-side to her song “Big Yellow Taxi.” Her version is much more basic than the CSN&Y release.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s performance at Woodstock was only their second show together. Before forming the band, Crosby had been a member of The Byrds, Nash was with The Hollies, Stills and Young were members of Buffalo Springfield. Neil Young played with the group for only part of the set.

It may seem odd that the most famous song about Woodstock came from someone who wasn’t there, but Mitchell had a different perspective. 

Without Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash returned to play Woodstock ’94. Other acts that played both festivals include Joe Cocker, The Band, and Santana.

Neil Young is not seen in the Woodstock movie even though he was there for part of the set. He strongly disagreed with the idea of the movie, so he declined to appear in it. If he were to play any songs in the movie, he’d have to be cropped out of frame. >>

The opening lyrics are a reference to the book of Matthew in which it says, “Blessed are those who try to make peace for they will be called children of God.”

In the UK the best-known version is the more country-rock flavored recording by Matthews’ Southern Comfort, which topped the British singles and peaked at #23 in the US. Ian Matthews had been the lead singer with Fairport Convention, leaving in 1969 to form Matthews’ Southern Comfort. He recalled in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner & Spencer Leigh: “I had bought Joni Mitchell’s album and we had to do four songs on a BBC lunchtime show. We worked up an arrangement for ‘Woodstock’ and the response was so good that we put it out as a single. Crosby, Stills & Nash’s record had just come out and so we waited to see what happened to that first.” In 1978 Matthews had a #13 hit in the US as a solo artist with “Shake It.”

Joni Mitchell’s no-show at Woodstock was sometimes reported as being caused by “transportation problems.” A persistent rumor was that James Taylor was supposed to give her a lift up the New York Thruway from her hotel in New York City, but Taylor was in a bad motorcycle accident on Martha’s Vineyard, breaking both arms and keeping him out from behind the wheel and away from the guitar for months. That was it for Joni’s trip to Woodstock. 

In September 1969, Stephen Stills was invited to a Jimi Hendrix session at the Record Plant in New York. Stills burst into the session with a song Joni Mitchell had recently composed, titled “Woodstock.” Joined by Hendrix and Buddy Miles, the trio laid down the tune months before Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released their popular rendition. The Hendrix, Stills and Miles version can be heard on Both Sides of the Sky, a 2018 compilation of previously unheard Hendrix material.

Woodstock

Well, I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, Tell me, where are you going
This he told me

Said, I’m going down to Yasgur’s Farm
Gonna join in a rock and roll band
Got to get back to the land and set my soul free

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

Well, then can I roam beside you?
I have come to lose the smog,
And I feel myself a cog in somethin’ turning
And maybe it’s the time of year
Yes and maybe it’s the time of man
And I don’t know who I am
But life is for learning

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere was a song and a celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bomber death planes
Riding shotgun in the sky,
Turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust, we are golden
We are caught in the devils bargain
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

May 25, 1935: Ruth hits the last 3 home runs of his career

84 years ago today on May 25, 1935, Babe Ruth was a Boston Brave in his last season in the Major Leagues. He was showing his age at 40 years old and the Yankees let him go and he signed with the Braves.

The Braves traveled to Forbes Field to play the Pirates and were 8-19 going into the game. Babe was hurting and out of shape. He rose to the occasion one more time in his long career. He ended up going 4-4 with 6 RBI’s and most importantly 3 home runs. His 712, 713, and 714th of his career.

The last home run he hit on this day would be his last in his career. Pirates pitcher Guy Bush pitched to him in the seventh inning and Ruth not only homered (his second off Bush for the day and third altogether of the day) but the ball went out of the park. Not just over the fence but clearing Forbes Field’s right field roof—for the first time in the ballpark’s 26-year history.

That is called going out in style. Babe Ruth had a dramatic touch about him and would rise to the occasion time and time again.

Babe would not get another hit in his career but he would retire five days later on May 30, 1935. His wife and agent wanted him to retire after this game but he wanted to honor his commitment to the owner of the Braves to play through Memorial Day Weekend.

 

 

 

 

The Who – We’re Not Gonna Take It/See Me, Feel Me

Yesterday my friends Hanspostcard and  Dave featured The Who’s Tommy’s 50th anniversary. I missed out on that so I picked one of my favorite songs off of the Tommy album. Pete Townsend said this song’s message is “we’re not gonna take fascism.”

I’ve never been a big Woodstock fan but there were a few great performances there. The Who performing this song was one of them. It was raw, huge, powerful and almost spiritual sounding. Pete Townsend’s SG there sounded HUGE and it was a great performance considering the circumstances.

When the lyrics get to Listening to you, I get the music…it rises to another level.

In the story, the song is about Tommy’s followers who are revolting against him when they feel exploited.

 

We’re Not Going To Take It/See Me Feel Me

Welcome to the Camp, 
I guess you all know why we’re here
My name is Tommy
And I became aware this year

If you want to follow me, 
You’ve got to play pinball
And put in your earplugs
Put on your eye shades
You know where to put the cork

Hey you getting drunk, so sorry!
I’ve got you sussed
Hey you smoking Mother Nature!
This is a bust!
Hey hung up old Mr. Normal
Don’t try to gain my trust!
‘Cause you ain’t gonna follow me any of those ways
Although you think you must

We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it

We’re not gonna take it
Never did and never will
We’re not gonna take it
Gonna break it, gonna shake it
Let’s forget it better still

Now you can’t hear me
Your ears are truly sealed
You can’t speak either
Your mouth is filled
You can’t see nothing
And pinball completes the scene
Here comes Uncle Ernie to guide you to
Your very own machine

We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it

We’re not gonna take it
Never did and never will
Don’t want no religion
And as far as we can tell
We ain’t gonna take you
Never did and never will
We’re not gonna take you
We forsake you
Gonna rape you
Let’s forget you better still

We forsake you
Gonna rape you
Let’s forget you better still

See me
Feel me
Touch me
Heal me

See me
Feel me
Touch me
Heal me

See me
Feel me
Touch me
Heal me

See me
Feel me
Touch me
Heal me

Listening to you
I get the music
Gazing at you
I get the heat
Following you
I climb the mountains
I get excitement at your feet

Right behind you
I see the millions
On you
I see the glory
From you
I get opinions
From you
I get the story

Listening to you
I get the music
Gazing at you
I get the heat
Following you
I climb the mountains
I get excitement at your feet

Right behind you
I see the millions
On you
I see the glory
From you
I get opinions
From you
I get the story

Listening to you
I get the music
Gazing at you
I get the heat
Following you
I climb the mountains
I get excitement at your feet

Right behind you
I see the millions
On you
I see the glory

 

 

Platoon

I remember seeing this movie in the 80s. My girlfriend was working so Paul… a friend of mine and I went to see it. We saw a lot of bad and good movies during this time because we had time to kill and he knew the owner or the manager of the movie theater and we would get in free. We bought popcorn and coke so I didn’t feel so bad.

This is the first movie I remember leaving afterward and us not saying a word to each other for a good 30 minutes. Not the usual laughter and carrying on. This was one of those movies that really affected me. The village scene was brutal and it took a while to process it all. I just saw it again a couple of nights ago and it still works.

I’ve seen Vietnam Vets interviewed who have said this film brought a lot of it back…good and mostly bad. This is not a feel-good film but its a superb movie.

You see Tom Berenger as Sergeant Bob Barnes as he snaps and Charlie Sheen’s character Chris Taylor tries to hold it together at the end.

Oliver Stone put these actors through hell. Two weeks of intense basic training in the jungle with a Marine trainer. They dug their own holes and lived off of rations over the shoot.

 

From Wiki the cast

  • Charlie Sheen as Chris Taylor
  • Tom Berenger as Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes
  • Willem Dafoe as Sergeant Elias
  • Keith David as King
  • Forest Whitaker as Big Harold
  • Francesco Quinn as Rhah
  • Kevin Dillon as Bunny
  • John C. McGinley as Sergeant O’Neill
  • Reggie Johnson as Junior
  • Mark Moses as Lieutenant Wolfe
  • Corey Glover as Francis
  • Johnny Depp as Lerner
  • Chris Pedersen as Crawford
  • Bob Orwig as Gardner
  • Corkey Ford as Manny
  • David Neidorf as Tex
  • Richard Edson as Sal
  • Tony Todd as Sergeant Warren
  • Dale Dye as Captain Harris

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – I Second That Emotion

Smokey has one of the best voices ever and he can write like no one else. Everyone from John Lennon to Bob Dylan was a fan. I had the single “Tears of a Clown” given to me as a kid by my cousin along with this one.

This song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

Al Cleveland and Smokey Robinson wrote this song. It was inspired by a trip to a department store. Robinson and Cleveland were shopping at a Detroit department store. Smokey found a set of pearls for his wife, Claudette. “They’re beautiful,” he said to the salesperson. “I sure hope she likes them.” Cleveland then added, “I second that emotion.” and the song was born.

From Songfacts

“I second that motion” is a common phrase heard at meetings in America where policy is being determined. It’s what Motown producer Al Cleveland meant to say when he was on a shopping trip with Smokey Robinson.

Robinson and Cleveland produced the song, and it was released in October 1968, entering the US Top 40 in December, about a year after it was written. The song was also a #1 R&B hit.

This was the first Top 10 hit for the group after their 1967 name change from The Miracles. Robinson and Cleveland teamed up to write several more hits for the group, including “Special Occasion” (#26 US, 1968), “Yester Love” (#31 US, 1968), and “Baby, Baby Don’t Cry” (#8 US, 1969).

Robinson and Cleveland wrote a third verse for this song, which pushed the length to 3:15. Acutely aware that songs longer than 3 minutes were often denied airplay, Motown head Berry Gordy had them eliminate the verse and bring the song down to 2:38, which was much more palatable for radio programmers. Robinson was OK with altering the song, as he had tremendous respect for Gordy’s judgment and wanted the song to be a hit. He felt that he could tell a story in a song in whatever time he was allotted – even under 3 minutes.

In songwriting circles, this one is often studied for its use of secondary rhymes and melodic intricacy. Smokey Robinson sprinkled in words like “notion” and “devotion” to compliment the title, all while rhyming verses with phrases like “kisses sweet” and “no repeat.” The guitar line also perfectly accents the vocal. Robinson credits Berry Gordy for his songwriting evolution. Gordy was a songwriter before he started Motown (he wrote song for Jackie Wilson), and he taught Robinson how to write intricate, yet accessible songs like this one.

This was featured on the soundtrack of the 1983 film The Big Chill. 

This song was a favorite of Jerry Garcia; he often performed it with the Grateful Dead and with the Jerry Garcia Band. These versions show up on a variety of bootleg recordings.

I Second That Emotion

Maybe you’ll wanna give me kisses sweet
But only for one night with no repeat.
And maybe you’ll go away and never call,
And a taste of honey is worse that none at all.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Maybe you’ll think that love will tie you down
And you don’t have the time to hang around.
Or maybe you’ll think that love will make us fools,
And so it makes you wise to break the rules.
Oh little girl!

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

In that case I don’t want nobody
I do believe that that would only break my heart
Oh, but if you feel like lovin’ me
If you got the notion,
I second that emotion.
So, if you feel like giving me a lifetime of devotion
I second that emotion.

Sam Cooke – Wonderful World

Sam Cooke is one of the artists that you have to think…what could have been if he wouldn’t have had such a tragic death at such a young age… Not that he didn’t have a very successful career to that point. He had 20 Top Ten Hits, 29 Top 40 Hits, and 4 Number 1 hits in the R&B Charts.

In the Billboard 100, he had 34 songs in the top 100 and 4 top ten hits. He died when he was only 33 years old. I would suggest reading All Things Thriller’s post about Sam Cooke’s death.

The first time I heard the Cooke version of this song was in Animal House when Belushi was heading down the cafeteria line and for me this is my go-to version. Cooke had such a smooth soulful voice.

Cooke recorded Wonderful World on Keen Records shortly before he left the label over a royalty dispute in 1959. In 1960, Cooke had moved on to RCA Victor, but Keen, still owning the rights to Wonderful World, released the single in April 1960.

From Songfacts

“Wonderful World,” or “(What a) Wonderful World,” was one of Sam Cooke’s 29 US Top 40 hits released between 1957 and 1964. The song was released on April 14, 1960 and quickly reached #2 on the US Black Singles chart, #12 on the US Pop Singles chart, and #27 on the UK Singles chart.

“Wonderful World” was originally written by music legends Lou Alder and Herb Alpert, but Cooke added the finishing lyrical touches, and the trio used the songwriting pseudonym “Barbara Campbell,” the name of Cooke’s high school sweetheart. Adler went on from this success to found Dunhill Records and manage big name artists such as Jan & Dean, The Mamas & The Papas, and Carole King. Not to be outdone, his writing partner, Herb Alpert, put the “A” in A&M Records after performing for several years with his band Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.

Don’t let the bouncy rhythm and upbeat tempo fool you. According to Craig Werner, a professor of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the song may have a more politically charged meaning. In his book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America, Werner writes that “Wonderful World” may be one of the first examples of Cooke’s crossover into politics, where he informs white listeners that he “don’t know much about history” and “don’t know much biology” as a comment that these are the things to forget about African-Americans, and all they need to remember is love.

Throughout the years, “Wonderful World” has been covered by a number of artists including Otis Redding, Bryan Ferry, Michael Bolton, and Rod Stewart. After Sam Cooke’s death in 1964, there were a rash of “tribute” covers released including a 1965 up-tempo version by Herman’s Hermits, which reached #4 on the US Pop Singles chart and #7 on the UK Singles chart, and a rendition by The Supremes released on their 1965 album “We Remember Sam Cooke.” In 1977, Art Garfunkel put his spin on the hit for his album, Watermark, which featured harmonies by friend, James Taylor, and former partner, Paul Simon.

“Wonderful World” has been a hit with filmmakers since its release. The song can be heard in the famous lunchroom scene of the 1978 classic, Animal House. It was also featured in the 1983 Richard Gere drama, Breathless, and appeared in the opening titles of the 2005 Will Smith comedy, Hitch. A Greg Chapman cover of “Wonderful World” was spotlighted in the 1985 film, Witness, which spurred resurgence in popularity for the single and led to use of the Cooke original in a well-remembered 1986 British ad for Levi 501 Jeans. The song originally peaked at #27 in the UK, but after the commercial, the song was re-released there and reached #2.

According to Rolling Stone, before the song came out, Cooke liked to sing it for women he met, telling them he’d made it up on the spot just for them.

Wonderful World

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book,
Don’t know much about the french I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography,
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra,
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I do know that one and one is two,
And if this one could be with you,
What a wonderful world this would be

Now, I don’t claim to be an “A” student,
But I’m tryin’ to be
For maybe by being an “A” student, baby,
I can win your love for me

Don’t know much about history,
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book,
Don’t know much about the french I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be

History
Biology
Science book
French I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be