X – 4th Of July

First of all…Happy 4th of July to those that celebrate it! I also want to thank CB for bringing this song up last year on July 4th. I have posted the X version as well as Dave Alvin’s (who wrote the song) solo version of this song…I also threw in a live version from the Blasters.

This song was released in 1987 on X’s See How We Are album. The album peaked at #107 in the Billboard Album Charts.

This was written by the guitarist Dave Alvin, who had recently replaced Billy Zoom in X. Alvin still had ties with his former band, the Blasters, when he wrote the song, and in early 1986 he recorded the song with the group, with Nick Lowe producing. The sessions when downhill when Lowe decided that Dave should sing the song, not the group’s lead singer, his older brother Phil Alvin. The Blasters album was never released, and it ended up being an X song, with their vocalist John Doe singing it.

Nick Lowe told Dave Alvin something in these sessions that was interesting and career changing. Dave Alvin wrote the song but didn’t think he could sing it but Nick wanted him to. Lowe told him “I can’t sing either, but I’ve somehow made a living doing it.”

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Blaster’s music. Dave Alvin seems to cover everything from  blues, rock, rockabilly, country,  Americana and more. Here is a quote from him

I’ve always considered myself as basically a blues guy
but I don’t want to limit myself to what some people define as
blues. The “blues form” and the “blues scale” is a constant
in just about all American folk and roots music as well as jazz
and pop. Because of that, I can hear the blues in country music
as well as in the loud garage band down the block.
As a songwriter, if I feel like writing a polka one day,
I’ll write a polka. If I feel like writing a country song
or a rockabilly song, then I’ll do it. It’s hard enough
writing songs to have to bother yourself with somebody’s
categories.

Dave Alvin: “I wrote a long poem is how it really started,” Alvin said in the Zoo Bar’s upstairs dressing room before his latest show there last month. “It’s based on a true story in my life, back when I was a fry cook in Downey (California). Everything in the song is true,” “There was this little cul-de-sac and there were all these beat-up duplexes. We lived in the upstairs duplex. She didn’t want smoking in the place, so I’d sit on the top of the stairs and just stare at the cul-de-sac.”

“I was just trying to capture that moment. This is long before I even thought of being a songwriter. I was 21, 22 and I looked at the Mexican kids shooting fireworks and I looked at everything and I thought, ‘This is a song.’ Eight years later, I finally wrote it.”

From Songfacts

Alvin wrote a third verse, but decided the song had more impact without it, as it leaves the ending up to the listener. He told us: “When X wanted to record the song and we recorded a couple of demos for Elektra, one of the producers, who is a notable musician who shall remain nameless, said, ‘I’m not getting enough. It needs more.’ So, I thought, well, maybe I should pull that third verse back into it? But then I thought, no, it’s getting the point across. They’re either breaking up or they’re staying together.'”

This song is beloved by the band’s fans and has grown in popularity, but it was never a hit. A victim of timing, the late ’80s found X out-of-favor at radio stations, as anything perceived as “Punk” had a hard time getting airplay (Billy Idol excepted). A few years later, Nirvana knocked down that wall, but it was too late for “4th Of July.”

Live Blasters

Dave Alvin’s version

X 4th of July

4th of July

She’s waitin’ for me
When I get home from work
Oh, but things ain’t just the same
She turns out the light
And cries in the dark
Won’t answer when I call her name

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July

She gives me her cheek
When I want her lips
But I don’t have the strength to go
On the lost side of town
In a dark apartment
We gave up trying so long ago

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July

What ever happened I
Apologize
So dry your tears and baby
Walk outside, it’s the Fourth of July

On the stairs I smoke a
Cigarette alone
Mexican kids are shootin’
Fireworks below
Hey baby, it’s the Fourth of July
Hey baby, Baby take a walk outside

….

Blasters – Marie Marie

If I’m feeling a need of some old school driving Rock and Roll/Rockabilly…I look no further than the Blasters. No studio embellishments, no gimmicks, no tricks…just rock and roll.

The Blasters never had mainstream success…but popular radio back in the 80s would have been greatly improved by these guys.

The Blasters are a rock and roll band formed in 1979 in Downey, California, by brothers Phil Alvin (vocals and guitar) and Dave Alvin (guitar), with bass guitarist John Bazz and drummer Bill Bateman.

Marie Marie was released in 1980 on The Blaster’s debut album American Music on the small independent label Rollin’ Rock. It was then re-recorded a year later for The Blaster’s second album The Blasters, released by Slash Records and distributed by Warmer Bros.

American Music (album) - Wikipedia

The artist Shakin Stevens covered the song in 1980 and his version had chart success.  Steven’s version  peaked at #19 in the UK, 28 in Ireland, and #18 in Germany in 1981.

The song was written by Dave Alvin…here he is talking about how he wrote it.

Dave Alvin: “About 30 minutes before we left to go to rehearsal, I sat down at our kitchen table and I just wrote the lyrics – just came to me. I was kind of – I remember being a little kid and we were driving down this road up near the Puente Hills. And there was an old Victorian farmhouse and there was a girl sitting on the porch with a guitar. And for whatever reason, that image stuck with me and so I just wrote that. So in like 20 minutes we had [the song].”

Phil Alvin:  “I thought Joe Turner’s backup band on Atlantic records – I had these 78s – I thought they were the Blues Blasters. That ends up it was Jimmy McCracklin. I just took the ‘Blues’ off and Joe finally told me, that’s Jimmy McCracklin’s name, but you tell ‘im I gave you permission to steal it.”

Marie Marie

Marie Marie
Playing guitar on the back porch
I sit in my car
While she sings so sad
Marie Marie
It’s so lonely in these farmlands
Please come with me
To the bright lights downtown
Marie Marie
I said, “Hey, pretty girl Don’t you understand
I just want to be your loving man”
Marie Marie
The sun is down in the corn fields
The evening is dark
And you sing so sad
Marie Marie

Marie Marie
I got two weeks in back pay
There’s gas in my car
And your folks say I must go
I said, “Hey, pretty girl Don’t you understand
I just want to be your loving man”
Marie Marie
Marie Marie
Playing guitar on the back porch
I leave in my car
While you sing so sad
Marie Marie

Blasters – Long White Cadillac

A perfect road trip song from the 1983 album “Non-Fiction.” You’ll want to go out and buy a long white Cadillac and drive it on a long lost highway.

Image result for the Blasters - 1983

Dave Alvin wrote this song….The song is about the night Hank Williams died in back of a car. He died somewhere between Bristol, Tenn., and Oak Hill on the way to a New Year’s Day 1953 show in Canton, Ohio.

The Blasters play what I would call rockabilly with some Americana thrown in. One description I found was rockabilly, early rock and roll, punk rock, mountain music, and rhythm and blues and country…but in short…they rock.

Dave Alvin was the main songwriter and he left the band in 1986 because of tensions with his guitarist Blaster member brother Phil. The band is still going and Dave has reunited a few times with them on albums and tours.

Dwight Yoakum recorded a version of this song in 1989 for his first greatest hits package Just Lookin’ for a Hit.

Long White Cadillac

Night wolves moan
The winter hills are black
I’m all alone
Sitting in the back
Of a long white Cadillac

Headlights shine
Highway fades to black
I’ll take my time
In a long white Cadillac
In a long white Cadillac

Sometime I blame it on a woman
Why my achin’ heart bleeds
Sometimes I blame it on the money
Sometimes I blame it on me

Train whistle cries
Lost on its own track
I’ll close my eyes
I’m never coming back
In a long white Cadillac

Night wolves moan
The winter hills are black
I’m all alone
Sitting in the back
Of a long white Cadillac

One time I had all that I wanted
But it just skipped through my hands
One time I sang away the sorrow
One time I took it like a man

Headlights shine
Highway fades to black
It’s my last ride
I’m never coming back
In a long white Cadillac

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