Canned Heat – Let’s Work Together

“Let’s Stick Together” was originally recorded by Wilbert Harrison in 1962. Eight years later, the American singer had a hit with a modified version, “Let’s Work Together,” which was covered by Canned Heat.

The song peaked at #26 in the Billboard 100 in 1970.

Canned Heat was a good blues band and their appearance at Woodstock raised their fortunes. They would end up with 3 top 40 songs and 2 more in the top 100. Going Up Country and On The Road Again were the band’s best-known hits. They were doing well but it came to an end when guitarist/vocalist Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson died on September 3, 1970. No one knows if it was a suicide or an accidental overdose of Seconal.

Canned Heat continues to this day but they were never as successful after Alan passed away. Bob Hite is singing this song.

Let’s Work Together

Together we’ll stand
Divided we’ll fall
Come on now, people
Let’s get on the ball

And work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, every girl and man

People, when things go wrong
As they sometimes will
And the road you travel
It stays all uphill

Let’s work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together, ah
You know together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man

Oh well now, two or three minutes
Two or three hours
What does it matter now
In this life of ours

Let’s work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, every woman and man

Ah, come on
Ah, come on, let’s work together

Well now, make someone happy
Make someone smile
Let’s all work together
And make life worthwhile

Let’s work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man

Oh well now, come on you people
Walk hand in hand
Let’s make this world of ours
A good place to stand

And work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man
Ah, yeah

Well now, together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man
Ah, yeah

Together we’ll stand
Divided we’ll fall
Come on now, people
Let’s get on the ball

And work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, every girl and man

People, when things go wrong
As they sometimes will
And the road you travel
It stays all uphill

Let’s work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together, ah
You know together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man

Oh well now, two or three minutes
Two or three hours
What does it matter now
In this life of ours

Let’s work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, every woman and man

Ah, come on
Ah, come on, let’s work together

Well now, make someone happy
Make someone smile
Let’s all work together
And make life worthwhile

Let’s work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man

Oh well now, come on you people
Walk hand in hand
Let’s make this world of ours
A good place to stand

And work together
Come on, come on
Let’s work together
Now, now people
Because together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man
Ah, yeah

Well now, together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man
Ah, yeah

 

 

Canned Heat – On The Road Again

The song peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100, #8 in the UK and #8 in Canada in 1968. This song was on Canned Heat’s album “Boogie with Canned Heat.”Alan Wilson played a tamboura on this song to get the droning effect. Wilson’s falsetto was in the style of Skip James.

On Sept 3. 1970 Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson would die of an overdose. Later in 1981 Bob “The Bear” Hite would also die of an overdose.

 

On The Road Again

Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again
Well, I’m so tired of crying
But I’m out on the road again
I’m on the road again
I ain’t got no woman
Just to call my special friend

You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow
You know the first time I traveled
Out in the rain and snow
In the rain and snow
I didn’t have no payroll
Not even no place to go

And my dear mother left me
When I was quite young
When I was quite young
And my dear mother left me
When I was quite young
When I was quite young
She said “Lord, have mercy
On my wicked son”

Take a hint from me, mama
Please don’t you cry no more
Don’t you cry no more
Take a hint from me, mama
Please don’t you cry no more
Don’t you cry no more
‘Cause it’s soon one morning
Down the road I’m going

But I ain’t going down
That long old lonesome road
All by myself
But I ain’t going down
That long old lonesome road
All by myself
I can’t carry you, baby
Gonna carry somebody else

Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson

Alan Wilson is a forgotten figure who was a gifted musician. He died in 1970 under strange circumstances outdoors in a sleeping bag near his band’s lead singer’s (Bob Hite) house. He was dead at the age of 27. Jimi Hendrix would die in a couple of weeks and Janis Joplin would follow a month later…all of them were age 27.

Alan grew up in Boston, Massachusetts where he became a music major at Boston University. He was a frequent player at the Cambridge coffeehouse folk-blues circuit. Alan ended up a blues scholar. He had a massive collection of old blues records and was a walking encyclopedia of the blues. Wilson’s nickname, “Blind Owl,” was bestowed upon him by friend John Fahey during a road trip in 1965 from Boston to Los Angeles and was a reference to the extra-thick lenses Wilson wore.

Alan moved to Los Angeles and met Bob “The Bear” Hite and in 1965 started Canned Heat. The group decided to take their name from “Canned Heat Blues,” an obscure 1928 track by bluesman Tommy Johnson that described the drug high achieved through drinking the household product Sterno.

In 1967, after appearing at the Monterey Pop Festival, Canned Heat signed to Liberty Records. They made a self-titled album that year and it peaked at #76 on the Billboard Charts. In 1968 they released “Boogie with Canned Heat” which made it to number 16. They followed that album with “Living the Blues”(#18) and in 1969 released album Hallelujah(#37).

Their appearance at Woodstock raised their stock higher. They had two hit singles both sung by Alan Wilson, Going Up Country (1968 ) and  On The Road Again (1969). Alan wasn’t the lead singer of Canned Heat but he sang the two best-known singles by them. They were both written by him and based off old blues songs. His unusual voice came from him trying to mimic the voice of old blues singers.

He was very intelligent, awkward, suffered from depression and was not a prototypical rock star. Alan was a serious environmentalist trying to save the Redwood trees. He would sleep outside often to be alone with nature. Alan Wilson was a superb slide guitar and harmonica player. John Lee Hooker said that Wilson was “the greatest harmonica player who ever lived.”

He was a big fan of Eddie James House, Jr. who was was better known as “Son House,” the great blues artist who had retired. He not only retired but was an alcoholic and had not played guitar in years and could not remember his old songs and slide parts from the 20s and 30s. Son House is said to have tutored Robert Johnson. John Hammond asked Alan Wilson to teach the 63-year-old Son House how to play like Son House again. Wilson knew his old records and licks and taught them to Son House who relearned them. House was later signed to a contract.

It gave Son House a career again and he kept playing till he retired again in 1974 after being rediscovered by a new generation. You can hear them both together on the Son House album John the Revelator: The 1970 London Sessions.

Alan died on September 3, 1970. No one knows if it was a suicide or an accidental overdose of Seconal.

Canned Heat continues to this day but they were never as successful after Alan passed away.

For a complete look at Alan Wilson go here to http://www.blindowl.net/index.html
it’s a great site. Below is an essay he wrote in 1970 about the Redwoods.

“Grim Harvest”

“The redwoods of California are the tallest living things on earth, nearly the oldest, and among the most beautiful to boot. They dominated the woods of the northern hemi-sphere in the time of the dinosaurs, a time when no mammal, flower, or blade of grass had yet appeared on earth. The Ice Age nearly exterminated them – of the once vast redwood forest only a remnant was spared by the immense glaciers which covered most of Europe, Asia, and North America in the not-too-distant evolutionary past.

Walking through this forest is an experience unique on earth. Here the sun’s rays are intercepted three hundred feet and more above the ground and are broken into tiny shimmering beams which descend among the towering pillars to play, at length, on the forest floor. Fern and wildflower bathe in the soft glow of a thousand muted spotlights which flicker on and off as the trees’ upper boughs sway majestically in a gentle wind.

2.000.000 acres of virgin redwood forest greeted the white man’s civilization as he completed his sweep of North America. In the last 100 years 1,800,000 acres of these have been logged, and of the remaining 200,000 only 75,000 are presently safe from devastation in state and national parks. At a time when these parks campsites must be reserved months in advance, the remaining 125,000 acres are being “harvested” (as the lumber-men put it), for uses which other trees could fulfill.

At the current rate of “harvest,” these remaining acres will be cleared within the next ten years.”

– Alan C. Wilson, 1970

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Canned Heat – Going Up Country

I wasn’t there but this song equals Woodstock to me. Every time I hear this song I think of a field full of hippies with bubbles. Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson wrote this song based on an old blues song called Bull Doze Blues. It peaked at #11 in the Billboard 100 in 1969.

From Songfacts.

Canned Heat’s band members were notoriously avid record collectors; this was derived from an old and obscure Blues song called “Bull Doze Blues” by Henry Thomas. The song caught on in the summer of 1969 and was very popular among Hippies who appreciated the nature theme.
This was written by Alan Wilson, who was Canned Heat’s vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter. Wilson committed suicide on September 3, 1970, becoming one of the first 27-year-old rock casualties, a group that would soon include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.

 

I’m goin’ up the country, baby don’t you want to go?
I’m goin’ up the country, baby don’t you want to go?
I’m goin’ to some place, I’ve never been before
I’m goin’ I’m goin’ where the water tastes like wine
I’m goin’ where the water tastes like wine
We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time
I’m gonna leave this city, got to get away
I’m gonna leave this city, got to get away
All this fussin’ and fightin’ man, you know I sure can’t stay
So baby pack your leavin’ trunk
You know we’ve got to leave today
Just exactly where we’re goin’ I cannot say
But we might even leave the U.S.A.
It’s a brand new game, that I want to play
No use in your runnin’, or screamin’ and cryin’
‘Cause you got a home as long as I’ve got mine