Robert Johnson – Come On In My Kitchen

This is an old Robert Johnson song that I’ve always liked. I learned about this song from a bootleg of Leon Russell, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Eric Clapton many years ago. Eric wasn’t in the best of shape when this was recorded during the Bangladesh rehearsals. George takes the solo in this blues song and makes it fit really well. I added this version along with Johnson at the bottom of the post.

Robert Johnson recorded it on November 23, 1936, at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas and it was produced by Don Law. Johnson only recorded 29 songs in total with 13 surviving outtakes.  In one hotel room, Johnson performed and in a second adjoining room, the recording equipment was housed.

In 1990 the compilation album The Complete Recordings was released and peaked at #80 in the Billboard Album Charts. It also won a Grammy Award in 1991 for “Best Historical Album. This song has had over 100 known cover versions by other artists.

Robert Johnson was a huge influence on guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Page, Peter Green, Brian Jones, and many more. He sounded different than his peers at the time which could have contributed to him not being better known in the 1930s. His style was ahead of his time and it took til the 1960s for him to catch on. In 1961, King of the Delta Blues Singers was released with 16 of his songs on the album…a generation of musicians was influenced.

Johnson died in 1938 at the age of 27. Some say Johnson had been flirting with a married woman at a dance, and she gave him a bottle of whiskey poisoned by her husband…he died two days after drinking it. That is not known for sure but we will probably never know.

Eric Clapton – His music is like my oldest friend, always in the back of my head and on the horizon. It’s the finest music I’ve ever heard.  I’ve always trusted its purity. And I always will.’ I don’t know what more you could say….”

Bob Dylan: If I hadn’t heard the Robert Johnson record when I did, there probably would have been hundreds of lines of mine that would have been shut down—that I wouldn’t have felt free enough or upraised enough to write.

Come On In My Kitchen

You better come on in my kitchenWell, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoorsAh, the woman I love, took from my best friendSome joker got lucky, stole her back againYou better come on in my kitchenIt’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors

Oh, she’s gone, I know she won’t come backI’ve taken the last nickel out of her nation sackYou better come on in my kitchenIt’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoorsOh, can’t you hear that wind howl?Oh, can’t you hear that wind would howl?You better come on in my kitchenWell, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors

When a woman gets in trouble, everybody throws her down

Lookin’ for her good friend, none can be foundYou better come on in my kitchen

Babe, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoorsWintertime’s comin’, it’s gon’ be slowYou can’t make the winter, babe, that’s dry, long, soYou better come on in my kitchen, ’cause it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors

Band – The Last Waltz

Happy Thanksgiving! Watching The Last Waltz is just as part of Thanksgiving as the meal with the family…that and Alice’s Restaurant which is coming.

The Band on Thanksgiving in 1976 at the Fillmore West. The film starts off with THIS FILM MUST BE PLAYED LOUD! A cut to Rick Danko playing pool and then it then to the Band playing “Don’t Do It”…the last song they performed that night after hours of playing. Through the music and some interviews, their musical journey and influences are retraced.

This film is considered by many the best concert film ever made. It was directed by Martin Scorsese. I love the setting with the chandeliers that were from the movie Gone With The Wind. The quality of the picture is great because it was shot with a 35-millimeter camera which wasn’t normally done with concerts.

Before the Band and guests hit the stage, Bill Graham, the promoter, served a Thanksgiving dinner to 5000 people that made up the audience with long tables with white tablecloths.

The Band’s musical guests included

Ronnie Hawkins, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison (my favorite performance), Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton and Muddy Waters

The Staple Singers and Emmylou Harris also appear but their segments were taped later on a sound stage and not at the concert.

Robbie wanted off the road earlier and that is what the Last Waltz was all about…the last concert by The Band with a lot of musical friends. He was tired of touring and also the habits the band was picking up… drugs and drinking. Richard Manuel, in particular, was in bad shape and needed time.

The rest of the Band supposedly agreed but a few years later all of them but Robbie started to tour as The Band again. Richard Manuel ended up hanging himself in 1986. Rick Danko passed away in 1999 at the end of a tour of a heart attack attributed to years of drug and alcohol abuse. Levon Helm died of cancer in 2012.

The Band sounded great that night and it might be the best version you will ever hear of The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

The Last Waltz is a grand farewell to a great band and a film that I revisit at least twice a year… once always around Thanksgiving.

The complete concert is at the bottom…without cuts.

Miss O’Dell: Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton… by Chris O’Dell and Katherine Ketcham

I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s almost like a fantasy book. You are a fan and suddenly you get thrown into the world with The Beatles as friends and co-workers. You move from the Beatles to the Stones, CSNY, Bob Dylan and the list kept growing. 

I will say this… as a Beatle fan, this book gave me insight that I never had before. Chris O’Dell happened to meet Derek Taylor (press officer of the Beatles) in Los Angeles in 1968…she worked for him for a few weeks in LA as a PA. He told her she should come over to London to check out the new company that The Beatles were starting called Apple. He didn’t promise her a job but she took a chance and sold her records and borrowed from her parents to go to London. She was like Alice down the rabbit hole, O’Dell stumbled upon a life even she could not have dreamed of.

She took a chance and went over and that started her career working at The Beatles record company Apple. It took her a few months to get hired full time but after the Beatle’s inner circle knew she could be trusted she was there. She met Paul on her very first day. She said all of them were extremely nice and made her feel welcome. She spent the first few months showing up at the office and making herself useful and securing her place. She was especially close to George as a friend and later Ringo as a little more. 

Chris O'Dell George

After all was said and done…she had 3 songs written about her. Two by Leon Russell called Hummingbird, Pieces Apple Lady, and George Harrison’s Miss O’Dell. She was also the “Mystery Woman” on the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street cover. She was in the Joni Mitchell song “Coyote” with the line He’s got another woman down the hall…the song about Sam Shepard who Chris O’Dell and Joni Mitchell were seeing. She ended up singing on the Hey Jude recording in the final Na Na chorus.

She was one of the first if not the first female tour manager in rock. The tours she worked on were The Rolling Stones, CSNY, Santana, Bob Dylan, Earth Wind and Fire, Jennifer Warnes, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Led Zeppelin, Phil Collins, Echo and the Bunnymen, ELO, and more.

We also get a glimpse into the personalities of Bob Dylan, Jagger and Richards, CSNY (and the disfunction), Eric Clapton, and more. 

Chris O'Dell's Rockstar Life Revealed

Like all of us through life…she made some cringe-worthy decisions. I’m not trying to play it down but most of the time everything worked out in the end. She was in the right place at the right time and took advantage of that. She remains close friends with Pattie Harrison, Ringo Starr (her son’s Godfather), and many of her old famous acquaintances.

This is not a kiss-and-tell book and she doesn’t trash people which made me happy. The only person to come out of this book bad at all is Eric Clapton who was admittedly jealous of Pattie and Chris’s friendship. After the Stones tour, she got into drugs really bad but managed to quit them only to start up again. She, later on, became a drug counselor and helped people. 

This book is for more than just Beatle fans…it gives you what life was like on the road in the 1970s. Some of the highlights in the book for me were: 

  • How the Apple Office worked including the Hell’s Angels visitors
  • How even the biggest stars had deep insecurities
  • Bob Dylan forgot his harmonicas before the Isle of Wight concert and Chris O’Dell arrived by helicopter to give them to him.
  • Keith Richards sending her to pick up a “package” in LA in the middle of a tour
  • Reading about David Crosby’s complaints of no “cross ventilation in his hotel room”
  • When Roger Taylor of Queen realized that she was Miss O’Dell from George’s song.
  • Insight into Pattie Boyd and Maureen Starkey who is hardly covered in Beatles books
  • Reading about how Bangledesh started and how George got his musician friends to participate. 
  • Being on the roof during Get Back brief concert

Chris O’Dell: I think being a Beatle became very difficult for them. They had a different set of problems than the Stones and CSN&Y.  They didn’t tour that much, they couldn’t go out of their hotel rooms, and they lived in a bubble. I think breaking up for them, and I can only guess, was a relief and very difficult at the same time.

Chris O’Dell:  It was like being let go in Disneyland. That’s what it felt like. It’s like here are the keys to Disneyland, go and enjoy yourself. And I was constantly aware that I was watching history in the making and that was exciting. So every day had some, or certainly every week, had something, a twist to it that made it really exciting

Chris O’Dell now: I am happily remarried to a wonderful man who supports me and accepts me as I am. My twenty-three-year-old son is amazing and gives me some credibility as a parent! I have a private practice in Tucson, specializing in addiction and mental health counseling.  My two dogs are happy and life is just better than I would have expected. 

Excerpt from the book: On being in a room with Mick and Keith before the 72 tour. 

“Listen to this fucking article in Rolling Stone about Harrison’s Bangladesh concert,” Keith said. He started reading from the article.
“The Concert for Bangladesh is rock reaching for its manhood.” Keith raised an eyebrow. “Under the leadership of George Harrison, a group of rock musicians recognized, in a deliberate, self-conscious, and professional way, that they have responsibilities, and went about dealing with them seriously.”
Keith looked at Mick and then at me. “Do you believe this shit? But wait, it gets better. Harrison is “a man with a sense of his own worth, his own role in the place of things… with a few parallels among his peers.”
“Bollocks.” Keith laughed, tossing the magazine on the coffee table. “What a fucking load of shit.”
I knew that Keith wasn’t really amused. He could be terribly insecure.
What a paradox Keith was- a sweet sensitive soul who wrote songs about needing love to be happy and yet he lived his life as if he couldn’t give a shit about anything.
But at that moment I wasn’t too interested in Keith’s feelings. I sat at the far end of the sofa, my legs and arms crossed, smoking a cigarette and drinking my Scotch and Coke as if it were straight Coke. I was pissed. Sure, I knew they were just being competitive, but I couldn’t stand listening to them make fun of George. I wanted to jump into the conversation and tell them to leave him alone. But what could I do? I worked for the Stones now, not the Beatles. This is weird, I know, and particularly strange in the context of the Stone’s remarkable longevity, but at that moment I had a sinking feeling that I was beginning my climb down the ladder. I’d started at the very top with the Beatles and now I was on the rung below. I found myself thinking at that moment that the Stones were sometimes a little too raw, too raunchy, too negative. I liked their music, and I liked each of them individually, but if I had to choose, the Beatles would win.
“You know,” I said, trying to smile but having a hard time of it,
“George is my friend.”
Mick looked over at me as if he had forgotten I was there. “Oh yeah, Chris, you’re a Beatle person, aren’t you? Sorry about that”
We let it go, then, but after I dropped Mick at his house and headed home through the dark canyons, I felt a sudden, intense longing to see Pattie and George. Mick was right. When it came right down to it, I was a Beatle person.”

Miss O’Dell

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to say
About the war
Or the rice
That keeps going astray on its way to Bombay.
That smog that keeps polluting up our shores
Is boring me to tears.
Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to fear
From the waves
Or the rice
That keeps rolling on right up to my front porch.
The record player’s broken on the floor,
And Ben, he can’t restore it.
Miss O’Dell.

I can tell you
Nothing new
Has happened since I last saw you.

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to say
About the hip
Or the dope
Or the cat with most hope to fill the Fillmore.
That pushing, shoving, ringing on my bell
Is not for me tonight.
Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

George Harrison – Wreck Of The Hesperus

I bought George Harrison’s Cloud Nine when it was released in 1987. I took it and recorded it on cassette to play in my car (sorry George). I always liked this breezy song.

I played it constantly. I started to notice a change was happening…classic rock was coming back old and new.  In the 2 years that followed a great string of albums was released. The Traveling Wilburys, Keith Richards Talk Is Cheap, Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, Jeff Lynne’s Armchair Theatre, Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl,  and then another Traveling Wilburys. The older guys were back in the game again.

There is not a bad song on Cloud Nine. The one I played the less was ironically the biggest hit on the album…Got My Mind Set On You. Personally, I thought this album was his best since All Things Must Pass. The reviews at the time agree with that.

This song is about what I talked about in the first paragraph. George was poking fun at himself as a dinosaur rocker although he was only 45…that’s young in today’s world. The first verse says it all…

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like the Wall of ChinaGetting old as MethuselahFeel tall as the Eiffel TowerI’m not a power of attorneyBut I can rock as good as GibraltarAin’t no more no spring chickenBeen plucked but I’m still kickingBut it’s alright, it’s alright

The title came from an 1842 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem of the same name that combined fact with fiction. Procol Harum also had a song on their 1969 Salty Dog album called The Wreck of the Hesperus but no relation to this one.

The Cloud Nine album peaked at #8 on the Billboard Album Charts, #6 in Canada, and #10 in the UK in 1987. This song was not released as a single. The best-known songs off of the album were Got My Mind Set On You and When We Was Fab. The album was produced by Jeff Lynne with guest appearances by Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr to name a few.

When I would buy albums I would explore every song good or bad. Many times I found songs I liked more than the singles that were pulled from it. This song did make me hunt down Bill Big Broonzy in the 80s…which wasn’t that easy but I did get my hands on some of his music and liked it…great blues player.

It’s funny how when you first hear something and what you think the lyrics are. I’ve been hearing them wrong since 1987.

What I thought I heard…

I slipped on the pavement “with no ice there” and Met a snake “carrying lanterns”

No on both accounts…

I slipped on a pavement oysterMet a snake climbing ladders

George Harrison: The song, it just came to me with this lyric. I don’t know. Maybe I was thinking from the point of view that people tend to think of you as somebody who’s passe, been and done. And it was just a sort of tongue-in-cheek kind of thing that… This was an old poem, but I was brought up [in] that period they sang, you know, the little catch thing they always said, you know, ‘you look like the wreck of the Hesperus.’ I never really knew what it was, I suppose, but it sounded good, kinda like some awful wreck. It was a shipwreck and a poem, an old Victorian poem. Anyway, that line just came to me and I just continued the lyric from there. [It’s] sort of [a] strange lyric. [Eiffel Tower] and rock as good as Gibralter, you know, it just gets silly. By end of it, I’m saying I’m not the wreck of the Hesperus, more like Big Bill Broonzy. You know, I don’t know. That to me is… I mean, as far back as I can remember [there was] Big Bill Broonzy with this big ol’ guitar playing. It was pretty groovy. I suppose now, it’s like that really. All of us are turning into– like Eric Clapton and such– I keep telling my boy, when you get older, he’s gonna be like, ‘that was Big Bill Broonzy, man, hanging around at our house!’ We’re all getting old as my mother.

George Harrison: “I’ve been friends with Eric for years. And I think I always will be. He’s a lovely fella and I love him very dearly. And he, [sic] and I called him up again and you know I’m doing an album, Eric could you come and play. Sure, he came over and played great stuff. Devil’s Radio, Cloud Nine [sic], he does a nice little solo on the end of That’s What It Takes and also the other one the second side The Wreck Of The Hesperus

The Wreck of the Hesperus

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like the Wall of ChinaGetting old as MethuselahFeel tall as the Eiffel TowerI’m not a power of attorneyBut I can rock as good as GibraltarAin’t no more no spring chickenBeen plucked but I’m still kickingBut it’s alright, it’s alright

Poison penmen sneak, have no nerve to speakMake up lies then they leak ‘m outBehind a pseudonym, the rottenness in themReaching out trying to touch me

Met some Oscars and TonysI slipped on a pavement oysterMet a snake climbing laddersGot out of the line of fire(But it’s alright)

Brainless writers gossip nonsensesTo others heads as dense as they isIt’s the same old maladyWhat they see is faulty

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like Big Bill BroonzyGetting old as my motherBut I tell you I got some company(But it’s alright)

But it’s alright, it’s alrightBut it’s alright, it’s alrightIt’s alright, alrightIt’s alright

Cream – Anyone For Tennis

It was my senior year in high school and I was listening to Cream’s greatest hits on a spring day. I had the greatest hits cassette in my car…I heard this song with the windows down and at first, I thought…no this can’t be Cream. It grew on me and I love the song. I like when a band does something different. After blitzing audiences with Crossroads, Whiteroom, Sunshine of Your Love, and Strange Brew…out comes this song. It’s not my favorite Cream song…that would be Badge but this one always makes me smile.

The song was recorded during the Wheels On Fire album sessions but not released on that album. Eric Clapton and Martin Sharp wrote the song for the film  The Savage Seven released in 1968. It peaked at #64 on the Billboard 100, #37 in Canada, and #40 in the UK and was released on that soundtrack and a single.

Cream released four albums in four years and called it a day in 1969. They would split with Clapton having the most successful career. They would reunite in 1993 for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They had a proper reunion in 2005 with four shows at Royal Albert Hall and three shows at Madison Square Gardens.

I remember the 40th Atlantic Anniversary concert held on May 11, 1988. It was rumored that Led Zeppelin and Cream were going to reunite. Led Zeppelin did, probably to their regret, but Cream didn’t attend. I watched it hoping that Cream would play.

Cream appeared on the Smothers Brothers and mimed this song. Who the hell knows what it means but when I heard “And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice. Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?” I was hooked. It’s hard to get it out of your head once you listen to it.

Anyone For Tennis

Twice upon a time in the valley of the tears
The auctioneer is bidding for a box of fading years
And the elephants are dancing on the graves of squealing mice.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

And the ice creams are all melting on the streets of bloody beer
While the beggars stain the pavements with fluorescent Christmas cheer
And the Bentley driving guru is putting up his price.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

And the prophets in the boutiques give out messages of hope
With jingle bells and fairy tales and blind colliding scopes
And you can tell they’re all the same underneath the pretty lies.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

The yellow Buddhist monk is burning brightly at the zoo
You can bring a bowl of rice and then a glass of water too
And fate is setting up the chessboard while death rolls out the dice.
Anyone for tennis, wouldn’t that be nice?

Leon Russell – Pisces Apple Lady

I love Leon’s soulful playing and that voice. I’m reading a book now about a lady named Chris O’Dell who worked for the Beatles at Apple records. She dated Leon Russell for around 4 months before she went back to London to finish working for Apple. I’ll be reviewing the book in a few weeks…after the Beatles, she worked for Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and The Rolling Stones.

O’Dell was Peter Asher’s personal Assistant and she booked studio time for the Beatles and other artists. George Harrison was working on a Jackie Lomax session and needed a piano player. George wanted Nicky Hopkins but he was in America so O’Dell mentioned Leon Russell who visited Apple earlier that day. George was ecstatic and later on, Ringo and George played on Leon’s sessions at Trident studio. After work, she walked into the studio and they were recording this song. She began to figure out it was about her (she is a Pisces) and that was Leon’s way of saying he fell in love with her.

This is not the only song inspired by Miss O’Dell. George Harrison wrote a song called Miss O’Dell and Leon wrote another song about her called Hummingbird. Both Pisces Apple Lady and Hummingbird were on his debut album released in 1970 along with his song about Rita Coolidge that Joe Cocker covered… Delta Lady.

Leon was able to get Ringo, George, Charlie Watts, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Bonnie and Delaney, Steve Winwood, Jim Gordon, B.J. Wilson, Mick Jagger, Joe Cocker, and more…on this album.

The album Leon Russell peaked at #60 on the Billboard Album Charts in 1970.

Leon Russell: “I met her when she was working at Apple Records. We had a little thing for a minute. She wrote an autobiography, and she sent me an advance copy. I’m sorry to say, as a young man, I was capable of some actions I’m not proud of. So I was afraid to read the advance copy, I gave it to Jackie [his bass player Jackie Wessel] and I said, ‘Will you read this and see if there’s any untoward activity in it?’ He read it and said, ‘It’s a beautiful little show-business autobiography. There’s no untowardness in it.’ So I was happy.”

Pisces Apple Lady

Get off your bottleGo down and see a friendHe’ll know what to do, lordyWhen you tell him how bad it’s beenHe said you oughta get awayTo the English countrysideThis cryin’ won’t help you now boyWhy don’t you look how many tears you’ve cried

When I got down to ChelseaI had no expectationsOh, But to get away from the delta girlAnd the painful situationBut I hardly had the timeOh, to laugh and look aroundAnd I found my heart was a-goin’ againLike a-English leaps and bounds (yeah)

And she’s a Pisces apple ladyWhen she speaks softlyShe screams,(She really got herself together) whoa-whoa (oh-oh)And she’s a Pisces apple ladyTook me by surpriseAnd I fell into a hundred piecesI said a-right before her eyes

Now were togetherAll the way to L.A.I know she that loves me‘Cause she can brighten up a smoggy dayIf I believed in marriageOh, I’d take her for my wifeAnd move on down into high gear babyFor the rest of my natural life

And she’s a Pisces apple ladyWhen she speaks softlyShe screams,(She really got herself together) yes she does (oh-oh)And she’s a Pisces apple ladyTook me by surpriseAnd I fell into a hundred piecesI said a-right before her eyes

Pete Townshend and Ronnie Lane – My Baby Gives It Away

I have often wondered why this album wasn’t more popular. It features The Who’s Pete Townshend and The Small Faces/Faces Ronnie Lane who then was leading his own band, Slim Chance. The album is full of great songs and is worth a listen. The guest musicians include Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts, John Entwistle, Ian Stewart, John “Rabbit” Bundrick, and more.

In October of 1976, the Who closed a North American tour in Toronto, a show that would be the last with Keith Moon before a paying audience. The band took a break to pursue individual projects. Ronnie Lane had wanted Townshend to produce his album but he then wanted Townshend to collaborate writing on the songs. Townshend declined because he had never written with anyone before but they did manage to write the title track, Rough Mix, together.

The album ended up with Townsend songs and Lane songs. They did do a cover of a Don Williams song called Till All The Rivers Run Dry. Rough Mix didn’t draw a lot of attention at the time but is now considered a lost gem. Townshend has said in his book that there was a big argument where he shoved Ronnie Lane. He said it felt like he didn’t know his own strength because Lane felt like he was made out of paper. Later Pete found out about Lane’s multiple sclerosis.

Lane was already showing the early symptoms of multiple sclerosis (tremors, slurred speech), which others sometimes interpreted as a sign he was drunk. He didn’t tell Townshend, or very many others, about his medical diagnosis.

Townshend’s liner notes eventually read, “Ron and Pete play various acoustic & electric guitars, mandolins & bass guitars, banjos, ukuleles & very involved mind games.”

The album peaked at #44 in the Billboard Album Charts, #70 in Canada, and #45 in the UK in 1977.

Pete Townshend: The recording of Rough Mix with Ronnie is now a blur, but I remember some special moments. I played live guitar with a large string orchestra for the first time, my father-in-law Ted Astley arranging and conducting on ‘Street in the City’. I was surprised at the respect given me by the orchestral musicians. Playing with Charlie Watts on ‘My Baby Gives It Away’ was also very cool, making me aware that his jazz-influenced style was essential to the Stones’ success, the hi-hat always trailing the beat a little to create that vital swing.

Meeting John Bundrick (Rabbit) was also an important event in my life as a musician. He wandered into the Rough Mix studio one day looking for session work. Here was a Hammond player who had worked with Bob Marley, and could play as well as Billy Preston. Offstage he could be reckless and impulsive, drinking too much, asking for drugs and telling crazy stories, but musicians of his calibre didn’t come around very often.

My Baby Gives It Away

My baby wakes in the deep of the nightShe doesn’t need itBut she says it’s all rightMy baby digs it, just a Rollin’ away

My baby gives it up every dayMy baby gives it, she gives it awayMy baby gives it up every dayMy baby She just gives it away

When you’re alone in some city hotelYou can get company by ringing a bellYou might go pick up a girlOn the street

But my baby gives it up totally freeMy baby’s counting’ on, ’cause you aloneMy baby’s brother never break a your armMy baby ha, ha, I love her

She’s cheepOoh yeahMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy baby

You better buy yourself an new pair of shoesAnd walk for a lifetime on that bad newsYou better buy an electric guitarThere’s no better way to beat the blues, I beat ’em

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

She give it way, every day, every wayMy baby just gives it away

My baby’s momma is a singular girlShe brought up her daughter and brought her up wellI’m breathing no more‘Cause she took it away

My baby gives it up every dayMy baby gives itShe gives it awayMy baby gives it up every day

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy babyMy babyMy baby

My babyMy baby

How I love her, yeahMy baby, my baby, she just gives it awayMy baby, my baby, she just gives it awayMy baby, my baby, gives it away

Let me tell you, my baby, she just give it awayMy baby, every dayMy baby gives it up every dayMy baby give itJust gives it away

Derek and the Dominos – Little Wing

Damn…this is such a great song. Duane Allman came into the Derek and the Dominos sessions and made a suggestion to record a Jimi Hendrix song, Little Wing. This is what he did in the Wilson Pickett sessions with the song Hey Jude.

After the Layla sessions were completed, Clapton returned to England with a rare left-handed Fender Stratocaster, a gift for Jimi Hendrix. He wanted him to hear the Dominos’ recording of Hendrix’s Little Wing, a tribute he and Duane had recorded for him. They both greatly admired Hendrix and Duane planned to meet him when Jimi came back from Europe. On the morning of September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found unconscious in a Notting Hill apartment in London. He died that afternoon at the hospital, having apparently suffocated while under the heavy sedation of sleeping pills.

The album peaked at #16 in 1970 on the Billboard 100. Although Derek and the Dominos were poised to record a follow-up album in 1971… tensions and drug abuse among the band members, along with the tragic death of Duane Allman ended that idea.

Jimi wrote this song and it was inspired by the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, a concert held for 3 days in 1967. It was attended by around 200,000 music fans, it happened 2 years before Woodstock. Jimi wrote about the atmosphere at the festival as if it was a girl. He described the feeling as “Everybody really flying and in a nice mood.” He named it “Little Wing” because he thought it could just fly away.

The song was on Axis: Bold as Love released in 1967. The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard 100 in 1968.

Bobby Whitlock keyboard player: We had two leaders then. We had Eric and Duane. Eric backed up and gave Duane a lot of latitude, a lot of room, so he could contribute up to his full potentiality, and Duane was full of fire and ideas. He’d just go, “Hey, how about we try ‘Little Wing’?”—that was completely his idea and he came up with the intro by himself. He just started playing it.

Duane was very, very good in the studio. Working with the finest musicians and engineers on the planet really paid off for him. When he had the opportunity to be thrust into that environment, he absorbed what was right and righteous and then used it to killer advantage.

Little Wing

Well, she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind that’s running around
Butterflies and zebras and fairy tales
That’s all she ever thinks about

And when I’m sad, she comes to me
A thousand smiles she gives to me free
Said it’s all right, take anything you want from me
(Anything you want, babe) (Anything)

Well, she’s walking through the clouds
With a circus mind that’s running around
Butterflies and zebras and fairy tales
That’s all she ever thinks about

And when I’m sad, she comes to me
With a thousand smiles she gives to me free
Said it’s all right, take anything you want from me, baby
(Anything you want) (Anything)

Whoo…
Fly on little wing
Baby, baby

Cream – Badge

During my senior year in high school in 1985, I had their greatest hits. I wore it out and became a huge Cream fan. I went to an old music store a couple of years ago and they had an original 60s  Leslie Cabinet. Why am I bringing that up? That is what Clapton is playing through on this song.  A Leslie Cabinet (I have video at the bottom of the post) contains a rotating horn and was designed for organs, but many tried it with guitars. It gives an organ guitar a swirling sound. The Beatles used it a lot.

One of my favorite Cream songs. Badge was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. In George’s handwritten lyrics he wrote the word “Bridge” as in bridge of a song and Clapton thought it read “Badge” so they named the song that. In 1969 Badge peaked at #60 on the Billboard 100 Charts, #18 on the UK Charts, and #49 in Canada.

It appeared on Cream’s final album Goodbye. This song is one of only 3 studio tracks on Goodbye…the rest are live cuts. Badge would be the only Cream song to include 5 people…in addition to Clapton, Bruce, Baker and Harrison, Felix Pappalardi played the piano and Mellotron. Pappalardi produced Disreali GearsWheels Of Fire, and Goodbye. Robert Stigwood produced their debut album Fresh Cream.

Cream were broke up when this album was released. Clapton was already working with Blind Faith. The did reunite for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1993 and played 3 songs. In 2005 the band reunited at the Royal Albert Hall…the location of their last concert in 1969 and later in the year at Madison Square Gardens.

I will say…it’s hard for me to listen to the 2005 reunion. Clapton chose to play his Fender guitar and it just didn’t have the bite his Gibson SG had in the Cream days. I didn’t expect the long jams but I do wish he would have been a bit dirtier in his sound. The musicianship though was great.

Don’t study the lyrics too much. They don’t make much sense. Supposedly many of them came from drunk conversations with George and Ringo.

George Harrison: I helped Eric write “Badge” you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that Goodbye Cream album and Eric didn’t have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part, so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing – ‘What’s BADGE?’ he said. After that, Ringo walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park

Hope I didn’t bore you all with the Leslie Cabinet information, but I really like them. In this video you will see how  it works and why an organ gets that swirling sound. A sixties model costs around $3000 and up. 

Back to our song of the day!

Badge

Thinkin’ ’bout the times you drove in my car.
Thinkin’ that I might have drove you too far.
And I’m thinkin’ ’bout the love that you laid on my table.

I told you not to wander ’round in the dark.
I told you ’bout the swans, that they live in the park.
Then I told you ’bout our kid: now he’s married to Mabel.

Yes, I told you that the light goes up and down.
Don’t you notice how the wheel goes ’round?
And you better pick yourself up from the ground
Before they bring the curtain down.
Yes, before they bring the curtain down.

Ah Ah Ah, yeh yeh yeh
Ah Ah Ah, yeh yeh yeh

Talkin’ ’bout a girl that looks quite like you.
She didn’t have the time to wait in the queue.
She cried away her life since she fell off the cradle.

Cream – Born Under A Bad Sign

When I first started to listen to Cream, what stood out was not Clapton’s guitar or Baker’s drumming…no it was Jack Bruce’s bass. There are three bass players I listened to while starting out playing. John Entwistle, Jack Bruce, and Paul McCartney.  Those three covered the chaotic, the sliding, and melodic. Jack Bruce had all of these traits.

Cream recorded this and released it on their 1968 album Wheels Of Fire. It was written by Booker T Jones and William Bell for Albert King. King released it on his first Stax album Born Under A Bad Sign in 1967. Clapton stuck close to King’s guitar style on this song.

The Wheels of Fire album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, #1 in Canada, and #3 in the UK in 1968.

Cream played this when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 12, 1993, in tribute to Albert King, who died the previous year. It was one of two times the band has played together since they broke up in 1968. The first time was at Clapton’s wedding in 1979…three Beatles also played together at his wedding.

Booker T Jones: “My recollection is that we wrote it in my den, late the night before the session. We had been trying to come up with something for Albert. He was coming to town and it was the last opportunity we had to write a song. But you know, now that I think of it, the fact that the song was in D flat, there is definitely an Indiana influence because, you know, a blues song in d flat? I tell you, I learned the value of flat keys and sharp keys and how to use them for emotional value so I could have more range and capacity for touching the human heart. I think that was one of the reasons that song became as huge as it did. Because it was in D flat.”

King’s song is also included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of the “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”

From Songfacts

When Albert King signed with Stax Records in Memphis, Booker T. Jones, who was a member of the Stax house band Booker T. & The MGs, was assigned his producer. In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Jones explained: “At that time, my writing partner was William Bell. He came over to my house the night before the session. William wrote the words and I wrote the music in my den that night. That was one of my greatest moments in the studio as far as being thrilled with a piece of music. The feeling of it, it’s the real blues done by the real people. It was Albert King from East St. Louis, the left-handed guitar player who was just one of a kind and so electric and so intense and so serious about his music. He just lost himself in the music. He’s such a one of a kind character. I was there in the middle of it and it was exhilarating.”

The “bad sign” is an astrology reference: if you’re “born under a bad sign,” it means the stars are aligned against you from birth. It was the song’s co-writer William Bell who came up with the title – he wanted to do a blues song about astrology.

Born Under A Bad Sign was Albert King’s first album released by Stax. It became King’s signature song, with the classic lyrics, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”

The song harkens back to blues of the ’30s and ’40s which had similar lyrical content.

King was an American blues musician. Known for his size (6′ 4″, 250 pounds) and custom-made, left-handed Gibson guitar, he died in 1992.

 Their guitarist, Eric Clapton, idolized American blues artists and often performed their songs. It marked a change of guitar style for Clapton, who adopted a harder, attacking style on this song in place of the sweeter, sustaining notes he called “woman tone,” which were more apparent on Cream’s first two albums.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band played this at Woodstock in 1969. They went on Monday morning, two sets ahead of Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles, recorded an instrumental cover in 1969 as a tribute to King. 

This song’s lyricist William Bell performed it at the Grammy Awards in 2017 with Gary Clark Jr. “When you spend your life making music, you were born under a good sign, Bell said when they finished the song.” Bell won the award for Best Americana Album.

Janis Joplin’s guitarist Sam Andrew borrowed the riff for Big Brother & The Holding Company’s song “I Need A Man To Love.”

Christian posted this video in the comments…I thought I would add it…

Born Under A Bad Sign

Born under a bad sign
Been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck
You know I wouldn’t have no luck at all

Hard luck and trouble is my only friend
I’ve been on my own ever since I was ten
Born under a bad sign
Been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck
You know I wouldn’t have no luck at all

I can’t read, haven’t learned how to write
My whole life has been one big fight
Born under a bad sign
I been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck
I say I wouldn’t have no luck at all

I ain’t no lyin’

You know if it wasn’t for bad luck
I wouldn’t have no kinda luck
If it wasn’t for real bad luck
I wouldn’t have no luck at all

You know, wine and women is all I crave
A big-legged woman is gonna carry me to my grave
Born under a bad sign
I been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck
I tell I wouldn’t have no luck at all

Yeah, my bad luck boy
Been havin’ bad luck all of my days, yes

All Things Must Pass Away: Harrison, Clapton, and Other Assorted Love Songs by Kenneth Womack and Jason Kruppa

As a huge Beatles and Clapton fan, I was hoping to find out things I didn’t know…I certainly did. No revelation about The Beatles but many about George who just started his life without them.

I’m more familiar with Harrison than Clapton but I did know some about him. They go through each artist’s history up until around 1972 and then do highlights after that. The book centers around the making of Harrison’s album All Things Must Pass and Clapton’s Derek and the Dominos Layla and Assorted Love Songs and their friendship.

The authors picked a point in time to concentrate on (70-72) …and they did in detail. From Phil Spector to the “Apple Scruffs” outside the studio’s door. They also cover Duane Allman, Tom Dowd, and more helping out Clapton on the Layla album.

Harrison and Clapton had a genuine and later complicated friendship that started in earnest in 1966 when they met while Clapton was in Cream and George in the Beatles.  Out of the two, George had a better childhood with a caring family and later his family with the Beatles. The Beatles were tight like brothers and although they fought…it was a love and closeness there.

Clapton had a rocky childhood where he was raised by his grandparents and his sister, he found out later, was really his mom. He felt abandoned and that partly explains the reason Clapton never stayed in a band more than a few years. He never wavered in his friendship with Harrison though.

The book would not be complete without getting into the Patti Boyd-George Harrison-Eric Clapton triangle. Clapton wanted Patti for years, but she resisted him, and he turned into a heroin addict. They didn’t get together until Harrison and Boyd split up and Clapton got off heroin. The cause of the Harrison Boyd separation was said not to have anything to do with Clapton. Drugs and a certain affair that they could not get past was part of it.

They remained friends for the rest of their lives and while they always got along…George would occasionally throw a verbal jab about Boyd and Clapton…which was his sense of humor but uncomfortable sometimes for Clapton and those around, but he never said anything publicly about it.

George and Eric helped each other musically throughout their careers. Clapton formed a backing band for a tour of Japan in the early 90s for Harrison.

After George’s death…George’s wife Oliva called on Clapton to put together a show… Concert for George…with musicians from Harrison’s past. That show was Concert for George. There were many special moments in that show. The one for me personally would be Paul McCartney singing All Things Must Pass.

I would highly reccomend this book!

Howlin’ Wolf – Killing Floor

I just posted a song by Howlin’ Wolf a week or so ago but I’ve been listening to him lately so here is another. This song comes with an interesting story between Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.

When Jimi Hendrix came to England he made a huge impression right away. At a Cream gig he requested a chance to jam with the band. No one in those days asked to do this because Clapton was “God” on guitar to many people…plus Cream as a unit were super talented. Jack Bruce later said that Jimi was a brave person to do that because Cream were all top notch musicans.

Jimi plugged into Jack Bruce’s amp and broke into Killing Floor. Clapton was blown away by it because he never mastered the song. Jimi was ripping right through it at breakneck speed. According to Chas Chandler…Clapton just dropped his hands and was shocked.

Wolf released his version in 1964 and it was written by him.

Hubert Sumlin played guitar on the original version. He said that Wolf played the field, with several ladies in his stable. One of them, a woman named Helen, was so fed up with his philandering that she got a shotgun filled with buckshot and fired at him from a second-floor window.

So, the killing floor is a metaphor for depression, in Wolf’s case triggered by a woman who was so mad she was literally trying to kill him.

Led Zeppelin later used this song as the basis for The Lemon Song.

Eric Clapton:

“I remember thinking that here was a force to be reckoned with. It scared me, because he was clearly going to be a huge star, and just as we are finding our own speed, here was the real thing.” 

“It was amazing,”“and it was musically great, too, not just pyrotechnics.” 

From Songfacts

In this song, Howlin’ Wolf sings about how he should have left his woman a long time ago, imagining how much better he would have it if he went to Mexico when he had the chance. Now, he’s down here on the killing floor.

Wolf wasn’t the first to use the phrase “killing floor” in a song; the Mississippi blues musician Skip James recorded “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” in 1931. James’ version was re-released in 1964, a year before Wolf recorded his “Killing Floor.”

Artists to cover this song include Albert King, Jimi Hendrix and Otis Rush.

Killing Floor

I should have quit you, a long time ago
I should have quit you, babe, long time ago
I should have quit you, and went on to Mexico
If I had-a followed my first mind
If I had-a followed my first mind
I’d been gone, since my second time

I shoulda went on, when my friend come from Mexico at me
I shoulda went on, when my friend come from Mexico at me
But no, I was foolin’ with ya, baby, I let ya put me on the killin’ floor
Lord knows, I shoulda been gone
Lord knows, I shoulda been gone
And I wouldn’t have been here, down on the killin’ floor
Yeah

Blind Faith – Sea Of Joy

Blind Faith…a supergroup with Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Ric Grech, and Ginger Baker.

I was listening to Blind Faith’s self titled debut album last week while deep in work and this song was one caught my attention. I’ve heard this song before but this time it really hit me. I repeated it a few times for good measure. What a talented band they were and we are lucky to get that album.

Their one and only album, the self titled Blind Faith album, peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, and the UK in 1969. They toured one time for the album and then soon broke up.

After Cream broke up in late 1968…Blind Faith evolved out of informal jamming at Eric Clapton’s home with Steve Winwood. Winwood suggested adding Ginger Baker to the lineup. Rick Grech joined on bass. The band spent February to June 1969 in the studio jamming and recording.

Clapton didn’t want Baker in the band…he wanted to leave Cream behind but Winwood didn’t know the history until later on.

Steve Winwood: “I had begun to realize what a problem Ginger was, and I saw why Eric had been against having him in the group.” “Ginger did a drum solo and they thought it was Cream, so we chucked in an old Cream song,” Winwood said. “Then I put in a Traffic song, and the identity of the band was killed stone dead. If you have 20,000 people out there, and you know you only have to play one song for them to be on their feet, you do it. We were only human.”

Eric Clapton: Steve and I were at the cottage smoking joints and jamming when we were surprised by a knock at the door,” “It was Ginger. Somehow he had gotten wind of what we were doing and had tracked us down. Ginger’s appearance frightened me because I felt that all of a sudden we were a band, and with that would come the whole [manager Robert] Stigwood machine and the hype that had surrounded Cream.”

Steve Winwood wrote this song and took the lead.

Sea Of Joy

Following the shadows of the skies
Or are they only figments of my eyes?
And I’m feeling close to when the race is run
Waiting in our boats to set sail
Sea of joy

Once the door swings open into space
And I’m already waiting in disguise
Is it just a thorn between my eyes?
Waiting in our boats to set sail
Sea of joy

Having trouble coming through
Through this concrete blocks my view
And it’s all because of you

Oh, is it just a thorn between my eyes?
Waiting in our boats to set sail
Sea of joy

Sea of joy
Sea of joy
Sailing free
Sea of joy

Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight

When you play in a bar band…you better know this song. I played it so many times that while I still like listening to the song…I dreaded playing it but it was hard to avoid. Just to add a little fun to it I would add a naughty description in the lyrics…no I won’t repeat here…trying to make the guys laugh. I’d get a wink from some of the slow dancers but no one seemed to mind…it added a little spice to this slower than slow song.

It’s another song inspired by Pattie Boyd. The list is long with Pattie. She inspired a lot of great songs. George Harrison wrote “Something” and “For You Blue” for her, while she inspired Clapton to write this, “Layla,” “Why Does Love Have To Be So Sad,” and “Forever Man.”

Pattie Boyd on Twitter: "Hmm ..... 'train sequences for A Hard Day's Night'  ... sounds familiar ...… "

Pattie was married to George Harrison when Clapton expressed his love for her in the song “Layla.” Clapton and Harrison remained good friends, and Harrison even played at their wedding in 1979. Eric and Pattie divorced in 1988.

The song peaked at #16 in the Billboard 100, #15 in Canada, #2 in New Zealand, and #81 in the UK in 1977. The song was on the album Slowhand.

Pattie Boyd: “Clapton was sitting round playing his guitar while I was trying on dresses upstairs. I was taking so long and I was panicking about my hair, my clothes, everything, and I came downstairs expecting him to really berate me but he said, ‘Listen to this!'”

From Songfacts

A fixture at proms and weddings, Eric Clapton wrote “Wonderful Tonight” in 1976 while waiting for his girlfriend (and future wife) Pattie to get ready for a night out. They were going to a Buddy Holly tribute that Paul McCartney put together, and Clapton was in the familiar position of waiting while she tried on clothes.

On March 28, 1979, the day after they were married, Clapton brought Pattie on stage and sang this to her at his show in Tucson, Arizona.

Clapton released a live version in 1991 recorded in London with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. This is the version that charted in the UK. It is included on his album 24 Nights.
In the time she had taken to get ready Clapton had written this song.

In the 2000 Friends episode “The One With the Proposal,” this plays in the background while Chandler and Monica are dancing. It also shows up in the 1984 Miami Vice episode “One Eyed Jack” and in the 2013 movie Captain Phillips. >>

This was used in the movie The Story Of Us with Bruce Willis and Michelle Pfeiffer. The song plays in the background as they eat dinner together at home, even though they had separated.

In 1997 the boy band Damage recorded a cover reaching #3 in the UK. A then unknown Craig David sent in a self-written song called “I’m Ready” for a competition Damage was running, which they used as the B-side.

Wonderful Tonight

It’s late in the evening; she’s wondering what clothes to wear.
She’ll put on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair.
And then she asks me, “Do I look all right?”
And I say, “Yes, you look wonderful tonight.”

We go to a party and everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady that’s walking around with me.
And then she asks me, “Do you feel all right?”
And I say, “Yes, I feel wonderful tonight.”

I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes.

And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you.
It’s time to go home now and I’ve got an aching head,
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed.

And then I tell her, as I turn out the light,
I say, “My darling, you were wonderful tonight.
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight.”

Blind Faith – Presence of the Lord

This is a song that I put some headphones on…get in my recliner and turn it up to 11…hearing loss be damned…and I get lost in the swirling organ and drift away to the sixties. The song is thick and powerful…who needs drugs when you listen to this loud.

Eric Clapton wrote this song, which is a testimony of faith. It’s the first song for which he wrote all the lyrics.

Clapton called this a “song of gratitude.” It was one of his first songs to explore spirituality, which he did on some of his solo tracks in the ’70s. He said the message of this song was to “say ‘thank you’ to God, or whatever you choose to call Him, for whatever happens.”

Their one and only album, the self titled Blind Faith album, peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, Canada, and the UK in 1969. They toured one time for the album and then soon broke up.

From Songfacts

Steve Winwood sang lead, as he did with all of the Blind Faith songs. Even though it’s a very personal song, Clapton made sure he wouldn’t be the lead vocalist by writing it in a higher key than he could sing. He thought Winwood was a much better singer (most would agree), and wanted him on this track.

The song is about how Clapton was becoming more comfortable with his life. He had just left Cream at the peak of its popularity, and was looking forward to playing with Blind Faith. He wasn’t too comfortable though: Clapton was fighting drug addiction and falling in love with George Harrison’s wife, whom he would later marry.

Blind Faith released just one album, and didn’t issue any singles. The album was very successful, going to #1 in both the US and UK, but the band broke up after one difficult tour.

The album cover was a photo of a young girl with no clothes on holding a model spaceship. According to photographer Bob Seidemann, who shot the cover, he had the idea but did not have someone to pose. While riding the London subway, he saw a young girl who would be perfect and asked her to pose for the cover. He went to the girl’s house to ask her parents’ permission to pose topless for the cover. They agreed, but the girl backed out. However, the girl’s younger sister begged the parents to let her pose instead. They agreed and the younger sister ended up posing for the cover. Seidemann called the image “Blind Faith” and Eric Clapton made that the name of the group.

Presence Of The Lord

I have finally found a way to live just like I never could before
I know that I don’t have much to give, but I can open any door
Everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I have finally found a way to live in the colour of the Lord

I have finally found a place to live just like I never could before
And I know I don’t have much to give, but soon I’ll open any door
Everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score

I have finally found a place to live, oh, in the presence of the Lord
In the presence of the Lord

I have finally found a way to live, just like I never could before
And I know I don’t have much to give, but I can open any door
Everybody knows the secret, I said everybody knows the score
I have finally found a way to live in the colour of the Lord
In the colour of the Lord