Traffic – Dear Mr. Fantasy

This is my seventh song pick for Hanspostcard’s song draft. Traffic Dear Mr. Fantasy.

I first heard this song after a band practice. We were in the guitarists garage when I was around 19-20. The guys in that band smoked pot…I didn’t…not because I was an angel…I just cannot smoke anything. That was my second contact high I ever got (my first was at a concert) and this one was much stronger. Someone played this song and the world was a lovely place. I saw right then why they did what they did.

This one would rank in my top twenty favorite songs. I could listen to this song on a tape loop forever and ever. It came out in 1967 on the Traffic album “Mr. Fantasy.” It was written by Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood and Chris Wood.

The song is made for long solos. Normally I like a solo and then move on but certain songs lend themselves to longer solos and this would be one.

The song also transports me to a time that I wasn’t a part of and I wish I would have been. This one and Can’t Find My Way Back Home does the same thing to me. It’s nothing like jazz but it affects me like jazz…I just sit back and let the song take me away to the incents and patchouli oil.

I’ll let Jim Capaldi tell you about the creation of the song:

“It was the summer of 1967, and we were all living in this
cottage in Berkshire. We were one of the first English bands to live
together like that. We thought we’d try it and see if anything came of
it. I remember the day very clearly: A bunch of friends came over early
in the day and we had quite a party. It was sunny and the corn was
coming up nicely around the cottage, and we were quite enjoying
ourselves if you know what I mean. As things finally wound down in the
evening, I was sitting around just doodling, as I would often do,
drawing this character. It was this little fellow with a spiked sun
hat. He was holding some puppeteer’s strings, and the puppet hands on
the end of the strings were playing a guitar. Under that, I just
scribbled some words: ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy,’ play us a tune,
something to make us all happy’ and on a bit. It was nice, but I didn’t
think much of it; certainly, it wasn’t intended to be a song.

“I crashed out eventually, but I remember hearing Steve and
Chris playing around after. The next day, I woke up and found that
they’d written a song around the words and drawing I’d done. I was
completely knocked out by it. Chris wrote that great bass line. We
added some more words later and worked out a bigger arrangement, too.
Those were very happy days for Traffic.”

Jimi Hendrix – 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)

I have a confession…every time I look at this song my mind wants to read “Morman” not Merman. It’s an interesting song by Hendrix. Anything he did I will listen to…even songs still coming out to this day. The guy must have lived permanently hooked up to a recording console.

This song is basically a scifi story. A merman is a male version of a mermaid. In this song, Hendrix sings about how he wants to escape the war-torn world and all the horrible things going on.

This song was recorded in 1968 for the Electric Ladyland album and it featured  Chris Wood of the band Traffic.

Sometimes Hendrix would play bass himself and he had many guests such as drummer Buddy Miles of The Electric Flag, Traffic’s Dave Mason, Steve Winwood, Al Kooper and Jefferson Airplane bassist Jack Casady amongst others into the mix.

The went into the studio in February 1968 and the album was released on October 16th of that year. The final complete studio album ever recorded by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and their only one to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Electric Ladyland is Hendrix’s most experimental album and most musically varied.

Jimi Hendrix on going into the studio for Electric Ladyland: “We’ve been doing new tracks that are really fantastic and we’ve just been getting into them…“You have these songs in your mind. You want to hurry up and get back to the things you were doing in the studio, because that’s the way you gear your mind….We wanted to play [the Fillmore], quite naturally, but you’re thinking about all these tracks, which is completely different from what you’re doing now.”

Jimi Hendrix – 1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)

Hurrah i awake from yesterday
alive but the war is here to stay
so my love catherina and me
decide to take our last walk
through the noise to the sea
not to die but to be re-born
away from a life so battered and torn….
forever…
oh say can you see its really such a mess
every inch of earth is a fighting nest
giant pencil and lip-stick tube shaped things
continue to rain and cause screaming pain
and the arctic stains
from silver blue to bloody red
as our feet find the sand
and the sea is strait ahead..
strait ahead…..
well its too bad
that our friends
cant be with us today
well thats too bad
“the machine
that we built
would never save us”
thats what they say
(thats why they aint coming with us today)
and they also said
“its impossible for man
to live and breath underwater..
forever” was their main complaint
(yeah)
and they also threw this in my face:
they said
anyway
you know good well
it would be beyond the will of God
and the grace of the King
(grace of the King yeah yeah)

so my darling and I
make love in the sand
to salute the last moment
ever on dry land
our machine has done its work
played its part well
without a scratch on our bodies
and we bid it farewell

starfish and giant foams
greet us with a smile
before our heads go under
we take a last look
at the killing noise
of the out of style…
the out of style, out of style

Traffic – Paper Sun

Lets go back to the psychedelic sixties with this song that was released in the Summer of Love. The song fit perfectly with the times even featuring an Indian sitar played by Dave Mason. That year had singles such as  “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Ruby Tuesday”, “Sunshine Of Your Love”, “Nights In White Satin”, “Whiter Shade of Pale”, “See Emily Play”…the list goes on and on. This is a great example of British psychedelia.

Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi wrote this song in  1967 when Winwood and Capaldi were members of two different bands.  They were on tour together, and after a show put the song together in a hotel room.

When Winwood and Capaldi formed Traffic a short time later with Dave Mason and Chris Wood, they recorded Paper Sun and released it as their first single.

The song peaked at #5 in the UK, #4 in Canada, and #94 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

Jim Capaldi: “I got the title from a newspaper in a boarding house in Newcastle,”  “I was half-asleep, lying there writing this lyric in my head at about 3:30 in the morning. I woke up Steve with this idea and then we went into the living room where there was a little upright piano and finished the song.”

Paper Sun

So you think you’re having good times
With the boy that you just met
Kicking sand from beach to beach
Your clothes are soaking wet
But if you look around and see
A shadow on the run (on the run)
Don’t be too upset because it’s just a paper sun

Ah paper sun, ah paper sun

In the room where you’ve been sleeping
All our clothes are thrown about
Cigarettes burn window sills
Your meter’s all run out
But there again it’s nothing
You just split when day is done (day is gone)
Hitching lifts to nowhere, hung up on the paper sun

Ah paper sun, ah paper sun

Standing in the cool of my room
Fresh cut flowers give me sweet perfume (too much sun will burn)
Too much sun will burn (too much sun will burn)
Too much sun will burn

When you’re feeling tired and lonely
You see people going home
You can’t make the train fare
Or the sixpence for the phone
And icicles you’re crying
Down your cheek have just begun
Don’t be sad, good times are had
Beneath the paper sun

Ah paper sun, ah paper sun

Daylight breaks while you sleep on the sand
A seagull is stealing the ring from your hand
The boy who had given you so much fun
Has left you so cold in the paper sun
In the paper sun, in the paper sun, in the paper sun, in the paper sun

Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die

This is about the song, not the album…Love the story and the way the words just flow in this song by Traffic. There have been many versions of this song. Jethro Tull has covered it but this is the version I’ve always known.

While researching this song there is not a lack of information. Everyone has an opinion on this one. The song was off Traffic’s album of the same name. The album peaked at #5 in the Billboard 200 in 1970 but the song did not chart.

 

https://musicaficionado.blog/2016/02/15/john-barleycorn-by-traffic/

When you first listen to the song you may think that you landed in the midst of a Middle Ages inquisition session. The lyrics describe all kinds of brutal methods inflicted by three men upon a poor fellow named John Barleycorn. However, a closer look reveals that the distressing lyrics are actually a metaphor to the process applied to barley in order to produce beer and whiskey. While it has its roots in old folklore tales about the Corn God and religious symbolism, it is really a satire on legally prohibiting the production of alcoholic beverages while still needing the drink to get on with everyday life, as revealed in the last verse:

The huntsman, he can’t hunt the fox,
Nor so loudly to blow his horn,
And the tinker he can’t mend kettle nor pot,
Without a little Barleycorn

but there are many interpretations.” 

This is an old British folk song that railed against the ludicrousness of prohibition. The joke was that all those “brave” teetotalers who claimed to be doing the work of the Lord were actually hypocrites and were ruining that work, because, as the lyric sums up, in the end, no one can do the rudimentary work necessary to build and grow the land “without a little barleycorn.”

John Barleycorn : A personification of alcoholic liquor.

 

John Barleycorn Must Die

There were three men came out of the west, their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn must die
They’ve plowed, they’ve sown, they’ve harrowed him in
Threw clods upon his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead

They’ve let him lie for a very long time, ’til the rains from heaven did fall
And little Sir John sprung up his head and so amazed them all
They’ve let him stand ’til midsummer’s day ’til he looked both pale and wan
And little Sir John’s grown a long long beard and so become a man
They’ve hired men with their scythes so sharp to cut him off at the knee
They’ve rolled him and tied him by the way, serving him most barbarously
They’ve hired men with their sharp pitchforks who’ve pricked him to the heart
And the loader he has served him worse than that 
For he’s bound him to the cart

They’ve wheeled him around and around a field ’til they came onto a pond
And there they made a solemn oath on poor John Barleycorn
They’ve hired men with their crabtree sticks to cut him skin from bone
And the miller he has served him worse than that 
For he’s ground him between two stones

And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl and his brandy in the glass
And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
The huntsman he can’t hunt the fox nor so loudly to blow his horn
And the tinker he can’t mend kettle or pots without a little barleycorn

 

 

 

 

Traffic – The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys

One I really like from Traffic. It’s one of those songs you just let play, as you do other things. This song was released in 1971 but was not released as a single…It clocked in at 12 minutes long. Jim Capaldi started writing this in Morocco, where he was getting ready to make a movie called Nevertheless with actor Michael J. Pollard. The film project fell through but did lead to one of Traffic’s best-known songs.

From Songfacts.

Said Capaldi: “Pollard and I would sit around writing lyrics all day, talking about Bob Dylan and the Band, thinking up ridiculous plots for the movie. Before I left Morocco, Pollard wrote in my book ‘The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.’ For me, it summed him up. He had this tremendous rebel attitude. He walked around in his cowboy boots, his leather jacket. At the time he was a heavy little dude. It seemed to sum up all the people of that generation who were just rebels. The ‘Low Spark,’ for me, was the spirit, high-spirited. You know, standing on a street corner. The low rider. The ‘Low Spark’ meaning that strong undercurrent at the street level.” >>

Never released as a single, this did very well on AOR stations in America, which didn’t mind playing all 12 minutes and 10 seconds of the song (it provided a nice cigarette break for the DJs). The album sold over a million copies in the US, but didn’t fare nearly as well in their native UK.

Jim Capaldi and Steve Winwood are the credited writers on this song. Dave Mason had left the band at that point, but Traffic added some new members for the Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys album, including former Derek & the Dominos drummer Jim Gordon, which allowed Capaldi to focus more on vocals. Original member Chris Wood played the prominent saxophone parts on this track.

When Traffic toured in 1972, this was a highlight of their live shows. For that tour, they brought along two of America’s finest session musicians: bassist David Hood and drummer Roger Hawkins from Muscle Shoals Sound Studios (Traffic would record their next album with these guys). 

The colorful percussionist was Rebop Kwaku Baah, a Ghana native who played on the studio version as well. According to Steve Winwood, Baah was later fired for being “too outrageous.” Said Winwood: “He insisted on going onstage and singing – and he can’t sing!”

 

The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

If you see something that looks like a star
And it’s shooting up out of the ground
And your head is spinning from a loud guitar
And you just can’t escape from the sound
Don’t worry too much, it’ll happen to you
We were children once, playing with toys
And the thing that you’re hearing is only the sound of
The low spark of high-heeled boys
The percentage you’re paying is too high a price
While you’re living beyond all your means
And the man in the suit has just bought a new car 
From the profit he’s made on your dreams
But today you just read that the man was shot dead 
By a gun that didn’t make any noise
But it wasn’t the bullet that laid him to rest was 
The low spark of high-heeled boys
If you had just a minute to breathe and they granted you one final wish
Would you ask for something like another chance?
Or something similar as this? Don’t worry too much
It’ll happen to you as sure as your sorrows are joys
And the thing that disturbs you is only the sound of 
The low spark of high-heeled boys
If I gave you everything that I owned and asked for nothing in return
Would you do the same for me as I would for you?
Or take me for a ride, and strip me of everything including my pride
But spirit is something that no one destroys
And the sound that I’m hearing is only the sound
The low spark of high-heeled boys

Traffic – Dear Mr. Fantasy

I could listen to this song on a tape loop forever and ever. This song came out in 1967 on the Traffic album “Mr. Fantasy.” It was written by Jim Capaldi, Steve Winwood and Chris Wood.

Jim Capaldi on writing the lyrics for Dear Mr Fantasy

“It was the summer of 1967, and we were all living in this
cottage in Berkshire. We were one of the first English bands to live
together like that. We thought we’d try it and see if anything came of
it. I remember the day very clearly: A bunch of friends came over early
in the day and we had quite a party. It was sunny and the corn was
coming up nicely around the cottage, and we were quite enjoying
ourselves if you know what I mean. As things finally wound down in the
evening, I was sitting around just doodling, as I would often do,
drawing this character. It was this little fellow with a spiked sun
hat. He was holding some puppeteer’s strings, and the puppet hands on
the end of the strings were playing a guitar. Under that, I just
scribbled some words: ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy,’ play us a tune,
something to make us all happy’ and on a bit. It was nice, but I didn’t
think much of it; certainly, it wasn’t intended to be a song.

“I crashed out eventually, but I remember hearing Steve and
Chris playing around after. The next day, I woke up and found that
they’d written a song around the words and drawing I’d done. I was
completely knocked out by it. Chris wrote that great bass line. We
added some more words later and worked out a bigger arrangement, too.
Those were very happy days for Traffic.”

 

 

“Dear Mr. Fantasy”

Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy
You are the one who can make us all laugh
But doing that you break out in tears
Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had
We wouldn’t have known you all these yearsDear Mister Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy
You are the one who can make us all laugh
But doing that you break out in tears
Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had
We wouldn’t have known you all these years

Dear Mister Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy
You are the one who can make us all laugh
But doing that you break out in tears
Please don’t be sad if it was a straight mind you had
We wouldn’t have known you all these years