I’ve Been From Tucson to Tucumcari

lowellgeorge

Songs in my head, songs in my head. Always a song in my head. Sometimes it’s an evil infestation – take the song “Cheerleader” for example – where I’m just screwed, especially if it’s the middle of the night and I’m lying in bed. But other times, and most often in my case, it’s a quality tune that I’ve had in regular rotation.

Latest case in point: Little Feat’s “Willin’,” which I just can’t get out of my head lately. Such a great singalong chorus:

I’ve been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonapah
Driven every kind of rig that’s ever been made
Driven the back roads so I wouldn’t get weighed
And if you give me, weed, whites, and wine
And you show me a sign
I’ll be willin’, to be movin’

The simplicity of “Alice….Dallas Alice…”; The imagery it conjures up with its tale of driving the open roads, being “kicked by the wind, robbed by the sleet,” and smuggling “smokes and folks from Mexico.”

“Willin'” was written by Lowell George while he was a member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention in the late 60’s. When Lowell went off with Bill Payne and Richie Hayward to form Little Feat, Zappa was instrumental in matching the new band up with Warner Brothers.

“Willin'” has the distinction of showing up not only on Little’s Feat’s 1971 debut album, but also their second one, 1972’s Sailin’ Shoes. They’re vastly different versions. The Sailin’ Shoes version is the one most people are familiar with, and has Lowell’s spoken word verses:

The debut version has Lowell singing the verses (vs. the spoken style), and features Ry Cooder on slide guitar:

Any way you cut it, “Willin'” is one of Lowell George’s masterpieces, and ushered in a flood of funky, soulful, and quintessentially American rock n’ roll music with Little Feat’s 70’s output. The Lowell George Little Feat era sadly ended with Lowell’s untimely death in 1979 at the age of only 34 (a heart attack likely brought on by obesity, drugs and the wear of an unhealthy touring lifestyle).

The music, however, lives on. Treat yourself why don’t you and jump into a Little Feat rabbit hole? Immerse yourself for a while in the LF groove. Start with this great live version from 1977’s Rockpalast..

The Friday Five: July 1, 2011

On the sixth day of every week, Michael Parr shuffles through his library to bring you five random tracks.

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Everything Is Fair” by A Tribe Called Quest (from The Low End Theory, 1991)

I don’t know if this cut stands up well on its own, but when listened to in the course of the record, it’s all sorts of hot. The Low End Theory is a record that just reminds me of summer.

“Village of the Sun” by The Mothers of Invention (from Roxy & Elsewhere, 1974)

Music is the best!

“Edge of the Blade” by Journey (from Frontiers, 1983)

Pretty standard, early ’80s AOR fare from the masters of the craft. I dig Schon’s guitar playing here.

“Good Ol’ Fashion Nightmare” by Matt & Kim (from Grand, 2009)

New school summertime jam!

“32 Pennies” by Warrant (from Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, 1989)

I’d be embarrassed, but I dig this tune.

What’s on your shuffle today?

The Friday Five: May 6, 2011

On the sixth day of every week, Michael Parr shuffles through his library to bring you five random tracks.

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Cantara” by Dead Can Dance (from Toward the Within, 1994)

I was listening to Dead Can Dance’s 1993 release Into the Labyrinth the other day while co-working from home with my wife. During the day, when we’re both listening, I tend to lean towards singer/songwriter fare, and save everything else for when I’ve got the headphones on; so you can imagine the quizzical looks that were coming across the desk during some of the more ethnic tracks. “What is this,” she asked. I think it only confused her more when I explained it was an Australian couple recording in an ancient church in England.

“Chubby’s Goodnight” by Poppa Chubby (from Booty and the Beast, 1995)

It took me longer to type the name of this tune than the tune lasted. Next!

“No Money” by Kings of Leon (from Come Around Sundown, 2010)

Sure, Come Around Sundown would have been better titled Only by the Night: Part Two, but I feel like that isn’t giving it a fair shake. For all its formulaic arena rock, it’s actually a solid record. There really was no pleasing anyone—be it the old fans, or the new—and the Followill clan did the best they could to shoot straight down middle and make a decent rock and roll record.

“Black” by Pearl Jam (from Black and White, 1992)

This is the MTV Unplugged performance, also known as the moment that I declared my undying love for the band. Eddie’s impassioned plea of “we, we belong together,” driving home the utter desperation of the tune.

“Convocation / The Purple Lagoon” by Frank Zappa (from Hammersmith Odeon, 2010)

“Welcome to show number four, de la London, England. Now, I’m going to warn you right now, we’re recording this. And for your own good, you had better make a lot of noise tonight, because this thing is going on the radio in the United States, and I don’t want those people in my country to find out how lame you suckers are.”

I miss Frank, dearly.

What’s on your shuffle today?

The Friday Five: May 14, 2010

On the sixth day of every week, Michael Parr shuffles through his library to bring you five random tracks.

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

“Get It Together” by Beastie Boys (from Anthology: The Sounds of Science, 1999)

One-Two, One-Two, Keep it on!

“Valerie (feat. Amy Winehouse)” by Mark Ronson (from Version, 2007)

Realizing this came out in 2007 stings a little. Hopefully we will hear from Amy again.

“Eruption” by Van Halen (from Best of Both Worlds, 2004)

Perhaps the most recognizable guitar cadenza known to man.

“Anotherloverholenyohead” by Prince & The Revolution (from Parade, 1986)

A classic, 4 sure! I much prefer the guitar heavy version he was playing in the late ’00s.

“Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” by Frank Zappa (from Apostrophe (‘), 1974)

Sage advice.

What’s on your shuffle today?

The Friday Five: December 4, 2009

On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track.

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Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

Great Lake Swimmers – “Unison Falling Into Harmony” (from Lost Channels, 2009)

Largely overlooked in favor of the indie folk-pop of Fleet Foxes, Canada’s Great Lake Swimmers released one of the most lush, yet intimate folk-rock records of the past year.

U.S.A. for Africa – “We Are the World” (from We Are the World: U.S.A. for Africa, 1985)

I’m fairly certain I could fill an entire page writing about “We Are the World”, what hearing  it again reminded me of was the time in which Michael Jackson could do no wrong and how, even at eleven, I was in awe of his considerable talent.

Miles Davis – “All Blues” (from Kind of Blue, 1959)

To say Miles is a force in my life and my musical DNA would be an understatement, I even named my son after him. Part of Davis’ magnum opus, “All Blues” is eleven and a half minutes of pure bliss.

The Notorious B.I.G. – “Sky’s the Limit” (feat. 112) (from Life After Death, 1997)

I never connected with the tunes on Life After Death nearly as much as I did Ready to Die.

Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention – “Happy Together” (from Fillmore East, June 1971, 1971)

It occurred to me as this track started – and it is a brilliantly crass take on The Turtles classic – that only one of the artists featured on the Five this week is still with us. Not the thought I want to leave you with on a Friday, so I highly suggest hitting play on the track above and regaling in the joy. Baa-Ba-Ba…

Okay, so who’s next!

The Friday Five: May 1, 2009

Watch Out, There's a Shuffle About.

For those who have not joined in the Friday Five here is all you need to know; each Friday I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me.

The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments. The more the merrier!

The Five:

Beautiful” (mp3) by Flickerstick (from Causing a Catastrophe – Live)

They may have played their last show, but this band will live on as one of my favorites of the first decade of the new millennium.

“Daughter of the Everglades” by Rory Gallagher (from Big Guns: The Very Best of Rory Gallagher)

Armed with his ‘well loved’ sunburst 1961 Stratocaster Rory brought common man earnestness to every tune that poured from his soul. In doing my research I found this quote, which I think is quite telling… “How does it feel to be the greatest guitarist in the world? I don’t know, go ask Rory Gallagher.” – Jimi Hendrix.

“Watermelon in Easter Hay” by Frank Zappa (from Joe’s Garage: Acts I, II & III)

Behind “Pink Napkins” this is my favorite bit of Zappa guitar bliss. The composition itself is simple, the delivery is sublime.

Mystify” (mp3) by INXS (from Kick)

I’ve been on an INXS kick the past few days. See what I did there? I never did understand how this wasn’t a single.

“Anotherloverholenyohead” by Prince (from The Holy Casino)

I so want to share this excellent live version of the Parade classic, but alas, the purple one (rather his lawyers) would kick my ass. Just trust me; it’s a really good version.

I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours!!