Thursday, July 4, 2019

(In)dependence: Nobody Slides My Friend

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I cannot claim to be a die -hard Willie Nelson fan - but you would have to be from another planet to not know about him. Like me, however, you may not know much about his music, except that he is generally categorized as <country> or perhaps <outlaw country>, but he has also been and done many more styles.

I would place him on a pedestal for his commitment to his music, but also for his vociferous backing of a different life-style.

And that would seem to fit the bill here: it's (in)dependence. Willie Nelson would appear to have that in spades. Beyond his more than 60 years singing songs, he has used his voice to speak his mind, and lived a life that both stands apart and stands for what he believes.

Nobody Slides, My Friend is not among his best known songs. The message is in the title and the lyrics tell how:

you can run and hide
you can scream and shout
if you're living a lie, it will eat you alive

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


Shhh, can you hear that? No, me neither. Not even the sound of a dropped 'H' is assailing my ears. Which is nice, if sort of lonely. While the membership of this merry band of bloggers gets ever smaller, sorry, more select, I'm sort of wondering where my buddies are. I suspect it is summer holiday time in Tarrytown and I know Turkey is short of one of us right now, possibly explaining why I am here instead, but I could do with a hand. Or two. Mind you, this is probably the only way I can gain any sway in the year end stats.......

I love this song, as good as any a reason to give it a hammering. It came first to my ears as a wee boy, it, 'Forever Changes' by Love, being one of the few records owned by my big sister's boyfriend, later husband. (The others were 'Honky Chateau' by Elton John, 'Please to See the King' by Steeleye Span and something, possibly a 'Greatest Hits', by Cream, a good if limited selection.) I didn't take to some of the noisier tracks of 'Forever Changes' but really liked the two written by Bryan Maclean, this one and 'andmoreagain', learning this fact as I devoured the sleeve notes. To be fair, I loved it until the strings and trumpet came in, trumpet being the devil's horn to my youthful ear, only later appreciating the additions as a masterstroke. Apparently the idea of Arthur Lee, guitarist and singer on most, maybe all of the rest of the tracks, and, arguably, leader of the band, later if not necessarily then, it is the hook that has stuck over the years. Lee had reason for the upper hand at that stage, being the only musician with any great competence, the original of the song cut with Maclean's vocal and the Cutting Crew, the famed session team, on backing, much as with the Byrds initial forays into the recording studio. This apparently left Maclean in tears, with Bruce Botnick, yes, that one, the engineer, then allowing the band a second crack at it themselves, the intervening frantic rehearsals cutting the much needed mustard at the second attempt, with added harmony vocals from Lee. (Much as I have tried, I cannot find that earlier version, but Maclean did record it again, later in his career.)

It has had a few covers over the years, most tending to replicate, understandably, the trumpet. Calexico, the mariachi influenced tex-mex collective fronted by Joey Burns and John Covertino, go a whole step further and give it even more of a centrepiece. They play Cambridge Folk Festival next month in the UK, I guess mainly to promote their 2nd album with Iron & Wine, but I will be sorely disappointed if they don't play it. (I'll let you know.)

The Damned were and are punks as seen by a cartoon illustrator, a vibrant and lively force on the scene for over 40 years. Never as infamous as the Sex Pistols or as name-checked as the Clash, they were actually the frontrunners, their debut single being the first of the class of '77 to get a release, of course on Stiff records. A number of personnel changes over the years, members leaving and, sometimes, returning, the one constant has been Dave Vanian, the draculike on vocals. Their style has gradually morphed into drawing on proggier aspects, with All Again Or ushering in this period.

Finally, ignoring rather more mundane runouts, such as the Boo Radleys and Sid 'n' Suzy, a more leftfield version comes from Sara Lov, erstwhile collaborator with neo-classical/electronica artist, Dustin O'Halloran. For the soundtrack of a movie and later appearing also on a tribute to that particular film maker, Wes Anderson, it remembers just enough of the original, ahead of launching into a new and delightful space. And no trumpet. Which, oddly enough, I find myself missing. Like I am now dependent on it.

Love Calexico Damned Lov