Saturday, July 3, 2021

Opposites: Summer/Winter

It's on my bucket list to someday get to Australia and/or South Africa, where winter is in the summer and vice-versa. A kind of proof that everything is relative.

Last week, I started with the idea of picking two separate musicians - one for each of my opposites, and then veered off when I realized that I had my terms covered in one man: Jesse Colin Young. So, I began this Summer/Winter pair with the assumption that I would focus on a musician who again had them both covered. There are a number of options,  but for this week, we go back to the 60's: The Doors.

Jim Morrison and The Doors may not be on heavy rotation in 2021, but they won't need much introduction, so a simple shout out and a reminder that they were responsible for ...

Wintertime Love. Jim Miller's review of the album laments (back in 1967) how the Doors had become a Morrison show, when band members such as Manzarek could "do some nice things". If you see a video not available, watch on YouTube, take the jump.

and Summer's Almost Gone

Not only do the two songs appear on the same album (Waiting For the Sun), but the tracks are back-to-back.

But this, too:

Donna Summer (who doesn't appear to have ever appeared here at SMM):

Johnny Winter (who has popped  up a few times and I think that's Doug Brockie also on guitar):

purchase Waiting for the Sun

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Opposites: Southern Man/Girl From The North Country

Neil Young: Southern Man

Bob Dylan: Girl From The North Country

Bob Dylan w/Johnny Cash: Girl From The North Country

Watching the Trump Party and its propaganda outlets whip themselves into a frenzy over what they are mischaracterizing as  “Critical Race Theory,” either due to political calculation or ignorance (or both), when what they are really afraid of is not the actual theory, but the “Truth,” could easily send me spinning off into a discussion, centered around Neil Young’s 1970 song, “Southern Man,” about institutional racism, the Civil War, and the Lost Cause myth, but I’ve written about that before. 

Instead, let’s (mostly) talk about the two songs I’ve chosen for the Opposites theme which are basically double opposites—one about a southern man, the other about a northern woman (although, if gender is really a spectrum, are they really opposites?) But there are even more things about the songs that are opposites. 

Young’s “Southern Man,” as most readers of this blog probably know, was released in 1970, at the height of the anti-war and civil rights unrest in the country. It is an angry song, about racism and slavery, and features harsh, searing electric guitars. (It also famously inspired, at least in part, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” but there really wasn’t any sort of rivalry between Young and Skynyrd, who were mutual fans of each other. Really.) 

Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country,” on the other hand, released in 1963, is a wistful, acoustic love song, maybe about one of Dylan’s actual former girlfriends, or some of them, or all of them, or none of them. While it didn’t inspire a response song, it did inspire Dylan to record a duet version of the song with Johnny Cash, which was released in 1969, about a year before “Southern Man.” 

Despite the Opposite features of the songs, there was great mutual respect among Young, Dylan and Cash. They’ve performed together and covered each other’s songs, and Dylan and Young were both on Cash’s TV show (where Cash and Dylan sang “Girl From The North Country” together—you can read more about it, and watch the video here.). The Young performance was part of a a special episode of Cash’s show, shot at Vanderbilt University. It focused on students’ issues, including drugs, and Cash openly discussed his own problems, before introducing Young at the Ryman Auditorium, where he performed “The Needle And The Damage Done” and another song. 

I’m guessing that was pretty much the opposite of what many of Cash’s country music fans would have expected. 

A small footnote—after the Ryman performance, Young and his guests, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, hit the studio and worked on songs for the forthcoming Harvest album.