Category Archives: Rock

New York Dolls, “Subway Train”

God-damn that is some good, fine rock and roll. From 1973, ladies and gentlemen, the greatest rock and roll band ever, the New York Dolls!

That’s me. I’m the New York Dolls. That’s me on the cover too. No wonder people used to think I was gay. I’m a straight androgyne. So sue me!

PS All the Dolls were straight, 100% completely straight, believe it or not. Nowadays they would have to all go bi or pan or trans or genderqueer or nonbinary or some bullshit, but back then, you can be a straight man and dress exactly like that. I think dressing up like chicks was just part of their gag, their shtick. But did they even dress up like chicks? Not really. No woman dresses like that! That get-up was just a huge transgressive fuck you to society, nothing more, nothing less.

Of course it helped that they were all ultra-masculine street tough gang types straight off the streets of New York. That combination of extreme masculinity and femininity is awesome! Reminds me of Jagger, Iggy Pop, the Stooges, Queen, Mott the Hoople, Lou Reed and some others. Glam rock FTW! Glam rock forever!

Here they are live in San Francisco! That’s even better. It’s like Rolling Stones transvestite punk rock. Love it!

Lyrics!

I can’t ever understand
Why my life’s been cursed, poisoned, condemned
When I been tryin’ every night
To hold ya near me
But I’m a-telling you
It ain’t easy

Ever since I been ridin’
Right on the subway train
You can hear the whistle blowin’
Ya might think I’m insane

And now your friends
They’re fillin’ up my car
But you’re so busy readin’ Suzy Says
Ya can’t look now
You didn’t see your lovers
They’re all dressed in rags
Ya know ya had us pushin’ up roses
Just tryin’ get your fare

‘Cause we was all ridin’
Right on the subway train
And you can hear the captain shoutin’
He thinks I’ve gone insane

‘Cause I keep on ridin’
Keep on ridin’
‘Cause I keep on
Ridin’, ridin’, ridin’
Keep on ridin’, yeah

You stop and you stare
As I’m leavin’ my favorite place
We have no regards
You can’t even find a trace
Ya gotta get on back to Daddy
That is all it’s gonna be
He got the poison black arts of the pimps
But don’t ya st- st-

I seen ’em travel
Right on the subway train
And you can hear the captain shou-ou-tin’
He thinks we’ve all gone insane

‘Cause we keep on ridin’, ridin’, ridin’
Keep on ridin’
‘Cause we keep on ridin’, ridin’, ridin’
Keep on ridin’

I see the train gettin’ on an open track
Well I’m a-hopin’ it’s gonna bring my baby back

‘Cause I guess I said
Dinah wontcha blow
Dinah wontcha blow your horn
Dinah wontcha blow
Dinah wontcha blow your horn
I said someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah
I know whoa, whoa, whoa
I said someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah
I just know
I keep on ridin’, ridin’, ridin’

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Filed under Glam, Heterosexuality, Music, Punk, Rock, Sex

Bob Dylan, “Idiot Wind”

Some truly great music from the truly great Bob Dylan off the truly great album Blood on the Tracks (1974), one of the greatest rock albums ever made. This is where Dylan really made his comeback. I think he had just turned Christian, but no matter really. I doubt if the Jews will ever forgive him for that ultimate transgression.

Actually this take and these alternate lyrics are from something called the New York Sessions which preceded the album. I know little about these sessions. There are a number of different versions of this song and the others on the album that were recorded in these sessions. The version on the album has very different lyrics and is the one people know best. The lyrics below are from this alternate take, which is actually nothing but an outtake!

There is a lot of discussion about which lyrics are better. I think that the final version on the album after he had rewritten the lyrics a number of times is better, but people go back and forth. The album version is acoustic, nothing but Bob, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica. This one has a bass and an organ. Some like it better and some don’t. I think the two new instruments add a great effect that actually makes this haunting version better than the one on the album. There is a bootleg version, perhaps on The Basement Tapes, that is said to be the best one of them all. Nonetheless, this session take is interesting and of course it’s important for Dylan completists.

I think there is a backstory to this. He’s obviously ranting at his enemies for some reason or another. It’s a great song if you’re feeling paranoid (I do not recommend this) or if you are in a mood for hating your enemies (I recommend this, but not all the time please – heart attacks are forever). It’s also good if you are in one of those rare moods where you hate the world and just want to go back to bed and hope it all goes away like a bad dream whenever you wake up many hours later. Thankfully, these moods are rare. Or is that how too many of us feel most every day? I don’t even know anymore. Life is so confusing. I feel like I am living in a Samuel Beckett novel:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

– Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho, 1962.

Then again, I’ve been feeling that way most of my life even before I read Molloy, had a life-changing experience, and saw God radiating through a marijuana haze in my college apartment in 1980.

I must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.

– Samuel Beckett, The Unnameable, 1949

If you ever read that and think, “Story of my life!” I think we were probably separated at birth.

See you all at the re-runs, the sequels, the encores. After that, one for the road, the farewell tour, the curtain call, the taps, the wake.

The good ones. The best ones. Bob Dylan forever and ever the best. Never one better ever. Bobby Dylan, always.

Take a bow, Robert Zimmerman!

Someone’s got it in for me
They’re planting stories in the press
Whoever it is I wish they’d cut it out
But when they will I can only guess
They say I shot a man named Gray
And took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks
And when she died it came to me
I can’t help it if I’m lucky

People see me all the time
And they just can’t remember how to act
Their minds are filled with big ideas
Images and distorted facts
Even you yesterday
You had to ask me where it was at
I couldn’t believe after all these years
You didn’t know me better than that
Sweet lady

Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your mouth
Blowing down the back roads headin’ south
Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe

I threw the I Ching yesterday
It said there might be some thunder at the well
Peace and quiet’s been avoiding me
For so long it seems like living Hell
There’s a lone soldier on the hill
Watching falling pouring raindrops pour
You didn’t know it to look at him
That in the final shot he won the war
After losin’ every battle

I woke up on the roadside
Daydreamin’ about the way things sometimes are
Hoofbeats pounding in my head
At breakneck speed and makin’ me see stars.
You hurt the ones that I love best
And cover up the truth with lies
One day you’ll be in the ditch
Flies buzzin’ around your eyes
Blood on your saddle

Idiot wind
Blowing through the flowers on your tomb
Blowing through the curtains in your room
Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe

It was gravity which pulled us in
And destiny which broke us apart
You tamed the lion in my cage
But it just wasn’t enough to change my heart
Now everything’s a little upside down
As a matter of fact the wheels have stopped
What’s good is bad, what’s bad is good
You’ll find out when you reach the top
You’re on the bottom

I noticed at the ceremony
That you left all your bags behind
The driver came in after you left
He gave them all to me and then he resigned
The priest wore black on the seventh day
Waltzed around while the building burned
You didn’t trust me for a minute babe
I’ve never know the spring to turn
So quickly into autumn

Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your jaw
From the Grand Coulee Dam to the Mardi Gras
Idiot wind
Blowing every time you move your teeth
You’re an idiot babe
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe

We pushed each other a little too far
And one day it just jumped into a raging storm
A hound dog bayed behind your trees
As I was packing up my uniform
I figure I’d lost you anyway
Why go on? What’s the use?
In order to get a word with you
I’d have had to come up with some excuse
And it just struck me kind of funny

I been doublecrossed too much
I think I’ve almost lost my mind
Ladykillers load dice on me
Behind my back while imitators steal me blind
You close your eyes and part your lips
And slip your fingers from your gloves
You can have the best there is
But you it’s gonna cost you all you love
You won’t get it for money

Idiot wind
Blowing through the buttons of our coats
Blowing through the letters that we wrote
Idiot wind
Blowing through the dust upon our shelves
We’re idiots babe
It’s a wonder we can even feed ourselves

 

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Filed under Literature, Music, Novel, Rock

Last Known Photograph of Johnny Thunders

Johnny-Thunders

Last known photograph of Johnny Thunders.

This is the last known photograph of the great rock guitarist and singer Johnny Thunders, famous for being in the New York Dolls and later in his own band, the Heartbreakers, a seminal early punk rock band. In fact, the Heartbreakers were playing what I would call punk rock or proto-punk rock in 1975, before the Sex Pistols even existed! Thunders was a long term heroin addict, a junkie, and also liked to shoot cocaine. Like most junkies, he died young at age 38.

In this photo, he looks like death warmed over. It was taken between April 9-15 in Thailand, where he went to buy some silk suits. He also shot up a lot of heroin while he was there.

There are videos of him playing his last recorded shows in Japan around January 3-6. He looks surprisingly good in that video, but towards the end of his life, he was using a lot of makeup to cover up the yellow spots he had all over his face. One day he would look fine and another day he would look like the walking dead. He went to the famous Henry Wong’s tattoo parlor in Bangkok where he got a tattoo. This is one of the most frightening and deathly photographs I have ever seen of any ambulatory human being.

From April 19-22, he was in Berlin recording songs. His manager relates that they walked around Berlin and Johnny was giving away wads of cash to every bum and street person he saw. Only three days later, he would be dead. It was as if he knew he would be dead soon.

On April 21, his manager saw him leave on a plane for New Orleans where he was going to record some music. His manager said he had a terrible feeling as he watched Johnny departing on the plane. It was as if the manager knew he would be dead soon. In fact, he would be dead two days after the manager saw him on leave on that plane.

He stayed in a hotel there next to Link Wray’s house exactly two days. He was found dead in his room two days after he checked in. He had leukemia and he also had methadone in his system. However the amount of methadone was not fatal and the leukemia had not progressed enough to kill him either. His death was called “death by misadventure.”

He stayed in his room two days after his death and when he found, his body was twisted into a pretzel shape by rigor mortis. Furthermore, his body was found under a closet. In addition, $10,000, all of a huge supply of methadone, his passport and many other personal items were gone. There had been a robbery at some point when he was staying there. A good theory is that he was robbed and then killed by the robbers, possibly by giving him a large shot of methadone. After he died, they shoved his body under a closet. A couple, a man and a woman, both junkies, are suspected in the crime.

However, New Orleans police never investigated the crime as a murder, instead calling it a drug overdose. Broke junkies come into New Orleans all the time and die there, often of overdoses. Johnny Thunders was just one more down and out junkie who came into New Orleans and overdosed on heroin in a cheap hotel. The NOLA police saw this sort of thing all the time and it was considered to be not a matter worth investigating.

These crimes may have been seen as what cops called NHO crimes, for No Humans Involved. The victim(s) and the killer(s) are such scumbags that the police don’t even care to investigate the crime much. Some crimes like this are also called by the police Public Service Killings, when some scumbag or criminal gets killed. No one cares that he is dead and it’s as if the murderer committed a public service by killing this scumbag.

Johnny’s terrible appearance is due to leukemia which only he knew that he had, long term heroin and cocaine abuse. We have recently heard that he also had Hepatitis C and there is a good rumor that he was also HIV-positive. So those two things added to the night of the living dead appearance in that photo.

This is one of the saddest damned photographs I think I have ever seen. It’s heartbreaking to even look at it.

This is a very rare photo. I am glad to have stumbled upon it, as horrible as it is.

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Filed under Celebrities, Crime, Law enforcement, Music, Public Service Killings, Punk, Rock

Take to the Skies Tonight!

Sky Pilot by the Animals! One of the greatest bands of all time. Eric Burdon!

Angie Cohen just posted a list of Christian songs that you can listen to if you wish.

Actually it’s not about Christianity. Or maybe it is. It is absolutely about the Vietnam War though! A sky pilot is not God as I thought. Instead the sky pilot is the name for the military chaplain. The song is about the military chaplain looking over wounded and possibly dying soldiers in Vietnam. However, as the military chaplain is also a Christian minister of God, the song could still be about Christianity.

If it’s a Christian song, it is one of the greatest Christian songs I have ever heard.

The footage is from the 173rd Airborne Regiment of the US Army, otherwise known as “The Herd.”

Following the lyrics, the bit of prose that follows is my attempt at literary writing, in case you were wondering. This is what I call flash fiction. I write some flash fiction things now and again. I have no idea if it’s any good, but some people love my stuff, especially females.

Good stuff, huh?

You’re welcome.

He blesses the boys as they stand in line
The smell of gun grease
And the bayonets they shine
He’s there to help them all that he can
To make them feel wanted – he’s a good holy man

Sky pilot [x2]
How high can you fly?
You’ll never, never, never reach the sky

He smiles at the young soldiers
Tells them it’s all right
He knows of their fear in the forthcoming fight
Soon there’ll be blood, and many will die
Mothers and fathers – back home they will cry

Sky pilot [x2]
How high can you fly?
You’ll never, never, never reach the sky

He mumbles a prayer, and it ends with a smile
The order is given
They move down the line
But he’ll stay behind, and he’ll meditate
But it won’t stop the bleeding or ease the hate
As the young men move out into the battle zone
He feels good, with God you’re never alone
He feels tired, and he lays on his bed
Hopes the men will find courage
In the words that he said

Sky pilot [x2]
How high can you fly?
You’ll never, never, never reach the sky

You’re soldiers of God, you must understand
The fate of your country is in your young hands
May God give you strength
Do your job real well
If it all was worth it
Only time it will tell
In the morning they return
With tears in their eyes
The stench of death drifts up to the skies
A soldier so ill looks at the sky pilot
Remembers the words
Thou shalt not kill

Sky pilot [x2]
How high can you fly?
You’ll never, never, never reach the sky

Sad Song

The rocket, if it was a rocket at all, raced across the sky towards the dawning hours away. The roar split the clouds. We thought the sky would fall down. In its wake, it was just the two of us, you and me, shuddering in the screeching silence, and don’t you know the the whole damn world can go to Hell. When it all comes crashing down, we will still be standing here, you and me, shivering amidst the ruins.

How high can we fly?

Sky pilot!

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Filed under Christianity, Literary Excursions, Music, Religion, Rock

Tom Petty Is Dead

Heart attack in Los Angeles. Just happened an hour ago. He was rushed to the hospital and was just taken off life support. Age 66. Too bad. I always loved Tom Petty. Maybe I should put some of his music up there.

Link.

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Filed under Celebrities, Music, Rock

Talking Heads, “Heaven”

From 1979!

Great song! This is one of my all-time favorite bands. They were one of the first punk/new wave bands out, in their case out of the New York art school scene. All band members met in art school. David Byrne is a damned genius, and everyone else in the band was also very smart. I always loved Tina Weymouth, the chick on guitar. Their first album was actually called More Songs about Buildings and Food and was usually listed as a punk album alongside the Clash, the Pistols, etc. though they were always more weird and arty than punk.

Fear of Music, which this song is off, was the second album. It came out in 1979. It’s one of the best rock music albums ever made! This song is great, but really they are all great. The whole album is great from start to finish.

If you have never heard of this band, check them out. They’re glorious.

N.B. I saw the Talking Heads live at UCLA of all places in the summer of 1979 with some friends of mine. This was one of the first punk rock shows in LA. There were a lot of arty/nerdy college kid types there. UCLA is a very selective school, and you can’t get in unless you are wicked smart.

It was a great show! Oingo Boingo (if you have heard of them) were also there. That is another great old punk/new wave band from the old days.

Here are the lyrics. Even if you’re an atheist, it’s as great a song about Death and Heaven as has ever been written.

“Heaven – heaven is a place. A place where nothing – nothing ever happens.”

I’m not quite sure this is what the authors of the Bible had in mind, or, Hell, maybe they did. World-weariness is a thing as old as our race (and it’s always just a bit charming, especially in a handsome man of a certain age). It didn’t just sprout up in the age of Information Overload. No matter how much you love to run, you always reach a point where you just can’t go anymore, and you’ve just got to lie down, dammit. And I’ll be damned if it doesn’t feel good.

I was talking to a friend once, about death. What else is there to talk about, after all? All roads lead to the same destination. Think about it.

I asked him if he was scared.

“I don’t know Bob. I’m tired, Bob.”

Sure. Well, yeah. No train runs forever. They all run out of steam at some point, and there’s always an end of every line.

Then again, maybe Heaven is like a Chili’s where they never quite run out of applewood bacon. Which, you’ve got to admit, would be pretty cool right there, n’est pas? Better than most of my life anyway.

Last call! Last call!

Last call for alcohol! Last call for alcohol!

Hurry up boys, it’s time! Hurry up boys, it’s time!

See ya all on the other side!

Everyone is trying
To get to the bar
The name of the bar
The bar is called Heaven

The band in Heaven
Plays my favorite song
They play it once again
They play it all night long

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

There is a party
Everyone is there
Everyone will leave
At exactly the same time

It’s hard to imagine
That nothing at all
Could be so exciting
Could be this much fun.

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

When this kiss is over
It will start again
It will not be any different
It will be exactly the same

It’s hard to imagine
That nothing at all
Could be so exciting
Could be this much fun.

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

Heaven
Heaven is a place
A place where nothing
Nothing ever happens

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Filed under California, Music, Punk, Regional, Rock, USA, West

Jefferson Airplane, “White Rabbit”

With fantastic visuals straight out of Alice in Wonderland. A book called Go Ask Alice came out in the 1970’s about a teenage girl who got all wrapped up into drugs and how much it screwed up her life. The lyrics in the song of course reference Alice in Wonderland, hence the refrain, “Go ask Alice.”

I saw this band at the Shiners Auditorium in 1974. LA had a police chief then who hated marijuana. There were all these flyers everywhere once you got inside saying, “This theater is not a haven for marijuana smoking,” signed by that police chief.

That chief was something of a joke to a lot of people because marijuana laws were openly flaunted at rock concerts in the 1970’s. Often people were smoking pot all around you, and we were often smoking it ourselves. The whole place usually smelled like pot, and it was not unusual to see huge clouds of marijuana smoke lofting up towards the ceiling at these indoor concerts. Outdoor concerts in baseball stadiums were much the same, pot smoking everywhere you turned around. Pot laws were a joke at those concerts, as in general they were simply never enforced, and you would have to arrest 10,000 people if you did try to enforce the law.

But at this concert, it was different. We were already blazed when we went in, and back in those early days of my pot smoking, a lot of marijuana trips were these bizarro space voyages. You were pretty much on another planet the whole time, and the whole experience was just insanely weird. Basically the experience boiled down to feeling the weirdest you ever felt in your whole life.

It was often frightening, but at the same time, I really like it because it was so damn weird. It was like going on some freako space voyage to another world every time you did it.

I also remember the first time I took LSD, and after that, the pot trips were a lot different. They were more colorful, and they were even more weirded out and unnerving if that was even possible. The pot trips were changed for a long time after that acid trip. I never figured out how the acid did that, but definitely that stuff has some weird lingering effect in your brain for a very long time afterwards. In time that went away, I suppose after I got more used to the stuff.

I also had a few of what I thought were LSD flashbacks, and those were unbelievably freaky too. More about that in another post. Possibly the weirdest and most unsettling things that have ever happened to me.

Anyway, they actually were enforcing the laws at this show. They had private security guards, and they were definitely grabbing people and hauling them away. The crowd booed every time they did that. One guy next to us balled up the crushed ice in his drink and threw it really hard at one of the guards. The ice ball hit him right in the head, and went down just like that! The whole crowd cheered. We smoked pot anyway at that concert, and so did the people around us. We were just very secretive about it.

A lot of us had long hair and hated cops back then over the drug laws. We’d see a cop and yell, “Fuck you, pig!”

When we saw them, they were the Jefferson Starship, but with the first few albums they were damn good. Gracie Slick was insanely out of this world. I think they actually opened with this haunting song, and the whole place roared. I must say it was quite a experience to see the Jefferson Airplane perform this song as the height of the career! Truly a peak experience!

This video has some of the lyrics wrong.

At the very end where it says, “Feed your head,” those are sheets of LSD. There’s 100 hits to a sheet. I was an acid dealer at one point in my life. I used to sell LSD, even in sheets. I remember one time I had 1,000 hits of LSD in my top drawer! It’s a good thing I didn’t get caught! 1,000 hits was a rather serious bust back then, but even with that, you would probably only do 3-4 months in jail. The laws are so much worse now.

God, I loved selling drugs! There’s no rush on Earth like the rush of being an outlaw. I’m not a criminal because I don’t like to harm others, but I can see why people take up crime. The rush you get from committing crimes and being a criminal is out of this world. There’s nothing like it. Fear, utter terror, extreme exhilaration. There’s also a very sneaky feeling like you are putting one over on everyone and getting away with it. You see a cop, and you want to laugh because he has no idea that you’re a criminal. It feels like being a spy or an undercover agent. Very sneaky feeling about it. We were always taking extreme precautions. We even had our own dealer lingo that we used to talk in, mostly on the phone. If you heard us talking on the phone, it might sound like nonsense because we had fake code words for so many things.

One pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you, don’t do anything at all

Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call

And call Alice, when she was just small

When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving slow

Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead
And the white knight is talking backwards
And the red queen’s off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head, feed your head

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Filed under Cannabis, Crime, Dope, Hallucinogens, Intoxicants, Law, Law enforcement, LSD, Music, Rock

The Band, “The Weight”

Of course, this was Bob Dylan’s backup band. It was very hard to describe where they were coming from, sort of folksy redneck hippies or something. They had deep roots in the older American folk music tradition, especially from Appalachia.

From 1968. The Band was one of the all time great rock bands, but most people probably have not heard of them anymore. They had a number of other fantastic songs.

Gorgeous music.

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Filed under Folk, Music, Rock

Modern English “I Melt with You”

Great music from 1982! For some reason, I always thought this was a U2 song. I had forgotten all about Modern English. This is pretty much postpunk, new wave type music. 1982 was an excellent year for music like that. This is one incredibly beautiful song.

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Filed under Music, Rock

Soft Rock from the 1970’s: John Denver, “Rocky Mountain High”

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Filed under Music, Rock