Tag Archives: John Fogerty

Kick Out the Jams

 

 

Found this video recently, and in my mind its shows everything that is awesome and strange about The MC5. To say the least, they were definitely a band that existed in their own world in the late 60s. With the exception of fellow Detroit-ians, The Stooges no one was playing music as aggressive as this.

A friend of mine once suggested that the world wasn’t ready for The MC5. If you look closely at the faces of the some people in the crowd there’s a sense of shock there. It’s also amusing to see how the band looks – they still look like hippies but are playing something that is more akin to the Sex Pistols than say, Creedence Clearwater Revival or the Grateful Dead.  Singer Rob Tyner also looks like a pissed off Art Garfunkel with his huge afro.

You can see the beginnings of punk in this video – as the band pushes itself to its limit and test their audience. Of course that musical revolution wouldn’t happen for another five or six years.

Check out the video, and kick out the jams, motherfucker.

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Why Does It Always Rain In Songs?

It’s been raining here for the past day or so and if the weather forecast is any indication, it’s not going to go away anytime soon. Rain is such a powerful force of nature – it can be destructive, but it can also regenerate. Rain can symbolize depression, or in the sense of a spring rain, happiness and joy.

Bob Dylan has probably gotten the most use out of rain just in song titles alone – “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, “Buckets of Rain”, “Rainy Day Women #12 & “35” and “Rainy Day Afternoon” plus a live album named Hard Rain.

On “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” Dylan uses it as a metaphor for an impending destruction. Dylan has stated that the song isn’t about a nuclear fall-out, but rather  just a really hard rain. It’s hard to take that into account when he sees travesties such as “a new-born baby with wolves all around it” and a “young woman whose body was burning”.  Dylan’s visions are so chilling that’s impossible to envision the rain in the song as anything but destructive.

Besides song titles, Dylan uses rain throughout his lyrics. “Shelter From the Storm” off of Blood on the Tracks is much more personal and the storm is entirely metaphorical. Over a soft acoustic guitar, Dylan recounts travels he has under taken, and let in by an unnamed woman who offers him shelter.  Though the song seems sincere – she’s offering him shelter – I’ve always thought of the song as ironic. Everything seems perfectly fine until Dylan admits “there’s a wall between us and something has been lost”. Perhaps he got “his signals crossed” and misunderstood her motives. Each that each time Dylan repeats the chorus after that he seems increasingly bitter and betrayed. His tone on the words “give you” turns into “give ya” that cuts like a knife. At the end of the song the listener is left wondering where “the storm” actually is, and whether there is actually any shelter at all.

Similar to “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fail” John Fogerty used rain to vent his frustrations on the Vietnam War and the Woodstock generation on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop The Rain”.  “Long as I remember, the rain been comin’ down,” Fogerty laments in the folk-rock classic. “Clouds of myst’ry pourin’ Confusion on the ground.” He sees that there is no end in sight and wonders, “who’ll stop the rain”?

Prince’s “Purple Rain” might very well be his masterpiece (both musically and lyrically). Throughout the song Prince tries to rectify relationships that have been torn apart – his girlfriend, his father, and his band members. “Purple Rain” represents a sort of redemption for Prince. It’s aching beautiful and heartfelt. While “Purple Rain” is certainly an anthem, it shouldn’t be interpreted as “Purple Reign” as a couple of Baltimore bars seemingly do after the Ravens win a game.

For Van Morrison, rain evokes peace and renewal on “Sweet Thing” off of Astral Weeks. The slow jazz inspired number even sounds like a spring rain. Throughout the song Morrison wanders through “gardens all wet with misty rain” with his love. On album filled with looking backwards, “Sweet Thing” is the only song that looks to the future, and the only one with a hint of happiness.

Rain is also a major theme of The Who’s 1973 double-album Quadrophenia. The main character Jimmy is a raging alcoholic and pill-popper, who constantly questions his identity (he even has multiple personalities). At the end of the album, Jimmy finally comes to terms with himself in the pouring rain. The song even opens with an extended collage of rain and thunderstorms.

Fran Healy of Travis famously asked, “Why does it always rain on me?”. Unlike the other artists mentioned, the narrator doesn’t get it. With self-loathing lyrics like that, the rain and sadness will never stop.

 

 

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Band of Brothers?

The infamous Gallagher brothers from Oasis are at war, once again. This time, Liam is suing his older brother for libel regarding comments about the break-up of the band. Noel claims that Liam was too hung-over to play the V Festival in 2009, which the band eventually pulled out of. Liam wants everybody to know this is a lie.

Even between these two brothers, a lawsuit seems a bit extreme. Over the fifteen years since Oasis first burst onto the Brit-Pop Scene, both Liam and Noel have engaged in so much verbal warfare it’s nauseating to comprehend. Both of them are probably guilty of libel and slander towards each other at various points in their career, but they’ve always managed to put their feelings aside for the band. Indeed, if Noel can still work with Liam after their disastrous Unplugged performance – why not let bygones be bygones?

Note that Liam’s lawsuit was filed within mere weeks after Noel announced plans for a new solo album. In recent weeks, Noel has had massive interviews with numerous British Magazines including Q, and Mojo as well as Rolling Stone. The actual incident in question happened over two years ago.

Getting into a band with your siblings can be a messy affair, especially if one sibling is the creative genius in the group, like Noel Gallagher.  Just ask the Beach Boys, whose Brian Wilson was the driving force behind their biggest hits, and the seminal Pet Sounds album. Brothers Dennis and Carl Wilson were entangled in many legal battles with disputes over Brian’s psychological issues, and publishing rights. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Tom and John Fogerty constantly battled over which direction the band would take, even though John wrote nearly all of the band’s music. The rift was so wide after the group broke up that the brothers didn’t speak to each other for nearly twenty years. Similarly, The Black Crowes Chris and Rich Robinson have always seemed to be at odds with each other since the beginning (and have gone on record as stating that they don’t talk to each other outside of the band) but have recently made-up enough to make new music before going on hiatus last fall.

Kings of Leon seem to be going down a similar path of sibling self-destruction. The three brothers and cousin are known just as much for their rivalry as they are their music. A clip for their new documentary Talihina Sky shows drummer Nathan screaming at lead singer Caleb, calling him “a piece of shit”. A few weeks ago, when the band was forced to cancel a gig mid-set due to Caleb’s “voice issues”, younger brother and bass player Jared came on stage to a crowd of boos informing the audience not to hate them, but Caleb.

Whatever issues remain within a band always seem to be exaggerated whenever siblings are involved. Sibling rivalry can certainly be intense, but it seems when it comes to music, some siblings have no problem throwing each other under the bus in exchange for saving face.

 

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