Friday, May 22, 2015

Weekend Listomania: Special I Read the News Today, Oy Gevalt Edition

Okay, kids, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental fille-de-whoopie Fah Lo Suee and I are off to the Cannes Film Festival, where apparently women wearing flats are not being admitted to press screenings. I am not making this up, BTW. In case, Fah and I will be attending barefoot by way of protest.

But in the meantime, here's a fun little project for us to contemplate till Monday:


This was inspired, obviously, by our earlier little mini-dustup over the merits of Prince's new single "Baltimore." In any case, no arbitrary rules of any kind, although if you nominate a pre-rock song like "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" or anything by Woody Guthrie I will show up at your house and honk my horn in the middle of the night.

And the winners are --

Holy crap,it's a tie!

1. Bob Dylan -- The Times They Are A-Changin"


1. Barry McGuire -- Eve of Destruction

And I don't mean just a tie -- I consider this a tie for best and worst simultaneously! A Listomania first, I should add.

Seriously, I strongly dislike both of these as songs -- the Dylan in particular struck me as insufferably smug back in the day, and still does, and of course "Eve of Destruction" is just dopey.

That said, both of them inspired cover versions I dearly love, by The Byrds...

...and Red Rockers, respectively... go figure.

Alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?


Anonymous said...

Pink - Dear Mr. President
Todd Snyder - You Got Away With It
Ramones - Bonzo Goes to Bitburg
Beefeater - Apartheid
Long Ryders - Looking for Lewis and Clark

Blue Ash Fan said...

Damn, I got beaten to Bonzo Goes to Bitburg.

REM - Ignoreland
CCR - Fortunate Son
Springsteen - Long Walk Home
Dan Bern - Welcome
Elvis Costello - Shipbuilding
Zappa and the Mothers - Trouble Every Day
Graham Parker - End of Faith

I'm sure I'm missing about 100 others.

Shriner said...

Darn, the only two that jumped to my head were already mentioned (Bonzo and Ignoreland)

But I'd add the underrated "El Salvador" by Peter, Paul & Mary

steve simels said...

I'd forgotten the Pink song, which is great.

Anonymous said...

I soooo called this as your new Listomania. Me and Sandy were just chuckling about it the other day.

I still say "For What It's Worth. The original Buffalo Springfield version, not the CSNY tirade. It's not that interesting melodically, but what I like is that it's not self-righteous at all. It's concerned more with hedonistic rights than politics. When kids just wanted to hang out and have a good time, when the revolution was for fun. No curfews, no dress codes, keeping the beach open.

Later we may have succeeded in getting the country out of the Nam quagmire, but we lost the right to fuck and party on the beach all night.

Gotta run to my daughter's graduation. Perhaps more later if I don't completely hit the wall first.


dave said...

Gotta go with "Pull the Tregros" frpm NatLamp's "Radio Dinner" elpee - I fell kinda bad for Ms. Baez here, but such a good impression! Close second: "Eve of Destruction." Honorable mention: "Canned Ham."

steve simels said...

Without looking it up, I'm pretty sure I did this topic years ago. If memory serves, my number one choice was probably Bruce Cockburn's "If I Had a Rocket Launcher."

cthulhu said...

Won't Get Fooled Again, of course. Studio version is of course extraordinary (apparently Glyn Johns calls out that song and My Generation for special mention in his book), but as I've said before, you should really seek out the acoustic version from "The Secret Policeman's Ball" for a real treat.

Townshend didn't tend to write protest songs in the Dylan mold, but in the same vein as WGFA, Another Tricky Day from "Face Dances" is a pretty darned good (if mostly forgotten) effort. I love the breakdown that grows into the bridge...

Tonio K.'s Say Goodbye, Fairport's Sloth, Buffalo Springfield's For What It's Worth, lots of stuff from the Clash's London Calling...all worthy efforts that hold up as good songs, not just good protest songs.

Anything written by Pete Seeger.
John Lennon's Imagine.
Richard Thompson's Dad's Gonna Kill Me, less than 10 years old, has aged very IMHO (too topical).
Peter, Paul, and Mary's oh-too-earnest cover of Blowin' In the Wind (not that I'm much of a fan of the original either).
Heresy to this blog, but I can't stand any of Springsteen's post-9/11 "serious" stuff.

steve simels said...

Chthulhu -- that acoustic version of Won't Get Fooled Again is one of my favorite things ever.

J. Loslo said...

Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore-- John Prine

Sam Stone-- John Prine (great cover version by Swamp Dogg)

The Ballad of Penny Evans-- Steve Goodman

Wasteland of the Free-- Iris Dement

Cheney's Toy-- James McMurtry

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda-- The Pogues version

Anonymous said...

in memory of recently departed Bobby Jameson, "Vietnam."

pete said...

Imagine , worst of all time

cthulhu said...

The Townshend / John Williams acoustic duet of WGFA, from "The Secret Policeman's Ball" (1979), has never been available on any digital format to my knowledge, but is currently on YouTube; here's a link to all three Townshend songs from that performance:


pete said...

Even Dylan has disavowed The Times They Are. Compared to great songs like With God on Our Side or Blowin' In The Wind it's a piece of focus-group ephemera.

Eve of Destruction is truly beneath contempt.

Good political songwriting is really hard. I've tried and failed at it more times than I'd like to admit. I think the true unacknowledged master of issue-oriented songwriting is Tom Paxton.

Anonymous said...

Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Puttin' People On the Moon - Drive-by Truckers
20th Century Man - The Kinks


There is a lot of anger, hatred, partisanship and self-righteousness in many of the song choices above. Those emotions or characteristics tend to cloud the vision and twist the truth for their own purposes. Reason dies. Willful delusion programs itself. That kind of shit turns me off.

Anonymous said...

I Can't Drive 55 - Sammy Hagar

Alzo said...

Phil Ochs: I Ain't Marching Anymore
CCR: Fortunate Son
Neil Young: Ohio
Edwin Starr: War
Temptations: Ball of Confusion
Bob Marley: Get Up Stand Up
Dead Kennedys: Kill the Poor
The Clash: Working for the Clampdown

Whoever did One Tin Soldier from Billy Jack. Ugh.
Five Man Electric Band: Signs
Twisted Sister: We're Not Gonna Take It
4 Non-Blondes: What's Up
Paul McCartney: Give Ireland Back to the Irish

Anonymous said...

RE: Jameson --- Yeah, R.I.P. Bobby Jameson. One of my "mentor" girlfriends used to sleep with him. He was hot. But she was fucking amazing. Although he wasn't above jailbait, I never had the opportunity. According to my girlfriend it was a privilege. But he took too many hits of L. He had a habit of exceeding the recommended dosage. A fixture no matter where you went in Hollywood during that time. Very pleasant to the eyes.

Everyone should own his "Chris Ducey/Lucey - Songs of Protest ..." I know the guy that took that photo of Brian Jones at the Action that graces the cover. Brian was jamming (playing harp) with the Enemys (Cory Wells' band) that night.


Oh, and another protest song:

War Pigs - Black Sabbath (because it rhymes "masses" with "masses", among other things)

Mark said...

More has been written about protest songs as a type than there are individual protest songs, which always made me think, “How come there are so FEW protest songs?” Sure, reasonable people can disagree on what constitutes a protest song, but considering the total number of songs out there, the number of new songs created each year, and the number of subjects fit to protest, it’s not unreasonable to ask why there are only many handfuls of such songs, and why so few of them are rock protest songs. I mean, “Can’t you understand what I’m trying to say?”

Like Vickie, I too find protest songs about specific events sort of icky, but the fact that I do doesn’t make such songs any less powerful, whether it be songs by Prince in Maryland, CSNY in Ohio, or Nina Simone in Mississippi Goddam. The thing to keep in mind is that all protest songs are either rooted in time, place and history, or not limited by such constraints. Think Phil Ochs (1965) I AIN’T MARCHING ANYMORE and Midnight Oil (1987) BEDS ARE BURNING for the former (among many more), and WE SHALL OVERCOME (1946, and credited to Zilphia Horton) and Dylan’s THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ (1964) among the latter, as well as many, many others.

And let’s give credit where credit’s due. In a snark-free world, Pete Seeger would be king. And Dylan’s best protest songs came after his protest period, and include HURRICANE (1976, from Desire) and NEIGHBORHOOD BULLY (1983, from Infidels). And Tom Paxton (like Pete mentioned earlier) and Phil Ochs represented the more literary side of protest songwriting, and in a monarchy, would both be Cromwells to Seeger’s Henry VIII.

And sure, EVE OF DESTRUCTION is goofy -- basically because it’s so blunt. And Steve, you’re 100% right-on-the-money with the Red Rockers version of EVE (from SCHIZOPHRENIC CIRCUS, 1984) -- it’s absolutely joyful and transplendent, and the album, while a bit dated, still holds up, which is what my third ex-wife used to say about me, though for the life of me, I can’t recall her name right now.

Two more I’d like to throw in for consideration are best seated in the commentary wing of protest songs. One is A LADIESMAN, by Oscar Brown, Jr. (on Movin’ On, 1972, see, and the other is WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD AT WORK by Martha and the Muffins (on This Is The Ice Age, 1981, and see Not enough has been written about Brown, who, like Nina Simone, walked over (and on top of) so many musical boundaries that his work deserves a retrospective, and Martha And The Muffins, to me, are just criminally neglected.

Anonymous said...

RE: A Ladies Man - Oscar Brown Jr.

Aging man's reflections in a pre-Viagra/Cialis world. Thus, perhaps, rooted in time.

RE: Bob Dylan - Hurricane

I like the song and it has a great "story" line. Of course, it takes itself far too seriously, which, for me, is a problem. Dylan gets edgy when he rhymes trigger with nigger:-).

But if you look into the facts on Carter, rather than the mythological Denzel Washington film, you might want to rethink the song's importance. Even Dr. Zim hasn't done this one since 1976.


Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell

joel hanes said...

Conspicuous by its absence:
"The I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag",
by Country Joe MacDonald and The Fish, which is what we who got drafted tended to sing. That, and Edmund Starr's "War"

and I'll always have a soft spot for The Alice's Restaurant Massacree, in four-part harmony. With _feeling_.

Marvin Gaye's "What's Goin' On?" might qualify.

or Stevie Wonder's raging "Just Enough For The City"

Tom Lehrer, "We'll All Go Together When We Go"

"7 O'Clock News/Silent Night", Simon and Garfunkel

Anonymous said...

The Flower Children - Marcia Strassman

So exquisitely bad that it's wonderful.

I was 12 the first time I heard it. I was surfin' in Encinitas with a guy named Tony, who was a Junior in high school. He lived down the street from my family. He had a really "tuff" 1955 Chevy Nomad that he dropped a 327 into.

On the way, we smoked a little grass. He had a 4-Track tape player in his car and we were listening to Surrealistic Pillow and The Doors. We got the marijuana munchies and headed to Sunshine Cove for some Monkey Flips and a couple of peanut butter, banana & honey sandwiches. But first we made out in the back of the wagon. Strictly heavy petting.

After we surfed in Encinitas, we drove up the coast and got high with the AM on. It was a San Diego station on which I first heard "The Flower Children". It caught on like wildfire in California. But unbeknownst to me at the time, virtually no where else.

It was of its time. The whole Flower Power thing was in full swing. Even more so after this Jerry Goldstein penned song came out. The prez of UNI Records, Russ Regan, and Strassman's manager, Lord Tim, also got writing credit but I'm guessing they had little input.

Boss Radio, the Seeds and their manager, ex-DJ Lord Tim, had their foot on the fad's throttle. But it was all inspired by the kids "marching" up and down the Sunset Strip. This all preceded Scott McKenzie's John Phillips penned anthem, which is also considered embarrassing now.

At twelve, it was easy to get sucked into the trend. Love, peace and, being gentle were gonna change the fuckin' world. And the mobs of kids were getting freakier all the time. Fuck it, at that age, what's wrong with being naive.

And even if we didn't really believe it, it kinda made you feel good about yourself while you swapped and shared drugs with friends and strangers.

At the time, I took it for what it was. A total pop exploitation song done by a cute teenage chick with cool hair and clothes.

I didn't realize how perfectly ham handed it was til later. But I like the wordless warbling on the outro. Bet it's not her singing it. Marcia was just a blip on the radar in Spring of 1967, but I'm kind of ashamed to say that it was actually Number One in Berdoo.

For a girl-on-girl Seventies fantasy, I still think I'd go with Bailey Quarters over Mrs. Kotter, though.

The Flower Children are blooming everywhere
Walking up and down the street heading for somewhere
The Flower Children don't want no sympathy
'Cause they know where they're going, just you wait and see
They just want to be wanted; They just want to be free
Why can't we just love them and let them be
The Flower Children really know what's right
And they're just trying to tell this world that there's no need to fight
They just want to be wanted; They just want to be free
Why can't we just love them and let them be
The Flower Children have one thing on their mind
Living in a world of love, love for all mankind

VR - just back from a night on the town which began with Henry Purcell's Dildo and Anus

Mark said...

Aeneas was a Trojan, you know.

VR mentioned Marcia Strassman, who died in late 2014. I posted the following piece to my friends soon after her passing, flower children notwithstanding.

Marcia Strassman, as you may have read, died at home late last week at age 66 after seven years of fighting cancer.

Dustin Hoffmann had Katharine Ross in The Graduate (1967). Charles Grodin had Cybil Shepherd in The Heartbreak Kid (1972). Gabe Kaplan had Marcia Strassman in Welcome, Back Kotter (1975 – 1979). Chevy Chase had Christie Brinkley in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983). Bruce Willis had Cybil Shepherd in Moonlighting (1985 – 1989).

And Freddie Prinze had Jack Albertson in Chico and the Man (1974 – 1978), but that’s another story.

I like to think that I would’ve been happy being Gabe Kotter. Back then, anyway.

Ross, Shepherd, Strassman and Brinkley were unattainable, but Strassman appeared to be human. And Jewish, which she was. So did Jack Albertson appear to be -- human and Jewish -- but for Jewish guys like me growing up in the 1960s, Marcia Strassman was our IT girl, and she had to have IT, because she came to attention in a subordinate role in a TV show that was wildly popular for a brief period of time, and which in its own time I recall being the worst lighted show on TV ever -- too much light, too much of the time, and too much everywhere -- and a show too broad in its TV-style ethnic humor to last much longer than it did.

But when Strassman was on-screen, it was just the right amount of light. And believe me, Welcome Back, Kotter was no Car-54-Where-Are-You brief-moment-of-TV-brilliance. Kotter's harder to watch now than it was during its original broadcast TV run, too.

I recall how my teenage friends and I would note the fact that Steve Allen, who we all thought to be one of the funniest persons on earth this side of Groucho Marx, was serous ONLY when his wife, Jayne Meadows, who was no dummy, was a guest on his show. “Well, it’s his wife,” we would say. And Jayne Meadows was old-fashioned glamorous. Marcia Strassman, on the other hand, was quiet. Anti-glamorous, in fact.

And Gabe Kaplan always played it straight with Strassman. No double-takes, no turns-to-camera to appeal to viewers, no using Strassman as a comic object.

Look, I know that actors that appear on TV shows are playing a role, but I also like to think privately that the roles some actors portray are close to their real selves.

And with the passing of Jayne Meadows last month, this story’s complete.

buzzbabyjesus said...

I like The Staple Singers version of "For What It's Worth"

And for fun here's The Fraternity Of Man's "Stop Me, Citate Me"

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that Staple Singers version has some muy groovy tremelo guitar. Produced by Larry Williams too.

But, I still prefer the Springfield version. It really is a great single that holds up. Neil Young's tremelo lead guitar really creates tension and a sense of foreboding.

"Stop Me, Citate Me" was the perfect song to follow "Don't Bogart that Joint." That Fraternity of Man LP was one of the go-to records for out-and-out stoner songs back then. It was fun and interesting. You knew these guys had a lot going on. Plus their lead singer, Stash, was a doll. It preceded the silly and vastly inferior David Peel album by about six months.

Man, can I relate to the citate me song. LAPD and the LA County Sheriff's were the worst. They'd hassle the shit out of you if you looked even remotely hip. Shit, you'd wear some paisley brocade hip huggers and they'd be all over you. And I mean that in every invasive sense.

Sometimes concerts became Us versus the Pigs. And that was a drag. The bastards always had a paddy wagon bus or two to fill up with counterculture types. It's like they had a quota to meet.

I've had the back seat pulled out of a lot of cars I was riding in. Those bastards tried like hell to find something, even if it was just a seed. If they couldn't bust you for drugs, they'd nail you for curfew and take you in. You'd think they'd have better stuff to do.

They would pull you over for no other reason than the way you looked and were dressed. And especially if you were in a lowrider. They were smart asses about it. When I asked why I was getting stopped, the dickheads, on more than one occasion, said, "Suspicion of Being In a Public Place."

Some of them would take their time feeling you up, as well. Thorough bastards getting their jollys. Apparently they weren't gettin' enough at home and I made it clear that I thought so. Which was usually counterproductive.

I used to keep my personal drugs inside a couple of my 8-Track tape cartridges. They always broke anyway so I threw the spool of tape out and put my stash in 'em. Joe Friday never figured it out. It's important to leave a thread of tape for show at the opening. Even though the heat looked through the tape box, they were always fooled.

Thankfully, all that "hippie" harassment seemed to be tamped down before the mid-Seventies.


Lynyrd Skynyrd - Things Goin' On

Jayne Meadows and Steve Allen as a couple are remembered by me for hustling Mocha Mix non-dairy creamer and Hills Brothers coffee. Apparently those two were all about the java.

buzzbabyjesus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
buzzbabyjesus said...

I love the Springfield single of "For What It's Worth". It is an entirely different animal from the Staples version.
Today, hearing black voices sing those lyrics carries weight given all the recent headlines about police/race relations. It enhances the continued relevance of the original.
Thanks for commenting on "Citate". You earned your "Rock" moniker a long time ago.

senormedia said...

I like (Uh huh, they were the) Manfred's version of With God on Our Side considerably.

DB said...

Late to the party, as usual, but Randy Newman's "Political Science" and "A Few Words in Defense of our Country" deserve a mention.

On the awful side, Chicago's inexplicable hit, "Harry Truman" actually did the man an injustice.

Anonymous said...

Re: For What It's Worth

While the lyrics were inspired by the Sunset Strip "Riots", the melody was a cross-breed of two Moby Grape tunes that the Springfield had heard at the Ark in Sausalito November 1966. Peter Lewis' "Stop" and Don Stevenson and Jerry Miller's "Murder In My Heart for the Judge."


John F said...

Very late to this list - but

Joe Jackson - Right and Wrong