Saturday, November 28, 2009

Off Beat - You've Never Even Called Me By My Name

I've long been a fan of Steve Goodman and was saddened by the songwriter's death in 1984 at the age of 36 of leukemia. He had a way with words and a sharp wit, evidenced by his self-given nickname late in his life of "Cool Hand Leuk".

In the early 70s Goodman was performing at a Chicago bar, opening for Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson was so impressed he introduced him to Paul Anka who brought him to New York and produced some demos which resulted in his signing with Buddha Records.

Goodman has written many songs for other people. For example, Arlo Guthrie had a hit with City of New Orleans. And David Allan Cole had a hit with one of my favourite Goodman tunes You've Never Even Called Me By My Name, a witty poke at country music

The song was co-written by another of my favourite songwriters - John Prine, although Prine refused to be listed as the song's co-writer. As the story goes, Goodman bought Prine a jukebox with his royalties.

So here's the non co-writer, singing the song he wrote with Steve Goodman...

And if you were wondering about the Steve Goodman version, here's a bonus...

You Never Even Call Me By My Name
(AKA The Perfect Country & Western Song)
©Steve Goodman and [although he won't admit it] John Prine)

(as sung by Steve Goodman in London, Aug 8, 1976)

[spoken] This is a song I wrote with John Prine 4 years ago (1972) and we tried to put into one song, everything that had ever been in any of the country and western songs we had ever heard. Tried to put it all into one song. Serves us right. This is what came out:

Well it was all I could do to keep from cryin'
Some times it seems so useless to remain
You're the one who always tried to change me
And that is why I will always stay the same

But I'll hang around as long as you will let me
I never minded standing in the rain
You don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
But you never even call me by my name

No, you don't have to call me Freddy Fender
You don't have to call me Charlie Pride
You don't have to call me Merle Haggard anymore
Even though you know you're on my fighting side

Chorus- this verse only:
And I'm gonna hang around as long as you will let me
I never minded standing in the rain (when nights are cold and lonely)
You don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
But you never even call me by name.

[musical by mouth improv done in a Merle Haggard-like tone -no words]

[spoken] I've seen my name, a few times in the phone book
[spoken] And on the neon sign above the bar I used to own
[spoken] And there's only one thing I'm really sure of was that sucker
You're gonna hear it when my savior calls me home

[spoken] That's a lot to get into one song. We left out all the good stuff. Dallas, dope, divorce, dead dogs, trains prison Christmas, mothers, farms, and trucks. Mothers, prison, trucks, trains, farms, Christmas, and dead dogs are essential, you can't have a good country song without them things. And with all due respect this song needs mothers, prison, trucks, trains, farms, Christmas and dead dogs and is that it? Whatever it is - it's also 4 minutes long already (they're going 'when's he gonna end, when's he gonna end in the booth back there') So I'll just tack this verse on the end here-

Ever since the dog died and mama went to prison
Ain't nothin' round this old farm that's been the same
[Spoken] You know when mom broke out last Christmas
She drove the getaway laundry truck into a train

But I'll hang around as long as you will let me
I never minded standing in the rain
You don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
But you never even call me by my name

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Absolutely Right

As a music-loving teenager in Ottawa, Canada's capital, I can recall high-school dances and local concerts with Canadian groups making their tours. April Wine, Lighthouse, Chilliwack, The Guess Who and 3s A Crowd were just some of the acts that stormed through our city.

There were local groups too. One popular band was the Staccatos formed in the mid 60s. They always seemed a cut above the rest of the local groups so it came as no surprise when news came they'd struck out for Los Angeles in an effort to make a dent in the American music scene. Three attempts and a name change to The Five Man Electrical Band later and they hit it big with Signs.

In the early 70s they based themselves in L.A. and toured for several years with such acts as The Allman Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, The Jefferson Airplane, fellow Canadians Bachman, Turner, Overdrive and many others.

In 1972 they released the album Coming Of Age which spawned the hit Absolutely Right. Our local boys had made good! But fame was fleeting. By 1975 they'd broken up and returned to Ottawa. But for a moment there...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Love Potion #9

The Searchers apparently took their name from the 1956 John Wayne film of the same name, directed by John Ford. The group formed in the late 50s and went through various line-ups before they achieved hit records in the 60s.

At one point they gave the Beatles a run for their money on the English pop charts and were the second Liverpool group after the fab four to chart a hit in the States with Needles and Pins in 1964.

Love Potion No. 9 was written by Leiber and Stoller and originally recorded by the Clovers in 1959. In 1965 The Searchers' version reached #3 in the States.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Off Beat - Living With A Hernia

Who can forget James Brown singing Living In America in 1985's Rocky IV? Well, I confess that when I think of Living In America, this is the song I think of: Living With A Hernia by Weird Al Yankovic. It's an hilarious parody.

Turns out Yankovic's performance was filmed on the same stage as Brown's. The parody was one of the tracks on Weird Al's 1986 album Polka Party. Yankovic didn't win any awards for his parody. But James Brown won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance in 1986.

Weird Al Yankovic - Living With A Hernia (Official Music Video) - Watch a funny movie here

Help me out! Dig!
All I do is grunt and groan
Hurts me to walk anywhere
Went to see my physician, Dr. Jones
He took my trousers off, told me to cough
Doctor says there ain't nothin' to discuss
He tells me any day I might have to wear a truss

Living with a hernia
All the time, such aggravation
Living with a hernia
Gonna be my ruination
Living with a hernia
Got to have an operation
Feel so old

Too much back pain
Good gawd, drives me insane
Can't run, barely crawl
Got a bulge in my intestinal wall
Walk real funny, bless my soul
Can't play tennis and it's hard to bowl
You can't even do the splits now... Say it!
Better call it quits now
Now I'm sick of all this dancin' anyhow

Living with a hernia
Hurts me bad in a tender location
Living with a hernia
Had enough humiliation
Living with a hernia
Got to have an operation

I live with a hernia
Can't get up, can't bend over
Now I live with a hernia
Wait a minute...
You may not be familiar with the common types
Of hernias that you could get
So just settle down, let me clue you in
There's incomplete
Lumbar hernia
Richter's hernia
Inguinal and Direct

Living with a hernia...Rupture!
I said it's causin' me such irritation
Living with a hernia
Have to have my medication
Living with a hernia
I feel bad!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Want Candy

The Monkees, perhaps, are the best example - or worst, depending upon your point of view - of a manufactured pop group who scored significant chart success. But The Strangeloves aren't that far behind. The Strangeloves were 3 guys from New York who said they were former sheep farmers from Australia. Their story went that they got rich over a new form of sheep crossbreeding and used their millions to start a rock group. Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer, at the time succesfull record producers, adopted the monikers Giles, Miles and Niles Strange and a musical conceit was hatched.

The fictitious brothers ran into a bit of a problem in 1965 with the success of I Want Candy. It ranked so high on the charts the demand to tour as live artists forced them to send out the session musicians who performed in the studio. But they could lip-sync, as this clip demonstrates... Hey, in 1965 what did I know. I was 13 and I thought they were kinda cool.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The Gibb Brothers were born in England and moved to Australia where they grew up. Their early success, such as it was, was achieved down under before returning to England in the mid-60s. This is the period of the Bee Gees career that I like. They may have been more popular at the forefront of the disco scene, earned more money and sold more records but Barry, Maurice and Robin could sure write and perform pop hits in the decade beginning in the mid-60s.

In 1967, the Bee Gees burst upon the scene with such hits as New York Mining Disaster 1941 and To Love Somebody both from the erroneously titled 3rd album Bee Gees 1st. But one of my favourite early Bee Gees songs appeared on their next album - Horizontal - Massachusetts. Massachusetts was the Bee Gees first #1 hit and it was the second song to be played on BBC1 when it went on the air in September 1967 in response to such pirate radio stations as Radio Caroline being formally outlawed by Britain's Parliament.

While written by the Gibb Brothers, the song was originally intended for The Seekers. However, they turned it down.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Off Beat - Hot Rod Lincoln

In the early 1960s, I recall the older brother of a buddy of mine asking me if I'd ever heard the song "Hot Rod Lincoln". I hadn't, so he brought an LP over to my place and we gave it a spin. What a hoot. It must have been the version by Johnny Bond released in 1960. The original was written and recorded by Charlie Ryan in 1955 in response to a 1951 hit called "Hot Rod Race".

There's a great version of the song by Asleep At The Wheel, but the 1972 version by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen would seem to be the best known. It's from their first LP - Lost In The Ozone. Cody and his Airmen formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1967 before migrating to San Francisco and later Texas, where they disbanded in 1976. Cody went on to sustain a solo career. Hot Rod Lincoln remains his biggest hit.

My pappy said "Son, you're gonna drive me to drinkin',

if you don't stop drivin' that Hot Rod Lincoln."

Have you heard the story of the hot rod race,
where the Fords 'n' Lincolns were settin' the pace?
That story is true, I'm here to say,
that I was drivin' that Model-A.

It's got a Lincoln motor and it's really souped up,
that Model-A body makes it look like a pup.
It's got eight cylinders and uses 'em all,
got overdrive that just won't stall.

With a four-barrel carb and a dual exhaust,
with 4-11 gears you can really get lost.
Got safety tubes but I ain't scared,
the brakes are good, tires fair.

Pulled outta San Pedro late one night,
the moon 'n' the stars was shinin' bright.
We was drivin' up Grapevine hill,
passin' cars like they was standin' still.

All of a sudden in the wink of an eye,
Cadillac sedan passed us by.
I said "Boys that's the mark for me,"
by then the tailight was all you could see.

Now the fellas ribbed me for bein' behind,
so I thought I'd make the Lincoln unwind.
Took my foot off the gas'n'man alive,
I shoved it on down into overdrive.

Wound it up to a hunderd an' ten,
my speedometer said that I hit top end.
My foot was glued like lead to the floor,
that's all there is an' there ain't no more.

Now the boys all thought I'd lost my sense,
them telephone poles looked like a picket fence.
They said "slow down, I see spots,"
the lines on the road just looked like dots.

Took a corner'n'side-swiped a truck,
crossed my fingers just for luck.
My fenders was clickin' the guardrail posts,
the guy beside me was white as a ghost.

Smoke was comin' from outta the back,
when started t' gain on that Cacillac.
Knew I could catch him, I thought I could pass,
don'tcha by then we'd be low on gas.

We had flames comin' from outta the side,
you could feel the tension, man whatta ride.
I said "look out boys, I got a license to fly,"
and that Caddy pulled over and let us by.

Now all of a sudden she started knockin'
down in the dip she started to rock.
And I looked in the mirror, a red light was blinkin',
the cops was after my hot rod Lincoln.

They arrested me 'n' they put me in jail,
'n they called my pappy to throw my bail,
'n he said "son you're gonna drive me ta drinkin'
if you don't stop drivin' that hot rod Lincoln.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lonely Teardrops

He influenced a considerable number of artists - Van Morrison and Michael Jackson among them - and his spirited performances earned him the nickname "Mr. Excitement". Jackie Wilson is often cited as a key artist in the transition of rhythm and blues to soul. He started out in the mid to late 50s as a member of the R&B group the Dominoes, but he's far better known for an almost 20 year solo career that ended abruptly in 1975.

In a tragic circumstance, Wilson suffered a massive heart attack while performing in a Dick Clark show, while singing his 1958 hit Lonely Teardrops. As he reached the line " heart is crying..." he fell head-first to the stage. The blow left him comatose for eight and-a-half years and he eventually passed away in 1984 at the age of 49.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Summertime Blues

In 1958, Eddie Cochrane hit the airwaves with a teenage anthem of angst called Summertime Blues. It peaked at #8. Among other things, the song speaks to the then voting age in the United States of 21. While it was subsequently lowered to 18, Cochrane never got to exercise his democratic right. Ironically he was killed in a car crash in Britain at the age of 21 in 1960.

The group Blue Cheer did a credible cover of Summertime Blues in 1968 but for my money the definitive version of the song was by The Who on their 1970 Live At Leeds LP, one of the greatest live albums of all time. Here's a performance from the Monterery Pop Festival.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Off Beat - Jolly Green Giant

Good things from the garden
Garden in the valley
Valley of the jolly - ho, ho, ho - Green Giant

The Jolly Green Giant has been shilling peas, niblets corn and other assorted vegetables on TV since the early 50s. Of course, without the benefit of colour television he wasn't green when he started out. He was more a scary black-coloured, stiff-moving giant.

Nevertheless the Green Giant had an impact to such an extent he had a rock and roll tune written for him. In 1965, the Kingsmen, famous for their 1963 hit with incomprehensible lyrics - Louie, Louie - went to #4 on the charts with Jolly Green Giant. A listen and look at the lyrics soon indicates that for teens of the day, this wasn't their mother's jolly Green Giant...

In duh valley of duh jolly... (Ho - ho - ho)

Heard about the Jolly Green Giant (potatoes)
He's so big and mean (artichoke hearts)
He stands there laughin' with his hands on his hips
And then he hits you with a can of beans

He lives down there in his valley (Brussels sprouts)
The cat stands tall and green (spinach)
Well, he ain't no prize, and there's no women his size
And that's why the cat's so mean
One day he left His valley pad
I mean to say This cat was mad
Now listen 'round He wasn't gone long
And then he ran into an Amazon
Well, this changed his whole complexion (broccoli)
He had never seen such a beautiful sight (corn)
Well, he looked at her
And she looked at him
And she almost passed out from fright
He looked at her Thought, "what a dilly"
He touched her once She slapped him silly
This was something He had never sensed
He looked at her As she commenced
Now listen, pal This ain't no fluke
I can't see goin' with a big green kook"

You've heard about the Jolly Green Giant (eggplant)
Don't let his troubles cross your mind (celery stalks)
He couldn't get Sally, so went back to his valley
The cat was color-blind

Thursday, November 5, 2009


We forgo our 70s spotlight today to continue with our post-Halloween theme this week. What better rock song to highlight Halloween than Creep by Radiohead. The band's most popular song ever had a rather rocky and uncertain beginning. Recorded and released in 1992 the song wasn't at all popular until it was released as part of Radiohead's first album, Pablo Honey. Indeed, as a single, the song sold only 6,000 copies in their native Britain and peaked at #72 on the British charts.

But with the release of the album and it's popularity on MTV the song became so popular in the United States it was re-released in Britain.

One thing I didn't realize is that the song borrows heavily from the Hollies tune The Air That I Breathe, so much so the Hollies shared songwriting credits in the liner notes of Pablo Honey.

The lyrics of the song describe a drunken fella following a woman around trying to get her attention. But his insecurities get the better of him and he gives up trying. And so, in his estimation, he's a creep!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It must subconsciously have something to do with Halloween's coming and going last weekend but dufusdownbeat leaves the 60s and 70s behind this week to spotlight a song that actually has absolutely nothing to do with ghosts and goblins, Zombie by The Cranberries.

Every once in a while this song rumbles around in my head and I find myself muttering under my breath "ZAH-OM-BEE, ZAH-OM-BEE". It's just so damn catchy.

It was written by Dolores O'Riordan, the group's pixie-like lead singer - best known for her changing hair colours and styles throughout the years - and was a hit track from the 1994 album No Need To Argue. It's about the unrest in Ireland and it's written in memory of two boys killed in an IRA bombing in Warrington.

The Cranberries decided to take a rest in 2003 and O'Riordan launched a solo career. She's issued two solo albums. She joined the Cranberries in 1990 when they were known as The Cranberry Saw Us by answering an ad in the paper for a female lead singer. She showed up with a rough version of "Linger" and the rest is musical history.