Give me a double-it has been a rough day

Straight ahead and pure rock with no artificial ingredients today kids.

There are some songs that always have to be played together or you will be left wanting more.

Like two stars in orbit around each other lighting up the rock n roll galaxy.

ZZ Top.Waitin for the bus/Jesus just left Chicago

Is it conflict and resolution?

Queen.We will rock you/We are the Champions

Is it one long intro and one song?

I don’t know why…part of it is they followed each other on the albums and they worked together like peanut butter and chocolate—-and in those L.P. days-if you tried to stop the record without playing the second song, someone would throw a beer bottle at you.

Led Zeppelin. Black dog/Living Loving Maid

OK you got me-not exactly Led Zep but a bunch of kids having fun. This school of rock phenomenon- I have mixed feeling on—on the one hand it is great that kids are keeping the music alive and are staying out of trouble by hanging out and staying off the streets.  And on the other hand- kids are  using rock to stay out of trouble and learn something—–using rock music as a thing that is learned instead of doing it because “what the hell you are angry and broke anyway”  so let’s go for it.

I am cool with that and Led Zeppelin is a good place to start—-and knowing that these two songs always go together because it is a rule of the rock n roll universe it an important lesson learned.

Cheers from the cave!

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Led Zeppelin.Immigrant Song

Immigrant Song

My favorite Zeppelin song changes for reasons I can’t fully explain. It could be the seasons or moods or just the way we all evolve with the passage of time.

This one has got me now

It makes me feel like a Viking…the rain is dripping off the horns on my helmet-the wind is numbing my rough and weatherworn face. I taste the salt of the cold northern sea as waves crash against my wooden vessel, there is no safe coastline in sight.

“Hammer of the gods; drive our ships to new lands”

The yelling and screaming keeps me at my oars-it is compelling me to destiny.

The rhythmic guitar riff is like the wind and lightning of the storm that rages.

The baseline is the beating of the rain.

The drums are coming up from the frothy depths to smash the fragile planks underfoot; ready to take me with any misstep.

I FEEL THIS SONG!

And enjoy

Nostalgia is a Disease

Nostalgia's not what it used to be
Nostalgia’s not what it used to be (Photo credit: marc e marc)

Warning! Nostalgia is coming up from the depths to sink your little ship of happiness. Nostalgia will rob you of great new experience happening all around you. Nostalgia will stop your brain from firing and creating new pathways as you learn and evolve…nostalgia is killing you! There is only one cure- new stuff for the brain.

I know this is rich coming from a guy that runs a blog about digging up good songs from everywhere. But the key here is: we dig them up and polish them off while trying to keep them in perspective; organizing these artifacts in line with their place in music history and go rescue some more. We don’t dwell on them and live with them…there is a reason that the past is gone and if you try to live there, you will diminish yourself to the point of an unfunny joke. Yes, nostalgia is that bad.

I can’t even listen to “classic rock” radio…Could you please play “Stairway” and “Freebird” again my brain is not numb; if I hear “Come Sail Away” or in fact anything else from Styx again…I am pretty sure with a good lawyer that I cannot be held responsible for the ensuing panic attack that will hit me. Why would you choose to live with this stuff and just stay there? The brain is not stretching and creating new things…it is stuck in dangerous limbo and suffocating on stale air. Get on that bus and head to the Church basement for a bingo game…it is over…you are done! (O.K, getting on a bus and attending a rousing bingo game is an upgrade for ‘Mr Classic Rock”)

So I strongly encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and find something different to tackle; I don’t care what it is. And when I say listen; I mean really get in to the depths of what they are saying and who they are saying it to, let the sound wash over you. Fall in love with a new band or genre…really listen.

And if you do this…magic might happen. The magic of understanding and really enjoying something that was unknown before. Now you are not just sampling something for the sake of exploration. You have added something new- you have forced the brain to change and grow. This does not mean that the old favorites will be replaced; the opposite happens as there is more variety to help frame them and place them in perspective. I did this a few years ago with Hip-Hop as I listened and listened ‘till I found something that would stick and gain traction in my rock n roll conscious. I discovered GZA from Wu-Tang and was blown away by the lyrical assassin. The beat is wrapped around the words and the words are something I did not expect- they are intelligent and insightful and relevant. The music is open to interpretation and can be enjoyed by people from all walks and ages and situations.

And this goes the other way as well. The 15 year old can learn a lot from ditching Mac Miller for a day and cranking up a little Led Zeppelin.

Exploration is not nostalgia-it is the opposite.

The Devil’s Music

Robert Johnson's studio portrait, circa 1935—o...
Robert Johnson’s studio portrait, circa 1935—one of only two verified known published photographs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine yourself as a struggling bluesman in the 1930’s going from town to town, playing little juke joints and street corners in the rural south. Maybe you get in trouble with women and whiskey, maybe you catch some grief for playing evil music…I’m just guessing here. You may even wonder if playing this type of music is a good or bad thing. There would not be much fame or money—Rock stars don’t exist yet because you are going to be the first one.

So at a point in your life when you wonder just what the hell you are doing…you meet a white man at the crossroads (because he won’t go into town at night) and sign a record deal that probably makes him a lot more money than you- this seals the deal and makes you devote your life (there won’t be much of it left) playing the devil’s music.

Yeah, I made that up…

The actual legend has the young Robert Johnson meeting the devil at a crossroads at midnight and selling his soul in order to play guitar like no one ever played it before.  The devil wouldn’t take too long to collect on this bargain as Robert Johnson would die at the age of 27 by means of poison; either a jealous woman or angry man? (the details are sketchy at best) There is little doubt that he got real talent so quick that people were looking for a story. There is also no doubt that stories fly fast and furious when you leave this earth by tangled means.

When his records were re-released many years later in England…they had a profound influence on musicians like Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling stones. If blues is the cornerstone of rock music, it is not too much of a stretch to say that a lot of the weight and grit in that first heavy brick can be traced back to this man. Rock music owes its substance to him.

I have taken shots at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they got it right by putting him in with the first nominees.

So as I am starting a page called “The of 7 Wonders of Rock Music” with a crossroads in Mississippi- There is a marker at the intersection of U.S. Routes 61 and 49 in Clarksdale. This is the one that is tagged as the tourist place of  this legend… But to complete this wonder, I would also go with any deserted crossroads in the State of Mississippi at Midnight (full moon optional) as a pure rock n roll alternative.

We have the first of the seven wonders of Rock music…6 more to go…get your comments in now to help find the others.

5 Best River songs

River Danube
River Danube (Photo credit: Istvan)

I thought about this and I asked about this before writing. River songs are more personal than most; opinions are all over the place. The original idea was to write the 5 best and 5 worst but I am tossing that “worst” idea off the bridge. People were so heartfelt and responsive that I can’t risk putting one of their songs on a bad list and crushing it. River songs are often deep and intense and I have too much respect for all involved in this process.

Almost made the cut:

Blackwater- The Doobie Brothers… The River- Bruce Springsteen… …Burn On, Big River-Randy Newman

Here we go on a little trip:

5. The Sea Refuses no RiverPete Townshend

“The sea refuses no river and the river is where I am” -I have been critical of all the old rockers shaking it around for these geriatric tours – I feel like if you missed them in their prime , then you missed them, because wheeling them out now for a “re-heat” show is something else. The Who have fallen into this trap and I was never a big Pete Townshend fan to begin with….but….but …this is a great song. It speaks to the equality and inevitability of all of us in a stark and poetic way.

Pete Townshend at Beaulieu standing in front o...
Pete Townshend at Beaulieu standing in front of his amps (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Eminem- Stan (with Elton John)

For this list I am utilizing the services of Sir Elton John as a knighted Rock Star to justify bringing a hip-hop artist to the cave. Dido also heavily involved as her song and vocals were used in the studio version. A difficult song that deals with a difficult subject. It is edgy, powerful and surprising (remember when rock music used to be that?)

3. Washing of the Water-Peter Gabriel

This song kills me every time I have seen Peter Gabriel. The intensity that emanates from this simple tune is profound and at another level. It may not be manly to admit that a piece of music can completely overwhelm and turn a not tough dude into complete mush, so I won’t.

2. Take me to the River- The Talking Heads

Oh, the joy and celebration of being artsy was never as much fun as with this hypnotic and cool bunch. If you never saw David Byrne dancing around in his big suit followed by a stint of running around and around the whole stage like a raving lunatic-then you missed some of the best that the 80’s had to offer. What a trip these guys and girls brought you on.

1.When the Levee Breaks- Led Zeppelin

A song from Zeppelin 4 that is a remake of a 1927 blues song about a flood can almost make this list before I even hear it. But I have to hear it again and again and it still sounds great. The Drum track may be the best to ever grace any rock song…and unlike other tunes from this seminal  chunk of vinyl -it has not been overplayed and otherwise abused.

And a big thank-you to Blackjayne for asking this question and making me generate this post! We are all connected in the blogosphere.

Stairway to Heaven

This song has been played and played and played by every rock radio station and every beginning guitar player in the universe. The abuse that has poured on this classic should have done it in years ago…and it did. But…Wait…In the best example of digging a relic up and proving it can take it-Heart had the sheer beautiful audacity to get out there with Jason Bonham and play this in front of not just the President but also Led Zeppelin themselves… Rock n Roll audacity.

Top 4 Rock songs about Rock- still searching for the 5th.

1. Rock and Roll- Led Zeppelin – “Been a long time, been a long lonely lonely time”. This is the standard that all rock songs are measured against.
2. Rock n Roll- Lou Reed-“One fine mornin’, she puts on a New York station
and she couldn’t believe what she heard at all”. Lou Reed is the classic outsider that becomes cool- He should not be a rock star, he is short and awkward and not smooth as a singer- but he gives it all and throws N.Y.C grit in every beat. His music makes you feel like you are walking down a dark city street.
3. Rock n Roll ain’t noise pollution- AC DC– The lead singer Bon Scott has died and the critics were ready to bury the rest of the band with him. This tragic loss fueled the energy of “Back in Black”and this track is like a big -F U- to all the haters. To go on and even to reach a new level when losing a lead singer is an almost impossible feat in the history of rock.
4. I know it’s only Rock n Roll but I like it– The Rolling Stones- Simple and hypnotic. No fuss or additives thrown in. It’s only Rock n Roll but I like it says it all.
5. [ nothing here yet] I don’t have a fifth song because I wanted something that is powerful enough to sit at the table with the other four songs and hang out. There are some that could drop by for a quick visit and maybe grab a slice of pizza with these guys…but nothing that would be able to really hang out ‘till 3 in the morning when the 5th shot of tequila makes the rounds.