And, since I missed posting last week, here’s a song which that reminds me of, from a truly magnificent film, one of my absolute favourites, A Mighty Wind, which does for folk music what This Is Spinal Tap did for rock music, which is hardly surprising given the same people were behind both films:
I’ve mentioned before that I have a somewhat chequered experience with tribute albums.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a tribute album is where a bunch of cover versions of songs by acts who cite the writer as an influence are pulled together in one place. Sometimes it’s a load of songs which already existed, sometimes acts will be asked to record a cover specifically for the tribute, sometimes it’s a bit of both.
To my mind, perhaps as one would expect, they’re a bit of a hodge-podge, for every one decent cover you get three absolute clangers.
The first one I ever bought, I think, was the quite wonderful tribute to The Carpenters “If I Were A Carpenter”: 12 covers and I’d say that 10 of them are really good covers. Conversely, “Surprise Your Pig: A Tribute to R.E.M.” – who I love more than I love The Carpenters – has 17 tracks and maybe 3 of them are kind of ok.
I guess it depends on the quality of the source material, which is why it’s no surprise that “Holding Things Together -The Merle Haggard Songbook” has 24 songs and I’m struggling to find a duff cover amongst them.
Which is how I find myself typing some words that I honestly never thought I would on here.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s: The Grateful Dead with a song that doesn’t go on for as long as their doobies:
Back in 2018, Legacy Recordings released Forever Words, a collection of new songs featuring previously unheard lyrics by Johnny Cash. The 16-track set offered new melodies and performances by artists such as Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson & Kris Kristofferson, John Mellencamp, Jewel, Brad Paisley, The Jayhawks, Robert Glasper, Cash’s daughter Rosanne Cash, and his step- daughter Carlene Carter.
Now comes an expanded version of the album which adds a further 18 tracks, 16 of which are previously unreleased. These have been rolled out on digital service providers on a bimonthly basis, culminating in a full second disc of tracks.
This is from the original release, doubtless further choice cuts from this will feature soon enough:
I watched Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me the other day. I should have known better, having read the synopsis:
As he struggles with Alzheimer’s disease, country-music legend Glen Campbell embarks on his farewell tour in the U.S., Australia, and Europe.
It’s a fly-on-the-wall, warts and all portrayal of how the disease utterly debilitates the sufferer, the strain it puts on all those around them. It’s utterly compelling, but absolutely heart-breaking.
Between shows, you see him veer from being totally lucid, to suddenly having no idea where he is or who he’s talking to, even if it his wife and kids. He gets frustrated, angry, paranoid.
That changes when he performs. His muscle memory, if you like, his instinctive ability to recall songs wins through, and those moments are a joy to behold.
But as the tour progresses, you see him unravelling more and more frequently on stage. The footage from the final show of the tour is really quite upsetting; you see Campbell go off on rambling monologues to the audience in between songs, complaining that his “hair itches”, before launching into, ironically, the classic Gentle On My Mind. And for a few moments, all is well again.
Until Campbell goes into the guitar break, which just goes on and on and on and on and is out of time with the band, who he begins to berate and…it’s just so, so sad.
I’d recommend your watching it, but, my, you really have to be in the right frame of mind.
In 2017, Campbell released Adiós, a collection of re-recorded or remastered versions of all his most loved songs, and many others, presumably as a way to enhance those moments when his instincts kicked in and took him back to when he first played them.
Here’s the updated version of Gentle On My Mind from said album:
The other day I received an email from some mailing list I must have signed up to sometime and forgotten all about.
It was from Team Kristofferson, telling me that although Kris had taken the decision to retire last year (a little overdue in my opinion, given his very sad inability to remember some of the wonderful lyrics he had written when performing live), I should be assured that there were some projects underway and they were going through all of his demos and unreleased material.
It would be remiss of me to completely overlook the fact that we’ve just passed what would have been Johnny Cash’s 89th birthday.
Here’s his version of the song which lends it’s title to this series. I love the story his daughter Rosanne tells in the wonderful Ken Burns documentary series Country Music, about how, when he wanted to perform the song on his own TV show, the network did not want him to sing the line “Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned”.
“…he argued with them about it,” Rosanne says, “and they put their foot down – ‘You just can’t do that’ – well, Kris [Kristofferson] was in the audience that night, and Dad just couldn’t in good conscience change that word, with the song writer sitting in the audience…When he was performing it, he sang ‘Wishing, Lord, that I was *leans into microphone* STONED’ – emphasis on stoned….Kris was very happy, the network was not.”
Here’s the episode in full; it’s all well worth a watch (as are all of the episodes, most of which appear to be on YouTube), but the bit about today’s song starts at around 1:06:18 if you want to skip to it:
And here’s Cash and Kristofferson, singing it together:
Well, I may as well carry on with the theme with this bit of ZZ Top-esque country boogie (which now I listen to it again, doesn’t sound anywhere near enough Country rock enough to qualify to appear here, but I’m here now so….):
BBC4 is, I hear, under attack in the same way that BBC 6Music was a few years ago.
To me, BBC4 is an absolute treat on a Friday night. For Friday night is music night, and from 19:00 onwards we are given a whole load of music documentaries through to the early hours of Saturday which make the channel worthy of retaining in itself.
As an aside, on the same channel the other day, I found myself fixated with one of those “no verbal commentary” shows, where a camera had been strapped to various animals (a turtle, a cheetah) so we could see what they see as they go about their daily lives. It was absolutely mesmerising, and would have a home on no other channel as far as I can see.
Friday just gone began as it always does, with a couple of old Top of the Pops repeats. They’ve got up to 1990, so the chances of any of the discredited hosts are no longer likely to make an appearance, so we’re getting unfettered nostalgia.
This has it’s downside, of course: we’ve had to sit through two weeks of Bombalurina – a collaboration between Timmy Mallet and Andrew Lloyd Webber – stinking out the No #1 slot, but what has been interesting is to see Deee-Lite’s Groove is in the Heart sneaking up the charts with The Steve Miller Band’s The Joker right behind it – and we know how that ends – along with a reasonable sized dollop of the rave culture which was taking over at the time, coupled with the promise of more baggy/Madchester type tunes, with the mention of The Farm’s Groovy Train debuting at #40 this week. Tune in next week, pop pickers! (If you’re on Twitter, I can heartily recommend following @TOTPFacts who tweets info about the acts on each repeated show.)
Anyway, after that was a program featuring performances by One Hit Wonders.
To me, that phrase means this: an act who had one hit in the UK, and that is all. It does not include acts who had one very big hit, and then one very small hit. They have had two hits, in my book.
Cue the credits and a caption comes up which reads: “Welcome to the wonderful world of the one-hit wonder, featuring performances of songs that are an artist’s single significant chart moment.”
Well, that’s pretty clear.
But by the second song – Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) by Peter Sarstedt – the criteria seems has softened, as a caption came up which reads: “Although many only remember this Number 1 hit, the follow-up Frozen Orange also went Top 10.”
Hang on a minute! Forgive me for being a pedant, but if he had two Top 10 hits, then he’s not a One Hit Wonder, is he?
So perhaps we need to adopt a formula which decides what is and what is not considered a hit. At which point, I’ll hand you over to Dave Gorman to clarify this (the bit I’m talking about happens at around 07:05, but the whole thing is such a well constructed thing of beauty, I won’t begrudge you watching all 45 minutes of it, as I have, many times):
And so it continued: The Simon Park Orchestra – one hit, check! You’re in.
Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas. Apart from a re-release of Kung Fu Fighting in 1998, which reached #08, he had hits in 1974 with Dance The Kung Fu (#35) and Run Back in 1977 (#25). So, not a One Hit Wonder.
Streets of London by Ralph McTell. Yes, it reached #2 in 1974, but Dreams of You reached #36 in 1975. So, not a OneHit Wonder.
Yeh, you know I can’t resist posting this:
Next up: Uptown Top Ranking by Althia & Donna. No other UK hits, check! You’re in!
Next: Pop Muzic by M. Apart from Pop Muzic resurfacing in 1989 and hitting #15, the band also had a #33 hit in 1979. So, not a One Hit Wonder.
Next: Scotland’s favourite, Kelly Marie and her utterly wonderful (no, I mean that) Feels Like I’m In Love. Turns out Kelly had hits in 1980 (Loving Just For Fun – #21) and in 1981 (Hot Love = #22). So, not a One Hit Wonder.
I could go on through the rest of the programme, but you get the giste.
What I’d much rather do is draw your attention to a genuine One Hit Wonder by a band who never had another UK hit, and that band is Pussycat, who I remember having a #1 hit in 1976, which I loved then and love now, and who I never heard of again. A perfect example of a One Hit Wonder:
Imagine my despair, having written and researched all of that to find out they had a follow up hit in 1976, Smile, which reached #24 and my whole argument is shot to pieces.
I may never recover from this.
I do still love Mississippi though; before he got acquainted with the joys of streaming, every year or so I used to compile a mix CD for my Dad of country tunes I remembered from when I was a kid.
“Why do you keep putting this on there?” he asked me once as we listened to it.
Because it’s a great, forgotten record, even if they did have more than one hit, that’s why.
Not a day which has burdened me with the problems of flowers, presents, restaurants, the purchasing of an M&S Meal for Two, or perfunctory love-making for many a year.
In fact, I’m a bit annoyed that a) it’s on a Sunday, and b) we’re in lockdown so I’m working from home, so I can’t do my usual hilarious joke where I apologise for turning up to work a bit late with the excuse that I couldn’t open my front door for all the Valentine cards piled up behind it.
Anyway, what I am left with is the unenvious duty of choosing a suitably romantic Country record to fill this morning’s slot (and no, I’m not still talking about perfunctory love-making).
I did, briefly, toy with the idea of posting one of those “titles you only find in Country music” tunes, but then I thought of poor old Steve Wright on Radio 2, snowed under on his vomit-inducing Sunday Love Songs show, and thought I’d cut him a break and post an actual love song, even if it is one about lost love, which is probably a subject many more can associate with than the everlasting sort. I mean, we all remember the lost loves, right?: