August 23, 2006

"If the sky above you/Grows dark and full of clouds..."

"And that old north wind begins to blow/Keep your head together/And call my name out loud...." So wrote Carole King, heard this morning on "Theme Time Radio With Bob Dylan." The theme was "Friends and Neighbors."

I must have listened to that Carole King album -- "Tapestry" -- a thousand times with my college friends. I seem to remember playing Hearts -- the card game -- and ignoring the moon landing.

Driving out Mineral Point Road as the radio show began, I loved the song he played by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who, he said, must have influenced a lot of guys to play electric guitar. He was effusing about the way she looked, and told us we could look on YouTube and find a clip of her "that'll blow your mind." Okay, Bob, I found the clip:

I wanted to write down the name Sister Rosetta Tharpe, so I wouldn't forget it, and I considered trying to write and drive at the same time. I got out the Uniball and, for paper, opened to a blankish page of that Entertainment Weekly in my handbag, but then I thought better of it and just started hoping for a red light. But the red light wasn't long enough, so I pulled into a parking lot and took some notes. I wanted to remember to tell you these two quotes he recited:
"Go up close to your friend, but do not go over to him! We should also respect the enemy in our friend." Friedrich Nietzsche

"True friends stab you in the front." Oscar Wilde
And I wanted to remember to mention the T-Bone Burnett recording of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." That was great, like it was crossed with the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane." Maybe you ought to find various old songs and try to sing them like "Sweet Jane."

Driving again, I noticed the clouds looked really strange, and I had to stop again for some photographs:

Wisconsin clouds

Wisconsin clouds

I turned onto Elderberry Road to get these shots, and it took me on a country drive I hadn't bumbled into before. It curved all around and by the time it ended, it was called Schewe Road.

Great show today, Bob. The best one yet. Next week, the theme is "Radio." The only song that it seems you absolutely must play is "You Turn Me On, I'm a Radio" ... "If you're driving into town/With a dark cloud above you/Dial in the number/Who's bound to love you."


SWBarns said...

Radio is a sound salvation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
-Evis Costello "Radio Radio"

And someone is going to mention "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles which is in the bottom 90% and is only remembered because it was the first song played on MTV.

If you are still interested in why there doesn't seem to be any good music made today, I think a lot of the blame can be laid on MTV.

Citizen Deux said...

...I understand, just a little, the rest of it's just a riddle"

Mexican Radio, Wall of VooDoo

What is it about Tapestry that was so compelling? To answer swbarns, I avoid the mainstream and go for the streaming. As awful as Yahoo! is in many ways, their AI based music system has provided me with some interesting paths to explore.

Ideas2NoEnd said... is a chronicle of Bush's demise.

it's a collection of links to published news sources, when taken together you see the arc of what's happening and what will happen to Bush.

if you like

Abraham said...

You ignored the moon landing?! Why?

bill said...

The best version of a "Sweet Jane" is Two Nice Girls "Sweet Jane With Affection". They combined "Sweet Jane" with Joan Armatrading's "Love and Affection." Beautiful. Worth the effort if you can find it.

Roger Sweeny said...

Sister Rosetta Tharp!

In this all too short clip, she reminds me of Chuck Berry.

Doug said...

The thing about missing the moon landing reminds me of a Simpson's flashback, where Homer missed the moon landing because he was listening to the Archies, "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" on headphones while sitting in a bean bag chair.

I saw the Carole King performance clip on VH1 Classic this weekend, and she can not and should not dance. I think Will You Still Love me Tomorrow is brilliant, but that chick dances like Elaine from Seinfeld.

Beth said...

Bill, I second that! I had the pleasure of seeing the Girls live a good many years back and remember that particular performance with pleasure.

I have listened to a good bit of Sister Rosetta Tharpe but never saw a clip before. Mind-blowing indeed.

John Stodder said...

The lonely DJ is the theme of many good songs, from George Jones' "Radio Lover," to Donald Fagen's brilliant "The Nightfly," which starts with these great lines:

I'm Lester the Nightfly
Hello Baton Rouge
Won't you turn your radio down
Respect the seven second delay we use

So you say there's a race
Of men in the trees
You're for tough legislation
Thanks for calling
I wait all night for calls like these

SippicanCottage said...
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Christy said...

Did anyone see Music Makes Your Brain Happy in Wired today? What fascinated me was the bit about how studies of music and the brain have "told us how the brain deals with patterns and how it completes them when there's misinformation." Wouldn't growing up with different types of music make our patterns (and perhaps logic) also different? Is that why we all can't just get along?

Ann Althouse said...

Sippican: LOL..

Citizen Deux: "Tapestry" had great songs and a poppy but soulful singing voice. But I never even owned that record. We played Hearts at my friend's apartment, and that was her main record. That and "Tea for the Tillerman." And "Every Picture Tells a Story."

Ignoring the moon landing is really something to think about. It says a lot about what fools we were back then. I think our attitude was that anything connected to Nixon was contemptible. What kind of ridiculous bullsh*t distraction was that when people were dying in Vietnam?

Bob said...

Anyone who has seen the movie Amelie has seen a small video clip of Sister Rosetta; she uses the clip in the video montage that she gives to Monsieur Dufayel. Judging by his reaction in the movie, he'd never seen Sister Rosetta either. *grins*

Laura Reynolds said...

My first exposure to Rosetta Tharp, very nice.

I assume you weren't talking about Apollo 11 (1969) so I can cut you some slack for whichever moon landing corresponded to Tapestry (1971). Not much though

Gordon Freece said...

Roger, her playing in that clip doesn't sound much like Berry to me. I quite like it though.

Wicked cool guitar, too. At about 0:05 in the clip Ann links, you get a good look at the tailpiece and it's clearly a '62, while they were still calling the SG a Les Paul.

Ann Althouse said...

SteveR: We shunned all the moon landings. I remember seeing one on TV and all we talked about was how stupid the American flag looked (supported on a post, because there was no wind). We just laughed at it.

Maxine Weiss said...

It's not the clouds, it's all those high wires, powerlines, and cables. I would have thought the mid-West buried their power lines underground, given all the cellars, tornado shelters etc...

Peace, Maxine

Laura Reynolds said...
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Laura Reynolds said...

Well we never missed minute of any of them, but we did wear out those albums as well, played spades as much as hearts. I was always traumatized by the Queen of Spades.

Tapestry was real popular the summer my mother died at 49 (I was 14). It evokes a lot of memories.

I miss FM from back then, you could hear any song from any artist and very few commercials.

Eli Blake said...

Your photo is a downer, but it hit the spot:

I feel kind of like that today, hearing about the Jim Crow Version of Survivor.

How could we as a society have allowed something that was as truly horrible as racial segregation, to be transformed into the vapid?

Considering that segregation was associated not only with racism, but also with violence including lynchings, bombings and the burning of entire communities to the ground, in which every day was a struggle just to survive, for segregation to be re-introduced on a show called, 'Survivor' is beyond ironic.

There are days when I just don't even want to watch the news anymore.

Maxine Weiss said...

Eli Blake: Not all segregation is bad.

Sometimes it's a good thing, like when people used self-segregate into ghettos for protection.

Or, were they forced into those ghettos by the larger society?

In any case, back then, the Ghetto offered protection.

What I don't understand is why it's still going on....SELF-segregation.

I suppose it's human nature and like minds etc...water seeking its own level.

I keep thinking of Chris's post a couple of months back, where he talked about a bit of irritation with straights coming into Gay bars.

But, why would Gay bars even exist today? Why would Gays have to ghetto-ize themselves in their own specific bars, when they don't need the protection anymore ?????

Ghetto-ization, and segregation is, apparently being very-much encouraged, still, these days, and by the very people it seems to hurt the most.

Peace, Maxine

Beth said...

That's a fair question, Maxine. One answer is that in many, many places, gays still do need that protection. There's a long stretch of distance between gays and straights going to the same music clubs and after-work, relax with your friends bars, and bars where young, single people want to hook up with each other. Not all gay bars are about sex, just as not all bars full of young, heterosexual people are about sex, but, well, a lot of them are. And aside from the sex, it's still not safe in far too many people for gay people to be obviously gay.

If only the problem really were just self-segregation. But it's not.

Beth said...

Oops. Make that "in far too many places," please.

SippicanCottage said...
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SippicanCottage said...
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Laura Reynolds said...


I know I'm included, I'm almost always on your side or Elizabeth's.

amba said...

I wonder if he'll play Donna Summer's "On the Radio."

God, what a jaded subgeneration Ann's was -- too cool to get excited about the moon landing! The forever footprint in windless moondust, the fun of leaping like a kangaroo in 10% gravity, the eco-mandala revelation of the Whole Earth . . . far out, man!

Ann Althouse said...

Amba: We thought the astronauts were too square. Too straight. They played golf on the moon. We scoffed.

Beth said...

They were square, they did play golf.

On the moon! Dude!

Is it your generation, or was your age group also a factor? That age range seems wired for carefully honed disinterest, generation after generation.

Beth said...


Go Mavis! Check out her album tribute to Mahalia Jackson.

SteveR, I'm flattered to be in Sip's company. Let's start a band.

Beth said...

Wish I had satellite radio.

I hope he plays one of my favorite gospel songs:

Turn your radio on and listen to the music in the air
Turn your radio on, heaven's glory share
Turn your lights down low and listen to the Master's radio
Get in touch with God, turn your radio on

MadisonMan said...

Considering the stormy weather overnight, this was a very prohetic topic.

SippicanCottage said...
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tjmertz said...

Tharpe, not Tharp.

Roger Sweeny said...

I was one of those who ignored the moon landings after the first. Which was kind of surprising since I had previously followed space exploration avidly and even memorized every human who had ever gone up.

I'm sure part of it was age (18) and the times, but there was something more. Getting to the moon and beating the Russians was cool but after that we weren't accomplishing anything. That flag needed a horizontal stiffener because there was no wind on the moon to make it unfurl. The moon was orders of magnitude less hospitable to human life than Antarctica, and orders of magnitude harder to get to. It was a dead end.

Jumping in 1/6 (not 1/10) gravity would have been great but I was never going to do it. The only people who would were very fit government bureaucrats. Even if by some miracle I did, I would have to be encased in a bulky space suit, which would have taken away a lot of the fun.

The last person walked on the moon more than thirty years ago. No one has seen fit to spend the money to do it since.

Christy said...

I confess I didn't watch the final moments of the landing either. But in my case it was because I was too emotional. I knew it would be replayed, anyway. My 14 year old self went out back, climbed a tree and sat there staring at the sky - and I don't remember the moon being visible that July afternoon - trying not to cry. I still tear up at the sound of those beeps backing up the words "The Eagle has landed."

SippicanCottage said...
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Chevyiii said...

Enjoyed your cloud pics. I was thinking of getting a book to help read them. This one looks really interesting:

Ronnie Schreiber said...

Dylan, like David Bromberg and other folkies from that era were serious musicologists. I'm a big fan of radio shows by professional musicians. WCRX here in Detroit has Alice Cooper on three or four nights a week and though I'm hardly a fan of his music, he's a knowledgeable music fan and the show is great fun. So is van Zandt's Little Stevie's Garage.

You mentioned singing a song to a different melody. I've always been intrigued about how one song evokes another. Dylan himself once told a story about how while writing a new song he had to keep playing another song to keep the motif he was trying for in his ear.

Steve Kimock does a great cover of Favorite Things. I once asked him if he could do a medly of Favorite Things and Take Five by Paul Desmond. He brightened, smiled, and said, "That would work." I'm glad someone else could hear the similarity.

WDET, the local NPR station that decided that lefty politics was more important than lefty culture killed their daytime music variety shows. I was driving late at night and heard a great cover of Hendrix's Voodoo Chile, with a vocal chorus scat singing the wah wah riff and I realized that another voodoo tune, Dr. John's Walk On Gilded Splinters would fit just right. You can easily go from one song to the other.

Heck, the Dead would do what their fans called the Mexicali Tease (from Mexicali Rose) as an intro to Big River.

Ain't music grand?

NP: Just Another Band From East LA - Los Lobos

Ronnie Schreiber said...

I was a huge space buff and missed the Apollo landing anyway. I was at summer camp and there were no tvs available to the campers. I did listen on a small transistor radio, and still have the Detroit News and Freep from the landing though - along with an original box seat from Tiger Stadium that I recently found out is worth about $400 on eBay.

Kellen said...

Music thread? Talking about the moon landing? The juxtaposition only leads to