Tag Archives: Sixties Rock

The G-L-O-R-I-A Contest.

A couple days ago, I read a post about Van Morrison’s beautiful rendition of John Lee Hooker’s “Don’t Look Back” on Thom Hickey’s “The Immortal Jukebox” blog, and I’ve been listening to it pretty much non-stop ever since. But late last night, in the midst of a morass of Morrisony, Hookery blues here in the purple room, with the heavily framed Beatles picture hanging precariously above my head, which is probably gonna be the ever-s0-apropos cause of my long-expected rock and roll demise, something inside me belligerently revolted against too much bluesiness with six little letters…G…L…O…R…I…A.

A garage band standard due to the fact that it’s easy to play and easy to sing and ad-lib and can be stretched out indefinitely, it was written by Mr. Morrison in 1964. It was just a toss off, a B side, and it’s turned out to be one of Van’s most enduring songs, covered by a long, long list of well known bands. But this is not just because it’s easy to play. It’s also dramatic as hell and can be as sexy and bizarre as the singer has the nerve to make it. I guess I probably listened to the majority of “Gloria” covers on YouTube in the wee hours last night, and I now feel qualified to act as a “Gloria” judge. So ya ready? Let’s have a contest. She comes around here, just around midnight…

The prize for most uniquely mellow “Gloria” goes to the Dead. Got of bunch of Glorias in this clip too, lol…

Most bad ass version goes to the master. Just fantastic…

The Doors get the prize for dirtiest version, natch. My favorite part is the way Jim does the feigned interest in conversation with Gloria when she comes up to his room. That kills me every time, lol. This is not the uncensored, dirty version, though. I chickened out. The Spinster Cousins would listen to it and then tell my mother I have a dirty blog, which may have already happened, actually. But you can find it easily on YouTube. Heh heh.

The prize for overall weirdest version goes, of course, to Patti Smith. The song as done by a woman takes on a whole different vibe and underlying girl-power meaning…

And while we’re at it, let’s do my favorite Patti song. Maybe this could be Gloria’s story. Yes, I think it could be. We seldom get to hear the story from Gloria’s viewpoint. So…C’mon, now, try and understand, the way I feel under your command…

Questions? Comments? Please Share!

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Hysterical, Screaming Girl Fans: An Analysis

Since I got a Facebook account, which is called “Annie Rich”, and by the way, please be my friend if you are on Facebook because my low number of friends is embarrassing, I’ve taken my YouTubing to an even higher plane, because I follow all these 60s and 70s pages or whatever they are and I click on almost every music link they send out. Which is a lot.

I was watching a clip of  The Beatles’ version of “You Really Got Me”, which prompted me to watch the original Smokey Robinson version. I realized with a sinking feeling that Smokey’s version was much better. I say “sinking feeling” because I am a Beatles fan and don’t like to diss them in any way, but I speak only the truth, and the truth is that they sucked all the soul and sexiness out of the song.  You’ll see what I mean if you watch this…it just doesn’t get any smoother than Smokey Robinson. Unless it is Sam Cooke, then sometimes it does. I love the lyrics in this song – what a perfect anthem for obsession! You treat me badly; I love you madly. Oh, the humanity…

You may have noted that this clip has a lot of hysterical girl-screaming in the background, as do a lot of live performances from the early years of rock and roll.  Somewhat understandable what with Smooth Smokey and his thinly veiled “tight hold” references, but still. The crying. The sweating, flushed faces. The high-pitched, panicky screaming. The peeing in the pants. The fainting. I mean, what was up with all that, right?

Here’s a good example from an Elvis concert in 1957. This one hits close to home because these are Mississippi girls – the concert was just up the road in Elvis’s home town of Tupelo.

Now for some Beatlemania…

You may ask, “So Marie, why did girls act like that? And why don’t they do this anymore?’ And I could give an answer to these questions, and would gladly do so, but it would take us into the deep, murky waters of psychology and sociology. I’m sure this must have been studied and analyzed by someone, somewhere, but the things that showed up in my Google search didn’t really answer the question to my satisfaction, so what the hell. Let’s go there.

I could just be lazy and shy, say “sexual repression”, link another song and be done, but it’s much more complex than that and deserves a closer look.  There were a number of causal factors that led to the girl-fan-hysteria that was so widespread during the era – the main one probably being an increasing awareness and awakening of female sexuality on the heels of  1953’s The Kinsey Report on Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, which alerted the world to the fact that women are in fact, sexual beings. It was a real shocker, apparently, and the report was roundly criticized and condemned, but you better believe the news leaked out. It was academic trickle down to the common man. And woman. But at the same time, if you recall, there were extremely strict social parameters of sexual behavior for women – to be labelled a slut was the kiss of death. Thus, we had a powder keg situation – an increasing awareness and understanding of female sexuality combined with music that spurred it on, but tightly controlled by strict social mores and expectations and religious beliefs. Girls, if they wanted to be good and nice and not get a bad rep, had to push all those feelings down deep, which of course meant that they came out in unusual, unexpected ways – like having a weird melt down at a concert where songs with vaguely sexual lyrics were being performed by cute boys, for example.

Over time, the powder keg was slowly defused. The birth control pill. More access to education and careers. 1971’s Our Bodies, Ourselves, which continued to increase knowledge and understanding of female sexuality. Societal attitudes toward women and the rules regarding their behavior started to change, ever so slowly, but steadily. By the time I started going to rock concerts in the late 70s, there was no more hysteria among the girls – those days were over. Of course, there was plenty of drooling over Paul Rodgers and so forth, but it was a more normal level of idolatry. Not hysteria. Nobody fainted, for example.

There are other explanations, naturally, such as the effect of music on the brain and the nervous system, group dynamics, female emotional tendencies, etc. But if that’s all it was, why doesn’t this happen today? No, those elements, while I’m sure they were contributing factors, are incomplete as explanations. It was a phenomenon specific to the times in which it occurred and it’s not likely to happen again, which is a good thing. I would hate to go to a concert ruined by a bunch of out 0f control, pitifully repressed females.  Oh, that high-pitched screeching! Terrible.  But I’m still proud to be a woman. From 1962, with change blowin’ in the wind…tell ’em about it, Peggy…

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The Interconnectedness of All Things

Hello, bloggerville!  Have you missed me? Yes? No? Well, let’s just pretend that you pined away miserably while I was off lying in the sun on a sugar-white beach in south Alabama.  So dry your virtual eyes and bury those feelings down deep where they will later cause you to burst into tears at a Bruce Springsteen song like me.

I just listened to both versions of “Brother Louie”. I like the original version by Hot Chocolate, but I really dig that hoarse, Steve Marriottish sound from Ian Lloyd of Stories. And by the way, the keyboardist for Stories, Michael Brown, had previously led, wrote, and performed with his band, The Left Banke, who did one of my favorite songs of the sixties. Ah, the interconnectedness of all things blows my mind without end.

Here’s the original by Hot Chocolate…

Here’s another little ditty by Hot Chocolate that you might remember. Where ya from, you sexy thing?

Now the saga of Louie from the Small Faces, I mean Humble Pie, I mean the Black Crowes. Ha! Silly me! I mean Stories, of course. With a cringe-worthy introduction by Jose Feliciano. Nothin’ bad, it was good…

And now for one of my favorite songs from the sixties. Just walk away, Renee. You won’t see me follow you…

And as a special treat, since I’m sure it seemed that I was a thousand miles away and never coming back, here’s a sweet little salve for your hurt feelings, complete with scenes from one of my favorite movies. This is one of those songs that makes me feel all melty inside. It may be on a Sunday morning, it may be on a Tuesday afternoon…

Questions? Comments? Please Share!

 

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Down the Rabbit Hole with Vanilla Fudge

Vanilla Fudge (album)

Vanilla Fudge (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While sitting in an interminable meeting the other day, the beloved but long-winded chairman made the mistake of walking out of the room to get more materials for us to review, which gave me the opportunity to sing the words…

Set me free why don’t cha babe
Get outta my life why don’t cha babe
You don’t really love me
You just keep me hangin’ on
You don’t really need me
But you keep me hangin’ on

 One young (somewhere-under-forty) meeting captive – a mere child, really, looked pleased and proud that she knew what I was singing and said in a little jokey sing-song voice…

 “Marie, you’re singing that one too slow.”

 To which I replied, “But I’m doing the Vanilla Fudge version”.

 Immediately a glazed, distant look came in her eyes and I could tell that she didn’t know what the Fudge I was talking about.  She just nodded and said….

“Ohhhh…okay.”

To which I responded simply by nodding back at her like the wise old sage I pretend to be and singing the same lines one more time, very slowly; very Fudge-like.

Psychedelic Sundae – The Best of Vanilla Fudge

Psychedelic Sundae – The Best of Vanilla Fudge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vanilla Fudge primarily did covers, but what amazing, powerful covers they were.  In order to really understand the significance and ground-breaking nature of this song, we first need to consider the Supremes’ well-known version.  “You Keep Me Hanging On” was another #1 hit for the Supremes – it was an extremely popular, upbeat, and catchy tune.

Supremes You keep me hangin on

Supremes You keep me hangin on (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When Vanilla Fudge came out with their version, it was like reality had slipped a little bit; like we had all gone down the rabbit hole into an alternate world where everything was strange and no longer cheerful and peppy and innocent sounding.  You went to bed one night with the cute Supremes singing and dancing in unison and you got up the next morning with a bunch of freaky dudes in weird clothes doing the same song in a heavy, seemingly drug-induced groove.  And that was pretty much the sixties in a nutshell.

In other words, this song could be seen as a testament to the dramatic changes that were taking place during the period in which we were transitioning from the middle to the late sixties.  We were moving toward a heavy, hard rock sound that was reflective of the evolving mores and culture.  Thus, Vanilla Fudge was an important, pioneering band, and they are still touring today, with three of the original members: Mark Stein, Vince Martell, and Carmine Appice, with Pete Bremey standing in for Tim Bogert, who has retired from touring, on bass.

Vanilla Fudge’s version reached #6 on the Hot 100 chart.   I have to say, “Vanilla Fudge” is one of my favorite band names ever.  I can’t imagine another name that would be more descriptive of their music; heavy, thick, rich, and sweet, sweet, sweet…

And for an extra helping of dessert, how about this little sugar plum – Jeff Beck, Carmine Appice, and Tim Bogert doing Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”. Carmine can beat the Fudge out of a drum kit, let me tell ya. He was a great influence on John Bonham, and during the mighty Zepp’s first American tour, he introduced him to Ludwig Drums, which Bonham subsequently used throughout his career.  Again, oh so sweet…

As a point of reference – the adorable Supremes, doing their version of “You Keep Me Hanging On”.  Also completely marvelous, of course…

Thoughts?  Comments?  Please Share!

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Letting Our Freak Flag Fly: Janis Joplin and the Sorternity

I didn’t want to join a sorority when I went to college.  I knew very little about sororities except what I had learned from Animal House – basically, that they consisted of majorette and cheerleader types with stiff hair. I didn’t want to be a stiff-haired girl; I equated stiff hair with a stiff mind.

animal house girl

Plus I had heard all these rumors about how the sorority girls would put your picture up on a screen with an overhead projector when you were trying to join or pledge or whatever the correct terminology is.  They would all stare at your picture en masse, reviewing your various physical and social flaws and merits.  I don’t know if this actually happened, mind you, but even the hint of this taking place was enough to send me running in the other direction.

It was all cloaked in heavy, slightly creepy mystery, a la Jimmy Page’s alleged dealings with you-know-who, and there were whispers of secret rituals and rules of “ladylike” behavior that you had to follow or you would get kicked out.  Something about not smoking standing up, or maybe it was not drinking a beer standing up, or maybe it was both.  Things like that.  Just oppressive, life-draining, power-robbing things like that.

The whole thing just seemed so “Old South”.  Or maybe it was just “Old” in general – like the sixties had never happened.  Anyway, almost everybody I knew from high school that was going off to a university was going to be in a fraternity or sorority.  It was de rigueur in my world.  Naturally, therefore, I had to dig in my heels and revolt, righteously spouting words like “elitists” and “squares”.

animal house 2

So I set off to live in the “loser” dorm, where the non-sorority girls huddled together in their shame.  Or at least, some of them were huddling in shame, because a good many of them were there because they had tried for only one sorority, and that sorority had rejected them.  They had shot for the stars, usually the “best” sorority on campus, and had gone down in flames, landing in the loser dorm. At night, walking down the hall back from the showers, you could hear the muffled sobs produced by the destruction of these girls’ dreams of sisterly bliss and spring balls.

As a result of this, the loser dorm was a depressing place to be – at first.  Slowly, though, the like-minded started to band together.  The failed sorority sisters started to comfort each other, forming their own stiff-haired cliques, and the rest of us started to sort ourselves out as well – the athletic girls doing their sweaty, hearty afternoon activities in groups, the semi-married girls hanging out quietly together in their off-girlfriend-duty time, etc.  And me? What was my group, and how did we come together?

Well, it was all about the music, really. 😉

One day I passed by a long-haired girl walking down the hall wearing a tee-shirt with my favorite FM album rock station logo on it.  We struck up a friendship based at first on this one commonality, managed to switch roommates, and moved in together. We started playing our music, and our fellow rock-chicks heard the siren’s call and came forth.

Our little core group began trekking down to the French Market in New Orleans, about an hour and a half away, to get the bangles, beads, feathers, scarves, and other hippie gear that would enable our freak flag to fly.  And fly it did.  Crossing the quad, going to the commons and so forth – we were united and our mission was clear – to blow the collective mind of this buttoned-down microcosm and chart our own course.  Along the way, we started picking up fellow sojourners – the loser boys’ dorm was luckily right across the parking lot, and soon, our group was co-ed.  We eventually wound up with quite a large group that even peripherally included a couple of awesome professors, which influenced my future career choice and therefore, my entire life.

A motley group of musicians, art students, and liberal arts majors we were, but we felt free and independent and cool. Looking back now, I realize that all we did was create our own sorority/fraternity – a sorternity, if you will – one that reflected our own tastes and interests.  It was a wonderful thing and we had many, many great experiences related to music that I will be talking about in this blog.

But later, in graduate school, when the sorternity started to slowly disband and I began reaching out in friendship to other people, I learned that I had been wrong to classify all sorority girls as stiff-hairs.  Not only that, but I found that stiff hair doesn’t necessarily equate to a stiff brain.  I understood then that we had created our own brand of elitism and snobbery, a kind of reverse-snobbery.  It happens over and over – people revolt against some snobby, exclusive social group, so they create their own group, then they themselves become snobby and exclusive.  Meet the new boss; same as the old boss*.

So you may be asking, what has this to do with Janis?  Are you ever going to stop talking about yourself and get to the music?  Valid questions, my friend.  Janis Joplin, that little stick of Texas dynamite, could be a poster child for the independent spirit.  Raised in the conservative, east Texas town of Port Arthur, Janis was intelligent, different, outspoken, and not “pretty”.  In fact, when Janis was in college, a fraternity voted her “Ugliest Man on Campus”.  That’s right – ugliest MAN on campus.

In Concert (Janis Joplin album)

In Concert (Janis Joplin album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Janis hurt; she hurt profoundly, and ultimately, her inner pain led to her early death.  But for a time, about four years, actually, she shone with such a fierce light, a light so powerful that it could illuminate the darkness of the rejected, the failure, the unlovely, and the unloved – and in the glow of this light, Janis was beautiful.  Despite all her doubt and insecurity, despite all the cruel insults and criticisms, she had the courage to get out there and do her thing – and do it very, very well.

Janis was our model when we were going down to the French Market to buy our baubles and beads.  As have so many young girls before and after us, we were imitating her because she represented independence, boldness, courage, freedom, and honesty.  Of course, we didn’t realize any of this at the time – we just wanted to distinguish ourselves from the stiff-hairs, but in retrospect, on a deeper level, we all desired each of these things that Janis represented.

I’m going to include my top three Janis songs.  All three of these songs were originally performed by other artists, but Janis’s bluesy, raspy, whiskey-soaked, cigarette-scorched interpretation brings out an entirely different vibe; one so powerful and emotional that it’s hard to imagine them being sung by anyone else.

Here’s a famous live version of “Cry Baby”, from 1970’s posthumously released album, “Pearl”.  Her pain and vulnerability is almost palpable in this performance; after all these years, it’s still there, recorded for all the world to see and hear.  C’mon and cry, cry, baby…

Our second song is one of her most popular, and for good reason. It bursts out at you with such energy and passion. “Piece of My Heart”, from 1968, “Cheap Thrills”, by Big Brother and the Holding Company.  I’m gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough…

This last song, “Summertime” was written by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera, “Porgy and Bess”. This is my favorite blues-rock performance by any female artist, ever, period.  Good heavens, she was great; one of a kind – never to be replicated.

Okay, I can’t stop – one more – it’s gotta be “Ball and Chain”, baby…

 

*That one was so easy, I’m not even going to ask if you caught it.  Bonus points for all my friends!  I wish Pete Townshend had been a member of the sorternity – he would have fit right in.  Come to think of it, though, he was there in a way.  Here’s The Who, doing “Won’t Get Fooled Again”; an outstanding, classic performance.  And the parting on the left is now the parting on the right…

Comments?  Want to talk about Janis?  College life?  Please share!

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