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By Jeff Cochran:
stranger than fiction
Mr. Getgood moved up to Self-Made Man Row
Although he swears he’s the salt of the earth
He’s so proud of the “kick-me-hard” sign that they hung on his back at birth.
He said “I appreciate beauty, if I have one, then it’s my fault”
“Beauty is on my pillow, beauty is there in my vault.”
Now just who did Elvis Costello have in mind when he wrote and recorded “…This Town…” in 1988?
There’s a lot on Pete Townshend’s mind — and a lot to get off his chest. His opening guitar riffs to “The Seeker” make it instantly clear. The song, recorded by the Who in January of 1970, is both a plea for clarity and a pronouncement. Rarely has the search for meaning amidst dashed hopes sounded so triumphant.
“The Seeker” covers well-traveled ground. The back story is a familiar story. An individual accomplishes much. There’s the acclaim, the money, and people wanting to know what makes you tick. With an adoring press, Pete Townshend knew all about that…
songs we were singing
As John Lennon playfully noted in a song he wrote for Ringo Starr, the Beatles were “the greatest show on earth.” So true. And in the 45 years since the Beatles officially called it quits, appreciation of their songs has grown — across the generations. It isn’t hard to imagine a family reunion where the great-grandmother fondly remembers “Love Me Do” and “If I Fell” from her children’s Beatles albums while the great-grandson is listening to “Hey Bulldog” on his iPhone. Yes, it’s the act we’ve known for all these years…
how far we've come
So this teenager, Greg Wittkamper, saw himself in the lyrics of Bob Dylan. He was a victim of social injustice. He longed to see “the chimes of freedom flashing.” The chiming so long overdue for the “warrior whose strength was not to fight.” But justice would take its time in rolling like a mighty stream in Americus, Georgia, where Greg Wittkamper would keep on pushing — and keep putting his life on the line for what he knew was right…
rock, soul & blues
The surprising thing about Joe Cocker’s recent death might be that he made it to 70. The human body can be most resilient.
More than half his lifetime ago, the obit for Cocker was likely being held in readiness at newspapers and periodicals throughout Europe and America. The reportage, even in Rolling Stone, by 1972, gave readers the impression that Cocker was trashing his career while on the way to becoming rock’s next drug casualty. This was only three years after his triumphant appearance at Woodstock.
sights & sounds
It’s the second week of January 1999 and the McCartneys are visiting Atlanta. But not for a concert. On this trip, Heather McCartney is unveiling her line of houseware items at the America’s Mart, and Paul is there to guarantee his daughter ample media play. After helping to promote Heather’s rugs, cushions and other items arrayed with designs inspired by the Huichol and Tarahumara tribes of Mexico, Paul and his son, James, make a smooth exit to explore the side streets of Atlanta. According to Paul, James, then 21, wanted to “visit the funky side of town.” So into the car they climbed; it would be a short ride.
finley, dylan and the beatles
John Lennon and Charlie Finley arguing over money and how many songs the Beatles would play at a concert Finley was promoting? It was a moment worthy of what the great satirist, Edward Sorel, might have dreamed up for one of his great Atlantic Monthly illustrations. As John Lennon often said, “You had to be there.”
jeff on mccartney
Spring 1976. At Peaches Records and Tapes in Atlanta, there were three camps of employees possessing strong and separate opinions on Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles work. One camp believed McCartney could do no wrong. All judgment was suspended even when listening to his first Wings album, Wild Life. That’s devotion for you. Opposite that camp was another, deeming McCartney a longtime wimp, always playing it safe, opting for the conventional. Apparently this camp never heard McCartney’s second album, Ram…
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
Words of advice, if not instruction, for the years and decades ahead, from Bob Dylan in “Forever Young,” a song he wrote in 1973 and recorded twice for the next year’s album, Planet Waves . The first version is slow and reverential, underscoring the serious nature of his father-to-son advise, while the second is uptempo and snappy, bringing enthusiasm to the same words on what awaits in life. Dylan, with energized backing from The Band, makes the directive, “May you grow up to be righteous” sound exhilarating.
Someone showed me a picture and I just laughed
Dignity never been photographed
Or so Bob Dylan says in “Dignity,” a song he wrote in 1988 after learning of the death of basketball great Pete Maravich. Dylan has a point. Dignity isn’t an item or commodity that can be replicated and mass-produced. It’s a quality of fortitude and bearing, guiding one on how to respond whether the news is good or bad. The one possessed with dignity feels for others and thinks carefully on the consequences of his actions. Sometimes a dignified action doesn’t pay off materially. It can also be misunderstood.
times are a-changin'
Bob Dylan and The Band kicked off the show like a basketball team on a fast-break. Opening their concert at the Omni with “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine),” Dylan was, in a sense, establishing his game plan for that evening in Atlanta, just as he had in other cities on his heralded comeback tour. Dylan and The Band had the ball in their court, so to speak.
Times Are Changin’… Give a little thought to this conjured scenario. Bob Dylan and Bernie Taupin are both private, reclusive types who have managed to share many of their thoughts, visions and talents with the world. Such endeavors require the proper introspection. Therefore a logical spot to take in and digress on the world is the window booth at Manuel’s Tavern, located at the corner of North and North Highland Avenues in Atlanta, Georgia.
Such was life in Atlanta during the run-up to the ’96 Summer Olympics. The Centennial Olympic Games would, so thought entrepreneurs, promoters and cheats, provide hundreds, maybe thousands of ways to make money. And there seemed to be tens of thousands who thought they’d make the money. It was a sad sight. John Prine’s song of hucksters came to mind often, as did, quite a few times, the Bob Dylan line from “Tombstone Blues”: Is there a hole for me to get sick in?”
late ’63 – early ’64
Christmas 1963. My brother David and I received another swell present from our Great Uncle and Aunt, Randolph and Mary Lois Cochran. I was only nine, older than David by two years, but it was time, Randolph and Mary Lois decided, that our gift indicated they knew we were growing and curious about the world. The gift was a small electric radio that would sit atop a chest of drawers, one much like our parents had. So, yes, the gift made us feel grown-up.
summer '96 edition
“Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola!” And there Bob Dylan was: in the soft drink’s birthplace, Atlanta, Georgia. It was August 3, 1996. 110 years before, Coca-Cola was first served at the soda fountain of Jacobs Pharmacy at Five Points, in the heart of Atlanta’s downtown. But that was old history; Atlanta was intent on making new history — and being fast about it. The city was hosting the Centennial Olympic Games, and not receiving good reviews for its grace or efficiency. At the moment, Atlanta was trying to shake off the bad notices.
1974. It was a rich year for Atlanta’s cultural scene and its place in the national spotlight. In January, the same month Bob Dylan played two nights at the Omni, Maynard Jackson was sworn in as the city’s mayor. Jackson, a singular and formidable politician, was the first black man elected to the top office of Georgia’s capital city. On April 8, another black man, Hank Aaron, the left fielder for the Atlanta Braves, took a swing off an Al Downing slider and put it over the left field fence of Atlanta Stadium, and in doing so became Baseball’s All-Time Home Run Champion.
when the times changed
“If you ever get the chance to go to Dallas, take it from me, pass it by,” so sang Jimmy Buffett. “People do you wrong down in Dallas,” the song pointed out. “Dallas,” written by Roger Bartlett in 1974, had nothing to do with the pain we associate with “Big D.” Yet the tragedy and heartache still comes to mind whenever the song is played — at least ’round here.
walk on the wild side
Reading The Soundtrack of My Life, the second memoir by record label executive Clive Davis, brings to life a period when Davis was in at least his second chapter as music mogul. It was the mid-70s, when Davis emerged from the messiness of being canned as President of Columbia Records. There were allegations of Davis using company funds of up to $94,000.00 to feather his own nest while covering such expenses as his son’s bar mitzvah.
My wife, the first grade teacher, loves to see the kids and dogs scamper across the yards. There is something to their exuberance; a sense of freedom the kids will fondly remember. “Release your inner dog,” says Gena. So our mutual interest in Bob Dylan and her efforts to spark the joy of reading to her students inspires us to accept a weekend homework assignment. We listen to Dylan’s “If Dogs Run Free,” recorded in 1970 and included on his New Morning album, released in October of that year.
beatles by the book
By the end of 1963, new sounds of elation — beyond what was generally heard in popular music — made their way across the Atlantic and resounded across America in the new year. Americans made way for the Beatles. The several years leading to the grand emergence of ’64, and the lives of the people behind the vibrant new sounds are chronicled in Larry Kane’s fine new book, When They Were Boys. It’s an insightful and revealing study of the act we’ve known for all these years.
stone poneys no more
Linda Ronstadt recently shared the sad news that she has Parkinson’s disease and can no longer sing. The syndrome cheats her and her audience from taking in more of her musical offerings, when many listeners, even those who long ago stashed her albums in forgotten corners, are thinking anew of her vivid and vibrant artistry.
the best days
May 30, 1973: Supposedly the most important day of the year for the graduating class at Forest Park Senior High. Get that diploma. Get on with life and the world will be your oyster. A magical day. Still, to scores of students at FPSH, along with thousands of young people throughout the Atlanta area, the most important day that year was May 4. The day Led Zeppelin played Atlanta Stadium.
a more peaceful neighborhood
A recent conversation with Bruce Hampton, a pretty good picker himself, touched on Atlanta’s best-ever guitar players. In the back and forth, there was speculation on how much Joe South had listened to Blind Willie McTell’s recordings. Within ten minutes, I played McTell’s “Kill It Kid” and South’s “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” on the stereo. “How did South do that? How did he think of that?”
leaving home bye bye
The girl just wanted to have fun. Doing whatever her parents said didn’t cut it anymore. She loves the folks but it’s time to go. To leave home. It’s just before dawn, literally and figuratively. Who knows what awaits, but youthful perspective, always alluring, promises freedom and fun. She’d jump right into the adult life where freedom and fun go hand in hand. That was her belief, as she wrote her parents “the note that she hoped would say more.”
Jeff Being Jeff
Warren Zevon’s “Play It All Night Long” comes to mind when reading The New Mind of the South, the recently published book by journalist Tracy Thompson. The New Mind of the South,an engaging and edifying work, illustrates that for all the changes the South has experienced in the last 50-60 years, old ways and long-held beliefs still die hard. Much of the book’s content could be discussed at the Dew Drop Inn, the shelter Zevon created for fellowship and lubrication.
Whatever Circumstances Require
Haughty. Living the good life. Spiteful. Unwilling to compromise. She’ll move on up, not caring about who she steps on, making her way to the top. After all, she’s not coming down, or so she thinks.
Bob Dylan casts judgement at someone who has fallen — quite badly — in “Like A Rolling Stone.” It’s one of the greatest rock and roll songs ever, one that contains an equally great story. The figure in “Like A Rolling Stone” has committed a lifetime of sins and slights in what must’ve been a short span of time. Dylan’s figure is hardly sympathetic…
Make Friends Alabama
In his memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, Neil Young looks back at an abundant and fascinating life. There’s a lot of water under his bridge, but he acknowledges there are still matters worth revisiting or at least looking at differently. For one, he confesses to a revisionist view of his ’72 recording, “Alabama.”
Young writes: “My own song, “Alabama,” richly deserved the shot Lynyrd Skynyrd gave me with their great record. I don’t like my words when I listen to it today. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue.”
Another March 3rd comes around. My grandfather’s birthday. He would be 107 today, but sadly, he missed that mark by 33 years. It would’ve been fun to have him around awhile longer just to see what he thought about these days and times. Things have changed since 1906.
Things had changed enough, as far as he was concerned, by 1964. One of the two grandsons that he and his wife loved and indulged was quite taken with the 4 boys from Liverpool, England: those noisemakers known as the Beatles. My brother, David, liked the Beatles as well, but not to the extent I did. David hardly needed to latch on to such interests…
The “fifth wheel” sat in the back as the loving couple up front sang along to the hits on the pop radio station. The nadir was reached when Chicago’s then-current hit, “Just You and Me” came on. “You are the love of my life,” Randy crooned. Brandi responded, “You are my inspiration.” It’s a Sunday night somewhere in the suburbs just south of Atlanta; early autumn ’73. If bus service was available close by, then jumping out of the car was a viable option.
It’s 1956, and finally, Doc Pomus sees some real money coming in. Ray Charles’ recording of Doc’s song, “Lonely Avenue” climbs to number six on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues chart. “Lonely Avenue” doesn’t put Doc on Easy Street, but it brought him recognition, especially from those who’d record the songs he’d write in the days ahead.
Down another avenue, this one just east of Downtown Atlanta, was Ray Charles performing at the Royal Peacock. That famous club on Auburn Avenue, Black America’s Wall Street, open since 1948, was an oasis for Black Atlantans in a state run by vile segregationists.
After the Cheering Stops
Warren Zevon thought of Patrick Roy, the goaltender for the Colorado Avalanche, as the man.
“He’s the finest athlete in sports now,” he told his friend, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, “I worship him.”
The worship services, or rather, game one of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals between the Colorado Avalanche and the New Jersey Devils would soon commence. Zevon and the good Doctor settled in to watch Patrick Roy at work. It turned out to be one of Roy’s best days on the job.
In this corner, a deity billions have prayed to. The one recognized throughout the world as Lord of all, whose followers pack His houses of worship every week. His book, printed and distributed by countless publishers since Gutenberg, remains a bestseller… While in this corner, we present Darryl Rhoades, a man some have prayed for. The man who nearly packed the Variety Playhouse in September 2009. Written up in a ’77 Rolling Stone article. And for the longest time, he was this close to a major record deal… Sounds like a mismatch.
He Shines On
It’s not the best song of the year – not even the best song on Tempest, the Bob Dylan album it concludes. But “Roll on John” has staying power, similar to the spirit of its subject, John Lennon. Dylan pays tribute to the great man, taken from us in 1980, now gone twice as long as he and Lennon were friends. Some losses you never get over.
“Roll on John” has a sweet but stoic melody. It chimes and it despairs. So the music lingers as it gives way to the words: the tribute now at hand.
One of the best lines in Bob Dylan’s “Things Have Changed” is “People are crazy and times are strange.” The words can be a way of declaring the world around us has gone wrong and harder times are ahead. They can also suggest a reason for one’s sloughing off what’s expected and moving on. As Dylan wrote in a very famous song in the mid-sixties, “I just can’t fit.” Moving on is a viable option.
No family does Christmas better than the Nelsons. That is, Willie Nelson and his sister, Bobbie.
Always in the rotation at the closest CD player is Willie Nelson’s Hill Country Christmas album. It’s a simple down-home collaboration from Willie and Bobbie Nelson, as inspiring as anything Handel could work up. There are no silly takes on the season that pop up repeatedly on the airwaves each year. No overblown production. No Celine Dion-type histrionics. As Handel would say, Hallelujah for that.
Christmas Must Be Tonight
The tree goes down. The bills stack up. Festive December segues into January. Goodbye Santa. Hello I.R.S.
When Innocence Dies
This is life in America now. Every decade or so, the country experiences the worst day in its history… Despite our nation’s power and wealth, like the figure in that great song by the Clash, we’re “lost in the supermarket…”
Sights & Sounds
Dylan had his Oscar. He could now take his place with Frank Sinatra, who won for Best Supporting Actor (From Here to Eternity) on March 25, 1954. Less than three months earlier, Sinatra’s friend, Joe DiMaggio, got his own Hollywood prize when he married Marilyn Monroe. The DiMaggio-Monroe union didn’t last a year, but the aura it created lives on in American culture. The relationship was impossible for the couple to shake also …
Some things never change
They stay the way they are
-Neil Young, from “Opera Star,” 1981
Some people never change, but don’t count Neil Young among them. To both the delight and consternation of his fans, particularly over the last three decades, there’s been much about Young’s career that has screamed change. If one liked his most recent album at any given time, it was a sure bet one wouldn’t think as fondly of his next album. Neil Young would be into something else.
There was no mistaking the place for sunny Los Angeles. No awards, much less Grammys, would be given out. Instead, as the story goes, Joe South found himself performing at some small locale in Georgia, not a venue for an artist on the way up. It was late ’71 or early ’72. By then South’s stay at the top was behind him. In the previous three years his “Games People Play,” “Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home,” “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” and “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” had climbed the charts. South was recognized as a songwriter of extraordinary talent…
I’m glad I fought – I only wish we’d won -Bob Dylan, from “Honest With Me” (2001)
Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones. Honky Chateau by Elton John. Never A Dull Moment by Rod Stewart. Those were three of the newly released albums that spent dozens of hours on my turntables in 1972. Thinking back, all three albums were especially worthy of the extra attention, as was one more, a “dark horse” album, if you will: L. A. Reggae by Johnny Rivers.
The Fiddle Man
Julia Cade, the Music Editor of The Great Speckled Bird, was on the line. “I have an assignment for you,” Julia exclaimed,”an interview with Papa John Creach!” Hey, that’s right, I remembered; Papa John, the great blues violinist, was playing that week at The Great Southeast Music Hall. He had a new band and a new album on a new label thrilled to have him on board. Even if he wasn’t touring with the Jefferson Starship this time around, Papa John Creach was flying high.
Say It Loud
On The Good Foot … Phil Niekro was feeling good. It was Sunday, July 9, 1978 and in two days he’d be in San Diego, pitching for the National League All-Stars. Three days earlier he had pitched a strong eight and a third innings against the defending National League Champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers. Niekro had carried a 1-0 lead for his Atlanta Braves into the eighth inning, but once he came out, the Braves bullpen turned the game into a 5-1 loss.
College was no different than high school. In the set-off corners of the classrooms, students would discuss what seemed most important. So, if the Beatles won’t get back together, who will be the next Beatles? Someone said the next great thing would come along in ’74. After all, in ’54, Elvis Presley made his first classic recordings. Then in ’64, the Beatles commanded the world’s attention. That means in ’74… Of course, quirky logic often prevails over common sense.
Rock and Soul
Mediocrity transcends racial barriers.”
So said Brent Sorkin, the wise man of the Jazz Department at the Atlanta Peaches Records and Tapes. It was early fall, 1975. Nearly a dozen Peaches employees were in the store’s back room, waiting for a staff meeting to begin. A familiar debate ensued. It concerned disco music, which most of us considered an unwelcome guest in the world of music as we defined it.
Sites & Sounds
Mama Said There’ ll Be Days Like This… Mid-summer 1971. My riding buddy, Joe Davis, and I are at Casa Taco, enjoying what we thought was authentic Mexican grub. It made us feel quite progressive, snubbing the Burger King next door. It also made us feel thrifty. We could get a lot of food – a feast – for two bucks at Casa Taco. And having visited most of the record stores in the South Atlanta suburbs that day, spending money at every stop, I barely had two bucks to spend.
Torn And Frayed
At a major newspaper, there are often enough interesting stories involving the people who work there to fill tens of pages. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was a great place to observe chapters in lives, even as reporters worked outside the building, chronicling stories that impacted local communities. Occasionally, a mating game could make for an interesting story, like when co-workers Tracy Patterson and Jeff Downer discovered they’d rather talk about things other than work.
Games People Play
In the musical homily, South takes note of children’s attitudes, habits and feelings. Children are loud, proud, carefree, lost, lonely, and most of all, young, even as they “think that they are grown.”
….For Creflo Dollar’s 15-year-old daughter, the mansion in Fayette County isn’t always the lap of luxury, but a house of fear and abuse. “I feel threatened by being in this house,” she told a 911 operator.
Music Hall Memories
A Lesson For The Learnin’ . . . Though it served as the venue for the first American concert by the Sex Pistols, Atlanta’s Great Southeast Music Hall was hardly a rock club. A garden variety of rockers, including Jerry Garcia, Eddie Money, Billy Joel and Roger McGuinn played the Hall but its stage was most frequently occupied by artists from other musical styles. Representing the blues were the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters while McCoy Tyner and Rahsaan Roland Kirk were among the prominent jazz performers.
Farewell to a Friend
Well, today has been a sad ol’ lonesome day
Yeah, today has been a sad ol’ lonesome day
I’m just sitting here thinkin’
With my mind a million miles away
Putting down a hard blues riff, Bob Dylan had his vocal chops working. On “Lonesome Day Blues,” the performance by Dylan and his band is so strong that the weight of a sad ol’ lonesome day is manifest.
Feature photo of Paul Simon from wdecora flickr photo stream and used under creative commons license.
At supper my dad told of a conversation he had with a client in Pennsylvania earlier that day. It was April 9, 1968, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was laid to rest. “I guess you people are wearing black armbands down there today,” Dad’s client snickered. “No,” Dad responded, “but maybe we should.”
The sadness that so devastated those who admired, loved and depended on Dr. King wasn’t universally shared, even in Atlanta, Georgia, King’s hometown.
The Beatles’ film, A Hard Day’s Night, brings Furman Bisher to mind. Furman Bisher? The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sports columnist? The one on the scene at the first modern Olympics in Athens, Greece? In 1896? How can that be?
Furman Bisher and The Beatles commingle in my dexterous (some would say convoluted) mind due to a 1996 column Bisher wrote for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He wrote of an evening on vacation where the Georgia Tech basketball game was not shown, making him wonder what he and his wife would watch on television instead.
John Lennon had the common touch. Elton John took note of it, recalling, “John was just the nicest man deep down, genuinely a great and quite humble person. John was the kind of man who would walk into a room full of people and, instead of going up to the biggest celeb, he would go around the room talking to everyone, one by one, a real man of the people” …
Elton John, born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, is Elton John and he’s fully embraced the role. On stage and on the street, he’s the showman and a fascinating one at that. In the early ’90s, he began hitting the streets of Atlanta, having established part-time residency in a penthouse condo at Buckhead’s Park Place.
The young man had things going his way. In what he considered a moment of clarity, he invested all his savings and whatever money he could raise in a venture that was too good to be true. Life was great. A nice condo in a tasteful suburban setting. New car. Lots of trips overseas. Then it all fell apart, even in those hazy and crazy early days of the George W. Bush administration. It made no sense. Sure, terrorists were flying jets into our buildings, but our investments were deemed safe. Not this guy’s investments. Gone. Everything. He calls Mom and Dad. Junior’s coming home. To stay. It was too good to be true after all.
A Little Respect . . . “We Miss Otis Redding,” so read the sign outside the Forest Park Church of Christ. It was early 1968. Such a statement on a sign at a conservative Christian church which forbade musical instruments in its worship services was most peculiar. It was especially unusual in Forest Park, Georgia, then a quintessential middle-class suburb, largely white, located just south of Atlanta.
Otis Redding had performed at the Royal Peacock on Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue, a scant dozen miles away, but there was more than a 20 minute drive separating the legendary club from Forest Park. Transition and adjustment were stops along the distance.
Young And Wild . . . She was uninvited but quickly took center stage. Bolting into the restaurant, the young woman grabbed a phone and began screaming about something terrible; something minutes before inconceivable. Then she took a seat near friends of the guy she had just run over in her sporty little car. The reunion party had taken a strange turn.
It was a Sunday afternoon in September ’85. The weather proved cooperative for a festive gathering. At The Bistro, a friendly pub in Atlanta’s Buckhead community, the long-awaited reunion of everyone who ever worked at the Peaches Records and Tapes on Atlanta’s Peachtree Road was on. The joint was rockin’ over the excitement of seeing old friends.
Washing dishes was dirty work. Even as John Fogerty sang of having “cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis” from the diner’s jukebox, there was nothing grand about loading and unloading the Hobart for eight hours. But my time laboring at that small diner in Forest Park, Georgia, a suburb just south of Atlanta, provided a few lessons in life that a church-going 16-year-old boy may not have absorbed otherwise …
Atlanta’s emergence as a big-league international city sounded great to the 16-year-old boy. Downtown Atlanta would beckon with professional sports, rock and roll concerts and a glamour known only in the big cities up north and out west. But in December 1970, working the all-night shift at the Forest House diner, Elvis Presley would be heard only through the primitive jukebox speakers placed above the noisy Hobart.
Taken Away . . . David Bowie missed John Lennon. As with millions of others, he felt the emptiness brought on by Lennon’s death, saying, “A whole piece of my life seemed to have been taken away; a whole reason for being a singer and a songwriter seemed to be removed from me.” A friend and collaborator was gone.
In September ’75, Bowie secured his first U.S. number one single, “Fame,” which he co-wrote with Lennon and guitarist Carlos Alomar. Lennon also provided rhythm guitar and background vocals on the pervasive hit. In fact, for more than a year, beginning in the late summer of ’74, Lennon himself pervaded the airwaves and charts with his own recordings while contributing to those of his friends.
The people in dazzling clothes, glittering jewelry, cruising in their sleek and powerful cars might’ve looked down on us, attired in old Levi’s and t-shirts, as we drank our beers and munched on chips. They’d prefer other company, but a member of their scene, an attractive and nicely dressed young woman, joined us anyway.
The woman ran into the restaurant. She cried out for a phone. Grabbing one, she dialed a number and began screaming, “I just killed a man!”
Perhaps George Harrison and President Gerald Ford had more in common than met the eye. The two were seen happily greeting each other at the White House on December 12, 1974, exchanging buttons and chatting amiably. They also could’ve shared some ideas on judgments of the press and the public at-large. Rather recently, both had been widely acclaimed, but were now beset with low approval ratings and bad reviews. Certainly, Ford and Harrison could agree that, whether it’s politics or entertainment, pleasing the people doesn’t come easy.
President Ford’s second son, Jack, attended a George Harrison concert in Salt Lake City, Utah. After the show, he invited Harrison and members of his band to pay a visit to the White House. Jack got on the phone to check it out with Dad, who showed interest in meeting his son’s new friend, a former Beatle. Everything was set.
The irony couldn’t have escaped keen observers at the time …
While watching the documentary film, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is, at home a few years ago, my wife said she felt sorry for Elvis. It was interesting that Gena, hardly one to withhold empathy, made her comment during the concert segment of the film, which featured dynamic performances by Presley. But knowing the Presley story quite well, she knew what lay ahead. Presley’s story, despite the great success he experienced, is among the saddest in the world of entertainment. Empathy was in order. Filmed in August, 1970, Elvis: That’s The Way It Is has a few moments in which we’re getting only “Elvis Presence,” as opposed to the “Tupelo Mississippi Flash,” but for the most part it captures Presley, bristling with spirit and excited to be working that great voice before live audiences. He’s suavely commanding as he puts his own stamp on “You Don’t Have To Say You Love […]
Tuesday, August 16, 1977. It was a scheduled day off, but there I was anyway, at Peaches Records and Tapes in Atlanta, perusing a shipment of Oldie 45s delivered the evening before. I was the store’s singles buyer, a prominent slot. The record companies and radio stations knew we endeavored to stock every 45 available. When items priced at less than a buck made for 3% to 4% of a store’s weekly sales of $100,000 or more, it was obvious we moved a lot of singles. The music industry also knew our store helped to “break” new records, with promo men lurking about to push their new releases. But while it seemed job one was stocking the hits, maintaining our extensive inventory of oldies was just as important…