My name is Mike. I live in Lancsater County. I used to live in Hawaii. i like Burritos, Guitars and Stuff.
Sometimes, just being a working member of a great band will bestow iconic status. For decades, the debate as to whether or not Ringo Starr is a capable drummer has been going on. And for the record, I will submit, Ringo is not only capable but one of the best to walk the earth.
George Harrison’s role in the Beatles, had him relegated to being “quiet”. With the songwriting output of Lennon / McCartney, it wouldn’t be hard to get obscured by such heavyweight output. George’s output with the Beatles, was always strong, often given only 2 songs per album, George had to offer up the best of his songbook, to even be heard. Only A Northern Song, Something, Taxman, Don’t Bother Me are just snapshots of Harrison’s genius.
Harrison, like John Lennon came into his own after the split of the Beatles in 1970. In the sunset of the Fab Four, Harrison released to forgettable albums, “Electronic Music” and “Wonderwall Music”, under Apple’s more experimental arm “Zapple” records. George’s first solo album as an ex Beatles was a 3 lp offering of many of the songs that did not make it to a Beatles album. Backed by Derek and The Dominoes, and a who’s who of studio elite, along with the entire band of Badfinger on acoustic guitars, All Things Must Pass, was George’s “Abbey Road”, a superb collection of songs, incredible playing but suffering under the bloated production of Phil Spector .
Harrison’s solo career was sporadic, touring once in 1974, and a brief Japanese tour in support of the Cloud Nine album, with friend Eric Clapton remained the extent of George’s public involvement. In the twilight of his life, George’s side project The Travelling Wilburys gave George new spark in hitting the road. Sadly, George would be the only Wilbury interested in touring.
I admired his never ending spiritual quest. He had a huge hit with a prayer, My Sweet Lord, one of the most beautiful songs to plead to above, was one of his finest hours, still marked by legal trouble, for infringing upon the copyright “He’s so fine”, by The Chiffons, Harrison eclipsed the plaintiff’s effort, but it cost him.
Losing George Harrison was like losing a friend. Seemingly like the nice guy in the Beatles. His struggle was not with himself, but with his spirit. He said “Everything can wait except for the search for God”. Today with be George’s 70’th birthday. I’m spending it with some of his best musical moments. And thinking of the trail markers on his spiritual quest.
In the past week or so, I’ve written about the passing of two musicians for whom I’d had a great deal of respect. I found myself wondering if this admittedly morbid trend should take a rest for a little while. I don’t think of myself as an obituary, or epitaph writer. But today, I feel that I have to in some way acknowledge all that was Chester Burnette, who was known to us as “Howlin’ Wolf”. Wolf was not blessed with the charismatic good looks of todays pop music illuminati, but then again, the blues was never meant to be pretty.
Wolf was raw emotion set to music. Rarely in music, can you hear an authenticity in one’s songs, that leave no room for doubt as to whether or not the performer really means the music he makes,or if he is just turning in a performance for a buck. I put him in a small group of musicians, Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer and Levon Helm, who had little interest in delivering a “pretty” vocal, but were all about an “honest” vocal. Howlin’ Wolf was the real deal. If you didn’t have the blues when you listened to his music, you felt *his* blues. We lost Howlin’ Wolf on this date in in 1976. The blues has sounded pretty, it’s been given class, and sophistication. But when Chester was delivering it, you got real, raw, unfiltered emotion. You felt every note. Any lead singer that’s come along in the modern age, attempting swagger, machismo and cool, owe a huge debt to Howlin’ Wolf. He could steal your girlfriend, and you woulda been happy about it.
Howlin’ Wolf was the real deal. I have to treat you to some right now..
I am going to fight my deepest temptation to make today’s article about today being the 46th anniversary of the release of the Monkees second album called “More Of The Monkees”. Those of you who know me, know that I am a lifelong fan of the prefab four. But I hate that album. I hate It because the cover is smeared with drab olive green all over it. I hate that color. The guys are standing around looking like they are trying to pose for a JC Penny catalog. It turns out THEY WERE!! REALLY!! And the album was little more than leftover, unused tracks from the first album. A few great songs on it..A lot of filler.. Bad album cover. I don’t like this album. Granted I liked “More Of The Monkees” more than I liked the “Changes” album from 1970. By then, it was just Micky and Davy. But as for the classic line up, More Of The Monkees was just fodder to satisfy the greedy fingers of Don Kirshner. I don’t like it, so I’m not going to write about it.
My God.. What have I done?
I’ll let you listen to it. But you won’t like it..