you just have to go spiritual to keep from going postal. For me
"going spiritual" has always been to put down the newspaper
and pick up a book. Or to turn off CNN/Fox News and put on some
music. That isnt the same thing as burying your head in
the sand. You can do THAT reading the New York Times or tuning
in to The OReilly Factor.
week was one of those weeks for me. I needed a reprieve from the
taxation of maintenance living. So I dusted off a 34-year-old
album that I remembered liking but couldnt remember why,
an 11-year-old bootleg by a band with a lead singer who took self-pity
to the ultimate extreme, and a 13-year-old book about what is
possibly the most complex "simple" song ever recorded.
Mac fans are mostly divided into two camps these days, the smaller
one consisting of guitar obsessives who favor the blues styling
of Peter Green. By far the larger of the two fan bases is the
one that favors the latter (post-'74) line-up fronted by the smart
pop sensibilities of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and the enticing
sexuality of a chanteuse-turned-arena warbler, Stevie Nicks. This
version of the band took the concept of celebrity-as-art to new
levels with their Rumours album, arguably the introduction of
tabloid rock. The self-indulgent dynamics of that album wouldnt
be surpassed until Kurt Cobain wrote "Rape Me" 18 years
later and followed it up with a blast to the head.
in between there was another Fleetwood Mac - one with a shifting
line-up and varying styles. It was one that was hard to get a
handle on, but also one that moved beyond its inconsistency to
record some of the best (and most overlooked) songs in the groups
history. Its easy to forget that the band recorded six albums
of new material in the post-Green, pre-Nicks era (1970-1974).
RIAA has never recanted their
claims of bootleg connections to
terrorism. It's a staple of their
campaign of fear against anyone
who stands in their way of profits
and control. They have supported
every piece of intrusive legislation to
come down the pike. You think
George Bush is the first person
to tap into someone's computer
without a search warrant?
The RIAA launched several thousand
lawsuits against music lovers,
claiming the same right to invade
personal computers that Bush
now claims. Also, without search
warrants. And for basically the same
reason - that civilization would come
to an end if they didn't.
For the first
three of those albums, Danny Kirwan, who will never be known as
a household name in the annals of rock 'n' roll, played a significant
part in providing some of the best tracks. The first venture into
life-after-Green, Kiln House, primarily served as an exorcism
of the remaining members rock 'n' roll roots (buried for
years as a mostly slow to mid-tempo blues outfit under Green).
But it also yielded the stunning "Station Man" - more
of a pre-cursor to modern-day jam bands than anything by the Grateful
Dead ever was. If Kirwan was not a particularly adept improvisational
guitarist, he was, at the very least, one that could come up with
a lyrical six-string component that could carry a song for five
or six minutes. As well as a wordsmith who kept things deceptively
simple. Much of the charm of Kirwan's lyrics were in their tempered
the lyrics of "Station Man" to the Underground Railroad
(quite possibly intended). It took 100 years for the Civil Rights
Movement to get past the lies of "emancipation" to reach
fruition. In 1972 Jim Crow hadnt even reached Oldie status
yet. Add to that the ongoing battle against a criminal war. Kirwan
states the dilemma.
I'm going I don't know"
Then he takes
a page from Black history and applies it to the human race.
And bringing something
This train of lovin'
I see it's comin'
I feel it's runnin'
This train of lovin'
From ages past
form of hope all is doomed. But if those hopes are Pollyannaish,
all is doomed anyway. Everything will not turn out right if folks
just sit back and bask in optimism. One has to get on board.
It was not
Kiln House that I dusted off, though. It was Bare Trees, Kirwan's
final opus with the band. Mostly noted for the sugar substitute,
low-calorie flavorings of "Sentimental Lady," Kirwins
influence in the band was waning. But the albums title track,
a two-line chorus, a two-line lyric and an outburst of Pentecostalic
exuberance penned by Kirwan, dwarfs Bob Welchs nonsensical
paean to gentle love.
of "Bare Trees" are anything but sweet. Using an economy
of words, Kirwan paints a cold picture. Then the words stop and
the spirit lifting begins.
dah, do dah da do da do
Bah do dah, do dah da do wah wah
sung with such fervor that it reduces the rest of the lyrics to
lies. Its a cold world? Bah do dah bullshit. You are at
the mercy of others? Do dah da do da do. Dont you believe
it. The truth doesnt always come in the form of words. Lies
I see a guy with a cassette-a-phone out there. We know that people
who bootleg shows or sell bootleg T-shirts are all pedophiles.
They support murder in the third world. They torture children.
Thats a reason not to support bootleggers."
uttered these words to an audience in Rome on February 22, 1994,
a show broadcast on Italian radio. Give the bootleggers who documented
the performance on "The Final Fix" credit for cheek
by leaving the comment intact. It made sense for them to do so.
Bootleggers, by their very being, are anti-censorship. Even if
those words perpetuate the RIAA propaganda that bootleggers are
sub-human creatures, void of morals, who have direct links to
terrorism. And, as indicated by the date of the show, the terrorism
charges started long before 9/11. They are about as absurd as
saying that all rock artists are self-indulgent suicidal drug
the show Cobain seems to recant the statement by saying that "All
my comments tonight come from a book called How to be Witty
RIAA has never recanted their claims of bootleg connections to
terrorism. Its a staple of their campaign of fear against
anyone who stands in their way of profits and control. They have
supported every piece of intrusive legislation to come down the
pike. You think George Bush is the first person to tap into someones
computer without a search warrant? The RIAA launched several thousand
lawsuits against music lovers, claiming the same right to invade
personal computers that Bush now claims. Also, without search
warrants. And for basically the same reason - that civilization
would come to an end if they didnt. Rama lamma fa fa fuck
the years between then and now,
the record industry has fallen into
step with government yahoo
parental involvement -
applying warning labels and
releasing "clean" versions of
new releases. And redefining
sharing as "stealing.
may exist, somewhere, some evidence that a street peddler
of pirated cassettes in Kabul gave some cash at a local Al Quada
fundraiser, it is doubtful to the point of laughter that any merchant
of unauthorized live recordings ever gave one bloody cent to terrorists.
As the editor of Live! Music Review in the 90s, I came to
know a boatload of bootleggers. At best they operated for a love
of music. At worst, they operated with the same incentives as
the companies that fund the RIAA - capitalize on the works of
the first time that the record industry and their allies in government
have perpetuated the hoax that it is up to them to save us from
our own immoralistic selves. A full documentation of one example
can be found in Dave Marshs book, "Louie Louie."
The FBI investigated
that notorious song for a full two years, cementing the myth that
it contained obscene lyrics to such an extent that over four decades
later there are still high school principals trying to ban it
from the repertoire of their marching bands.
At the time,
the governor of Indiana made the fantastic statement that his
attempts to stop radio programmers in the state from playing it
were not the same as be censorship. The irony is that "Louie
Louie," as recorded by The Kingsmen, was unintelligible at
any speed. They might as well have been singing "a wop bop
a lu bop a lop bam boom." But in all its innocence, it was
subversive. Maybe what scared the Feds more than anything were
the words that were most clearly stated. "Lets give
it to em, right now!"
In the years
between then and now, the record industry has fallen into step
with government yahoos by circumventing parental involvement -
applying warning labels and releasing "clean" versions
of new releases. And redefining sharing as "stealing."
As I neared
the end of my sabbatical from the rat race this week, I remembered
what it was about "Bare Trees" that I liked. Like "Tutti
Frutti," "Rocket Reducer No. 62," "Louie Louie"
and countless other songs that invoke "speaking in tongues,"
bah-do-dah lifted my spirits. And it didnt lie to me.
Bill Glahn is the RIAA Watch columnist for Counterpunch. He was
the publisher and editor of Live! Music Review from 1993--2000.
Commentary and requests for back-ssues ($2 each, most still available)
can be made to [email protected].