Segment 53

We have a rule about songs here in the Way Back Studios that says if you find a hole in one, stick something in it. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is built around a song with more holes than ethics legislation, just the way we like it. It’s a Fleetwood Mac track from 1969 when Peter Green was driving the bus. According to the survey I conducted for today’s show a lot of people know the song but they don’t know the title. They recognize the opening guitar lick and the lyrics about the guy who can’t help about the shape he’s in. Can’t sing. Ain’t pretty. And his legs are thin. “Oh well.” The song’s nine minutes long, starting as a furious Delta blues rock workout before making a transition into a gentle acoustic Spanish guitar piece. When released as a single, the record company split the song into parts one and two, roughly between the electric and acoustic. But the song has several false endings within each half, and that allows us to have some fun.

I took those two parts and broke them into five. During the first break, Joe Jackson jumps in with his cover version of the electric half of the song. During the second break, you’ll hear the first great cowbell segue in All Hand Mixed Vinyl history. It’s a beauty, so you’ll want to be paying attention for that. Tucked away in the middle, after the song slips into the subdued Spanish style, we’ll hear Jose Feliciano covering Lennon and McCartney, then it’s back to the Mac for a minute before we get to the Bridge over Troubled Water with Simon and Garfunkel’s Peruvian excursion, “El Condor Pasa.” That takes us back to Fleetwood Mac before we get to the Streets of New York, with your guide Willie Nile, armed with a Spanish guitar and a cell phone. This is one of our all time favorite sets, we get a lot of email about it, so stick around. I think you’re going to enjoy this one. And having said all that, don’t ask me what I think of you … I might not give the answer you want me to.

Fleetwood Mac Oh Well (part 1)
Joe Jackson Oh Well
Fleetwood Mac Oh Well (part 2)
Rolling Stones Honky Tonk Women
Fleetwood Mac Oh Well (part 3)
Jose Feliciano And I Love Her
Fleetwood Mac Oh Well (part 4)
Simon and Garfunkle El Condor Pasa
Fleetwood Mac Oh Well (part 5)
Willie Nile Cellphones Ringing in the Pockets of the Dead

History tellin’ stories that a sailor won’t repeat, believers and infidels fighting in the heat, while bodies of the innocent are covered with a sheet. And the cell phones keep ringing in the pockets of the dead. A startling image from Willie Nile who wrote that one after the terrorist train bombings in Madrid in 2004. That’s from his brilliant Streets of New York. My hands-down favorite album from 2006. If you think about it, it makes the perfect companion piece for New York, Lou Reed’s 1989 ode to the Big Apple. If you don’t have those two, go get ‘em. You can thank me later. And that wraps up what we’ll call the “Oh Well” set. It’s what you get when you take a two-part, eleven minute Fleetwood Mac track from 1969, and break it down further into five parts and mix it with, among things, an 18th century Peruvian folk song, with original lyrics by Paul Simon. “El Condor Pasa” is one of the early examples of Paul’s cross-cultural musical samplings that led eventually to Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints.

Also in there, from his most acclaimed pop album, we heard Jose Feliciano’s cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “And I Love Her,” a song we first heard on the soundtrack to A Hard Day’s Night. At the top of the set, during the electric half of “Oh Well,” we jumped from 1969 to 1991 when Joe Jackson gave us a cover of “Oh Well” from his album Laughter and Lust. And then, in the next break, we rolled into the Stones with a Honky Tonk cowbell segue the likes of which you won’t hear anywhere else. Which explains why we’re tuned into the satellites. By the way, if you’re looking for the set lists or the show commentaries or if you want to check out some photos of the Way Back Studios, you can track ‘em down on Facebook and on my website. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back with more Hand Mixed Vinyl next time, right here in the Deep Tracks.

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