Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Six musicians walk into a bar. A draft dodger, the child of a Broadway star, and a cranky Canadian, followed by a Memphis hustler, an unreliable narrator, and an albino Scientologist. When the Canadian orders a Flaming Blue Jesus, the Scientologist leans over to the Memphis Hustler and says, I sure hope you have a punch line for today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is a study in mood swing and non-sequiturs. A cheap-thrill ride on a roller-coaster of tempo and emotion. Graceful and sad as the Southern sun at one end, it’s a gospel-choir searching for someone to “Save the Planet” at the other. Along the way we’ll hear tawdry testimony from Larry Raspberry and the High Steppers, talking about the time that woman came down to the bar room with a .44 in each hand. Was told she could find Larry in a booth in the back talkin’ trash to some hussy drives a red Cadillac. Lucky he survived to tell the tale.
Also, a man who ain’t got the time to trifle with trash like you. Mr. Randy Newman in the nervous hospital, telling the doctor about how his sister was a dancer up in Baltimore? Ran off with that Negro from the Eastern shore, then went down to Mobile in a railroad train before she learned the truth about him? Turns out to be a story of true love as only Randy can tell it. But first, let’s get in touch with our acoustic side. Songs populated with dreams of thunder and lighting-like desire. Characters on a wagon rutted road, weeds tall between the tracks, lookin’ at that old John Deere specked with dirty cotton lint. Writers whose songs put us in the place at the time their hearts ached. Who tell us how it felt. Who made us feel the desire, the loneliness, and the urgency, because it was ours too. All that longing and confusion somehow turned into music by the likes of Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, Jesse Winchester, and Dan Fogelberg.
But first, let’s get in touch with our acoustic side. Songs populated with dreams of thunder and lighting-like desire. Characters on a wagon rutted road, weeds tall between the tracks, lookin’ at that old John Deere specked with dirty cotton lint. Writers whose songs put us in the place at the time their hearts ached. Who tell us how it felt. Who made us feel the desire, the loneliness, and the urgency, because it was ours too. All that longing and confusion somehow turned into music by the likes of Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, and Jesse Winchester.
|Dan Fogelberg||Looking For A Lady|
|Jesse Winchester||Mississippi You’re on my Mind|
|Bonnie Raitt||Angel from Montgomery|
|Neil Young||Love in Mind|
|Randy Newman||Back on my Feet Again|
|Larry Raspberry and the Highsteppers||Road Blues|
|Edgar Winter||Save the Planet|
A choir branded by the southern cross, their horns shone like sun, their money was gone, the trains kept moving the laughter, pain, and hard living of Edgar Winter’s White Trash. That’s an excerpt from the poem written by Patti Smith on the back of the White Trash album, with Edgar Winter trying to “Save the Planet.” Before that, Larry Raspberry and the High Steppers doing “Road Blues.” The High Steppers were one of the only white acts ever signed to Stax Records. Unfortunately just as their debut album, High Steppin’ and Fancy Dancin’, was being released, the label went into bankruptcy, botching distribution and forever relegating this great album to the status of Lost Gem. Good news is Larry bought his master tapes back at the bankruptcy sale and you can get everything on CD these days at their website. But we played it off the original vinyl.
In the middle of the set, Randy Newman doing “Back on My Feet Again.” Before that, a guy who got bored driving down the middle of the road, so he headed for the ditch where he said the ride was rougher but the people were more interesting. We heard Neil Young’s “Love In Mind” from 1973. A year later, Bonnie Raitt was covering John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” on her album Street Lights. Before that, Jesse Winchester, who, in 1967, decided to move to Canada instead of Vietnam so he could live to sing about it. Of course he couldn’t sing about it in the U.S. until 1977 when President Carter granted amnesty to all the war resisters. Winchester’s self-exile informed a lot of his music, but none more than “Mississippi You’re On My Mind.” And we started the set with Dan Fogelberg’s “Looking For a Lady” from his debut album Home Free where the fields are lined with rusty barbed wire fences and beyond them sits an old tar paper shack a lot like the Way Back Studios. If you’ve got questions or comments about what goes on here, you can find the answers and the email address at billfitzhugh.com. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.