Back in 1980, Joe Walsh ran for president on a platform of ‘free gas for everybody.’ And that’s when gas was selling for just a buck-thirteen. Unfortunately, he lost to some other guy. But now that gas is pushing four bucks a gallon, maybe Joe should consider another run at the White House. I think “Life’s Been Good” would be a great campaign song. “They say I’m crazy but I have a good time. I’m just looking for clues at the scene of the crime.” And where better than Washington? Actually, it may be too late for him to get the nomination, so we’ll just have to pack that dream away for another time. But don’t worry about Joe, he’s still got a career to fall back on. Somewhere between putting The James Gang on the map and giving the Eagles a stylistic shot in the arm, Joe found the time to record a few solo albums and, in the process, made his mark in rock history with standards like “Turn to Stone,” “Welcome to the Club,” and “Rocky Mountain Way.”
And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl revolves around another one of Joe’s classic compositions: “County Fair” from the album So What. Like a lot of his songs, “County Fair” isn’t just a straightforward verse, chorus, bridge and out affair. It consists of several parts of differing tempos and moods and one false ending, the perfect environment for hand mixing. There are essentially four parts to the song but here in the Way Back Studios, we’re not bound by the rules of terrestrial radio, so we’ll be playing one of the parts twice, making the six and a half minute track about two minutes longer. In the first half of the set, listen for the transitions between “County Fair” and Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher” which revolve around a virtually identical guitar riff. The big surprise in the middle of the set is from Tomita’s debut album, the Debussy composition “Snowflakes Are Dancing” which is played over a two minute bed of the Joe Walsh. And in the second half of the set, we’ll smoke a little “Cuban Bluegrass” and get a bad case of the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazies.” Then it’s one from Steve Earle before we return to the end of the Joe Walsh. So grab your corn dog and some cotton candy, we’re going to the “County Fair.”
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 1)|
|Steppenwolf||The Pusher (part 1)|
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 2)|
|Steppenwolf||The Pusher (part 2)|
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 3)|
|Tomita||Snowflakes Are Dancing (Mixed over Joe Walsh)|
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 1 repeated)|
|Manassas||Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazies/Cuban Bluegrass/Jet Set (sigh)|
|Joe Walsh||County Fair (part 4)|
Playing songs you know and love in ways you’ve never heard before, in this case, “County Fair” from Joe Walsh and his 1975 album, So What. We broke the track into five parts despite there being only four to begin with — and we did that the best way we could think of — by using the opening two minutes twice. In the first half of the set, from the soundtrack of Easy Rider, we mixed in and out of Steppenwolf’s “The Pusher,” twice, using the song’s false ending and similar guitar riff to flummox your expectations and facilitate the musical transformation.
At the other end of the set, we segued out of “County Fair” into a medley from Steven Stills and Manassas. We heard “Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazies,” “Cuban Blue Grass,” “Jet Set (Sigh).” Right about now you’re probably saying, yeah we know all that, but what was all that synthesizer business in the middle of the set? Well, it was (indirectly) the result of Wendy Carlos’s wildly successful album “Switched On Bach” that came out in 1968. A record that introduced the Moog Synthesizer to a wide public audience. Six years later, the Japanese composer, Tomita, released a collection of synthesized Debussy compositions called “Snowflakes are Dancing” which was nominated for four Grammys. We overlapped the title track on top of that two minute stretch of “County Fair” with all the symbols and guitar that we’d heard earlier.
And just before the last bit of the Joe Walsh, we got into that ‘67 Chevy with Steve Earle, drove out to the lake and then we turned back around in a song called “Someday” I hope come back for another visit to the Way Back Studios. If you’ve got any comments, questions, or suggestions drop by my website and send me an email, there’s a link 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.