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Alterkaker Hot 3

December 25, 2016

One final look at the 2016 election, through music:

Say what you will about Trump – and apparently that’s what everyone is doing – his choice of campaign theme song was genius (whoever thought of it should have been made Chief of Staff). From a Trump voter’s perspective, the title line of the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want (from Let It Bleed, 1969) is a thumb-in-the-face to the “entitled” who really really didn’t want Trump to win. “But if you try sometimes well you just might find you get what you need” completes a perfectly Trumpian declaration: You may not want me as President, but you need me.” Even if the lyrics didn’t have any relevance to Trump, it would still be the best tune of the political season because, with the London Bach Choir singing backup, it’s just that good a song.

Dire scenarios of the Trump presidency are being painted day-by-day -- so dire as to predict that America is on the Eve of Destruction. The song of that name, written by P. F. Sloan and recorded by Barry McGuire in July, 1965, was the first (and perhaps only) pure protest song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Let it serve as inspiration to those hitting the streets. Plus the song is pretty funny in how dated it sounds -- sort of like a parody of protest songs.

“Don't wanna be an American idiot, Don't want a nation under the new media.” The title track from Green Days’ American Idiot (2004), with its notion that mass media has encouraged delusion and idiocy among the masses, speaks to the political landscape in a manner both sides would probably agree on – albeit in very different ways. And the song contains the perfect epitaph for the 2016 presidential campaign:“Now everybody do the propaganda, And sing along to the age of paranoia.”

Finally, a video of Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth (with very young Stephen Stills and Neil Young), recorded in 1967:

“There’s something happening here, What it is ain’t exactly clear.”


You Can't Always Get What You Want, by The Rolling Stones
Eve of Destruction, by Barry McGuire
American Idiot, by Green Day
For What It's Worth, Buffalo Springfield
November 30, 2016

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time

I love you for my life you are a friend of mine

And when my life is over

Remember when we were together

We were alone and I was singing this song for you

What a 60-year career this guy had. The Oklahoma native’s repertoire included pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, standards, gospel and surf records. He recorded 33 albums and some 400 songs and nabbed 6 gold records while finding the time to play guitar, bass, and piano in recording sessions for a slew of artists. Like: Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Barbara Streisand, Willie Nelson, the Beach Boys, Ike & Tina Turner, and the Rolling Stones. Russell was the organizer and driving force of Joe Cocker’s infamous Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, performed with over 100 artists, and wrote lots of hits for others too, such as “Delta Lady” for Cocker, "This Masquerade” for George Benson, and "A Song For You," which has been recorded by over 100 singers. Leon Russell was named the number one concert attraction in 1973, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (though, puzzlingly, the performer he played backup to, Joe Cocker, is not in the Hall).

The three songs and video song selected come from Russell’s peak years, which covered his first four LPs. She Smiles Like A River is from album number two, Leon Russell and The Shelter People (1971). Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms is on his country album Hank Wilson’s Back! (1972), which doesn’t feature Russell’s name anywhere on the album. Tight Rope is the opening track on Carney (1973), Russell’s biggest selling effort.

In the video, Leon Russell performs A Song For You, which was on his eponymous debut album.

Leon Russell, Carney
Leon Russell, Hank Wilson's Back
Leon Russell and The Shelter People
A Song For You, by Leon Russell
November 13, 2016

I’m not big on giving Nobel prizes for literature to songwriters, even those like Dylan whose music I’ve been a lifelong fan of. If, however, one was to make an exception because the lyrical content of a songwriter’s works meet the bar of great literary poetry…I think Leonard Cohen was the one who should have been considered.

Richard Gehr of Rolling Stone wrote a great overview of Leonard Cohen’s importance, which included this: "Cohen was the dark eminence among a small pantheon of extremely influential singer-songwriters to emerge in the Sixties and early Seventies. Only Bob Dylan exerted a more profound influence upon his generation, and perhaps only Paul Simon and fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell equaled him as a song poet."

Here are two lesser known songs culled from Mr. Cohen’s 50-plus year career: A live version of Dance Me to the End of Love, which comes from his 1984 album Various Positions; and You Want It Darker, the title track from his final, recently released set of songs. I also threw in one of my favorites, Sisters of Mercy, from Songs of Leonard Cohen, his 1967 debut album. The video is of Cohen doing his classic So Long, Marianne, live in London in 2008.

You Want It Darker, by Leonard Cohen
Dance Me to the End of Love, by Leonard Cohen
Sisters of Mercy, by Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen, So Long, Marianne, London 2008