Monday, August 31, 2009

A Jar Upon A Hill In Tennessee

So three days into blogging and not much response, which is what I figured. No problem, yet. The wilderness will surround eventually. Yesterday I read somewhere that the people representing the late great songwriting team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant (is there a greater first name in all of musical history than Boudleaux?) were suing somebody for using one of their hit songs --"Rocky Top"--in some TV show or movie. So in the interest of any publicity is good publicity, I'm posting a version of "Rocky Top" by the wonderful 80s-90s-(00s?) trio from Columbus, Ohio: Scrawl. My nascent trawling through the blogosphere tells me they're a much overlooked band. I saw them a few times years ago here in Cleveland. Had a crush on Sue Harshe the bass player and was in awe of Marcy Mays, guitarist, singer-songwriter. Where have you gone, girls?

Scrawl-Rocky Top

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Little Bit Of Rain

It's raining a bit this morning, a slow chilly rain. Is this the chilliest it's been in the daylight in three months? It feels good, though, and looks better. Autumn good-naturedly punching us in the upper arm. Hello, it's me. A day to get back to reading, over-nap, pick your fantasy football team, shed some tears in empathy. Or just a day to sit on the roof-protected porch and watch and listen.

If I were a true Dylan fanatic I could tell you precisely how many of Bob's songs mention rain in some way. The best I can guesstimate, though, is lots.

I read in the paper yesterday that statistically Sunday is the rainiest day of the week. Could be. We all know Mother Nature can be one ironic shrew. My daily environmental hypotheses go like this: Sunday--the day you're most likely to get your car shat upon by a bird; Monday--the day more leaves fall off trees than any other day; Tuesday--the day most cracks in pavement form; Wednesday--the day more squirrels get hit by cars than any other day; Thursday--skunks are smelliest; Friday--cloud formations look most like ex-lovers; Saturday--the day more people say, "We could use a little rain 'round these parts" than any other day.

Has Tom Waits ever sung "A Little Rain" in New Orleans?

Are umbrellas more trouble than they're worth? How many good downpours does the average umbrella protect you from before it's lost, stolen, broken? My guess is less than a dozen.

Is there a more exuberant weather song than the Meat Puppets' "Look At The Rain"? Has any singer made you feel the rain as acutely as Fred Neil?

Fred Neil-Little Bit of Rain
Meat Puppets-Look At The Rain
The Kennedys-A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gotta Serve, Somebody

Forty years ago today, August 29, 1969, the coolest game in the history of tennis took place (at least until September 25, 1977, when a rather mixed up game of mixed doubles was contested between Martina Navratilova, Elton John, Billie Jean King, and Renee Richards, nee Raskind). On that date, in what Clinton Heylin refers to as a “friendly game,” Bob Dylan, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and members of The Band played some serve and volley at Forelands Farm on the Isle of Wight. Dylan and The Band were there to play the Isle of Wight Festival on the 31st, and four-fifths of the Beatles (Yoko dragged along the racquets) had helicoptered in for the day.

After listening to an acetate of the Beatles' soon-to-be-released Abbey Road album, shorts were donned and the court at Forelands was overtaken by rock royalty (The Band members, sans Levon, who was doing some weeding around the farm, “got next”). Bob chose George as his partner and the two picked the east court. Yoko sat cross-legged on the west court's baseline just beyond the doubles alley. After some erant volleying (it was tacitly made clear that Ringo would fetch any balls hit over the fence), the match commenced, with the losers having to promise to cover a Neil Diamond song on some future recording project. Dylan served first, and despite his new pudginess, proved rather athletic, especially when approaching the net. George didn't move much, but seemed to get to everything hit near him. Ringo surprised all with a smooth backhand, but he was soon winded from chasing after Lennon's terribly erratic ground strokes that often flew high and wide over the fence.

Upon Lennon's turn to serve, he deferred, telling Ringo to handle the heavy lifting. Bob, clinging to a 2-1 advantage and spooked by the thought of having to record “Cherry, Cherry” taunted John by saying, not so playfully, “You might be a Beatle, but you still gotta serve.”

“Who are you, the USLTA?” John spat back and proceeded to forego the overhead method and instead bounced the ball and hit a lame serve over the net to Bob, who pounced with a wicked outside-in shot to Lennon's backhand.

“Out!” Lennon shouted as the ball bounced over the baseline.

“Bullshit!” Bob roared.

“Mommy,” Lennon casually turned to Ono. “In or out?”

“Neither,” Yoko replied definitively.

“Point to server. Fifteen me, all you got is love, luv.”

“What the—“ Bob looked at George, who rolled his eyes slightly and shrugged his shoulders. Instantly, Bob understood the imminent fracturing of the Fab Four. Unnerved, Bob committed a few unforced errors and somehow Lennon held serve, as did everyone until Lennon's turn again when he started jonesing and doubled faulted the game. Dylan, by now hearing Lennon singing “I Am, I Said” a full eighteen months before it would be written, served out the match. George gave his partner a congratulatory bow, modestly downplayed his own skills, and said, “Bob, if not for you, I'd be learning the chords of 'Crunchy Granola Suite' tonight.”

As the players walked off the court and Robbie Robertson was seen to be showing Richard Manuel which side of the racket was top and which bottom, Bob mumbled to no one in particular, “I really dig that 'bang bang hammer' song. I'll have to go to Nashville and put some strings on it and some chick back-up singers.”

John elbowed Ringo, “Nob's off his boggin.”

Aaron Neville-Gotta Serve Somebody