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Sir Douglas Quintet

5 Feb

Everything is cancelled today because of the snow. You can look out and tell that we’re getting walloped, not just because of the rate that it’s falling, but from the color of the sky. Know when you look up when it’s snowing and the sky is as white as the snow? As I look up today, the sky is a hushed, sullen, morbid grey and looks to be dislodging all that’s impacting within itself down to topography that happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Welcome to the dive.

When I was making a living as one of the sullen rats who stared at a monitor and typed poor code within 5×5 white cubicles, Mark was one of the few highlights I ever knew in those wretched days. Not only did he talk music enough to keep up with me, he bestowed upon me a gift that very few ever could – he held my head under the waters of a new genre that I had only a tenuous inking of. When I found my footing again, I was newly baptized into the frenzy of Garage Rock.

It was Mark that turned me on to the Sonics : Strychnine, the Leaves : Hey Joe, the Shadows of Knight : Bad Little Woman, early Raiders : (I’m Not Your) Steppin Stone, the Seeds : Pushin’ Too Hard, 13th Floor Elevators : You’re Gonna Miss Me, Adrian Lloyd : Lorna (a must hear that even today, has my heart rupturing), the whole Nuggets collection and the delicious Sixties Rebellion collection, and countless other growling denizens of the garage. The music reached out its steely claws, encapsulated my neck and vibrated my skull with such vigor that as I look back now I believe that I spent close to a year passionately embracing, and collecting, the Garage Band era. As any other music whore could tell you, sometimes you listen to something so powerfully beguiling, that quite unexpectedly, the siren has completely wrapped you into its fold, nested you within, and before you know it – a year has gone by before you are able to loosen its grip and pull away. Such was my time in the jaws of garage. Anybody else ever get the fever that bad?

garageRather than spending phrases on an obscure influential raunchy slice of rock or lament over a balladeer who slays with emotion, I’m presenting someone who is noticeable, who had a hit, and who was there through the pulsing early strobe lights, who played all the beer-encrusted table tops of small halls, who was there watching the mini skirted, calf-booted, fringe swirling vests of teeny boppers, and helped to form and popularize the sound that enlisted thousands of kids with encouragement that they too could form a band.

Sir Douglas Quintet, with the inimitable Doug Sahm, had the quintessential lineup of guitar, drums, bass and organ that was permeated throughout the mid-sixties. Easy, yes? But what came out of that lineup was beautiful, headstrong bliss. They were based out of Texas and had a wide pallet of musical influences siphoned into their minds from that area including Tex-Mex, psychedelic, blues, pop and soul. Out of the maelstrom came what they are more known for, 1965’s ‘She’s About A Mover’, which hit #13, and the 1968 hit ‘Mendocino’, which I favor more.

It’s all I need; nodding rhythm, a pulsing Vox organ, catchy hook and easy enough for any garage aspiring teenage band to play as long as their willing to learn four basic chords.

Not to downplay my selection, but I can’t help but include the video I found showing the stark and silly juxtaposition of the band playing on, of all things, Hugh Hefner’s show ‘After Dark’! What, what? It includes a brief pre-performance interview.

Sadly, Doug Sahm died in 1999. In his sleep. Not a bad way to go is what a lot of us think. But, feast on this track from a band that was shoulder deep in the buzz, excitement and glory of the movement, and who helped to inspire legions of makeshift bands that drove their parents crazy, who felt like rock stars must have felt and had that taste of splendor that could only be had by being in a garage band.

And before I forget, thank you Mark for causing me to spend all that time listening to garage bands.

Sir Douglas Quintet: Mendocino

You kidding me?

11 Oct

(peering into the dark auditorium, lights in face, blowing into microphone)

Hello? Anyone there?

Random Acts I

19 Sep

As with anyone who has a vast and always growing glut of music, I sometimes spend more time perusing my lists of albums, CD’s, off-line storage and internally stored tracks than I do actually getting around to choosing and playing something.   

I personally want to thank the person who invented the random button – you took away the need to actually make a choice.   

Love Is Only Sleeping
The Monkees were a bit more than ‘Daydream Believer’, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, ‘The Dolphin Song’ and ‘I Wanna Be Free’. Thanks to a constant deluge of tracks submitted by not only Boyce and Hart, but by Neil Diamond and Harry Nilsson, to name just a few, they had lush fields to choose from and eventually record.   

This track was written by the great team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil who had their songs covered by everyone from the Animals, the Coasters, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Mama Cass … the list goes on.   

A breezy, pop-fused, stutter guitar offering from their Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. album, it never received any airplay that I’m aware of, but retrospectively it’s one of those cuts that I’m glad to hear from time to time.   

It’s also a hopeful after relationship mint.   

She looked at me
And the emptiness in her eyes was cruel to see
Then she turned away and said,
“Once I loved, but love is dead”
And I whispered, “Sometimes love is only sleeping”

She said, “I cannot cry
And I cannot give or feel or even try”
And her voice was hard and cold
Then her sweet young face looked old
And I whispered, “Sometimes love is only sleeping”

Through the endless days and nights
Could not help but wrap herself in sorrow
Through the endless days and nights
She waited for a shiny new tomorrow
Love was sleeping, sleeping  



Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
Never a huge draw here in the States (vastly underrated and barely understood), the Frenchwoman Edith Piaf was a powerhouse of the subtle undertow of love and a peerless interpreter of the heart who extracted every last drop of sentiment from a song. It was simply kismet that her track showed up for me yesterday because I had just watched her autobiographical film at the urging of someone else a few days ago.  


Recap: neglected and tossed away by parents, lived as a child in a brothel, literally sang on the streets for her supper, performed regularly in dumps that made your local dive look like the setting for your parents’ 50th anniversary, lost her only child to meningitis at two, lost her greatest love to a plane crash, suffered from crippling arthritis which twisted her tiny body grotesquely, could regularly drink alcoholics under the table and as a side project, enjoyed the needle. She died at the age of 47. But her voice! Her nickname, in English, loosely translates into ‘Little Sparrow’.   

Toward the lonely end she recorded this track, which again, loosely translates into ‘No Regrets’. How fitting, and a loud crowd hushing slap in the face of life for a woman who continually lost everything but never gave in – even at the end. She was so popular that apparently, her cemetery services, attended by over 100,000 mourners, literally stopped traffic in Paris for only the second time – the other being the announcement of the end of WWII. I’m hard pressed to think of anyone else who had as many mourners in modern day.   

Such a shame that I don’t comprehend French because I’m sure that beyond what I can read that’s been decoded, I know that I’m missing quite a lot – ‘lost in translation’ as it were. But, sometimes, you don’t need to understand the lyrics, as any music whore will tell you. As with most great music, it’s the ability to ‘feel’ what someone is trying to say much in the same way you might interpret an instrumental. This is one of those tracks.   

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
All the things
That went wrong
For at last I have learned to be strong

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
For the grief doesn’t last
It is gone
I’ve forgotten the past

And the memories I had
I no longer desire
Both the good and the bad
I have flung in a fire
And I feel in my heart
That the seed has been sown
It is something quite new
It’s like nothing I’ve known

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
All the things that went wrong
For at last I have learned to be strong

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
For the seed that is new
It’s the love that is growing for you

The Monkees: Love Is Only Sleeping
From: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. [1967]   

Edith Piaf: Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien
From: 30th Anniversarie [1994]