Tag Archives: power/disempowered

Stooges: Look out honey cuz I’m usin’ technology!

Let this be a warning to you: you will turn your back on the Stooges three times before you realize your mistake!

I was a young punk and I didn’t like anything that wasn’t what I was currently playing on my cassette deck. The stooges just didn’t fit. They clanged out with punk that sounded too rock and roll to my purist ears. And the well-published Stooges story was all about punk as destructive front-man, a trope that I felt should be retired. At the time I valued music that was political, organized, focused and sober – pretty much the opposite of the Stooges.

My second invitation to listen to the stooges came when I taught for a summer at the Michigan Debate camp. The faculty (gathered from around the nation) were all housed in a recently renovated apartment building that was rumored to have been Iggy Pop’s. It was claimed that our apartment was Iggy’s and that I was staying where his old room had been. Payday at the end of a month-long gig was an incredible moment of consumerist joy and I remember weighing an Iggy and the Stooges CD, but putting it back in lieu of the 4xCD Stax/Volt box set (which changed my life).

Reading Gillian McCain & Leg’s McNeil’s book Please Kill me was my third chance to dive into the Stooges catalog. So many terrible stories of Iggy’s destruction and the aspirations of a generation trying to tell new stories with new sounds. Recording an album in Berlin with David Bowie that dabbles in gender play (a song called penetrate on a 70s rock album isn’t that unusual, but that tune is about Iggy being penetrated. )

Having been a music fiend my whole life, and with an origin as a frugal yankee, I look for the cheapest media with the coolest music when I’m buying second hand. I started buying a lot of records 20 years ago because you could get Stevie Wonder’s best songs for pennies at yard sales. In the last 5 years CDs have become useless to most people and they started selling a buck a pop or even less.

I spent a lot of my life desperately saving enough money to buy an $11 CD in a record store. To see an album I’d always wondered about for so cheap . . . sucks teeth. Which is how I found myself in a pandemic with a couple hundred CDs that I’d stacked up in a cupboard. I drew Raw Power from under a stack of abandoned albums because it was the right time and started really listening to the record.

The album is transformative – great guitars, excellent song-writing and some of the most 2020 tunes to be recorded at any moment. I was hunting for the making-of documentary that came out in 2010 when I came across a nice video of Iggy and the Stooges doing Search and Destroy in 2017.

Let’s skip all the body-shaming crap and ageist foolishness. It is great to hear a passionate song sung with passion by passionate people. I love Iggy’s plea for the crowd to save his soul that comes with the wild arm gestures. There is a clear juxtaposition between the naked and the clothed – Iggy of course is shirtless and glowing. But there is also a shirtless security guard who is moving around behind the amps. And there is a guy in the band shirtless playing a pair of claves. But every other member of the band looks like an 8th grade science teacher with tucked in dress shirts. There is the tiny club-sized set that Iggy has compressed into the center space of this festival stage. And the great contrast of how much space both sonically and physically the Stooges take up.

It is never too late to learn or investigate and discover the world. There is music out there that has not been heard and the day is just beginning.

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Filed under art, drugs, gender, juxtaposition, music, punk, rock and roll

Honky Tonk Heroes: Willie Nelson is a lot harder than I thought

John Spong has a narrative essay in Texas Monthly describing the rebellious country music scene around Austin Texas in the early seventies.  A few of my favorite quotes:

JERRY JEFF WALKER I had a whole lot of money available, and I knew what people like the Band were doing. You buy the equipment, make your record, and when you’re done, you own the shit! I thought that might be a good thing to do.

BOB LIVINGSTON Someone had gutted the old Rapp Cleaners on Sixth Street, put burlap on the walls, and made it one of Austin’s first recording studios. We’d been with Murphey in a Nashville studio, and now we’re with Jerry Jeff in this funky little place, plugged into a sixteen-track tape recorder in the middle of the room, with no board, no nothing. We’d get there about seven each night, and Jerry Jeff would be standing in the doorway, mixing sangria in this big metal tub.

JERRY JEFF WALKER The sound engineers wanted to bring in this souped-up equipment. I said no. This needed to be like one of those nature shows: [He whispers in an affected English accent]“This is the first time we’ve ever seen the birthing of a Tibetan tiger baby.” I figured if somebody could sneak up on a tiger, we could be recorded where we’re comfortable.

via That 70’s Show | Texas Monthly.

Of course the scene at Willie Nelson’s fourth of July picnics and a nice vignette about Billy Joe Shaver and peyote:

BILLY JOE SHAVER I got into that dang peyote and got to thinking I was Jesus. I was just walking around, healing people. I baptized a bunch of them.

via That 70’s Show | Texas Monthly.

I like this next quote by James White about letting these new country rebels play at his club.  Maybe it’s because he judges everyone so much on their shoes.  And of course — musical integration comes because five hundred hippies will buy a lot of beer.

JAMES WHITE opened the Broken Spoke in 1964. They drew over five hundred people. And I guess about 70 to 80 percent were hippies. Some of them were barefoot or wearing moccasins or tennis shoes, like a PF Flyer. None of them could two-step. They all did a dance I called the Hippie Hop, jumping around like old hoedown dancing. But there were five hundred of them, and I figured anybody who can draw five hundred people is okay.

via That 70’s Show | Texas Monthly

I know that Willie Nelson is fundamentally bad-ass, but this article gives me a whole new perception.  Here he is calming down redneck violence during the transition:

STEVE EARLE I saw Willie play this joint in Pasadena called the Half Dollar. Pasadena was where the Ku Klux Klan clubhouse was in the Houston area. It was as redneck as Texas got, full of refinery workers who went dancing every weekend. But that night, a bunch of us hippies wanted to sit on the floor and watch Willie play. So as the regulars go around the dance floor, they’re kicking us in the back. Willie stopped in the middle of a song and said, “You know what, there’s room enough for some to dance and some to sit.” That chilled it out.

via That 70’s Show | Texas Monthly.

Austin gave Tom T. Hall a lesson in gender politics.  Visible here is the understanding that the power/disempowerment of gender dynamics is the pleasurable thing for male-dominant sex:

TOM T. HALL My show at the Armadillo was the first time I was ever propositioned by a woman. I came out of Kentucky and had this naive notion that men were supposed to chase women. That was the sport of it. So this beautiful, blond-haired girl came out of the audience looking like one of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. She said, “Hey, you want to go screw?” I said, “Oh, I don’t think so.” The charm had gone out of the thing.

via That 70’s Show | Texas Monthly.

I’ve got to search for the first season of Austin City Limits.

BILL ARHOS That first year of Austin City Limits was crazy. Doug Sahm was on, and the air in the studio turned purple from marijuana smoke. I had to throw a guy out for spraying silver paint up his nose. Seriously. And God, Jerry Jeff was supposed to tape one night, but he’d gone to Miami to see the Cowboys play in the Super Bowl. If they’d won, he would’ve never shown up. But they lost, and he came, walking onstage while the Gonzos were singing “London Homesick Blues,” just grinning like an idiot. I said, “What the hell?” And someone said, “There’s a guy in the audience wearing a gorilla suit.” There was.

via That 70’s Show | Texas Monthly.

Perhaps the best musical defense against a drug charge by Waylon Jennings:

RICHIE ALBRIGHT The next day Waylon was booked for possession, and that was big news in Nashville. And it was funny because Willie played in Nashville that night and had Waylon come out onstage. The place went nuts. The day after that, we were at the lawyer’s office, and Waylon said, “You got a guitar around here?” They did. He said, “You’ve got to hear this new song.” He started playing “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand.” He got to the part where he says, “They got me for possession of something that was gone, long gone,” and the lawyers faces all drained. They said, “You can’t say that.” Waylon goes, “Hell, it is gone.”

via That 70’s Show | Texas Monthly.

Interesting how common gun play was at this point:

RAY BENSON We were filming a show at the Alliance Wagon Yard, and I’m in the video truck with a guy from CBS Records named Herschel. I put my hand on the board and suddenly go, “Ow! Was I just shocked?” and then Herschel goes, “Ow! My leg!” and I turn and see his jeans going dark with blood. One of Willie’s guys had shot at Joe Gracey’s brother with a .22, and the bullet went through the side of the van, grazed my left hand, and then went into Herschel’s leg. But when CBS found out who shot him, they decided not to press charges. They didn’t want to alienate Willie.

LEON RUSSELL That was my video truck. But I figured that if you send your million-dollar truck down to Austin, you’ve got to expect to get a bullet hole or two in it.

via That 70’s Show | Texas Monthly.

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Filed under drugs, feminism, music, representation