Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Late Again for the High Plateau

This is one of the most interesting recordings I have. It's a slice of life from 1968 which was a crazy year, even if you weren't in the army in Alabama. The original is on a 7" reel-to-reel tape and it is amazing how that medium has remained intact and usable for those 44 years. In fact, all of my old reel-to-reel tapes sound just as good as they did 40 years ago. Will our CDs and DVDs? Will a thumb drive work 40 years from now IF you can find something that looks like a USB port to stick it into?

Did you know that there are several stories about Knees Calhoon's stint in the army (March 1967 - January 1970) in the book, THE COMPLEAT CALHOON? The day at the EM club was but one of the exciting and dangerous events of his military career and they're all chronicled in the 450+ pages of short stories, reminiscences, true-crime thrillers, and, best of all, the lyrics to all his songs as well as a CD with all the new mixes on it. Now that you've been introduced to the musical side of Knees, perhaps you'd like to try some of his literary fabulations?

Summer 1968, Redstone Arsenal AL

This is what happens when you throw an unpopular war. You get soldiers at an army base in Alabama who, after sampling some of Uncle Ho's finest chronic, get together  at an Enlisted Men's Club's piano room and make some music. Rick on the piano is joined by Knees on the guitar, Peter on the comb and paper and vocals, Chris on the tape recorder, John Lennon on the background chatter and two women named Joyce, one of whom married Peter and the other married Knees.  

Yes, John Lennon, a ski instructor from Colorado, was there. The gang tried it again the next weekend but nothing as coherent as LATE AGAIN FOR THE HIGH PLATEAU resulted. Oh well.

This is Late Again.

Sweet Mama
Why don't you go to town?
You know the men on South Street
They all track you down

Oh gal
One two three step out of your door
One two three oh little girl
Y'know everybody looking mama
See you going down the street
Hey everybody looking, watch
You going walking down the street
Your little feet just kickin down the street

Step step step
Look at my little gal walk down
Aw walkin yeah

Rock that thing now mama
Awwww yeah

Well you can rock and you can roll it
Do the bop and you can stroll it
Everybody walking round 
Looking at the ground
You know everybody walking round
Got them need-a-dimes blues
Got them need-a-dimes blues
You know if I had a dime
Put em together to get two.

You know two thin dimes
Buys a might fine time 
And a bottle of wine oh yeah
Out in the alley
What you gonna do
What you gonna do, boy
Out in the alley
With your cheap ol bottle of
Good ol California wine

Knock it on your can
Knock it on your head
It can grab you and can shake you
Till you every way but dead
So Mama, tell me what you gonna do Mama
Oh yeah you know
Everybody wanna know
Just what you gonna do do do do do

All all right right
It's getting faster now 
It's getting faster
We are approaching the high plateau
All right ladies and gentlemen
Please fasten your seat belts.


That's How Singers Cry

Let's swing back to 1980 for one of those songs that made me cringe too much to feature on the Midnight Ramble back when its time came up. The song, which is a little smarmy for my tastes, hasn't changed but I spent a couple of hours this morning laying down tracks for a new 2012 version. I'm not sure it's any better than the 1993 version, which I don't remember spending much time on.

Written: Melendres Street, Las Cruces NM 1980

One of Knees’ more maudlin numbers, he was trying to write about what he knew. Even as he wrote it he was wondering why anyone would feel sorry for a guy who drifts into town, makes some bucks off the locals, maybe amuses a cocktail waitress or two, then moseys on. Sounds pretty ideal.

It’ll never work out I know it,
There’s too many towns gone by.
She wonder why I’m silent,
But that’s how singers cry.
She lays her hand upon me,
Expecting a reply,
I just lie there silently,
Cuz that’s how singers cry.

Seems like I live my life six weeks at a time,
It’s better than playing one-night stands,
But it’s all the same design.
You can take someone to breakfast,
You can kiss her at her door,
If she comes back the next night,
You can love a little more.

But it’ll never work out I know it,
There’s too many towns gone by.
She wonders why I’m silent,
But that’s how singers cry.
She lays her hand upon me,
Expecting a reply,
I just lie there silently,
Cuz that’s how singers cry.

She waits for me at closing time
Greets me with a smile,
I get to know her just enough
To make it all worthwhile.
But she belongs to her home town
And my show must go on,
I got to be in Tennessee to sing another song.


The 1993 version