Getting out of Dodge, or Denver

Coming to the end of the season here in southern Nevada, and the snowbirds have begun heading back north to places with less irrational weather (average summer day in Laughlin/Bullhead City: 112). Nevada of course switched to Daylight Saving, so this is the half of the year we’re on the same clock as Arizona, which is on Mountain Time, but is also the only state that has the good sense to ignore the time change. I rather like it when they’re an hour ahead, actually — it’s fun to feel like a time traveler just by crossing the river.

The snowbirds are beginning to think of making their way home now (though if it keeps snowing the way it has in the snow-prone parts of the country this spring, some of them may decide that year-round desert living isn’t that bad a deal). So as they get out of Dodge, a.k.a. Laughlin, let’s get out of Denver with Bob Seger:

Link for the e-mail people, in Denver and elsewhere.

When I first heard this song, a thousand years ago, I was an ill-informed little rock fan and thought of Creedence’s “Travelin’ Band.” Similar energy, somewhat similar melody. But on listening to “Get Out of Denver” for the first time in years, it dawns on me that, duh, it’s not that, it’s this:



E-mail link. As stated above: Duh.

As one writer put it rather sweetly, the Seger song “samples” “Johnny B. Goode,” which was not a term anybody used in the ’70s, but of course the lift is intentionally obvious and was certainly understood as a tribute. (It’s so obvious, in fact, that I checked the ASCAP site to see if Chuck got a co-writing credit. Nope.) But be that as it may, “Get Out of Denver” is still a kick, a tale of hippies who go out in search of fun and drugs and meet “a Baptist-preachin’ funky schoolteacher” who hooks them up with all they can use:

All I had to do was lay my money down and pick it up
Asked how much she needed, man, we lit out in a pickup truck and
Go, get out of Denver

And they race off into the night, police in hot pursuit, until “It started drizzlin’ and it turned into a thundershower.” But it’s all in vain:

The rain was driving but the Caddy* kept on burning rubber
We kept on driving till we ran into some fog cover
We couldn’t see a thing, but somehow we just kept on going
We kept on driving all night long and then into the morning
Fog had finally lifted when we looked to see where we was at
We’re staring at Colorado state policeman trooper cat

*Yes, that Cadillac was a pickup truck in the first verse.

It’s a fine rush of words on a really fun record, just two minutes 40 with a sweet chugging bassline and time for a nice long bar band guitar solo in the middle. I’m not sure why Seger’s vocal is multitracked; he was a great singer and he certainly didn’t need the help on this no-range song. So I guess it was just a production decision, to make it feel like a group of high-as-a-kite buddies on the run. Let’s check the live version:

Yep, another guy sings unison with Bob throughout. Bass player is having a good time, too, sounds like.

Live Denver link.

A bit of ’70s drugs ‘n’ hippies fun, even if it was a hair (so to speak) late for that kind of thing in 1974, but a nifty record that’s been recorded by a few well known acts — including Dave Edmunds, for whom it’s a natural fit, and even the mighty Bruce Springsteen has been known to play it live. I bet it’s a blast to sing.

And something else occurs to me now, on listening again:

Canaries in Denver.

Posted in The News Today | 1 Comment

Wish You Were Here: Part One

For all of you loyal CheeseMetalers out there who have been wondering where I’ve been, contrary to the rumours out there, I have not been eaten by wolves. Though try they did. Actually, what I have been doing these past few months is putting a new band together, arranging and writing songs as well as recording a new album of material. (The extended play is out there for your enjoyment on iTunes and the others but I will restrain myself from advertising here on CheeseMetal.)

So, what does it take to create a new band from the ground up? Well since this is a music blog – duh… – I thought it might be of interest to some of you out there how this works.

I’m going to break this down into three parts for all those who are musically inclined to take up the challenge of forming your own band.

First the easy stuff. Spend as long as you can playing whatever instrument you love every day without fail for at least a year and then, if you’re a normal person and not one of those terrifying child prodigies, think about starting the band you dream of.

OK. That’s the easy part. From here on out it gets harder and harder.

Once you have become reasonably skilled at your instrument of choice you need to start playing with others. That sounds fairly easy doesn’t it? Well, not to discourage anyone but, it’s not. You can shred a guitar like Eddie Van Halen or thump a bass like John Entwistle all you like. You can sing like Steve Perry with perfect pitch and insane power and it makes not one tiny bit of difference to anyone. Unless you know how to sing with a band.

Having been in the game for over thirty five years I think I can speak with some authority here.

I’ve met some guitar players that would blow you’re mind but they can’t seem to figure out that playing random numbers of measures of wild guitar solos doesn’t really count for much if you decide to end a measure before the bass and drums come around to the end of the bridge.

Drummers are not much help if they are continuously spending all their time showing off all the cool things they have learned how to do if they are not paying any attention to what is going on with the song’s mood or tempo. Bass players are the worst unfortunately. (I can say that. I am one.) If the bass player isn’t hooking up with the drummer you have a constant battle of the beat going on that infuriates the singer and guitarist in equal measure. (Though they will never admit to agreeing on much of anything usually.)

So, now that you want to play in a band and go out and become millionaires and you are starting to get a tiny idea of what lays ahead, what do you do?

The most important thing of all is to find that first person who understands what you want to do. And no, that’s not just wanting to form a band. What really matters is what kind of music you want to play. Rock, blues, pop, disco, grunge, at this point all you need to know is that you both love the same kind of music and want to create your own version of whatever style you’ve chosen.

Once more, from here it gets harder.

OK. Now there are two of you on the same page but you both play guitars and only one of you really sings. Guess what? Now you need to decide if you need a bass player, a drummer, back-up singers, keyboard player and so on.

After making those decisions, you have to find others that share your vision of what your music should be. For the first year or so you can expect to go through quite a few musicians, some good, some not so good, some great. Most of them will have their own idea of where the music should be going and it’s very unlikely that those visions will be the same. That’s actually a good thing, even with some turmoil and conflict. Those who don’t share your vision will still be bringing talent and ideas to the table that you may not agree with. That’s OK. Just don’t be a fool and be so blind to ignore those ideas and influences. You may not choose to use them right now. Or ever. That’s OK too. But if you are working with a musician who has different ideas than yours at the very least, you’ll learn something if you are paying attention.

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I Believed In You!

Now that I have successfully rid myself of those pesky wolves, it’s time to get back to work.

As I noted a while back, the direction of WMMCM is shifting a bit. We’ve decided to get more adventurous in where we go and what we talk about. More of that later. For now, I’m stepping back into 1988 when the power ballad was King, (or in this case, Queen,) and the lady who was and is the Queen of Rock N’ Roll, Joan Jett!

When Joan Jett released her sixth studio album as a solo artist, the music industry still haddn’t gotten over the shock. After all Jett had been turned down by nearly every major label there was before Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records, (Donna Summer and Kiss,) fame decided to give her a shot.

Well, we all know how that worked out for Joan Jett. 10 million albums later in 1988, it was time for a slightly different Joan to be heard on the radio and MTV.

Pairing with mega-power ballad master Desmond Child, Child and Jett co-wrote one of Jett’s strongest songs ever. And, it’s not your usual JJ kick your face straight up rock n’ roller either.

Little Lying E-mail Link!

Opening with a bit of picked guitar and overblown cymbal bashes Joan starts a slow wail that gets louder as she closes in on the first verse. Then the - oh so 80′s - snare drum bangs.

“I was taught to never tell a lie
To look you in the eye and tell it like it is
Always thought that you would be the same
It’s such a shame that’s not the way it is.”

I’ve always said that not only is this my favorite Joan Jett vocal but for a lady who made her career on attitude rather than finesse, she gets around this really well!

“I was fooled by your innocence
And my love for you was so intense
With our connection only physical
Yes it got me through the night
Woke up and I saw the light.”

What’s this? A sensitive Joan Jett?

It doesn’t last. And shouldn’t.

Blasting off into the chorus, Jett really does take off here. Even with the 80′s standard power ballad gang vocal back-up singers mucking things up, Jett is still every bit Joan Jett.

And the final blast before the bridge, Jett get’s her licks in with a howling “I believed in yooohhhh….!!!”

Coming back into the next verse Child lets Jett get sassy and fierce.

“You want to sleep with me but payback’s tough
Why don’t you call me when you’re all grown up.”

Ouch!

From here on out it’s classic Jett with the addition of the thick, droning backing vocals that were such a part of the 80′s power ballad style.

Jett has always survived more on attitude rather than being known as a fine singer. That’s never really been her thing. She’s always solid (early Runaways excepted…) making her way by sheer force of will and personality. What could be more rock n’ roll than that?

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