All posts by Hallgeir

Today: Danny Whitten died in 1972, 40 years ago

“I am not a preacher, but drugs killed a lot of great men.”
– Neil Young (liner notes Decade)

Danny Whitten died 18 November 1972, 40 years ago

Daniel Ray Whitten (May 8, 1943 – November 18, 1972) was an American musician and songwriter best known for his work with Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and for the song “I Don’t Want To Talk About It“, a hit for Rita Coolidge, Rod Stewart and Everything but the Girl.

Songwriter Neil Young, fresh from departing the Buffalo Springfield, with one album of his own under his belt, began jamming with the Rockets and expressed interest in recording with Whitten, Molina and Talbot. The trio agreed, so long as they were allowed to simultaneously continue on with The Rockets: Young acquiesced initially, but imposed a rehearsal schedule that made that an impossibility. At first dubbed “War Babies” by Young, they soon became known as Crazy Horse.

Nils Lofgren – Beggar’s Day (Eulogy for Danny Whitten):

Recording sessions led to Young’s second album, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, credited as Neil Young with Crazy Horse, with Whitten on second guitar and vocals. Although his role was that of support, Whitten sang the album’s opening track “Cinnamon Girl” along with Young, and Whitten and Young played guitar on “Down by the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand.” These tracks would influence the grunge movement of the 1990s, and all three songs would be counted among Young’s most memorable work, continuing to hold a place in his performance repertoire to this day.


As did so many other rock musicians in the late 1960s, Whitten began using heroin and quickly became addicted. Although he participated in the early stages of Young’s next solo effort, After the Gold Rush, Whitten and the rest of Crazy Horse were dismissed about halfway through the recording sessions, in part because of Whitten’s heavy drug use. Whitten performs on “Oh, Lonesome Me”, “I Believe in You”, and “When You Dance I Can Really Love”. Young wrote and recorded “The Needle and the Damage Done” during this time, with direct references to Whitten’s addiction and its role in the destruction of his talent.

Continue reading Today: Danny Whitten died in 1972, 40 years ago

Today: Gene Clark was born 17 November in 1944

Harold Eugene “Gene” Clark (November 17, 1944 – May 24, 1991) was an American singer-songwriter, and one of the founding members of the folk-rock group The Byrds. He did write some of The Byrds’ best songs, among them: “Feel A Whole Lot Better”, “Here Without You” and “Set You Free This Time”.

Backstage Pass  1979 with Chris Hillmann and Roger McGuinn, taken from the album, McGuinn, Clark & Hillman:

Gene Clark will always be remembered for his two years as a vocalist with the Byrds between 1964 and 1966 (+ a brief period in 1967 and one in 1973). A fine legacy to be sure, but he did so much more and it’s a shame  that Clark’s work outside The Byrds is not more known ; he was a superb songwriter, one of the founding fathers of country-rock, and recorded a number of fine albums (with an impressive array of collaborators) whose quality far outstripped their modest sales figures. So enough about the Byrds, that’s another story.

Here’s the song Gypsy Rider from the album, So Rebellious a Lover (1986) with Carla Olson:

Continue reading Today: Gene Clark was born 17 November in 1944

Today: Satan is Real by The Louvin Brothers was released in 1959

The Louvin Brothers – Satan is Real

What is it about this album?
Why is it so important in the americana /country/gospel music canon?

Satan Is Real is a gospel album by American country music duo The Louvin Brothers.

Released November 16, 1959
Recorded August 8–10, 1958
Genre Country, Gospel
Length 31:54
Label Capitol
Producer Ken Nelson, John Johnson (Reissue)

The gospel/country duo Charlie and Ira Louvin was born and grew up in the Sand Mountain region of Alabama, they lived on a cotton farm south of the Appalachian Mountains, that’s where they developed their distinct harmony style in the deep Sacred Harp tradition of the Baptist church.

Ira Louvin died in a car wreck in 1965. Charlie Louvin died last year at 83 just a few months after publishing his story about The Louvin brothers.

In The recently published book, Satan is Real, the ballad of the Louvin Brothers, Charlie talks about their singing style.This is not a straight quote, but it goes something  like this:

…people who saw the Louvin Brothers perform were mystified by the experience. Ira was a full head taller than me, he played the mandolin like Bill Monroe and sang in an impossibly high, tense, quivering tenor. I(Charlie) strummed a guitar, grinned like a vaudevillian and handled the bottom register. But every so often, in the middle of a song, some hidden signal flashed and we switched places — with Ira swooping down from the heights, and me angling upward — and even the most careful listeners would lose track of which man was carrying the lead. This was more than close-harmony singing; each instance was an act of transubstantiation.

I could not find any live footage from Satan is real, but this clip of them singing, I don’t belive you’ve met my baby is a fine showcase for their intricate singing style:

“It baffled a lot of people,” Charlie Louvin explains in his fantastic memoir. “We could change in the middle of a word. Part of the reason we could do that was that we’d learned to have a good ear for other people’s voices when we sang Sacred Harp. But the other part is that we were brothers.”

Continue reading Today: Satan is Real by The Louvin Brothers was released in 1959

Monster Magnet live in Haugesund, Norway 2012

Photo special

‘It’s A Satanic Drug Thing – You Wouldn’t Understand’ – warning on the album, Spine of God

Monster Magnet is an American stoner rock band. Hailing from Red Bank, New Jersey, the group was founded by Dave Wyndorf (vocals and guitar), John McBain (guitar) and Tim Cronin (vocals and drums). The band first went by the names “Dog of Mystery”, “Airport 75”, “Triple Bad Acid” and “King Fuzz” before finally settling on “Monster Magnet”, taken from the name of a 1960s toy made by Wham-O, which Wyndorf liked when he was a child. (Wikipedia)

Monster Magnet had managed to become one of the most successful and influential bands associated with the so-called underground “stoner rock” scene. And yet, their influences span much further than that scene’s foundations in ’70s hard rock and metal, delving into space rock, psychedelia, and beyond. (Allmusic.com (by Eduardo Rivadavia))

Continue reading Monster Magnet live in Haugesund, Norway 2012

Video Premiere: Wanda Jackson and Justin Townes Earle – Am I even a memory?

“I’ll always be a rocker, but there’s nothing like a great country song and this is a well-written, great country song. My fans love it, too. They even sing the words along with me when we perform it live on stage.” – Wanda Jackson to NPR.org

Justin Townes Earle is the producer on rock’n roll queen, Wanda Jackson’s new album Unfinished Business. Wanda Jackson know how to pick’em, last year, Jack White and now, Justin Townes Earle. And the results are splendid!

Here’s the first video off the record, Am I even a memory? written by singer/songwriter  honky-tonk revivalist Greg Garing. It’s a wonderful country ballad.

Am I even a memory?

From NPR.org:

Director Seth Graves set the song’s video in the “trendy dive bar” Santa’s Pub in Nashville. He framed the singers’ interaction as two lives crossing for just a moment on the dive bar’s stage, as Earle mourns one lost love (played by Mindy White, singer for the band States), and Jackson beckons toward another.

“Frankly … it’s a breakup song … sung between a 74-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man,” wrote Graves. “I’m no champion for social norms, but the Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow approach (the back and forth literal approach) seemed like it could potentially come off weird if taken literally. Not weird in a good way, anyway. That’s not the kind of video I wanted to make. It seemed necessary, inspiring and way more interesting to find a way to create and use images that would give them each a different take on the song. So. I just thought of two lonely people, singing the same song for different reasons.”

Here’s Greg Garing’s own version:

– Hallgeir