Today: David Byrne is 60

From Wikipedia:

David Byrne (born May 14, 1952) is a musician and artist, best known as a founding member and principal songwriter of the American new wave band Talking Heads, which was active between 1975 and 1991. Since then, Byrne has released his own solo recordings and worked with various media including film, photography, opera, and non-fiction. He has received Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe awards and been inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The best songs -> Talking Heads “Psycho Killer”

Psycho Killer:

Talking Heads 77

 

Other May 14:

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Dewey Phillips

From Wikipedia:

“Daddy-O” Dewey Phillips (May 13, 1926 – September 28, 1968) was one of rock ‘n’ roll’s pioneering disk jockeys, along the lines of Cleveland’s Alan Freed, before Freed came along.

He started his radio career in 1949 on WHBQ/560 in Memphis, and was the city’s leading radio personality for nine years and was the first to simulcast his “Red, Hot & Blue” show on radio and television.

Dewey & Jerry Lee…

and from Red, Hot & Blue…

-Egil

Video premiere: Jesus’ Chariot (she’ll be coming round the mountain) – Neil Young & Crazy Horse

From NPR:
You’ve never heard “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” quite like this. For their first album together in nine years, Neil Young and Crazy Horse have taken classic American folk music and reinvigorated these songs with muscle, radiance and a whole lot of electric guitar.

head over to their website and read more

via NPR:

This song, as with all the songs on the record, have been paired up with archival footage. This footage is from an early scene in D.W. Griffith’s controversial 1915 film Birth of a Nation, in which the Southern Cameron family hosts a farewell ball for soldiers fighting for the Confederacy.

As for the song itself, Neil Young writes in the liner notes toAmericana:

Written in the 1800s based on an old Negro spiritual, this song refers to the second coming of Jesus, and “she” is the chariot Jesus is coming on. Some interpret this as the end of the world. Others have said that “she” refers to union organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones going to promote formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal-mining camps. The Americana arrangement continues the folk process with a new melody, a new title and a combination of lyric sources.

– Hallgeir

Today: Stevie Wonder is 62

Stevland Hardaway Morris (born May 13, 1950 as Stevland Hardaway Judkins), known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist. Blind since shortly after birth, Wonder signed with Motown’s Tamla label at the age of eleven, and continues to perform and record for Motown to this day.

Superstition:

Among Wonder’s best known works are singles such as “Superstition”, “Sir Duke”, “I Wish” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You”. Well known albums also include Talking Book, Innervisions and Songs in the Key of Life. He has recorded more than thirty U.S. top ten hits and received twenty-two Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist.  In 2008, Billboard magazine released a list of the Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists to celebrate the US singles chart’s fiftieth anniversary, with Wonder at number five. (from Wikipedia)

Living for the city:

Other 13 May:
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The best songs: The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen

The Ghost of Tom Joad is a fantastic and often overlooked song by Bruce Springsteen. It is the title track on his album from 1995. The album, The Ghost of Tom Joad, has a focus on storytelling. It is largely accoustic and the songs are stories of people in difficulties and struggles. The influence of Guthrie and Dylan is clear.

Recorded sometime April–June 1995 at Thrill Hill West (Bruce’s Los Angeles home studio). Springsteen handles guitar and vocals and his 4-man backing band on this recording is Danny Federici (keyboards), Garry Tallent (bass), Marty Rifkin (pedal steel, dobro) and Gary Mallaber (drums). (from Brucebase)

The character Tom Joad is the lead character in John Steinbeck’s classic 1939 novel The Grapes of Wrath, is mentioned in the title and narrative. Near the end of the story, Tom makes his famous “I’ll be there” speech, which is also noted in the lyrics.

The idea is that the ghost of Tom Joad, the spirit of working together as a community, will prevail in times of great injustice and depression. I think it means that our times are mirror images of past times, the ghost of the depression in the late twenties to the early forties.

The song also takes inspiration from The Ballad of Tom Joad by Woody Guthrie and by the John Ford film The Grapes of Wrath.

Another inspiration is this speech by George Bush in 1990:

“Until now, the world we’ve known has been a world divided – a world of barbed wire and concrete block, conflict and cold war. Now, we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order. In the words of Winston Churchill, a ‘world order’ in which ‘the principles of justice and fair play … protect the weak against the strong …’ “

Springsteen was clearly ironically quoting Bush’s speech when he wrote the line, “Welcome to the new world order” in the first verse.

So it’s a song with several origins and a very political song.
It was originally done as a sombre protest/folk song by Springsteen but has later been done in a radically louder arrangement by Rage Against the Machine.

Men walkin’ ‘long the railroad tracks
Goin’ someplace there’s no goin’ back
Highway patrol choppers comin’ up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin’ round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin’ in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody’s kiddin’ nobody about where it goes
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Searchin’ for the ghost of Tom Joad

Bruce Springsteen  has also performed the song in various arrangements, solo in very quiet shows and as a more hard and up-tempo rock song.

Here’s the fabulous album version from 1995:

He pulls prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin’ for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box ‘neath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin’ in the city aqueduct

The highway is alive tonight
But where it’s headed everybody knows
I’m sittin’ down here in the campfire light
Waitin’ on the ghost of Tom Joad

The great cover version by Rage Against The Machine:

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