I first became familiar with Karla from Linda Ronstadt’s album Hasten Down The Wind which includes a couple of Karla’s songs, Lose Again and Someone To Lay Down Beside me being the stand outs. I was blown away but really fell in love with her when her self-titled solo album was released. She was on tour with Jackson Browne supporting that album and I saw two of those shows. Those performances showed me that she was a true triple threat: singer, songwriter, and performer. Check her out and you will not be disappointed.
If you were around in the early 70s chances are that you fell in love with a song called Stuck In the Middle with You by a Scottish duo called Stealers Wheel. Stealers Wheel consisted of Joe Eagan and Gerry Rafferty. Both Joe and Gerry produced solo albums after the breakup of Stealers Wheel but it was Gerry that emerged as the true talent. You’ve probably heard Baker Street but there is so much more to Gerry than just that song. I have provided one example for you to listen to but there is much more for you to discover in his catalog. Unfortunately we lost Gerry a little over a year ago. RIP Gerry!
Steve Earle is an amazing talent but more importantly he is an amazing human being. In addition to being a great singer/songwriter, he is a political activist that uses his music to champion causes such as abolition of capital punishment and the anti-war movement. The song I have for you here is The Revolution Starts Now which was written to support the John Kerry presidential campaign in 2004 and to express his anti-war views. The song means as much today as it did 8 years ago. Give a listen to more of his music if you like The Revolution Starts Now.
When your career starts with the formation of Traffic, one of the best groups from the late 60s and early 70s, you could easily spend the remainder of your career resting on your laurels. To Dave Mason’s credit he did not take this path, instead he produced some of my favorite music as a solo artist. He not only wrote and performed his own great songs as a solo artists but he was also a great interpreter of songs written by others. If you have never heard his version of Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower, you are really missing a treat. The song I have for you today is Look at You Look At Me from his debut solo album called Alone Together.
As an aside you might be interested to know that a small percentage of the Alone Together albums were pressed with what was intended to be swirls of color. Unfortunately these albums came out in an unappealing shade of light brown that kind of reminds me of vomit. I am the “lucky” owner of one of these colored albums. Fortunately the music makes up for the color of the vinyl.
Cat Steven’s Tea For the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat released in 1970 and 1971 respectively were two of the best back to back albums produced by any singer/songwriter. The video above is a live performance of Wild World from the BBC. Give Cat a listen if you haven’t already. By the way he currently performs as Yusuf Islam after his conversion to Islam in 1977.
As a personal aside, a southern group called The Gentrys had a minor hit with Wild World in 1971 and they performed at my High School Prom that year.
Pete is the most current artist on my list of the 12 most under appreciated singer/songwriters. Strange Condition, the song I have for you here, is from his debut album musicforthemorningafter that was released in 2001. I really enjoy his music and hope you will give him a listen if you aren’t already a fan.
I am going to be busy the next couple of weeks so I have prepared a series of posts that highlight the twelve singer/songwriters that I think are most under appreciated. We will go in reverse order leading up to the individual that I think is the most under appreciated of all. By the way, I used the following criteria to select these 12 artists: length of career; consistency of song writing/performance quality; and popular awareness of their deep catalog (going beyond their hits).
I hope you enjoy these posts and find someone new whose music you can explore. I love them all so you won’t go wrong with any of them. Check back tomorrow for the first post in this series.
Today’s Long Song Tuesday offering is from a folk music legend, Eric Andersen. Eric’s music career has had more twists and turns than Lombard Street in San Francisco.
His career started in the early 60s music scene in Greenwich Village. He wrote a number of folk classics including my favorite, Violets of Dawn. He joined up with Columbia Records in the early 70s and released Blue River, his masterpiece. With his career on a roll, he recorded a follow-up album for Columbia called Stages and, although it sounds too strange to be true, the master tapes for the album were lost in the Columbia vaults. He left Columbia and released a number of uneven albums in the 70s and 80s but never equaled the success of Blue River until 1988 when he finally regained his artistic footing by recording and releasing Ghost Upon The Road. Ghost Upon the Road was widely acclaimed by critics and produced a song of the same name that is the subject of today’s Long Song offering. This masterpiece is clearly autobiographical and honors acquaintances who did not make through the turbulent times of the early 60s. The spoken word presentation and haunting instrumentation of Ghost Upon the Road make it unlike anything you have ever heard. Take a listen:
Speaking of those twists and turns in his career, the lost master tapes for Stages were finally uncovered in the early 90s and the album was released as Stages: The Lost Album in 1991. The album is out of print today but if you are persistent you should be able to find a used copy on Amazon like I did. Trust me when I say that your efforts will be rewarded when you finally get to listen to the album. Eric is still making music and if you enjoyed Ghost Upon the Road I encourage your to explore some of his 25+ albums. As always, let me know what you think.
Chairlift, a duo from Brooklyn, has been around since 2008 but I just recently learned of them. I really like Met Before off of their new album Something that was released last month. Take a listen:
This song reminds me of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, one of my favorite current bands. I’m anxious to see if the remainder of the new album is equally tasty. As always, let me know what you think.
So why did the Beatles break up? After more than 40 years no one knows the real story. At one time or another I think I have heard all four of them claim that they were the one that walked away first but I think I might have found the real answer and I will present evidence to make my case. First a little background.
A quick review of the Beatles catalog shows that John and Paul were responsible for the majority of songs on every album while George was given only one or two songs per album. The casual listener was led to believe that this was because that was all the songs he had that were “worthy”. This belief was of course blown to smithereens once the Beatles broke up and George’s first solo offering was All Things Must Pass, a stunning three record album completely written by George. How was that possible?
It was possible because George was a much bigger talent than John and Paul wanted us to believe. I expect that he had been bringing more to the table than they were prepared to put on “their” Beatle albums. To support this position I would like to point out that All Things Must pass, the title song on George’s first solo album had been pitched to the Beatles during the Twickenham sessions leading up to the Let It Be album. In listening to these sessions we hear take after take of the Beatles playing All Things Must Pass and guess what….they all suck! It seems pretty clear to me that John and Paul really did not have their heart in playing George’s song. Take a listen to this take that provides one example of the point I am making:
This take was made on Day 5 of the sessions…George walked out on Day 8 but was eventually talked into returning (read more about the Twickenham Sessions in this article on Wikipedia). I suspect that his mind was already made up to end the Beatles even when he returned. It must have been clear to him that he had outgrown the Beatles. Take a listen to this solo demo of All Things Must Pass (from my personal stash) that George was working on and compare and contrast the two versions yourself.
I feel compelled to offer up my “This coffee is served hot” disclaimer and state for the record that I am speculating here and don’t really have first hand knowledge of how the Beatles fell apart. You look at the evidence and make up your own mind and as always, let me know what you think.