With all the Social Justice Warriors and virtue-signalling in the entertainment industry today, it’s fun to take a look at some songs from back in the day that would be considered “hate speech” today. And the fun thing is, most of them are nothing of the sort. Here are a few.
The first selection here may not be considered PC today, but it was and is one of the greatest rock&roll tunes over written. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down is a paean to a brave man who fought and lost in America’s only family war. And no, the song never mentions slavery. It’s a sad, touching song. Forget Joan Baez’s middling cover; here, from Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz is the song’s originators, The Band.
And how about Sammy Hagar’s response to Imperial blackmail to force the states to the old double-nickel speed limit? Here he is, pre-Van Halen, with I Can’t Drive 55.
Speaking of Van Halen; around 1982, they did a cover of Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman. The video was yanked from MTV; here is it in its entirety. Take a look and see if you can tell why.
The penultimate selection here would be abhorred were it released today, due to a flurry of teacher/student “relationships” in recent years. Van Halen touched on the subject with Hot for Teacher, but it was the Police with Don’t Stand So Close To Me that really nailed it.
Finally, from early 70s folks singer Melanie, this tune really fits only in the non-PC selection because of one line; listen, and see if you can guess which line I’m referring to:
On that musical note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.
Here’s another interesting sub-genre of rock & roll, one that I’ve always enjoyed – bad-girl rock!
The whole genre really got going with the lady pictured here, Joan Jett, when she and Lita Ford started The Runaways. (Don’t bother seeing the biopic of the same name; it was well and truly awful.)
Joan went on to have a substantial career of her own, and she can well and truly be described as the founding lady of bad-girl rock. So here, on this sunny California Thursday, I present a few examples of bad girls rocking!
First up is the lady herself, Joan Jett, with a rendition of her Runaways hit Cherry Bomb.
Now Joan had a bigger solo career than her former Runaways partner, but that doesn’t mean Lita Ford didn’t do some rocking too. Here she is with her song Hit and Run.
And here they are together! Going back to 1977, here is a performance of the tune Wasted by TheRunaways.
Joan and Lita kick-started a genre. They did it without auto-tune, while actually playing instruments, by doing live shows without lip-syncing.
How many young women performers now can say the same?
It’s become apparent that it’s time for another Icons of Rock post (because I decided it was) and for this one, the theme is going to be, well, sort of a best-of collection. These are well-known and talented artists, and the videos presented represent works that are (in my opinion) the very best of their portfolios.
First up is an artist that I generally don’t listen to much. Billy Joel is an undeniable talent, but his normal style doesn’t appeal to me as much as some other rockers; I’m more the head-banger type. But Piano Man is undeniably a masterpiece, and undeniably his best work.
Next up; Bob Dylan is best known as a folksinger, and in these virtual pages is generally (and justifiably) referred to as America’s Songwriter. But he could turn in some pretty good rock & roll when he put his mind to it, as he did in his 1976 Rolling Thunder Review. Here, from that bicentennial summer, is one of my favorites; Shelter From the Storm.
Jim Croce was a musical talent that was taken from us far too soon. Here’s what I think is his best tune, I Got A Name.
Moving back a little into head-banging territory; Foghat was a big deal when I was in high school, and they occasionally still pop up here and there at small venues. Their best tune was undoubtedly the bangin’ Slow Ride.
Finally, from the folks who gave you the Armageddon soundtrack, comes one of their very best tunes – and this band gives you a lot to choose from. Here is Aerosmith with a full instrumental cut of Dream On.
And on that musical note, we return you to her Tuesday, already in progress.
And now, for something completely different; my list of the five best guitar players in rock & roll history. Here they are, at their finest and in no particular order. These are all live shows – no studio riffs here.
First up: The irreplaceable Jerry Garcia, in 1990, playing lead in Eyes of the World. Mrs. Animal and I saw the Grateful Dead in 1991, and this was one of the best tunes in the almost 5-hour show.
Next, the irrepressible Frank Zappa, from a 1977 concert, with his favored show-closer The Muffin Man.
Next, the irreproachable Stevie Ray Vaughan, with a live rip of his Couldn’t Stand the Weather.
And then there’s the irredeemable Jimi Hendrix, with a 1970 performance of his famous Purple Haze.
And finally, the only member on the list still walking the mortal coil; the irresistible Carlos Santana. I didn’t pick one of his usuals for this; instead I chose a more intimate performance, where he met the radiant Faith Hill and accompanied her on her song Breathe.
So. Thoughts? I would have named my top ten, but I was running out of words that began with the ‘irr’ prefix, and besides, after five the choices widen out some. I suppose I’d put Eddie Van Halen in that list, and Jimmy Page, and maybe George Thorogood.
I think I like this better than Donna Summer’s original version. This is the percussion-heavy Blue Man Group with early 2000’s alt-band VenusHum – lead singer Annette Strean has some pretty good pipes. Enjoy.
Mrs. Animal and I have seen the Blue Man Group twice, once the full show in Las Vegas, once the road show with the aforementioned VenusHum; in fact we saw this very song performed. They’re worth checking out.
We haven’t had one of these for a while. In addition to classic old head-banger rock, I’m also partial to good country music. So, to commemorate today’s single-digit temps here in the Denver area, here is the Zac Brown Band with their great song Colder Weather. This one rings home for a traveling guy like me. Enjoy.