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Paul Pena, the Blind Composer Behind Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner"
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During the mid-1970s, the Steve Miller Band reliably delivered some of the most radio-friendly rock hits. I was surprised to learn yesterday that one of the most characteristic Steve Miller Band songs, “Jet Airliner” (recorded in 1975 and released in 1977), was not written by Miller. Instead, it was a cover version of an unreleased song composed by a blind black(ish) guy from Massachusetts of Cape Verdean descent named Paul Pena.

I had never heard of Pena until now, even though the names of blind musicians tend to stick in my mind. In 1973 Pena recorded an album entitled New Train with top talent such as Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead as session musicians.

Unfortunately, Pena’s management got into a huge feud with Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan’s difficult manager, who owned the rights to the album. Out of spite, Grossman sat on the album so it went unreleased for 27 years. Frustrated, Pena retired from touring to take care of his sick wife. (I’m guessing his own health wasn’t too good either.)

Fortunately, one of Pena’s session musicians, Ben Sidran, was in the Steve Miller Band. Sidran played Pena’s legally blocked album for Miller, and they decided to record Pena’s “Jet Airliner.” Pena’s royalties from the endless radio play of SMB’s hit was the blind man’s chief source of income for the rest of his life. (Pena died in 2005.)

As far as I can tell from skimming what little is in writing about Pena, everybody who knew him liked him. (Except Albert Grossman, who owned the rights to his record.)

Here’s Pena’s original version:

This guy was good. He might have been a star if his album had been released in 1973. On the other hand, perhaps his style was a little old hat by then. It kind of sounds like it would have been a huge hit in 1968, but perhaps by 1973, styles had changed. Talent alone isn’t enough, you have to have the right sound at the right time. It’s also possible that his versions of his songs weren’t hook-filled enough to break through on the radio. He might have been more suited to be a live jam-band performer, like the Grateful Dead. (Here’s Pena’s “Venutian Lady” with a nice solo by Jerry Garcia.)

Here’s SMB’s well-known catchier, hookier cover version

You could complain that the Steve Miller version is too on the nose compared to the loose-jointed original. On the other hand, the Steve Miller guys definitely knew what they were doing when it came to making a catchy record that would leap from the car radio into your head. Pena’s bank account benefited nicely over the years from the Steve Miller mid-70s genius for hits.

The Steve Miller Band wasn’t super-prestigious in the mid-1970s, when progressive and other ambitious forms of rock were in style. But in some ways they were doing before the Ramones and Blondie what punk and new wave bands later said they wanted to do: make catchy rock singles that the kids could dance to.

… Okay, now I’ve listened to some more tracks from Paul Pena’s long-lost 1973 album New Train, and wow this guy might be the lost star of the 1970s. There’s a whole alternate timeline where when people talk about blind musicians, instead of saying, “Besides Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, of course, there are also …” In this other universe they say, “Besides Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Paul Pena, of course, there are also …”

Here’s another Pena song, in a Van Morrison style, a tune that’s even catchier than “Jet Airliner:”

And here’s another song from Pena’s long lost New Train album, this one in the style of Jimi Hendrix meets Sly Stone that anticipates Macy Gray‘s “Sexual Revolution” 28 years later:

Daniel Frank writes:

Normally when people describe the best album nobody has ever heard, they are referring to an album they particularly like, but does not appeal to others. People do not know New Train not because it does not appeal to the mainstream or is only for a niche audience, but simply because his music was never available to be heard.

Speaking of niche audiences … Late in life, Pena taught himself Tuvan throat singing:

Tuvan music is basically Siberian cowboy music. Tuvans are obsessed with horses and they like Western styles with a clippity-clop horseyback riding beat like American Country & Western and some Irish folksongs.

To visit Tuva, which is north of Mongolia, was the last ambition of physicist Richard Feynman, but he died before he could get there. Pena taught himself Tuvan throat singing by listening to Radio Moscow on his short wave. Eventually he got to Tuva. His trip was recorded in the Oscar nominated documentary Genghis Blues by the Belic brothers (with some help from their friend Christopher Nolan):

 
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  1. Saw Genghis Blues years ago and loved it, but had no idea until now Paul Pena wrote Jet Airliner. Tuvan throat singing is one of those things that is so exotic that makes you realize how much globalization has killed real diversity, as opposed to “Diversity.”

    • Replies: @Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)
    NJ Transit Commuter writes, "Tuvan throat singing is one of those things that is so exotic that makes you realize how much globalization has killed real diversity, as opposed to “Diversity.”"

    How many Tuvan-Americans got in under the Diversity Visa Lottery? (Musical) Diversity Is Our Strength!
  2. Bad Ass Steve Miller from his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction back in April:

    Larger than life Cass Elliot schmoozing with John Denver about Leaving on a Jet Plane (the 1969 tune you allude to?):

    • Replies: @FPD72
    I saw John Denver perform at a free concert at Texas Tech (his alma mater) during the 1970-71 school year, just before he became nationally famous. When he sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane” he introduced it by saying, “I’ll now sing a medley of my hit.”
  3. Steve Miller, Journey, Fleetwood Mac were all bands of that era that were better before they became famous and commercialized. Steve Miller’s early stuff was pretty good albeit not very polished. Same for Journey before they got rick Perry or FM getting Stevie Nix. Once they found the winning combination, they just pumped out records, each one sounding like the one before it. Van Halen is another one where they were never as good as their first album.

    • Replies: @Trelane
    Fleetwood mac was better than you'll ever know prof

    https://youtu.be/v5kOzGwsHXw
    , @anonymous-antimarxist
    I don't think adding Steve Perry, a great singer, hurt Journey, but the loss of co-lead singer keyboard player Greg Rolie a few years later did. The band over time moved away from rocking anthems you sang along to like Wheel in the Sky, Any Way You Want It and Don't Stop Believing to writing power ballads that showcased Perry's vocals

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_Rolie

    Remember Rolie and guitarist Neil Schon were in Santana during its peak years.

    What really hurt Journey was probably too much touring and weed smoking, they started phoning it in.

    What killed Fleetwood Mac like just about every other major band in the late seventies was too much cocaine, well that, and inter band mate swapping.
    , @E. Rekshun
    they were never as good as their first album.

    Like Boston and Hootie and the Blowfish - each were still great bands, but couldn't match the hits pumped out on their debut albums.
    , @ThreeCranes
    Agree about Steve Miller, better before famous. I thought "Sailor" was a good album, some songs I still sing when I'm cooking up some grits. Jet Airliner stuff was more bubble gummy.
    , @Anonymous
    FM was definitely improved when Lindsey and Stevie came on board.
    , @Thirdeye
    Fleetwood Mac in the Green/Spencer era was awesome. Steve Miller always seemed like music for people who wanted to play hippie on a Saturday night.
  4. said putin.

    who does steve think he’s fooling?

  5. @Prof. Woland
    Steve Miller, Journey, Fleetwood Mac were all bands of that era that were better before they became famous and commercialized. Steve Miller's early stuff was pretty good albeit not very polished. Same for Journey before they got rick Perry or FM getting Stevie Nix. Once they found the winning combination, they just pumped out records, each one sounding like the one before it. Van Halen is another one where they were never as good as their first album.

    Fleetwood mac was better than you’ll ever know prof

    • Replies: @Prof. Woland
    Squire of Gothos, great song.
  6. • Replies: @biz
    Wow it doesn't get any more 'current year' than that particular tale.

    Although this story linked from there is also pretty darn current year-y:
    Woman Jailed for Wearing Fake Penis and Tricking Friend Into Sex
  7. @Prof. Woland
    Steve Miller, Journey, Fleetwood Mac were all bands of that era that were better before they became famous and commercialized. Steve Miller's early stuff was pretty good albeit not very polished. Same for Journey before they got rick Perry or FM getting Stevie Nix. Once they found the winning combination, they just pumped out records, each one sounding like the one before it. Van Halen is another one where they were never as good as their first album.

    I don’t think adding Steve Perry, a great singer, hurt Journey, but the loss of co-lead singer keyboard player Greg Rolie a few years later did. The band over time moved away from rocking anthems you sang along to like Wheel in the Sky, Any Way You Want It and Don’t Stop Believing to writing power ballads that showcased Perry’s vocals

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_Rolie

    Remember Rolie and guitarist Neil Schon were in Santana during its peak years.

    What really hurt Journey was probably too much touring and weed smoking, they started phoning it in.

    What killed Fleetwood Mac like just about every other major band in the late seventies was too much cocaine, well that, and inter band mate swapping.

    • Replies: @Prof. Woland
    Journey put out 2 or 3 albums before Steve Perry that were quite good and very unique. But once they had their hit album with Steve Perry, the band produced album after album that sounded exactly the same. Admittedly, I listened to them. Everybody in my senior year in high school had that Journey album, the Cars first album, and Van Halen's first album. Every single band had peaked.

    https://youtu.be/WBmVcKJSmYQ
    , @Achmed E. Newman
    I just got back to this thread, and must have missed this comment before. I just got done posting, about a week back, about Greg Rollie. I like his duets with Steve Perry the best, and I started by pointing out that one can't play "Feeling that Way" without following it with "Anytime". If you violate that tradition, you are a disgrace to the broadcasting profession (if there is one anymore).
  8. Well it may just be that this is my favorite kind of music but JFC that guy rocked. Blues rock has never gone out of style, and this kind of music would have gone on what they used to call AOR well into the 80’s.

    He reminds me of another blackish guy, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy.

    If he was still alive he might not be played much on the radio but he would have a big live following, of old farts but he could get big name sponsors.

    • Agree: Desiderius
    • Replies: @anonymous-antimarxist
    Lynott was a unique treasure. and one of rock's best live performers. Here was this mulatto who wrote and played music that Thin Lizzy's white fans adored. He really embrace Irish/White culture and folklore and it came out in the songs he wrote.

    Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar - 1973
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3laP9Y3pNE

    Thin Lizzy - Cowboy Song live at The Rainbow 1978
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpBTgmPgFxs

    Thin Lizzy - Rosalie
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSo9CC2wKVI
  9. Funny you’d mention Garcia in connection with Pena. I’m a big Garcia music freak. On first date with my wife of 40 years I took her to see the Garcia Band (his side project when he wasn’t playing with the Dead) at a little club in Berkeley called Keystone Berkeley. Opening for Jerry was Paul Pena. This happened several times in my experience. Pena was very talented & entertaining. But I have to admit that what struck me most memorably about him was his beautiful top of the line Martin D-45. I coveted it (it is pictured in the “Gonna Move” YouTube). This model Martin is notable for its abundant inlay & I thought, “Jesus, Pena can’t even see it!” I guess maybe he was able to feel it, though. This was 1974.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
    Garcia had great taste, and those tastes were way more catholic than most of his fans. Still love the versions of “Finders Keepers “ and Doc Pomus’ “Lonley Avenue” from those Keystone days. I’d not heard of Paul Pena-now I have to check him out!
    https://youtu.be/vaE9zTMKL5c
  10. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Albert Grossman. It (((echoes))) and repeats.
    See the example of Brit band Badfinger, “managed” by jewish shyster Stan Polley.
    Timeline –
    1970:
    In 1970, Polley registered Badfinger Enterprises, Inc. as a corporate entity for management of the British rock group Badfinger, which had no American representation at the time.
    1972:
    In 1972, Polley negotiated a record contract with Warner Bros. Records for Badfinger, which called for advances to be paid into an escrow account.
    1974:
    In 1974, Warner’s publishing division filed a lawsuit against Polley when it was unsuccessful in locating the funds.
    1975:
    The legal morass crippled Badfinger financially; band leader Pete Ham committed suicide in 1975 leaving behind a note pointing the finger at Polley for his financial ruin.
    1991:
    In 1991, Polley pleaded no contest to charges of misappropriating funds and money laundering in Riverside County, California.
    2009:
    Polley died at Rancho Mirage, California, on 20 July 2009, and ultimately met the barbed shaft of Satan. 🙂

    • Replies: @Rosamond Vincy
    On the other hand, (((Brian Epstein))) rescued the Beatles from Hamburg dive gigs.
  11. @anonymous-antimarxist
    I don't think adding Steve Perry, a great singer, hurt Journey, but the loss of co-lead singer keyboard player Greg Rolie a few years later did. The band over time moved away from rocking anthems you sang along to like Wheel in the Sky, Any Way You Want It and Don't Stop Believing to writing power ballads that showcased Perry's vocals

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_Rolie

    Remember Rolie and guitarist Neil Schon were in Santana during its peak years.

    What really hurt Journey was probably too much touring and weed smoking, they started phoning it in.

    What killed Fleetwood Mac like just about every other major band in the late seventies was too much cocaine, well that, and inter band mate swapping.

    Journey put out 2 or 3 albums before Steve Perry that were quite good and very unique. But once they had their hit album with Steve Perry, the band produced album after album that sounded exactly the same. Admittedly, I listened to them. Everybody in my senior year in high school had that Journey album, the Cars first album, and Van Halen’s first album. Every single band had peaked.

    • Replies: @Kevin O'Keeffe

    Journey put out 2 or 3 albums before Steve Perry that were quite good and very unique.
     
    I'm not much of a Journey fan, but Kohoutek is a bad-ass jam.
  12. @Trelane
    Fleetwood mac was better than you'll ever know prof

    https://youtu.be/v5kOzGwsHXw

    Squire of Gothos, great song.

  13. A petty Fellow White Person ruined a good man’s life? Not surprised. Sad this guy never got the recognition he deserved in life.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    "A petty Fellow White Person"
    Not a fellow White, a Jew.....
  14. It’s almost as if you have no musical talent or no talent for the synesthesia required to describe it. I’m not sure you’ve ever ridden a horse either which would resemble bluegrass more than C&W. That being said, Pena is pretty good. BTW, is the n supposed to be an /en ye/.

    For further complaint regarding your personality/sense of humor, not every tale of woe is an African-American one. This gets old, like one-trick-pony old.

    “Oh, you unhappy, you must be black person” must be what goes through your head everytime you can’t feel empathy. Happens a lot around here. Is this the extent of your emotional range?

    • LOL: bomag
    • Replies: @Whitey Whiteman III
    /pol/ loves you, Steve. /ourguy/ forever.
  15. Unfortunately, Pena’s management got into a huge feud with Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan’s difficult manager, who owned the rights to the album.

    Ha ha. I served process on that guy once at his home in Woodstock, NY. I actually gave the papers to his wife, so I didn’t meet him.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    http://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/bringing-it-all-back-home.jpg

    Mrs. Grossman was on the cover of a Bob Dylan album.

    The Grossmans owned a house in Woodstock, NY, so Bob bought a house there.

    One theory of why Albert Grossman sabotaged Paul Pena's career was that Grossman demanded that Pena move to the East Coast from the San Francisco Bay, but Pena liked living in California.

    I suspect that Pena felt, among other reasons, that it was tough enough being blind without having to deal with ice and snow.
  16. “He might have been a star if his album had been released in 1973. On the other hand, perhaps his style was a little old hat by then. It kind of sounds like it would have been a huge hit in 1968, but perhaps by 1973, styles had changed. Talent alone isn’t enough, you have to have the right sound at the right time.”

    How I remember it is that ‘style’ mattered a lot to critics but hardly at all to consumers: the Top 40 loved cliches more than anything,

    (I’m disappointed that so many of these comments boil down to who-was-better-when. Grow up, kids!)

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Styles change rapidly in pop music. I used to be able to usually date an unknown rock song from 1955 to 1985 to within a few years. I'm trying to project back to 1973 and see if this album would sound in sync with 1973 or if the style was lagging a few years. Pena was fluent in a wide variety of styles, but I don't have the expertise anymore to say whether they would have been up to date in 1973. In 1970 they would have been fresh. In 1965 they would have been too futuristic.

    Albert Grossman complained that the album didn't sound commercial enough. I don't the basis for his complaint. Commentators seem to assume he just being obnoxious as usual. But he'd had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together) and maybe he had a realistic complaint.

  17. @robot
    "He might have been a star if his album had been released in 1973. On the other hand, perhaps his style was a little old hat by then. It kind of sounds like it would have been a huge hit in 1968, but perhaps by 1973, styles had changed. Talent alone isn’t enough, you have to have the right sound at the right time."

    How I remember it is that 'style' mattered a lot to critics but hardly at all to consumers: the Top 40 loved cliches more than anything,

    (I'm disappointed that so many of these comments boil down to who-was-better-when. Grow up, kids!)

    Styles change rapidly in pop music. I used to be able to usually date an unknown rock song from 1955 to 1985 to within a few years. I’m trying to project back to 1973 and see if this album would sound in sync with 1973 or if the style was lagging a few years. Pena was fluent in a wide variety of styles, but I don’t have the expertise anymore to say whether they would have been up to date in 1973. In 1970 they would have been fresh. In 1965 they would have been too futuristic.

    Albert Grossman complained that the album didn’t sound commercial enough. I don’t the basis for his complaint. Commentators seem to assume he just being obnoxious as usual. But he’d had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together) and maybe he had a realistic complaint.

    • Replies: @robot
    "Styles change rapidly in pop music."

    But you can perform a good song in any style and it will still sound good!
    , @anonymous-antimarxist
    Remember "This is Spinal Tap" ??? There was a great little montage where the band was surfing the various music trends from the early sixties to early seventies, although they were probably a critical 3 months behind the crest of the wave.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    But he’d had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together)
     
    Was he responsible for Paul being Paul, making the group sound weirdly Biblical?

    A fun trivia question to pull on folks is, Did you know that Paul Stookey and Paul McCartney have the same middle name? Can you tell me what it is?
    , @johnmark7
    Pena sounds to me about five years behind the times. 1968, he would have had a better fit.
  18. Steve,

    An excellent story, but a little sad.

    Thanks

  19. @Steve Sailer
    Styles change rapidly in pop music. I used to be able to usually date an unknown rock song from 1955 to 1985 to within a few years. I'm trying to project back to 1973 and see if this album would sound in sync with 1973 or if the style was lagging a few years. Pena was fluent in a wide variety of styles, but I don't have the expertise anymore to say whether they would have been up to date in 1973. In 1970 they would have been fresh. In 1965 they would have been too futuristic.

    Albert Grossman complained that the album didn't sound commercial enough. I don't the basis for his complaint. Commentators seem to assume he just being obnoxious as usual. But he'd had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together) and maybe he had a realistic complaint.

    “Styles change rapidly in pop music.”

    But you can perform a good song in any style and it will still sound good!

  20. @Thrasymachus
    Well it may just be that this is my favorite kind of music but JFC that guy rocked. Blues rock has never gone out of style, and this kind of music would have gone on what they used to call AOR well into the 80's.

    He reminds me of another blackish guy, Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy.

    If he was still alive he might not be played much on the radio but he would have a big live following, of old farts but he could get big name sponsors.

    Lynott was a unique treasure. and one of rock’s best live performers. Here was this mulatto who wrote and played music that Thin Lizzy’s white fans adored. He really embrace Irish/White culture and folklore and it came out in the songs he wrote.

    Thin Lizzy – Whiskey In The Jar – 1973

    Thin Lizzy – Cowboy Song live at The Rainbow 1978

    Thin Lizzy – Rosalie

    • Replies: @Father O'Hara
    "The Boys Are Back" is a fantastic 70s song! Seems the boys didn't want to feature it as a single,but we're prevailed upon by wiser heads. One of my favorites. You know that chick that used to dance a lot? Every nite she'd be on the floor shakin' what she got.
    , @Desiderius
    Looks like we elected the wrong one.
    , @Achmed E. Newman
    You want a seriously integrated band, how 'bout Mother's Finest? They were from Charleston, S. Carolina, and that Joyce Kennedy had a great voice. What was kind of ass backwards was that the rhythm section was the white boys, as opposed to a lot of Southern Rock bands like the Allman Brothers. (There'd be quite a number of black lady back-up singers too in the Southern Rock sound )

    "Piece of the Rock" from 1977

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAD6Em-2Q7I
  21. @Steve Sailer
    Styles change rapidly in pop music. I used to be able to usually date an unknown rock song from 1955 to 1985 to within a few years. I'm trying to project back to 1973 and see if this album would sound in sync with 1973 or if the style was lagging a few years. Pena was fluent in a wide variety of styles, but I don't have the expertise anymore to say whether they would have been up to date in 1973. In 1970 they would have been fresh. In 1965 they would have been too futuristic.

    Albert Grossman complained that the album didn't sound commercial enough. I don't the basis for his complaint. Commentators seem to assume he just being obnoxious as usual. But he'd had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together) and maybe he had a realistic complaint.

    Remember “This is Spinal Tap” ??? There was a great little montage where the band was surfing the various music trends from the early sixties to early seventies, although they were probably a critical 3 months behind the crest of the wave.

  22. Nice SEO with the post title, Steve.

  23. @anonymous-antimarxist
    Lynott was a unique treasure. and one of rock's best live performers. Here was this mulatto who wrote and played music that Thin Lizzy's white fans adored. He really embrace Irish/White culture and folklore and it came out in the songs he wrote.

    Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar - 1973
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3laP9Y3pNE

    Thin Lizzy - Cowboy Song live at The Rainbow 1978
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpBTgmPgFxs

    Thin Lizzy - Rosalie
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSo9CC2wKVI

    “The Boys Are Back” is a fantastic 70s song! Seems the boys didn’t want to feature it as a single,but we’re prevailed upon by wiser heads. One of my favorites. You know that chick that used to dance a lot? Every nite she’d be on the floor shakin’ what she got.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGZqDzb__bw

    Hakon Rothmwrt might argue that it's not coincidental that a black guy made a great Irishman.

  24. Pena’s career is in the same era as another formerly unknown rocker Rodriguez. Rodriguez had the good fortune to live long enough to be rediscovered. I wonder if Pena is a rock god in some corner of the globe like South Africa.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    http://www.sugarman.org/
  25. @anonymous-antimarxist
    Lynott was a unique treasure. and one of rock's best live performers. Here was this mulatto who wrote and played music that Thin Lizzy's white fans adored. He really embrace Irish/White culture and folklore and it came out in the songs he wrote.

    Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar - 1973
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3laP9Y3pNE

    Thin Lizzy - Cowboy Song live at The Rainbow 1978
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpBTgmPgFxs

    Thin Lizzy - Rosalie
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSo9CC2wKVI

    Looks like we elected the wrong one.

  26. @Rohirrimborn
    Pena's career is in the same era as another formerly unknown rocker Rodriguez. Rodriguez had the good fortune to live long enough to be rediscovered. I wonder if Pena is a rock god in some corner of the globe like South Africa.
  27. @Father O'Hara
    "The Boys Are Back" is a fantastic 70s song! Seems the boys didn't want to feature it as a single,but we're prevailed upon by wiser heads. One of my favorites. You know that chick that used to dance a lot? Every nite she'd be on the floor shakin' what she got.

    Hakon Rothmwrt might argue that it’s not coincidental that a black guy made a great Irishman.

  28. I learned to drive to that song, because my sister always seemed to have the 8-track tape of it in her Ford Pinto. As a result, I like to play it during road trips.

    Good thing I didn’t hit the brakes too hard and get rear ended during my driving lessons:

    If you know about the Pinto, you know what I’m talking about.

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
    Buzz, not to worry; we were pretty up-scale, many of us drove Bobcats.

    Anyway, I remember Foghat's "Slow Ride" (whatever album that was on ) coming around 3 times, as we tooled around town in the friends' Mom's station wagon for hours. People don't know how good they've got it. Right in the middle of 4 of the songs, CLICK, switching tracks now!
    , @Anonymous
    Unlike the Vega, the Pinto was in most respects a well designed car. The rack and pinion steering from the Pinto is still used in a lot of street rod and lowered custom car installations. And of the Ford engines offered in the car most were very dependable-one variant of the four was a turd, but the rest were good if maintained.

    However, if hit really hard in the rear, it could blow up and it could trap you inside to your fiery demise. And like most Detroit cars of its day it rusted pretty badly.
  29. @ben tillman

    Unfortunately, Pena’s management got into a huge feud with Albert Grossman, Bob Dylan’s difficult manager, who owned the rights to the album.
     
    Ha ha. I served process on that guy once at his home in Woodstock, NY. I actually gave the papers to his wife, so I didn't meet him.

    Mrs. Grossman was on the cover of a Bob Dylan album.

    The Grossmans owned a house in Woodstock, NY, so Bob bought a house there.

    One theory of why Albert Grossman sabotaged Paul Pena’s career was that Grossman demanded that Pena move to the East Coast from the San Francisco Bay, but Pena liked living in California.

    I suspect that Pena felt, among other reasons, that it was tough enough being blind without having to deal with ice and snow.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    A song composed for "Bringing It on Back Home"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKi2XcEvvoc

  30. The interesting thing about this is that Pena’s original did NOT have the stolen riff from Cream’s Crossroads on it. As any guitar player can tell you, Steve Miller Band’s version of Big Old Jet Airliner had that riff that they lifted shamelessly from Crossroads. It’s comforting to know that Pena didn’t have it, and it was the product of some cheesy West Coast record producer, or Steve Miller himself.

    Frankie P

  31. @Steve Sailer
    http://keyassets.timeincuk.net/inspirewp/live/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2015/09/bringing-it-all-back-home.jpg

    Mrs. Grossman was on the cover of a Bob Dylan album.

    The Grossmans owned a house in Woodstock, NY, so Bob bought a house there.

    One theory of why Albert Grossman sabotaged Paul Pena's career was that Grossman demanded that Pena move to the East Coast from the San Francisco Bay, but Pena liked living in California.

    I suspect that Pena felt, among other reasons, that it was tough enough being blind without having to deal with ice and snow.

    A song composed for “Bringing It on Back Home”

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcofQOdR0aU

    Here's a 1990 version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s. I like how Dylan, looking exactly like Adam Sandler, gives David Crosby a congratulatory shove at the end like they are 12-year-old teammates on a championship Little League team, with Dylan as the sparkplug leadoff hitter / shortstop, Crosby as the fat kid / stalwart catcher, and Roger McGuinn as the star pitcher / cleanup hitter.
  32. And here I had always thought Steve Miller had just spruced up this Bob Rivers’ tune “Beat up Ole Jetliner”:

    ;-}

    In all seriousness, does anyone remember that it took like a week for the album version about “funky shit going down in the city.” to be taken off the air, and the new, revised, cleaner single to be substituted. From my 5 minutes total exposure to the hip-hop “music” of today, I somehow think that won’t be necessary.

    I will listen to Pena in a bit, and I am glad Steve Miller originally stuck with Pena’s lyrics. It’s one thing to do a cover and change the sound a bit, but not cool to change the lyrics.

  33. @Buzz Mohawk
    I learned to drive to that song, because my sister always seemed to have the 8-track tape of it in her Ford Pinto. As a result, I like to play it during road trips.

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/1972-Ford-Pinto-02-e1372964506550.jpg

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513QB8GTXyL._SY300_QL70_.jpg

    Good thing I didn't hit the brakes too hard and get rear ended during my driving lessons:

    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/dam/assets/140521193758-ford-pinto-crash-recall-nhtsa-620x348.png

    If you know about the Pinto, you know what I'm talking about.

    Buzz, not to worry; we were pretty up-scale, many of us drove Bobcats.

    Anyway, I remember Foghat’s “Slow Ride” (whatever album that was on ) coming around 3 times, as we tooled around town in the friends’ Mom’s station wagon for hours. People don’t know how good they’ve got it. Right in the middle of 4 of the songs, CLICK, switching tracks now!

  34. @Steve Sailer
    A song composed for "Bringing It on Back Home"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKi2XcEvvoc

    Here’s a 1990 version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s. I like how Dylan, looking exactly like Adam Sandler, gives David Crosby a congratulatory shove at the end like they are 12-year-old teammates on a championship Little League team, with Dylan as the sparkplug leadoff hitter / shortstop, Crosby as the fat kid / stalwart catcher, and Roger McGuinn as the star pitcher / cleanup hitter.

    • Replies: @J1234

    confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s.
     
    I don't know if that's true. I tried searching for (but couldn't find) the clip in the No Direction Home interview where Dylan said, when asked about the Byrds' hit renditions of his songs, that he didn't really like "folk-rock." (Whatever that means.) Dylan liked some individual members of the Byrds, but I don't know that he liked their essential sound or Roger McGuinn. I sense that there was some animus, despite some level of collaboration.

    I remember reading a McGuinn interview where he said that he (and others) couldn't understand how all the girls became infatuated with Dylan in the mid 60's. The implication was that Dylan was too homely and weird to be attractive to girls. Roger also said that he and Dylan were together at some event, and had casually worked on some musical improvisation. Afterwards, McGuinn had put the song to paper and listed Dylan as a co-author, which made Dylan very mad. With an angry phone call he demanded his name be removed. The only thing I can find right now that conveys a tacit disregard for the music of the Byrds is this segment from a Dylan interview from the 60's:


    Oh, Flying Burrito Brothers ...

    [Dylan] Boy, I love them ... the Flying Burrito Brothers, unh-huh. I've always known Chris [Hillman, I presume] you know, from when he was in the Byrds. And he's always been a fine musician. Their records knocked me out. [Laughs.] That poor little hippie boy on his way to town ... [laughs.]

    What about the Byrds ... they did a country album ...

    [Dylan] Sweetheart? Well, they had a distinctive sound, the Byrds ... they usually were hanging in there ...

    Of all the versions of "This Wheel's on Fire," which do you like the best?

    [Dylan] Uh ... the Band's. Who else did it?
     

    I'm guessing you don't openly trash the band that's selling millions of your compositions. Here's the Byrds' This Wheel's on Fire :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxdMqiKI08g

    BTW, I personally loved the Byrds. Certainly more than Dylan.

    , @E. Rekshun
    Here’s a 1990 version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s.

    Sounding a lot like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.


    I like how Dylan, looking exactly like Adam Sandler Yes, he does! And Sandler can play a little bit!

    https://youtu.be/sAS2WLlhk_E?list=PLH_krMl6Fi881Fg3u0xozKQ9MJcWAPzEK&t=4

  35. Anonymous [AKA "The Mick"] says:

    At least Steve Miller gave credit and royalties. Led Zeppelin made their career stealing from black bluesmen using outright plagiarism.

  36. @anonymous-antimarxist
    Lynott was a unique treasure. and one of rock's best live performers. Here was this mulatto who wrote and played music that Thin Lizzy's white fans adored. He really embrace Irish/White culture and folklore and it came out in the songs he wrote.

    Thin Lizzy - Whiskey In The Jar - 1973
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3laP9Y3pNE

    Thin Lizzy - Cowboy Song live at The Rainbow 1978
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpBTgmPgFxs

    Thin Lizzy - Rosalie
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSo9CC2wKVI

    You want a seriously integrated band, how ’bout Mother’s Finest? They were from Charleston, S. Carolina, and that Joyce Kennedy had a great voice. What was kind of ass backwards was that the rhythm section was the white boys, as opposed to a lot of Southern Rock bands like the Allman Brothers. (There’d be quite a number of black lady back-up singers too in the Southern Rock sound )

    “Piece of the Rock” from 1977

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    Nice shot of I-75 coming into Atlanta back when it was four-lane (two each way). What's it up to now, twelve?
  37. @Trelane
    Bad Ass Steve Miller from his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction back in April:

    https://youtu.be/umI7MkgwS7M

    Larger than life Cass Elliot schmoozing with John Denver about Leaving on a Jet Plane (the 1969 tune you allude to?):

    https://youtu.be/NKdknYaSHgE

    I saw John Denver perform at a free concert at Texas Tech (his alma mater) during the 1970-71 school year, just before he became nationally famous. When he sang “Leaving on a Jet Plane” he introduced it by saying, “I’ll now sing a medley of my hit.”

  38. Thank you for a fantastic post.

    It’s like a puzzle piece I didn’t even know I had lost suddenly fits in.

    And an absolute alternate timeline feeling. Add that track to an alternative Man in the High Castle soundtrack!

    I thought I’d now prefer this original version of the song, but relistening to the Steve Miller Band version, I remembered how freakily artificial and implacable and robot-like and alien and plasticky the song sounded to me (good things all to me at the time). So I’ll call it a tie.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Yeah, the Steve Miller version of Jet Airliner sounds slightly proto-Devo.
  39. As a Steve Miller Band fan, I’m embarrassed to be learning for the first time that he didn’t write Jet Airliner. But that was after he went commercial; his first five or six albums ranks him (and them) as part of the progressive vanguard that he left once he started to enjoy Top 40 success with The Joker. Can’t blame him for finally wanting to make some money after all those years toiling in semi-obscurity.

    There was a lot of talent in the Steve Miller Band during the Scaggs- Sidran years.

    Little known fact: Paul McCartney (under his oft-used synonym “Paul Ramon”), played most of the instruments and provided the backing vocals on My Dark Hour, from the Brave New World album.

    Even littler known fact: that’s how The Ramones got their name.

    • Replies: @Rosamond Vincy
    Little-known by non-Ramones fans, maybe.
    Hmmph.

    BTW, from: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-librarian-interview

    What’s the weirdest thing in the archives overall?
    I tossed this one to Anastasia Karel, the archivist and assistant curator. She suggested “Perpetual Mass Cards for the Ramones.” The catalog description says it all: “The Perpetual Mass Cards for the Ramones contain a card for each member of the original Ramones: Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny, and Tommy. The cards were requested by donor Robert Murray in order that the Ramones would ‘share in the daily Masses, Prayers, and Works’ of the Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.”
     
    Perpetual Mass for da Bruddas! YES! Gabba Gabba we pray for ya, we pray for ya, one of us!
  40. I heard the original recording of ‘Jet Airliner’ in about late 1977 or early 1978, on what we then still referred to as an ‘underground FM station.’ The same station that introduced me to Bruce Springsteen before Born to Run was even announced to be released. The DJ playing Pena’s recording did not say how he had the cut; he just said the original needed to be heard too

    Later, late 1980s or perhaps 1990-91, I heard a young scholar talk about the song. She was from NYC and was Jewish and lesbian. She never mentioned Albert Grossman, and I never learned of his role until reading this today. The Jewish lesbian expert was focused on the injustice done to Pena. She implied throughout – and all but declared once – that Steve Miller ‘stole’ the song. And she knew why: Miller, she stressed, had been born in Texas.

    I knew she was wrong – Miller was born in Milwaukee, but he had been raised and schooled in TX. But the Jewish lesbian scholar knew that Miller there, in a cowboy part of the deplorable south, had learned that stealing from blacks is no crime, not when lynching perfectly innocent Numinous Negroes was a sport. And her role was to restore dignity to the black man who had been abused by the rednecks of Texas and the rest of the south.

    The woman who introduced the Jewish lesbian expert was a lesbian too. But she was not Jewish. She was a Musicologist whose specialty was the ‘folk’ music associated with the Civil Rights movement and its antecedents back to the Abolitionists. And she was an old fashioned Boston Brahmin. Pure WASP in genes and temperament. The only thing about her family history that she seemed truly proud of was that a great=great aunt had been prominent in social work for blacks at the close of the 19th century and had been in a ‘Boston Marriage,’ which means a WASP lesbian coupling. They were extremely common, starting with the late Antebellum era, peaking from Reconstruction and the Gilded Age through the Gay ’90s.

    There is a whole lot of essential, indispensable, meaning in that. And learning that Albert Grossman was the ‘villain’ only underscores a key part.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Ben Sidran, the good guy in this story who produced Pena's album and played it for Miller, appears to be Jewish and rather academic-oriented for a retired rock musician.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    I knew she was wrong – Miller was born in Milwaukee, but he had been raised and schooled in TX.
     
    As his St Mark's classmate Boz Skaggs was born in Canton-- Ohio, not Mississippi, Georgia, or Texas-- and also grew up in Texas.
  41. @NJ Transit Commuter
    Saw Genghis Blues years ago and loved it, but had no idea until now Paul Pena wrote Jet Airliner. Tuvan throat singing is one of those things that is so exotic that makes you realize how much globalization has killed real diversity, as opposed to “Diversity.”

    NJ Transit Commuter writes, “Tuvan throat singing is one of those things that is so exotic that makes you realize how much globalization has killed real diversity, as opposed to “Diversity.””

    How many Tuvan-Americans got in under the Diversity Visa Lottery? (Musical) Diversity Is Our Strength!

    • Replies: @Cortes
    Pena (“sorrow” or “trouble”) might have been an agent of this guy:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergey_Shoygu

    Grossman the patriot saved the Union.
  42. @miss marple
    It's almost as if you have no musical talent or no talent for the synesthesia required to describe it. I'm not sure you've ever ridden a horse either which would resemble bluegrass more than C&W. That being said, Pena is pretty good. BTW, is the n supposed to be an /en ye/.

    For further complaint regarding your personality/sense of humor, not every tale of woe is an African-American one. This gets old, like one-trick-pony old.

    "Oh, you unhappy, you must be black person" must be what goes through your head everytime you can't feel empathy. Happens a lot around here. Is this the extent of your emotional range?

    /pol/ loves you, Steve. /ourguy/ forever.

    • Replies: @miss marple
    What I have to put up with for lack of a tilde. Sheesh!

    For those times when you're totally concrete & literal & some dweeb who didn't take even two years of Spanish doesn't know what a tilde or its phonetic approximation is,

    Pepto Bismo!
  43. Seven minute mini bio of Paul Pena:

    I first heard his version of Jet Airliner here: http://www.radioparadise.com/rp_2.php?#name=songinfo&song_id=41607
    and bought New Train a while ago. It looks like it is out of print now and I don’t see a MP3 source.

    Much of his work is available as MP3s: https://www.amazon.com/s/field-keywords=Paul%20Pena&index=digital-music&search-type=ss

    Any more recommendations?

  44. @snorlax

    Wow it doesn’t get any more ‘current year’ than that particular tale.

    Although this story linked from there is also pretty darn current year-y:
    Woman Jailed for Wearing Fake Penis and Tricking Friend Into Sex

  45. Really good post, Steve, thanks for that.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    Agree.
  46. @SND
    Funny you'd mention Garcia in connection with Pena. I'm a big Garcia music freak. On first date with my wife of 40 years I took her to see the Garcia Band (his side project when he wasn't playing with the Dead) at a little club in Berkeley called Keystone Berkeley. Opening for Jerry was Paul Pena. This happened several times in my experience. Pena was very talented & entertaining. But I have to admit that what struck me most memorably about him was his beautiful top of the line Martin D-45. I coveted it (it is pictured in the "Gonna Move" YouTube). This model Martin is notable for its abundant inlay & I thought, "Jesus, Pena can't even see it!" I guess maybe he was able to feel it, though. This was 1974.

    Garcia had great taste, and those tastes were way more catholic than most of his fans. Still love the versions of “Finders Keepers “ and Doc Pomus’ “Lonley Avenue” from those Keystone days. I’d not heard of Paul Pena-now I have to check him out!

  47. The Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits: 1974-1978

    Steve Miller’s cool, but that’s the only album of his you really ever need.

    And y’all do kinda need it, IMHO.

    • Replies: @I, Libertine
    See my comment, supra. His best work was completed by 1974.
  48. @Prof. Woland
    Journey put out 2 or 3 albums before Steve Perry that were quite good and very unique. But once they had their hit album with Steve Perry, the band produced album after album that sounded exactly the same. Admittedly, I listened to them. Everybody in my senior year in high school had that Journey album, the Cars first album, and Van Halen's first album. Every single band had peaked.

    https://youtu.be/WBmVcKJSmYQ

    Journey put out 2 or 3 albums before Steve Perry that were quite good and very unique.

    I’m not much of a Journey fan, but Kohoutek is a bad-ass jam.

  49. Blind from birth because of a brain lesion people are never schizophrenic.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-imprinted-brain/201411/blindness-and-schizophrenia-the-exception-proves-the-rule

    The authors’ second suggestion is that congenital cortical blindness (CCB), {where the lesion causing blindness is in the brain } results in secondary cortical compensations protective against schizophrenia linked to the role of the thalamus (other brain areas involved are the occipital cortex, the lateral geniculate nucleus and the pulvinar). ” […]

    The authors point out that “many thought-disordered patients with schizophrenia have a tendency toward over-abstraction and over-inclusion in their thinking, as well as overly elaborated (and more easily primed) semantic networks.” This is what I would term hyper-mentalism, and according to the diametric model of mental illness, it is the central pathology in all psychotic spectrum disorders, notably paranoid schizophrenia. They add that congenitally blind “children have the opposite tendency in being characterized by a lack of over-generalization of concepts and categories, and a reduced number of word inventions.” This, by contrast, is symptomatic of what I would call hypo-mentalism, and according to the diametric model is the core pathology of autism spectrum disorders.

  50. Okay, now I’ve listened to some more tracks from Paul Pena’s long-lost 1973 album New Train, and wow this guy might be the lost star of the 1970s.

    That really seems plausible, given what I’ve heard from the videos Steve posted. Amazing. Many thanks to him for an illuminating post!

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I’d never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it’s written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though “shunning the spotlight” can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.

    The blind Pena’s abuse by the music industry reminds me of the very sad account of Blind Willie McTell’s encounter with the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. I’m going off of memory from liner notes of 25 years ago, but I think that McTell, a black 12 string guitarist from Atlanta, had been lured into a recording session under the pretense that it would be something of a comeback for him (he’d recorded a couple of 78’s back in the 1930’s.) At the end of the session, however, Lomax told him that the recordings were for the Library of Congress, and there was no payment involved. When he’d seen how upset McTell was, however, he gave him like 12 dollars, which was probably worse than giving him nothing at all.

    Not all folklorists were underhanded, however. My favorite leftist was Pete Seeger, who had what was probably the most amazing show to ever be on television (despite being named, in Seeger’s sappy proto-PC fashion, Rainbow Quest.) You could see the disappearing America of the early 20th century on display every week. The show would have Blind Gary Davis on one week, Mississippi John Hurt on the next, and maybe the Stanley Brothers (at their purest and best) on the next. Seeing any of these performers was like having a ton of culture dropped on your head. And then the very young “folk only” Dylan would be on the next week.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    J.J. Cale album "Naturally" is great stuff if you like that ambling sort of southern ballad. "Magnolia", a memorable song.
    , @PiltdownMan
    J.J. Cale was quite well known in the 1970s. He is much less well known now.
    , @anonguy

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I’d never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it’s written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though “shunning the spotlight” can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.
     
    Man, that was fuckin' awesome and thanks for the background, I never knew.

    Cales is toned down cool. Skynyrd's version, out hell raisin' with the boys, but Cale's, you could make love to.

    Awesome. Got anything more like that around, bring it on.
  51. @Jake
    I heard the original recording of 'Jet Airliner' in about late 1977 or early 1978, on what we then still referred to as an 'underground FM station.' The same station that introduced me to Bruce Springsteen before Born to Run was even announced to be released. The DJ playing Pena's recording did not say how he had the cut; he just said the original needed to be heard too

    Later, late 1980s or perhaps 1990-91, I heard a young scholar talk about the song. She was from NYC and was Jewish and lesbian. She never mentioned Albert Grossman, and I never learned of his role until reading this today. The Jewish lesbian expert was focused on the injustice done to Pena. She implied throughout - and all but declared once - that Steve Miller 'stole' the song. And she knew why: Miller, she stressed, had been born in Texas.

    I knew she was wrong - Miller was born in Milwaukee, but he had been raised and schooled in TX. But the Jewish lesbian scholar knew that Miller there, in a cowboy part of the deplorable south, had learned that stealing from blacks is no crime, not when lynching perfectly innocent Numinous Negroes was a sport. And her role was to restore dignity to the black man who had been abused by the rednecks of Texas and the rest of the south.

    The woman who introduced the Jewish lesbian expert was a lesbian too. But she was not Jewish. She was a Musicologist whose specialty was the 'folk' music associated with the Civil Rights movement and its antecedents back to the Abolitionists. And she was an old fashioned Boston Brahmin. Pure WASP in genes and temperament. The only thing about her family history that she seemed truly proud of was that a great=great aunt had been prominent in social work for blacks at the close of the 19th century and had been in a 'Boston Marriage,' which means a WASP lesbian coupling. They were extremely common, starting with the late Antebellum era, peaking from Reconstruction and the Gilded Age through the Gay '90s.

    There is a whole lot of essential, indispensable, meaning in that. And learning that Albert Grossman was the 'villain' only underscores a key part.

    Ben Sidran, the good guy in this story who produced Pena’s album and played it for Miller, appears to be Jewish and rather academic-oriented for a retired rock musician.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
    Dunno about hearing this stuff in the rest of the country, but in the Twin Cities, where I grew up and went to college there was a great free-form FM station, KQRS. They played lots of music you'd never hear elsewhere- the usual AOR fare of course, but lots of Zappa (at least the stuff you could play on the radio), Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies and Ben Sidran. I was under the impression Sidran had some sort of Madison, WI connection. Oh, and whenever Steve Goodman played in town he always spent the afternoon in the studio, usually with Alan Stone or John Peet. Good times.

    https://youtu.be/BQCh7tv8YO8

  52. @European-American
    Thank you for a fantastic post.

    It's like a puzzle piece I didn't even know I had lost suddenly fits in.

    And an absolute alternate timeline feeling. Add that track to an alternative Man in the High Castle soundtrack!

    I thought I'd now prefer this original version of the song, but relistening to the Steve Miller Band version, I remembered how freakily artificial and implacable and robot-like and alien and plasticky the song sounded to me (good things all to me at the time). So I'll call it a tie.

    Yeah, the Steve Miller version of Jet Airliner sounds slightly proto-Devo.

  53. I was surprised to learn yesterday

    I’m pretty sure I mentioned Pena in a comment in the past year or so. The bowdlerized “funky kicks going down in the city” is great fun to quote in various contexts, so I decided to research it.

    I was surprised

    Me too, at first. But after some thought, not at all. “Jet Airliner” just isn’t cheesy enough to be a Miller original. Miller had (has?) a great pop sense, but his writing in nowhere near as smooth as his Dallas preppy classmate Boz Scaggs’s.

    He might have profited from a co-composer– Pena himself, perhaps. Or Skaggs. But the “singer-songwriter” meme was too entrenched by then. But Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt (a team 75% Italian and maybe 1% Dutch, BTW) wrote their most listenable stuff together, for Southside Johnny’s better voice. And Julian Lennon was smart enough to seek out collaborators.

    Also, that bit about the “New England town” sounds totally unreal for Miller.

    Talent alone isn’t enough, you have to have the right sound at the right time.

    In Morning, Noon, and Night: Living the Creative Life, Judy Collins quotes her friend, the librettist George Furth, as often saying, “It’s not enough to have talent. You have to have talent for talent.” That’s where many stumble.

    It’s also possible that his versions of his songs weren’t hook-filled enough to break through on the radio.

    Again, that’s where Miller shines. The two might have made a great team.

    Other reworkings that hit it off were Harry Nilsson’s hyperemotional rehash of Badfinger’s “Without You”, Manfred Mann’s “feminine hygiene” version of Springsteen’s “Blinded By the Light” (blame Kiwi Chris Thompson for that; Mann didn’t sing lead for his groups), and We Five’s “You Were On My Mind”, written by Sylvia of Ian and Sylvia and theretofore known only in Canada.

    Sylvia had no idea it had been covered when she first heard it on the car radio. Ironically, the San Francisco Sound mostly cribbed from the South, but it’s first success came out of the Great White North.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    it’s first success
     
    Crap. Not only do iPads hyperautocorrect by default, so does Google Chrome. What i's it with S'ilicon Valley?
    , @Steve Sailer
    Several rock bands had a second phase of success after inviting in talented newcomers, like the Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?
  54. Too many radio stations cut off that great guitar intro and instead go straight to the vocals in Miller’s Jet Airliner. Others substitute in “funky kicks,” whatever that may be, and cut out the original “funky shit” that was apparently “going down in the city.”

    Thank you Mr. Sailer for posting the good unadulterated version.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Very few stations did their own edit. There were a couple of radio mixes issued as promo discs as I recall.
  55. @Jake
    I heard the original recording of 'Jet Airliner' in about late 1977 or early 1978, on what we then still referred to as an 'underground FM station.' The same station that introduced me to Bruce Springsteen before Born to Run was even announced to be released. The DJ playing Pena's recording did not say how he had the cut; he just said the original needed to be heard too

    Later, late 1980s or perhaps 1990-91, I heard a young scholar talk about the song. She was from NYC and was Jewish and lesbian. She never mentioned Albert Grossman, and I never learned of his role until reading this today. The Jewish lesbian expert was focused on the injustice done to Pena. She implied throughout - and all but declared once - that Steve Miller 'stole' the song. And she knew why: Miller, she stressed, had been born in Texas.

    I knew she was wrong - Miller was born in Milwaukee, but he had been raised and schooled in TX. But the Jewish lesbian scholar knew that Miller there, in a cowboy part of the deplorable south, had learned that stealing from blacks is no crime, not when lynching perfectly innocent Numinous Negroes was a sport. And her role was to restore dignity to the black man who had been abused by the rednecks of Texas and the rest of the south.

    The woman who introduced the Jewish lesbian expert was a lesbian too. But she was not Jewish. She was a Musicologist whose specialty was the 'folk' music associated with the Civil Rights movement and its antecedents back to the Abolitionists. And she was an old fashioned Boston Brahmin. Pure WASP in genes and temperament. The only thing about her family history that she seemed truly proud of was that a great=great aunt had been prominent in social work for blacks at the close of the 19th century and had been in a 'Boston Marriage,' which means a WASP lesbian coupling. They were extremely common, starting with the late Antebellum era, peaking from Reconstruction and the Gilded Age through the Gay '90s.

    There is a whole lot of essential, indispensable, meaning in that. And learning that Albert Grossman was the 'villain' only underscores a key part.

    I knew she was wrong – Miller was born in Milwaukee, but he had been raised and schooled in TX.

    As his St Mark’s classmate Boz Skaggs was born in Canton– Ohio, not Mississippi, Georgia, or Texas– and also grew up in Texas.

  56. @Steve Sailer
    Styles change rapidly in pop music. I used to be able to usually date an unknown rock song from 1955 to 1985 to within a few years. I'm trying to project back to 1973 and see if this album would sound in sync with 1973 or if the style was lagging a few years. Pena was fluent in a wide variety of styles, but I don't have the expertise anymore to say whether they would have been up to date in 1973. In 1970 they would have been fresh. In 1965 they would have been too futuristic.

    Albert Grossman complained that the album didn't sound commercial enough. I don't the basis for his complaint. Commentators seem to assume he just being obnoxious as usual. But he'd had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together) and maybe he had a realistic complaint.

    But he’d had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together)

    Was he responsible for Paul being Paul, making the group sound weirdly Biblical?

    A fun trivia question to pull on folks is, Did you know that Paul Stookey and Paul McCartney have the same middle name? Can you tell me what it is?

    • Replies: @duncsbaby
    I don't know about Paul Stookey but Paul McCartney's middle name is Paul. His first name is James.
  57. @Reg Cæsar

    I was surprised to learn yesterday
     
    I'm pretty sure I mentioned Pena in a comment in the past year or so. The bowdlerized "funky kicks going down in the city" is great fun to quote in various contexts, so I decided to research it.

    I was surprised
     

    Me too, at first. But after some thought, not at all. "Jet Airliner" just isn't cheesy enough to be a Miller original. Miller had (has?) a great pop sense, but his writing in nowhere near as smooth as his Dallas preppy classmate Boz Scaggs's.

    He might have profited from a co-composer-- Pena himself, perhaps. Or Skaggs. But the "singer-songwriter" meme was too entrenched by then. But Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt (a team 75% Italian and maybe 1% Dutch, BTW) wrote their most listenable stuff together, for Southside Johnny's better voice. And Julian Lennon was smart enough to seek out collaborators.

    Also, that bit about the "New England town" sounds totally unreal for Miller.


    Talent alone isn’t enough, you have to have the right sound at the right time.
     
    In Morning, Noon, and Night: Living the Creative Life, Judy Collins quotes her friend, the librettist George Furth, as often saying, "It's not enough to have talent. You have to have talent for talent." That's where many stumble.

    It’s also possible that his versions of his songs weren’t hook-filled enough to break through on the radio.
     
    Again, that's where Miller shines. The two might have made a great team.

    Other reworkings that hit it off were Harry Nilsson's hyperemotional rehash of Badfinger's "Without You", Manfred Mann's "feminine hygiene" version of Springsteen's "Blinded By the Light" (blame Kiwi Chris Thompson for that; Mann didn't sing lead for his groups), and We Five's "You Were On My Mind", written by Sylvia of Ian and Sylvia and theretofore known only in Canada.

    Sylvia had no idea it had been covered when she first heard it on the car radio. Ironically, the San Francisco Sound mostly cribbed from the South, but it's first success came out of the Great White North.

    it’s first success

    Crap. Not only do iPads hyperautocorrect by default, so does Google Chrome. What i’s it with S’ilicon Valley?

  58. @Steve Sailer
    Ben Sidran, the good guy in this story who produced Pena's album and played it for Miller, appears to be Jewish and rather academic-oriented for a retired rock musician.

    Dunno about hearing this stuff in the rest of the country, but in the Twin Cities, where I grew up and went to college there was a great free-form FM station, KQRS. They played lots of music you’d never hear elsewhere- the usual AOR fare of course, but lots of Zappa (at least the stuff you could play on the radio), Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies and Ben Sidran. I was under the impression Sidran had some sort of Madison, WI connection. Oh, and whenever Steve Goodman played in town he always spent the afternoon in the studio, usually with Alan Stone or John Peet. Good times.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Ben Sidran in the early 1960s was in a band at the U. of Wisconsin called the Ardells with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs. Sidran was going to be a professor of English Literature but he got diverted into being a rock musician. But after awhile he came back to Madison and led an academic-type life, teaching a few classes, writing lots of books, and appearing on the local NPR station regularly. It seems like a fun way to arrange your life if you want to enjoy an academic old age, but without spending your young manhood in the library.
  59. @Steve Sailer
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcofQOdR0aU

    Here's a 1990 version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s. I like how Dylan, looking exactly like Adam Sandler, gives David Crosby a congratulatory shove at the end like they are 12-year-old teammates on a championship Little League team, with Dylan as the sparkplug leadoff hitter / shortstop, Crosby as the fat kid / stalwart catcher, and Roger McGuinn as the star pitcher / cleanup hitter.

    confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s.

    I don’t know if that’s true. I tried searching for (but couldn’t find) the clip in the No Direction Home interview where Dylan said, when asked about the Byrds’ hit renditions of his songs, that he didn’t really like “folk-rock.” (Whatever that means.) Dylan liked some individual members of the Byrds, but I don’t know that he liked their essential sound or Roger McGuinn. I sense that there was some animus, despite some level of collaboration.

    I remember reading a McGuinn interview where he said that he (and others) couldn’t understand how all the girls became infatuated with Dylan in the mid 60’s. The implication was that Dylan was too homely and weird to be attractive to girls. Roger also said that he and Dylan were together at some event, and had casually worked on some musical improvisation. Afterwards, McGuinn had put the song to paper and listed Dylan as a co-author, which made Dylan very mad. With an angry phone call he demanded his name be removed. The only thing I can find right now that conveys a tacit disregard for the music of the Byrds is this segment from a Dylan interview from the 60’s:

    Oh, Flying Burrito Brothers …

    [Dylan] Boy, I love them … the Flying Burrito Brothers, unh-huh. I’ve always known Chris [Hillman, I presume] you know, from when he was in the Byrds. And he’s always been a fine musician. Their records knocked me out. [Laughs.] That poor little hippie boy on his way to town … [laughs.]

    What about the Byrds … they did a country album …

    [Dylan] Sweetheart? Well, they had a distinctive sound, the Byrds … they usually were hanging in there …

    Of all the versions of “This Wheel’s on Fire,” which do you like the best?

    [Dylan] Uh … the Band’s. Who else did it?

    I’m guessing you don’t openly trash the band that’s selling millions of your compositions. Here’s the Byrds’ This Wheel’s on Fire :

    BTW, I personally loved the Byrds. Certainly more than Dylan.

  60. @Kevin O'Keeffe
    The Steve Miller Band's Greatest Hits: 1974-1978

    Steve Miller's cool, but that's the only album of his you really ever need.

    And y'all do kinda need it, IMHO.

    See my comment, supra. His best work was completed by 1974.

  61. @Prof. Woland
    Steve Miller, Journey, Fleetwood Mac were all bands of that era that were better before they became famous and commercialized. Steve Miller's early stuff was pretty good albeit not very polished. Same for Journey before they got rick Perry or FM getting Stevie Nix. Once they found the winning combination, they just pumped out records, each one sounding like the one before it. Van Halen is another one where they were never as good as their first album.

    they were never as good as their first album.

    Like Boston and Hootie and the Blowfish – each were still great bands, but couldn’t match the hits pumped out on their debut albums.

  62. @Whitey Whiteman III
    /pol/ loves you, Steve. /ourguy/ forever.

    What I have to put up with for lack of a tilde. Sheesh!

    For those times when you’re totally concrete & literal & some dweeb who didn’t take even two years of Spanish doesn’t know what a tilde or its phonetic approximation is,

    Pepto Bismo!

  63. @Steve Sailer
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcofQOdR0aU

    Here's a 1990 version of "Mr. Tambourine Man" confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s. I like how Dylan, looking exactly like Adam Sandler, gives David Crosby a congratulatory shove at the end like they are 12-year-old teammates on a championship Little League team, with Dylan as the sparkplug leadoff hitter / shortstop, Crosby as the fat kid / stalwart catcher, and Roger McGuinn as the star pitcher / cleanup hitter.

    Here’s a 1990 version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s.

    Sounding a lot like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

    I like how Dylan, looking exactly like Adam Sandler Yes, he does! And Sandler can play a little bit!

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Dylan was rarely the best performer of any of his own songs.
  64. @Prof. Woland
    Steve Miller, Journey, Fleetwood Mac were all bands of that era that were better before they became famous and commercialized. Steve Miller's early stuff was pretty good albeit not very polished. Same for Journey before they got rick Perry or FM getting Stevie Nix. Once they found the winning combination, they just pumped out records, each one sounding like the one before it. Van Halen is another one where they were never as good as their first album.

    Agree about Steve Miller, better before famous. I thought “Sailor” was a good album, some songs I still sing when I’m cooking up some grits. Jet Airliner stuff was more bubble gummy.

  65. I knew quite a few Cape Verdeans growing up in Connecticut. Mostly decent people, hardworking, and very proud of their culture. One amusing thing is that they absolutely *hated* being mistaken for Puerto Rican.

  66. @J1234

    Okay, now I’ve listened to some more tracks from Paul Pena’s long-lost 1973 album New Train, and wow this guy might be the lost star of the 1970s.
     
    That really seems plausible, given what I've heard from the videos Steve posted. Amazing. Many thanks to him for an illuminating post!

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I'd never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it's written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though "shunning the spotlight" can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlppIdtLw5A

    The blind Pena's abuse by the music industry reminds me of the very sad account of Blind Willie McTell's encounter with the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. I'm going off of memory from liner notes of 25 years ago, but I think that McTell, a black 12 string guitarist from Atlanta, had been lured into a recording session under the pretense that it would be something of a comeback for him (he'd recorded a couple of 78's back in the 1930's.) At the end of the session, however, Lomax told him that the recordings were for the Library of Congress, and there was no payment involved. When he'd seen how upset McTell was, however, he gave him like 12 dollars, which was probably worse than giving him nothing at all.

    Not all folklorists were underhanded, however. My favorite leftist was Pete Seeger, who had what was probably the most amazing show to ever be on television (despite being named, in Seeger's sappy proto-PC fashion, Rainbow Quest.) You could see the disappearing America of the early 20th century on display every week. The show would have Blind Gary Davis on one week, Mississippi John Hurt on the next, and maybe the Stanley Brothers (at their purest and best) on the next. Seeing any of these performers was like having a ton of culture dropped on your head. And then the very young "folk only" Dylan would be on the next week.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=972Dx71AtFA

    J.J. Cale album “Naturally” is great stuff if you like that ambling sort of southern ballad. “Magnolia”, a memorable song.

    • Replies: @ganderson
    I saw JJ Cale and his band - they opened for Traffic in St. Paul in '71 or early '72. He was an interesting guitarist- but a bit laconic for my taste. They Call Me the Breeze by Skynrd is a great song.
    , @ben tillman
    That's a great album, but I think Okie and Really are even better.
  67. @anonguy
    Really good post, Steve, thanks for that.

    Agree.

  68. @ThreeCranes
    J.J. Cale album "Naturally" is great stuff if you like that ambling sort of southern ballad. "Magnolia", a memorable song.

    I saw JJ Cale and his band – they opened for Traffic in St. Paul in ’71 or early ’72. He was an interesting guitarist- but a bit laconic for my taste. They Call Me the Breeze by Skynrd is a great song.

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slVJRzwVWVQ


    Anyone who has lived in New Orleans has got to tear up a little when this song plays. Everyone leaves someone down in New Orleans and this captures warm Southern nights beautifully.

  69. @Ganderson
    Dunno about hearing this stuff in the rest of the country, but in the Twin Cities, where I grew up and went to college there was a great free-form FM station, KQRS. They played lots of music you'd never hear elsewhere- the usual AOR fare of course, but lots of Zappa (at least the stuff you could play on the radio), Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies and Ben Sidran. I was under the impression Sidran had some sort of Madison, WI connection. Oh, and whenever Steve Goodman played in town he always spent the afternoon in the studio, usually with Alan Stone or John Peet. Good times.

    https://youtu.be/BQCh7tv8YO8

    Ben Sidran in the early 1960s was in a band at the U. of Wisconsin called the Ardells with Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs. Sidran was going to be a professor of English Literature but he got diverted into being a rock musician. But after awhile he came back to Madison and led an academic-type life, teaching a few classes, writing lots of books, and appearing on the local NPR station regularly. It seems like a fun way to arrange your life if you want to enjoy an academic old age, but without spending your young manhood in the library.

  70. @ganderson
    I saw JJ Cale and his band - they opened for Traffic in St. Paul in '71 or early '72. He was an interesting guitarist- but a bit laconic for my taste. They Call Me the Breeze by Skynrd is a great song.

    Anyone who has lived in New Orleans has got to tear up a little when this song plays. Everyone leaves someone down in New Orleans and this captures warm Southern nights beautifully.

    • Replies: @donut
    "Everyone leaves someone down in New Orleans" , too true .

    Another New Orleans song :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQvl6bG940I

    The mention of Pena being of Cape Verdian descent brought to mind how that part of Mass. has been colonized long ago by Cape Verdians . I think because the whaling ships used to stop there to take on stores and more hands and thus established a link between the two places .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb-g4O2QDZg

    Are Grendel and Moby Dick related ?
    , @poolside
    The country rock band Poco covered Cale's "Magnolia" on their album "Crazy Eyes." Here's a live version:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIPEhwNfY8M
    , @poolside
    The country rock band Poco covered Cale's "Magnolia" on their album "Crazy Eyes." Here's a live version:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIPEhwNfY8M
  71. Goys step around Jew to help a Brotha out. Heartwarming!

    Sounds like somebody’s lawyer effed up royally (haha), though.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Ben Sidran, the producer of Pena's album and keyboard player for Steve Miller, has been nominated for a Jewish Book Award so I presume he's Jewish.
  72. @Prof. Woland
    Steve Miller, Journey, Fleetwood Mac were all bands of that era that were better before they became famous and commercialized. Steve Miller's early stuff was pretty good albeit not very polished. Same for Journey before they got rick Perry or FM getting Stevie Nix. Once they found the winning combination, they just pumped out records, each one sounding like the one before it. Van Halen is another one where they were never as good as their first album.

    FM was definitely improved when Lindsey and Stevie came on board.

    • Replies: @Prof. Woland
    I think I have to give you that one. What I missed is that all the bands I mentioned (van Halen excepted) had their roots in the 60's and then changed their sound to fit into the late 70's and in doing so created a homogenized sound that while enjoyable, lacked a certain creativity and edge. They definitely sold more records.

    By the way, have you seen the new Anaro ad?

    https://www.ispot.tv/ad/wBta/anoro-go-your-own-way
  73. @E. Rekshun
    Here’s a 1990 version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” confirming my view that even Dylan would agree that the Byrds did the greatest cover version of the 1960s.

    Sounding a lot like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.


    I like how Dylan, looking exactly like Adam Sandler Yes, he does! And Sandler can play a little bit!

    https://youtu.be/sAS2WLlhk_E?list=PLH_krMl6Fi881Fg3u0xozKQ9MJcWAPzEK&t=4

    Dylan was rarely the best performer of any of his own songs.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
    I’ve always said that when Jerry Garcia sings your songs better than you do...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKhM-Ed8R8k&feature=share
  74. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Buzz Mohawk
    I learned to drive to that song, because my sister always seemed to have the 8-track tape of it in her Ford Pinto. As a result, I like to play it during road trips.

    http://www.curbsideclassic.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/1972-Ford-Pinto-02-e1372964506550.jpg

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/513QB8GTXyL._SY300_QL70_.jpg

    Good thing I didn't hit the brakes too hard and get rear ended during my driving lessons:

    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/dam/assets/140521193758-ford-pinto-crash-recall-nhtsa-620x348.png

    If you know about the Pinto, you know what I'm talking about.

    Unlike the Vega, the Pinto was in most respects a well designed car. The rack and pinion steering from the Pinto is still used in a lot of street rod and lowered custom car installations. And of the Ford engines offered in the car most were very dependable-one variant of the four was a turd, but the rest were good if maintained.

    However, if hit really hard in the rear, it could blow up and it could trap you inside to your fiery demise. And like most Detroit cars of its day it rusted pretty badly.

  75. @Steve Sailer
    Styles change rapidly in pop music. I used to be able to usually date an unknown rock song from 1955 to 1985 to within a few years. I'm trying to project back to 1973 and see if this album would sound in sync with 1973 or if the style was lagging a few years. Pena was fluent in a wide variety of styles, but I don't have the expertise anymore to say whether they would have been up to date in 1973. In 1970 they would have been fresh. In 1965 they would have been too futuristic.

    Albert Grossman complained that the album didn't sound commercial enough. I don't the basis for his complaint. Commentators seem to assume he just being obnoxious as usual. But he'd had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together) and maybe he had a realistic complaint.

    Pena sounds to me about five years behind the times. 1968, he would have had a better fit.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Yeah, stars usually care about the new new thing a lot. Pena may not have had the hunger to be pushing the edge all the time. Also Pena was blind, so he didn't care much about fashions in clothes or hairstyles the way 1973 stars like Bowie did.
  76. @Anon
    Albert Grossman. It (((echoes))) and repeats.
    See the example of Brit band Badfinger, "managed" by jewish shyster Stan Polley.
    Timeline -
    1970:
    In 1970, Polley registered Badfinger Enterprises, Inc. as a corporate entity for management of the British rock group Badfinger, which had no American representation at the time.
    1972:
    In 1972, Polley negotiated a record contract with Warner Bros. Records for Badfinger, which called for advances to be paid into an escrow account.
    1974:
    In 1974, Warner's publishing division filed a lawsuit against Polley when it was unsuccessful in locating the funds.
    1975:
    The legal morass crippled Badfinger financially; band leader Pete Ham committed suicide in 1975 leaving behind a note pointing the finger at Polley for his financial ruin.
    1991:
    In 1991, Polley pleaded no contest to charges of misappropriating funds and money laundering in Riverside County, California.
    2009:
    Polley died at Rancho Mirage, California, on 20 July 2009, and ultimately met the barbed shaft of Satan. :)

    On the other hand, (((Brian Epstein))) rescued the Beatles from Hamburg dive gigs.

    • Replies: @Thirdeye
    ......and in so doing launched the bubble gum era.
  77. @Achmed E. Newman
    You want a seriously integrated band, how 'bout Mother's Finest? They were from Charleston, S. Carolina, and that Joyce Kennedy had a great voice. What was kind of ass backwards was that the rhythm section was the white boys, as opposed to a lot of Southern Rock bands like the Allman Brothers. (There'd be quite a number of black lady back-up singers too in the Southern Rock sound )

    "Piece of the Rock" from 1977

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAD6Em-2Q7I

    Nice shot of I-75 coming into Atlanta back when it was four-lane (two each way). What’s it up to now, twelve?

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman

    Nice shot of I-75 coming into Atlanta back when it was four-lane (two each way). What’s it up to now, twelve?
     
    I don't know, I will not drive though that place! (Sorry for the late reply, Desiderius.
  78. @J1234

    Okay, now I’ve listened to some more tracks from Paul Pena’s long-lost 1973 album New Train, and wow this guy might be the lost star of the 1970s.
     
    That really seems plausible, given what I've heard from the videos Steve posted. Amazing. Many thanks to him for an illuminating post!

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I'd never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it's written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though "shunning the spotlight" can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlppIdtLw5A

    The blind Pena's abuse by the music industry reminds me of the very sad account of Blind Willie McTell's encounter with the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. I'm going off of memory from liner notes of 25 years ago, but I think that McTell, a black 12 string guitarist from Atlanta, had been lured into a recording session under the pretense that it would be something of a comeback for him (he'd recorded a couple of 78's back in the 1930's.) At the end of the session, however, Lomax told him that the recordings were for the Library of Congress, and there was no payment involved. When he'd seen how upset McTell was, however, he gave him like 12 dollars, which was probably worse than giving him nothing at all.

    Not all folklorists were underhanded, however. My favorite leftist was Pete Seeger, who had what was probably the most amazing show to ever be on television (despite being named, in Seeger's sappy proto-PC fashion, Rainbow Quest.) You could see the disappearing America of the early 20th century on display every week. The show would have Blind Gary Davis on one week, Mississippi John Hurt on the next, and maybe the Stanley Brothers (at their purest and best) on the next. Seeing any of these performers was like having a ton of culture dropped on your head. And then the very young "folk only" Dylan would be on the next week.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=972Dx71AtFA

    J.J. Cale was quite well known in the 1970s. He is much less well known now.

  79. @ThreeCranes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slVJRzwVWVQ


    Anyone who has lived in New Orleans has got to tear up a little when this song plays. Everyone leaves someone down in New Orleans and this captures warm Southern nights beautifully.

    “Everyone leaves someone down in New Orleans” , too true .

    Another New Orleans song :

    The mention of Pena being of Cape Verdian descent brought to mind how that part of Mass. has been colonized long ago by Cape Verdians . I think because the whaling ships used to stop there to take on stores and more hands and thus established a link between the two places .

    Are Grendel and Moby Dick related ?

    • Replies: @donut
    Dedicated to Andrew .
  80. As with Paul Pena, Grossman got into a feud with NRBQ a few years later.

    He also prevented them from releasing new music their 1983 album “Grooves In Orbit.” What was the point of this? Things were never the same after that. The group had been building a steady following by the dawn of the ’80s and “Grooves” got a lot of alternative radio play, as had the previous LP, “Tiddlywinks.”

    People say that NRBQ was their own worst enemy because they made quirky music. They did themselves no favors in a lot of ways, but it was hooking up with Grossman that really ruined the band’s momentum.

    I also believe in some ways that pop music would have been better off had he not “discovered” mom’n’pop folkies Peter, Paul, and Mary and the overrated Bob Dylan who peaked a half century ago.

  81. Just don’t ever recommend captain beef heart trout mask replica:)

    • Replies: @Ganderson
    I feel about Mr. Van Vliet, much the same way I feel about whisky and cigars- I like the idea a lot, the reality, not so much. I do like Bongo Fury, the album he did with Zappa- particularly “Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy” and “Advance Romance”
  82. @J1234

    Okay, now I’ve listened to some more tracks from Paul Pena’s long-lost 1973 album New Train, and wow this guy might be the lost star of the 1970s.
     
    That really seems plausible, given what I've heard from the videos Steve posted. Amazing. Many thanks to him for an illuminating post!

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I'd never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it's written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though "shunning the spotlight" can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlppIdtLw5A

    The blind Pena's abuse by the music industry reminds me of the very sad account of Blind Willie McTell's encounter with the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. I'm going off of memory from liner notes of 25 years ago, but I think that McTell, a black 12 string guitarist from Atlanta, had been lured into a recording session under the pretense that it would be something of a comeback for him (he'd recorded a couple of 78's back in the 1930's.) At the end of the session, however, Lomax told him that the recordings were for the Library of Congress, and there was no payment involved. When he'd seen how upset McTell was, however, he gave him like 12 dollars, which was probably worse than giving him nothing at all.

    Not all folklorists were underhanded, however. My favorite leftist was Pete Seeger, who had what was probably the most amazing show to ever be on television (despite being named, in Seeger's sappy proto-PC fashion, Rainbow Quest.) You could see the disappearing America of the early 20th century on display every week. The show would have Blind Gary Davis on one week, Mississippi John Hurt on the next, and maybe the Stanley Brothers (at their purest and best) on the next. Seeing any of these performers was like having a ton of culture dropped on your head. And then the very young "folk only" Dylan would be on the next week.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=972Dx71AtFA

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I’d never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it’s written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though “shunning the spotlight” can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.

    Man, that was fuckin’ awesome and thanks for the background, I never knew.

    Cales is toned down cool. Skynyrd’s version, out hell raisin’ with the boys, but Cale’s, you could make love to.

    Awesome. Got anything more like that around, bring it on.

    • Replies: @el topo
    Check out JJ Cale's versions of "After Midnight" and "Cocaine", two songs he wrote which Clapton made famous.

    Or this favorite of mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZgPvYHd5iw
    , @res
    Already recommended above, but maybe check out the whole album: https://www.amazon.com/Naturally-J-J-Cale/dp/B000001FK3
    If you want specific songs, there are worse approaches than just looking for the ones they charge $1.29 for.
    , @J1234
    According to wiki, Clapton's Lay Down Sally was a tribute to the style of JJ Cale. I think there's also more than a little of the influence of Albert Lee in there too, certainly in terms of tonality and some of the phrasing. Lee is another one of those guys who is very well known among guitarists, but pretty much out of the mainstream for most of the public...except that he's done massive amounts of session work in Nashville and elsewhere for the biggest names in country (and some pop.)

    Yeah, this particular song may be corny, but wait for the guitar solo mid-song...you'll be glad you did:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ualtLQW8xCg

  83. @Prof. Woland
    Steve Miller, Journey, Fleetwood Mac were all bands of that era that were better before they became famous and commercialized. Steve Miller's early stuff was pretty good albeit not very polished. Same for Journey before they got rick Perry or FM getting Stevie Nix. Once they found the winning combination, they just pumped out records, each one sounding like the one before it. Van Halen is another one where they were never as good as their first album.

    Fleetwood Mac in the Green/Spencer era was awesome. Steve Miller always seemed like music for people who wanted to play hippie on a Saturday night.

  84. @Rosamond Vincy
    On the other hand, (((Brian Epstein))) rescued the Beatles from Hamburg dive gigs.

    ……and in so doing launched the bubble gum era.

    • Replies: @Rosamond Vincy
    There's some GOOD bubblegum out there.
  85. @johnmark7
    Pena sounds to me about five years behind the times. 1968, he would have had a better fit.

    Yeah, stars usually care about the new new thing a lot. Pena may not have had the hunger to be pushing the edge all the time. Also Pena was blind, so he didn’t care much about fashions in clothes or hairstyles the way 1973 stars like Bowie did.

  86. @Svigor
    Goys step around Jew to help a Brotha out. Heartwarming!

    Sounds like somebody's lawyer effed up royally (haha), though.

    Ben Sidran, the producer of Pena’s album and keyboard player for Steve Miller, has been nominated for a Jewish Book Award so I presume he’s Jewish.

  87. @anonguy

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I’d never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it’s written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though “shunning the spotlight” can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.
     
    Man, that was fuckin' awesome and thanks for the background, I never knew.

    Cales is toned down cool. Skynyrd's version, out hell raisin' with the boys, but Cale's, you could make love to.

    Awesome. Got anything more like that around, bring it on.

    Check out JJ Cale’s versions of “After Midnight” and “Cocaine”, two songs he wrote which Clapton made famous.

    Or this favorite of mine:

  88. @Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)
    NJ Transit Commuter writes, "Tuvan throat singing is one of those things that is so exotic that makes you realize how much globalization has killed real diversity, as opposed to “Diversity.”"

    How many Tuvan-Americans got in under the Diversity Visa Lottery? (Musical) Diversity Is Our Strength!

    Pena (“sorrow” or “trouble”) might have been an agent of this guy:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergey_Shoygu

    Grossman the patriot saved the Union.

  89. @Reg Cæsar

    I was surprised to learn yesterday
     
    I'm pretty sure I mentioned Pena in a comment in the past year or so. The bowdlerized "funky kicks going down in the city" is great fun to quote in various contexts, so I decided to research it.

    I was surprised
     

    Me too, at first. But after some thought, not at all. "Jet Airliner" just isn't cheesy enough to be a Miller original. Miller had (has?) a great pop sense, but his writing in nowhere near as smooth as his Dallas preppy classmate Boz Scaggs's.

    He might have profited from a co-composer-- Pena himself, perhaps. Or Skaggs. But the "singer-songwriter" meme was too entrenched by then. But Bruce Springsteen and Steve Van Zandt (a team 75% Italian and maybe 1% Dutch, BTW) wrote their most listenable stuff together, for Southside Johnny's better voice. And Julian Lennon was smart enough to seek out collaborators.

    Also, that bit about the "New England town" sounds totally unreal for Miller.


    Talent alone isn’t enough, you have to have the right sound at the right time.
     
    In Morning, Noon, and Night: Living the Creative Life, Judy Collins quotes her friend, the librettist George Furth, as often saying, "It's not enough to have talent. You have to have talent for talent." That's where many stumble.

    It’s also possible that his versions of his songs weren’t hook-filled enough to break through on the radio.
     
    Again, that's where Miller shines. The two might have made a great team.

    Other reworkings that hit it off were Harry Nilsson's hyperemotional rehash of Badfinger's "Without You", Manfred Mann's "feminine hygiene" version of Springsteen's "Blinded By the Light" (blame Kiwi Chris Thompson for that; Mann didn't sing lead for his groups), and We Five's "You Were On My Mind", written by Sylvia of Ian and Sylvia and theretofore known only in Canada.

    Sylvia had no idea it had been covered when she first heard it on the car radio. Ironically, the San Francisco Sound mostly cribbed from the South, but it's first success came out of the Great White North.

    Several rock bands had a second phase of success after inviting in talented newcomers, like the Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?

    • Replies: @Cortes
    King Crimson.
    Original lineup included Greg Lake of ELP.
    The mid-70s lineup included Bill Bruford (ex Yes) and John Wetton (ex Family).
    The “Three of a Perfect Pair” lineup included Bruford and the Americans Adrian Belew and Tony Levin.
    Common denominator is Robert Fripp the sit down guitarist.
    , @Ganderson
    “The Skunk” could play, (always sitting down, as I recall) and Mike McDonald had a unique set of pipes. I recall an SCTV sketch with McDonald rushing from studio to studio to lay down the backing vocals.

    Does (Do?) Steely Dan count as reinventions? A big difference between their first three records and the rest.

    , @res
    Your Fleetwood Mac example? The three eras being "Peter Green", "Transitional" (best part of which was arguably with Danny Kirwan for the albums Future Games and Bare Trees), and "Buckingham Nicks"?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Mac

    Although not reaching the continuous high level of success I think you are implying this seems like a good match to the sports team idea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mayall_%26_the_Bluesbreakers
    , @Reg Cæsar

    Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?
     
    Not quite "rock", not quite a "band", but the Four Freshmen sure look like a long-lasting corporation:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Freshmen#Members

    I wish all the bands on Wikipedia had such a chart!

    Anyone know, do they still do their annual show at Butler U? Now that's tradition.
    , @Achmed E. Newman
    OK, now you've opened up a sore wound that I'd thought had healed by now. Michael McDonald, with his jazzy sound, single-handedly ruined the Doobie Brothers in my not-so-humble opinion.

    (OK, I liked "Takin' it to the Streets", but not the Minute by Minute album. That one had a completely different sound from the Doobies rock sound before that.)

  90. @Thirdeye
    ......and in so doing launched the bubble gum era.

    There’s some GOOD bubblegum out there.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    There’s some GOOD bubblegum out there.
     
    Oh, how I miss Buddah Records...

    Remind your local Marley snob that Bob cribbed "Buffalo Soldier" from the Banana Splits' theme song:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtluQkuT25s

    Was it Ellington who said there were only two kinds of music, good, and the other kind?

  91. @I, Libertine
    As a Steve Miller Band fan, I'm embarrassed to be learning for the first time that he didn't write Jet Airliner. But that was after he went commercial; his first five or six albums ranks him (and them) as part of the progressive vanguard that he left once he started to enjoy Top 40 success with The Joker. Can't blame him for finally wanting to make some money after all those years toiling in semi-obscurity.

    There was a lot of talent in the Steve Miller Band during the Scaggs- Sidran years.

    Little known fact: Paul McCartney (under his oft-used synonym "Paul Ramon"), played most of the instruments and provided the backing vocals on My Dark Hour, from the Brave New World album.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT2JGBeew00


    Even littler known fact: that's how The Ramones got their name.

    Little-known by non-Ramones fans, maybe.
    Hmmph.

    BTW, from: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-librarian-interview

    What’s the weirdest thing in the archives overall?
    I tossed this one to Anastasia Karel, the archivist and assistant curator. She suggested “Perpetual Mass Cards for the Ramones.” The catalog description says it all: “The Perpetual Mass Cards for the Ramones contain a card for each member of the original Ramones: Dee Dee, Joey, Johnny, and Tommy. The cards were requested by donor Robert Murray in order that the Ramones would ‘share in the daily Masses, Prayers, and Works’ of the Holy Apostles Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut.”

    Perpetual Mass for da Bruddas! YES! Gabba Gabba we pray for ya, we pray for ya, one of us!

  92. @Steve Sailer
    Several rock bands had a second phase of success after inviting in talented newcomers, like the Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?

    King Crimson.
    Original lineup included Greg Lake of ELP.
    The mid-70s lineup included Bill Bruford (ex Yes) and John Wetton (ex Family).
    The “Three of a Perfect Pair” lineup included Bruford and the Americans Adrian Belew and Tony Levin.
    Common denominator is Robert Fripp the sit down guitarist.

  93. @Luke
    Just don't ever recommend captain beef heart trout mask replica:)

    I feel about Mr. Van Vliet, much the same way I feel about whisky and cigars- I like the idea a lot, the reality, not so much. I do like Bongo Fury, the album he did with Zappa- particularly “Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy” and “Advance Romance”

  94. @Anonymous
    Dylan was rarely the best performer of any of his own songs.

    I’ve always said that when Jerry Garcia sings your songs better than you do…

  95. @Steve Sailer
    Several rock bands had a second phase of success after inviting in talented newcomers, like the Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?

    “The Skunk” could play, (always sitting down, as I recall) and Mike McDonald had a unique set of pipes. I recall an SCTV sketch with McDonald rushing from studio to studio to lay down the backing vocals.

    Does (Do?) Steely Dan count as reinventions? A big difference between their first three records and the rest.

    • Replies: @MEH 0910
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0HzWMqLeiE
  96. My favorite cover of Pena’s “Gonna Move” is Susan Tedeschi’s version. It was a minor hit in the blue genre and the live versions on Youtube really swing.

  97. And…Thanks for this thread, Steve. I’ts nice to know, as the world collapses around us, that there are a few good things out there!

  98. @Anonymous
    FM was definitely improved when Lindsey and Stevie came on board.

    I think I have to give you that one. What I missed is that all the bands I mentioned (van Halen excepted) had their roots in the 60’s and then changed their sound to fit into the late 70’s and in doing so created a homogenized sound that while enjoyable, lacked a certain creativity and edge. They definitely sold more records.

    By the way, have you seen the new Anaro ad?

    https://www.ispot.tv/ad/wBta/anoro-go-your-own-way

  99. @anonguy

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I’d never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it’s written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though “shunning the spotlight” can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.
     
    Man, that was fuckin' awesome and thanks for the background, I never knew.

    Cales is toned down cool. Skynyrd's version, out hell raisin' with the boys, but Cale's, you could make love to.

    Awesome. Got anything more like that around, bring it on.

    Already recommended above, but maybe check out the whole album: https://www.amazon.com/Naturally-J-J-Cale/dp/B000001FK3
    If you want specific songs, there are worse approaches than just looking for the ones they charge $1.29 for.

  100. @Steve Sailer
    Several rock bands had a second phase of success after inviting in talented newcomers, like the Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?

    Your Fleetwood Mac example? The three eras being “Peter Green”, “Transitional” (best part of which was arguably with Danny Kirwan for the albums Future Games and Bare Trees), and “Buckingham Nicks”?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Mac

    Although not reaching the continuous high level of success I think you are implying this seems like a good match to the sports team idea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mayall_%26_the_Bluesbreakers

  101. @anonguy

    I just recently became aware that one of my favorite Skynard songs, They Call Me the Breeze, was actually written by the relatively unknown guitarist, JJ Cale, who I’d never heard of (even though he was apparently well known to famous guitarists like Clapton.) Cale, it’s written, took the uncharacteristic path (for talented performers) of shunning the spotlight. (Though “shunning the spotlight” can sometimes be a euphemism for succumbing to self-destructive behaviors.) His version seems to start off with a more country-ish flavor, then evolves into something more bluesy.
     
    Man, that was fuckin' awesome and thanks for the background, I never knew.

    Cales is toned down cool. Skynyrd's version, out hell raisin' with the boys, but Cale's, you could make love to.

    Awesome. Got anything more like that around, bring it on.

    According to wiki, Clapton’s Lay Down Sally was a tribute to the style of JJ Cale. I think there’s also more than a little of the influence of Albert Lee in there too, certainly in terms of tonality and some of the phrasing. Lee is another one of those guys who is very well known among guitarists, but pretty much out of the mainstream for most of the public…except that he’s done massive amounts of session work in Nashville and elsewhere for the biggest names in country (and some pop.)

    Yeah, this particular song may be corny, but wait for the guitar solo mid-song…you’ll be glad you did:

    • Replies: @anonguy
    That was slick, tx!
  102. Pretty good! I think it would have done respectably well in 1973; blues-ish mid-tempo rock was doing pretty well in that time period – Jackson Browne and the Eagles in SoCal; Clapton’s post-Derek stuff; the Stones had plenty of mid-tempo twang going on in “Exile” and “Sticky Fingers”; Leon Russell and Dr. John were having some radio hits; and so on. It wouldn’t have sold like “Frampton Comes Alive” a few years later, but would have done ok.

  103. True. I shoulda said littler known by those who don’t know the Ramones.

  104. @ThreeCranes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slVJRzwVWVQ


    Anyone who has lived in New Orleans has got to tear up a little when this song plays. Everyone leaves someone down in New Orleans and this captures warm Southern nights beautifully.

    The country rock band Poco covered Cale’s “Magnolia” on their album “Crazy Eyes.” Here’s a live version:

  105. @ThreeCranes
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slVJRzwVWVQ


    Anyone who has lived in New Orleans has got to tear up a little when this song plays. Everyone leaves someone down in New Orleans and this captures warm Southern nights beautifully.

    The country rock band Poco covered Cale’s “Magnolia” on their album “Crazy Eyes.” Here’s a live version:

  106. @J1234
    According to wiki, Clapton's Lay Down Sally was a tribute to the style of JJ Cale. I think there's also more than a little of the influence of Albert Lee in there too, certainly in terms of tonality and some of the phrasing. Lee is another one of those guys who is very well known among guitarists, but pretty much out of the mainstream for most of the public...except that he's done massive amounts of session work in Nashville and elsewhere for the biggest names in country (and some pop.)

    Yeah, this particular song may be corny, but wait for the guitar solo mid-song...you'll be glad you did:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ualtLQW8xCg

    That was slick, tx!

  107. @SDMatt
    Too many radio stations cut off that great guitar intro and instead go straight to the vocals in Miller's Jet Airliner. Others substitute in "funky kicks," whatever that may be, and cut out the original "funky shit" that was apparently "going down in the city."

    Thank you Mr. Sailer for posting the good unadulterated version.

    Very few stations did their own edit. There were a couple of radio mixes issued as promo discs as I recall.

  108. If you’re interested in blind musicians, I recommend Phineas Newborn, who in addition to his great name was a great pianist who would do these crazy lines with the right and left hands simultaneously :

    I never met Ben Sidran, who I think has also had a storied career as a producer, but in high school my terrible 9th grade rock band didn’t have a drummer and we posted a sign to find one and Ben Sidran’s son, who’d been gigging
    since he was a little kid, answered the ad, and asked for a mix tape , which we provided. “Messy but fun!” I think was what he wrote on the back of the tape, and that was I think the last we heard from him.

  109. @Steve Sailer
    Several rock bands had a second phase of success after inviting in talented newcomers, like the Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?

    Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?

    Not quite “rock”, not quite a “band”, but the Four Freshmen sure look like a long-lasting corporation:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Four_Freshmen#Members

    I wish all the bands on Wikipedia had such a chart!

    Anyone know, do they still do their annual show at Butler U? Now that’s tradition.

  110. @Rosamond Vincy
    There's some GOOD bubblegum out there.

    There’s some GOOD bubblegum out there.

    Oh, how I miss Buddah Records…

    Remind your local Marley snob that Bob cribbed “Buffalo Soldier” from the Banana Splits’ theme song:

    Was it Ellington who said there were only two kinds of music, good, and the other kind?

    • Replies: @ben tillman
    Wow - I listened to the Banana Splits' theme song just today!
  111. Anonymous [AKA "Fuggedaboutit"] says:
    @AndrewR
    A petty Fellow White Person ruined a good man's life? Not surprised. Sad this guy never got the recognition he deserved in life.

    “A petty Fellow White Person”
    Not a fellow White, a Jew…..

  112. @Reg Cæsar

    But he’d had a lot of success over the years (e.g., putting Peter Paul and Mary together)
     
    Was he responsible for Paul being Paul, making the group sound weirdly Biblical?

    A fun trivia question to pull on folks is, Did you know that Paul Stookey and Paul McCartney have the same middle name? Can you tell me what it is?

    I don’t know about Paul Stookey but Paul McCartney’s middle name is Paul. His first name is James.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    I don’t know about Paul Stookey but Paul McCartney’s middle name is Paul.
     
    Well, duh. Now put 2 and 2 2gether...
  113. One learns a lot about a lot here. Love it.

    Todays wake and bake/isteve/youtube-morning check-in led me from Nym’s A Swallow song via Richard and Mimi Farina’s A Swallow song to the Sephardi Sage Solomon Ibn Gabirol’s Los Bibilocus, written in Ladino sometime before 1100 AD.

  114. @Ganderson
    “The Skunk” could play, (always sitting down, as I recall) and Mike McDonald had a unique set of pipes. I recall an SCTV sketch with McDonald rushing from studio to studio to lay down the backing vocals.

    Does (Do?) Steely Dan count as reinventions? A big difference between their first three records and the rest.

  115. @duncsbaby
    I don't know about Paul Stookey but Paul McCartney's middle name is Paul. His first name is James.

    I don’t know about Paul Stookey but Paul McCartney’s middle name is Paul.

    Well, duh. Now put 2 and 2 2gether…

  116. @ThreeCranes
    J.J. Cale album "Naturally" is great stuff if you like that ambling sort of southern ballad. "Magnolia", a memorable song.

    That’s a great album, but I think Okie and Really are even better.

  117. @Reg Cæsar

    There’s some GOOD bubblegum out there.
     
    Oh, how I miss Buddah Records...

    Remind your local Marley snob that Bob cribbed "Buffalo Soldier" from the Banana Splits' theme song:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtluQkuT25s

    Was it Ellington who said there were only two kinds of music, good, and the other kind?

    Wow – I listened to the Banana Splits’ theme song just today!

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    Wow – I listened to the Banana Splits’ theme song just today!
     
    I first heard "Buffalo Soldiers" in a boutique on (excuse me, "in") Carnaby Street in the mid-'80s. I had no idea who was singing, but recognized the BS motif immediately.
  118. @Desiderius
    Nice shot of I-75 coming into Atlanta back when it was four-lane (two each way). What's it up to now, twelve?

    Nice shot of I-75 coming into Atlanta back when it was four-lane (two each way). What’s it up to now, twelve?

    I don’t know, I will not drive though that place! (Sorry for the late reply, Desiderius.

  119. @anonymous-antimarxist
    I don't think adding Steve Perry, a great singer, hurt Journey, but the loss of co-lead singer keyboard player Greg Rolie a few years later did. The band over time moved away from rocking anthems you sang along to like Wheel in the Sky, Any Way You Want It and Don't Stop Believing to writing power ballads that showcased Perry's vocals

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregg_Rolie

    Remember Rolie and guitarist Neil Schon were in Santana during its peak years.

    What really hurt Journey was probably too much touring and weed smoking, they started phoning it in.

    What killed Fleetwood Mac like just about every other major band in the late seventies was too much cocaine, well that, and inter band mate swapping.

    I just got back to this thread, and must have missed this comment before. I just got done posting, about a week back, about Greg Rollie. I like his duets with Steve Perry the best, and I started by pointing out that one can’t play “Feeling that Way” without following it with “Anytime”. If you violate that tradition, you are a disgrace to the broadcasting profession (if there is one anymore).

  120. @Steve Sailer
    Several rock bands had a second phase of success after inviting in talented newcomers, like the Doobie Brothers and Fleetwood Mac. Have any gone through three phases of success with three sets of talent, making them closer to a sports team or a long-lasting corporation?

    OK, now you’ve opened up a sore wound that I’d thought had healed by now. Michael McDonald, with his jazzy sound, single-handedly ruined the Doobie Brothers in my not-so-humble opinion.

    (OK, I liked “Takin’ it to the Streets”, but not the Minute by Minute album. That one had a completely different sound from the Doobies rock sound before that.)

  121. @ben tillman
    Wow - I listened to the Banana Splits' theme song just today!

    Wow – I listened to the Banana Splits’ theme song just today!

    I first heard “Buffalo Soldiers” in a boutique on (excuse me, “in”) Carnaby Street in the mid-’80s. I had no idea who was singing, but recognized the BS motif immediately.

  122. @donut
    "Everyone leaves someone down in New Orleans" , too true .

    Another New Orleans song :

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQvl6bG940I

    The mention of Pena being of Cape Verdian descent brought to mind how that part of Mass. has been colonized long ago by Cape Verdians . I think because the whaling ships used to stop there to take on stores and more hands and thus established a link between the two places .

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb-g4O2QDZg

    Are Grendel and Moby Dick related ?

    Dedicated to Andrew .

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