Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Robert Zimmerman – better known as Bob Dylan – turns 70 years old today. In honor of his 70th birthday, those pot-heads at Rolling Stone released a list of what they consider Zimmy’s 70 best songs.

When my buddy DiscConnected mentioned to me that he was going to post a list of his Top Ten favorite Dylan songs to commemorate Dylan’s birthday, I shoved my way into that idea and said something very original: “Me too!”

What makes compiling a list of 10 favorite Bob Dylan songs so difficult for me is that I love – not like, but LOVE – more than 10 Dylan songs. I’m tempted to list some “Honorable Mentions” as well, but I don’t wish to be thought of as a “two-time cheater”.

What’s odd is that in my late teens / early 20s, I owned 9 Bob Dylan albums on Licorice Pizza (LP), and yet I did not really consider myself much of a Dylan fan. As I have stated on this blog multiple times before, it wasn’t until my late 40s that I suddenly realized how much I had unconsciously learned from Dylan while listening repeatedly to his albums way back then.
In early 2008, I borrowed the Dylan album ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ from my friend DiscConnected (the man who owns approximately 15,000 compact discs, and counting).
I hadn’t heard the album for about 25 years, and as I was listening to it, all those songs started coming back to me, and I was left thinking to myself: Oh, so this is where all “my” ideas came from!

I don’t think I could overemphasize the impact Dylan had on my creative life. From Zimmy's Zongs I learned how to think in similes; how to manipulate words for fun and profit; how to think “outside-the-box” creatively; how to loosen up and unlock the mental gate, thus inviting the creative spirit to flow from my subconscious mind into my consciousness and to manifest in whatever form I’m working in.

Interestingly, after having read a biography about him, I found that I don’t really like Bob Dylan much as a person, nevertheless I find him to be a fascinating individual. As an artist, I have the utmost respect for him and stand rather in awe of his songwriting talent.

In 1965 & ’66, Dylan released 3 albums (‘Bringing It All Back Home’; ‘Highway 61 Revisited’; ‘Blonde On Blonde’) all considered musical landmarks. And those 3 albums contained 34 songs, many of them absolutely brilliant, acknowledged masterpieces that literally revolutionized popular songwriting. Has any other artist in any other genre displayed a similar outpouring of remarkable creative inventiveness over just a two-year span? I would argue that James Dean did, and probably Vincent Van Gogh as well, but no one else comes to mind for me.

On to my list . . .

Below are my Top Ten favorite Zimmy Zongs. The first one is indeed #1 for me; a work of mind-boggling lyrical genius. Sit down with pencil ‘n’ paper someday and numerically write out the rhyming chart for this one and be amazed – be very amazed!

After #1, all of my choices have been alphabetized, because it would be impossible for me to rank them in order of preference. I have included multiple links for each song because I fear some of the links will not work properly. Some of the song titles themselves are links, and more links can be found below the lyric excerpts.

#1! :

From the album ‘Bringing It All Back Home’

My eyes collide head-on with stuffed
Graveyards, false gods, I scuff
At pettiness which plays so rough
Walk upside-down inside handcuffs
Kick my legs to crash it off
Say okay, I have had enough, what else can you show me?

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only


[Performed in Birmingham, England, 1965. Scroll down slightly.]


All the others in alphabetical order :

From the album ‘Bringing It All Back Home’

Well, the last I heard of Arab
He was stuck on a whale
That was married to the deputy
Sheriff of the jail

But the funniest thing was
When I was leavin’ the bay
I saw three ships a-sailin’
They were all heading my way

I asked the captain what his name was
And how come he didn’t drive a truck
He said his name was Columbus
I just said, “Good luck”

In hindsight, I’ve come to realize that my 1980 poem ‘Seven Days Of The Lord’ was inspired by ‘Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream’. I didn’t realize that at the time I was writing it. This is an excellent example of the sort of Dylan song that learned me how to think “outside-the-box”, as is evident in ‘Seven Days Of The Lord’.


From the album ‘Slow Train Coming’

Jesus said, “Be ready
For you know not the hour in which I come”
Jesus said, “Be ready
For you know not the hour in which I come”
He said, “He who is not for Me is against Me”
Just so you know where He’s coming from

‘Slow Train Coming’ (1979) was the first of Bob Dylan’s Christian albums. Who knew that Christian music could sound so freakin’ tough?! This stuffs sure doesn’t sound like those weenie-whiney-wimpy songs that pass for Christian music today.

From the album ‘Blonde On Blonde’

Yes, I see you got your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat
Well, you must tell me, baby
How your head feels under somethin’ like that
Under your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Well, you look so pretty in it
Honey, can I jump on it sometime?
Yes, I just wanna see
If it’s really that expensive kind
You know it balances on your head
Just like a mattress balances
On a bottle of wine
Your brand new leopard-skin pill-box hat

Ha! One of Zimmy’s funniest songs. I distinctly recall that when I was a teenager, I disliked ‘Leopard-skin Pill-box Hat’. I thought it was just plain silly. Now, I not only love it, but I believe I have an original observation to make about it: I might well be wrong, but in thinking about this song, I came to the conclusion that it is actually delivering the same sort of message as Dylan’s most famous song ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, albeit in a more humorous “fashion”. Tell them you heard it here first on Roller Derby.



From the album ‘Highway 61 Revisited’

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people
They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made
Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things
But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe

You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse
When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel?

Is there anyone who wouldn’t include ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ on their Top Ten Favorite Dylan Songs list? The consensus is that this is his all-time greatest song.


From the albums ‘Greatest Hits’ and ‘The Essential Bob Dylan’

You got a lotta nerve
To say you are my friend
When I was down
You just stood there grinning

You got a lotta nerve
To say you got a helping hand to lend
You just want to be on
The side that’s winning

A real sentimental choice for me. Back in the late 1970s/early ‘80s, I used to have this song all set up to start playing anytime my dear friend Marty was coming to see me. It drove him nuts! He’d walk in my front door, or climb into the passenger seat of my car, and immediately he’d hear: “You got a lotta nerve to say you are my friend…” Ha! Of course, he really was a great friend, and that’s why I was rattling his cage. He was killed by a car thief in 1989. Very sad. I really miss him.


[A close-to-identical “cover” version.]

From the album ‘Slow Train Coming’

Man’s ego is inflated, his laws are outdated, they don’t apply no more
You can’t rely no more to be standin’ around waitin'
In the home of the brave
Jefferson’s turnin’ over in his grave
Fools glorifying themselves, trying to manipulate Satan
And there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

Big-time negotiators, false healers and woman haters
Masters of the bluff and masters of the proposition
But the enemy I see
Wears a cloak of decency
All nonbelievers and men stealers talkin’ in the name of religion
And there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

The great title track from Dylan’s great Christian album. You’d better believe it - Jesus is comin’ up around the bend. He may be comin’ slowly, but He’s also coming with the unstoppable force and power of a train. Will you have your ticket in hand when He arrives?


From the album ‘Blonde On Blonde’

Now the rainman gave me two cures
Then he said, “Jump right in”
The one was Texas medicine
The other was just railroad gin
An’ like a fool I mixed them
An’ it strangled up my mind
An’ now people just get uglier
An’ I have no sense of time

Oh, Mama, can this really be the end
To be stuck inside of Mobile
With the Memphis blues again

I couldn’t even begin to guess what this song is about. All I know is that I love the way it sounds, and I love taking the title and adapting it to other situations. For instance, I might say something like, “I’m stuck inside of Phoenix with the Airheadzona Blues again.” Which in fact is fact!

[A close-to-identical “cover” version.]

From the album ‘Bringing It All Back Home’

Maggie comes fleet foot
Face full of black soot
Talkin’ that the heat put
Plants in the bed but
The phone’s tapped anyway
Maggie says that many say
They must bust in early May
Orders from the D.A.
Look out kid
Don’t matter what you did
Walk on your tiptoes
Don’t try “No-Doz”
Better stay away from those
That carry around a fire hose
Keep a clean nose
Watch the plain clothes
You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows

My friend DiscConnected and I were talking about this song the other day and he said, “It’s not really about anything.” I laughed and said, “Actually, I think it’s about EVERYTHING! I mean, even the kitchen sink is in there, isn’t it?”

This has been called the very first Rap song, and it is another one of those recordings that taught me how to loosen up and just let the mind go where it will. Sometimes you just gotta unleash the dog and let it go sniffin’ around whichever way the wind blows it.

My own personal version of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ was titled ‘Ode To 824 Bay’. What it lacked in quality it made up for in craziness.


From the album ‘Slow Train Coming’

God don’t make no promises that He don’t keep
You got some big dreams, baby,
But in order to dream you gotta still be asleep
When you gonna wake up?, When you gonna wake up?
When you gonna wake up and strengthen the things that remain?

Counterfeit philosophies have polluted all of your thoughts
Karl Marx has got ya by the throat,
Henry Kissinger’s got you tied up in knots
When you gonna wake up?, When you gonna wake up?

Another song that sounds tough-as-nails from Dylan’s first Christian album. Sometimes the message needs to be stated loudly and fearlessly. Dylan knew how to do that.

From the album ‘Blood On The Tracks’

A change in the weather is known to be extreme
But what’s the sense of changing horses in midstream?
I’m going out of my mind, oh, oh
With a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart
Ever since we’ve been apart

‘Blood On The Tracks’ is generally considered one of Bob Dylan’s very greatest albums. No argument from me. The theme is basically “love gone wrong”. A lot of fans believe the songs were inspired by Dylan’s deteriorating relationship with his wife, but I know he was really writing about Terrill and me. (Although you probably think he was writing about you and your lost love, huh? Silly! It's all about Terrill and me.)

[My Dylanesque ‘Love Letter To Terrill’.]

I have to be in the right mood to listen to 'Blood On The Tracks'. I have to be in the mood to get stinking drunk and slit my wrists over lost love. Fortunately, I’m in that kind of mood fairly often.

Although the album is loaded with great songs about lost love, ‘You’re A Big Girl Now’ stands out for me as the greatest of the mournful classics on this collection. Few people mention this particular song when naming the best couple of songs from ‘Blood On The Tracks’, but it absolutely slays me, even before Dylan starts singing the words. Those first few Spanish guitar-like notes strike my heart like darts, and I’m pretty much ready to weep in seconds. This is one of the saddest songs ever recorded.

…a pain that stops and starts
Like a corkscrew to my heart

Have you ever opened a bottle of wine with a corkscrew? You know how you can only twist the corkscrew just so far before you have to stop and reposition your hand in order to twist it again? “A pain that stops and starts, like a corkscrew to my heart”. Damn! That is some imagery! Dylan could really write.

Well, those are my Top Ten favorite Dylan songs. If the links didn’t work, you can listen to SONG SAMPLES AT BOBDYLAN.COM by using the small arrows in the upper corners to scroll through his various albums and load the song you wish to hear.

Please be sure to also check out the Top Ten Dylan Songs of DiscConnected and Arlee Bird of the blog Tossing It Out.

“Famous Dogs Of The Civil War” – Part 2, another blog bit ‘bout Dylan, has not been written yet. But whenever I get around to composing it, I will post a link to it HERE.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Going to see a man about a dog, I found myself in a part of Phoenix that's even scuzzier than my own house. (Well, not scuzzier per se, but per inch - that is if we exclude my bathroom, those parts of my bedroom I don't sleep on, and that part of my kitchen I don't see when I've got my head in the refrigerator and I'm cryin' over spilt beer.)

Driving home, I stopped at a Burger King in this scuzzy neighborhood, and looking around at the other customers, I felt I had crashed the May 19th 'Have It Your Way' Trailer Park's "1st Anal ["anal" is how the edjucated trailer park residents write "yearly"] 48-Hours-Before-The-End-Of-The-World Judgment Day Bar-B-Q".

There I found some woman yakking on her cell phone in an
SB-1070 language while ignoring her little daughter who was running around the dining area and yapping like an Obedience School dropout. Then there was the old, grizzled George Carlin-wannabe who was taking orders from the crying kid in the stroller about where they should sit; the Black dude arguing with his Whopper (and actually losing the argument); and an assortment of characters who appeared to have escaped from 'Wicker Man Island' [link] or from the Woody Allen Nightmare Train [link] in 'Stardust Memories'.

And all I could think about was that great Todd Snider trailer trash song 'Doublewide Blues' :

'Doublewide Blues' - (6:08)


[The first 6 minutes and 8 seconds is the official town song of Hope, Arkansas - birthplace of Bill Clinton. The other 4+ minutes is just silence.]

More Fun With Trailer Trash:


['The Story of the Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern' - performed in concert before a "live nude girl" audience, interpolated with the freakingly funny story about "Willie & Waylon And The Boys". If you've never heard this, then you . . . ain't never heard it. But it's funnier'n 'ell!]

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"ROCK ON, OOH, MY SOUL" (Three For Marjorie)




Marjorie, Click This Link And See For Yourself . . .

But don't watch anymore clips after that. Just rent "East Of Eden" and learn what the fuss has been about for the last 56 years.

Psst! Marjorie, check out the photo of me at upper left, drinking whiskey at the base of the Statue Of Liberty. If that doesn't strike you as me "doing my best James Dean", then you know nothing of my work! [My apologies to Woody Allen.]

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
"As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly."
~ Proverbs 26:11

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Friday, May 13, 2011


You don't gotta know what "Fo shizzle" and "G dog" means before you'll find the movie 'Hollywood Shuffle' hilarious.

'Hollywood Shuffle' was a genuine American success story. From Wikipedia: With a budget of $100,000, of which $60,000 was funded from Robert Townsend's own credit cards, and grossing over $5 million over the first ten months of release, the film was a resounding independent success, propelling Townsend into stardom.

The entire movie is really good and includes a number of funny skits that are "all effervescent 'n' sh#t." But without a doubt, my favorite skit in 'Hollywood Shuffle' is "Sneakin' In The Movies" - an urban 'hood send-up of the old Siskel & Ebert "thumbs up/thumbs down" movie reviewing program.

One of my most frequently used quotes comes from the "Sneakin' In The Movies" segment. No, not "Where's my bitches?" - believe it or not, I don't often find myself in a situation where it's appropriate to say "Where's my bitches?"

However, I do often find myself in situations where this quote works just right: "That shit could really happen!"

...Attack Of The Street Pimps - oh, gosh, that is SO FUNNY!

Look, if you need a laugh, be sure to watch the video clip below. It's the entire "Sneakin' In The Movies" segment from 'Hollywood Shuffle'. Be forewarned, there's some foul language 'n' shit - these are supposed to be brothers from the 'hood, ya know - but still, this is 10 great minutes of "hilarity, gravitivity, and polarity". I mean, if you don't think this is funny stuffs, just go away - leave my blog and never come back.

I thank you.


~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Postscript: The "Sneakin' In The Movies" segment contains a flaw that I caught once by rewinding. Don't try to find it the first time through; just enjoy the laughs. But if you're inclined to "find da flaw" later, I'll give you a major clue: the color "yellow".

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Monday, May 9, 2011



Beginning and ending today, I am going to institute a new series on this blog called “MUSIC MONDAYS”. The point of this exercise is to just write some stuffs on the fly about my love of music and how I became mo’ better musically educated. This installment has to do with artistic originality and electric guitarists.

In 1978, I was on the set of a Lee's Sportswear commercial which featured the renowned Jazz guitarist LEE RITENOUR. I happened to be standing nearby when he spoke to another musician about this new inventive guitarist named Eddie Van Halen who had just arrived on the scene. In demonstrating Eddie's "Tapping" technique, Lee Ritenour whipped off a perfect Van Halenesque solo. My jaw dropped! Had I not seen with my own eyes Ritenour play that brief guitar solo I would have been willing to swear in a court of law that what I'd just heard could have emanated from the fingers of no one but Eddie Van Halen. I was an 18-year-old "Rock 'N' Roll addict" at the time and I was heavily into Hard Rock music back then.

I later struck up a conversation with Ritenour and asked him what he thought of several other Rock guitarists who were popular at the time. I was surprised to hear him say, "They're all good."

The proverbial "light bulb" above my head lit up that day. It occurred to me that usually very little difference in technical facility separates the artists of any medium at the highest levels of professionalism. The greatest artists achieve legendary status and eternal fame not so much on their outstanding technical ability (which all of the A-List artists possess) but based on their innovations and/or the originality of their stylistic approach.

It's not that VAN GOGH was the greatest painter of his time that his works now sell for millions of dollars. He had a style all his own: landscapes composed of brilliant colors applied to the canvas as if in an emotional rage! Nearly every EDWARD HOPPER painting conveys a sense of lonely isolation. That was his style. In describing his acting style, JAMES DEAN said that in one hand he had Marlon Brando saying "F**k you!" and in the other hand he had Montgomery Clift saying "Help me!" This approach in combination with a fertile imagination made him an eternal silver screen legend. For a long time, Big Band leader GLENN MILLER sought to capture the unique "sound" he heard in his mind. In putting together arrangements, he eventually stumbled upon it. By using a clarinet or alto sax in tandem with four other saxes, doubling an octave above the lead, he created “The Glenn Miller Sound” that made his music instantly recognizable thereafter.

When I was young, my goal was to become “the greatest actor of all time”. But I learned from Lee Ritenour on that day in 1978, that there is no such thing as “the greatest” when it comes to any form of art. The very best artists are ALL equally capable when it comes to technical prowess: a great Jazz guitarist like Lee Ritenour can casually whip off an Eddie Van Halen-like solo as if it’s nothing. What made Van Halen a household name, is that he is the one who really popularized that “Tapping” concept. It’s not the technique and the dexterity that matters so much as it is the innovation and the “style” that elevates some of the great artists to “Legendary” status.

Now, having just explained why no one can realistically say that “this person” or “that person” is the best actor, or painter, or singer, or writer (because it's really a matter of whose style you prefer) . . . I’m prepared to say that Danny Gatton was the greatest guitarist ever.

Well, not really, of course, but in all seriousness, any list of the all-time greatest guitarists MUST include Gatton somewhere near the top. From a technical standpoint, I doubt anyone was ever better. If there’s any knock on Danny at all, perhaps one could say that he never quite developed his own totally unique sound. The guy could perfectly play just about anything – you name it: Jazz, Blues, Rock, Country, Rockabilly. He was a master of it all. Danny Gatton was so freakin’ good that he was nicknamed “The Humbler”, meaning that he could humble even the best of guitarists. And yet, I’m not so sure he ever completely developed his own unique “sound”, as I hear “Les Paul” reverberating through so much of his astonishing playing.

Sadly, the guy eventually committed suicide, and one of the reasons most often mentioned is that, despite his prodigious musical gifts, he seemed unable to get his professional career off the ground.

I was introduced to the music of Danny Gatton by my old friend Larry Rosen (aka “F-in’ Lelly”), Larry himself being a very accomplished guitarist. In 1994, Lelly recorded a cassette for me which he titled, "LITTLE GUITAR DITTIES: LELLY'S FAVORITES." It contained 3 Danny Gatton tracks including the '93 version of “Harlem Nocturne”, which knocked me out! Gatton's playing was first-class. He may have sacrificed a musical composition to hotdogging once in awhile (“Orange Blossom Medley” comes to mind), but hey, even that was enjoyable!

Here are some things that others have said about Danny Gatton:

“Jesus's guitar teacher”.

“Never seen a Telecaster get molested like that”.

“Hi, I’m from planet Earth. Where are you from, Mr. Gatton?”

And here’s something that Danny Gatton once said:

I hope you all get the idea that you really don’t have to go to music school to learn how to play. Wes Montgomery didn’t read. I mean, it’s nice if you can, if you know music theory, but it seems like the best players – my heroes – most of them didn’t read. They played from the heart, and that’s what it really takes.
~ Danny Gatton

I now want to perform the same favor for you that Larry Rosen performed for me in ’94, by introducing you to unquestionably one of the best guitarists who ever lived, and a bloke that likely few of youz has ever experienced before. After listening to the following videos, please scroll down to learn how you can encourage my frend Larry Rosen in his quest to become the next “King Of The Blues” guitarists:


[I love the expressions Danny Gatton makes after Bill Holloman blows the roof down with his saxophone in “Funky Mama”. Obviously, Gatton enjoyed sharing the stage and the limelight with other A-List talented musicians]:


Ya know, for all the Flash ‘N’ Speed that Gatton displays, when ya get right down to it, it’s really this stuffs below that truly sears my soul:


But perhaps it’s “shimmering satin six-strings” yer lookin’ for. If so, then try this:


Great stuffs, eh?

Well, my buddy Larry Rosen, who turned me on to Danny Gatton way back in '94 is now, for the second year in a row, engaged in a nationwide Blues guitar contest sponsored by “Guitar Center” who is offering fifty thousand dollars in prizes.

[Larry Rosen, darn good guitarist!]

It’s kind of like 5 Rounds of “Blues Guitar Karaoke” in which contestants are scored by a panel of 3 independent and credible judges on the criteria of authenticity, orginality, skills/technque, stage presence, and overall performance.

Last year, there were about 7 thousand contestants across the country, and Larry made it to Round 4, where he ultimately lost to the bloke who eventually won the entire contest. Well, that bloke is not eligible to compete again this year. On May 5th - his birthday – my friend Larry did battle in Round 1 and he emerged victorious. Four more Rounds to win and he will be the “King Of The Blues Guitarists”.

So, please consider stopping by his blog – ALL THINGS 6 STRINGS – to wish him good luck.

You might also consider pre-ordering the compact disc that the band 'Slavin’ David And Loose Gravel' are currently working on. My friend Larry is one of the band’s guitarists and he wrote 4 of the songs that will appear on the next album. Please check it out via the link below:


Slavin’ David And Loose Gravel

Guitar Center’s “King Of The Blues” Website

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.



Beginning and ending today, I am going to institute a new series on this blog called “MUSIC MONDAYS”. The point of this exercise is to just write some stuffs on the fly about my love of music and how I became mo’ better musically educated. This installment has to do with Jazz and drumming.

I realize now that I screwed up my life; I was meant to become a musician (a Hammond B-3 player in the mold of Brian Auger), but for a variety of reasons, I went in other directions, where I had less talent. Yeah, I made a mess of this life, but to steal a line from Ed Wood Jr., “my next one will be better”.

In 1981, Ralph Bakshi released an animated movie titled “American Pop”. It was the story of a music-loving family of Jews in Russia and how the family eventually emigrates to the United States. The movie’s slogan was: “All those years, all those dreams, all those sons . . . one of them is going to be a star.”

I saw the movie with my buddy Marty – both of us at the time dreaming of someday becoming stars of stage and screen. Years later, Marty was killed by a car thief and I became an unnoteworthy blogger. But Marty and I dug “American Pop” and saw it multiple times in the theatre (because back then one couldn’t own movies and watch them at home any ol’ time they wanted to).

I later made a large oil painting for Marty of the character “Big Pete”, when he is experiencing all that intense emotional pain while the song “Summertime” is being sung.

Below is a video clip showing one of our favorite parts of the movie, when “Little Pete” grows into a seriously cool badass, and takes that dog by the ears and gives it a good yank. Little Pete takes a liability and turns it into an asset and, unexpectedly, he’s the one whose love of music culminates in stardom.

Marty, being Jewish, liked how Little Pete was digging the Hebrew prayer and picked up on its rhythm. I like how Big Pete makes that “See ya” James Dean hand gesture at the 2:50 mark:


I purchased the “American Pop” soundtrack LP in 1981, which was a compilation of songs, most of them of the Rock ‘N’ Roll variety. But included in the track listing was the song “Take Five” by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. In a way, this was my introduction to pure Jazz.

In truth, while growing up, there were some Jazz albums in my house, since my Pa loved Nat King Cole and Dinah Washington and my Ma played Cannonball Adderley’s “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” to death. And although I liked that Cannonball Adderley number, I never really thought of Jazz as a legitimate form of music because, being young and stupid, I believed that music was supposed to be mostly loud and fast with lots of screaming guitars.

I already had a Jazz/Rock fusion album in my collection, having discovered Brian Auger’s live version of the Wes Montgomery tune “Bumpin’ On Sunset” a few years earlier. But in listening to that “American Pop” soundtrack repeatedly something began to happen. I came to discover that there just seemed to be more complexity to the Jazz tune than to any of the Rock songs; it was more textured and more interesting. And then of course there was that indescribably quirky drum solo in the middle of it by a guy I later learned was named Joe Morello.

Over time, “Take Five” became my favorite track on the album and I believe that was probably the point where I first really began contemplating the idea that there existed other genres of music beyond the Rock category which were worth exploring. Furthermore, Joe Morello would eventually become my all-time favorite drummer.

It would take years for it to happen, but I gradually moved away from Rock music and gravitated toward other forms like Blues and Jazz, until now, Jazz is by far my favorite type of music. And I have been known to say that “‘Take Five’ is the ‘Stairway To Heaven’ of Jazz”.

About a month ago I was listening to a Jazz sampler CD that I had purchased specifically for the track “All The Cats Join In” by Buck Clayton, when a song came on and I caught myself thinking: Damn, that drummer is really good! So, I glanced at the cover and wouldn’t you know it? It was the Dave Brubeck Quartet with Morello pounding the skins. I shoulda known.

Then I decided it was time to buy a new Dave Brubeck Quartet CD and I settled on “At Carnegie Hall”. Hokey-Smoke! Is this the best live album ever? I’d always thought Van Morrison’s “It’s Too Late To Stop Now” got that honor, but it might now be de-throwned in my mind.

On the second disc, Joe Morello performs an approximately ten-minute drum solo that Dave Brubeck himself calls “Nothing short of amazing.” And Morello was even suffering from a flu bug at the time. I found the solo at YouTube but the sound quality was not good enough to do the solo justice so I have decided not to post it here. I suggest that you just consider buying the album.

My favorite drummers? Well, Morello’s at the top, of course, because he had such a quirky, creative rhythmic sense, but other names that spring immediately to mind are Gene Krupa, Art Blakey, Tony Brock, and the famous session drummer Steve Gadd (again because of a quirky style).

Something I discovered back in 1981 was that Joe Morello’s odd style of drumming seemed to convey a sense of humor at times. For example, that 4-part drumroll he plays at the 3:05-3:08 point in “Take Five” used to make me literally laugh out loud. Now it only makes me smile because I’ve heard it like eleventy thousand times:


And I find another humorous moment in the live at Carnegie Hall version of “Pennies From Heaven” (does any song “swing” more than this one does?) At the 7:43 mark, Morello begins playing a series of drum fills. Between 8:30 and 8:36 he pauses for two or three seconds right in the middle of a drum fill, as if to say, “You know it’s coming - wait for it . . .” Ha! This guy drums “funny”.


If Joe Morello was this creative on just a basic 1963 drum kit, can you even imagine what he might have done on one of these eleventy-thousand-piece drum kits of today?

Another thing I surprisingly discovered while exploring Jazz is that, although I had previously assumed only Rock music was capable of expressing power and fury due to the screaming electric guitars, in fact some Jazz did the very same thing, only through the use of different instruments. For instance, I once wrote that Benny Goodman’s "SING, SING, SING" combines the energy of Punk Rock with the musicianship of real musicians! Check this out and tell me if you really think it takes a back seat to the Clash or the Sex Pistols in the “Energy” category. [That's the great Gene Krupa on drums]:


I can distinctly remember a Summer night when I was a young teenager, standing on the front porch of the house where I grew up; kids were playing out in the street and my Mom was sitting on the porch listening to Vin Scully announce a Dodger game through a transistor radio, when I had this thought: I don’t want to die anytime soon because I haven’t heard Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” album enough times yet.

A typically silly teenage thought, right? Well, the other day, I thought to myself: I don’t want to die anytime soon because I haven’t heard “The Dave Brubeck Quartet At Carnegie Hall” album enough times yet.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


You regular readers of my blogs (yes, I’m yakkin’ at BOTH of ya) will undoubtedly recall my recent blog bit in which I told of how I had been reunited with an old friend of mine, the guitar-slinging ‘Big Man On Campus’, Lelly Losen – better known as “F-in’ Lelly” by those who really know him well and who are at a safe distance from his 6’4”, 250 pound 'bad self'. [Was this a run-on sentence?]

If you don’t remember it already, I told how my ol’ friend Lelly is a Rockin’ Bluesman and a member of two bands in the Los Angeles area. Well dogged if he didn’t up and send me a couple of compact discs, one of them being the 2007 album ‘Life’s Too Short To Eat Cheap Pizza’ by Doc Rogers And The Roc Dodgers. Lelly plays guitar on the album and I dig every track on this set of “Irreverent Rock For Irreverent Times”.

[This is Lelly. As it says in the album’s liner notes: “When not playing, Larry works as the bouncer at the local Christian Science reading room.” So, read to yourself, quietly; don’t make him have to hit you with that guitar!]

The songs were written by bassist Terry Rangno and he is a clever lyricist. I would describe the songs as being “From the Jim Stafford School of Songwriting”, so if you love Jim Stafford as much as I do, you are GUARANTEED to love Doc Rogers And The Roc Dodgers too.

[This is Terry Rangno - just like it says. He writes funny “stuffs”.]

But I gotta tell ya, my favorite song on this collection is “I Seen It On TV”. Is this the best, most humorous political song ever? It just might be. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of a better, funnier one. Check out the lyrics:

c Rangnomusic 2007 BMI

The country’s in a crisis, the president’s a dope
Everybody’s unemployed, we’re on a slippery slope
Old folks droppin’ dead, we’re starvin’ ‘em you see
I know it’s all the truth, I seen it on TV

There’s poison in the water, there’s poison in the air
It’s all them SUV’s, you see ‘em everywhere
Ain’t nobody guilty in the penitentiary
I know it’s all the truth, I seen it on TV

Food Stamps, open borders, Welfare checks
People gettin’ married and they’re both the same sex
Boy Scouts gettin’ kicked around by city hall
Wonder when there’s gonna be an end to it all

I know them talkin’ heads would never lie to me
I know it’s all the truth, I seen it on TV

Turn in all your guns and put an end to crime
Forget the Constitution, it’s from another time
What we gotta have is some more diversity
I know it’s all the truth, I seen it on TV

The Left is always right, the Right is always wrong
Don’t bother learnin’ English, it’ll take ya way too long
Housing, food, healthcare should be completely free
I know it’s all the truth, I seen it on TV

Food Stamps, open borders, Welfare checks
People gettin’ married and they’re both the same sex
Boy Scouts gettin’ kicked around by city hall
Wonder when there’s gonna be an end to it all

I know them talkin’ heads would never lie to me
I know it’s all the truth, I seen it on TV...
And if it’s on TV you know it’s true . . . . . ain’t it ?

Now speaking for no one but myself (not speaking for Terry Rangno, or F-in’ Lelly, or anyone else but me), I think the president we had in 2007 really was “a dope”. But the one we have today is “a dopey Commie”. Ahh, but CHANGE is good”. Didn’t Buddha say that? Or was it Victor Buono? Rosie O’Donnell? Well, anyway, I know it was one of those men who’re “way too fat”.

Hey, if you want to hear song samples from the ‘Life’s Too Short To Eat Cheap Pizza’ album and to perhaps purchase a copy of it for yourself or for someone who has a better sense of humor than you do, click on the convenient link I’ve thoughtfully provided below.


...Down a little bit further!

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

["The link - are we there yet?"
"Just a little further…"]

by Doc Rogers And The Roc Dodgers

Wait! You went too far. Back up.

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t Amazon.com, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.