Music: February 2006 Archives

Smoke on the Water

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You'll find a lot of patriotic and conservative sentiments expressed in country and western music. As a rebuttal to a metroconservative who bemoans conservative celebration of the culture of the common man (think NASCAR, Wal-Mart, and Blue Collar Comedy), Clinton W. Taylor presents, on the American Spectator's website, a selection of 15 "great country songs with great conservative ideas."

As his number one selection, Taylor, once a DJ at KMAD, the "Greatest Little Station in the Chickasaw Nation," picks the song Smoke on the Water. This isn't the Deep Purple song of the same name. This one was recorded in 1945 by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, and a year before that it was a hit for Red Foley. It was written by Zeke Clements and Earl Nunn.

Of this politically incorrect song, with its references to "heathen gods," Taylor writes:

If you ever set out to find out just what it would take to get yourself excommunicated from the Unitarians, I bet playing this song while you did it would help.

Here's a link to the original lyrics for Smoke on the Water, including the fierce second verse that Taylor mentions was dropped from the Bob Wills version.

(If you come back here in a day or two, you may be able to hear a bit of the song. UPDATE: As promised, for a limited time, a very low-quality 350 KB MP3.)

(If this is correct, the twin lead guitarists on that song are Jimmy Wyble and Cameron Hill.)

Country and Western is music for grownups. It's about the only current genre where you'll find songs about responsibility, fidelity, love of country, parenthood, old age, and the consequences of folly.

Taylor's description of his number 15 song reminded me of another song that deals with fidelity. A little over a year ago I first heard a Randy Travis song called On the Other Hand. The song's point of view is that of a married man who is very tempted to stray, but he musters the strength to stop and leave before he goes too far. Here's the chorus:

On the other hand, There's a golden band
To remind me of someone who would not understand
On the one hand I could stay and be your loving man
But the reason I must go is on the other hand

When I first heard that song, I was struck by the contrast with a pop song that dealt with a similar temptation -- the Beatles' Chains, by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. In Chains, the singer's love for his girlfriend binds him from going after the desirable girl to whom the song is addressed.

But in On the Other Hand, there's no hint of chains of love binding the singer to his wife -- he sings of passion that has died. Instead of being bound by emotion, he's bound by the objective fact of his vows before God and man, symbolized by that golden band on the other hand. Instead of passion being trumped by stronger passion, as in the Beatles' song, here you have passion being subjected to duty by an act of the will. And that is very much a conservative idea.

Helping Susan Cowsill

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This is going to be a departure from BatesLine's usual content, the sort of thing that Mister Snitch calls a long-tail post. Google seems to treat this blog pretty favorably, so I'm hopeful that this entry will be found by Cowsills fans as they search the net.

In the linkblog a few days ago, I made mention of the woes that have recently befallen The Cowsills, a the late '60s pop band that also happened to be a family. The band consisted of four brothers, their mom, and their little sister Susan.

(Hollywood saw the TV potential of the group, but after the fashion of the time that potential was translated into a situation comedy based on their story, featuring professional actors miming to music. Nowadays, the Cowsills would have been made the stars of their own reality series.)

The Cowsill family has lost a lot in the last few months, starting with Hurricane Katrina. Barry Cowsill, in New Orleans when the storm hit, was missing until January, when his body was identified.

Susan Cowsill and her husband made it out of New Orleans in time, but with nothing but their pets and the clothes on their back. Their priceless family archives were lost to the storm.

Then, a week ago, as family and friends gathered in the family's hometown of Newport, R.I., to remember Barry, they learned that oldest brother Billy had died at his home in Calgary.

Susan Cowsill has a connection to Tulsa. Susan sang backup and harmony vocals with Dwight Twilley's band, going back to the '80s, and she lived in Tulsa for a time. She was here last August performing with Twilley, not long before Katrina hit.

(YouTube has a music video, "Some Good Years," a song the regrouped Cowsills recorded in the early '90s. The video was part of a tribute to Barry, and it features clips from the Cowsills' American Dairy Association commercial, a 1967 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and TV appearances with Dean Martin, Johnny Cash, Buddy Ebsen, and Mike Douglas. Even if you aren't a fan, if you fondly remember variety shows of the era, you'll enjoy the trip down Memory Lane. Hat tip to the Dawn Patrol.)

Susan Cowsill could use your help in a couple of ways. She and her husband lost everything to Katrina. Back in September Dwight and Jan Twilley began collecting funds to help with basic needs, and in an e-mail a couple of days ago, Jan Twilley confirmed to me that there is still a need and they are still accepting donations. You can send donations to:

Susan Cowsill
c/o Jan Twilley
4306 S. Peoria Suite 642
Tulsa, OK. 74105-3924

The Cowsill family also hopes to replace some of the memorabilia that was lost to the storm. Through the Cowsills Archive Project, the family is asking for fans to share their Cowsills memorabilia by uploading photos and scans. They would also welcome any memorabilia you can bear to part with to help rebuild the family's collection.

I only learned about The Cowsills in the last year or so, so I can't claim to be a longtime fan, but I was touched by this story of loss upon loss -- and its contrast to the happy innocence you'll see in that video -- and I wanted to let people know how they can help. I'm hopeful that Cowsills fans will come across this entry, spread the word, and help in any way they can.

Hanson blogging?

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I was checking Technorati for references to Tulsa and found what purports to be the online journal of Isaac Hanson, and that led me to the online journal of his brother Zac, and the online journal of his other brother Taylor. They have a band.

It is entirely possible that none of these sites are authentic, although they don't have the marks of a parody site. For one thing, Isaac and Taylor have only made one entry each; Zac hasn't posted anything. If these are authentic, they're awfully revealing.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from February 2006.

Music: December 2005 is the previous archive.

Music: March 2006 is the next archive.

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