"We all inhabit this small planet...", JFK, June 10, 1963. ThisSmallPlanet is about life and culture, most often about music but also politics, nature, travel, and history. 'New Music Today' and 'Cool, New Music' feature the latest playlists and links to new music streams and downloads, selected music articles from our favorite sites, and original writing, photos, and videos.
Lana Del Rey's new album Chemtrails over the Country Club is expected to be released January 7, 2021. "Let Me Love You Like A Woman" is the first single from that album and continues her collaboration with Jack Antonoff, with whom she had such great success with last year's Norman Fucking Rockwell!
Various Artists Angelheaded Hipster: The Songs of Marc Bolan and T. Rex. Fantastic album, one of the last projects producer Hal Willner, of Saturday Night Live fame, worked on before his COVID-related death in April. Amazing line-up including: Kesha, Joan Jett, Devendra Banhart, Lucinda Williams, Peaches, Todd Rundgren, Sean Lennon, David Johansen, and Maria McKee.
Phoebe Bridgers"Summer's End" (John Prine Cover) [Live for SiriusXMU Sessions]
Stephen Malkmus "Juliefuckingette" (outtake from Traditional Techniques)
PJ HarveyTo Bring You My Love(Demos). PJ Harvey has recently been releasing the demos for her first three albums - Dry (1992), Rid Of Me (1993), and To Bring You My Love (1995). The demos are raw and are a revelation - and they remind us just how much PJ rocked in the early 90s, easy to forget when considering today's more "proper" and restrained version of PJ.
The Rolling Stones Goats Head Soup (Deluxe) esp. "Scarlet" (feat Jimmy Page) & "Star Star"
Steve Miller BandBright Lights, Big City (Live NYC 1976)
The WhoOdds & Sods (Deluxe)
Ken Kesey mural in Springfield, Oregon.
Statue of Kesey reading to his grandchildren, Eugene, Oregon.
Bonnie "Prince" Billy & Tortoise Brave And The Bold (2006) Interesting covers album.
Melanie Beautiful People: Greatest Hits of Melanie esp. "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)", "Ruby Tuesday", "Brand New Key", and "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma"
Tom Robinson Band "2-4-6-8 Motorway". Best road song ever.
Tommy James & The ShondellsThe Very Best Of. Listen while reading Tommy's book Me, the Mob, and the Music: One Helluva Ride with Tommy James & The Shondells. Harold Bronson in his book The Rhino Records Story also tells the tale, which he insists would make a great movie. He's right!
Guitar whiz Stephen Malkmus released a new B-side from his latest album Traditional Techniques; as well as his 2021 tour plans.
As was the case with practically every artist, his 2020 tour to support the new album was cancelled.
His first band, Pavement, is scheduled to play festivals in 2021 as well.
Stephen Malkmus 2021 Tour:
03-02 Minneapolis, MN - Fine Line Music Cafe 03-03 Milwaukee, WI - Turner Hall 03-04 Chicago, IL - Thalia Hall 03-05 Louisville, KY - Headliners 03-06 Nashville, TN - Cannery Ballroom 03-07 Atlanta, GA - Terminal West 03-09 Asheville, NC - Orange Peel 03-10 Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle 03-11 Richmond, VA - The National 03-12 Washington, DC - Black Cat 03-13 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer 03-14 New York, NY - Webster Hall 03-16 Boston, MA - Royale 03-17 Burlington, VT - Higher Ground 03-18 Montreal, Quebec - L’Astral 03-19 Toronto, Ontario - Danforth Music Hall 03-20 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom 03-21 Detroit, MI - Majestic Theatre 04-09 Denver, CO - Gothic Theatre 04-10 Omaha, NE - The Waiting Room 04-11 Lawrence, KS - Granada Theater 04-12 Tulsa, OK - Cain’s Ballroom 04-13 Dallas, TX - Granada Theater 04-14 Austin, TX - The Mohawk 04-16 El Paso, TX - Lowbrow Palace 04-17 Phoenix, AZ - Crescent Ballroom 04-18 San Diego, CA - Belly Up 04-19 Los Angeles, CA - El Rey 04-20 San Francisco, CA - The Fillmore 04-22 Portland, OR - Wonder Ballroom 04-23 Vancouver, British Columbia - Imperial 04-24 Seattle, WA - The Showbox
Here's two videos of Jay doing "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" in the style of Rev. Gary Davis:
Interestingly, The Animals recorded not one but two versions of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" - "Baby Let Me Follow You Home" and "Hey Gyp". On the first one, they were advised that by changing the words a bit, they could avoid paying royalties to artists such as Reverend Gary Davis. Compare and contrast with the approach of Peter, Paul, and Mary, who set up a publishing company specifically so Rev. Gary Davis would receive royalties for "Samson and Delilah" (AKA "If I Had My Way", later covered by The Grateful Dead and others), which enabled him to buy a house after a life-time of renting. Presumably The Animals paid royalties to Donovan for "Hey, Gyp", a song Donovan had copyrighted despite it obviously being based on earlier versions of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down". The song was later covered by Jack White and The Raconteurs.
The Reverend Gary Davis biography Say No To The Devil, goes into great detail on the copyright issues on "Baby Let Me Follow You Down", "Samson and Delilah", and "You Got To Move" (covered by The Rolling Stones, "original" versions by Rev. Gary Davis and Mississippi Fred McDowell). (There are also interesting legacies behind songs such as "House of The Rising Son" and "Matchbox", with early versions by Lead Belly later adapted by artists such as Dave van Ronk, Bob Dylan, The Animals, and Carl Perkins.)
Many of these songs are from an oral tradition, originating perhaps with artists whose names are lost to the sands of time... We know these songs from such artists as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charley Patton and Son House, or versions from the likes of Lead Belly and Reverend Gary Davis.
Davis taught a version of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down" to Blind Boy Fuller who recorded it in the 1930s. Eric von Schmidt blended that with the Gary Davis version (although Bling Boy Fuller died young, Rev. Davis recorded and performed until the early 1970s, allowing many of the younger white blues fans to study his style in person) and that's close to the song that we know from Bob Dylan's first album, as well as his 1966 rock version with The Band (later seen at The Last Waltz... twice). The song has been recorded as: "Baby Let Me Lay It On You" "Please Baby" "Baby Don't Tear My Clothes" "Let Your Linen Hang Low" "I Want To Do Something For You" "Baby Don't You Lay It On Me" "Can I Do Something For You" "Mama Let Me Lay It On You" Notable artists who have done the song include Memphis Minnie, Walter Coleman, and Lightnin' Hopkins.
"Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" is a traditional folk song popularised in the late 1950s by blues guitarist Eric Von Schmidt. The song is best known from its appearance on Bob Dylan's debut album Bob Dylan. The song was first recorded as "Don't Tear My Clothes" in January 1935 by the State Street Boys, a group that included Big Bill Broonzy and Jazz Gillum. The next few years saw several more versions, including "Don't Tear My Clothes" by Washboard Sam in June 1936, "Baby Don't You Tear My Clothes" by the Harlem Hamfats in May 1937, "Let Your Linen Hang Low" by Rosetta Howard with the Harlem Hamfats in October 1937 and "Mama Let Me Lay It On You" by Blind Boy Fuller in April 1938.
The song was adapted by Eric Von Schmidt, a blues-guitarist and singer-songwriter of the folk revival in the late 1950s. Von Schmidt was a well-known face in the East Coast folk scene and was reasonably well-known across the United States. According to his chronicle of the Cambridge Folk era, also called "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down", Eric had first heard the song via the Blind Boy Fuller recording. Von Schmidt credits Reverend Gary Davis for writing "three quarters" of his version of the song (the melody is very similar to Davis's "Please Baby"). Van Ronk's version became a feature in the coffee houses of Greenwich Village in the early 1960s.
The song was later picked up by the young, up and coming folk singer Bob Dylan, who made it famous on his Columbia Records debut. As an introduction to the song on the album, Dylan pays homage to Schmidt, saying: "I first heard this from Ric von Schmidt. He lives in Cambridge/ Ric is a blues guitarplayer. I met him one day on/ The green pastures of the Harvard University."
The song became very popular amongst Dylan's following and was a regular feature of Dylan's song list. During his 1966 World Tour, Dylan electrified the sound of the song, playing it on electric guitar with a five-piece electric band as backing. A decade later, he performed the song with a medley of "Forever Young" at The Band's Last Waltz concert.
The song appears on these Dylan albums:
Bob Dylan, recorded in studio November 1961, issued 1962
The book has a companion album of songs, Straight Songs Of Sorrow.
Mark Lanegan, lead singer of Seattle's Screaming Trees, is someone I originally knew best from two movie soundtracks: "I Nearly Lost You" by The Screaming Trees from the Singles soundtrack, and "Man In The Long Black Coat" from the Bob Dylan film I'm Not There. For the past few years, I've been listening to his solo releases and enjoying them very much. I wanted to read his memoir and I would highly recommend it, especially if you're interested in the Seattle music scene in the 90s and 2000's. We learn that Mark has a lot of cool friends - Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, Josh Homme from Queens of The Stone Age, and Layne Staley of Alice In Chains... but we also learn that Mark and a lot of his friends are severe addicts - and many of them die before the end of the book. The book, as I was reading it, took over my psyche for a bit. I couldn't help but think of addicts in my life, some of whom have passed, like my friend Clayton and my cousin Zach, and whose passing deeply affected those left behind.
Clayton Gross (1991 - 2018)
I've often thought that if only someone had been able to sit with Kurt on THAT NIGHT, and talk to him calmly, and help him see things in a different light, that he likely would have survived, at least for another day. As it turns out, Kurt called Mark three times on the day he died, looking to hang out but Lanegan didn't pick up, as he had drugs and money and didn't need to go score for Kurt. Lanegan also thought Courtney Love would be there (she wasn't - Kurt had escaped from rehab in California and was in Seattle alone). Lanegan was annoyed by Courtney's flirtations as well as the constant dysfunctional bickering between Kurt and Courtney. (Yet she paid for Lanegan to go to rehab years later.)
One of the most interesting aspects of the friendship between Kurt and Lanegan is their shared interest in old time music, especially the blues; specifically Lead Belly (1888 - 1949), the Black blues master who did hard prison time before moving to New York to record and perform. Lead Belly songs such as "Goodnight Irene" (covered by Pete Seeger's Weavers), "Midnight Special" (Creedence), "Matchbox" (Lead Belly's version of his mentor Blind Lemon Jefferson's song inspired the Carl Perkins rock classic), and "House Of The Rising Sun" (Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, The Animals) were well-known to folk and rock fans in the 1950s and 60s, but more modern audiences might be forgiven for knowing Lead Belly almost exclusively through Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. During the taping of Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York (1994), Kurt famously joked about wanting to ask David Geffen to buy him Lead Belly's guitar before singing Lead Belly's (who he called his "favorite performer") "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?", a song that Kurt hauntingly howled. It became the finale of the concert as well as the finale of both Nirvana and Kurt himself. Less than 5 months after recording "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" for MTV Unplugged, Kurt was dead from suicide.
Early in their friendship, Kurt and Lanegan talked about working on some Lead Belly tunes for a new band The Jury. Nirvana's label Sub Pop enthusiastically encouraged the project, quickly booking studio time in August of 1989.
The project never really gelled (sadly), but Lanegan's version of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" landed up on his first solo album The Winding Sheet (1990) with Lanegan on vocals and Kurt on guitar.
The other Lead Belly songs they recorded, "They Hung Him On A Cross", "Grey Goose", and "Ain't It A Shame", didn't show up until the Nirvana boxset With The Lights Out in 2004.
In his memoir, Lanegan says Kurt asked him to sing "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" with him at the MTV Unplugged gig, but that Lanegan declined. Kurt asked Lanegan if he could use the same arrangement Lanegan had used in 1989. We can only wonder what kind of performance a duet would have yielded, and what that would have meant for Lanegan's career.
Kurt's interest in Lead Belly and "unplugged" acoustic music also painted a roadmap for a post-punk, post-Nirvana solo career for Kurt. Toward the end of his life, Kurt often said he felt trapped by the demands of the band, the record company, the "stir-maker machinery". He spoke with R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe and others about leaving the band and persuing a solo career playing acoustic music. Again, we can only wonder...