Bacon, Eggs, and Catapults

Do you ever have what you think is a million dollar idea a la Kramer on Seinfeld? Occasionally, I think I do. (Ironically, I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd’s “Time” which features the lyric “plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines.”) I think it’s the follow-through phase where I run into problems. Here’s one of my ideas which will probably never come to fruition, but I think it’s a good one. It’s a short book entitled “The Yin and Yang of Trivia.”

The basic idea is a list of two things which are normally associated with one another, but are hard to remember the difference between them. Here are some examples:

alligators vs. crocodiles

jam vs. jelly

hook vs. slice

port vs. starboard

freeway vs. interstate

Vermont vs. New Hampshire

Maybe the last one is a stretch, but they look pretty similar on the map. Geography has always been my worst subject. Is it important to know the difference between these things in everyday life? Probably not, that’s what makes it trivia. I would love some more suggestions for this concept.

Another random idea I have is not unlike the As-Seen-On-TV Bacon Bowl. (That’s a pretty awesome idea. Was there ONE PERSON who was the driving force behind it? Was it a team? Now, THAT’S a great trivia question.) My idea is to create an all-purpose utensil made entirely out of bacon. In my mind, bacon goes hand in hand with eggs — usually scrambled. If you’re going to enjoy some thick, juicy bacon strips, you might as well be practical about it. It would be like a bacon “Spork” — another great idea. I’m not sure what catchy name to call it…. The Bacon-ator? Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger would endorse it. It could rival the George Foreman Grill. Does the idea of less utensils to wash win over some people alone? Maybe the next phase of edible bacon-ware should be a catapult. It would take a little more assembly, but the Baco-pult or Bacon-pult has a wonderful ring to it. I mean, why shouldn’t you think about catapulting scrambled eggs into your mouth?

Obviously, some foods make better projectiles than others: jelly beans, popcorn, Sprees. Any sort of small pellet shaped food could work. Protective eye wear would be required, but it could be packaged with a napkin or apron made out of a Fruit Roll Up to keep with the whole edible kitchenware idea. The possibilities are endless! Bars could even catapult Jell-O shots.

So those are a couple of my ideas. As previously stated, they will most likely come to naught, but it’s fun to think about them.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Tears Rolling Down the Street

I’m a big fan of the sound of slide or “bottleneck” blue guitar. It’s hard to say exactly where I first became aware of it, but I can remember one particular song which made a lasting impression on me. I first heard George Thorogood’s version of “The Sky is Crying” when I was about seventeen — most likely on a cassette tape. My buddy was washing his pride and joy on his driveway: a candy-apple-red vintage Mustang. The first line of the Elmore James composition “The sky is crying, look at the tears roll down the street” blasted on the stereo while soapy water rolled like tears down the inclined driveway and into the street.

It’s a funny coincidence that life was mirroring art at that particular moment, but that’s how it happened. (I think I would have still gravitated towards slide guitar without it.) It took a few years before I heard Elmore James’ original version of the tune, but I was not disappointed.

It’s hard to top Elmore’s original version in my humble opinion, but I found this soulful version by Gary B.B. Coleman while doing a little research.

There are at least fifty versions of this song by various blues and rock musicians: Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Allman Brothers. As you can imagine, they’re not all recorded in the slide guitar vein, but some are.

In case you’re wondering, it’s called slide guitar because the guitarist uses a (glass or brass) bottleneck to slide across the guitar neck — as opposed to fretting the notes (pressing them down to the fret board with your fingers). Slide guitar takes some finesse to really get the desired sound. I would compare playing slide guitar to European style hockey — more finesse and less physicality — as opposed to North American style hockey and regular guitar playing. (It’s an example which might not make a lot of sense to some people.)

A lot of slide guitar songs are played in open tunings where the strings are tuned to sound a chord without fretting any notes (pushing down any strings). So in Open D tuning the strings are not their normal notes of (E, A, D, G, B, E), but rather (D, A, D, F#, A, D) to sound a D chord. There are other technical things about slide guitar, but those are some of the basics. For my money, it doesn’t get much better than “the King of the Slide Guitar” Elmore James.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon.

That’s No Way To Get Along

If the title of this blog entry sounds vaguely familiar, there are a few possibilities: You enjoy country blues music….You own “Beggars Banquet”…You play resonator guitar in open tunings…or maybe all of the above. I was looking at some Rolling Stones chords/lyrics from their previously mentioned 1968 effort and started thinking about their song called “Prodigal Son,” but I couldn’t place the origin. I thought the feel of the song had an older blues vibe to it.

The song was originally written and recorded by country blues artist Robert Wilkins as “That’s No Way To Get Along”, which is lyrically referenced by The Stones.

Wilkins later re-recorded the gospel themed story as “Prodigal Son” as well. Versions I found on YouTube are about ten minutes long. I also stumbled across this version of the original tune by a musician named Sarah Rogo.

I was pleasantly surprised to see/hear this song is still alive and well. I also like the idea of sitting on the bass drum while you play it. Eric Clapton has also recorded this tune as well, but his take on it is a little less roots and a little more studio production. I never really liked the whole story of the “Prodigal Son”, but the song is a good one.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Rainy Day Music #4 & 17

No, this is not a Bob Dylan discussion for those of you familiar with the “everybody must get stoned” song. Rather, it’s a couple of my thoughts on mellow music for easing into the day or just mellowing out in general. My all-time favorite song of this sort is “Riders on the Storm” by The Doors.

I can’t think of a better way to ease into the day than this one. The song was released on their last Jim Morrison-infused album “L.A. Woman” in 1971. I could say more about the inspiration for the song, etc. but it’s one I just enjoy. Another solid mellow-out-song is an instrumental by Stevie Ray Vaughan called “Riviera Paradise.”

The first time I heard about this song was from a friend of mine in college radio. He told me he was listening to different stuff in the studio and thought it was a perfect way to end his air shift. I’d heard the more rockin’ songs on 1989’s “In Step” release (which is worth a listen) , but this was something different. Both songs have a sort of airy or jazzy feel to them. These songs go well with a DJ voice a la Steven Wright.

There are plenty of other mellow songs out there….the question is, “Which ones will come next? “

Till next time, keep it mellow and keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

The Dark-Ness of Social Distortion

When you say the name of songwriter/musician Mike Ness, most people ask if he was in The Monkees… and the answer is most definitely “NO!” (That was Mike Nesmith. The dude with the stocking cap.) Ness is best known for his role as the driving force behind the band Social Distortion. If you’re not familiar with the band, their music has been described as punk rock, but that’s not really all there is to it. If you’ve ever heard a hard-driving version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” it was probably the version by “Social D”or “SxDx” for short. It was probably that cover or their original song “Bad Luck” that first grabbed my attention.

I can relate to the lyrics of this song. Scratching at the 8 ball is an interesting metaphor. Most people have literally done this and figuratively as well. It’s like you’re right there, but then something blows it at the last minute. “Bad Luck” was on the 1990 album “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” along with “99 to Life.”

It’s not the first or last fictional song about a guy killing his wife, but this is a good one. The lyrics are definitely dark. “Lonely weekends, Lonely nights. The judge he gave me 99 to Life.” The music has an interesting feel to it. You can hear a little Buddy Holly hiccup vocal in it, too.

This is probably my favorite album of theirs. I don’t love every song on it, but there are some songs I ABSOLUTELY LOVE. You could classify some of them as cowpunk like “This Time Darling.”

Same dark themed lyrics, but, to my ears, the high harmony sounds like country to me. There’s a great country cover song “Making Believe” on the album, too. Mike Ness recorded two solo albums which, in my humble opinion, are great. You get a chance to hear some of his influences like Hank Williams, Carl Perkins, and more, but I’ll leave that for another time .

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Hey Jules

As the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, people are still doing a lot of things they normally do…eating, sleeping, working, and listening to The Beatles. Given the choice, I’ll take the last one. In any event, Paul McCartney’s singalong classic “Hey Jude” was in the headlines recently. His handwritten lyrics fetched over nine hundred thousand dollars at a recent auction. Wow! That will make quite a stocking stuffer. I can only assume this is why Wilson Pickett’s unique version of the tune popped into my head this morning.

I doubt I liked this spin on “Hey Jude” the first time I heard it, but give Wilson Pickett some credit. The dude could belt and then some. Not only that, but he made it his own. Plus, the guitar playing of Duane Allman is a nice little bonus, too. While researching this blog entry, I found an interesting piece of pop culture…a performance Pickett describes as a “little soul hootenanny with The Bee Gees.”

It’s an interesting contrast between Pickett’s vocals and Barry Gibbs. In Gibbs defense, I don’t know too many singers who would be dying to share the stage with Wilson Pickett. Die hard Beatles’fans know the song was originally written as “Hey Jules” for a young Julian Lennon, whose parents (John and Cynthia Lennon) were separating. It’s hard to believe someone has 900 grand to spend on the handwritten lyrics, but there it is. As for the Pickett cover? It’s priceless.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Blues Kids: Messin’ & Confessin’

It’s amazing how certain songs find their way to us. You can look at it any number of different ways. You like this style of music, these bands, but it still seems pretty random to me. The first song I’ll mention is called “Messin’ with the Kid.” I’ll give some credit to The Blues Brothers for recording this one and helping to keep it alive and well over the years. It was originally recorded by Junior Wells in 1960, and was produced and written by Mel London. I came across a version by Junior Wells and Buddy Guy about ten years ago from a friend who’s into the blues.

It’s a got a funky feel to it, some great harmonica, and that guitar riff really hooks me into it — especially, the way Wells drops the lyrics out. “Messin’ with the…(insert 8 note guitar riff)”. It’s been recorded by lots of blues bands/artitsts: Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, Sugar Blue, and more. While researching this blog entry, I found a version featuring Buddy Guy and Kid Rock. There’s even a rehearsal version by AC/DC out there. (It sounds like singer Brian Johnson smoked a case of Marlboro, then gargled with a pint of Jack Daniels for good measure. Give him credit, that’s his sound.)

The second song, ironically, came my way via The Rolling Stones’ second American album called “12 x 5.” Honestly, I’ve never owned this album so I probably heard it on public radio or found it on YouTube. “Confessin’ the Blues” is another great blues song which often features the harmonica.

I’m assuming the Stones were inspired by harmonica great Little Walter’s version. Someone in the band does a good job of duplicating one of the guitar riffs note for note. Little Walter (Jacobs) didn’t write the tune ( but his version is worth a listen). That credit goes to bandleader Jay McShann and singer Walter Brown. The original is a lot jazzier and mellower to my ears.

Other artists to record this song include Wynonie Harris, Chuck Berry, and B.B. King, It’s hard to believe this song was originally released in 1941, but there it is. I wonder how it will find its way to others in the future?

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

I Dreamed I Saw St. Sasquatch

In an effort to ward off “corona-tation” (the condition of vegetating in front of the TV while trying to avoid coronavirus), a friend of mine and I went for a stroll in the park Sunday afternoon. The weather was relatively mild with little wind. I would guess we walked maybe two miles on the county park trail when, all of a sudden, a moment of intense panic came over me. I had my wallet and keys in my pockets, but NO CELL PHONE!! I knew I brought it with me because I had just taken a pic of an unusual-looking-yet-artistic frog tree. My friend took my keys to the car to try calling from her phone while I trekked back in what can only be described as an angry Sherlock Holmes mode. I checked all along the trail, but it was nowhere to be found. The trail basically came to a dead end at a parks maintenance hub with dump trucks and junk like that. I thought that it HAD to be where it fell out of my pocket, but I had no such luck.

Next, I stopped along the trail where my friend showed me what “polk salad” looks like. (We had just watched “Ford vs. Ferrari” the previous night and they played parts of the song “Polk Salad Annie” throughout the film.) I’m sure I still couldn’t identify “polk salad” if it was right in front of me. Nevertheless, I was trying to “Keep Calm and Carry On” when I remembered a spot where I veered off the beaten path to skip a stone in the nearby lake. And there it was. My less than a month old cell phone in the blue protective case was lying face down in the grass with the little light glowing. It still had a charge and it still worked!! As I picked it up, I saw my friend dutifully tried to call me 26 times. Then I thought I saw something move in the distance.

I heard a faint noise and then saw something I couldn’t believe — It was a real, live Bigfoot or Sasquatch. I couldn’t believe my eyes! My jaw was probably on the ground. It was tall and hairy, but the hair on top of its head was pulled into a sort of top knot thing like Gene Simmons from KISS. What was even MORE shocking was it spoke to me.

Sasquatch: Look, I shouldn’t be talking to you, but I heard you make a remark about lake monsters so you seemed pretty cool to me. Don’t even think about asking me for a selfie either.

Author: (Gulp.) Ummm, no problem. I just wanted to find my phone. I didn’t know you guys could talk.

Sasquatch: Humans and their phones! Yeah, there’s plenty of things we can do. We’re not like those barking Wookies in the Star Wars movies. We just like to keep to ourselves.

Author: Yeah, I can relate. You’ve seen Star Wars?

Sasquatch: The first three. My “kind” think Lucas is pretty typical of humans. Innovative, but greedy. I mean how many “pre-quels” do we need anyway? Don’t get me started on the merchandising.

Author: Yeah, I hear you. Sorry, I’m a little freaked out….

Sasquatch: It’s cool. Who’s been trying to call you anyway? Let me guess…CVS Pharmacy?

Author: (Nervously laughing). Well they do call a lot, but my friend was helping me look for the phone. You guys are into movies?

Sasquatch: Yeah, it’s an interesting glimpse into your culture. Some are better than others.

Author: How do you stay so hidden? I mean, I can’t believe this is happening, but it’s daylight and you’re just out in the open…

Sasquatch: Have you seen “Predator”?

Author: Yes.

Sasquatch: Another good example…The first one was good. The spider-faced dude was creative, and Arnold was, too… but HOW MANY stinking sequels do you really need? Anyway, most of the time we have that sort of super camouflage force-field thing. You know what I mean?

Author: Yeah, that makes sense. Great blue herons have some serious camouflage, too. They’re large birds, but they just blend right into the background. I guess it’s like that.

Sasquatch: Yeah, herons are cool.

Author: So.. what’s your favorite movie?

Sasquatch: The Big Lebowski.

Author: Really? I love that movie.

Sasquatch: Somebody just left a bootleg VHS copy of it out by cousin’s place. I also found Bob Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding” on cassette out there. My cousin is one of those publicity hounds. You know that whole MoMo the Monster thing?

Author: Yeah, I remember that. I was just a kid then.

Sasquatch: Your media people are about as bad as ours. What kind of a name is MoMo? Pretty stupid. Anyway, I gotta get going, but I’m glad you found your phone. You’re lucky to have a friend who will call 26 times to help you and harass everyone walking down the path about your cell phone.

Author: Yeah, you’re right. Man, I can’t believe this is happening! You have media outlets?

Sasquatch: We do. They leave a lot to be desired. You know you’re also lucky you didn’t leave that empty energy drink can out here either. Looks like you were thinking about it.

Author: You saw that? Yeah, I was pissed at myself for losing the phone.

Sasquatch: Dude, it’s only a phone. I gotta jet.

Author: You’re right. Hey, are you guys affected by the virus?

Sasquatch: Not like you guys are, but you’re gonna be fine.

Author: Yeah?

Sasquatch: Yeah. Just tell them Sasquatch told you so. I’m sure that will go over. Peace!

…and just like that he vanished back into the woods, and I guess his camouflage force field. I still had so many questions… Why the Gene Simmons styled top knot? I mean, is he a KISS fan, too? What does he think about their merchandising? They have their own Sasquatch Media Network? Do they have digital? I mean he kept talking about cassettes and VHS tapes. I gotta say he wasn’t what I expected, but it was definitely cool. I wonder if I ‘ll see him again…St. Sasquatch, The Patron Saint of Cell Phones Lost in the Woods.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!

Undercover of the Night

This is a Stones tune I associate with the early days of MTV. Truth be told, the video left me thinking, “Now, what the hell is going on here? I don’t really get it… a guy and a girl, Mick with a moustache, some dude with a bag over his head, and a pretty wicked skeleton mask.” Musically, “Undercover of the Night” is kind of the same way, but it’s an interesting listen. I think you could call it an atypical effort by The Rolling Stones. To me, it has a bit of a world music vibe as opposed to something derived from the blues.

Apparently, there are a couple of different versions of this song out there. One features Stones mainstay Bill Wyman on bass and the other features Robbie Shakespeare. I found this interesting demo version on YouTube.

You can hear a bit more guitar on the demo version. Mick and the boys have played this live and this live version seems like a mix of the demo and the slicker sounding finished product.

Apparently there are some effects on the finished track. In the first video, one vocal effect I hear sounds like a record being slowed down around the 1:35-1:40 mark when Mick sings “itchy fingers.” There’s more info on the musicians/recording/inspiration on this entry from Wikipedia:

I’d be interested to hear a music professor break down some of the different elements in this song because there are so many of them. Apparently, Mick Jagger was trying to say something about injustice in South America. The lyrics are pretty well lost on me, but the guitar part is catchy. Another element I’ve noticed is the “doo doo doo, etc.” lyric that’s sung along with guitar riff. It reminds me of the intro to “Crosstown Traffic” by Jimi Hendrix.

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon.

Summer Breeze

This is a song where my “thumbs up or thumbs down” meter has waxed and waned over the years. “Summer Breeze” by Seals and Crofts is an unmistakably early 70s acoustic tune. At its basic level, it has great harmony and a catchy guitar riff in it. The verse lyrics have a different kind of phrasing which sound almost like a run-on sentence… “See-the-curtains-hangin-in-the-window”, etc.

I recently watched a guitar video on YouTube where the guitarist had a case of misheard lyrics. He thought Seals and Crofts were singing about a “jazz band” as opposed to the plant “jasmine.” The Isley Brothers recorded this song and it has a completely different to feel to it. It’s more of a soul thing with a guitar workout in it . Another completely different interpretation of the song was recorded by Type O Negative. (Wikipedia refers to them as a Gothic metal band from Brooklyn.)

To my ears, it sounds like what happens when you play a 45 RPM record at 33 RPM, but it’s a free country. Apparently they’ve done some other interesting covers. Recently, I found a more traditional take on “Summer Breeze” by Shaw Blades on an album of all cover songs. (That’s Tommy Shaw of Styx and Jack Blades of Night Ranger.) Jason Mraz did a more R & B/contemporary version as well.

I think this song has been sampled a time or two as well. Over the years, “Summer Breeze” has received tons of airplay on soft rock/adult contemporary stations. Recently, I started learning it on guitar so it’s taken on yet another life and my meter is on “thumbs up.” Here’s some info on jazz band…I mean jasmine:

Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!