Column

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Easy Ed's Broadside

Exploring music without a map.

Since 2009, Ed has shared his thoughts on ND about music that touches him, and rambled hither and yon about what else is on his mind.

Nashville Cats on a Tennessee Ant Hill

Great column, Ed. 

Steve Earle and Del McCoury did, indeed, play "Nashville Cats" on Later ... with Jools Holland in 1999. It was in a medley with "Graveyard Shift" which is on Youtube, but ends abruptly before the segue. 

Darn. I’ll ask Steve to bring it back to life the next time I bump into him down in the Village. He’ll probably tell me to fu*k off. 

Another excellent Broadside Ed...it's true about the pickers in Nashville too...Seeing Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, and Thomm Jutz this weekend, and Jutz is one of those guys...flatpicking fool...

I decided early on I probably wasn't going to play well enough to be a Nashville Cat, so I concentrated on playing rhythm and singing lead or harmonies...and that was great too...but I did sit next to the stereo and slow albums down to 16 rpm or play them over and over to get the licks right when I had to...I've been there...time well spent...

That's a fine version by Tony Jackson...and your observation that the Lovin' Spoonful was a band that covered a lot of musical territory (especially on that "Hums" record) is so true...I was pretty young at the time and I'd tell you that I didn't like all of that record when I first heard it...

A great band live too. I caught them in 66 at a small theater in the round, with a revolving stage. It was huge - like seeing the Beatles - for me. 

I actually did see the Beatles...September 1964, first concert I went to with anyone other than my parents. Just turned 10 years old...my neighbor's dad had some political connections...we lost it over the Beatles, and somehow he got tickets for us (he made his oldest daughter sit with us, he drove us down but wasn't about to sit through it himself)...frankly, it was hard to hear them over the screaming most of the time as the Coliseum at the Fairgrounds in Indianapolis was echoey and the crowd was probably 80% or more screaming girls and it never stopped for a second, but it was magical too...the Spoonful I never did see, but I would have loved to...I wasn't nuts about "Nashville Cats" originally...I liked "Do You Believe In Magic" and "Younger Girl" at the time, John's melodic pop side, and I didn't really fall for some of the rest of what they did till later when he'd gone solo...didn't place as much importance on them as I should have...great band...visionary, and they had the excellent musicianship needed to pull it off...

Lucky you. I got to see Herman’s Hermits open for the Stones which was similar pandemonium. By the way, ‘Younger Girl’ was a hit by The Critters and obviously written by Sebastian. 

Yep...I can remember being a record nerd even then...I saw the songwriting credit on the 45 label...funny, I wondered if it was the same John B. Sebastian at the time...how you would get a song out there for someone else to record was sort of lost on me at that age...I didn't understand how that worked, but I figured it had to be the same guy...

Critters had another song..."Mr. Dyingly Sad"...that got played a bunch around here too...and another, "Don't let the Rain Fall Down on Me"...the lead singer eventually joined the Four Seasons...

I liked Herman's Hermits...the first band I was in did "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat?" and of course "Henry the 8th"...I remember playing at a birthday party for a girl in our neighborhood and we had to play that song 4 or 5 times over on request...I never quite forgave Peter Noone for that one...but I am sure they did elicit the same reaction the Beatles did...the girls loved Noone...he had that tooth that stuck out when he smiled...

Funny...I've never seen the Stones live ever.  I almost went a few years ago when they played at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just so I could say I had, but if you've never been to IMS...let's just say it is one of the ultimate traffic jams after any event...so I missed it...when they announced they were touring again this year I thought "maybe this time"...no US dates so far...

"Younger Girl" was pretty closely written off Gus Cannon's jug band classic, "Prison Wall Blues." Or as Sebastian pal and associate Fritz Richmond once put it, "In John's fertile imagination, prison walls turned into younger girls."

Good time to mention the great film doc Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost. 

Good time to mention the great film doc Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost. 

Review of said film from Amazon, where it is available on DVD (sounds great by the way):

Very enjoyable film. Highly recommended for Lovin Spoonful fans, who like me, want all they can get & usually there ain't much! Besides early 20th century jug band influences,mainly Gus Cannon, mid sixties Kweskin Jug Band, the Mauldors & the late Fritz Richmond are singled out. Fritz winds up being a large charge & the film is dedicated to him.

I have no words to describe the J-Bands trip to Japan. I can deal with Japanese Elvis impersonators, but Japanese Jug Band? Also, hordes of young Japaneses girls squeal after John Sebastian like it's 1966.

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir, cause if you're reading this... anyway, pick up both J-Band cd's. They are a blast!  

I'm about your age and had a very similar history with the Spoons, both as a listener and a young picker. Seeing praise for John, Zal, Joe, and Steve, and particularly the Hums album, always brings a smile. I've long thought it a shame that their studio career was somewhat sidetracked by a couple of so-so movie soundtrack projects, making Hums the last of just three albums by the original foursome. But all three are treasure chests. Any guitar player who hasn't made a close study of Zally's playing is missing out on a major treat.

I too  am a longtime Lovin' Spoonful fan and I loved "Nashville Cats" when I first heard it even thuough I wasn't a fan of country music.I thought the lyrics were terrfic and knew them by heart because they were so complicated and clever. It is a shame they didn't make more albums as they really were pioneers in many ways and should get more recognition then they do.

The lyrics were indeed clever, but I was biased enough against country music at the time that it didn't matter...my dad loved jazz, gospel, classical, folk, R&B, Blues and even some of my rock and roll...but not country...I developed a taste for it later and I ended up loving the stuff dad detested, Hank, George Jones, etc...

and it is a shame that they didn't make more records...

Yeah, I'm sure you could relate to the lyric about "nobody up here buys your records" but not the "but I will" part. Like I said , I was no fan of country but I think this song taught me that maybe I should respect their pickers.

Ed,
Except for the beard and the hair, we could be twins. I, too, turned fourteen on the first day of summer in 1966. I spent every morning of the month of July on a gladiola farm in upstate NY bunching flowers in the basement of a farmhouse with the farmer's daughter. We listened to top 40 radio from WPTR in Albany. As you recall in your piece everything good got airplay - Beatles, Stones, Motown, Johnny Cash. I remember wondering how the Lovin' Spoonful came up with this song that was so off the wall for them.
I made 50¢ an hour on that job. $75 for the month. My mom kicked in another twenty-five and I bought my first solid body electric guitar from Sears. A Silvertone branded Harmony with a rosewood fingerboard, dual DeArmond pick-ups and a vibrato! I played that thing until I turned pro in 1970 and bought my first Telecaster.
That Sears guitar was the gateway drug that sentenced me to a life of criminally butchering other people's material and sometimes my own as well. I've been in the R'n'R jailhouse for 53 years and I hope I never get out.

Great story. Thanks for sharing.