Sunday, July 24, 2011

Musical Interlude ~ Some Blues for the Music

Amidst all the others deaths this weekend, we lost a singer I'm only familiar with from rehab headlines, Amy Winehouse, at the age of 27. While I can't say I feel a personal loss, I do feel the sadness that comes with waste of talent, and loss of the gift some are able to share before they're gone. So I've put a blues session together here with some songs from my own past, featuring a few of the many who left us early for reasons related to the musical lifestyle.

First, Paul Butterfield, front man and harp solo for his Blues Band, played Chicago Blues in first a folk acoustic format, then electric. He died of peritonitis due to drug use and heavy drinking on May 4, 1987

Next, some classic slide guitar from Duane Allman, playing the old Robert Johnson tune here with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. While Duane, often called Skydog, was pretty well known for being high, he died in that other killer of musicians, a vehicle crash. In 1971 a peach truck stopped suddenly in front of  his Harley, and the resulting collision took him out. He was 24:

Lowell George next, doing Fat Man In the Bathtub(with the blues) Lots of the reasons he died young are in the lyrics here. George died of an accidental drug overdose in 1979 at the age of 34:

I'll close out with a song Amy Winehouse probably never heard but possibly might have been able to relate to, Ain't No Good Life, Lynyrd Skynyrd, with the gifted Steve Gaines on a rare lead vocal as well as lead guitar. Steve was from Miami, Oklahoma (pronounced, My-am-ah) and died in the same plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant and several others in 1977. He was 28.

"I'm gonna get myself together/ yeah gonna try or die in the attempt..."


  1. Great selection, Witch. I always loved Delaney & Bonnie. Their records always sounded like some people just happened by their house and they decided to record the back porch jam they had. There is something to be said for low tech!

    Duane Allman used to do a lot of session work, including soul acts like Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin, if memory serves.

    I wonder where that Little Feat clip was filmed? I saw them once, I think I told you, but in a much smaller venue.

  2. interesting blend you put on the juke box today...sad to see one taken so young...yeah she made some poor choices but...

  3. @FB : The you tube credit says the Little Feat was recorded at something called Pinkpop music festival, in The Netherlands, June 1976. Yeah, Duane played with a lot of people, and so did Bonnie Bramlett and her cohort. Those two actually managed to live past their thirties. Bramlett's still around, I believe.

    @brian--it's always a high price to pay for a choice, your life.

  4. Fine, fine selection, Hedge. That Robert Johnson song is one of my favorites.

  5. @MZ: Glad you liked it. That last song used to play a lot in our house on Sunday nights before work--took a long time before 'that straight life' stopped bein kinda hard on me.

  6. thanx for somber memories (I remember my last Little Feat show, I cried abit for the stark obviously missing Lowell George, so many years later) I hadn't seen this Dutch festival excerpt when all of 'em smooth out one of my favorite songs. Thanx

  7. All great stuff, perfect moonshine for this heat-addled, bluesy soul ... the passing of Amy Winehouse was no surprise, nor is it ever much of one when any of the luminaries of the big night music go over the great falls, clutching their balloons of oblivion ... I dunno, there's something Orphic about it, as if to hear the music of the spheres so accurately tunes a life to an inevitable precipice. Not all go over it, but many of the best ones do ... Bill Evans, the great jazz pianist, died of years of drug & alcohol abuse at the ancient age of 52 in 1980. His longtime girlfriend Peri once said he'd told her that going onstage to play was like being crucified for Beauty, climbing the trellis of those gorgeous riffs to impossible heights. The booze and alcohol helped him survive their immortal call, for all those years ... Dunno if that's true, but I remember the rightburn of the soul that was required to play the notes just right, back when I strapped myself into a Strat and played da blues . That looseness required hooch for looseness, speed for altitude, a joint to make the elements mix. I thought I couldn't get there otherwise. (Turned out, all I had to do was practice more ...) Thanks for the memories ... Of 'em all, I think I miss the master Lowell George the most ... -- Brendan

  8. @namelessneed Glad you enjoyed. There's not a huge amount of live footage of George and Little Feat out there, for some reason.They look very comfortable in this clip, I think.

    @B: Yes, I've heard that explanation. It makes some sense, but to me it's all wrapped up in a lot of personality factors as well--how many opera singers or cellists have to get high to perform? (I don't know, of course, maybe they're just more subtle about it.)But I do understand what you're saying--that stage is a lonely and frightening place, and to seek that sweet and difficult ex stasis of musical epiphany with a million eyes on you is even more frightening to me, so I can see wanting some buffering, something to lean on. Classical musicians have a lifetime of training and structure and learned behavior. Not so the rockers.
    I've read two exhaustive biographies of Janis Joplin, who could easily have fit in this session, and for her, it seems, it was the opposite--performance was the high.It was when she left the stage that she wanted oblivion, because nothing in life matched up to that place she was able to go onstage. All in all, I'm very glad my own little gift is modest, and plays out on the page instead of the stage. Glad the music said something for you, my friend.

  9. I enjoy the post and reading your comments (and those of your guests).

    I feel sadness about her loss, but its her choice, her life. There are other musicians and artists who are also gifted but are still alive to share with us their talents. She was a lost one for sure ~

  10. thanks for providing a brief respite from reality ~ love the blues. especially enjoyed the Lynyrd Skynyrd as well as the Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. i've done a few posts on Janice Joplin ~ her sadness is palpable to me in candid photographs as well as her music. sad but inevitable ending for Amy Winehouse.

  11. Glad you enjoyed this old stuff, Dani. I think the Skynyrd song has some solid lyrics.. Yes, there was something in Joplin's eyes as well as her performance that told you she'd never get old.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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