Waylon Jennings – Waymore’s Blues

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You’ve got to hate country music or have a thing against Waylon to not find this song a sort of perfection.

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Waylon and his big ugly friend John, in 1974

Recorded in 1974 and released in 1975 at the height of Waylon’s popularity (and involvement with narcotics), Dreaming My Dreams was one of the first recordings over which Waylon had complete creative control. Outlaw Country had injected the sterile, formulaic Nashville country music industry with a greasy, redneck, pleasure-loving contagion: a mixture that resonated deeply with music fans who wanted their music to understand and console more of their lives than lost love, poverty, and God.

‘Waymore’s Blues’ has carved out a place for itself at the heart of Outlaw Country. Oft-covered by inheritors of Waylon’s bullshit-calling ways, it’s one of those touchstone songs: familiar like a church hymn, that speaks to the fundamental underlayment of a certain type of man. That second verse itself reads like a rhyme Waylon learned in Sunday school as a lad, only later to recur and be reinvented in his new aesthetic.

Well, I woke up this mornin’ it was drizzlin’ rain
Around the curve come a passenger train
Heard somebody yodel and a hobo moan
Jimmy he dead, he been a long time gone.
Been a long time gone…a long time gone.

If you want to get to heaven, gotta D-I-E
You gotta put on your coat and T-I-E
Want to get the rabbit out of the L-O-G
You gotta make a cold motion like a D-O-G
Like a D-O-G, like a D-O-G…yeah.

Well, I got a good woman, what’s the matter with me?
What makes me want to love every woman I see?
I was trifling when I met her now I’m trifling again
And every woman she sees looks like the place I came in.
Looks like the place I came in, the place I came in.

I got my name painted on my shirt
I ain’t no ordinary dude
I don’t have to work

As sinister and mesmerizing as the guitar lead is –as utterly noteworthy– it’s that “…” that makes me laugh. In context, in that last verse Waylon breaks the pattern of repetition that appears at the end of each previous verse. You expect him to repeat the line “I don’t have to work” but you see, Waylon ain’t no ordinary dude. He don’t have to live up to your expectations, see? He’s not just going to tell you he ain’t no ordinary dude, he’s damned well going to show you.

Knowing he was pissed off the whole time he was recording this take makes it all the more middle-finger-y. A little bit of music business lore around this song, recounted here at Wikipedia:

The sessions were halted because of miscommunication with Jennings and problems caused by his drug use. While recording “Waymore’s Blues”, Clement tried to eject Jennings’ wife and her sister from the control room. Confused by Clement’s gestures, Jennings assumed that the producer was distracted by talking to the women instead of following the session. The singer left the studio for two weeks and was persuaded to return after having dinner with Clement and his wife. When Jennings and Clement returned to redo “Waymore’s Blues,” they found that they could not reproduce the feel of the original track. They decided to use the original on the album, and this explains the abrupt fade at the end of the song – to cover up Jennings storming out of the studio.

So there’s real pissed-off working man in this song, not just the legend of it. This is what Outlaw Country was all about: bringing the sound & subject matter of country music into the relevant now.

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Layman Pang

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“Only hope to make empty that which exists.
Be careful not to make real that which does not exist.”

-Shōbōgenzō, Case 16

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Image by flickr user Mark Robinson, appearing under Creative Commons license. All rights revert to the originator.

Reggae Covers: Lloyd Charmers – Theme from ‘Shaft’ (Isaac Hayes)

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One of the most well-known, most culturally-pervasive movie themes of all time, Isaac Hayes‘ theme for the 1971 blaxploitation movie Shaft has received near-constant homage in other media from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to Channel 4’s Father Ted. I mean, it’s up there in ‘Theme from Rocky (Gonna’ Fly Now)’ territory.

Here we have old-school rocksteady/ska singer (and sometime x-rated lyricist) Lloyd Charmers‘ 1971 almost immediate re-release of the film original and you know what? It’s pretty dope. The fast urban pace reflected in the original is kind of existentially at odds with the deliberate mogel-inducing rhythms of rocksteady yet Lloyd completes the transformation into a groovy thing of excellence. Definitely worth a listen.

On the road to Hobbiton

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More sights from along the pathway to the Hobbit Hole:

Making the most of heat

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IMG_20171024_184006I wanted to say a little something about making the most of the heat you generate in your wood stove, complete with a crappy cell-phone photo to illustrate.

I store all of my cooking iron on top of the wood stove. Every time the wood stove gets hot all of my iron: a flat-iron, a massive dutch oven (the much beloved Aunt Itsy’s Skillet), and three smaller iron skillets 8”, 6”, and 4” in size respectively. The last is a single-egger. All that cast iron –itself not entirely easy to heat through and through– re-releases all the heat it absorbs as the stove & cabin air cools down. Kept well-oiled and lovingly-used the deep and healthy cure of each piece is renewed every time it’s heated without the loss of substance attendant on most types of dutch oven cooking. This extends the life of each piece in a damp climate and keeps each more or less sterile and ready for use at any time, especially the sealed dutch oven.

You’ll see all that iron being put to use in different ways in this picture. I’ve got a big-ass and damned cheery fire blazing in the wood stove below, so here you see my flat-iron being used to keep the bottom of a pot of rice from scorching, the dutch oven doing what it does second-best (sit there & look pretty), and the trio of omelet pans supporting a saute pan full of dinner in conditions so stable and sustaining it’d make a chef look twice at his/her expensive food warmer.

You’ll also see a big-ass stock pot with a steamy lid here. There’s three gallons of water in the act of being brought to a quiescent boil. The little bit of steam that escapes the snug lid keeps things vaguely humid in a sinus-friendly (but not mold-pleasing) way. All of the clean, hot water that doesn’t get used for washing up after dinner will sit there cheerily re-releasing warmth into the cabin all night; even after the fire has gone out.

There’s plenty of thermal mass in a giant iron wood stove already, but finding ways to enhance that mass allows me to heat the same space for longer with less fuel.

PS: Dinner was delicious.

Reggae Covers: John Holt – Just The Way You Are (Billy Joel)

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I’ve never been a big fan of Billy Joel’s music. You have to recognize the staying power and broad appeal of his music nonetheless so it’s unsurprising to find something of his in the covers-happy world of Jamaican popular music. Thankfully we find this classic hair-salon-muzak number in the capable hands of John Holt, who despite his inspired pedigree does little to interfere with the work of the original creative hand. Not even a horn chart, swelling strings, and a crew of ‘hoo-hoo’ background singers can make this a song you’d want to hear more than once. Alas. Can’t win ’em all.

Along the path to the Hobbit Hole

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300m or so up into the woods from the closest automotive access…