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Sunday, November 21, 2010


champagne in a dixie cup

One of the features of the www that I like is the picture above. I'd just finished seeing Woodstock and wanted to say something about it. Thought I'd like to have a picture of Janis Joplin. Googled her name, clicked on images and there's a mess of pictures. I wanted one that had the spirit of Janis at Woodstock and there she was in her Woodstock outfit acting out the Bill Anderson / Mary Lou Turner song of the time. Short-lived Janis didn't give herself much of a chance to live out her life. Maybe she didn't want to. Hendrix too. They went out in not many weeks of each other. The thrill and fun of rock of that period was waning.

As predicted, marijuana did lead to harder stuff and they started dropping off from heroin overdoses. Things went downhill in a hurry. The same happened with the punk scene in 75. Punk, an art school phenomenon, ran wild in London and New York. Press called them angry, but they were not angry. They were art students, anyway in London. Heroin was already going in New York. Johnny Thunders of New York Dolls introduced heroin to the London punk scene when the band was playing in London, and that was it. Nosedive. Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols was one of the casualties, if dying could be called a casualty in his case. It seemed quite right in his case. He killed his junkie girlfriend, spent a little time in jail. Out of jail waiting for sentencing, he od'd. I'd say with intent, considering the circumstances, facing life in prison. He seemed to me too dumb to live and found the easy way out.

In the cases of Joplin and Hendrix it was indeed a casualty. Though, at the same time, the music was changing out from under them and there came a time when their music was on the wane. Like losing John Lennon, they were a great loss to world of pop culture and the people who pay attention. When I hear Janis Joplin singing I think she's the greatest. When I think of her life, it's not the greatest. Bette Midler played Janis in the movie of her life, The Rose. Janis was on a downhill run. At the bottom of the run was a cliff and she went sailing into eternity. They were just about the end of rock star as hero period.

We don't play the big star game in pop culture in this time. It's thousands of lesser magnitude stars now. Some continue from that period, like Bob Dylan, Greg Allman, Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, the Stones, et al. The young kids now tend to love Jimi Hendrix. I saw at Bobby Patterson's record shop where he specializes in music from around here, mountain music and mountain gospel music, he keeps Jimi Hendrix in stock, meaning he's had too many requests for Hendrix to ignore. Especially around Christmas, people shopping for their teenage grandsons, who get a kick out of their grandkids listening to the music of their period, though they were listening to country music at the time, hearing Champagne in a Dixie Cup.

Looking back, it's like that Woodstock period was the apex of bigger-bigger-bigger. Rock concerts were filling big football stadium bowls for the Stones and some other bands. Crowds got bigger and bigger, until the totally out of control half million at Woodstock. The way we think of numbers in this time, half a million doesn't seem like much, but when you look out over a sea of different colored pixels, heads, from a helicopter, it's a big number. I was thinking of what it would be like if everyone there had a cell phone like they do at concerts now. I'd imagine it would overwork the relay systems around there and put all cell phones out. It was called a disaster area because the town ran out of gas and groceries and no way to get anything in but by helicopter.

It went like a wave. From mega-domes for concerts, the sound of the time being the big auditorium sound where the bands played. Then mid-seventies the venues started getting smaller. More and more bands coming on in a flood, the kids that were little during the Sixties, the time of guitar heroes. Then punk came and did away with the guitar solo, dropped back to what was happening in the 50s and took the lead from the Velvet Underground of the Sixties, a band that didn't even figure outside NYC except for a small fan base scattered all over the country, like Woody Allen films in that way. About every city had it's punk club, a small brick box with a small stage and room for maybe a hundred people.

By now I don't even know what they do. I've heard Ziggy's in Winston-Salem has moved, but I've not been there since the move. All the way along going to concerts from high school years, college years, post college years unto now I've seen and heard some really good bands. First one to come to mind is The Cars, Van Halen, post-Sixties bands, Kiss, that carried the sound from that time. Burning Spear, Papa Roach and BoDiddley at Ziggy's. What's called "classic" rock was then called underground, because they wouldn't play it on the radio, so you had to buy albums and listen to other people's albums. Get together and play new albums was a party in that time. Like there's this new band from SanFrancisco you gotta hear, the Grateful Dead.

Whatever is happening now in pop, I don't care. My ears have turned to mountain music, acoustic played by masters. Every week at the Front Porch I hear mountain music as it is played by today's musicians. It's different from the old-time way, perhaps more accessible to people here from other places. It's not mountain-specific. It is, but it's accessible to the ear attuned to pop music. Today's mountain musicians grew up hearing rock, country, television pop, so the ears of the musicians extend further from home. Before WW2 you didn't hear much from outside these mountains. Now there is XM radio and other such carriers of pop music. My ear in this time has turned to the mountains. Every one of the people that play at the Front Porch makes music not only worth listening to, but it makes you listen by the grace in the musicianship. I leave every show completely satisfied I've heard good music.


1 comment:

  1. HIYA! Nice to see the references to WOODSTOCK! Have a gallery HERE!

    Currently exhibiting works from the MAX'S KANSAS CITY PROJECT - got some Johnny Thunders in there!