Tag Archives: Led Zeppelin

A SLAVE TO YOUR PERVERSITY: JOBRIATH

With David Bowie’s artistic brilliance seemingly compelling him to habitually shed certain personas and their accompanying musical affectations for another incarnation throughout his long career, there are times I am left wanting more; sometimes saying to myself, “Man, I’d really just like a bit more of that Diamond Dogs sound.” Now, as rude and trivializing as it may seem to use this concept to introduce another artist, it was through this very want that I discovered little remembered but quite talented songwriter/performer Jobriath. However, over the years I have grown to truly respect and take pleasure in this man’s brief artistic output on its own merits and without the context of being primarily filler for my desire for another’s sound.

—What follows is a tragic, yet classically American tale of talent, reinvention, hype, and neglect—

Being born Bruce Wayne Campbell (quite a name, no?) on December 14, 1946 in Philadelphia, Jobriath was classically trained on the piano as a child and was considered somewhat of a prodigy. However, he began his pop musical career at the tail end of the 1960s in Los Angeles’ original Aquarius Theatre production of the “The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” Hair.

Jobriath (on the left) in 1969 with Connie Gripp, the “strong willed, independent, tough-as-nails dope fiend woman, who turns tricks for the fun of it sometimes, just ’cause she’s so willful” (Nelson, 1996) who would become the romantic partner of Dee Dee Ramone, and performance artist Marlowe B West, who was credited as one of the “Three Muses” for Jobriath’s second solo album.

At the age of 22 in mid-1968, Jobriath left this production to form the obscure group Pidgeon, for which he was credited under the name of Jobriath Salisbury as one of the principal singers (along with Cheri Gage), co-songwriter (along with poet Richard T. Marshall), as well as contributing keyboards and guitars. Signed to the record label Decca, under the auspices of session-singer Stan Farber who agreed to produce them, Pidgeon were soon set up in a house for six months to rehearse the material that would comprise their sole LP.

Jobriath, circa late-’60s

Recorded in December of ’68 and released in 1969, their debut album was intended to bear the title First Flight From the Forest, but for whatever reason was released only with the group’s name on the cover. A bit plodding at times and certainly not the most impressive thing to come out that year, however, their debut did exhibit an interestingly frantic approach to the Californian sunshine soaked and harmonic psychedelia pioneered by the The Mamas & the Papas and the perturbed baroque folk-rock pioneered by Arthur Lee‘s Love. Perhaps two of the most stand-out tracks from this album are the harpsichord driven harmonic ramble of “The Mainline” and the lithe rocker, “The Dancer,” which you can check out below:

The Mainline——————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

The Dancer ——————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

This album had little impact, as unfortunately did their follow-up single “Rubber Bricks,” recorded April of 1969. The group soon dissolved and by this time Jobriath had fully embraced the decadence of drugs and alcohol, occasional funding this lifestyle through prostitution. At this time as well, he began to demonstrate psychiatric disturbances, which would plague him later in life. But more importantly, he began developing the songs and style that would burgeon into his next musical incarnation: Jobriath Boone.

Soon after, in 1972 a demo tape of Jobriath’s music would be heard by impresario Jerry Brandt, who had made his fame by discovering Carly Simon, booking The Rolling Stones’ first tour of America, and who had up until recently been running the Electric Circus nightclub on St. Marks Place in the East Village section of Manhattan. Searching for a new project, Brandt sat in the office of Columbia Records President Clive Davis as the two listened to demo audition tapes. Where as Davis only heard in Jobriath’s demo something that was “mad, unstructured and destructive to melody” (Cochrane, 1998), Brandt heard the promise of something with marketability on par with Elvis and The Beatles; more so, Brandt believed he had discovered an American answer to the glam-rock explosion that was David Bowie.

Locating Jobriath in an unfurnished apartment in California, where, as the singer later said of himself, he was “floating down in the gutter” (Cochrane, 1998), with the entrance of Brandt into his life, from this moment on Jobriath’s career would be more concerned with hype than music. In January of 1974, Brandt would tell the music journal Melody Maker, “If hype means projecting your artist, I’m going to produce the biggest hype ever” (Barton, 2010). Through this hype, Brandt secured Jobriath a $500,000 contract with the head of Elektra Records, Jac Holzman. Looking back at his time running Elektra, Holzman later wrote,  “I made two errors of judgment, and signing Jobriath was one of them” (Sullivan, 2008).

Jobriath and Jerry Brandt

Although Jobriath’s self-titled solo debut of ’73 can in fact be considered a financial failure, it remains as an interesting, idiosyncratic work that melds quirky Weimar cabaret* with erotic funk** and loose, somber piano ballads*** (ballads that, to my ears, are very akin to those found on Bruce Springsteen’s first two albums, released that same year).

*Movie Queen——————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

**Take Me I’m Yours——————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

***Inside——————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Jobriath’s self-titled debut was dropped on the marketplace accompanied by an aggressive advertising campaign, in which thousands were spent. His image was plastered on the front of nearly every bus in London and New York City, and a 50-foot billboard was erected in Times Square bearing the album’s cover image, which featured Jobriath’s nude torso, crawling while dragging shattered legs.

The cover of Jobriath’s first album was later appropriated by Todd Haynes for his meticulous ode to glam rock, Velvet Goldmine. Released in 1998, the film explores a generation’s sexual discovery through a dramatic take on the lives of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, all filtered through the framework of Orson Welles’ cinematic masterpiece of 1941, Citizen Kane, and through George Orwell’s prophetic novel of 1949, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Highly recommended!

Beyond the hype generated by Brandt concerning Jobriath’s apparent musical ability, much of this hype pertained to the fact that Jobriath was, in fact, the world’s first openly gay pop star. “I’m a true fairy!” Jobriath Boone boldly told the press (Metzger, 2009).

Now, I’m sure Jobriath’s ostentatious use of his sexual preference (whereas others typically flirted with androgyny) did create much of the scorn aimed his way upon the release of his album; however, I believe that most simply have a natural aversion to an onslaught of hype. It robs the inquisitive of any sense of discovery. It is that very same reaction that has caused me to know very little about the endless succession of British bands touted by the likes of NME as the greatest musical act ever to happen in the six months since the last greatest musical act ever to happen. Besides this, it is easy to picture your average meat-and-potatoes American dismissing Jobriath as just “another space-age faggot.” With song titles such as “Space Clown,” and “Earthling,” Jobriath certainly utilized the same queer-human-as-artistic-extraterrestrial-motif employed by Bowie through his Ziggy Stardust persona.

Jobriath performing on The Midnight Special.

Regardless, I find Jobriath’s music to be quite remarkable. Although, recently playing his albums for a friend who knew nothing of what he was listening to, not the artist’s story, nor his sexuality, not even his name—his response was a critique that was incredibly similar to the previously mentioned statements made by Clive Davis. So, it could certainly be not as universally “good” as I believe it to be. Jobriath’s first album was primarily recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York and co-produced by Eddie Kramer, who made his fame through his production work for Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Kramer later recalled of the songs’ orchestration (recorded in Olympic Studios in London): “[Jobriath was] a romantic soul, really. He wanted orchestrations like old film music, though he knew nothing about scoring. So he bought a book on orchestration and within a week he’d come up with scores of a haunting quality. These were recorded in Olympic Studios in London with a nine-foot grand piano and a 55-piece orchestra” (Cochrane, 1998). This haunting quality is best expressed by the album’s closing track, “Blow Away.”

————————————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Despite some positive reviews (Rolling Stone: “talent to burn;” Record World: “brilliantly incisive.”) the album failed to hit the charts and Elektra began to recoil from the artist. Jobriath’s first tour was intended to be held within all the major opera houses in Europe, and according to him would feature, “King Kong being projected upwards on a mini Empire State Building. This will turn into a giant spurting penis and I will have transformed into Marlene Dietrich” (Cochrane, 1998). Whether this was merely an alcohol and cocaine fueled fantasy or actually in the works, Elektra cancelled the entire tour, citing financial reasons. Jobriath’s debut public performance would come by the way of television, appearing on “The Midnight Special.” On stage in costumes of his own design, the performances of his songs “I’MAMAN” and “Rock of Ages” only hint at the stage show that might’ve been.

Within six months of his flop, a second LP titled “Creatures Of The Street” was released. Darker in tone, this album would be released with no promotion whatsoever and its dismal sales effectively ended the would-be superstar. Despite its rushed release and its total neglect by his label, the album was an ambitious project that explored the urban grandeur of pop songwriting.

Creatures Of The Street. Lady Gaga might indeed steal her music from Madonna, but much of her look is pilfered from Jobriath.

Heart Beat——————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Street Corner Love——————–(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Gone Tomorrow/Ooh La La (Reprise and Exit Music)———(CLICK TO LISTEN)

A relatively modest tour followed—a blur of debauchery and derision. Brandt abandoned the group halfway through the tour and went on to make his money by convincing America to purchase over-priced and imported designer jeans and later opened the music venues The Ritz and Palladium. Abandoned by his manager, by his label, and fully embodying his stated belief that, “schizophrenia isn’t all that bad. It may be the lifestyle of the ’70s” (Cochrane, 1998), Jobriath soon announced his retirement from the music business, and hardly anyone noticed. After a failed audition for the part of Al Pacino’s boyfriend in Sidney Lumet’s gripping true-crime film of 1975, Dog Day Afternoon, the man who was everywhere for a moment, Jobriath, was gone.

Living within the pyramid room atop New York’s Chelsea Hotel, Jobriath dissipated, replaced by yet another incarnation, Manhattan nightclub cabaret act, Cole Berlin.

Still creating, still an artist, in a 1981 BBC program about the Chelsea Hotel and its eccentric inhabitants, Cole Berlin was filmed within his odd apartment, performing on his white piano a composition of his own, “Sunday Brunch.”

By August 3, 1983, aged 36 years, Cole Berlin, Jobriath Boone, Jobriath Salisbury, and Bruce Wayne Campbell would all be dead from a new disease called AIDS. After four days, complaints by his neighbors concerning a smell would lead to the discovery of his body.

[post-script]:

This year, Jobriath A.D., a documentary by Kieran Turner is set to be released and concerns this intriguing life. I for one intend to catch it.

Ref:

Cochrane, R. (1998, November). Jobriath: The Mojo Article. Mojo Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.crapfromthepast.com/jobriath/mojo.htm

Metzger, R. (2009, March 30). Jobriath Boone: Rock’s Fairy Godmother. BoingBoing. Retrieved from http://boingboing.net/2009/03/30/jobriath-boone-rocks.html

Nelson, C. (1996, Nov. 8). Former MC5 guitarist to score punk film? Addicted To Noise Washington. Retrieved from http://kauhajokinyt.fi/~jplaitio/pleasekil.html

Sullivan, J. (2008, Feb. 29). Twisted Tales: Glam Rocker Jobriath – The Man Who Would Have Been Queen. Spinner. Retrieved from http://www.spinner.com/2008/02/29/twisted-tales-glam-rocker-jobriath-the-man-who-would-have-bee/

I’VE BEEN COMING TO WHERE I AM FROM THE GET GO: Part I: The New Style

ADAM YAUCH, MCA: AUGUST 5, 1964 – MAY 4, 2012; R.I.P.

Unfortunately, it seems that lately the only time I feel compelled to take time out of my busy schedule to post on this blog is under the solemn circumstances of needing to pay my respects to an artist who has recently passed.

 

“Born and bred Brooklyn U.S.A./They call me Adam Yauch but I’m MCA”

MCA

Today, I pay such tribute to hip-hop pioneer and founding member of the Beastie Boys, Adam Yauch, aka MCA, aka Nathanial Hörnblowér. After a three-year battle with a cancerous parotid salivary gland, Yauch died on Friday, May 4th in his hometown of N.Y.C. He was 47. Yauch is one of the few celebrities whose death has actually had a strong emotional impact on me (the death of another NYC artist, Jim Carroll on September 11, 2009 is one from recent memory). Sure, when an artist whose work you enjoy dies you likely take note, but rarely does it truly upset you; rarely does it feel like a personal loss.

However, with each member of this triad being responsible for 33% of the aggregate sounds, images, attitudes, costumes, and overall vibe that is the life-long art project known as the “Beastie Boys” (I’ll leave that final 1% to be assigned to whatever collaborators, inspirations, and spiritual beliefs the group might wish to credit) the loss of Adam Yauch’s intrinsic creative input has effectively put an end to their singular voice, and it is a voice that will be sorely missed.

Along with Mike D and Ad-Rock, MCA’s Beastie Boys have created a most remarkable and enjoyable body of work through a career that has improbably endured over three decades. At their best, the Beastie Boys represent limitless possibility, and the promise of a good time to be had when exploring all these possibilities.

Regarding the death of their “brother,” an obviously grieving Ad-Rock sent out this image…

…while Mike D issued a statement that could also serve to characterize and sum up my feelings towards the Beastie Boys as a whole:

He really served as a great example for myself and so many of what

determination, faith, focus, and humility coupled with a sense of humor

can accomplish (Dillon, 2012).

As modern music, particularly within the genres of Rap and Hip Hop, has increasingly become pessimistic and irate (with dour faced men earnestly either adopting the supposed postures of thugs and hard-cases or acting emotionally fragile, alternately boasting and whining how they are all alone in this world and all the while clenching their teeth to convince you of their sincerity) the Beastie Boys and their overwhelming sense of camaraderie and levity have always been received as a welcome breath of fresh air. Furthermore, beyond these distinctive emotional qualities, sonically the Beastie Boys has been one of the most innovative recording artists to ever emerge. Over the years they have consistently explored and redefined the outer limits of popular sound and song construction.

Formed at the dawn of the 1980s in New York’s downtown art scene, the Beastie Boys began as a hardcore punk band, which served as a supporting act for notable groups such as the Dead Kennedys, Bad Brains, the Misfits, and Reagan Youth  (Pollicino, 2009) at long-gone NYC venues like CBGB, A7, and Max’s Kansas City, and numerous other forgotten crawlspaces. Originally consisting of Manhattan-raised drummer/vocalist MichaelMike DDiamond, child of an interior designer and Harold Diamond, an eminent art dealer; Brooklyn-born bassist AdamMCAYauch, the only child of Frances, a social worker and a public school administrator, and Noel Yauch, a painter and architect (LeRoy, 2006); the band also featured friend John Barry as the guitarist; and Kate Schellenbach, who would go on to play drums for the first act signed to the Beastie Boys’ own Grand Royal label: Luscious Jackson.

Adam “MCA” Yauch & Michael “Mike D” Diamond

In 1982, this line-up would release the EP Polywog Stew on the local independent label, Rat Cage. Perhaps the most memorable track on this release of noisy, rapid punks songs is “Egg Raid On Mojo,” as it memorialized one of the Beastie Boys then favorite pastime pranks of terrorizing friends as well as strangers by tossing raw eggs at them. This theme, as well as some of the lyrics would later be revisited in 1989 for the track “Eggman.”

———————-(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Like it? Buy it.

This album also featured the track “Holy Snappers,” for which the following accompanying video was made:

Soon afterwards, John Barry (Berry? I’ve read both) and Kate Schellenbach would leave the group only to be replaced by AdamAd-RockHorovitz. Horovitz—born in South Orange, New Jersey and raised in Manhattan by his mother Doris and his father, playwright Israel Horovitz—was the singer/guitarist for the punk rock band The Young and The Useless, which would often perform alongside the initial incarnation of the Beastie Boys (LeRoy, 2006). With the addition of Ad-Rock, the creative core of the Beastie Boys was now complete.

In 1983 the trio would release the EP Cooky Puss, the title track of which would be their first experimentation with hip hop: the song relying heavily on sampled vocals, turntable scratching, and processed beats, techniques most commonly associated with the still burgeoning style of music. The song’s title is a reference to Carvel’s delicious (I just bought one for my wife’s birthday last month) ice cream cake “Cookie Puss,” which is made in the shape of a face, with ice cream sandwiches serving as the eyes and an upside down sugar cone as the nose. As an interesting aside, Cookie Puss is intended to be a space alien born on the planet Birthday and his original name was “Celestial Person.” These initials were maintained, and later came to stand for “Cookie Puss.” Those who grew up in the NY area might recall the really whacked-out low-budget commercials produced by Carvel that featured Cookie Puss floating in space and speaking in a tweaked, pitch-shifted voice that’s kind of terrifying in retrospect.

The Beastie Boys’ song contains recordings of various crank calls the group made to a local Carvel restaurant, and it would become a local, underground hit single.

———————-(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Like it? Buy it.

After this minor hit, the Beastie Boys—who seem to have always had an uncanny ability to absorb their influences, only to subsequently reproduce, or extrapolate them rather, into something not only unique, but visionary as well—began to alter their sound, reorganizing into the now familiar formula of “Three MC’s and One DJ.” It was at this time that they were signed to Def Jam Recordings, a fledgling record label that had been run out of founder Rick Rubin’s NYU dorm room in Weinstein Hall on University Place right off Washington Square Park. Raised in Lido Beach, Rubin, that odd, bearded figure of old-school hip-hop had recently partnered with concert promoter/artist manager (and older brother of Rev. Run of Run-DMC) Russell Simmons. Simmons, raised in the Queens’ neighborhood of Hollis, had spent the past few years managing Kurtis Blow as well as his younger brother’s group (Tomassini , 2006) when he was introduced to Rick Rubin (I have read alternately that this introduction was done by Zulu Nation’s DJ Jazzy Jay, and by that multi-talented artist and all-around weirdo, Vincent Gallo).

Russel Simmons & Rick Rubin

At the time of the Beastie Boys’ signing, Def Jam was in the process of recording and releasing the debut single by a 17 year-old LL Cool J: “I Need a Beat,” which was co-written by Ad-Rock.

———————-(CLICK TO LISTEN)

Like it? Buy it.

This music and its scene were still in its infancy. It was an exciting time to be at its foundation and it was not only possible for a group of middle-class white boys to be signed based on their potential, but for them to actually become one the most popular and respected acts of the genre too.

Beastie Boys & Run-DMC

Def Jam soon released the Beastie Boys’ 1985 Def Jam debut single; the Rick Rubin produced “Rock Hard.”

———————-(CLICK TO LISTEN)

The track prominently features a sample from the song “Back in Black” by AC/DC (a band I must admit I’ve always loathed). As these samples were used without obtaining legal permission, the record was soon withdrawn. In fact, when the Beastie Boys were compiling tracks for their 1999 career retrospective Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science, Mike D reached out to AC/DC seeking permission for the inclusion of “Rock Hard” but was denied. As Mike D later stated: “AC/DC could not get with the sample concept. They were just like, ‘Nothing against you guys, but we just don’t endorse sampling.’” Ad-Rock then added, “So we told them that we don’t endorse people playing guitars” (NME, 1999). Ironically enough, around the same time as the Beastie Boys’ debut, the airline corporation British Airways created a commercial that illegally used a portion of “Beastie Revolution” off their Cooky Puss EP. The Beastie Boys successfully sued British Airways and used the money awarded them to rent a loft at 59 Chrystie Street in New York City’s Chinatown. This apartment was an ideal location for the group to rehearse loudly “into the wee hours, as it was conveniently located atop a sweatshop and a brothel” (LeRoy, 2006). This apartment was later memorialized as the title of the opening segment of their epic “B-Boy Bouillabaisse,” which closes the groups’ 1989 LP Paul’s Boutique, an album that would be simply impossible to create under today’s copyright and sampling laws as it uses an innumerable amount of samples.

Chinatown in the late ’70s

With its thick but bare-bones beats paired with heavy-metal guitar riffs, the steady measured delivery of which serve as a frame for the trio’s rapid, paroxysmal, and pinched approach to rhyming—the production formula for “Rock Hard” would serve as the basic template for the Beastie Boys’ 1986 debut LP, the Rick Rubin co-produced Licensed to Ill. It was an overwhelming success.

Licensed to Ill

They had spent the previous year building a fan base and a bad reputation with the release of “She’s on It” from the Krush Groove soundtrack, as well as supporting both John Lydon’s post-Sex Pistols project Public Image Ltd (PiL) and Madonna on her North American The Virgin Tour (apparently she and MCA were momentarily an item while on this tour). Now, with the release of their debut they were certified stars, as Licensed to Ill became one of the best-selling albums in history (Cameron, 2004).

Beastie Boys & Madonna: The Virgin Tour

A collection of juvenile fantasies—both rude and rudimentary—the album utilized samples from the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, and even Creedence Clearwater Revival crammed with misogynistic lyrics and delirious wordplay that seemed to scream, “don’t take this too serious!” However, ridiculous as it may seem now, the Beastie Boys and their purported message was taken seriously by the watchdog facet of the media and they were deemed a serious threat to the decency of American youth. To my mind equally ridiculous, Licensed to Ill became the first rap album to reach #1 (BBC, 2012). It’s important to note, however, that despite its success there were many who viewed the group and its music as just plain stupid. Originally to be titled Don’t Be a Faggot, the album’s cartoon tales about drinking, drugging, robbing, rhyming, vandalism, gun-toting, and scamming on chicks were delivered in the unapologetic sneer of privileged delinquents, or as they themselves say on “The New Style”:

Some voices got treble, some voices got bass

We got the kind of voices that are in your face

Although being at the very least an amusing album (and still a lot of fun to shout along to), Licensed to Ill and its smash hit single “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” would leave one with the impression that the Beastie Boys were nothing but a one-trick-pony.

This single was further promoted (as the band’s image was further pigeonholed) with its now ubiquitous video, a quasi-riff on defiant party songs like Mötley Crüe’s cover of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and the biker gang invasion scene of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead:

Looking back on this era of their lives and the reactions to the album (particularly how their sense of humor and ironic parodies seemed to be lost on a majority of their audience), the Beasties were quoted as saying:

MCA: We were definitely getting drunk and acting really stupid and

trying to purposely be obnoxious because we thought it was funny—

but we were also talking in the lyrics about smoking crack and smoking

dust and all the type of stuff that we weren’t actually doing. It was all

just stupid exaggeration.

Ad-Rock: And the press, at that time, would have believed anything.

So we just made shit up. It was kind of a goof. We’d just build on each

other’s stories. Like, yeah, we flooded the bathroom at the hotel, and

we sawed a hole in the ceiling so that we could go from one room to the

other.

Mike D: But once it gets printed one place that establishes it as fact.

I think the thing that we weren’t prepared for was when the exaggeration

stopped coming from us—when it went to the tabloid level. It took the

whole thing into a completely negative and kind of frightening and

alienating area. It’s easy to look back on it now, in this context, and see

it all leading up to that point. But at the time, we really didn’t know what

was happening (NME,1999).

As they embarked on their first headlining world tour (a beer-chugging, fist-pumping mess that featured dancing ladies in cages, a giant hydraulic penis, and crowds populated by frat-boys) the Beastie Boys were beginning to feel that the joke was perhaps wearing thin if not turning on them; they were starting to fear that they were actually becoming their own parody. Above all, the excess of the tour was simply wearing them out. The three were roughly only 21-years-old.

Licensed to Ill Tour, 1987

Licensed To Ill Tour, 1987

To further embitter them, producer Rick Rubin was receiving a majority of the creative credit for not only the music, but also the entire “Beastie Boy” persona. Years later, Russell Simmons admitted, “they didn’t have the credit they deserved early on for being creative” (LeRoy, 2006). Interestingly, one of the few tracks from the album that deviates from the rap/rock mold is the sample-spastic “Hold It, Now Hit It” (interpolating: “Drop the Bomb” and “Let’s Get Small” by Trouble Funk; “Funky Stuff” by Kool & The Gang; “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” by Bob James; “Christmas Rappin’” by Kurtis Blow; “La Di Da Di” by Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick; and “The Return of Leroy” by The Jimmy Castor Bunch, who I’ve discussed earlier, here ) which was produced by the Beasties themselves and without Rubin’s input.

Coupling this lack of artistic recognition with the fact that they had yet to be paid by Def Jam (Simmons) an estimated $2 million in royalties, as they came off tour the three were just about ready to quit: whether they would depart from their label or quit being Beastie Boys altogether, I’m certain that they themselves were not sure of at the time. If they had left the project there and then, the Beastie Boys today would most likely be remembered as a novelty act, relegated to a footnote for the golden age of hip hop and only discussed during nostalgia driven programming for the purposes of demonstrating how ridiculous the tastes of the ’80s were.

What followed, however, is one of the most inconceivable tales of artistic reinvention, personal development, and the evolution of music…

TO BE CONTINUED

Stay tuned for I’VE BEEN COMING TO WHERE I AM FROM THE GET GO: Part II! Where we will explore the creation of Paul’s Boutique and the architects behind the Sounds of Science!

REST IN PEACE

————————-BOBBY CALERO————

Ref:

BBC. (2012, May 4.). Beastie Boys star Adam Yauch dies aged 47. BBC. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17963855

Beastie Boys. (1982) Egg Raid On Mojo [recorded by Beastie Boys] On Polly Wog Stew [vinyl] Rat Cage. (1982). Re-released on Some Old Bullshit [CD] Capitol. (1994).

Beastie Boys. (1983) Cooky Puss [recorded by Beastie Boys] On Cooky Puss 12” [vinyl] Rat Cage. (1983). Re-released on Some Old Bullshit [CD] Capitol. (1994).

Beastie Boys. (1982) (Creators). Fiama22 (Poster) (2007, July 31). Beastie Boys – Holy Snappers punk [Video] Retrieved May 7, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35YSM7zbV1w

Beastie Boys. (1986) (Creators). TheBeastieBoysVEVO (Poster) (2009, June 16). The Beastie Boys – Hold It Now, Hit It  [Video] Retrieved May 7, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB0NM6reiRE&ob=av2e%20%5Bvid%5D

Beastie Boys. (1986) (Creators). TheBeastieBoysVEVO (Poster) (2009, June 16). (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) [Video] Retrieved May 7, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBShN8qT4lk

Beastie Boys. (1985) Rock Hard [recorded by Beastie Boys] On Rock Hard 12” [vinyl] Def Jam Recordings. (1985).

Burns, M. E., (2000). The Beastie Boys. Pendergast, S., & Pendergast, T. (Ed.). St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, Vol. 1. 200-201. Detroit: St. James Press. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Cameron, S. (2004). Beastie Boys. Wachsberger, K., & Laplante, T. (Ed.). Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990, Vol. 1. 47-49. Detroit: Schirmer Reference. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Carvel. (1985) (Creators). 0816brandon (Poster) (2012, April 16). Carvel’s Cookie Puss commercial [Video] Retrieved May 7, 2012 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjQpGeXnuio

Dillon, N. (2012, May 7.). Adam Yauch remembered: Beastie Boys’ Mike D and Ad-Rock open up on death of their ‘brother.’ New York Daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music-arts/adam-yauch-remembered-beastie-boys-mike-ad-rock-open-death-brother-article-1.1074007#ixzz1uI94udC4

Horovitz, A., Smith, J., Rubin, R. (1984) I Need A Beat (Remix) [recorded by L.L. Cool J] On Radio [CD] Def Jam Recordings. (1985).

LeRoy, D. (2006). 33⅓ Paul’s Boutique. Continuum: New York.

New Musical Express. (1999, November 11). AC/DC nix Beastie Boys sample. New Musical Express. Retrieved from http://beastieboys.tumblr.com/post/291070903/ac-dc-nix-beastie-boys-sample

Pollicino, R. (2009). Gigography. Retrieved from BeastieMania.com..

Tomassini, C. (2006). Simmons, Russell. Palmer, C. A. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, Vol. 5. 2035. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from Gale Virtual Reference Library.

BREAK THE SILENCE OF THE NIGHT

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain–

All, all the stretch of these great green states–

And make America again!

Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes (1935)

Nation as a Promise

This weekend I honor the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who more than most would have understood the weight of the words above. He knew that our Nation is a Promise—a promise that we each make to ourselves, and to our community—a promise of a Shining City upon a Hill. However, as Jesus Christ said as he gave his Sermon on the Mount, “a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (King James Version, Matthew 5:14). Martin Luther King, Jr. understood that not only was it our duty to judge our world, but that in turn it was our burden to be judged.

Our modern view of King’s August 28, 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech has had a tendency to reduce his words to merely a pictorial report of utopia. Yet, when King called for integration, he was speaking of our responsibility to our fellow man, and that true equality means that we all labor together to fulfill the promise of our nation, a promise that we have inherited, and a promise that we renew with each day we continue to build our homes here. King’s dream was not merely one of interracial hand-holding and pleasant afternoons together in the sun, but one where “[…] we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day” (Walenta, 2010). As Greil Marcus (2006) writes in “The Shape of Things To Come,” King’s most celebrated speech was one that “[…] judges the nation, and calls on each member to judge it in turn. The speech calls on each citizen to weigh the nation’s promises against their betrayal […]” (Marcus, p.34).

A Model of Christian Charity

Governor John Winthrop

            President Ronald Reagan was fond of invoking the image of a “shining city” to promulgate a supposed moral superiority and an ideological slant on American exceptionalism, as well as to suggest that our nation could serve as guardian angel and warden for the world. Ultimately, his words were an expression of optimism. They did not take into account the age-old question of “who watches the watchmen?” Nevertheless, as conveyed in the 1630 sermon by Puritan and Massachusetts Bay Colony founder Governor John Winthrop—while aboard the Arbella, which sailed from the Isle of Wight to Salem, Mass.—this status as a City upon a Hill is one to be considered more of a threat than a blessing:

“The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely

with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to

withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a

by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to

speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God’s sake. We

shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause

their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out

of the good land whither we are going” (Religious Freedom, 2001).

Citizen King in the Great World House

Vs.

The Computerized Plans of Destruction

            As a citizen of the world, King not only appreciated the necessity for community as a prerequisite for peace on earth, but understood that community—regardless of one’s view or relation to it—is by its very nature inescapable; existence is nothing if not a multitude of threads and ligaments, by which each living thing is bound to another and all. Beyond this, King knew the obligation that comes with community. On June 14th, 1965 Dr. King gave a commencement address at Oberlin College in Ohio. Entitled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” the speech was more of a challenge to the graduating class than just a mere attaboy pat on the back and words of congratulations:

“All I’m saying is simply this: that all mankind is tied together;

all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable

network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.

[…] All that I’ve said is that we must work for peace, for racial

justice, for economic justice, and for brotherhood the world over.

We have inherited a big house, a great world house in which we

have to live together—black and white, Easterners and Westerners,

Gentiles and Jews, Protestants and Catholics, Moslem and Hindu.

If we all learn to do this we, in a real sense, will remain awake

through a great revolution (Oberlin College Archives, 2009).

As a true patriot, King not only loved our country and its inherent promise, but also was willing to descry that there is a disease within our nation, and that it was our responsibility as a people to deliver a cure. He knew that it little mattered where in fact Plymouth Rock landed. Regardless of semantics and pedigree, in the words of Woody Guthrie (1940), “This land is your land, this land is my land.” Again, as a patriot, King did not necessarily view the malady as an innate element to our nations principle architecture of government, Democracy, but rather the result of a promise perverted by those in power that seek personal gain through the influence of money and violence.  Furthermore, I believed he viewed our nation’s malaise and inequity as a matter of depraved, cruel, arrogant, and often merely imbecilic value systems growing viral within our culture; a culture becoming a gluttonous creature in blind pursuit of comfort and dollars, obsessed with the distractions of torture and cartoons on the television. If one wonders what is wrong with this world—why these wrongs are prevalent—one need only to take a look at his world; to understand the product, one need only inspect the factory.

Charles Moore, Arrest of Dr. Martin Luther King, 1958. ©Charles Moore/Blackstar/Eyevine

Despite his “I Have A Dream” speech remaining what he is mainly remembered for, I find King’s “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” to have endured as one of his most pertinent. On April 4, 1967 (exactly one year prior to his assassination) at Riverside Church in New York City, Dr. King delivered these words:

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the

fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.

On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on

life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we

must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed

so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed

as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is

more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice

which produces beggars needs restructuring.

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring

contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will

look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West

investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America,

only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment

of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance

with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.”

The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others

and nothing to learn from them is not just. (A More Perfect Union, 2011).

A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood.

James Karales, Selma-to-Montgomery March for Voting Rights in 1965, 1965. Photographic print. Located in the James Karales Collection, Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University. Photograph © Estate of James Karales

Essentially, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message remains one of Hope and Compassion, however, I believe there was a bit more fire & brimstone to his sermons than people care to remember. King knew that Time remains ambivalent to the aspirations of man. King knew that progress is not inevitable, but requires the vigilant struggle and toil of a conscientious community. King knew that with this community we could one day create “a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” King knew that without this community we are surely damned; our names will remain a stain on history, a curse upon all our offspring’s lips, and a curse upon the lips of God itself.

—The World is a better place for having had this man in it—The World can be a better place for having had this man in it—

Here is a YouTube post with the audio for Dr. King’s speech, Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.  Beneath that I have pasted several of what I feel are critical passages from his speech, particularly in the context of our modern world.

“The only change came from America, as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

“So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

“What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

“We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing—in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

“Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon, the only solid—solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call “fortified hamlets.” The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.

“Perhaps a more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front, that strangely anonymous group we call “VC” or “communists?” What must they think of the United States of America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem, which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? What do they think of our condoning the violence, which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the North” as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

“These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

“Now there is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter that struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing.

“The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality…and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala—Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

“And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

“In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years, we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisers in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.

“It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice, which produces beggars needs restructuring.

“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

“A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

“America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

“This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and, through their misguided passions, urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not engage in a negative anticommunism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove those conditions of poverty, insecurity, and injustice, which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

“These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions.

“It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes-hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.”

“A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

“This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing—embracing and unconditional love for all mankind. This oft misunderstood, this oft misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door, which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate—ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John: ‘Let us love one another, for love is God. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.’ ‘If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us.’ Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day.

“We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. And history is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says:

“‘Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.’

“We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood—it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, “Too late.” There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect.

“We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action.

“If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

“And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when ‘justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream’” (A More Perfect Union, 2011).

OK, now that I got that off my chest

Here are a few tracks in tribute of MLK.

First up is perhaps my favorite Public Enemy song, 1991’s “By the Time I Get to Arizona.” Chuck D spits incisive line after incisive line at both the legislature and citizens of Arizona State after their refusal to observe a holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To give a brief history, Sen. John McCain (Republican of Arizona) voted against the creation of the holiday to honor King, and later defended Arizona Republican Governor Evan Mecham, who in 1987 rescinded a former Democratic governor’s establishment of the holiday. As a result, Arizona lost an estimated $300 million in cancellations of concerts, conventions and the 1993 Super Bowl (Hardigg, 1993).

Arizona State eventually relented to observe the holiday. Now, Arizona has gone on to note that in fact they are the only state that actually voted to recognize the holiday, unlike other states, which simply accepted the federal mandate. To me, however, that sounds like mere revision and spin, and an attempt to distract the issue with State’s Rights. One need only look at recent laws that permit the police force to demand your “papers,” to get a fair sense of Arizona’s collective conscious.

The video for this song was received in scandal due to graphic re-enactments of the civil rights movement and King’s 1968 murder interspersed with scenes of Public Enemy members leading an armed insurrection, which culminates with a series of political assassinations.

The heavy-metal-funk groove prominently featured throughout “By the Time I Get to Arizona” is a sample of the Bed-Stuy funk group that was formed in 1968 by three Panamanian born brothers: Mandrill. The sampled song, “Two Sisters Of Mystery” off of their 1973 album Just Outside Of Town has more in common with Led Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots than hip-hop, which goes to show just how eclectic P.E. could be.

Mandrill – Just Outside Of Town (1973)

However, the sample that I find particularly inventive occurs as the break-down when Chuck D grits his teeth and obstinately declares that he’s got twenty-five days to get to Arizona. To complement D’s message and delivery, the music is swallowed whole in a rhythmic swamp of menacing bass/drums and disturbing shrieks. These sounds bring to mind a perturbed vision of a playground massacre. Yet, with such precision, this snippet of looped sound is actually taken from a 1971 live concert by the Jackson 5 while performing a rendition of Isaac Hayes’ “Walk on By.” Recorded for the live/soundtrack album, Goin’ Back to Indiana, The screams are nothing but giddy girls cheering on the slow-step dance routine on stage. What a perfect subversion of sound.

The Jackson 5 – Goin’ Back to Indiana (1971)

Affirming the conclusion that most logical Americans arrive at, “[…] my money’s spent/on the goddamn rent/Neither party is mine/not the jackass or the elephant,” and directly stating the threatening consequences for cultural subjugation, “When the blind get a mind/ Better start fearing while we sing it;” off of Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black here’s “By the Time I Get to Arizona.”

—————(Click To Listen)

Like it? Buy it.

Sam Cooke

Up next is Baby Huey and the Babysitters with their 1970 epic rendition of the song that for many came to epitomize the sixties’ Civil Rights Movement: Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” I’ve already discussed much of Baby Huey’s brief history and the story behind their Curtis Mayfield produced record elsewhere, so, I’d rather consider the impetus behind the song itself. Written by Cooke while on tour in early 1963 and recorded on December 21 of that same year, “A Change Is Gonna Come” was released on 1964’s Ain’t That Good News, which was comprised of the first material that Cooke had recorded in the six months following the drowning death of his 18-month old son. Unfortunately, this album would also be his last released while alive, as Cooke was murdered under mysterious circumstances nine months after the album’s release; he was 33 years old. Ten days after his death on December 11, 1964, “A Change Is Gonna Come” was released as a single.

Sam Cooke was driven to write this song after being both inspired and filled with anxiety upon hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Cooke felt challenged by the song’s depth and understanding of America’s current climate in regards to race relations. Cooke is quoted as saying, “Jeez, a white boy writing a song like that?” (RollingStone, 2012).

Baby Huey and the Babysitters do Cooke’s song more than justice by swelling it into an epic psychedelic anthem that keeps the integrity of the definition of psychedelic intact: soul-manifesting, or soul-revealing. Punctured with scattergun horns, Baby Huey maneuvers the ballad through various temperaments while relating various humorous but personal asides. The most poignant of these being “There’s three kind of people in this world—There’s White People, there’s Black People, and then there’s My People.”

—————(Click To Listen)

Like it? Buy it.

Third, here’s the song that inspired Cooke to write “A Change Is Gonna Come,” Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Dylan, at the age of 20 in April 1962, introduced this song while onstage at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village, by stating: “This here ain’t no protest song or anything like that, ’cause I don’t write no protest songs” (RollingStone, 2012). He later said that he wrote the song in ten minutes, and anyone familiar with Dylan’s genius will believe him. The version I present was recorded live February 13th, 1974 in Los Angeles during Dylan and The Band’s joint tour. The fact that this tour was the first time Dylan had returned to the road since 1966 is evident in the unrestrained, muscular, and nearly irate delivery of this performance. Through the haze of Garth Hudson’s organ, Robbie Robertson provides some dynamic lead guitar that plays interesting games within the melody.

Bob Dylan and The Band 1974 Tour

Like it? Buy it.

And to conclude, here are the final public words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The next day, at 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, he was murdered by a coward while standing on the 2nd floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. If these words do nothing to you then check your pulse.

——————————————Bobby Calero

Ref:

The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: Meridian, 1974. Print.

A More Perfect Union. (2011) Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.-April 4, 1967-Beyond Vietnam: A Time To Break Silence. A More Perfect Union. Retrieved January 13th, 2012 from http://4amoreperfectunion.blogspot.com/2011/01/rev-martin-luther-king-jr-april-4-1967.html

Cooke, S. A Change Is Going To Come [recorded by Baby Huey and The Babysitters] On The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend. [CD] Curtom. (1971) Water. (2006)

Dylan, B. (1962). Blowin’ in the Wind [recorded by Bob Dylan and The Band] On Before the Flood. [CD] Asylum. (1974) Sony Legacy. (2009)

Hughes, Langston. (1935). Let America Be America Again. Retrieved January 13th, 2012 from http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15609

Marcus, G. (2006) The Shape of Things To Come. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Oberlin College Archives. (2009). Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution. Oberlin College Archives. Retrieved January 13th, 2012 from http://www.oberlin.edu/external/EOG/BlackHistoryMonth/MLK/CommAddress.html

Public Enemy and Island Def Jam Music Group (1991) (Creators). PublicEnemyVEVO (Poster) (2010, Aug. 27). Public Enemy-By The Time I Get To Arizona [Video] Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrFOb_f7ubw

Ridenhour, Robertz, Gary G, Wiz, Depper, Mandrill, Santiago. (1991). By the Time I Get to Arizona [recorded by Public Enemy] On Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black [CD] Def Jam.

Religious Freedom Page. (2001). A Model of Christian Charity. Univerrsity of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 13th, 2012 from http://religiousfreedom.lib.virginia.edu/sacred/charity.html

RollingStone (2011). The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. RollingStone. Retrieved January 14th, 2012 from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-500-greatest-songs-of-all-time-20110407/bob-dylan-blowin-in-the-wind-19691231

RollingStone (2011). The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. RollingStone. Retrieved January 14th, 2012 from http://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/the-500-greatest-songs-of-all-time-20110407/sam-cooke-a-change-is-gonna-come-19691231

Walenta, C.  (Ed.). The I Have a Dream Speech by MLK. USConstitution.net. Retrieved January 13th, 2012 from http://www.usconstitution.net/dream.html