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article by: Michael Canter

25 September 2009

Misunderstood Lyrics: Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress

Providing a service for those who think they know the lyrics to this 1972 classic but actually have no clue.

Saturday night I was downtown
Working for the FBI
Sitting in a nest of bad men
Whiskey bottles piling high

Bootlegging boozer on the west side
Full of people who are doing wrong
Just about to call up the DA man
When I heard this woman singing a song

A pair of 45's made me open my eyes
My temperature started to rise
She was a long cool woman in a black dress
Just a 5-9 beautiful tall
With just one look I was a bad mess
'Cause that long cool woman had it all

I saw her heading to the table
Well a tall walking big black cat
When Charlie said I hope that you're able, boy
Well I'm telling you she knows where it's at
Well then suddenly we heard the sirens
And everybody started to run
Jumping under doors and tables
Well I heard somebody shooting a gun

Well the DA was pumping my left hand
And she was holding my right
Well I told her, "Don't get scared
'Cause you're gonna be spared"
Well I'm gonna be forgiven
If I wanna spend my living
With a long cool woman in a black dress
Just a 5-9 beautiful tall
With just one look I was a bad mess
'Cause that long cool woman had it all
Had it all, had it all, had it all...

24 September 2009

The Strange Death of Gram Parsons: 1973

Gram Parsons (November 5, 1946 – September 19, 1973) was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist. Parsons was a member of the International Submarine Band, The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers. He was later a solo artist who recorded and performed duets with Emmylou Harris.

Parsons died of a drug overdose at the age of 26 in a hotel room in Joshua Tree, California. Since his death, he has been credited with helping to found both country rock and alt-country.

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him #87 on their list of the 100 Most Influential Artists of All Time.

Although his music is by far the most vital part of the Gram Parsons story, his death is the first introduction to that story for many people. Perhaps some of those looking to read about that death will be persuaded by other parts of the profile to check out his music, too.

Gram Parsons has become something of a cult figure in the music business. He never hit it big, and few outside a small circle remember him now. But people who ought to know say he was one of the pioneers behind the country-rock phenomenon of the late 60s and early 70s. A member of the Byrds for a short time, Parsons was the creative force behind their 1968 country album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which many consider a classic. He went on to form the Flying Burrito Brothers and later invited then unknown Emmylou Harris out to LA to sing on his solo album, GP (1973), helping to launch her career. He hung out with the Rolling Stones (his influence can be heard on several cuts from Exile on Main Street) and had a big impact on Elvis Costello, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Petty, and the Eagles. Remember New Riders of the Purple Sage and Pure Prairie League? They owed a lot to Parsons. He's received many posthumous honors and musical tributes.

Parsons wasn't a suicide, but he killed himself all right. Blessed with charm and cash (his mother's family had made a pile in the citrus business), he got into booze and drugs early. In September 1973 he finished recording an album and went with some friends to an inn at Joshua Tree National Monument, one of his favorite places. The group spent much of the day by the pool getting tanked. By evening Gram looked like hell and went to his room to sleep. Later, on their way out for some food, his friends were unable to rouse him, so they left, returning a little before midnight. By that time Parsons was pretty far gone. Taken to a hospital, he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight on September 19. A lab analysis found large amounts of alcohol and morphine in his system; apparently the combination killed him. News coverage of his demise was eclipsed by the death of Jim Croce around the same time. Parsons was 26 years old.

So far, your typical live-fast-die-young story. Then it gets strange. Before his death Parsons had said that he wanted to be cremated at Joshua Tree and have his ashes spread over Cap Rock, a prominent natural feature there. But after his death his stepfather arranged to have the body shipped home for a private funeral, to which none of his low-life music buddies were invited. Said buddies would have none of it. Fortified by beer and vodka, they decided to steal Parsons's body and conduct their own last rites.

Having ferreted out the shipping arrangements, Phil Kaufman (Parsons's road manager) and another man drove out to the airport in a borrowed hearse, fed the poor schmuck in charge of the body a load of baloney about a last-minute change of plans, signed the release "Jeremy Nobody," and made off with Parsons's remains. They bought five gallons of gas, drove 150 miles to Joshua Tree, and by moonlight dragged the coffin as close to Cap Rock as they could. Kaufman pried open the lid to reveal Parsons's naked cadaver, poured in the gas, and tossed in a match. A massive fireball erupted. The authorities gave chase but, as one account puts it, "were encumbered by sobriety," and the desperadoes escaped.

The men were tracked down a few days later, but there was no law against stealing a body, so they were charged with stealing the coffin or, as one cop put it, "Gram Theft Parsons." (Cops are such a riot.) Convicted, they were ordered to pay $750, the cost of the coffin. What was left of Parsons was buried in New Orleans.

"Brass buttons green silks and silver shoes. Warm evenings, pale mornings, bottle blues. And the tiny golden pins that she wore up in her hair. Brass buttons green silks and silver shoes. My mind was young until she grew. My secret thoughts only known by a few. It was a dream much too real to believe again too soon. And all the time I think she knew. Her words still dance inside my head. Her comb still lies beside my bed. And the sun comes up without her now. It just doesn't know she's gone. And I remember everything she said." -- From Brass Buttons

Allmusic.com writes about Gram Parsons beautiful song, "In My Hour Of Darkness," off of Greivous Angel, "And while he didn't plan on it, Parsons could hardly have picked a better closing gesture than 'In My Hour of Darkness.' Grievous Angel may not have been the finest work of his career, but one would be hard pressed to name an artist who made an album this strong only a few weeks before their death — or at any time of their life, for that matter."

Lyrics to "A Song For You" by Gram Parsons

Oh my land is like a wild goose
Wanders all around everywhere
Trembles and it shakes till every tree is loose
It rolls the meadows and it rolls the nails
So take me down to your dance floor
And I wont mind the people when they stare
Paint a different color on your front door
And tomorrow we will still be there

Jesus built a ship to sing a song to
It sails the rivers and it sails the tide
Some of my friends don't know who they belong to
Some can't get a single thing to work inside
So take me down to your dance floor
And I wont mind the people when they stare
Paint a different color on your front door
And tomorrow we will still be there

I loved you every day and now I'm leaving
And I can see the sorrow in your eyes
I hope you know a lot more than you're believing
Just so the sun don't hurt ou when you cry
So take me down to your dance floor
And I wont mind the people when they stare
Paint a different color on your front door
And tomorrow we will still be there
And tomorrow we will still be there

23 September 2009

CD Review - Mike Zito

Mike Zito - Pearl River

Year: September 22, 2009

Genre: Blues/Roots/Rock

SonicJive: http://www.sonicjive.com/mikezito

Format:  CD

Total Time: 55:52

Reviewed: 22-September-2009

Track Listing:

01. Dirty Blond 3:37

02. Pearl River 4:54

03. Big Mouth 4:08

04. Change My Ways 5:15

05. Eyesight To The Blind 3:21

06. One Step At A Time 3:37

07. 39 Days 4:07

08. Shoes Blues 3:24

09. The Dead Of Night 4:05

10. Sugar Sweet 3:30

11. Natural Born Lover 5:30

12. All Last Night 5:27

13. C'mon Baby 4:57 


An entertaining mix of rootsy originals, Pearl River is an intricate suffuse of Delta blues, Southern-fried country funk, and roots-rock. Mike Zito is a gifted vocalist and an accomplished song writer, belting out a bevy of bluesier numbers with passion and finesse emphasizing full, throaty vocals.  Zito draws influences and inspiration from the likes of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Many of the songs propound on standard blues imagery, but Zito offers glimpses of hope through change, self-realization, even salvation.  What makes Pearl River special is Zito's ability to convey those emotions musically as well as lyrically.

This album features a song that could well be the independent blues & roots song of the year. The title song, Pearl River is a fiery composite of delta blues and roots music. Featuring Cyril Neville on vocal accompaniment (he also co-wrote the song), Pearl River is a bayou-bluesy, dusty road eulogy with an emphatic gospel feel.  Zito is at his gritty best vocally and Neville is absolutely regal.  Reese Wynans' sublimely fervent keyboards marinate well with Zito's guitar solos and impassioned vocals. Pearl River will likely spawn a blues/country/rock crossover hit for Zito. 

One Step At A Time is the first single release from Pearl River and features Anders Osborne on acoustic guitar and accompanying vocals.  Here Zito is at his soulful best, raising his stock as a singer/songwriter. Expressive and lively, there is a timelessness to this song; it feels like a standard.   Alternating with him on lead vocals, Osborne offers a more casual style that makes a nice contrast to Zito's intensity and their harmonies are flawless. You'll find One Step At A Time impossible to forget.

Shoes Blues has a funky 1960's Memphis revivalist feel that is deep, raw and reminiscent of the legendary Stax Records signature sound.  Here Zito performs a duet with Susan Cowsill (of The Cowsills fame).  The vocal interplay works well;  Cowsill offers heart-felt, country-accented vocals that perfectly underscore Zito's resonant sound, and again, the interplay between Wynans on keys and Zito on guitar is magical.

Other standout tracks include Dirty Blond and Natural Born Lover, both relentless, Texas-blues rave-ups that are roaring and impassioned tributes to some of the most vital, influential, and yet often unheralded figures in blues/rock, such as Jimmie Vaughan, Doyle Bramhill, C.C. Adcock and Guitar Slim.   All Last Night is an unrestrained and vehement blues jam that will melt your CD player.

After four independent releases and his 2008 national debut with Today, Mike Zito is about to embark into somewhat epic territory as Pearl River will surely garner national mainstream and blues/country/roots crossover accolades.  Produced by David Z. (Prince, Buddy Guy, Etta James, Jonny Lang)  and joined by a handful of guests, including Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Reese Wynans and Susan Cowsill, Pearl River is Mike Zito's most accomplished work to date. This five-star release comes with our highest recommendation. 

-- Michael Canter www.SonicJive.com

22 September 2009

CD Review - Anton Mink

Anton Mink - Self Titled Debut CD
A Flat-Out Put-Down Rave-Up!

Anton Mink
Click Cover Art To Purchase This Disc

Anton Mink is a band from Louisville, Kentucky. Two very different people met through an ad in a local alternative magazine, then they met two other very different people through an ad posted at a local music store. In October 2006, the band recorded its debut album in Glasgow, Kentucky. The full length album was released on the band's own label in April 2007. This release cranks out some seriously consistent, and consistently fun garage rock.

A mash-up of inspired beats, new-wave rhythm and garage rock guitars, the self-titled CD is a tight, cohesive output that's as intriguing as it is good, but it's also a lot of fun. The first two songs on the disc define the term "sure-fire". Everything, the first song, comes at you from all directions, full of snarling low-slung riffs right in the middle that explode like a nuclear warhead on the choruses. Monster Trucks follows and uses a similar formula and really sets the tone of the CD.

However, on the third track, Anton Mink takes a directional one-eighty with the ethereal Daddy Long Legs, which is a great change of pace and, along with Armies and Unhappy is one of the highlights of this release. Chloa's vocals on this track are heartrendingly amazing. Another favorite, Truck Stop can best be described as Liz Phair meets Lucinda Williams, and Unhappy, well that's my favorite song on the CD; simply put it grabs you by the balls from the opening chords and squeezes until you are nearly breathless.

If you are looking for a flat-out, put-down rave-up, then Anton Mink is a disc that is a must have for your CD collection. The instrumentation is super tight, the production is remarkable without the studio super-hype of over-driven and monotonously woven melodies so prevalent in music today, and the bad-ass vocals deliver angst, longing, despair, guilt, and a little raw hatred. Memorize the songs... they will quickly grow on you, and infect you, and take you over.

--Michael Canter www.SonicJive.com