Tuesday, April 29, 2014

but don't you be nobody's fool

----------------- [excerpt from Life, by Keith Richards] -------------------- To this day there's a Scotty Moore lick I still can't get down and he won't tell me.  Forty-nine years it's eluded me.  He claims he can't remember the one I'm talking about. 

It's not that he won't show me; he says, "I don't kow which one you mean."

 It's on "I'm Left, You're Right, She's gone."  I think it's in E major.  He has a rundown when it hits the 5 chord, the B down to the A down to the E, which is like a


sort of thing, which I've never been quite able to figure.  It's also on "Baby Let's Play House."  When you get to "But don't you be nobody's fool / Now baby, come back, baby..." and right at that last line, the lick is in there. 

It's probably some simple trick.  But it goes too fast,

and also there's a bunch of notes involved:  which finger moves and which one doesn't?  I've never heard anybody else pull it off.  Creedence Clearwater got a version of that song down, but when it comes to that move, no. 

And Scotty's a sly dog. 

He's very dry. 

"Hey, youngster, you've got time to figure it out." 

Every time I see him, it's "Learnt that lick yet?"

{Life, by Keith Richards with James Fox.  Copyright 2010.  Back Bay / Little, Brown}


Monday, April 28, 2014

follow the music

---------------------- [excerpt, Life -- by Keith Richards] ------------------ That Elvis LP had all the Sun stuff, with a couple of RCA jobs on it too.  It was everything from "That's All Right," "Blue Moon of Kentucky," "Milk Cow Blues Boogie."  I mean, for a guitar player, or a budding guitar player, heaven....Scotty Moore was my icon.  He was Elvis's guitar player, on all the Sun Records stuff.  He's on "Mystery Train," he's on "Baby Let's Play House." 

Now I know the man, I've played with him.  I know the band. 

But back then, just being able to get through "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone," that was the epitome of guitar playing. 

And then "Mystery Train" and "Money Honey."  I'd have died and gone to heaven just to play like that.  How the hell was that done?  That's the stuff I first brought to the john at Sidcup, playing a borrowed f-hole archtop Höfner.  That was before the music led me back into the roots of Elvis and Buddy -- back to the blues.

{Google "Elvis Presley That's Alright" > You Tube}

Well, that's all right, mama
That's all right for you
That's all right mama, just any way you do
Well, that's all right, that's all right.
That's all right now mama, any way you do.

Mama she done told me,
Papa done told me too
'Son, that gal you're foolin' with,
She ain't no good for you'
But that's all right -- that's all right.
That's all right now mama, any way you do

I'm leaving town, baby
I'm leaving town for sure
Well then you won't be bothered with
Me hanging 'round your door
Well that's all right, that's all right.
That's all right now mama, any way you do


{Life, Keith Richards with James Fox.  ©2010, Back Bay / Little, Brown}
{"That's Alright Mama," recorded July 5, 1954, by Elvis Presley.  Released July 19, 1954.  Sun Records.  written by Arthur Crudup.  Producer:  Sam Phillips}


Friday, April 25, 2014


-------------------- [excerpt, Life, by Keith Richards] ---------------- When you start to play in public and you're playing with some guys that have done it before, you're low in the hierarchy and you always feel you're being tested.

You've got to be there, on time,

your equipment's got to be working,

which it rarely was in my case.  You have to measure up.  Suddenly you're in with the big boys, you're not just pissing around in school gyms.  Shit, this is pro.  At least semipro; pro with no money.

I left art school around this time.  At the end your teacher says, "Well, I think this is pretty good," and they send you off to J. Walter Thompson and you have an appointment, and

by then, in a way you know what's coming --

three or four real smarty-pants, with the usual bow ties.  "Keith, is it?  Nice to see you.  Show us what you've got."  And you lay the old folder out.  "Hmmmm.  I say, we've had a good look at this, Keith, and it does show some promise.  By the way, do you make a good cup of tea?"  I said yes, but not for you.

I walked off with my folio -- it was green, I remember -- and I dumped it in the garbage can when I got downstairs.  That was my final attempt to join society on their terms.  The second pink slip.

I didn't have the patience or the facility to be a hack in an advertising agency.

I was going to end up the tea boy.  I wasn't very nice tro them in the interview.  Basically I wanted an excuse to be thrown out on my own and thrown back on music.  I think, OK, I've got two free years, not in the army.  I'm going to be a bluesman.

I went to the Bricklayers Arms, a seedy pub in Soho, for the first time

for the first rehearsal for what turned out to be the Stones.

I think it was May of '62, lovely summer evening.  Just off Wardour Street.  Strip Alley.  I get there, I've got my guitar with me.  And as I get there the pub's just opened.  Typical brassy blond old barmaid, not many customers, stale beer.

She sees the guitar and says, "Upstairs."

{Life.  Keith Richards with James Fox.  Copyright 2010, Back Bay / Little, Brown.}


Thursday, April 24, 2014

gimme shelter rolling

--------------------- [excerpt, Life, by Keith Richards] ---------------- So we sat there in the cold, dissecting tracks for as long as the meter held out.  A new Bo Diddley record goes under the surgical knife.  Have you got that wah-wah?...

Jimmy Reed was easier.  He was straightforward.  But to dissect how he played, Jesus.  It took me years to find out how he actually played the 5 chord, in the key of E -- the B chord, the last of the three chords before you go home, the resolver in a twelve-bar blues -- the dominant chord, as it's called. ...

I learned how to do it from a white boy, Bobby Goldsboro, who had a couple of hits in the '60s.  He used to work with Jimmy Reed and he said he'd show me the tricks.  I knew all the other moves, but I never knew that 5 chord move until he showed it to me, on a bus somewhere in Ohio, in the mid-'60s.  He said, "I spent years on the road with Jimmy Reed.  He does that 5 chord like this." ...

"...You live and learn."  Suddenly, out of a bright sky, you get it!

(I was walking along
Mindin' my business
When love came and hit me in the eye
Flash, Bam, Alakazam,
Out of the orange colored sky)

[YOU TUBE, type
Natalie Cole orange colored sky
and / or
Nat King Cole orange colored sky]

That haunting, droning note.  Absolute disregard for any musical rules whatsoever.  Also absolute disregard for the audience or anybody else.  "It goes like this."  In a way, we admired Jimmy more for that than his playing.  It was the attitude.  And also very haunting songs.  They might be based on a seemingly simplistic bedrock, but you try "Little Rain."

One of the first lessons I learned with guitar playing was that none of these guys were actually playing straight chords.  There's a throw-in, a flick-back.  Nothing's ever a straight major.  It's an amalgamation, a mangling and a dangling and a tangling thing.  There is no "properly."  There's just how you feel about it.  Feel your way around it....

If it's an A chord, a hint of D.  Or if it's a song with a different feeling, if it's an A chord, a hint of G should come in somewhere, which makes a 7th, which then can lead you on.  Readers who wish to can skip Keef's Guitar Workshop, but I'm passing on the simple secrets anyway, which led to the open chord riffs of later years -- the "Jack Flash" and "Gimme Shelter" ones.

(Ooh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Ooh yeah, I'm gonna fade away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away...)

[YOU TUBE, type
gimme shelter rolling]

I love these phrases:

"before you go home"

"the resolver in a twelve-bar blues"

"have you got the wah-wah"

"that 5 chord move"

"the 7th can lead you on"

"on a bus somewhere in Ohio"

"seemingly simplistic...but you try Little Rain"

"until he showed it to me"

"until he showed it to me, on a bus somewhere in Ohio"

"Ohio in the mid-'60s"

"I spent years on the road with Jimmy Reed"

"it goes like this"

"a throw-in, a flick-back"

"you try Little Rain"

"it's just a kiss away, kiss away, kiss away..."

{Life, 2010, Back Bay / Little, Brown}
{"Orange Colored Sky" -- written, Milton DeLugg and Willie Stein -- single by Nat King Cole (with Stan Kenton's orchestra), released 1950}
{"Gimme Shelter" -- written, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.  Recorded, 23 February and 2 November 1969.  Released 5 December 1969.  Album:  Let It Bleed.  Label -- Decca Records / ABKCO}


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

follow that car

-------------------- [excerpt, Life, by Keith Richards with James Fox] ----------------- And I was heavily into Muddy Waters's guitarist Jimmy Rogers, and the guys that played behind Little Walter, the Myers brothers.  Talk about an ancient form of weaving, they were the masters....Jimmy Rogers with Muddy Waters, an amazing pair of weavers.  Chuck Berry is fantastic, but he would weave by himself, with himself.  He did great overdubs with his own guitar because he was too cheap to hire another guy most of the time.  But that's just on records; you can't re-create that live.

But his "Memphis, Tennessee" is probably one of the most incredible little bits of overdubbing and tinkering that I've ever heard.  Let alone a sweet song.  I could never overstress how important he was in my development.  It still fascinates me how this one guy could come up with so many songs and sling it so gracefully and elegantly.----------------- [end excerpt]----------

("Google" Nadine, Chuck Berry -- behind Chuck Berry, the guitarist off to the audience's left, is Keith Richards.  A 1986 concert in St. Louis, for the documentary film "Hail, Hail Rock & Roll.")

As I got on a city bus and found a vacant seat,
I thought I saw my future bride walking up the street.
I shouted to the driver "Hey conductor, you must
Slow down, I think I see her, please let me off this bus."

Nadine! -- honey is that you?
Oh, Nadine.  Honey, is that you?
Seems like every time I catch up to you, you've got something else to do.

I saw her on the corner when she turned and doubled back
And started walkin' toward a coffee-colored Cadillac.
Pushin' through the crowd tryin' to get to where she's at
I was campaign shoutin' like a southern diplomat

Nadine! -- honey is that you?
Oh! -- Nadine.
Honey, is that you?
Seems like every time I see you Darling you're up to somethin' new.

Downtown searching for her, looking all around, saw her
Gettin' in a yellow cab, heading uptown.
I caught a loaded taxi, paid up everybody's tab --
Slipped a twenty dollar bill an' told him "Catch that yellow cab."

Nadine! -- Honey is that you?
Oh!  Nadine.
Honey where are you?
Seems like every time I catch you Darling you're up to something new.

She moves around like a wayward summer breeze,
Go, driver, go.  Go on, catch her for me please.
Moving through the traffic like a mounted cavalier--
Leanin' out the taxi window tryin'-to make her hear.
Nadine! -- honey is that you?
Oh -- Nadine, honey
is that you?
Seems like every time I catch up with you, you've got something else to do.

{Life.  2010 - Back Bay / Little, Brown.}
{"Nadine," written by Chuck Berry.  Label--Chess.  Recorded November 1963.  Released February 1964.}


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

brunch with Mr. Dooley

...Also, as Mr. Dooley pointed out, "Ye are not subjict to interruptions be people who were there."

So -- who is "Mr. Dooley"?  We can figure it must be some Irish-brogue character...

The Free Encyclopedia online:

Finley Peter Dunne (July 10, 1867 - April 24, 1936) was an American humorist and writer from Chicago.  He published Mr. Dooley in Peace and War, a collection of his nationally syndicated Mr. Dooley sketches, in 1898.

The fictional Mr. Dooley expounded upon political and social issues of the day from his South Side Chicago Irish pub, and he spoke with the thick verbiage and accent of an Irish immigrant from County Roscommon. ...

Dunne's sketches became so popular and such a litmus test of public opinion that they were read each week at White House cabinet meetings....President Theodore Roosevelt was a fan, despite the fact that he was one of Dunne's favorite targets.

Quotes -- (wit and wisdom of Mr. Dooley) --

"Trust everybody, but cut the cards."

"Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable."

"The world is not growing worse and it is not growing better -- it is just turning around as usual."

"Vice is a creature of such hideous mien . . . that the more you see it the better you like it."

"Don't jump on a man unless he is down."

"The past always looks better than it was.  It's only pleasant because it isn't here."


"Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" is an expression that's been borrowed and applied in various contexts down through the years.

In a tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, Clare Boothe Luce wrote, "Mrs. Roosevelt has done more good deeds on a bigger scale for a longer time than any woman who ever apeared on the public scene.  No woman has ever so comforted the distressed -- or so distressed the comfortable."

Several religious leaders (including one Archbishop of Canterbury) have said that to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" is the goal of religion.

Social activist "Mother" Mary Jones and Appalachian political activist and attorney Larry Harless have both been quoted as saying that the "comforting-and-afflicting" is what they're here to do.

And the 1960 film Inherit the Wind contains the line, "Mr. Brady, it is the duty of a newspaper to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

--------------------- [excerpt, Mr. Dooley in Peace and War] --------------- Whin, lo an' behold, down th' street comes a ma-an fr'm th' country, -- a lawyer fr'm Ohio, with a gripsack in his hand.  Oh, but he's a proud man.  He's been in town long enough f'r to get out iv th' way iv th' throlley ca-ar whin th' bell rings.  He's larned not to thry an' light his see-gar at th' ilicthric light. 

He doesn't offer to pay th' ilivator ma-an f'r carryin' him upstairs.  He's got so he can pass a tall buildin' without thryin' f'r to turn a back summersault. ...[end excerpt] -- OK, "hick humor" -- only who's the bigger hick, the out-of-towner or the guy talking?  (You know you're a redneck if...) 


Friday, April 18, 2014

a thousand waves

In his writing, historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. discusses the phenomenon of "revisionist" history -- where, right after events the picture looks one way, and then years pass, and then the picture looks a different way, because of additional information that has come out, and also because of the perspective from a distance.
(Also -- I think -- people's emotions get in the way of the "view" ...first it's, "He's terrific."  Then it's "He was great."  Then after more years, "He wasn't so darned great!"  For some reason it goes like that.  Professor Schlesinger says reputations of historical figures go up and down like stocks on Wall Street, or like ocean waves.)
A Thousand Days:  John F. Kennedy in the White House.
written by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
Copyright 1965  Houghton Mifflin.
2002 edition, Mariner Books, with a Foreword by Schlesinger
--------- [excerpt, from the 2002 Foreword] ----------------------- Revisionism, it should be said, did not affect popular admiration of Kennedy.  Americans remembered a strong and stirring president who
saved the peace in the most dangerous moment of the Cold War,
assumed leadership in the struggle for racial justice,
initiated the exploration of space,
laid the foundation for federal aid to the arts and humanities,
tapped the republic's latent idealism
and infused a generation with a passion for public service.  They cherished the idea of Camelot and its brief shining hours.
And recent years have seen a perceptible recovery of Kennedy's reputation among scholars.  This is partly due to the passage of time; we are now on the crest of the next wave. ...
"The reputation of a commanding figure is often at its lowest in the period ten to twenty years after his death.  We are always in a zone of imperfect visibility so far as the history just over our shoulder is concerned. ...
-- Dutch historian Pieter Geyl
A Thousand Days was written in the grim months after...November 22, 1963.  It has the advantages and disadvantages of a book composed so soon after the fact.  Immediacy gives it vividness.  It also gives a kind of knowledge denied those who were not around when history happened. 
As Alexis de Tocqueville once observed, participants understand better than posterity "the movements of opinion, the popular inclinations of their times, the vibrations of which they can still sense in their minds and hearts."
Posterity of course has its compensating advantages -- a cooler perspective, knowledge of consequences, access to declassified documents and private papers, the diverse illuminations of hindsight.  Also, as Mr. Dooley pointed out, "Ye are not subjict to interruptions be people who were there."  [LOL] ------------------ [end excerpt]

Thursday, April 17, 2014

now I am hissed

A man at work advised me once that when things seem bad, it passes; things get better.  Below, from Schlesinger journals, the professor gives himself that advice.  ("...I must remind myself...")

------------------------- [excerpt, Journals, 1952 - 2000, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.] -----------------


May 27

[during Bobby Kennedy's primary campaign]  Now I am hissed at practically every public appearance in this city [nyc].  I have just been out to get the morning Times, and inevitably someone harangued and denounced me on Third Avenue -- again a McCarthyite.  I think these people are crazy.  But I do feel curiously isolated here.

Before I totally succumb to self-pity, I must remind myself of other times in life when I have been bitterly attacked for brief periods --

when I wrote the piece on the American Comunist Party for Life in 1946;

when I supported JFK and wrote Kennedy or Nixon in 1960;

when I wrote the Cuba White Paper in 1961;

when A Thousand Days began to come out in Life in 1965. 

All these things passed away because I was right on the issue.  I am right on the issue today -- RFK at least -- and no doubt in time things will improve here too.

June 9

It is beyond belief, but it has happened -- it has happened again.

{Journals.  1952 - 2000.  Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.  Edited by Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger.  Copyright 2007, Penguin.}


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

limousine time

-------- [excerpt, Schlesinger journals] -------------- May 14, 1962.  I forgot to record a remark of the President's last Friday.  He was commenting on the Eisenhower press conference the day before.  "The thing I liked best," he said, "was the picture of Eisenhower attacking medical care for the old under Social Security as 'socialized medicine' -- and then getting into his government limousine and heading out to Walter Reed." -------------------------- [end excerpt]

{Journals, 1952 - 2000, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.  Edited -- Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger.  Copyright 2007 - Penguin.}


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

July 1972, posthaste


Hunter Thompson:

Now, walking down a long empty white corridor in the Atlanta airport on a Sunday night in July, I had a very clear memory of my last visit to this place -- but it seemed like something that had happened five years ago, instead of only five months.  The Lindsay campaign was a loose, upbeat trip while it lasted, but there is a merciless kind of "out of sight, out of mind" quality about a losing presidential campaign . . .

As it turned out, the Lindsay campaign was fatally flawed from the start. 

It was all tip and no iceberg -- the exact opposite of the slow-building McGovern juggernaut....

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

July 13, 1972:

When I got back to the Doral, I found a message saying to call Senator McGovern, URGENT....We were ushered in rather quickly....

McGovern was as composed, natural, unaffected and wryly humorous as ever. 

I don't know why one always expects that winning the nomination will produce an immense change in a man you know well;

but one always does (or at least I always do), and then one is astonished to see that they are about the same today as they were yesterday. 

(It is different, though, when they are elected President.)...

George said he had been trying to reach me about Kevin White, the mayor of Boston, whose name had inexplicably boiled up in the last moments of the vice presidential consideration.

Keith Richards:

I remember the gig in Boston on July 19, 1972, for two reasons.  The first was the motorcade the Boston police provided to get us to the stadium when their buddies in Rhode Island had wanted to lock us up....I got arrested. 

And Mick and Bobby Keys and Marshall Chess demanded to be arrested with me....

But in Boston that day there was a riot going on in the South End.  And the mayor of Boston [Kevin White] was saying, you let those [people] go right now, because I've got to deal with this riot, and don't give me a Rolling Stones riot on the same day.  And so we were sprung, and these cops escorted us to Boston posthaste, with outriders and civic fanfare.

Pat Moynihan:

13 July 1972

Dr. Clark Kerr
Carnegie Commission on Higher Education

Dear Clark:

...I went to the Harvard Commencement this year....If, as would seem likely, the Administration [Nixon admin.] is returned to office, I would hope some efforts would be made to establish better relations with the university world. 

I cannot approve what has gone on the past four years; on either side. 

Perhaps if Richard Nixon is re-elected and it is finally over -- no more chance to beat him, no more chance for him to beat -- some persons might grow more sensible.  I grow contemptuous of the leaders of higher education who seek to secure the good opinion of their undergraduates by vulgar attacks on the President of the United States. 

I mean vulgar.  Not a trace of elegance....

My impression of our graduating class this year was of persons who had apparently scarcely had an adult conversation in their full four years. ...

Fear And Loathing:  On The Campaign Trail '72.  Hunter S. Thompson.  Copyright 1973 - Straight Arrow / Warner Books.
Journals, 1952-2000, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.  Edited -- Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger.  Copyright 2007 - Penguin.
Life.  Keith Richards, with James Fox.  Copyright 2010 - Back Bay / Little, Brown.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan:  A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary.  Edited -- Steven R. Weisman.  Copyright 2010 - Public Affairs / (Perseus Books Group).


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

beyond heaven

------------------- [excerpt / Keith Richards - Life] ------------------- The first time the Stones went to America, we felt we'd died and gone to heaven.

It was the summer of '64.

Everybody had their own little thing about America.

Charlie would go down to the Metropole when it was still swinging, and see Eddie Condon.  The first thing I did was visit Colony Records and buy every Lenny Bruce album I could find.

Yet I was amazed by how old-fashioned and European New York seemed -- quite different to what I'd imagined.  Bellboys and maitre d's, all that sort of thing.  Unnecessary fluff and very unexpected.  It was as if somebody had said, "These are the rules" in 1920 and it hadn't changed a bit since.

On the other hand, it was the fastest-moving modern place you could be.

And the radio!  You couldn't believe it after England.  Being there at a time of a real musical explosion, sitting in a car with the radio on was beyond heaven.  You could turn the channels and get ten country stations, five black stations, and if you were traveling the country and they faded out, you just turned the dial again and there was another great song.

Black music was exploding.  It was a powerhouse.  At Motown they had a factory but without turning out automatons.  We lived off Motown on the road, just waiting for the next Four Tops or the next Temptations.  Motown was our food, on the road and off. 

Listening to car radios through a thousand miles to get to the next gig. 

That was the beauty of America. 

We used to dream of it before we got there.

{Life, by Keith Richards, with James Fox.  Copyright 2010, Little Brown.}


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

too content to play a duet

Lucia's friends -- or, bridge-playing partners -- from her social circle are flooded out, so she and her friend Georgie invite the "refugees" to stay in their homes temporarily until the crisis is over, in E.F. Benson's novel, The Worshipful Lucia.

Of course, people like to be generous but then it becomes a pain....

------------------- [excerpt] -------------- "...Dear me, for the last fortnight I've hardly opened a book."

"I can imagine that," said he.  "Even I, who had only the Padre in the house, couldn't settle down to anything.  He was always coming in and out, wanting some ink in his bedroom, or a piece of string, or change for a shilling."

"Multiply it by three.  And she treated me all the time as if I was a hotelkeeper, and she wasn't pleased with her room or her food but made no formal complaint...." ---------------- [stop excerpt]

It's just so closely observed (or -- imagined), so mundane, silly, and true -- and tiny.  Tiny, tiny, like highly-skilled needlework. 

Delicate, like a soufflé.

Tart, like a lemon.

---------------------- [earlier excerpt] ----------- Lucia crunched a piece of coffee sugar in a meditative manner.

"An interesting study," she said.  "You know how devoted I am to psychological research, and I learned a great deal this last fortnight.  Major Benjy was not very clever when he wooed and won her, but I think marriage has sharpened his wits.  Little bits of foxiness, little evasions, nothing, of course, of a very high order, but some inkling of ingenuity and contrivance.  I can understand a man developing a certain acuteness if he knew Elizabeth was always just round the corner.  The instinct of self-protection.  There is a character in Theophrastus very like him; I must look it up.  Dear me, for the last fortnight I've hardly opened a book."

---------- [later excerpt] ----------- {Lucia:}  "...Let's go into the garden room.  My dear, how delicious to know that Benjy won't be there, smoking one of his rank cigars, or little Evie, running about like a mouse, so it always seemed to me, among the legs of chairs and tables."

"Hurrah for one of our quiet evenings again," said he.

It was with a sense of restored well-being that they sank into their chairs, too content in this relief from strain to play duets.  Georgie was sewing a border of lace onto some new doilies for finger bowls, and Lucia found the Characters of Theophrastus, and read to him in the English version the sketch of Benjy's prototype.

{The Worshipful Lucia, by E.F. Benson.  Copyright 1935, Doubleday, Doran & Company.  Copyright 1977, Harper & Row.}


Monday, April 7, 2014

how's tricks?

1979.  March 4

I got back from Richmond in a heavy fog about noon today, 40 minutes late ----------------- [excerpt] ------------------ , and then lunched with Arthur Burns....He was in a reminiscent mood and told stories about George Humphrey, whom he regarded as a great phoney, Eisenhower, whom he respected, Kennedy, for whom, he said, "I came to acquire great respect and affection; he always did his homework."

I asked what his estimate was of Nixon's intellectual qualities.  "Oh, he would have been a first-rate professor of political science or law in any of our best universities," Burns said.  "He had a powerful, well-organized mind.  It was a pleasure to watch him take hold of a problem and break it down.

Of course he was much more interested in foreign than in domestic affairs."  I asked him whether he had been surprised by the Watergate revelations.  He paused for a moment (he is a great pauser), then said slowly, "No, I was not.

I had a foretaste of it."

He described an incident in 1971 when he had come out for an incomes policy and Nixon, one evening on the Sequoia, had told Charles Colson, "The time has come to cut Arthur down to size."  There followed a series of White House leaks designed to discredit Burns.

After Colson found God, he came to Burns, told him the story and sought his forgiveness.

Arthur said:  "I wouldn't have minded it so much if Nixon had said that to Colson in a passing mood of irrritation.  But he said it a very cool, collected, considered way."  I asked whether he ever saw Nixon anymore.  He said, "Well, I'm not sure you would approve, but I call him every New Year's Day to wish him well.  It takes hours before I can bring myself to do it, but he is such a lonely man living such a sad life; so I grit my teeth and do it."

{Journals.  1952 - 2000.  Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.  Edited by Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger.  Copyright 2007.  The Penguin Press, New York.}


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

the real blues purists

Blues aficionados in the '60s were a sight to behold.  They met in little gatherings like early Christians, but in the front rooms in southeast London. ----------------- [excerpt, Keith Richards autobiography] ---------------- There was nothing else necessarily in common amongst them at all; they were all different ages and occupations.  It was funny to walk into a room where nothing else mattered except he's playing the new Slim Harpo and that was enough to bond you all together.

There was a lot of talk of  matrix numbers. 

There would be these muttered conversations about whether you had the bit of shellac that was from the original pressing from the original company. 

Later on, everybody would argue about it. 

Mick and I were smirking at each other across the room, because we were only there to find out a bit more about this new collection of records that had just arrived that we'd heard about.  The real magnet was "Hell, I'd love to be able to play like that."  But the people you have a meet to get the latest Little Milton record! 

The real blues purists were very stuffy and conservative, full of disapproval, nerds with glasses deciding what's really blues and what ain't.  I mean, these cats know?  They're sitting in the middle of Bexleyheath in London on a cold and rainy day, "Diggin' My Potatoes" . . . Half of the songs they're listening to, they have no idea of what they are about....They have their idea of what the blues are....For better or worse it was their passion.

And it certainly was mine too, but I wasn't prepared to discuss it.  I wouldn't argue about it; I would just say, "Can I get a copy?  I know how they're playing it, but I just need to check."  That's what we lived for, basically....getting a chance to hear the new B.B. King or Muddy Waters.

{Life - Keith Richards with James Fox - Little Brown - 2010}


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

records, contacts, dogs

A black and white photo of a railway station under rubble after being hit by a bomb

When  a person thinks about World War II, we think about England and America being Allies, but when we think some more, we realize on our respective home-fronts, we did not have the same experience.  England was bombed by the Luftwaffe --

I was BORN -- in a crossfire hurricane --
Bomp-BOMM--ba ba BAH -- ba Bah BAH

Rolling Stone Keith Richards, born 1943, recalls the phrase "before the war" being what the adults used to say a lot, when he was a boy in post-war Dartmouth, a London suburb.

"Before the war it wasn't this way."
"Before the war we used to do it that way."
"Before the war..."

--------------------- [excerpt, K. Richards autobiography] ------------------ When I was growing up, it was heavy fog almost all winter, and if you've got two or three miles to walk to get back home, it was the dogs that led you.  Suddenly old Dodger would show up with a patch on his eye, and you could basically guide your way home by that.  Sometimes the fog was so thick you couldn't see a thing.  And old Dodger would take you up and hand you over to some Labrador.  Animals were in the street, something that's disappeared.  I would have got lost and died without some help from my canine friends. -------------------------- [end excerpt]

In his book Mr. Richards discusses anticipating National Service, upon graduation from school.  (National Service?  Some kind of -- peace-time draft, I guess....)

------------------- [excerpt] -------------- I had spent my entire school life expecting to do National Service.  It was in my brain -- I was going to art school and then into the army.  And suddenly, just before my seventeenth birthday, in November 1960, it was announced that it was over, ended forever.  (The Rolling Stones would soon be cited as the single reason why it should be brought back.)  But that innocent day I remember, at art school, you could almost hear a massive exhale, a huge sense of relief that went through the school.  There was no more work that day. -------------- [end excerpt]

------------------ [excerpt 3] ------------------- Mick and I must have spent a year, while the Stones were coming together and before, record hunting.  There were others like us, trawling far and wide, and meeting one another in record shops.  If you didn't have money you would just hang and talk.  But Mick had these blues contacts.  There were a few record collectors, guys that somehow had a channel through to America before anybody else.  There was Dave Godin up in Bexleyheath, who had an in with Sue Records...[break in excerpt]

Hang on, I've heard of Sue Records, but in only one other source -- Tina Turner's autobiography -- [excerpt -- I, Tina] --------------------- Ike sent tapes of "A Fool in Love"

You know you love him, you can't understand
Why he treats you like he do, when he's such a good man

to a St. Louis disc jockey, who in turn sent them out to several record companies, including Sue in New York City.  Sue was that rarest of record-biz phenomena, a label owned and operated by a black man.  Its proprietor, Henry "Juggy" Murray, had grown up on the streets of Hell's Kitchen dancing for nickels on street corners.

Ike sent "A Fool in Love" to every record company in the country, and every one of them turned it down.  I didn't know him from a hole in the wall when the tape arrived in my office.  But I knew it was a hit, and I got in touch with him.  He wanted to know how come I thought it was a hit and nobody else did.  I said, "'Cause they don't know."  Ike was a musical genius, but he wouldn't know a hit record if it fell off the Empire State Building and hit him on the head.

So I flew down to St. Louis.  Never been there before.  He sent his driver to pick me up at the airport in this long black Cadillac and take me to his house.  East St. Louis was a hell of a town -- had gambling twenty-four hours a day, and they bet down there like they bet in Las Vegas, I'm serious. ...[end, Tina excerpt] ----------

[return to Keith excerpt] ------------------- There was Dave Godin up in Bexleyheath, who had an in with Sue Records, and so we heard artists like Charlie and Inez Foxx, solid-duty soul, who had a big hit with "Mockingbird" a little after this.

~~ Google Mockingbird  Charlie and Inez Foxx > You Tube
~~ Google Mockingbird  James Taylor and Carly Simon > You Tube

Godin had the reputation for having the biggest soul and blues collection in southeast London or even beyond, and Mick got to know him and so he would go round.  He wouldn't nick records or steal them, there were no cassettes or taping, but sometimes there would be little deals where somebody would do a Grundig reel-to-reel copy for you of this and that.  And such a strange bunch of people.  Blues aficionados in the '60s were a sight to behold.  They met in little gatherings like early Christians, but in the front rooms in southeast London. ...