Musical Chairs, May 2011

Posted on May 3, 2011 – 6:08 AM | by Admin
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Bill Hughes

We were stoked to get this submission from local author, poet and well-known Doors groupie William J Hughes. In addition to being an official ‘Midtown character,’ Bill is the author of a new novel, Salud, the telling of the American volunteers, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, who fought fascism during the Spanish Civil War 1936-39. Look him up at

The Doors – Morrison Hotel

Of course I come from all that back then, but I only came to a full appreciation of The Doors not so long ago.  I realize now that they were capable of anything, many things American.  Just take their quadrille “Wintertime Love” from Waiting For The Sun, or “Indian Summer” (a song of Hiawatha) or the sea shanty “Land Ho” from Morrison Hotel, perhaps the finest selection of American music this country has ever produced, right after the Band, of course.  And, ps, they were getting better, before Jim caved in.  I give you “L.A. Woman.”  How many of the icons can say they were getting better?  Uh, none?  Well, maybe Neil Young.

Batdorf & Rodney – Life is You

It’s around 1976.  I’m sitting in a cabin in Yellowstone National Park when a fellow tour bus driver asked me if I wanted to hear some great acoustic guitar work.  I did, and I’ve never forgotten the tempo, the vibration, the clarity, the simplicity and the honesty of these two, as then unknown to me, singer-songwriters, almost innocent, young and agile, clear and vital; songs like “Is It Love” or “Life Is You” lift you up and make you better than you were.

Laura Nyro & LaBelle –
It’s Gonna Take a Miracle

Laura Nyro, about 14 years old it seems, and Patty with LaBelle before they went all George Clinton dress-up.  A Manhattan sound like Leonard Bernstein had an acapella group down on the subway platform, all so on-the-corner-cool it makes you think you’re going to run into James Baldwin and James Dean.  “Well I met him on Monday…” etc. until they come to “Sunday,” and how they break that famous line away from any way you’ve ever heard it before will in itself sell the album.  Carole King would blush, everyone in the Brill Building, windows open, wondering who that girl group is down there doing a new “Dancing in The Streets.”

Poco – From the Inside

Just damn good, unadorned, the pride of flannel shirts and faded jeans, long brown hair, Richie Furay leading the way, not James Taylor and not The Eagles (although TImothy B. Schmidt is in there) better, more human, more personal, communal, casual.  Songs like “Bad Weather” and “From the Inside,” a dreamy reality, set in a softness and a punctuation of acoustic/electric hazy hashish memories.

Dion – You’re Not Alone

Yes, Dion of the Belmonts and “Abraham, Martin and John,” so fine on his own.  I’m sure you’ve never heard his solo albums.  You should hear him do “Purple Haze,” “Let It Be,” or “Blackbird” – or a live take on “Abraham Martin and John.”  They‘re not all on this album, but if you can find it, try it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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