#923: 1967, Canned Heat, On The Road Again

by George_East on August 20, 2014

I have to confess I was struggling with inspiration for my song now that the superb anti-war week is over.   I was toying with going for something new, but couldn’t quite decide on the song.  Then Jackie South solved my dilemma for me, with the title of the journal posts from his latest US trip.   His reference was to a famous Willie Nelson number.

But for me the title, On The Road Again brings this, Canned Heat’s most famous song to mind.   Of all of the blues revival explosion bands of the 1960s, Al ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson’s Canned Heat were I think the most dedicated.

For all of John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards et al’s obsession with the old blues masters, that led to many of them being rediscovered in various dirt poor parts of the south in that period, only the Blind Owl could boast that he was the man who ‘taught Son House how to play Son House’, after the old blues master was ‘found’ in Mississippi in 1964, having not picked up a guitar in more than 20 years.

If that is not enough On The Road Again features a lyric based on a Tommy Johnson tune (another song of whose, Canned Heat Blues, the band were named after),  a riff borrowed from John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillen and a falsetto vocal imitating Al Wilson’s biggest blues hero of all, Skip James.

Enjoy.

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On The Road Again… #1: Oklahoma City

by Jackie_South on August 19, 2014

OKC photoI’m back in the USA after a two-year gap (you can read about last time here). About half of my time will be in Texas, so this series takes its title from a song from one of the state’s favourite sons.

For my first post I’m going to reflect on the first two places on my itinerary, the Texas city of Fort Worth and Oklahoma’s capital, Oklahoma City. My next post will catch up on the news as seen from the Lone Star State.

Fort Worth
Fort Worth is a city of contrasts. It is proud of its cowboy history – nicknamed Cowtown, it was the southern point of the Chisholm Trail. I stayed in the Stockyards area – the centre of the cattle trade in the city – which is full of 19th century style saloons, cowboy heritage and boasts the world’s largest honky-tonk bar, Billy Bob’s Texas: a massive converted barn that used to host cattle sales. Men walk round in Stetsons, women in cowboy boots.

Yet, it is also proud of a very different culture – culture with a capital C. The Kimbell Art Museum has work by Canaletto, Caravaggio, El Greco, Mondrian, Monet, Picasso, Poussin, Rubens and Van Gogh. Across the road, there’s the Modern Art Museum with Picasso (again), Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol.

It loves its guns and its ‘second amendment rights‘. But plenty of those wearing the Stetsons and cowboy boots and whooping it up in Billy Bob’s are black. The man most honoured around town was Democrat-supporting humourist and broadcaster Will Rogers (more of him later).

Downtown, the president that gets a sizable memorial is liberal hero John F Kennedy – although this might well be to cock a snoop at its larger neighbour, Dallas: “you might be bigger, but at least we don’t kill presidents”. Kennedy’s last speech was in Fort Worth on the morning of his assassination, and the headline on the front page of the Fort Worth Press the next day was “Pres. Kennedy Slain By Dallas Assassin” (Lee Harvey Oswald was from New Orleans).

As you might expect from a city of such contradictions, it is politically divided. The current mayor is a Republican, her predecessor was a democrat. Its two congress representatives are from different parties.

12th congressional district – very Republican, with a Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of R+17 (which means that in an average presidential election, the Republican vote will be 17% greater here than nationally). The 12th district covers the west of the city, including downtown. Republican Kay Granger won the seat in 2012 with 70% of the vote.

33rd congressional district – almost as Democratic as the 12th is Republican: a PVI of D+14 (i.e. if the nation split 50-50 between the parties in a presidential election, on average the 33rd would give 64% of its votes to the Democrats). The 33rd was created in 2012 and covers the east of the city, stretching eastwards to take in some western suburbs of Dallas, and includes the Stockyards. Democrat Marc Veasey won 72% of the vote in 2012.

Oklahoma City
Whilst Fort Worth is politically contested, the same cannot be said of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma has only voted Democrat in two presidential elections since World War II: for Truman in 1948 and Lyndon Johnson in his landslide 1964 victory. Before that however, it usually backed the Democrats.

Unlike other cities in southern states, Oklahoma City doesn’t buck that trend either: Romney took 58% of the vote here in 2012.

There are many reasons, but two were evident from my visit: religion and oil. Churches abound in the city. Even more striking is the number of current and former oil wells in the city – there is an old well right in front of the state capitol and more in the grounds. Small wells, with their nodding donkeys, are throughout the city and then litter the landscape along the rail route to Texas.

Of course, there are still some pockets of liberalism, most notably in Bricktown, the laidback entertainment district around a rejuvenated canal just to the east of downtown. It even boasts a Flaming Lips Alley, honouring the city’s most famous band. In the state capitol building itself, pride of place goes to a picture of Democratic Will Rogers (that man again) who came from the state, and next to it is one of a communist, Woody Guthrie. The state was once proud of its populist lefties.

The most moving site in the city is the memorial (see photo) to the 1995 bombing, which killed 168 people and damaged almost 100 buildings. The memorial has transformed the street where the bomb was detonated into a long reflecting pool with arches at either end showing “9:01″ at one end (the minute before the bomb went off) and “9:03″ at the other. The site of the Alfred P Murrah building (the target and host of a number of federal agencies) is now a lawn with a memorial chair sculpture to remember each of the 168 victims.

Even more moving is the museum next door: taking you through the events of the day through film and exhibits. Some of it was almost unbearably poignant – hardest to hear was the concerned parents trying to find their children who were in the second floor nursery – police initially had no idea that there was a nursery there and so wrongly directed them to where the children from another damaged nursery were being looked after. Each victim is shown by a photo and some personal momento in a gallery: unlike the larger tragedy of 9-11, the numbers allow you to both read and know a little of each victim whilst still being shocked by the numbers.

5th congressional district of Oklahoma – the seat has been Republican since 1975, when its previously Democrat congressman crossed the floor. It has a PVI of R+13 and James Lankford took 59% of the vote in 2012.

Today’s guest paper (see photo)
The City Sentinel. To be frank, its a bit useless, but I couldn’t get hold of a copy of The Oklahoman. The City Sentinel is a weekly, but given that the lead story is about something that isn’t happening (the state’s sizable native American population – who were not in much evidence in the city – not setting up an online gambling site) you know it isn’t going to be a great read.

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Week 33: Villain(s) – the Police of Ferguson, Missouri

August 18, 2014

This week, our panel has decided that the police force of the St Louis suburb of Jefferson deserve our award for being the greatest villains of the last seven days The full truth of the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by policeman Darren Wilson has still to emerge. But what is already abundantly [...]

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Week 33: Hero(es) – the Kurdish Peshmerga

August 17, 2014

This Week’s Heroes of the Week are the Kurdish Peshmerga who have halted and in some places reversed the advance of ISIS, helping those who live in northern Iraq of all faiths and none in the process In many ways the Kurds are the unluckiest people on the planet.  Their lands are rich in oil.  [...]

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Week 33: Prat – Mark Simmonds MP

August 17, 2014

This Week’s Prat of the Week is Tory MP for Boston and Skegness and former Minister of State and the Foreign Office, Mark Simmonds This week the world’s smallest violins were out in sympathy with poor (at least that is how he would like himself to be seen) Tory MP, Mark Simmonds.   You see,  the [...]

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#922: 1972, Randy Newman, Political Science

August 17, 2014

For our final song in our anti-war themed week here at Songs to Learn and Sing, we turn to the Cold War. With an intervening quarter century since the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is sometimes difficult to recall that my generation’s teenage years were under a mushroom-cloud shaped shadow of the distinct possibility [...]

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Cine-East Film Club Presents #50: 1991, The Fisher King (Terry Gilliam)

August 17, 2014

Jack Lucas: ‘I wish there was some way I could just pay the fine and go home’ I initially didn’t intend to post a Cine-East film club tribute presentation to Robin Williams.  Much of his film career, so it seemed to me, involved roles of such saccharine vacuity that his life in films was not [...]

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#921: 1982, Gang of Four, I Love A Man In Uniform

August 15, 2014

It’s day six of our Anti-War Song Week and I’ve plumped for this number from The Gang of Four – which in the finest traditions of good music was banned by the BBC, as it’s content, released as it was in the middle of the Falkands Conflict, was deemed to be too unpatriotic. They clearly [...]

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Back Of The Net With Ray North: Part 2 – Two Days To Go, The Relegation Fodder

August 14, 2014

Well, the first part of my Premier League Preview, saw me hammered, not for the predictions, but for my inability to count up to seven and work out that half of twenty is, in fact ten, not twelve. I’m afraid that I can’t even blame drink for those rudimentary arithmetical errors – I am actually [...]

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Back Of The Net With Ray North: Two Days To Kick-Off Part 1 – The Challengers

August 13, 2014

It doesn’t seem like five minutes ago that we were watching the incredible World Cup Match where Germany dismantle Brazil 7-1. No one, absolutely no one saw that coming. But, the World Cup is now in the past. A distant memory, a future conversation, sporting nostalgia, regret and half-remembered statistics. Now, once again, we’re back [...]

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Cine-East Film Club Presents #49: 1930, All Quiet On The Western Front (Lewis Milestone)

August 13, 2014

Katczinsky: “I’ll tell you how it should all be done. Whenever there’s a big war comin’ on, you should rope off a big field…And on the big day, you should take all the kings and their cabinets and their generals, put ‘em in the centre dressed in their underpants, and let ‘em fight it out [...]

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Dilemmas of a Liberal Non-Interventionist

August 12, 2014

Of all of us here at Allthatsleft I am probably the one who is most instinctively against western interventionism. So far as I can see it more likely than not ends in disaster even where the motives are good. And we need to be frank that the motives rarely are good or even disinterested. Indeed [...]

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#920: 1980, The Clash, The Call Up

August 12, 2014

It is day 5 of our anti-war songs theme week.   Whereas all of the other songs chosen so far have been inspired by specific wars, today’s pick is one that has in its sights, war generally, capturing both the permanency of war and how it rests upon a willingness of a populace to fight for [...]

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Abandoned by the Coalition Part 2: Those dependent upon State Education

August 12, 2014

I am a governor at little Ryan, Iorweth and Declan’s school – it is a wonderful village primary school with a wonderful head teacher and great ethos and super staff. It has been well run, and, yes, I accept that, socio-economically it may not be in the most challenging of locations, but it is testament [...]

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#919: 1967, Country Joe and The Fish, I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag

August 11, 2014

Here at Songs to Learn and Sing, we are halfway through a week of anti-war songs. So far, we’ve covered the First World War and the Iraq War. But of course it was the Vietnam War that inspired more music than any other, and whilst that war by no means created the political song, it [...]

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Week 32: Prat – Alex Salmond

August 10, 2014

This week, our panel has bestowed Scotland’s First Minister with our regular award for being the greatest prat of the last seven days. Alex Salmond and the SNP seem to have had the best of the debate on independence, or did until this week. Up until now, they have been able to use their role [...]

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Week 32: Villain – ISIS

August 10, 2014

This Week’s Villains of the Week are the self-declared Islamic caliphate, ISIS for bringing medieval religious insanity back to the middle east As I write this a new horrendous story is breaking that the Iraqi Minister for Human Rights has announced that ISIS has killed another 500 members of the Yezedi people, burying many women [...]

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#918: 2004, Jello Biafra and the Melvins, Caped Crusader

August 10, 2014

What a bloody brilliant song this is – Jello at his absolute angriest, cleverest and most controversial. This is no acoustic guitar strumming, round a camp fire, ‘give peace a chance’ anti-war song, this is an in your face, no really in your face, have some of this stomper. The guitars and drums provided by [...]

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Week 32: Hero – Baroness Warsi

August 10, 2014
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Songs To Learn and Sing: The First 900

August 9, 2014

This post is very late, for which I apologise.   We reached our 900th song, This Mortal Coil’s incomparably beautiful cover of Song to The Siren, posted on allthatsleft’s Songs To Learn and Sing feature as long ago as 29 May.  Fortunately things have been (as you may have noticed) a little slow on the blog [...]

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#917: 2006, Neil Young, Living With War

August 8, 2014

Jackie South’s post of The Dropkick Murphys‘ version of Eric Bogle’s first world war lament, The Green Fields of France marked the start of the latest theme week here at Songs to Learn and Sing (the first for a good long while):  anti-war songs. It is an apposite theme week given not just the current [...]

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Iraq and ISIS: A testament to the failure of the West

August 8, 2014

Is it me, or is the world a particularly depressing place upon which to exist at the moment? Palestine implodes under the ferocity of the Israeli bombardment; the Ukraine teeters on a knife-edge between being just a nasty civil war, to something altogether more catastrophic; a deadly virus rampages through North Africa, whilst everyone tries [...]

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#916: 2005, Dropkick Murphys, The Green Fields of France

August 7, 2014

This week saw the centenary of the First World War – as George wrote earlier this week, it is a fitting time to reflect on war and the tragedy of the ‘Great War’ in particular. On Monday night, I took part in a vigil on the hour of the declaration of war to do just [...]

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Week 31: Villain – Oliver Letwin

August 5, 2014

This week, our panel have bestowed our Villain of the Week award on Tory Minister, the Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP There is something a little unworldly about Oliver Letwin: he certainly beats Ed Miliband hands down in the weird geeky stakes. Letwin is the classic example of privileged, brainy bloke with absolutely fuck all [...]

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Cine-East Film Club Presents #48: 1993, The War Room (Chris Hegedus and DA Pannebaker)

August 5, 2014

‘Change vs more of the same The economy, stupid Don’t forget healthcare’ (Clinton/Gore ’92 Campaign HQ Whiteboard, Little Rock, Arkansas)   The idea for this week’s Cine-East Film Club presentation came from a couple of recent posts here at allthatsleft.  Following the European elections in May I wrote a post which seemed to strike a [...]

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Week 31: Hero – Moeen Ali

August 5, 2014

This week’s hero is the England and Worcestershire All-rounder Moeen Ali It’s true that if you ask most sportsmen and women what they think of the Gaza Strip and they’ll think you’re talking about Paul Gascoigne (copyright Scottish Dave c.1994) – that is why the stance taken by new cricket star and ace beard wearer, [...]

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Baroness Warsi: That Rare Thing A Resignation On A Point of Principle

August 5, 2014

It is the kind of thing that is so out of fashion that it almost seems quaint.  Some of us even thought that we wouldn’t see it again, given the professional political class who now dominate all the major political classes.  But yes, this morning Baroness Warsi actually resigned from the government on a point [...]

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The First World War Centenary

August 4, 2014

Three years ago I took my parents to Belgium to find the war grave of my great grandfather, Thomas Cakett.  My father is an only child of two only children.  His mother’s mother died of influenza in the great outbreak after the end of the Great War.  His mother’s father was Thomas.  We don’t, as [...]

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Week 31: Prat – David Cameron

August 3, 2014

This week’s Prat of the Week Award goes to the Prime Minister, David Cameron for another mind-numbingly cringeworthy PR stunt This week David Cameron decided he needed to show that he is tough on immigration.    He did this because he is scared shitless of UKIP, who have risen in the polls on the  back of [...]

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#915: 1969, Tim Buckley, The River

August 1, 2014

Love Tim Buckley. One of the great rock and roll voices, songwriters, and, tragically, one of the great rock and roll deaths as well. As I’ve said on this blog the other day, I recently took a week’s holiday in which I left behind my phone and computer, and eschewed as much as I could, [...]

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