Archive for the ‘1969’ Category

Forty years ago this weekend, at the height of the Vietnam War, guitar great Jimi Hendrix played the national anthem at a concert in upstate New York. He appeared Monday morning at the very end of the three-day concert when many of the 400,000 concert-goers had already left. Hendrix came on after Sha Na Na. Hendrix had made his name in America two years before at the Monterey Pop Festival. In another year and a month Hendrix would be dead. He was a shooting star across our sky.

Jimi Hendrix was not particularly anti-war at the time. In 1967 he even did a radio spot urging young men to serve in the army, as he had done in the early 1960s.

He was probably attracted to “The Star-Spangled Banner” mainly as a musical challenge to see what he could do with a well-worn piece of music that had lost its freshness. He did the same to “God Save the Queen”, “Little Drummer Boy”, “Auld Lang Syne” and “Silent Night”.

Hendrix performed “Red House” at the same concert. His E string breaks during the song but he carries on and does the rest of the song without it. “Because he is that awesome,” as my son puts it.

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The Woodstock Music & Arts Fair (August 15th to 18th 1969) is one of the most famous music festivals of all time. It has become one of the images people have of America in the 1960s. About 400,000 came to Max Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York for “three days of peace and music”.  They heard Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Sly and the Family Stone, The Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, The Who and many others. The first day was largely folk music, the second two rock music, but much bluesier stuff than you hear now.

People see it as the height of the 1960s counterculture, but most who came were hardly hippies.

It became the third largest city in New York state – a city of children, Edwin Newman called it. Everywhere there was drugs, mud and great music. Some were naked,  some had sex in public. Some had tents, some slept under the stars – or in the heavy rains that came the first night. Pneumonia became a fear. Two were born there and two died (of heroin and a tractor backing over a sleeper). It was amazingly peaceful, laid back, live and let live. Peace, man.

The Who did not get on stage until five in the morning on Sunday – they wanted a certified cheque first. But once paid they delivered. They did all of “Tommy”, their new album. Right after the song “Pinball Wizard” Abbie Hoffman came on stage and took the microphone and said, “I think this is a pile of shit, while John Sinclair rots in prison!” Pete Townshend yelled at him, “FUCK OFF my fucking stage!” and hit him on the head with his guitar. Hoffman left.

After The Who played the sun came up and Grace Slick sang “White Rabbit”.

Jimi Hendrix closed out the show. He got on stage at nine Monday morning right after Sha Na Na (whose music was dated even then). Many had already left. Hendrix played for an hour doing 16 songs, among them his unforgettable “Star-Spangled Banner”. Then it was over.

A year later both Joplin and Hendrix would be dead.

The line-up:

  • Friday August 15th 1969
    • Richie Havens
    • Sweetwater
    • Bert Sommer
    • Tim Hardin
    • Ravi Shankar
    • Melanie
    • Arlo Guthrie
    • Joan Baez
  • Saturday August 16th 1969
    • Quill
    • Country Joe McDonald
    • John Sebastian
    • Keef Hartley
    • Santana
    • Incredible String Band
    • Canned Heat
    • Grateful Dead
    • Creedence Clearwater Revival
    • Janis Joplin
    • Sly and The Family Stone
    • The Who
  • Sunday August 17th 1969
    • Jefferson Airplane
    • Joe Cocker
    • Country Joe & The Fish
    • Leslie West/Mountain
    • Ten Years After
    • The Band
    • Johnny Winter
    • Blood Sweat And Tears
    • Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
  • Monday August 18th 1969
    • Paul Butterfield Blues Band
    • Sha Na Na
    • Jimi Hendrix

Who did not come:

  • Bob Dylan: his son was sick
  • Joni Mitchell: wanted to be on “The Dick Cavett Show” instead
  • The Doors: Jim Morrison does not do outdoor concerts
  • The Moody Blues; could make more money in Paris
  • The Byrds: did not think Woodstock would be anything great
  • Led Zeppelin: would not get top billing

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Thank God for “Soul Train”! Not only did they have all these great acts perform, they are still embeddable from YouTube.

The first number one hit of the Jackson 5 and still good 40 years later!

You might know the beginning of this song from another artist who sampled it. His name escapes me right now.


When I had you to myself
I didnt want you around
Those pretty faces always made you
Stand out in a crowd
Then someone picked you from the bunch
One glance was all it took
Now its much too late for me
To take second look

Oh baby give me one more chance
To show you that I love you
Wont you please send me back in your heart

Oh darlin I was blind to let you go
But now since I see you in his arms
I want you back
Yes I do now
I want you back
Oo oo baby
Yeah yeah….naw….

Trying to live without your love
Is one long sleepless night
Let me show you girl
That I know wrong from right

Every street you walk on
I leave tear stains on the ground
Following the girl
I didnt even want around

Abuh buh buh buh
All I want!
Abuh buh buh buh
All I need!
Abuh buh buh buh…..

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Here are the top songs on the R&B charts now, 10 years ago today , 20 years ago, etc. Through the wonder that still is YouTube, you can hear them all (Can you believe it has already been ten years since “No Scrubs”?):

2009: Jamie Foxx and T-Pain: Blame It

1999: TLC: No Scrubs

1989:  Jody Watley: Real Love

1979: Peaches & Herb: Reunited

1969: The Isley Brothers: It’s Your Thing

1959: Brook Benton: It’s Just a Matter of Time

1949: Big Jay McNeeley’s Blue Jays: The Deacon’s Hop

Curiously, the hardest year was not 1949 but 1989! The top song on May 3rd 1989 was Karyn White’s “Love Saw It”. I could not even find a bad audio of a live performance for that one, so I went for Jody Watley’s “Real Love” which did not become number one till May 6th. But even with that one there was no embeddable music video for the radio version of the song.

Update: 2019: Lil Nas X: Old Town Road









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If you see me walking down the street
And I start to cry each time we meet
Walk on by, walk on by
Make believe that you don’t see the tears
Oh just let me grieve
In private ’cause each time I see you
I break down and cry
Oh baby, walk on by

I just can’t get over losing you
So if I seem broken in two
Please walk on by, walk on by
Foolish pride is all that I have left
So let me hide
The tears and the sadness you gave me
You put the hurt on
You socked it to me, momma
When you said goodbye
So please walk on by
Make believe you never see the tears I cry
So do me a favor and walk on by
So I’m beggin’ you to walk on by

Oh yeah
Make believe you never see the tears I cry
So I’m beggin’ you, I’m beggin’ you to walk on by
Make believe you never see the tears I cry
Oh, there’s no dirt in my eye
Oh no
Smoking don’t you me cry no no no (???)
It’s the hurt you put on me, yeah
I don’t want you to see this man cry
So please walk on by
Oh mother, mother, walk on by

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Last week my life had meaning
It was beautiful and so sweet.
But now it’s nothing, nothing without you, baby
My whole world is incomplete
‘Cause I can’t see you no more.
That was all that you said, baby.
But you just might as well have
Placed a gun to my head.
Baby, baby, why did you do it?
My whole world ended the moment you left me
Oh baby
My whole world ended the moment you left me
It tumbled to the ground baby.
Did you ever mean those sweet things
That you used to say?
Have a house and a lovely, a lovely daughter,
And a little baby some day.
Where did I go wrong, honey?
Whatever changed your mind, baby?
I’ve asked myself these questions
Over a million times.
Baby, baby, why did you leave me?
My whole world ended the moment you left me
Oh baby
My whole world ended the moment you left me
It tumbled to the ground baby.
Now my body is numb
It feels so senseless to the touch.
My life is wasted, wasted without you
I guess I loved you much too much.
How can I face tomorrow
When yesterday is all I see?
I just don’t want to face tomorrow, honey
If you’re not sharing it with me.
Baby, baby, oh baby
My whole world ended…

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“I Can’t Quit You Baby” is a song done by the British rock band Led Zeppelin in 1969. It appeared on their first album.

When I first heard the song I could tell Led Zeppelin did not write it, that it came from somewhere else. Led Zeppelin was white but the words to the song sounded like a black man in love with a black woman.

As far as I knew, white men did not talk about the women they love this way:

I-hi, I can’t quit you, babe
So I’m gonna put you down for a while
I said, I can’t quit you babe
I guess I got to put you down for a while
Said you messed-up my happy home
Made me mistreat my only child
Yes, you did, babe, oh

Said, you know I love you, baby
My love for you I could never hide
Oh, you know I love you, babe
My love for you I could never hide
A-when I feel you near me, little girl
I know you are my one desire,

whoa-oh, oh-oh, yeah
Oh, that’s wonderful, whoa
Alright, oh, now, that’s wonderful

When ya hear me moanin’ and groanin’, baby
You know it hurts me deep down inside
Oh, when ya hear me moanin’ and groanin’, babe
Y-you know it hurts me deep down inside
Oh, a-when you hear me holler, baby
You know you’re my one desire, yes, you are, alright

In their songs, white American men rarely get so twisted apart by their love and desire for a woman. Certainly not to the point where they mistreat their only child. They do not let a woman have that much power over them, to become that dangerous to their self-interest.

But that does not seem true to life. After all, how many marriages of white men have been broken up by women they just can’t quit, ones who mess up their happy homes?

Love makes no sense. It brings joy and pain, beauty and destruction. Just like in this song. But you rarely hear about that in white songs. White American art tends to see the world with rose-coloured glasses, at least more so than Black American art. It is more like that world where Hallmark cards come from, wherever that is. Certainly not the same place this song came from, not from any place I ever knew.

Maybe all this is just stereotype on my part, but in this case I turned out to be right: the song was in fact written by a black man, Willie Dixon. He wrote another song that appears on the same Led Zeppelin album: “You Shook Me”. Many of his blues songs were covered by rock bands in the 1960s.

In 1956 “I Can’t Quit You Baby”  was sung by Otis Rush and became a top ten hit on the Black American charts.

In the 1960s it was covered by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, to which Eric Clapton belonged.

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