Archive for the ‘rock music’ Category


I love the words to this song.


So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell,
Blue skys from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade
Your heros for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

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I am not quite sure what this song is about, with pimps swinging axes and the lighting of soul flames, but it still sounds good all these years later. It sounded much better back in ancient times, like in the 1980s, when I listened to it on my sister’s record player: you turn over the record and this was the first song on side two of “The Wild, the Innocent and the East Street Shuffle” (1973). After saying “Puerto Rican Jane” a million times (well, twice) and then some good electric guitar playing it all dies away and all that is left is just the piano, playing almost one note at a time. And then right after – right after – that very last note on the piano it bursts into “Rosalita”. It is like Christmas or sex: the anticipation is half the joy.


Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night
With bruised arms and broken rhythm in a beat-up old Buick
But dressed just like dynamite
He tried sellin’ his heart to the hard girls over on Easy Street
But they sighed “Johnny it falls apart so easy and you know hearts these days are cheap”
And the pimps swung their axes and said “Johnny you’re a cheater.”
Well the pimps swung their axes and said “Johnny you’re a liar”
And from out of the shadows came a young girl’s voice said: “Johnny don’t cry”
Puerto Rican Jane, oh won’t you tell me what’s your name.
I want to drive you down to the other side of town where paradise ain’t so crowded, there’ll be action goin’ down on Shanty Lane tonight
All them golden-heeled fairies in a real bitch fight
Pull .38s and kiss the girls good night

Oh good night, it’s alright Jane
Now let them black boys in to light the soul flame
We may find it out on the street tonight baby
Or we may walk until the daylight maybe

Well like a cool Romeo he made his moves, oh she looked so fine
Like a late Juliet she knew he’d never be true but then she really didn’t mind
Upstairs a band was playin’, the singer was singin’ something about goin’ home
She whispered, “Spanish Johnny, you can leave me tonight but just don’t leave me alone”

And Johnny cried “Puerto Rican Jane, word is down the cops have found the vein”
Oh them barefoot boys they left their homes for the woods
Them little barefoot street boys they say homes ain’t no good
They left the corners, threw away all their switchblade knives and kissed each other good-bye

Johnny was sittin’ on the fire escape watchin’ the kids playin’ down the street
He called down “Hey little heroes, summer’s long but I guess it ain’t very sweet around here anymore”
Janey sleeps in sheets damp with sweat, Johnny sits up alone and watches her dream on, dream on
And the sister prays for lost souls, then breaks down in the chapel after everyone’s gone

Jane moves over to share her pillow but opens her eyes to see Johnny up and putting his clothes on
She says “Those romantic young boys
All they ever want to do is fight”
Those romantic young boys
They’re callin’ through the window
“Hey Spanish Johnny, you want to make a little easy money tonight?”
And Johnny whispered:

Good night, it’s all tight Jane
I’ll meet you tomorrow night on Lover’s Lane
We may find it out on the street tonight baby
Or we may walk until the daylight maybe

Oh, good night, it’s all right Jane
I’m gonna meet you tomorrow night on Lover’s Lane
Oh, we may find it out on the street tonight baby
Or we may walk until the daylight maybe

Good night, it’s all right Jane
I’ll meet you tomorrow night on Lover’s Lane
Now we may find it out on the, on the street tonight baby
Or we may have to walk until the morning light maybe

See also:

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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.

See also:

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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

See also:

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Santigold, known as Santogold till a jeweller of that name made her change it, used to write and produce for Res. I assumed she was British till I looked her up in the Wikipedia. “L.E.S.” is short for Lower East Side, a part of Manhattan. She wrote this song soon after arriving in New York.

The music video starts out well with the two girls in black berets and big sunglasses and Santigold’s deadpan delivery, sitting on a black horse, but the part where she is walking down the street is shockingly bad with its cheap effects.


What I’m searching for
to tell it straight, I’m trying to build a wall
Walking by myself
down avenues that reek of time to kill
If you see me keep going
be a pass by waver
Build me up, bring me down
just leave me out you name dropper
Stop trying to catch my eye
I see you good you forced faker
Just make it easy
You’re my enemy you fast talker

I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up
If I could stand up mean for the things that I believe

What am I here for
I left my home to disappear is all
I’m here for myself
Not to know you
I don’t need no one else
Fit in so good the hope is that you cannot see me later
You don’t know me
I am an introvert an excavator
I’m duckin’ out for now
a face in dodgy elevators
Creep up and suddenly
I found myself
an innovator


Change, change, change,
I want to get up out of my skin
tell you what
if I can shake it
I’m ‘a make this
something worth dreaming of

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I am not a huge Tracy Chapman fan or anything, but I like this song and “Fast Car”.


Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like sorry, like sorry

Forgive me
Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like forgive me, forgive me

But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you’d be mine

I love you
Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like I love you, I love you

But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you’d be mine

Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you’d be mine
You’d be mine
You’d be mine

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Don’t look back into the sun
Now you know that the time has come
And they said it would never come for you oh oh oh oh

Oh my friend you haven’t changed
You’re looking rough and living strange
And I know you got a taste for it too oh oh oh

They’ll never forgive you but they wont let you go, oh no
She’ll never forgive you but she won’t let you go, oh no

Don’t look back into the sun
You’ve cast your pearls but now you’re on the run
And all the lies you said, who did you save?

But when they played that song at the Death Disco
It started fast but it ends so slow
And all the time it just reminded me of you

They’ll never forgive you but they wont let you go (LET ME GO!)
She’ll never forgive you but she wont let you go, oh no.

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