October 20: David Bowie @ Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1972 (audio)

david-bowie-santa-monica-1972

Steve Martin here, backstage at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. It’s a cool night in Los Angeles, and as you may know or not know, the Santa Monica Civic is about a hundred yards from the beach so we have a cool breeze blowing off the ocean through the stage at our backs. The auditorium is packed, as a matter of fact, for the first David Bowie concert in the Los Angeles area. There will be one more tomorrow night, this is the concert tonight which will be recorded by RCA for the next David Bowie album and we expect to hear some new material by this British superstar. David and his group, the Spiders From Mars will enter from the other side of the stage. The auditorium is completely blacked out except for flashing strobe lights. Now the entrance music will be the Ode, or should I say the Ode To Joy which is featured in the movie Clockwork Orange and the house lights are starting to dim… here’s David Bowie.

Intro & Hang On To Yourself:

Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with weird and gilly
And the spiders from mars. he played it left hand
But made it too far
Became the special man, then we were ziggy’s band

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October 18: The late great Chuck Berry was born in 1926

chuck berry

 “Roll over, Beethoven, and tell Tchaikovsky the news.”

Keith Richards Inducts Chuck Berry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1986):

“Chuck was my man. He was the one who made me say ‘I want to play guitar, Jesus Christ!’…Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do.”
~Keith Richards (1992)

 

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October 17: Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man was released in 2000

In the liner notes, Johnny Cash writes:

“The song is the thing that matters. Before I can record, I have to hear it, sing it, and know that I can make it feel like my own, or it won’t work. I worked on these songs until I felt like they were my own.”

Released October 17, 2000
Genre Country, americana
Length 42:15
Label American Recordings
Producer John Carter Cash, Rick Rubin

American III: Solitary Man is the third album in the American series by Johnny Cash released in 2000 (and his 85th overall album). The album was notable for being Cash’s highest charting (#11 Country) solo studio LP since his 1976 One Piece at a Time, an album that reached No. 2 Country based on the title cut. To the present day, Cash’s studio albums for American have continued to sell & chart extremely well, as evidenced by the platinum #22 POP, #2 C&W American IV: The Man Comes Around (released one year before his death) and the gold, #1 on both charts, American V: A Hundred Highways.

I see a darkness (with guest Will Oldham, the composer of the song):

Between Unchained and Solitary Man, Cash’s health declined due to various ailments, and he was even hospitalized for pneumonia. His illness forced Cash to curtail his touring. The album American III: Solitary Man contained Cash’s response to his illness, typified by a version of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”, as well as a version of U2’s “One”.

One (so much better than any other versions!):

American III: Solitary Man, just like Cash’s two previous albums produced by Rick Rubin, was a Grammy winner, taking home the award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for Cash’s version of the Neil Diamond classic “Solitary Man”. Cash continued to receive critical appreciation for his American series of albums—on aggregate review site Metacritic.com the third album in Cash’s American series received a score of 80 (despite middling reviews from publications such as L.A. Weekly and Rolling Stone magazine) (from Wikipedia)

Track listing:

  1. I Wont Back Down
  2. Solitary Man
  3. That Lucky Old Sun
  4. One
  5. Nobody
  6. I See A Darkness
  7. The Mercy Seat
  8. Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)
  9. Field Of Diamonds
  10. Before My Time
  11. Country Trash
  12. Mary Of The Wild Moor
  13. I’m Leavin’ Now
  14. Wayfaring Stranger

“You can stand me up at the gates of hell/ But I won’t back down”

Pitchfork:

Ryan Kearney

But American III‘s high point is its two-song centerpiece. The first is Will Oldham’s “I See a Darkness”, on which it becomes clear that, perhaps because of his neurological disorder, Cash’s voice isn’t as sure and strong as it once was. When he quavers, with Oldham singing backup, “Is there hope that somehow you can save me from this darkness?” the effect is absolutely devastating. You won’t listen to the song the same after this. The shivers will eventually leave your spine, but the residue remains.

The Mercy Seat:

That song’s transcendent power also stems from its production, which, although still sparse, is relatively lush. The organ and piano that rise to match the guitar remain in use for Nick Cave’s “The Mercy Seat”. Chronicling the first-person thoughts of a man being executed, this song, more than any other on the album, was written for Cash. Building to a rumbling crescendo, he belts out, “And the mercy seat is smokin’/ And I think my head is meltin’.” This would’ve brought even Gary Gilmore to tears.

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October 16: Emmylou Harris released Brand New Dance in 1990

brand new dance

Brand New Dance was an album which Emmylou Harris released on October 16, 1990. Produced by Richard Bennett and Allan Reynolds, the album mixed a rather eclectic collection of covers, including Bruce Springsteen’s “Tougher Than the Rest”, and Dave Mallett’s “Red, Red Rose”. Though it sold reasonably well, it was Harris’ first studio album in fifteen years to yield no top forty country singles, and marked the beginning of a commercial decline for the singer, which would ultimately lead her to redirect her music away from mainstream country, a few years later.

It was one of my first conscious country music buys, with that I mean that before I had just listened to my fathers record collection when playing country (or radio). This was a big step for me, I had bought country-rock albums and rock albums with country elements, but this was pure country. I still love the album, it has a very special place in my musical upbringing.

…and I think it has one of the best covers of Springsteen’s Tougher than the rest (audio):

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October 15: Neil Young released Time Fades Away in 1973

“My least favorite record is Time Fades Away. I think it’s the worst record I ever made – but as a documentary of what was happening to me, it was a great record. I was onstage and I was playing all these songs that nobody had heard before, recording them, and I didn’t have the right band. It was just an uncomfortable tour. It was supposed to be this big deal – I just had Harvest out, and they booked me into ninety cities.”
– Neil Young

“… Time Fades Away, was a ragged musical parade of bad karma and road craziness, opening with Young bellowing “14 junkies, too weak to work” on the title cut, and closing with “Last Dance,” in which he tells his fans “you can live your own life” with all the optimism of a man on the deck of a sinking ship. While critics and fans were not kind to Time Fades Away upon first release, decades later it sounds very much of a piece with Tonight’s the Night and On the Beach, albums that explored the troubled zeitgeist of America in the mid-’70s in a way few rockers had the courage to face.”
– Mark Deming (Allmusic)

Time Fades Away is a 1973 live album by Neil Young. Consisting of previously unreleased material, it was recorded with The Stray Gators on the support tour following 1972’s highly successful Harvest. Due to Young’s dissatisfaction with the tour, it was not reissued on CD. Nevertheless, Time Fades Away received much critical praise and was widely pirated after lapsing out of print because of the ensuing demand from fans. It was initially reissued on vinyl only as part of the Official Release Series Discs 5-8 Vinyl Box Set for Record Store Day in 2014, also finally released on CD in 2017.

Neil Young – Don’t Be Denied, London, England, September 14, 1974:

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