All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles
I’m gonna drink ’em upAnd if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill
~Warren Zevon (Desperados Under the Eaves)
Few of rock & roll’s great misanthropes were as talented, as charming, or as committed to their cynicism as Warren Zevon.
~Mark Deming (allmusic.com)
Live in Passaic NJ, 1982 (The Full Concert):
BF: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
Bob Dylan: Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.
~Bob Dylan (to Huffington Post – May 2009)
“In the Ghetto” (originally titled “The Vicious Circle“) is a song written by Mac Davis and made famous by Elvis Presley, who had a major comeback hit with it in 1969. It was recorded January 20th 1969 and released in April the same year as a 45 rpm single with “Any Day Now” as the flip side.
It is a narrative of generational poverty: a boy is born to a mother who already has more children than she can feed in the ghetto of Chicago. The boy grows up hungry, steals and fights, purchases a gun and steals a car, attempts to run, but is shot and killed just as his own child is born. The song implies that the newborn will meet the same fate, continuing the cycle of poverty and violence. The feeling of an inescapable circle is created by the structure of the song, with its simple, stark phrasing; by the repetition of the phrase “in the ghetto” as the close of every fourth line; and finally by the repetition of the first verse’s “and his mama cries” just before the beginning and as the close of the last verse. Continue reading “January 20: Elvis Presley recorded In The Ghetto in 1969”→
I woke up this morning to the sad news about David Olney’s death. He died after a massive heart attack on stage during this years 30A songwriters festival.
8 years ago we published this post about his song, Jerusalem Tomorrow. Mr. Olney wrote to me after that to say how grateful he was that we loved the song and we talked a bit about songwriting and the life of being a songwriter. He was a lovely person and we will miss him and will honor his legacy by playing his music. Rest in peace, Mr. David Olney.
Jerusalem Tomorrow was first released on Olney’s album Deeper Well in 1989, but it was with Emmylou Harris’ magnificent interpretation in 1993 that it became well known, and it was then I discovered it.
Townes Van Zandt’s short list of favorite music writers included Mozart, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bob Dylan, and David Olney. Obviously Olney keeps pretty good company, and deservedly so. Jerusalem Tomorrow sounds like a song Townes would have been proud of.