The Tulsa Sound

J. J. Cale died, the musician and songwriter responsible with Leon Russell for developing the so-called “Tulsa Sound.”  This was a bluesy, rock ‘n’ roll shuffle, often adorned with a honky tonk piano.  The most notable exemplar of the Tulsa sound was the non-Okie Eric Clapton, but it can also be found in the numerous collaborations of Leon Russell and in groups like the Tractors.

As someone who grew up near Tulsa and went to college in Oklahoma in the 1970s, I can say this is my kind of music.  (In addition to the music, the Tulsa scene at that time included late night TV with “Mazeppa Pompazoidi,” a.k.a. Gailard Sartain, a comic genius who would later go to Hollywood for Hee Haw and other mostly bit parts unworthy of him, with Gary Busey as Teddy Jack Eddy.  Busey also went to Hollywood and had a pretty good career.  Though known for some meltdowns, he became a convert to Christianity.  Did anyone else out there stay up late for the The Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting?)

After the jump:  J. J. Cale playing his most famous song and a good survey of his life and music. [Read more...]

Springsteen on Hank Williams

David Browder quotes from a keynote speech Bruce Springsteen made at the SXSW shindig in Austin in which he gives his reflections on the great Hank Williams and the music of his tradition:

I remember sitting in my little apartment, listening to Hank Williams Greatest Hits over and over. And I was trying to crack his code because at first it just didn’t sound good to me. It just sounded cranky and old-fashioned…with that hard country voice. With that austere instrumentation. But slowly, slowly my ears became accustomed to its beautiful simplicity and its darkness and depth. And Hank Williams went from archival to alive for me before my, before my very eyes. And I lived, I lived on that for awhile in the late ’70s.

One thing it rarely was…it was rarely politically angry, it was rarely politically critical. And I realized that fatalism had a toxic element. If rock ‘n roll was a seven-day weekend, country was Saturday night hell-raising, followed by heavy Sunday coming down. Guilt, guilt, guilt. I [fracked] up, oh my God. But, as the song says, would you take another chance on me? That was country. Country seemed not to question why, it seemed like it was about doing then dying, screwing then crying, boozing then trying. And as Jerry Lee Lewis, the living, breathing personification of both rock and country, said, “I’ve fallen to the bottom and I’m working my way down.”

via Who Put That Hole in My Bucket? The Difference Between Bruce Springsteen and Hank Williams | Mockingbird.

Yes!  Exactly!  Bruce didn’t quite understand it, but Browder does, going on to name what it is about Hank Williams that is so compelling:  The backdrop of Christianity and the agonizing struggle between sin and grace.

 

Dick Clark dies

The seemingly ageless Dick Clark passed away.  He was 82.  Through radio, the long-lived TV dance show “American Bandstand,” his New Year’s Eve specials, and as an overall music impresario, Clark presided over practically the whole gamut of American pop music, from the very beginnings of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 1950s through today’s rap music. Here is a good survey of his life and career:  Dick Clark of ‘American Bandstand’ fame dies at 82 – latimes.com.

“American Bandstand” introduced rock ‘n’ roll to the teen-aged masses.  I liked the part where he would play a new song for a couple to rate.  Whereupon we would often get this critical analysis:  “It’s got a good beat. It’s easy to dance to.”


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