Sunday, April 30, 2006

Blame Canada (Buy Skynyrd)

The inimitable Don Surber directs our attention to the fact that -- despite fierce competition from France, Osama bin Laden and Hillary Clinton -- Canada remains the No. 1 threat to the American Way of Life.

Yes, Neil Young, chief propagandist for al-Canada, continues his whiny folk-rock offensive against America. I know that the NSA probably has Mr. Young's GPS coordinates programmed into a cruise missile, but before we go blundering into another misguided war -- the conquest of Canada might divert key military resources for several hours, perhaps even days -- let's consider the peaceful alternatives:

Lynyrd Skynyrd

After years of unfair discrimination, Skynyrd has finally been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And as the mounting menace of Neil Young threatens to destroy everything good and true, Gullyborg says:

God bless you, Gullyborg! And God save the South!

-- McCAIN

UPDATE II: Others joining in the long-overdue Neil Young HatefestTM include: Malkin, Public Figures Beware, Andrew McCarthy, Brian Doherty, American Idle, Time Late, John Derbyshire ... my goodness, how the hate piles up! Not to mention the irony, as it seems that the inspiration for Gullyborg's post was this Chris Muir cartoon. Heh. Ronnie would have been proud, but I wonder what Gary Rossington will say?

UPDATE I: A reader writes, "I've noticed that the pop histories of pop culture have written the Southern rockers out of the picture. The '70s are all sensitive singer songwriters then disco then punk. No mention of the boys from Dixie. I guess the rebel yell still leaves the nancy boys a little unsettled."

Popular history of the 1970s, as of just about any era one might name, tends to oversimplify trends. For instance, if you buy into pop history, you might believe that in 1963, everyone was a starry-eyed Camelot devotee. Then JFK was assassinated, the Beatles arrived, everybody went to Mississippi with the Freedom Riders, burned their draft cards, dropped acid and went to Haight-Ashbury, before OD'ing at Woodstock. This kind of dumbed-down trend-mongering is for fools.

Those not old enough to actually remember the '70s might be tempted to believe that the decade was all about Watergate, stagflation, ugly clothes and bad music. But you would be at least 25% wrong, because the '70s produced some of the best pop music ever recorded.

Let's start with the Southern rockers whom our friend says are neglected by historians: In addition to Skynyrd, there were such greats as:
  • The Allman Brothers: originals like "Whipping Post" and "Rambling Man," plus great blues covers of "One Way Out" and "Statesboro Blues."
  • ZZ Top: "LaGrange," "Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers," "Jesus Just Left Chicago," "Tush" -- the list could be extended almost infinitely.
  • Wet Willie: "Keep On Smilin'" was just fantastic.
  • Elvin Bishop: "Fooled Around and Fell in Love."
  • Charlie Daniels Band: "Uneasy Rider," "The South's Gonna Do It Again," "Long Haired Country Boy," and the oft-neglected "Twin Pines Theme (Heaven Can Be Anywhere)."
  • Marshall Tucker: "Can't You See," "Heard It in a Love Song," and so on.
  • Atlanta Rhythm Section: "Doraville," "Another Man's Woman," "Hey, Redneck," "So Into You," and my all-time favorite, "Back Up Against the Wall."
  • Mother's Finest: Folks, if you've never heard Joyce "Baby Jean" Kennedy sing "Baby Love," you don't know what funk is.
And this is just one genre of '70s music. What about Bad Company ("Can't Get Enough of Your Love"), Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, ELO, Rod Stewart (both with & without the Faces), Aerosmith, Deep Purple, Grand Funk, Ted Nugent, Bob Seger (e.g. "Kathmandu," "Fire Down Below"), Johnny & Edgar Winter, Kiss, Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Eagles ... well, you get the idea, OK? They don't call it "classic rock" for nothing.

I will go farther to say that much of the '70s dance music that is now dismissed as "disco" was actually quite good: Isley Brothers, Ohio Players, Kool & the Gang, Earth, Rick James, Heatwave, Earth, Wind & Fire -- that was some great music, most of it inspired by earlier jazz, blues, rock & soul.

I might further add that even the much-mocked singer-songwriters of the '70s were excellent: Jackson Browne, Carole King, Carly Simon, Jim Croce, John Denver and John Prine come immediately to mind, though I'm sure I've omitted many of your favorites.

So, if you're bored with politics and want to talk '70s music instead, just e-mail me.

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