While I was digging through the vinyl the other night, looking for all those old J. Geils Band albums, I also was looking for other things that might make an interesting post.
One was from a band called Mason Proffit.
Mason Proffit was a country-folk-rock band out of Chicago in the late ’60s and early ’70s. It was fronted by a couple of brothers, Terry and John Michael Talbot.
They recorded a handful of albums, but may best be known for one cut off their first album, “Wanted,” put out on Happy Tiger Records in 1969.
“Two Hangmen” is a protest song, a cautionary ballad, about dissenting voices and the threats they face. It was a familiar sound on FM radio in central Wisconsin in the early ’70s, but didn’t get much airplay beyond the Midwest. It came out during the Vietnam War, yet it rings true today.
If I still have my copy of “Wanted,” I couldn’t find it.
So I went to Mason Proffit’s web site and found something remarkable. There, available as a free download, is the original “Two Hangmen.” It’s an interesting marketing strategy. Give away your most popular song in the hopes visitors will explore something new in return.
In that spirit, I won’t offer the original. But go to Mason Proffit’s web site to get it. I’m delighted to have it and to hear it again.
Instead, here’s a new version of “Two Hangmen,” done by Terry Talbot and a revamped Mason Proffit lineup on a 2005 album called “Still Hangin’.”
This version of “Two Hangmen” is true to the original, save for a couple of changes. In the original, the hangman who speaks his mind is named “I’m a freak” and the sheriff is named “Uncle Sam.” In the new version, the hangman is “a simple man” and the sheriff is “the high sheriff.”
“Two Hangmen,” Mason Proffit, from “Still Hangin’,” 2005 (available on eMusic).
Here’s another cut from that album, a new song, as far as I can tell. I chose it solely for the title.
“Old Guys Rule,” Mason Proffit, from “Still Hangin’,” 2005 (available on eMusic).
So whatever happened to Mason Proffit?
Despite having been a major influence on the Eagles and having been big enough to count Steely Dan, the Doobie Br0thers, John Denver and Dan Fogelberg among its opening acts, Mason Proffit broke up in the mid-70s.
Terry Talbot has recorded more than 30 albums, many of them popular Christian music, and has written an inspirational book. In recent years, he’s worked with Barry McGuire, who is best known for “Eve of Destruction.”
John Michael Talbot became a monk and founded a Catholic retreat in northern Arkansas. He has recorded more than 50 inspirational albums and tours regularly, billing himself as “troubadour for the Lord.” Last year, he rediscovered electric guitars, recorded an album called “Monk Rock” and toured with his brother.