Tag Archives: Joe South

Walking into history

We went to Madison, Wisconsin, on Saturday to witness the scene on the Capitol Square, where more than 70,000 people — perhaps closer to 100,000 people — took part in a loud but peaceful demonstration of union solidarity.

It came in the wake of the state Republicans’ vote to strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights. It capped almost a month of protests.

All along the way on Saturday, it seemed as if we were following in the footsteps of those who had gone before us.

The drive down took us within a couple of miles of the tiny rural cemetery where my great-great-grandparents are buried. William Burgraff arrived in Wisconsin from Germany in the early 1850s and went to work as a barrel maker. Without William’s journey, we don’t make ours.

So many people converged on Madison that we had to park a good distance away from the Square. We found a spot on the east side (not far from the Crystal Corner Bar, if you know Madison), and walked more than a mile downtown.

We walked on the Capital City Trail, an old rail corridor. During World War II and again in the early ’50s, my dad worked on those rails, handling freight on Chicago & North Western passenger trains. During the war, Dad lived in a rooming house (also not far from the Crystal Corner Bar) and walked to work at the depot. Without Dad’s journey, we don’t make ours.

When we reached the Square, we made our way through the sea of people, onto the Capitol grounds and up to the Capitol so my companions — two 16-year-old high school sophomores — could get a better view of the scene. From there, we walked down to Mifflin Street and waded back into the sea of people, walking in the march for one more block. Here is 30 seconds of that experience.

When we reached the corner, I looked down State Street. It seemingly was filled with people all the way down to the University of Wisconsin campus, which sits at its west end. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, antiwar protesters marched from the campus to the Capitol. Without their journey, we don’t make ours.

On a day of continuous rallies started in the morning by the farmers’ tractorcade, the crowd was getting revved up for the biggie, the 3 p.m. union rally.

But our day was almost done. Were it my trip alone, I would have spent a couple of hours soaking in the scene. Given that my companions’ interest didn’t match mine — which I get — we kept it to one trip down State Street and back up to the Capitol, and one lap of the Square.

From a day when the sights were so extraordinary, the sounds will linger. We heard this classic song, its reminder of a class war sadly still timely.

“Fortunate Son,” Creedence Clearwater Revival, from “Willy and the Poor Boys,” 1969.

As we walked away from the Square, we heard this song behind us. Wishful thinking, for obvious reasons.

“Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye,” Steam, from “Steam,” 1969. (The buy link is to a 2003 import CD with seven extra tracks.)

We didn’t hear this one, but for a day on which we walked into history — representing three generations of family members who have included union teachers, union social workers, union railroad workers and a union carpenter — it also seems appropriate.

Both of my grandfathers were union activists who in the 1920s pushed for a 40-hour work week instead of a 48-hour week. They wanted workers to have two days off. Without their journey, we don’t make ours.

“Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” Joe South, from “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home,” 1969. (The buy link is to a two-fer import CD that includes the “Introspect” LP from 1968. Also available on “Classic Masters: Joe South,” a remastered best-of CD from 2002.)

I also will long remember the sound of the tens of thousands of people at that late-afternoon rally.

We were more than a half-mile from the Square, headed back to the car.

We still could hear the roars.

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Filed under March 2011, Sounds

That ’70s song, Vol. 2

This is the second installment in a continuing series on songs I heard on my Panasonic RF-930 radio, first on AM, then on FM, during the 1970s, a decade that began with me in seventh grade and ended with me graduating from college.

We have a ways to go. For better or worse, we’re going in chronological order. So this year, 2010, is all about 1970. Here’s why.

Though I’ve been a journalist forever, I’ve never kept journals. Music brings back memories, for me, for lots of people. A certain song, a certain place, a certain person, that kind of thing. That’s part of the joy — at least for me — of taking that journey week by week, year by year.

That said …

In the second week of January 1970, the brief, intense stardom of Joe South was just about peaking. It was a time when the Top 40 had room for a variety of styles, among them rock, soul and country. Joe South, an Atlanta native, brought all that to the table.

After releasing four singles in 1969 — most notably “Games People Play” and “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” — South launched one more toward the Top 10 as 1969 turned into 1970. “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” turned out to be South’s biggest hit, but it also was the last time he made the Top 40.

“Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” Joe South, from “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home,” 1970. (The buy link is to a double CD set also featuring “Introspect,” South’s debut LP from 1969.)

“Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” was one of the first 45s we ever had, but I liked the flip side better. It was more upbeat than the hit, which even a 12-year-old — as I was — could tell was a bit of a downer. So enjoy a little bonus.

“Heart’s Desire,” Joe South, from “Games People Play,” 1969. It’s the B side on the “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” 7-inch, Capitol 2592. (The buy link is to a double CD set also featuring the “Joe South” LP from 1971.)

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Filed under January 2010, Sounds

Still on the DL

This post will be short. My wrist has been slow to heal. The less time spent with mouse and keyboard (as opposed to Moose and Squirrel), the better.

Here, then, a couple of tunes from records found while crate digging last weekend. Haven’t listened to it all yet, but kind of a mixed bag. A couple of pleasant surprises, a couple of disappointments.

First up, a nice cut off one of those pleasant surprises …

williehutchsoulportraitlp

“Keep On Doin’ What You Do,” Willie Hutch, from “Soul Portrait,” 1969.

The debut album by the fine Texas soul songwriter and singer who then became the great Motown soul songwriter and producer. Only one side in, and there hasn’t been a bad cut yet.

Then, for a friend who can’t find this guy’s records on the East Coast …

joesouthseedsaregrowinglp

“Revolution Of Love,” Joe South, from “So The Seeds Are Growing,” 1971. It’s out of print.

Interesting tune. Starts out with a greasy swamp groove much like “Run Through The Jungle.” Arrangement gets more complex, laying strings and an increasingly powerful horn chart next to South’s vocals.

It was either this or covers of “Motherless Children” or “United We Stand.” Couldn’t decide.

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Filed under August 2009, Sounds

20/20/20 vision, Part II

We’re back with another installment of 20 Songs from 20 Albums for $20.

If you missed us last time out, these tunes are part of the haul from a recent morning of crate digging in the back yard of one of our local used record dealers.

Nothing too heavy here. Just enjoy the tunes, presented at random, much the way I came across them in the tents in Jim’s back yard.

“Let’s Hang On,” the Bob Crewe Generation, from “Music To Watch Girls By,” 1967. (The link is to a 2006 best-of CD.)

Until JB wrote about them over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ a couple of weeks ago, I’d never heard of the Bob Crewe Generation. But I had heard the old Diet Pepsi commercial that inspired the title track to the album, which JB graciously shared. The smooth instrumental oozed cool and sophistication, especially when you were just 10, as I was at the time.

As I was digging in the tents, I came across not one, but two copies of the original LP … along with another album JB mentioned in the same post. I passed on the T-Bones, but grabbed this one.

As for “Let’s Hang On,” Crewe helped write it for Frankie Valli, who performed for a sold-out house of 2,000-plus here in Green Bay last week. Our paper had this great story, recalling when fans mobbed a local record store when Valli and the original Four Seasons visited in 1962. That’s Valli doing a live radio show with a local DJ at upper right.

“Heart’s Desire,” Joe South, from “Games People Play,” 1969. The link is to a 2006 CD release with two Joe South albums, this one and “Joe South,” from 1971.

A sunny, upbeat slice of Southern soul-flavored pop. Great horn charts, great bass line, great backing vocals. The whole package.

“A Million Miles Away,” Joe South, from “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home?” 1969. The link is to a 2003 Australian CD import with two Joe South albums, this one and “Introspect,” his debut album from 1968.

Swamp rock meets psychedelia. Definitely not the song done by the Plimsouls.

“Summer,” War, from “War Greatest Hits,” 1976. Out of print, but this tune and all but one of the cuts on this album are available on “Grooves & Messages: The Greatest Hits of War,” a 1999 CD release.

Because you know you need it, want it for your summer mixtape or playlist.

More to come! (As soon as I rip them.)

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Filed under May 2008, Sounds

Thanks, Betty

Why Betty Trindal ever wanted to part with today’s selection is beyond me, but I hope to give it a good home and some new life.

This afternoon, after dropping Evan off at my brother’s lake cottage for a sleepover, I headed to one of the finest small-town record stores I know.

They still have angle parking on Main Street in Waupaca, Wisconsin, so I pulled up right in front of the Book Cellar.

Waupaca is a summer resort town, and the fine folks at the Book Cellar feed the Chain O’ Lakes visitors lots of used and new books and CDs. They have a fine selection of both. If you closely read No Depression, you’ll see that the Book Cellar is one of the record stores consulted by the magazine’s editors as they compile the monthly sales chart.

The good stuff is down in the basement at the Book Cellar. That’s where they keep the used vinyl. Working solo, I spent a good hour digging through the modest selection in the crates.

The rock, pop and country is mostly mainstream stuff from the ’70s and ’80s, though there’s a fair amount of older easy listening stuff. There’s a little jazz and blues, but not much in the way of R&B and almost no soul. Of course, this is central Wisconsin we’re talking about.

I found a few things, but most of them will have to wait for another time, when I have a little more disposable income.

There was one album I couldn’t pass up, though.

joesouthlp3.jpg

I saw “Joe South” and “Games People Play” and grabbed it immediately. I’ve been looking for that bit of classic Southern R&B and soul for a while.

Then I looked closer at that cover and saw it was a Pickwick International release, not a major-label release. Hmmm. Those of us who are older than dirt remember Pickwick releases could be cheapies and knockoffs.

But the front of the jacket said “by arrangement with Capitol Records” and the back of the jacket said “previously released on Capitol Records.” So, for $5, how bad could that be?

I’m delighted to report that the vinyl is pristine and the tunes are the original versions.

I was 12 — Evan’s age — when I heard Joe South on WLS radio out of Chicago. “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” was No. 39 in the Top 40 in the last week of August 1969.

You know Joe South’s other hits — “Games People Play” and “Walk A Mile In My Shoes.” He wrote and performed “Rose Garden,” which was a huge hit for Lynn Anderson. He wrote “Down In The Boondocks,” a hit for Billy Joe Royal (another of our faves), and “Hush,” a hit for Deep Purple. He was a highly regarded session guitarist, playing for Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Tommy Roe and Simon and Garfunkel.

But Joe South’s work on his own album, the one Betty Trindal let go, is outstanding. Here’s the track listing:

Side One: Games People Play, All My Hard Times, Rose Garden, The Greatest Love, Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home.

Side Two: Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Mirror Of Your Mind, These Are Not My People, Birds Of A Feather.

Here’s the proof.

“Walk A Mile In My Shoes,” Joe South, from “Games People Play,” 1969. It’s out of print.

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Filed under August 2007, Sounds