A great deal of material has been cooking on the Hartbeat Grill recently and, to quote the title of Roger Miller's 1973 album, "Sorry Folks, I Haven't Written Lately." I'll move the musical foods around the cooking surface and even throw in a little glitter to spice it up.
"I've been in this town so long
back in the city I've been taken for lost"
In the summer of 1968 I saw the Beach Boys in concert at the Duluth Arena Auditorium. I will readily admit that I was more interested in the opening act, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. For my birthday I had received from my parents the first album by the group, "Woman, Woman." I thought the Civil War-like uniforms they wore on the cover were really cool and, being a trombone player in band, I really liked the horns on the album. I knew that Gary Puckett was born in Hibbing so I felt a strong Bob Dylan\Iron Range\Duluth connection. I recall the rainy Duluth day (weren't they all that spring?) that my father brought the album home and I played it on my Rheem Califone mono record player.
When I saw the Union Gap in person, I was startled that those fascinating horn parts on the album were sung as vocals by members of the band. That was very disappointing for a teenage brass player expecting to see King and Conn instruments on stage. However, lead man Gary Puckett was very good; he and his band mates were wearing some good looking, powder blue uniforms. If that was a color worn by Union soldiers, I didn't know, but I was impressed with the idea of dressing up for the show. When the Beach boys took the stage, I was still in shock after hearing the Gap's live performance that was so different from my recording.
The opening Beach Boys song was "Heroes and Villains," which I had heard many times on the radio, but I didn't own the album. That brings us to "The Beach Boys Smile" boxed set that I received as a gift recently.
You have to be a real fan to appreciate all of the elements of this boxed set. Maybe any boxed set requires being a true fan, since you do have to take steps to hear sounds beyond the familiar ones that caused you to like the artist in the first place. Do you really want to know how wind chimes fit into the song, "Vega-Tables?" Most likely you don't have that burning desire for all this musical wandering before the final recording. After all, some of these musical excursions were never meant to be heard by the public. It is like seeing the preparatory drawings leading up to the great paintings of the Renaissance masters.
Okay, the most famous song on the massive five CD, two vinyl LPs, two vinyl singles, 60 page book, poster, photos, essays and lyrics sessionography tome is "Good Vibrations." That is what a fan really wants to hear.
The hugely successful single by the group was released as a stand-alone single, not part of an album. It was supposed to be included in Brian Wilson's "SMiLe" project, but ultimately wound up on the "Smiley Smile" album in 1967. In 2011 "The Smile Sessions" bring it all back home and you can hear how "Good Vibrations" and other songs evolved through numerous takes (not all successful), but ultimately resulting in good music. Perhaps there's much more here than you really need to know about the creative process going on in Brian's head and how he communicated his musical visions to the other Boys and the studio musicians he employed for numerous takes. But, it is interesting, especially for BB fans.
My favorite is song in the volume is "Surf's Up," to me the natural progression from "Good Vibrations." Some of the lyrics are a little strange to our ears today ("The diamond necklace played the pawn. Hand in hand, some drummed alone"), but given the context of the times when it was written, not too surprising.
It will be interesting to see if this song is included on a play list in the Beach Boys reunion tour this year. Unfortunately, I don't think Gary Puckett will be opening any shows, but I have seen him at the Minnesota State Fair over the years and he is still good, horns or not.
"I met her at a truck stop, sipping on a Coke"
One day a CD arrived at one of the bureaus of the Hartbeat Empire. It's always exciting to get unsolicited material to listen to and share with the Hartbeat Herd.
Mark Wayne Glasmire is a singer songwriter, from Pennsylvania, who gained musical experience in New York City, Arlington, Texas and Nashville.
Glasmire's voice sounds great on this storytelling album. The songs are varied--from love songs to reflections on decisions that were made that set a course in life. There is even a Beatles harmonica riff on one of the tunes. You can't beat that. Some of Glasmire's musical themes include growing pains, standing firm in your beliefs, going home, saying goodbye, meeting women, believing in a higher power, living one day at a time and love.
I could tell you about each cut on the album and why it works for me, but maybe you should just visit his website and give Glasmire a listen. To learn more about Mark, please click here.
Let me know what you think of Mark Wayne Glasmire.
"I guess I was never made for glitter rock and roll"
Recently, I covered Mitt Romney's recent appearance in at an Eagan warehouse.
The stage was set up in an area surrounded by pallets of plastic wrapped bags of products. Upon closer examination, it turned out that these bags had an agricultural connection.
Since most political gatherings involve feeding the assembled supporters some rhetoric, it was interesting to discover that many of the bags contained horse and cattle feed of various mixtures.
There were also bags of ice melt in case the road to the White House is slippery. Parked in another part of the warehouse were over a hundred golf carts. That road to the Presidency may require a quieter vehicle not dependent on fossil fuels.
The local Jackals had the chance to do one-on- one five minute interviews with the candidate. We set up an interview space back stage (really back warehouse) near a bathroom and the back door. I collaborated with fellow photojournalists to create a lighting environment that utilized four lighting instruments and transformed the corner into a mini-television studio. Romney's handlers checked our shot before we started each interview; we must have put their candidate in a favorable light because we were allowed to proceed.
The moment that received a great deal of attention during the public event was the throwing of glitter on the candidate by two protestors. Along with other images from the event, I am including some glitter aftermath, which once again proves that all that glitters is not always gold.
The Hartbeat goes on...
What's Cooking on the Hartbeat Grill
One of my former photojournalist colleagues, Dennis Stearns, has released a cd, entitled: "f it ful" that showcases his excellent musical talents. This musical offering also features a spoken word selection by another former reporter colleague, Ken Speake. You can learn more about Stearn's musical journey and download the music by clicking here.
The Musical Notes
"Surf's Up" was written by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks. It was started in 1966, shelved in 1967 and reworked for the Beach Boy's 1971 album, "Surf's Up."
"Heroes and Villains" was also co-written by Wilson and Parks; Brian saw it as the centerpiece for his "Smile" album. "Heroes and Villains" was released as a single in 1967. Wilson also envisioned the song as the follow-up single to "Good Vibrations " He hoped that song would open a new artistic era for the Beach Boys that would take them beyond California car and surf themes and launch them into a serious arena with the Beatles. He was very disappointed with the critical response to the song. One of many unique aspects of Brian's music (and the Beach Boys), is that he mixed all of the sound tracks into mono. He is deaf in one ear.
"I met her at the truck stop, sipping a Coke" is the opening line of "She's Got It All' written by Tom Guardiano and Mark Wayne Glasmire.
"Come Monday" was written and recorded by Jimmy Buffett and released as a single in 1974. Glitter rock was popular at the time and I always liked the line Buffett wrote that he wasn't made for that style of music. KDAL, the television station that I worked at in Duluth had a radio station arm and "Come Monday" was one of the few then current songs that was played during the brief musical interludes between news, sports, weather, talk and commercials.
The Photo Notes
The images were made with smart phones and a Sony video camera.