Some people never cease to amaze…. Robert surprised me with a belated birthday present today. The complete John Prine Anthology. Well, it was just as much a present to HIM as me, since he’s the one who turned me on to this guy years ago, when we first met. He was playing at a dive bar in San Antonio called The Rock Saloon. His lyrics were insightful, raw — everything that Steve Earle is today, but with a somewhat more sophisticated edge to them. Anyone who writes lyrics like Sam Stone was alone when he popped his last balloon, climbing walls while sitting in a chair…. or there’s a hole in Daddy’s arm where all the money goes … had to have lived it. You just can’t make that kind of shit up. Lyrics like those come straight from the soul. And who can forget the poignancy of Donald & Lydia; I never could figure out from the song what was so socially unacceptable about either of them. Fat? Geeks? Wrong side of the tracks? Whatever it was, I felt their despair.
Why am I yammering on about this today? It was just a pleasant surprise. My birthday was two weeks ago, and I did get taken to dinner and a card and the usual (we are fairly low-key about birthdays around here). And I haven’t played any of our albums in years. But I’ll never part with them no matter how ratty they get. I’ve got one or two other old albums like that, that they’ll have to pry out of my cold, dead hands.
1. Armageddon (A&M, 1975). This was the band that Keith Relf (Yardbirds), Martin Pugh and Louis Cennamo (both of Steamhammer), and Bobby Caldwell (Johnny Winter) formed. Alas, it was their first and last album. Relf died of an accidental electrocution in early 1976, just a few months before the band was to cut its second album.
2. Claude Morgan and the Blast. This is a local (San Antonio, Texas) artist reminiscent of a cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and Webb Wilder (whose motto I LOVE: “Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big and wear glasses if you need ’em”). The reason we even have this album is because a friend of Robert’s did the cover art for it. He got several copies and handed them out to one and all. If I had to categorize it, I’d say “rockabilly.”
3. Farewell to Arms, Rush. The band has a thank-you to two hometown disc jockeys, Joe Anthony (The Godfather of Rock and Roll) and Lou Roney. And I’ve got their signatures on it. (Would’ve been better I suppose if the BAND had signed it, but this’ll do!)
Come to think of it, Robert has turned me on to a lot of great music, from John Prine to Juan Luis Guerra and beyond.