August 29, 2003

Friday's Blast From the Past

I missed last week (mmm..., football) so this week you get two offerings!

When I was in high school (go ahead and click through, they have a cool cursor effect) I worked at a Dairy Queen about 10 blocks away. When I was a sophomore, there was a race riot at EAHS. The only kid who was seriously hurt accidentally shot himself outside this Dairy Queen while reinserting his gun into his trousers. But I digress. Every day, working in the back I'd listen to WXRT hoping that I'd catch them playing Jethro Tull's Too Old to Rock and Roll, Too Young To Die, which they only did once a day. Many years later, my wife and I saw Jethro Tull in Huntsville, AL, with about 800 of thier greatest fans in a arena that seated 8,000. They joked about it at the beginning but promised to give us all a great show anyway, which they did. Oh, and daughter #1 plays the flute in her 8th grade orchestra. We're waiting for her to get good enough to play Bouree, though she might be good enough now since she's already performed solos. So, we (my wife and I) got that going for us.

I first heard the second offering today on a tape my friend Howard made for me from WXRT. For several years I picked up a box of tapes from him at Christmas, because it was the best way to listen to the music I liked then. Sometime I'll pull those tapes out and copy the playlists for you. They are like gold to me now and Howard had a way with naming the tapes as well. I noticed that WXRT has about half the DJs still there that were there twenty years ago, though, with the music biz the way it is, I'm not sure they'd be able to maintain that old FM album rock format I used to love so well interjected with an occasional classic, some blues, and occassionally some very, very off-the-wall stuff. Anyway, I've never understood why Joe Jackson (looking sharp with shoes, unlike this guy)wasn't more popular. Smart, witty, intelligent songs and first-rate musicianship. Wild West isn't exactly typical of Joe, except for being smart, witty, intelligent and an example of his first-rate musicianship, but it came to mind recently as I drove to work. Joe's one of my favorite artists, so I'm sure he'll pop up again sometime.

Too Old To Rock and Roll, Too Young To Die (Jethro Tull)

The old Rocker wore his hair too long
Wore his trouser cuffs too tight
Unfashionable to the end - drank his ale too light
Death's head belts buckle - yesterday dreams
The transport "Caf" prophet of doom
Ringing no change in his double-sews seams
in his post-war-babe gloom

Now he's too old to rock'n'roll, but he's too young to die

He once owned a Harley Davidson and A Triumph Borneville
Counted his friends in burned out spark plugs
And prays that he always will
But he's the last of the blue blood greaser boys

All his mates are doing time
Married with three kids up by the ring road
Sold their souls straight down the line
And some of them own little sports cars
And meet at the tennis club do's
For drinks on a Sunday - work on Monday
They've thrown away their blue suede shoes

Now they're too old to rock'n'roll, but they're too young to die

So the old Rocker gets out his bike to make a ton
Before he takes his leave
Upon the Al by Scotch Corner just like it used to be
And as he flies - tears in his eyes - his mind -
whipped words echo the final take
As he hits the trunk road doing around 120
with no room left to brake
And he was too old to rock'n'roll, but he was too young to die

Wild West (Joe Jackson)

Out to the west there's a trail that leads somewhere
And a call of the wild that takes some people there
Through Monument Valley to California sun
From New Amsterdam to the way the West was won

Well years will go by when you won't get nowhere
You're cold and you're tired and you're free and you don't care

You keep pushin' on when your friends keep turning back
You keep building towns and laying railroad track
And things get crazy and you have to use that sun
And you wonder if this is the way the West is won

But keep thinkin' that way and you won't get nowhere
'Cause you got a right just to get where you're goin' to
Gotta keep runnin' gotta be the best
Gotta walk tall in the Wild West

You keep on the move or you try to settle down
And there's strangers from further and further away in town
And you give them some tools and they know what must be done
And you know the West was won

And they say . . .
Where I come from, you can't get nowhere
I'm breaking my back for some opportunity
Making my fortune and I'll take it all home
Tell my kids about the Wild West

And there's still beauty as the flowers bloom on desert sands
And there's still hope as the sun rises over the Rio Grande
But it's so crowded now and nothing's simple anymore
And they're still knocking at your door

You hear guns in the night and you hope they're not for you
'Cause a dog eats a dog then he eats his master too
In the land of the free and the not so often brave
There's both love or money now choose which you will save

But . . . keep thinkin' that way and you won't get nowhere
'Cause you got a right just to get where you're goin' to
Gotta keep runnin' gotta be the best
Gotta walk tall in the Wild West

Posted by Charles Austin at August 29, 2003 07:24 PM

Man, I was a big Tull-head back then, too. Went to the Songs from the Wood tour show and it was spectacular. Ian Andersen is a true talent and a great songwriter.

Posted by: Jeffesonian at 02:46 PM

Yep saw Tull in the Fox Theatre in Atlanta in I believe 1979 or '80 it's been awhile and I was in college at the time. But after Tull we walked across Peachtree St. to the Agora ballroom and caught the Nighthawks playing a late show. Tickets were $5.00 bucks and dollar draft. Damn, I miss those days.

Posted by: Harry at 08:21 AM

Joe Jackson is The Man.

Posted by: J Bowen at 02:12 AM

I also spent many hours listening to WXRT, but the only tapes I have are the ones of the free jazz concerts in Grant Park that they broadcasted back in the summer of '78 (or '79?). The only Tull album (yes, LP!) I still have is "Minstrel in the Gallery", an underrated gem.

I'd like to see some of those playlists from 25 (eeeek!) years ago. The dinosaur-rock stations today play some of those songs, but it's typically the same junk over and over. WXRT may have played Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, but the usually had something other than "Rock and Roll" and "Purple Haze".

Posted by: MarcV at 12:59 PM