May 4 seems like it’s so long ago
May 4 seems like it’s barely passed
First, the words “I’m your captain” come from a 1970 Grand Funk Railroad song of the same name, still played frequently on Classic Rock radio.
But the photo shows the body and guitar of Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, known to his fans as Captain Trips, because of that band’s association with Sixties LSD culture and the musical genre known as Acid Rock.
But the head belongs to actor Bob Keeshan, known to America as Captain Kangaroo, the host of a children’s television program that ran from 1955 to 1984.
Depending upon your age, you may not remember Captain Kangaroo.
He most-beloved by most American children. The Walter Cronkite of the pre-schooler set.
But then, if you don’t know Captain Kangaroo, you may not know much about “Uncle Walter.”
Walter Cronkite was once “the most trusted man in America,” trusted by the American people even more than the President of the United States, at a time when that was really saying something.
And during his tenure as the face of American journalism, America went from the idealism of towering figures like Eisenhower and Kennedy to the tarnished figure and flawed ambition of Nixon, who still seems a giant of international diplomacy and political savvy compared to the abysmal abomination we are left with today.
As for Captain Trips, you may not remember him very well either, if all of this is new to you.
But when it comes to far out trips of a musical nature, few compare with the free-form composition “Dark Star,” from the 1960s, it is here performed in the late ’70s.
But that is a bit much, I have included another video below, of a somewhat more conventional medley performed around the same time.
Now see? Isn’t that meme funny?
It is being aired on Sunday, August 17 at 3PM on my local PBS station in New York City. Check your own local listings!
This is particularly good for people who do not know that much about the Woodstock music festival, but it is also good for people who think they know a lot about the event.
It makes a wonderful 90 minute primer for anyone who wants to go on to watch thing Oscar-winning documentary from 1970 that focused on the musical performances. This American Experience episode focuses more on how the festival came to be, the many obstacles facing the organizers, the many issues faced by all concerned throughout the event, and many first hand accounts with much previously unseen footage of the people who met as a temporary city, “half a million strong,” and left part of a world that would never be the same.
Given the horrifying trends of selfishness, bigotry, and greed plaguing America today, from the highest office in the land down to its smallest communities, it is refreshing to be reminded that the enlightened spirit love and peace that burst upon our collective society fifty years ago this weekend still lives in many hearts across the land, even if they are currently being shouted down and drowned out by the forces of hatred and violence.
I had tears in my eye at the end of the program, for what once was, and what may yet be, and so much that has been wasted on the way.
Check it out on PBS.
Thankfully, the 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair aka An Aquarian Exhibition: 3 Days of Peace, Love, and Music starts on a Thursday, rather than a Friday as it did in 1969. This means the final act, Jimi Hendrix, will air at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, rather than on a Monday.
After all these years, I am shocked to learn the audio from the ENTIRE Woodstock concert has been preserved, and will be broadcast in its entirety, in order, at the same time of day. I had assumed many of the lesser-known acts were either never documented, or were left on the cutting room floors over all the years of released and re-released material.
I guess it is too much to hope that I can figure out how to record the many acts I will be sleeping through.
Broadcast Schedule –
Thursday, August 15:
5:07 p.m. — Richie Havens
7:10 p.m. — Swami Satchidanadna
7:30 p.m. — Sweetwater
8:30 p.m. — Bert Sommer
9:20 p.m. — Tim Hardin
10:20 p.m. — Ravi Shankar
11:20 p.m. — Melanie
11:55 p.m. — Arlo Guthrie
Friday, August 16:
12:55 a.m. — Joan Baez
12:30 p.m. — Quill
1:20 p.m. — Country Joe McDonald
2 p.m. — Santana
3:30 p.m. — John B. Sebastian
4:45 p.m. — The Keef Hartley Band
6 p.m. — The Incredible String Band
7:30 p.m. — Canned Heat
9 p.m. — Mountain
10:30 p.m. — Grateful Dead
Saturday, August 17:
12:30 a.m. — Creedence Clearwater Revival
2 a.m. — Janis Joplin
3:30 a.m. — Sly & The Family Stone
5 a.m. — The Who
8 a.m. — Jefferson Airplane
2 p.m. — Joe Cocker
6:30 p.m. — Country Joe & The Fish
8:15 p.m. — Ten Years After
10 p.m. — The Band
Sunday, August 18
12 a.m. — Johnny Winter
1:30 a.m. — Blood, Sweat & Tears
3 a.m. — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
6 a.m. — The Butterfield Blues Band
7:30 a.m. — Sha Na Na
9 a.m. — Jimi Hendrix
But after two days of wake-up, travel, play til numb, stare at alien bedroom ceiling, get up too soon after a dawn ice storm, absorb coffee and carbs, play too many hours too long but not stop even after the last video is shot, prattle on over burgers before bed, and then performing for a third day at the Martin Museum despite swollen fingers and the unexpected construction of a special presentation site for a private, deep-pocketed tour heard just off-camera, and ending up in a hotel room rented to construct our own makeshift video studio because some new Martins suddenly became available at the Distribution Center, just as I was on my way to that stage coach home, I still ended up spending Friday night back in Brooklyn, vibrating in front of my best friends while gratefully absorbing their 21-year-old Balblair and Insanely-year-old Caol Ila, and then staring at my own bedroom ceiling only to not be able sleep past 7 on Saturday, what with my girlfriend sick as a dog in Florida when I can’t take care of her, and so much back log of writing to do after the soul-crushing fatigue of my own 30-day bout of the flu has finally dissipated just in time for this past week’s trip.
And here I am on Saturday night, now after midnight, after a good sushi dinner with “super dry” hot sake, after borrowing a pre-CBS seafoam green Stratocaster, after one too many glasses of the Great Malt Which Wounds from the Isle of Skye, after Season 1 episode 2 of Grantchester, here I sit, with roommates and cat having given up long before.
And 11 hours from now I head out, Strat in hand, to the plush Battalion Studios in Gowanus for a large amplifier reunion jam with my 1990s rock band, the Cheese Beads. (And me with no ear plugs!)
I have a sneaking suspicion that sometime Monday morning I will fall off the proverbial cliff…
Until the next tour gets underway.
But at least that one will require of my fingers little beyond giving massages to some very special toes situated near, if not always on, a beach in Florida, and lapping up some sun and sea.
I’ve never been that far south before. I hear it’s nice there.
Talking Heads had been together for five years at the time this concert film was shot. There is as much time between this performance and today as between this performance and the Attack on Pearl Harbor.
The band’s sneak attack on conventional popular music ultimately changed the musical world order, as ripples of the post-Punk revolution were felt ever afterwards. It could be said this was Talking Heads at their peak, just before they took a hiatus and returned as a slicker, well-established music industry entity that appears in Johnathan Demme’s cinematic release Stop Making Sense.
By this time, the core members of the band were supplemented with many more human components that gelled into one of the most original and influential contemporary concert acts of their time. This included the exuberant anarchy of guitarist Adrian Belew, whose compelling fretboard antics continued to be imitated by other Talking Heads guitarists (and elsewhere) after he moved on to other musical horizons.
Praise for Lost and Haunted Ways…
“A five star soundtrack for a long journey… Well done, Mr. Phillips!” – Gary Hlavinka, Pittsburgh, PA
“A musical storyteller who spins yarns in his playing, the cuts on Spoon’s Lost and Haunted Ways have an evocative, narrative quality, with unpredictable plots and dramatic twists that draw in the listener.
At moments — for example, during “The Ghost’s Walk” — I felt the sensation of getting pulled toward the speakers. Really well done. “ – John Stone-Mediatore, fingerstyle guitarist, Delaware, OH.
“The quality of the recording is crisp and clear, with a performance that is flawlessly executed. Enjoying it!” – Stan Entsminger, Jacksonville, FL.
“Love it! … With each song, I envision traveling to a new location and enjoying the trip.” – Steve Bolfing, Brazoria, TX
“A very gifted song stylist at a really, really high level. And with songs so well constructed, so melodic, so visually evocative, I found myself not even listening to the sounds, but just traveling on little journeys. – Max Zug, Lancaster, PA.