Monday, February 2, 2009

Your Mind Is On Vacation..

And Your Mouth Is Working Overtime by Mose Allison.

I clipped this song to title a prior post describing Republican antics last week. Mose Allison is 81 and still touring. He's been on "The List" for years.

"The List" requires some explanation. My start in the music industry came before I got my driver's license. 30 years later I've easily been to over 1,000 gigs/shows/musical performances.

Believe you me. It's not all fun & games. Understand when you work in the "industry," you are required to endure any number of acts whether you like it or not. Certain bands, usually those you work with directly and their tour mates, you hear over & over & over again. You begin to hear them in your sleep.

After the Foresters went thru a terrible 3 years (car accident, TBI, lost bigstupidmusicbiz job, seizures , 9/11 WTC collapse (rocked our building), hospital merry-go-round et al), we fully grasped life's transitory nature. A pact was made: We'd make an extra effort to catch select musical greats for our first time before they either died or dissolved the band. iants, for some reason or other, we've just never seen live.

"The List" was born.
(All-time #1 lister Bo Diddley post w/more "List"specs)

Currently Mose Allison tops the "List". Mose first came to my attention thru The Who's ferocious, stone-cold classic cover of "Young Man Blues" off Live At Leeds. (The Who here & The Foos there). Few years later I stumbled across "Your Mind Is On Vacation." I was hooked.

I'm in good company. Mose's music influenced artists from The Rolling Stones, John Mayall, Eric Clapton, J.J. Cale, Jeff Beck & even The Pixies who paid tribute via "Allison" on Bossanova. The true tale of the tape is told by culling through Allison tunes as done by dozens of devotees...

The Yardbirds, and The Misunderstood interpreted "I'm Not Talking". The Clash laid down "Look Here" for Sandinista!). Leon Russell got "Smashed!". Elvis Costello hit "Everybody's Cryin' Mercy" (Kojak Variety) & "Your Mind Is On Vacation" (King of America Rhino re-issue bonus disc). Van Morrison released an entire album(!) Tell Me Something: The Songs of Mose Allison.

One of his songs in particular, "Parchman Farm", inspired scads of versions. As a result it's Mose's best known track. Parchman Farm, the infamous Mississippi prison, located in the county adjacent to Allison's birthplace. It looms so large in regional culture as to require elaboration.

Those once incarcerated at Parchman Farm include Elvis' dad, Stokely Carmichael, dozens of Freedom Riders. BBC doc subject Edward Earl Johnson was executed there. William Faulkner, August Wilson & John Grisham's works prominently feature the former plantation. Delta blues titans Son House (shot a guy in the leg), Bukka White (murder) and a passel of lesser bluesmen were jailed there too. White was recorded there by Alan Lomax in '39 and wrote "Parchman Farm Blues" upon his release.

For his Parchman Farm", Moses Allison's taps into his inner Faulkner. It's a chilling prisoner's story told first-person POV style . It's compelled covers by Blue Cheer, The Blues Image (of "Ride Captain Ride" fame), Blues Project, Cactus, folkster Michael Chapman, Chris Spedding, Hot Tuna, Ray Condo, Rick Derringer, Georgie Fame, The Kingston Trio, John Mayall, Johnny Winter, Bobby Gentry and others.

I just learned 81 year-old Mose Allison plays The Jazz Standard in NYC March 13, 14, 15 & 16 -- two shows each night!!!

I can't wait.

*Late Atlantic Records' producer Jerry Wexler called Mose Allison "The William Faukner of Southern Blues.""