Sunday, January 18, 2009

Negative Certainty

Initially when planning the post about honorifics and songs about “Ladies,” I’d intended, as an aside, to include Neil Young’s “Borrowed Tune” off of Tonight’s the Night. “I’m singing this borrowed tune I took from the Rolling Stones,” he sings. The tune he borrowed was the one from “Lady Jane.” I guess the irony had never occurred to me that Neil Young came out and acknowledged that he’d jacked a melody from Mick and Keith, and he got away with it. Others haven’t been so lucky – like the Verve, not that they didn’t have it coming. The Stones weren’t always so up-front about their appropriations, not that they needed to be. They swiped what they liked, and if they could get away without paying royalties, they would. They certainly weren’t going to say, “I’m singing this song I borrowed from Slim Harpo.” But they sure did know what to steal, what to borrow and what to artfully model their work after. And some people outdid Jagger/Richards at their game. Chris Farlowe, at least, seems to have launched his career by covering the Stones.

I’ve been having something of a snowy sort out here this weekend. Muffins in the oven. Bunch a CDs in the rotation platter. I dug out an old Mojo Stones compilation and was struck by how awesome Farlowe’s cover of “Think” was. Then, all chance-like, I stumbled on this great Shuggie Otis tune and was reminded that Otis had allegedly been invited to audition for the vacant seat as guitarist in the Stones after Mick Taylor left the group. Evidently Otis decided to pass.

Also percolating in the wintry mix was this record by Dolorean. I’m down with dolore. And they keep true to their name. The record is called You Can’t Win, a title that deserves awards for its simple truth. Dolorean are definite miserablists, but that’s part of the up-lift. There’s something comforting about the negative certitudes of songs like “You Can’t Win” and “You Don’t Want to Know.”

“Think” – Chris Farlowe

“Knowing (That You Want Him)”- Shuggie Otis

“You Can’t Win” – Dolorean

“You Don’t Want to Know”- Dolorean

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