No matter what you do, you’ll never run away from you

In this edition: Get your kicks while losing your pride, a snapshot of success and dysfunction. Sticking to the wrong principles. The TP rejoices, “we stopped Obamacare!”(and then they woke up). War, huh, what is it good for and how GWB lucked out by failing to do a thing to prevent the Great Recession.

Kicks

Girl, you thought you found the answer on that magic carpet ride last night
But when you wake up in the mornin’ the world still gets you uptight
Well, there’s nothin’ that you ain’t tried, to fill the emptiness inside
But when you come back down, girl, still ain’t feelin’ right

Chorus:
(And don’t it seem like)
Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind
Before you find out it’s too late, girl
You better get straight

Well you think you’re gonna find yourself a little piece of paradise
But it ain’t happened yet, so girl, you better think twice
Don’t you see no matter what you do, you’ll never run away from you
And if you keep on runnin’
You’ll have to pay the price

[repeat chorus]

Bridge:

No, you don’t need kicks
To help you face the world each day
That road goes nowhere
I’m gonna help you find yourself another way

Chorus:
(And don’t it seem like)
Kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find
(Oh, you don’t need kicks, girl)
And all your kicks ain’t bringin’ you peace of mind
(You just need help, girl)
Before you find out it’s too late, girl
You better get straight

–Written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders (1966)

Learning more about this song was like peeling back the layers of an onion. Who knew? (Does anybody know where “who knew” and “ya think” originated? Two phrases used… excessively, that are now somehow central to American speech.) I digress.

We can start with producer Terry Melcher asking the songwriting duo of Mann and Weil  for a song like The Animals “We Got to Get Out of this Place.”  They came up with “Kicks,” and the inspiration was a friend who needed help with drugs (probably fellow song-writer and Carole King’s husband at the time, Gerry Goffin). Mann and Weil had written the song for The Animals, but lead singer Eric Burdon rejected it. Melcher brought it to Paul Revere & the Raiders.

Terry Melcher’s story: Melcher was the son of singer-actress Doris Day and trombonist Al Jorden. Day was planning to leave the abusive, violent Jorden when she found herself pregnant. Outraged,  Jorden demanded that Day get an abortion. Instead, she gave birth to son Terrance Jorden and filed for divorce. After the divorce, with maternal instincts more suited to Hollywood than Cincinnati, Day left the boy with her mother in Ohio, and went back to touring with big band leader Les Brown. Birth daddy Al Jorden visited his son infrequently and had little presence in his life. After divorcing her second husband, saxophonist George Weidler, Day married Martin Melcher, who would become her manager and produce many of her films. Melcher adopted Terry, giving the child his surname. Happy ending? Well… after Martin Melcher’s death in 1968, Day discovered that he and a partner had mismanaged or embezzled $20 million of her money. And that was ALL her money. According to an inflation calculator (inquiring minds wanted to know) that would be the same as around $135 million in 2013 dollars.

Terry Melcher recorded and wrote music himself, but ended up working for Capital Records. He produced the Byrds albums, Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn!Turn!Turn! He worked with groups like The Mamas and the Papas and Paul Revere & the Raiders. He was also friends with the Beach Boys and even sang backup on their album Pet Sounds.

Beach Boy Dennis Wilson introduced Melcher to Charles Manson (to myself: WHAT?!?!?). The Beach Boys had recorded a Manson written song calling it “Never Learn Not To Love” (a double negative but better than Manson’s title “Cease to Exist”) with credits going to Dennis Wilson. Melcher wanted to do a movie about Manson and the hippie commune thing he had going, but later distanced himself after seeing some Manson craziness. Melcher had been living with girlfriend Candace Bergen in the same house on Cielo Drive that was later leased to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate, and became the site of the Manson Family murders of Sharon Tate (8 months pregnant), coffee heiress Abigail Folger, hairdresser Jay Sebring, writer Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent.

Melcher went on to produce music, television, and the Monterey Pop Festival. He cowrote the song “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys. Melcher passed on in 2004.

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s story: In the early Sixties, Mann and Weil settled into their writing partnership and married life. They worked in the Brill Building at Aldon Music alongside Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. They were craftsmen songwriters, sitting in a cubicle with a piano and working all day to come up with lyrics and melodies. These writers would create songs that were offered to the bands and singers of the day. Some might go to Elvis, The Monkees, Aretha Franklin, The Drifters, or the Byrds, or in the case of “Kicks” to Paul Revere’s band through producer Terry Melcher. Mann and Weil wrote “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” with Phil Spector and “On Broadway” recorded by The Drifters with Leiber and Stoller.

Paul Revere’s Story: The band Paul Revere and the Raiders has substantial U.S. mainstream success in the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s. The early incarnation was a Boise, Idaho band having regional success. They fell under the guidance of Melcher, moving to L.A. in 1965.  Like many bands of the era, they copied the sounds and mod styles of British Invasion bands such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Dave Clark Five, and The Animals while adding a little American R&B feel.

The band appeared regularly on national television and especially on Dick Clark’s Where the Action Is, Happening ’68, and It’s Happening, the latter two of which were co-hosted by Revere and singer Mark Lindsay. Boomer’s found them on TV when they returned home from school, playing some songs with comedic interludes. Playing on Revere’s name, the group wore American Revolutionary War soldier uniforms, and performed slapstick comedy and synchronized dance steps while Mark Lindsay, cute and pony-tailed, lip-synced their music. The very thing that made them popular, their goofy wholesomeness, was the most detrimental thing they could choose to make a long-lasting mark in the world of Rock.

The Raiders were endorsed by the company Vox  (Revere used their Vox Continental combo organ, while bassist Phil “Fang” Volk was seen on television playing a Phantom IV bass —with “FANG” in masking tape letters on the back.

Imagine you are a music loving rock and roller and you get your Big Chance. But instead of living your dream–writing and performing music–you sell yourself out to image makers and profit takers. You clown for adolescents, lip-sync the songs, and don’t even get to play the instruments on your own albums. Instead of developing a unique sound you co-opt other people’s inventions. A manager tells you what songs you will play from the song factory. Instead of being an artist, you are scripted entertainer. I really don’t have a clue what all that meant to Paul Revere or Mark Lindsay but I know how I would feel. It had to be like heaven appeared to be within reach but with one step you’d know the clouds were cotton batting and the harps were made of tinfoil, cardboard tubes, and loosely tied string.

Looking back, I would have thought that the druggies didn’t really need to get off “kicks” until a decade later when Quaaludes and Coke were taking their toll. Still, Mann and Weill ran in circles where a stern anti-drug warning was required and Melcher was no innocent. The band’s lineup became fluid as the Raiders chafed against the manufactured media image that lavished juvenile attention on Lindsay while ignoring the music. To the band, I’d guess sounding more like The Animals and less like Herman’s Hermits would have been a welcome relief if they’d had a chance to be true to themselves.

Paul Revere has kept a Raiders band together with an evolving lineup since those early days. He recently admitted to an undisclosed health problem that prompted him to report that he got his “butt kicked but good.”

LB_Rule

Over the days that I spent on this post, the debt crisis in Washington DC was forestalled. The Republican Party is taking a beating in the press and polls. If you asked the core Tea Party Congresspeople about why they took the full faith and credit of the United States hostage they would maintain that it was because, unlike Paul Revere & the Raiders, they had to stick to their principles. They ran against Obamacare (or at least what FoxNews and conservative talk radio was telling fact-starved voters Obamacare was) and they dreamed that this was a battle they could win. They needed a little perspective. They are politicians, Obama is a politician. They should be able to put themselves in his shoes. Would he sign a bill that repealed The Affordable Care Act? That is the president’s landmark legislation. His place in the history books. He ran for reelection on it, with an opponent running on repeal, and he won by 5 million votes!

Grumpy realist Senator John McCain  (R-Ariz.) wondered what they were thinking. “We started this on a fool’s errand, convincing so many millions of Americans and our supporters that we could defund Obamacare. [That] obviously wouldn’t happen until we had 67 Republican senators to override a presidential veto.”

michael-dukakis-tankSo, they actually moved themselves away from hopes of getting 67 Republican senators anytime in the near future. And they’ll have to pick a stronger candidate than Gov. Mitt Romney to put one of their’s in the White House in 2016 (that is unless Hillary doesn’t run and the Democratic party pick is a misfire along the lines of Kerry or Dukakis–perfectly fine gentlemen but not strong candidates for the highest office in the land).

Someone who has something to say about economic matters is Jim Hines, Democratic Congressman from Connecticut. As he has put it so eloquently, “People need to understand that: It’s their 401Ks, their IRAs, interest rates which they pay on their mortgages or their credit card bills, all of that depends on the assumption that the United States Treasury is risk-free. If the Republican majority in Congress forces a default, all of the sudden, it’s not risk-free anymore.”

A recent Gallup poll reported:  “With the Republican-controlled House of Representatives engaged in a tense, government-shuttering budgetary standoff against a Democratic president and Senate, the Republican Party is now viewed favorably by 28% of Americans, down from 38% in September. This is the lowest favorable rating measured for either party since Gallup began asking this question in 1992.”

LB_Rule

I saw this sign in a “quaint shopping village” in my area. Back in the days when people weren’t getting squeezed by the migration of wealth to top managers and investors, they would get plenty of folks walking around buying crafty doo-dads or dusty silk floral arrangements. Today, stores are closing and the average visitor keeps his or her wallet firmly enpocketed.

customers wantedLB_RuleI sometimes debate some right-wing maniacs in my suburban newspaper online comments section. Their belief, and probably many people’s belief, is that the bombing of Baghdad was done with surgical precision and low collateral loss of life. Well, when the media is casually regurgitating the public relations output of the state such misunderstandings can easily be made. Every bombing target had some amount of civilian loss of life, and 20 targets were identified as high collateral damage bombings and undertaken anyway. 10,000 of the bombs dropped by American and British planes were not precision guided at all. Recently, Wikileaks documents wrote of the deaths of 66,000 Iraqi civilian deaths that hadn’t been publicly disclosed previously. A new investigation into Iraq deaths over the last 10 years puts the total figure at nearly 500,000–2/3 from violence and 1/3 from breakdowns in health services and other factors.

The Iraqi loss of life, along with the loss of their health and economic opportunity, did not win us an ally in the region–just the opposite. Have you been paying attention to the DU (depleted uranium) issue in Iraq? Worse than Syria’s chemical weapons, the U.S. and allies used DU weapons that resulted in Fallujah experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia, and infant mortality than Hiroshima and Nagasaki did in 1945. Learn more here.

The Great Recession seems to have one positive effect for George W. Bush. It put Americans into such a state of worry and financial concern that they didn’t have energy to evaluate the effects of the Iraq War and place blame where it should be placed, on the heads of Bush and Cheney who squandered American taxpayer’s hard-earned money in an illegal and immoral war that benefited only international oil companies, Cheney’s Halliburton buds, and munitions manufacturers.

We could put this all behind us, but then we’d never learn the lessons we need to learn.

1. War is brutal and inhumane, and unfitting for civilized nations unless under direct attack.

2. Those in the war business, like those that knowingly produce products that poison us, give us cancer, or give others the power of life and death over us, are sociopaths who put the acquisition of wealth over human life–even the lives of children and babies.

3. When terrible things happen, like 9/11 in our collective lives or tragedy in our personal lives, our decision-making abilities can be weakened by emotional confusion, and we’re best off taking things a day at a time and acting in manners that leave us no regrets.

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