Archive | August, 2017

Certain Songs #963: The Long Ryders – “Looking For Lewis and Clark”

Album: State of Our Union
Year: 1985

One of the greatest roots-rock songs to come out of the mid-1980s, Sid Griffin’s “Looking For Lewis and Clark” is a pulse-pounding manifesto of identity and defiance.

In just a few stanzas he’s able to tie a key moment in U.S. history together with punk rock, the Reagan Adminstration, international espionage and The Kingsmen all the while worrying about whether Gram Parsons is watching him from heaven.

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Certain Songs #962: The Long Ryders – “I Had A Dream”

Album: Native Sons
Year: 1984

Like their cousins in Green on Red and The Dream Syndicate, The Long Ryders almost instantly shed their early psychedelic Paisley Underground roots and went in a different direction, playing a more straightforward version of country-but-only-somewhat-country rock.

As co-led by Stephen McCarthy and music scholar Sid Griffin (whose book on The Basement Tapes is highly recommended), The Long Ryders recorded a pair of roots rock albums in the mid-1980s — Native Sons and State of Our Union — that I’ve always kinda underrated.

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Certain Songs #962: The Long Ryders – “I Had A Dream”

Album: Native Sons
Year: 1984

Like their cousins in Green on Red and The Dream Syndicate, The Long Ryders almost instantly shed their early psychedelic Paisley Underground roots and went in a different direction, playing a more straightforward version of country-but-only-somewhat-country rock.

As co-led by Stephen McCarthy and music scholar Sid Griffith (whose book on The Basement Tapes is highly recommended), The Long Ryders recorded a pair of roots rock albums in the mid-1980s — Native Sons and State of Our Union — that I’ve always kinda underrated.

That said, they each had at least one absolutely killer song, like “I Had a Dream,” which I remember bowling me over not from the radio, but the video, which I remember seeing on Night Flight at some point around the time Native Sons came out.

“I Had a Dream” pretty much encapsulates everything I liked about The Long Ryders — anchored by a jangly, churning 12-string guitar, pounding double-time drums, and a stop-time organ drenched chorus that was both optimistic and melancholy.

I had a dream last night
Everybody’s laughing and everything’s alright
Still some hope in sight
But that was last night

I had a dream last night
Nobody’s crying nobody’s fighting
Still some hope in sight
But that was last night

And then at the end, for the last 90 seconds, it time for a guitar jam. First the riff starts over again, and then both Griffith & McCarthy are playing against other while Greg Sowders tries to knock both of the guitars out of their hands. But he fails, and finally figures the best thing is to just end the song once and for all.

“That was tight” somebody says afterwards, and damn straight it was.

“I Had a Dream”

“I Had a Dream” Official Video (mono sound) (but still pretty great)

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Certain Songs #961: Lone Justice – “East of Eden”

Album: Lone Justice
Year: 1985

Oh man, there was SO MUCH HYPE around Lone Justice in 1985.

And while it was clear that Maria McKee was absolutely a force of nature and deserved every inch of the voluminous praise heaped upon her, it also seemed like their Jimmy Iovine-produced debut was too slick by half, like he didn’t quite trust their roots rock in the first place.

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Certain Songs #960: Lloyd Cole – “Diminished Ex”

Album: Standards
Year: 2013

And in the 21st century, I lost the plot a bit when it came to Lloyd Cole. He purposely moved away from making rock ‘n’ roll music: as somebody who was always too self-conscious about aging, he thought he was too old to rock, even though “rocking out” was never something anybody ever associated with Lloyd Cole in the first place.

So while I liked some of the stuff he put out in that period, there wasn’t a whole record that I liked from start to finish until 2013’s Standards, which — of course — didn’t come out here until 2014.

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