I started to write a TC diary on some of the meta aspects prompted by the diary I wrote yesterday in support of my beleaguered brother-in grief about the vagaries of the grieving process and how that might have affected some of our public behavior at the Great Orange Satan. It didn't work. I'm too connected to the circumstances that made that diary necessary, I'm definitely identified with one side of a situation that resembles the whole Obama Sux/Rox thing, and I was going to put all the things I left out of yesterday's diary into tonight's diary in a way that would embarrass at least one of our regular writers. That would have been SO wrong.
So tonight, since it has been a long time since my last music diary, some groups that played during the first two days of the Monterey Pop Festival who have not become as iconic as the groups from Monterey I've already covered. Below the Great Orange tambourine, please, for some groups you may never have heard or perhaps heard OF: Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Moby Grape. All three of these groups were based in the Bay Area.
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I know there's some confusion over what exactly the genre "psychedelic rock" is supposed to sound like. There may be more well-known practitioners, but Country Joe and the Fish are for me the most exemplar. "Country" Joe McDonald has his own website in which, among LOTS of other things, he explains how the group was founded, and for what reason:
Country Joe and the Fish came about as part political device, part necessity, and part entertainment. In the Fall of 1965, the remnants of the FSM (Free Speech Movement) on the Berkeley Campus were organizing a series of demonstrations against the war in Vietnam at the Oakland Induction Center. Drawing on the experience of the Civil Rights Movement, the anti-war organizers always provided entertainment either before or after the march -- to hold people's attention. This was the era of the folk revival starting to turn into the San Francisco rock scene and "bands" were starting to appear all over the place. Joe McDonald had been editing a magazine he had founded, Rag Baby, and, as the story goes, ran out of material. He got the idea of doing a talking issue and through various devices and favors wound up having an EP pressed; it was an extended-play disc with four songs on it: two by a group called Country Joe and the Fish and two by another local folk singer, Peter Krug. This disc is considered to be the first self-produced recording to be used by a band as a form of promotion. It contained the original recorded version of the so-called anthem of the sixties "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die Rag" and Joe's satire of President Lyndon Johnson, "Superbird." The group was a loose collection of friends and acquaintances, performing mostly jug band-flavored material, most of it Joe's. After a brief period of what could be called indecision, Joe and Barry Melton earnestly put together a rock band, called it Country Joe and the Fish and started working at music on a rather full-time basis.Yes, during the 1940s, Stalin called himself "Country Joe" and Mao Zedong said something about ""the fish who swim in the sea of the people". Radical as the day was long. One big album (they recorded four):
Now I KNOW you've all heard the "I Feel like I'm Fixin' to Die" rag, and the chorus even showed up on the back of one of the AP US History reading t-shirts. you know about the introduction too, I'm sure, and McDonald has a funny stury about one of the F-word variants in his bio:
Now, as a piece of background, it is necessary to add that as an introduction to the "Rag" on the second LP, the band shouts in high school cheerleader fashion, "Gimmie an F, gimmie an I ..." then "What's that spell? What's that spell?" etc. and the audience yells "FISH." All very innocent; but in the Summer of 1968, at the Shaefer Summer Festival in Woilman Rink in New York's Central Park before about 10,000 people inside and about 10,000 people outside the fence, drummer Chicken Hirsh suggested altering the cheer to "gimmie an F-U-C-K". Some writers have claimed that this act was one of true defiance, outrage toward the system and statement of how youth felt at the time; no one, so far as we know ever asked "why" the Cheer was changed -- it just was and it stuck. Also at Central Park that night were a number of executives from the Ed Sullivan Show; they had asked the band to appear near Christmas time that year. The following week they signed the contract, and sent in the agreed upon performance payment in full with a request: please don't appear on the show -- keep the money. They were also never invited back to the Shaefer Beer Festival. Back at Woodstock, when Joe yelled "Gimme an F!" at the end of the cheer the sound of all these people yelling "fuck" was astounding or better yet, hard to believe; it was as if a rather large cross-section of America's youth was telling the world "get stuffed." Things were never the same, in more ways than one.But that's not what I want you to listen to, because Joe and Barry were consummate musicians. This is an instrumental but it's as psychedelic as they come, although they play around with it a little. From the D. A. Pennebacker documentary:
And here's their biggest hit, as they performed it at Woodstock, with some emendations from the album version.
The other two bands don't have websites, so I'm working from Wikipedia and my own, um, memory. Quicksilver Messenger Service are considered great exemplars of the San Francisco sound, as in Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother and the Holding Company. No great girl singer, but a tight four or five man band, with rotating members (drug use) and two constant guitarists: Jeff Duncan and John Cipollina.
I had forgotten a lot about them, but here they are at Monterey. This is one of those songs you forget about until you hear it again, and you remember how much you like it:
Incidentally, my hair was never that long because it flipped when it got to my shoulders.
And then there's this, which you probably think of in the Led Zeppelin cover version, but here you have the difference between hard rock/proto metal and psychedelic rock:
Finally, Moby Grape. Very closely associated with Jefferson Airplane (I still have some stuff to work out about them, but they for sure will get their own diary). As the writer Jeff Tamarin, a chronicler of the saga of Jefferson Airplane/Starship wrote (cited by the writers at Wikipedia)
"The Grape's saga is one of squandered potential, absurdly misguided decisions, bad luck, blunders and excruciating heartbreak, all set to the tune of some of the greatest rock and roll ever to emerge from San Francisco. Moby Grape could have had it all, but they ended up with nothing, and less.As they say in Yiddish, schlimazls - the schlimazl is the person on whom the schlemihl waiter spills the hot soup. Anyhow, one REALLY great song. Incidentally, it's called "Omaha." This is live from the Monterey Pop Festival, but there's no video.
Proto-heavy metal! Less than three minutes. No, I never saw any of these groups live, but I owned albums by two of them. Another interesting walk down memory lane for me, and I think I LIKE the fact that my tears well up at a lot more things nowadays.
And now for the stuff that makes this Top Comments: