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When I Was a Boy

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When I Was a Boy

When I was a boy, I grew up in a rural Illinois community where there was a strong sense of community and personal responsibility. My brother and I shared a paper route, played Little League baseball/basketball, and pickup football games. We could walk to the corner for an ice cream cone or to the nearby grade school to play basketball. We built a “fort” in our back yard with scraps provided by our carpenter neighbor right down our alley; camp out there in a tent in summer if we chose. As long as we checked in, we could ride our bicycles all over our little town of 10,000. Schools taught cursive writing. Legal immigrants from all over the world assimilated into our society. There were taught values.

Culture was rich in the 1960’s. I listened to the top 40 countdown from Chicago’s WLS radio. I spent some of my paper route money for 45 rpm singles. There were new sounds emerging as never before. Record album covers were works of art with lots of information inside and out. Often there were uplifting songs that would inspire us to go beyond our base inclinations to a promising future.Songs on those albums often were diverse from song to song- The Beatles (my favorite band) led the way.

The Beatles’ run was effectively ended when they deemed themselves independent from outside (corporate/government) influence. This made them politically and economically dangerous. Since that time, no other band could survive without touring. It keeps them too busy to cause a problem for the “machine”. They spent their time recording-real recording artists.

Times Have Changed

Indeed, times have changed. Postmodernism took over. Everything has been turned on its ear. Rationality is out. No cursive writing taught-too individualistic. Mob mentality. Hysteria. Fear-mongering. Herded like sheep. Central Bank Ponzi schemes. Lying, thieving politicians, businessmen, and media surround us. No one assumes personal responsibility. Chaos ensues because the globalist elite find us easier to control by division.

Sheep No More

The good news is WE ARE SHEEP NO MORE. People are waking up to the lies that are being fed to us by the fake media. We see how dishonest these politicians are by the impeachment spectacle perpetrated on America by those who clearly chose their power over any concern for problems their very policies have caused. Many actors, writers, academics, business people, musicians, artists, etc. provide aid and comfort to the true enemy-deception.

Peter Schweizer’s Profiles In Corruption details only part of this decades-old orchestrated scheme of theft and betrayal. We will soon learn of things that will boggle your mind. The boomerang turns. Stay tuned…

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Get your popcorn. Enjoy the show!

© 2020 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media Skyypilot.com

Hound Dog Taylor

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Hound Dog Taylor

One of my all-time favorite musicians is Hound Dog Taylor. The first blues album I bought was Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers in 1971:

Opening song She’s Gone from the 1971 Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers album.

I am fascinated with slide guitar; always have been. Hound Dog Taylor once said what slide guitar playing means to me: “When I die, they’ll say ‘he couldn’t play sh_t, but he sure made it sound good!” .

It’s the feel, not speed or perfect technique, that captures the blues essence. Let me tell you about Hound Dog Taylor…

The Legend Starts

The legend starts with the birth of Theodore Roosevelt Taylor in Natchez, Mississippi, 1915. According to Taylor, he was told to “cut out” by his step father at age 9, but this can’t be independently verified.

Hound Dog first picked up a guitar in his teens, however, piano was his first instrument. He picked up guitar at 21 (or so) and began playing all over the Mississippi Delta. He was pursued by the KKK for his affair with a white woman, went to Chicago, and never looked back.

Chicago

Hound Dog Taylor landed in Chicago, home of the blues (in my humble opinion), in 1942. He spent the next 15 years working mundane jobs during the day and playing semi-professionally at night. He became a full-time musician in 1957 and started playing slide guitar (giving up the standard tuning he once used) for a more explosive sound. Since he was always on the hunt for women, he was given the name “Hound Dog” around this same time.

Example of bottleneck (slide) guitar.

Hound Dog had six fingers on each hand. He also liked to drink. He would down a shot of whiskey, a mixed drink, a glass of beer (all in quick succession), then take to his folding chair and start “burning the place down”. Canadian Club and cigarettes would fuel him for the next six-seven hours while playing. One night, he cut off the sixth finger on his right hand with a straight razor! (I surmise it was in his way when performing.)

Hound Dog Taylor’s left hand. His thumb was abnormally large, as well.

The HouseRockers

Brewer Phillips became the first of Hound Dog Taylor’s HouseRockers in 1959. The talented second-guitarist always went by his last name; he and Hound Dog were fast friends. Ted Harvey was the remaining piece of this puzzle, taking over drums in 1965. The HouseRockers were born.

Hound Dog got his sound from a $50 Japanese guitar played through a Sears Silvertone amp sporting cracked speakers. The distortion and vibe from this setup was priceless! Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers were regulars at Florence’s Lounge on Chicago’s South Side by the late 1960’s.

Recognition

Recognition would at last come Hound Dog Taylor’s way in 1970 when he teamed up with Bruce Iglauer, who would become his manager and greatest advocate. Iglauer loved his rollicking, free-wheeling slide guitar, not to mention his great band.

When Iglauer couldn’t get his then-boss of Delmark Records to sign Hound Dog, he took a recent $2500 inheritance, recorded the band in two live in-studio sessions, pressed 1000 records, and formed Alligator Records. The 1971 self-titled Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers sold 9000 albums, the largest selling blues record for an independent label to that date. Alligator grew to a respected Blues label.

Hound Dog Taylor and his band would tour Australia and New Zealand. He would release a second album Natural Boogie in 1973 and record a live album.

Catching Up

Hound Dog’s lifestyle began catching up with him in 1975. Over the years, there would sometimes be violent arguments between band members (alcohol usually involved).

In May of that year, Hound Dog took offense about a comment Brewer Phillips supposedly made at (Hound Dog’s) home regarding his wife Fredda. He returned with a 22-rifle and started shooting at the sofa, hitting Phillips in the arm and leg. Fortunately, Phillips was not killed, and decided to press charges of attempted murder.

Before there could be a trial, Hound Dog ended up in the hospital dying of lung cancer. His dying request was answered when Phillips visited and forgave him for the shooting. Hound Dog passed the following day-December 17, 1975.

Author’s Note: I happened to be visiting my brother in Champaign, IL in 1974. We could have seen Hound Dog, but we read that two people had been stabbed at the same venue the previous night. Looking back, I now wish I had gone…

© 2019 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media Skyypilot.com

Two Words- Leonard Cohen

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Two Words- Leonard Cohen

As a recording artist, for me, there are two words- Leonard Cohen.

I just listened (twice) to Cohen’s beautiful posthumous “Thanks For The Dance”. The album was started while what everyone assumed would be his final album (“You Want It Darker”) was produced, three weeks before his death in 2016. Adam Cohen took his father’s narration of beautiful lyrics and wove it into a masterpiece. Well done!

Setting the Stage

Setting the stage, Leonard Cohen was born in 1934. He grew up in Jewish middle-class Montreal; lost his father at nine years of age. He became immersed in poetry while attending McGill University. “Let Us Compare Mythologies”was his first (of many) book(s) of poetry, published in 1956.

In 1966, Leonard Cohen announced to a Montreal television producer, “I want to write songs. He wrote and recorded his debut album, Leonard Cohen, in 1967. He went on to release fifteen studio and eight live albums in his amazing career.

Songs of Leonard Cohen

The songs of Leonard Cohen were essentially poetry. There was actual communication taking place, instead of meaningless image pimping. His words have all emotions on many levels.

Here are but a few of Leonard Cohen’s masterpieces:

  • Suzanne
  • So Long, Marianne
  • Bird on a Wire
  • Hallelujah
  • Famous Blue Raincoat

As I said, there are many, many more great songs in the Leonard Cohen library. Here is a video on the first song on the posthumous “Thanks For The Dance”-“What Happens to the Heart”:

Start Over

At 71, Leonard Cohen was forced to start over. In 2005, he discovered much of his his money taken and song rights sold by his long-time manager. He went back to touring and produced some of his finest work- three studio albums in the last five of his eighty-two years.

My point, simply, is this: Leonard Cohen chose to “die with his boots on”. He created up to (even beyond) his departure from this earth in 2016- a true artist and example for us all.

© 2019 J. Mark Witters Skyypilot Media Skyypilot.com