Chris Cornell - The Voice of a Thousand Gods

By: Slim Jim Keller

 

It’s been two months since the passing of Chris Cornell. It has taken me this long, 60+ days, to be able to even attempt to sit down and write about his suicide.


I don’t have any special Chris Cornell stories, I never met the man, we never partied back stage, and I never did any shows with him or his bands. But I did have that voice. One of the best voices in music ever, hands down. Amazingly strong, timid, demanding, beastly, nail dragging, beautiful, mournful, soulful, so full of joy and pain all at once. And that scream? C’mon man, forget about it… soul ripping and gut punching don’t begin to describe that scream.

I had the privilege of seeing Chris Cornell and Soundgarden perform twice. Once in 1991 for a Day on the Green in Oakland with Metallica, Queensrÿche and Faith No More and again in 2014 with Nine Inch Nails in New Jersey. The first show was magical, Soundgarden was still on the rise, Badmotorfinger had come out a month prior and Jesus Christ Pose was my new favorite song. While they only had like a 45 minute set, they laid waste to the Oakland Coliseum and the 30,000 or so people in attendance.

I can remember spending that summer in the Navy, our ship in dry dock in a San Francisco port, working on the kitchen barge. I would get up at 4am and stumble down into the storage compartment at the bottom of the barge and throw on Metallica’s Black Album or Guns N’ RosesUse Your Illusion I & II while counting supplies and setting up food orders for the day. One day a shipmate came in with this CD called Louder Than Love by some band I’d never heard of called Soundgarden. It was one of those moments…. You might have a few in your life, when you are attached to music, that will stop you in your tracks, and something in your brain shifts and never re-corrects itself (or UN-corrects itself). This was one of those times. The first few songs were sonically full and lush with a noisy grindy (grungy) lumbering tone to it. It wasn’t until Loud Love came on, and it hit me… That voice. That transcendent voice. That demonically angelic voice. There was no one out there that could compare let alone hold a candle to that voice. And then Big Dumb Sex came on and it was all over for me. Soundgarden was the new ‘it’ for me. Sure Alice In ChainsFacelift had come out a year prior, and Nirvana had just dropped Nevermind… the album that would kill hair metal, but none of that mattered as much as Soundgarden because they didn’t have Chris Cornell’s voice.

And shortly after hearing Louder Than Love for the first time, Badmotorfinger came out and my axis tilted ever so slightly again. Rusty Cage, Outshined, Slaves and Bulldozers, Searching with My Good Eye Closed and of course the aforementioned Jesus Christ Pose… I mean, come on. Nevermind never stood a chance against that album. How and why it outsold Badmotorfinger and how and why the mumble-mouthed Cobain ever became more popular than the voice of a thousand gods himself is beyond me.

With each successive release after Louder Than Love, Soundgarden seemed to purposefully distance themselves from the grunge sound. The droning, naval gazing, mommy hates me and daddy touched me in the no-no place music that defined Seattle’s ‘sound’ and put a bullet in the head of the feel good/party music of the 80s. Everything became as depressing as Seattle’s weather. But there was one beacon that shown through it all. Chris Cornell’s voice radiated like a light house cutting through the fog and din of the slit your wrist – depression as a means of escape – heroin is our savior – nothing can kill this numbness droning and incessant melancholy music pouring out of everyone’s speakers at the time. Granted it was never the feel good – party music of the 80s, but it wasn’t grunge either. It was…. Something else. Something that stirred and moved you, something you felt, more than a razorblade against the skin while sitting in a warm bath, or the barrel of a shotgun in your mouth, it was hope maybe. Hope that this world wasn’t as dark and bleak and morose as everything coming out of Seattle said it was.

Temple of the Dog, the Pearl Jam/Soundgarden tribute to Andrew Wood just celebrated it’s 25th Anniversary, and there may not be a more perfect album to ever come out of the ‘Seattle Sound’. Reach Down, Wooden Jesus, Say Hello 2 Heaven, Pushin Forward Back, Times of Trouble, and more… just amazing music and again, the angelic rage fueled voice of Chris Cornell, rock god, crooner, soul provider/soul shaker, your prison, your pain, and your salvation all rolled into one. Forget the hit Hunger Strike, sit down and give the album a proper listen again. If you can push past the pain and loss right now. Allow the magic that is Reach Down or Four Walled World, or All Night Thing to wash over you, to captivate you all over again, to transport you to a better time, a time where we still had ‘The Voice’ with us.

And then Soundgarden was no more. There were solo albums as varied, if not more so, than the Soundgarden sound we had known and loved so much. There was the Audioslave moment that should have been so much more than it was, yet somehow gave us even more chances for the voice to soar. And again, that scream in Cochise? C’mon man…. Don’t be ridiculous. This wasn’t the scream of some 18 year old just starting out, this was a man in his 30s, with thousands of miles and thousands of shows under his belt, no one his age should be able to sustain a scream like that and not blow out a vocal cord or ten. Yet Chris Cornell did just that. The man never held back, never kept anything in reserve, never kept anything for himself.

And sadly, as we have seen today with the suicide of Chester Bennington, may have been his downfall. When you wade through the darkness as long and as far as he apparently did, and offer up everything to your art, eventually you find yourself at the end of the journey unexpectedly and you simply can’t put another step forward.

And for that, we are a much poorer world for it. There will never be another Chris Cornell, there will never be another voice of a thousand gods. Hopefully the man has finally found the peace he so desperately needed. And hopefully his music, his words, and most certainly his voice will continue to help others find their own personal peace.

Thank you, Chris, your magic, your words, and your voice will never be forgotten.

 

chris cornell

 

 

 

THE GREATEST INTERVIEW THAT NEVER HAPPENED

(AND PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT - EVER)

OFF THE RECORD WITH BRIAN TATLER OF DIAMOND HEAD

DIAMOND HEAD

Sitting backstage at one of the biggest rock festivals in the South should be reveared as one of the highlights of my writing career. Watching people mill around, looking at the staged instruments of the next 3 bands to play, looking to see if that was COREY TAYLOR that just breezed by, if I would get to bump into MIKE MUIR from SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, talk to JOSH RAND of STONE SOUR, or knowing that beyond the edge of the stage was the dropping off point where literally thousands of fans could watch the efforts of this giant production come together seemingly effortlessly for their viewing pleasure. 

On this Saturday, some of the most influential musicians were to grace this massive stage and this night was special because originally scheduled, that would not be here was SOUNDGARDEN. We all know the story and well, if you're reading this hundreds of years in the future and aren't sure why SOUNDGARDEN wouldn't be playing on May 26th, 2017 - go look it up. I do not want to go into the deets here because this isn't about SOUNDGARDEN or CHRIS CORNELL, they just happen to be part of the story. LIVE, the band from the mid 90's who wrote one of my favorite songs LIGHTENING CRASHES, would play instead and now that doesn't seem like a fair trade off, it would have been if what happened, had not. 

Prior to getting backstage on the main stage, we were in the Media area doing the press dance with bands and I was patiently waiting for an email to come through with the time I was to meet the guitar player in the band that changed the course of Rock Music forever by seeding the part of the branch of Rock that we now call Heavy Metal, specifically Thrash. His style of playing is THE reason that bands like METALLICA, MEGADETH and SLAYER even exist. I mean, honestly for me, this was huge and interviewing this man was the sole reason I took this gig.  As the afternoon was coming to a close and I was wrapping up with the band Ded., I kept seeing a man I thought looked familiar, walking around the media tent back and forth from the stage. I thought he was either lost, or looking for someone and I made a mental note as I was talking to members of the band Ded. that when he made another pass, I would stop him and introduce myself.

I didn't get that opportunity though. Literally about 20 minutes after I said my last words to JOE COTELA of Ded., we were shuffled to shelter from a massive storm that included a tornando warning that was bearing down, right at that moment. The shelter we were herded into like cattle was the main stage. Now, we were upstairs in this loft that overlooked the stage with all of the gear and people flitting around like a flies to honey. The massive and I might add, thin garage doors were down to protect us; which we realized that was just as much protection as a piece of tin foil in the even a tornado was to roll through the grounds. 

Yep, we were right in the thick of a huge weather system in northern Oklahoma; the magnet for tornadic systems to pop up at any given moment. We were at ROCKLAHOMA 2017 where fans had been "rocked like a hurricane" only with tornadoes, the last three years. For the next two and a half hours, we took shelter with about 100 other VIP fans, tour managers, sound engineers and stage crew members waiting out the storm, in hopes out campsite was still in tact about a mile away.

We went down from the loft area to sit down after standing up for almost two hours. After sitting for about 5 minutes on a riser a familiar shuffle of a person walks by and sits down on the riser next to a lady I was sitting next to. I looked over at my manfriend, MF for short (that's what I call him because he is not a boy in any regard) and he smiles and says, "Guess you are supposed to get that interview afterall!". It was BRIAN TATLER, of the band that is the reason we were all there if you want to drill down to the origin of Heavy Metal; DIAMOND HEAD. I smiled back at the glorious MF and leaned over to my left. 

"Mr. Tatler?", I asked after tapping him on the arm. He looked over as I introduced myself and we started talking about our containment in probably the most dangerous place we could be in if a tornado blew through this very spot. Being from the U.K., he wasn't accustomed to this weather and was a little stressed to say the least. We kept talking behind the back of the stranger in the middle and I told him that I was scheduled to interview him but that I my connection to the Internet was shotty at best and I wasn't getting my email which made it almost impossible for me to do my job. He said that he was not getting good service either and we grumbled about that. He was disappointed that the band would not be playing because they had a flight the next day at 10 AM and wondered how the festival would handle the backlash from people and artists that didn't get to play. 

My favorite part of our conversation was his account of how the music he was writing evolved from bands like DEEP PURPLE, JUDAS PRIEST and IRON MAIDEN and why they wrote lyrics like AM I EVIL (1980): 

My mother was a witch, she was burned alive
Thankless little bitch, for the tears I cried
Take her down now, don't wanna see her face
Blistered and burnt, can't hide my disgrace

27 every one was nice, gotta see them,
Make them pay the price
See their bodies out on the ice, take my time

Am I evil, yes I am
Am I evil, I am man

The answer he gave me, totally surprised me. And while I won't reveal it here, if I get the chance to sit with him again, this will be one of the things we talk about the most. It is so godam interesting and why the relevance of music as art has been overshadowed by those that people that want to compartmentalize the reactions of the human condition. 

Ras walked by and Brian grabbed him and introduced us and we exchanged a handshake and the "what's up's". Brian and I continued talking about his thoughts on being what he is to music, those he directly influenced and why DIAMOND HEAD is making a comeback now, 39 years later. While I won't tell you what he said, I can tell you how he said it. He said it with the most revered place of gratitude to the bands that were before him. How excited he was that Ras had made strides with metal fans as the new signer for DIAMOND HEAD a few years back. 

When most people his age were in retirement, Brian is working. He's touring and playing like a musician in their 20's is playing. He values his ability to still be a part of the craft he started back in 1976. His humble view on his place is so awesome because in many ways DIAMOND HEAD was done before they began. As the conversation was trailing off and it looked like the storm was winding down, he said that he hoped that our paths would cross again and that we could do an interview. I shook his hand and that familiar shuffle carried him out the door. 

DIAMOND HEAD is currently making appearances at festivals all over the world and LIGHTNING TO THE NATIONS was listed in Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time. To watch BRIAN play with DIAMOND HEAD in person would be sick AF and those fans of metal and all the subgenres that spawned from his music should, no better buy their records, support their band and solidify the band's foundation in Metal even more, not only for the band but because their are lessons learned from history. Which ones will stand out and become relevant to you?

Until Next Time - MRML

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THE TOP 9 WAYS TO SPOT A METAL BAR:

This summer when you're on vacation and jonesing to see a metal show SKOM gives you the Top 9 Ways to Identify A Metal Bar so you can spot them rollin' into town: 

1. The front door and the back door look exactly the same; a metal door with one low watt light bulb exposed around the doorway, flickering or has partially gone. The sign that might have once named the place, is covered in faded bumper stickers and old gum. 

2. From the outside it is dead quiet. If a band isn't playing, there might be music coming from a "jukebox" or radio. It is either an old country song, Winger, or Elton John. It can't be verified, because the sound is muffled and distorted coming out of one speaker in the corner that probably doubles as the speaker for an alarm system. 

3. There is no drink signage outside and if there is a marquee, it says "Live Music" which could throw a person off. You'll know inside because all drinks are served in a can or a foam cup by a dude with a long ass beard or a chick that clearly is just doing someone a favor and tending bar because she is so sparkly and pretty. Not to mention, the only thing that has any color in the place. 

4. The stage is way in the back or front (this is a mystery because inside is one huge room with 3 crooked tables and 11 chiars - well 10, one is being used to hold what appears to be ceiling tiles that go in the giant hole above the chair to conceal the wad of wires coming out of it.) There are 7 lights that are dangling with heavy duty zip ties and fed electricity through a bright orange extension cord stapled or maybe hot glued to the ceiling.

5. You can tell by the clothes that people are wearing going in. One dead giveaway is that everyone in the place is wearing a hoodie. It's July. Some though, are wearing tennis shoes, athletic shorts and plain t-shirts. So either they came straight from city basketball league to help strangers put their gear on the stage, or they are the band about to play.

 6. You can tell by the smell released when the door opens and shuts. A faint odor of marijuana, patchouli, and day old chili dogs can be picked up either all at once outside or inside in various pockets around the room. In some places, the smell is so intense it is reminiscent of an electrical fire or burning hair.

7. The outside of the building is painted all one color that is faded. Normally this is a gray, or coral or sometimes black but that is all for the outside. Inside, the wall decor consists of one nicotine ridden, velvet painting of a unicorn, hung on the wall with duct tape or ripped and worn posters of bands that names look like someone blindfolded the pretty bartender and asked her to draw a picture of a forest and she did about 8 variations. 

8. There is no box office or ticket window. There is someone that stands or sits on a barstool next to the door to check IDs and take money. Instead of tickets or a wristband, people get a hand stamp of an unrecognizable shape with a large amount of ink that spreads over their hands and looks like a bruise. If a person is lucky, the ink will make its way to clothing or even rub off on their face during the night. 

9. Bands are loading gear through both doors because there is not a backstage area. Backstage is the area that is behind a shower curtain that hangs by some rope tied to the handle of the PA speaker and an old nail in the wall 6 feet away. The curtain has a sign on it that says "Keep Open" presumably for safety. There is also a couch without cushions and part of the stuffing coming out of where an animal used it as a scratching post. Usually, the soundman is the person with longer than mosts hair and looks like a disgruntled postal worker out of uniform. He could be seen from outside smoking a cigarette or crying, take your pick.

All of this is in good fun and people will tell you some of the most fun they have had are in joints like this all over the country. Places like this are where metal incubates and where bands grow up. If it hadn't been for places like this we probably would still rely on Kasey Kasem's Top 40 Countdown every Sunday. 

Go support bands that play in these places! We know you'll see some killer bands and have a great time to boot! 

SKOM SHEILD SomeKindOfMedia Editorial written by Cherri Bird

5 THINGS THAT SUCK ABOUT...

I HEARD THE COVER OF KANSAS' "CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SON" FROM ANTHRAX

Anthrax Hubbard

Photo cred: Hubbard

...AND DIDN'T HATE IT. AT ALL. IN FACT I DUG THE HELL OUT OF IT! BUT THE TITLE IS "5 THINGS THAT SUCKED..." SO HERE'S WHAT SUCKED:

1. It sucked that Joey didn't rasp up the vocals a little and vary the almost spot on to John Elefante's version. I mean, this is Anthrax FFS!! Can I get a little toxicity next time please?

2. It sucked that there wasn't more of Scott Ian- I mean, they could have a big pause on that one part where one guitar goes up "bleet...bleet...bleet..." you know the part? They could have stopped there and just let him shred it out, ya know?

3. It sucked that it was "Carry On My Wayward Son" that was covered. There are so many others that could have been picked you know? Like "Icarus (Born On Wings Of Steel)" - NO!! I'm kidding. THAT is a terrible song. But could you see Anthrax doing like a slurring, sensuous, smarmy and sexy version of "Dust In The Wind"? I can. 

4. It sucked that not all of the past members of Anthrax couldn't play on this. It'd be like a reunion in a way - maybe more like the collaboration for Live Aide or Farm Aide back in the day. There'd have to be risers set up or a huge ass stage if they were gonna all play it and video. 

5. It sucked that I knew all the words to this song. I mean it's not an unknown song by any means. But it just sucks that even without trying I sang along whilst typing this. It's funny but now that Pearl Jam can be considered "classic rock" I wonder what Kansas is classified as? And if Anthrax wanted to cover a classic rock song - why wasn't it one of the "new" classic rock songs?

Here's the song in case you wanna see for yourself. Let me know on my Facebook page or by email what you thought! (click the icons to go directly to my page or email). 

By the way, is there a KTEL album out for "New Classic Rock" yet? If not, there should be, right?

reminder iconJust a reminder - Anthrax is on tour NOW with Killswitch Engage. Tickets and tour dates can be found by clicking here for Anthrax, here for KsE, and here for The Devil Wears Prada.

 

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R.I.P. Leonard Cohen – Another day in 2016 and another Legend leaves us

An Editorial by: Slim Jim Keller

I was introduced to Leonard Cohen in a round about way in 1990 when the Christian Slater movie Pump Up The Volume was released. Throughout the movie Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows would be played when he’d take the airwaves via his pirate radio station. And the ending credits had the Concrete Blonde cover playing which was recorded and added to the soundtrack instead of Leonard’s version. But I tracked down Cohen’s version and was introduced to the I’m Your Man album. With such recognizable songs as the title track, First We Take Manhattan, and Everybody Knows, it was probably his biggest album and most popular.

As I did with all artists I would find speaking to me a on deeper level than just a good tune coming out of my stereo I went backwards and began to explore his back catalog and found so much more about him. A poet first, and songwriter second, Leonard Cohen’s body of work was impressive and influential to so many artists and fans alike.

leonard cohen

 

It was the previous album, Various Positions, that held the song that would end up being covered and recorded over 300 times… Hallelujah. A beautiful song full of melancholy, longing and betrayal. Arguably the most popular version of the song may be performed by Jeff Buckley who turned it into more of a love song or a hallelujah of the orgasm as he explained.

Whenever I was feeling melancholy, or needed reassurance that there was more pain and loss than I had been feeling, it was Cohen’s voice I would seek out and wrap myself in like a favorite blanket. Where I would find myself safe, warm, and with no doubts any longer.

Like David Bowie earlier this year, Leonard Cohen must have known time was short as he wrote, recorded, and released his last and final album, You Want It Darker just three short weeks before he passed away today.

His songwriting would wander between a kind of synth-pop and folk music. But it was always Leonard’s lyrics and vocals that anchored the music. Songs about politics, social unrest, and love and lust lost. Leonard’s deep resonant voice always lays somewhere between a smoky dark back room in adive bar singer to a Tibetan Monk chanting. His voice was something that would draw you in, wrap around you while it whispered the secrets of the world or the curves and valleys of the fine female body laying before him. But you always trusted what he said and sang because his voice commanded you too with its smoother than a fine scotch tones.

The year 2016 has been tough on our musical legends. And November has been no different. The loss of Leonard Cohen is a tough one to swallow. We are left with multiple albums and books of poetry, but the voice… we’ll never have another voice like the cantor of synth-pop again.

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Stesia come to me
Talk to me, ravish me
Liberate my mind
Tell me what you think of me
Praise me, craze me
Out this space and time

 

 

So I've been good all day.

Reading all the stories, all the inspiration that the Purple One gave to so many.

And it didn't hurt. It wasn't like Merle's passing. Not until I saw Corey Taylor perform Purple Rain the night of Prince's death at First Avenue in Minneapolis (you can see it below)

I have been a Prince fan since 82 when I first saw 1999 on Mtv. I was blown away. It wasn't my cup of tea normally, I was still deep into Country but there was something about Prince, and Wendy and Lisa that stirred something in me.

I immediately went out and bought the album. The music was intoxicating.

I soon went and purchased Dirty Mind and Controversy.

And when Purple Rain came out I was first in line for the album and for the movie.

Prince opened my ears to something new, something I had never heard, but he did something else... He taught me. Not about sex, but about sexuality, sensuality, and spirituality. His music was the closest thing to fucking for me.

It was a style, a force, an entity to be reckoned with.

His music, his style, his guitar playing, his lyrics, just oozed sexuality. And his voice, was pure sensuality.

It was puzzling for a 13 year old to sense this from another man. But Prince wasn't just another man... Prince was Fucking PRINCE.

I remember hanging out in 87 with some 'older' girls who worked at Wet Seal at the mall.

Sign O’ The Times came out and you couldn’t pry those cassettes out of my hand or out of my stereo.

I learned an important lesson with that album. Girls LOOOOOOOOOOVED Prince. And if you had some Prince, and you liked Prince, then the girls liked you.

My mixtape of Prince essentially fucking on tape was pure pussy magnet. There was a magic that came out of the speakers and girls just dropped the panties. No liquor, no pot, no begging needed.

That all changed though in 1988 when Lovesexy dropped. That fucking disc was one long song. You had to listen to the WHOLE thing to hear one particular song if you owned the CD.
Genius marketing really.

Anna Stesia was the 4th ‘track’ on the album. I was in San Francisco. I was in pure lust and infatuation with a woman 10 years older than me. And Anna Stesia was teaching me about bi-sexuality, androgyny, re-teaching me about sensuality, and a higher love. A god’s love, not your ‘god’ but the god/goddess of love.

Again, the man opened my eyes to something more. Just an openness, a way to be a light, to give and nor worry about the take, to just be, accept and be accepted.

And then the Batman Soundtrack. That changed the way music was used/marketed in and for movies forever. That was huge. A mad scientist in a lab is how I picture Prince in the studio. And he came out with some of the funkiest licks he ever put down.

The man released an album almost EVERY YEAR. Almost. Even fighting his label, and changing his name he still released albums. He was prolific, even if he didn’t always hit the mark.

I joined the Navy, and Prince got a new band. To me it was never as good as it was with The Revolution. There were good songs here and there, but it just wasn’t the same.

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In 2011 I had the chance to finally see Prince live. It was 2 hours plus of amazing music. He and his band just KILLED it. It was magic to behold. There was an encore, and then the lights came up. We were front row, so we could never really see the full stage as it was so high, so we went up in the venue to take some pictures of the stage, which was in the middle of the arena shaped like his symbol. As we stood there taking pictures, the band slowly came back out. And then Prince came out and did the most killer version of DMSR I’ve ever heard. With all the lights up, with almost 90% of the crowd gone. We were all pressed up against the stage (we weren’t allowed near the stage during the show.) It was a special moment, and one that I will never forget. It was the best part of the night. A little gift from an incredible artist to his fans.

Regardless of how or why Prince died, he will always be remembered for the copious amounts of music he gave us. There is a vault, with more music than he ever released just waiting to be heard I’ve read.

And so tonight I sit in a hotel room in Dallas, TX. The buildings downtown are purple to honor and respect the man that has given us all so much. Taught us all so much about music, about love, about sensuality, sexuality, and spirituality. And listening to a facsimile of my old Prince mixtape. Wishing it were 1999 again and we could all just party the light fantastic with the Purple One again.

 

"We could live for a little while
If you could just learn to smile
You and I could fly away, fly away."

 

 

 

 

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MERLE HAGGARD 1937-2016

A Eulogy by Slim Jim Keller

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Today is Merle Haggard's birthday. He turned 79 today. The man, the greatest storyteller Country Music and this country itself has ever seen also passed away today, April 6th 2016.

My obsession with music began and ended with Merle Haggard. My earliest memories of my childhood was sitting in my grandmother’s chair in their living room facing the huge console stereo that sat behind her chair spinning record after record after record. So many Country Music greats: Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Waylon Jennings, and of course Mr. Merle Haggard.

My mother tells me my first babysitter was music. She told me stories of how they’d go over to a friend’s house to play cards when I was a toddler and they’d sit me on the couch and put headphones on me and turn on the radio. Of how I’d sit there for hours rocking back and forth listening to the music and never making a fuss.

From there it was my grandparent’s stereo and massive record collection of Country Music.
Hundreds of albums from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I don’t know how old I was when I first heard Merle Haggard, but I remember when it stuck with me. The album was Mama Tried. It was released in 1968 (a year before I was born) and it featured Merle on the cover, in prison gear, behind bars, playing a guitar.

The lead song was Mama Tried, and it told the story of a man who turned 21 in prison despite everything his mother ever did for him, told him, or taught him. Me being a young boy of 5 or 6 I stared at that album cover and listened to the song over and over and over again. It amazed me that the Folsom Prison (after all the cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues was on the B side of the album) Merle was in would allow him to record an album and release it. (HEY! I was 5. Ok?!?!) That album changed my life. It was the first time I remember really tuning in to music. It was that album that opened something within me and allowed me to see the music, the story, the lyrics, the emotion with my minds eye. It was that album full of trouble and melancholy that taught me that music can touch you. That it is more than just background noise.

41 years later, and I am sitting in my office in Austin, Texas spinning that exact album. That very album of Merle’s that my grandparents owned was given to me (along with their entire record collection) when they passed away. I listen to it frequently, it of the pops and crackles and a few scratches. It is soothing. It takes me back to days filled with amazing scents of cut grass, gardening, grandmother’s cooking or baking, and the sounds of Country Music filling the house. And me sitting in that chair, staring at the stereo speakers or the album artwork for endless hours.

There were other albums of his I would spin constantly, but nothing as often as Mama Tried.

Sing Me Back Home, Swinging Doors, I’m A Lonesome Fugitive, Hag, It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad, If We Make It Through December, and so many more. The man released 47 studio albums, 8 live albums, 23 compilation albums, and had over 40 #1 singles in his career.

I had the luxury of seeing The Hag three times live, once when I was about 7 years old, and 2 more times in the last 10 years. I was fortunate enough to be able to shoot the last show I saw of his.

My grandfather was an amazing man. The strongest man I ever knew. He taught me about football by watching the Dallas Cowboys ever Sunday. He taught me about music by allowing me to raid his collection whenever I was there. He taught me many other things over the years whether he was trying to or not, knew it or not. Our mutual affinity for Merle Haggard is something that I have carried with me through today, and cherished for many many years.

My grandfather passed away 25 years ago or so. For me a part of him lived in in Coach Tom Landry and Merle Haggard. When Coach passed away I took it real hard. Not because he was the greatest coach that ever lived, not because he revolutionized defense, but because I lost another piece of my grandfather. But I had Merle, and he still looked like he wasn’t going anywhere any time soon or stopping any time soon.

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The last two years has been tough for a Merle Haggard fan, not to mention Merle himself. His health has been failing him. A bout or two with double pneumonia side lined him and almost killed him last year. He was able to release one last great album with his long time partner in crime Willie Nelson last year, the critically acclaimed Django & Jimmie. But he kept having to be pulled off the road by one illness or another.

Merle Haggard was every man. Merle was the working man’s hero. His songs, whether originally penned by him or others, were songs of every day life, in the mines, on the road, in the factory, on the farm, in the bars, and in the home.

A hard living man, who went from doing time in San Quentin Prison to being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The man was a true hobo, hopping trains and living on the rails who would become one of the most prolific and respected music artists of all time.

A true act of Kismet, Merle was incarcerated in San Quentin and saw Johnny Cash perform at the prison. Upon release he decided to turn his life of petty crime around and submersed himself in the Bakersfield Country music scene.

From there it was a hard road, but a successful one for the Hag. He was part of the Outlaw Country movement in the late 60s and 70s with other artists such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, David Allan Coe, and others.

It was a direct middle finger to the established Nashville sound of the time that was full of lush arrangements. It was a harder edge, a grittier sound than what Nashville was pumping out at the time. It was this style along with lyrics that everyone could relate to, the hardships of life, love, and ethics, that propelled Merle’s sound and stardom.

I’ve said for many years, there would never be another Merle Haggard. There will never be another storyteller that can touch so many, be so relatable to so many, once Merle is gone.
There will never be another Okie from Muskogee like Merle.

Bless you good sir, for your contribution, for your legacy, for your music, your words, your experiences, for that special bond between my grandfather and I, for my obsession with music, for always giving everything to your fans, for everything sir, thank you.

Academy of Country Music

1965 Most Promising Male Vocalist

1965 Best Vocal Group – with Bonnie Owens

1965 Top Vocal Duo with Bonnie Owens

1966 Top Male Vocalist

1967 Top Duo with Bonnie Owens

1969 Top Male Vocalist

1969 Album of the Year – "Okie from Muskogee"

1969 Song of the Year – "Okie from Muskogee"

1969 Single of the Year – "Okie from Muskogee"

1970 Entertainer of the Year

1970 Top Male Vocalist

1972 Top Male Vocalist

1974 Top Male Vocalist

1981 Top Male Vocalist

1982 Song of the Year – "Are the Good Times Really Over"

1995 Pioneer Award

2005 Triple Crown

2008 Poet's Award

2014 Crystal Milestone Award

Country Music Association

1970 Album of the Year – "Okie from Muskogee"

1970 Entertainer of the Year

1970 Male Vocalist of the Year

1970 Single of the Year – "Okie from Muskogee"

1972 Album of the Year – "Let Me Tell You About a Song"

1983 Vocal Duo of the Year – with Willie Nelson

merle haggard 6506

 

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Inducted in 1994

Grammy Awards

1984 Best Country Vocal Performance, Male – "That's The Way Love Goes"

1998 Best Country Collaboration with Vocals with Clint Black, Joe Diffie, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Pam Tillis, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt & Dwight Yoakam for "Same Old Train"

1999 Grammy Hall of Fame Award – "Mama Tried"

Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame

Inducted in 1977

Kennedy Center Honors

Inducted in 2010

merle haggard 6656

gnr logo

 

 

By: Slim Jim Keller

For months there was rumors of a ‘classic’ GUNS & ROSES reunion. Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy, Steven all getting back together and performing at Coachella and maybe some other shows. Months and months of rumors and speculation led to an actual announcement and confirmation from the band. But they didn’t say who was actually IN the ‘reunion’.

Well after another month or two of hype, speculation and rumors, it seemed Izzy was out, Steven was out, and no one knew if Matt Sorum or Dizzy Reed were even going to be a part of it.

Last night, April 1st, 2016 the ‘reunited’ G&R took the stage of the Troubadour in Hollywood with Axl, Slash, Duff, Dizzy and a couple other people. No Izzy, No Steven Adler, Not even Matt Sorum (who replaced Steven and played on Use Your Illusion 1 & 2 and the Spaghetti Incident in the 90s).

I don’t care how late they took the stage, I don’t care what the set list was, I don’t even care that hell may have frozen over last night.

I’m here to tell you this ISN’T a reunion. This isn’t the ‘classic’ lineup. This is still a fractured wannabe who apparently decided it was time to cash in.

Why isn’t Izzy Stradlin playing? Why is one of the cofounders of the band STILL not IN the band?

Why isn’t Steven Adler performing with the band? Is he clean and sober? Who cares! If this is a reunion and he can still perform (which he can because he is still performing live and releasing albums every once in a while) why isn’t he behind the drums?

If not Steven why is Matt Sorum not playing with G&R? He would be an acceptable member of the ‘reunitedG&R as he was in the band longer than Steven if I’m not mistaken.

Listen folks, this isn’t a reunion. This isn’t a reunited GUNS & ROSES. This is a cash grab. Obviously the ‘most dangerous band in the world’ can’t get their shit behind them enough to at least honor the name G&R and the fans with a proper line up. So it has to be about the money right?

Would I go see a proper full lineup of G&R? Probably… Simply because I never thought it would happen again. I mean Axl hasn’t been able to sing in 15 years. He sounds as bad as Vince Neil live today. Out of breath, can’t remember the lyrics, and vocally just plain shot.

So why do I want to give them my hard earned money, especially when half the band isn’t ‘theGuns & Roses. I don’t. And I’m tired of hearing and reading about it like it is the second coming.
It. Isn’t.

It is nothing more than three guys stealing your money. Yes Slash still has his chops, and I am sure Duff is in fine form as well. But Axl is a mockery of himself and the ‘other’ guitarist and second keyboardist is just bullshit.

You either give your fans what they want, or you continue to do your own thing.

This is just a bald faced robbery of the legacy of the band and their fans.

I’m calling bullshit.

That’s why THIS editorial is the only thing you will see on SKoM about the ‘reunitedGuns & Roses.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write some thoughts on why KISS is the shittiest band in the world today. Paul and Gene can both go suck a dick. You can call yourself KISS all day and all night, and you can have a revolving door of musicians playing drums and guitar, but when you put them in the classic makeup of Ace and Peter, then you’re fucking up the name KISS, the legacy of KISS, and the fucking over the fans of KISS. Period.

Ok… so I guess I don’t have to go write about KISS now.

Off to listen to the newly ‘reunited Metal Church and see what I think about their new album XI.

 

 

2016-01-31 Sunday - Story Updated:
Phil Anselmo has issued an apology for what happened on stage, but doesn't address Robb Flynn's account of using 'nigger era' to reference a musical period of Machine Head.

 

 

But, this doesn't take into account what Robb Flynn said Anselmo said back stage. It also doesn't take into account the many times Phil has been seen on stage sieg hailing, or various 'white power' rants.

This really, should change nothing. And Anselmo should still be held accountable.

 

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ORIGINAL STORY

So during the recent Dimebash, at the end of Pantera's Walk, Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Superjoint Ritual, Down) yelled 'White Power' from the stage, and sieg hailed a couple of times.

Here is the video.

 

 

 

phil anselmo


Phil Anselmo
responded to the video on Twitter by saying that it was a joke, an 'inside joke' because they were drinking white wine backstage.

Was he laughing on stage after yelling, 'White Power' and sieg hailing? Tittering to himself or waving a bottle of wine? No.
So why does he think we're just going to laugh it off that he was 'joking' about drinking white wine backstage? When the video obviously shows him post gig and mildly belligerent? Notice that someone was attempting to talk to him on stage and he wasn't having any of it. If he was throwing out a joke, wouldn't he, shouldn't he be slapping the dude's back and laughing about how hilarious he is?

The metal media then asked why Phil has always been given a 'pass' on his history or racial epithets or 'white power' rants on stage. There isn't a good answer for that. Why has Anselmo never been challenged publicly by the fans or media for his racist diatribes over and over again?

Today, Robb Flynn (Machine Head) posted a video in his General Journals about being a part of Dimebash, touring with Pantera back in the day, and talking to Phil backstage before the show and Phil telling him that he hated Machine Head's 'Nigger Era' and

how he (Robb) did not see any white wine backstage.

 

 

Later this afternoon a picture surfaced of Phil holding a bottle of white wine talking with Dimebag's widow, Rita Haney. Does the fact that there was white wine excuse Anselmo of racist hate mongering? No.

Why does the fact that Phil used to sing in Pantera excuse his 'white power' rants and lyrics?

Why do the fans allow him to continue to bully his way around and attempt to incite racial strife?

Why has the media not taken him to task for his ignorant speech and caustic actions?

As Robb Flynn said, there is no room for racism in metal.

Just like there is no room for racism in music. There is no room for racism in our country. There is no room for racism in the world. And therefore.... there is no room for Phil Anselmo anymore.

If I am going to condemn Dave Mustaine and Ted Nugent for being wack jobs and not giving over another hard earned penny of mine to them, then I must do the same, WE must do the same to Phil Anselmo. His hatred and bigotry has stood long enough.
Pantera will never get back together, tragically they can't. Down and Superjoint Ritual are just mediocre at best. So why do we continue to exalt and indeminfy Anselmo?
Why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was my aunt.
It’s her fault I fell in love with the Eagles and Little River Band.

Back in the prehistoric days there was vinyl and only vinyl. My aunt, you know, the cool one, had albums by bands I had never heard of. So the one time a year during summer when we’d go to the bay area to see her for a week or so, I’d go through her albums and play records from bands I’d never heard of, and I can remember the summer I found Hotel California. The huge gatefold of the beautiful if not fictional hotel. The smell of ‘grass’ imbedded in the cardboard (the cool aunt obviously smoked pot but I was too young to know what the smell was). And the music, the songs, jesus titties, the songs.


There’s something to be said for the ‘California Sound’ of the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, and so many others. There’s such a cool, laid back, story teller kind of vibe to most of it. And the Eagles had that story teller patter down in spades. Not to mention the music was top notch. The Eagles can be called many things, but lazy and musical slouches aren’t two of them. They didn’t play a note or record a riff until it was perfection personified.


Much has been said about Don Henley and Glenn Frey and their ‘methods’ for running a band, recording music, touring, and well, 1,000,000 other little items that they probably didn’t have to obsess over and run band mate after band mate out of the band with, but then, we wouldn’t have these epic albums like Hotel California, The Long Run, and Desperado.

The polished music, the polished show, not a note out of place, were part and parcel for the Eagles. They may not have been the shiniest, liveliest band on stage, but damn if they didn’t sound good.

Sure there were a few other albums, and the Eagles most definitely didn’t keep to most band schedules on record, release, tour, record, release, tour. And in their 44 years of being a band they’ve only released a paltry seven studio albums, but it is what is held in those 7 albums that is the key to all of this.


Simple perfection. A certain sound, that California sandy beach, wind blown hair, laid back, everything’s alright, everything’s cool man pass the joint, boat drinks after sunset, Quaaludes and cocaine nights that make up everything that embodied the California experience of the 70s.
The band took their sweet time and the results, if not anemic, were amazing.


hotel california
That magical summer I found out about the Hotel California, I wandered through Life in the Fast Lane (too young to get the cocaine references but loving the beat and vocals all the same), wondering if I’d ever be the young boy that so much Wasted Time was spent just trying to connect with the sad woman in the song, never wanting to be a Victim of Love even if I didn’t quite glean the cheating running through the lyrics, feeling the loss of Pretty Maids all in a Row, and ending up in the Last Resort which I got full force and understood the religious implications of it all.

Hotel California was more of a church for me than a ‘hotel’. It wasn’t just an album, it was a moment in time, captured and released on this slab of vinyl that I played over, and over and over again. I’d alternate between Hotel California and Little River Band’s Lonesome Loser that summer, but I always returned to Hotel California.

40 years later and I still return frequently to Hotel California. It may be a little tarnished, the colors faded, the magic a little soft around the edges, but the songs, the beautiful songs are still there. They haven’t aged a bit, or maybe it’s that they’ve grown with age and experience. The songs a little more full, with nostalgia, longing for the California scene again.

And all you wishing well fools with your fortunes

The rooms are still there, waiting, patiently, to take me back to a place, a time, a feeling or emotion. As I grew so did the album. There are so many key points in my life that reside and resonate inside Hotel California. I’ve been that Victim of Love, The New Kid in Town, I’ve told the woman,

‘You didn't love the boy too much, no, no
You just loved the boy to well, farewell’

I’ve spent many a year to Try and Love Again. I’ve spent much of my Life in the Fast Lane and lived to tell about it. I’ve searched for my own Hotel California on the horizon, and always worship (or is it anti-worship) at The Last Resort.

We lost Glenn Frey today.

We’ve officially lost the Eagles today.
I have his solo albums. I love his solo albums. ‘You Belong to the City’ is a dark and seductive song that I’ve spent many a night with in my Walkman (cassette) roaming the streets of San Francisco in the late 80s. Smuggler’s Blues and his stint on Miami Vice made Glenn the ‘cool one’ from the Eagles.

The Long Run was a hit and run album for me. It still holds up today, but it feels… short, curt, and cynical where Hotel California was a more ‘fresh’ experience, The Long Run was more wisdom and surliness. The Disco Strangler, Those Shoes, Sad Café, I Can’t Tell You Why, King of Hollywood, Heartache Tonight, In The City, Teenage Jail, all tell stories of the decay of the California dream that just three years earlier seemed so promising.

Oh, no, you can't do that,
Once you started wearin' those shoes’


Or maybe my rose colored glasses of the hotel that never was (or was California itself the hotel on the horizon? The promise of pretty little fantasies that were nothing but ugly truths on the harsh reality of daylight?) was obstructing the true message of Hotel California and The Long Run was jus the night cap, one last toast the the death of the California dream?

But for me, it will always come back to Hotel California.

‘You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!’

 

Thank you Glenn, for your legacy, your music, your magic, and your talent.

 

glenn frey 3