When in doubt: Minutemen.
That’s a personal code and I’m passing it along to you free of charge. Don’t forget it. Etch it in your brain. Not many people got a code to live by anymore. To that end, I’ve found that playing Double Nickels On The Dime at least once a month is an excellent way to combat the effects of suburbansuckrockitosis. And if you’re older than 35, doubling your dosage is highly recommended.
However, before you start cueing up Double Nickels — which really, should already be loaded in your iPods, iPhones, and iGhettoBlasters — check out this badass Minutemen home video from 1985. Also, if you’ve ever wondered, “What Would D. Boon Do?” David Rees’ heartfelt tribute to D has your answer. The greatest tribute to a dead rock icon of all time.
FAIR WARNING: These videos aren’t normalized to the same volume, so fluctuations will probably occur. In other words, be ready on the volume knob!
Dinosaur Jr – The Wagon
Here’s J. Mascis and Dinosaur Jr. from 1991, buzzing and howling under the influence of Marshall stacks. It’s interesting that the vid begins at the guitar solo and then works its way through the bridge, chorus, and verses. Ass-backwards as it sounds, beginning at the guitar solo isn’t a half-bad idea. It’s not like you can’t have another solo. Still, I’m trying to think of a single tune that does this and I’m coming up blank. Anyone? OK, maybe it is a dumb idea.
Doc Watson & Earl Scruggs – John Hardy + Cripple Creek
Just when you thought I forgot about acoustic instruments, here’s Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and the Scruggettes tapping into the americana wellspring. It looks like it was shot around the same time as Scruggs’ collaboration with The Byrds, as seen in my recent Clarence White post. 1970ish. I love how Doc lays down the sweet riffs throughout his solo, immediately after which Earl mirrors those same riffs on banjo. Hall of Fame stuff. And how you can you not love the OMG! look on Randy Scruggs’ face when Doc shouts, “Awww, play it now!” at the start of Randy’s guitar solo (2:06).
The Band – You Don’t Know Me
How good a singer was Richard Manuel? Levon Helm insists he was The Band‘s lead singer, which is persuasive testimony. Here he almost out-Ray Charles’ Ray Charles with this vocal performance. It’s 1983, three years before his death, and according to official rock history, he’s supposed to be washed up. And yet, Manuel delivers devastating brilliance.
Ray Charles – In The Evening (When The Sun Goes Down)
I did say almost out-Ray Charles’ Ray Charles. Here’s The Genius showcasing some sweet piano skills and his trademark vocalistics on a 1963 Brazilian TV recording. Featuring Elbert Forriest on guitar, Phillip Guilbeau on muted trumpet, and an orchestra with David “Fathead” Newman on tenor sax, this is the Charles big band at its slow-cookin’ best. The entirety of this performance is available on the DVD, Ray Charles – O Genio – Live in Brazil. If you’re a Ray fan — and come on, what sentient being isn’t a fan of Ray Charles??? — this video is beyond essential.
Minutemen – History Lesson (Pt 2) (acoustic)
We come full circle with Pedro’s finest scientist-rockers. What would D. Boon do? He’d tell you the truth. RIP D.
“Our band could be your life
Real names’d be the truth*
Me and Mike Watt played for years
Punk rock changed our lives”
* The lyric is officially “Real names’d be proof,” but that’s not what D sings here.
1. Pete Seeger tops my list of the most insufferable people on the entire planet, and is at least in the top five of my “most mortal of enemies” lists. Take your effete, well mannered “folk” music and shove it up your ass.
2. Believe it or not, I was pressed into duty with a completely amateur sound crew for a small bluegrass festival (http://www.theacousticcafe.com/) where Doc Watson was the big headliner. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life; we didn't get all of the equipment that was rented, what we did get kept malfunctioning, and only one of us actually knew how to run the soundboard (the other person who was supposed to be helping with the actual process of running sound never showed). So even though I was initially there solely to move the heavy stuff, I wound up getting a crash course in roady-ing. Watson was a total jerk to us (understandably since it took way longer to get him up and running than it should have and he had to sit out on the stage like a good for 20 minutes while we desperately switched cables around to get his mic working) until after the show when his manager/rhythm guitarist (Jack somebody, his grandson Richard was also playing with him, and he was a total pervert, making lewd comments about all the hippie girls roaming around) assured him the sound was excellent from the audience and filled him in on the ad hoc nature of the sound crew, at which point he apologized for “cussing you boys so.”
3. Dinosaur Jr. rocks your face right off
Essential reading, this post.
Classic stuff, Todd. Why am I not surprised you have a mortal enemies list? I think you should arch Seeger, just for practice. Sucks about the Doc show, though. Hate to meet a hero under those conditions.
Actually, after he finished playing Doc was really cool. Since he was the last performer all we had to do was break down the equipment and got to hang out with he and his entourage for a little while until people cleared out and we could get the truck over to the stage to start loading. He really was very apologetic for being so ornery (which, as I said, was totally understandable on his part), and he actually played Tennessee Stud (which he hadn't during the set) for some little kid whose mom brought him around to meet him, which was one of the cooler things I've ever seen.
I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
Todd: Gotcha. In a way it's an even better experience because you got to see the multi-faceted Doc. Love it.
Sara: Good to have you here. Don't be shy about posting.