ONLINE & OFF – ROCKABILLY ROOTS
One of my favourite ideas for other people is Powerpoint TV – little essays pulling in YouTube and other resources to make fillers for late-night tv. I here resolve to learn enough to try it,
One starting subject might be the singer and performer Jack Rhodes, whose story has half a dozen interesting byways in it.
My interest was caught by the following note on his probably most-covered hit, Satisfied Mind, co-written with Red Hayes …
Jack Rhodes is probably most known for writing or co-writing a number of highly esteemed ’50s rockabilly tracks, particularly some songs recorded by Gene Vincent. Woman Love, the B-side of Vincent’s first single (the classic smash Be-Bop-a-Lula), was his, and he also co-wrote some other fine early Vincent tracks, including Red Blue Jeans and a Pony Tail, Five Days, Five Days, and B-I-Bickey-Bi, Bo-Bo Go. Rhodes was also responsible for Action Packed, turned into a rockabilly stormer by Ronnie Dawson, 1958, and co-penned Elroy Dietzel’s cult rockabilly favorite Rock-n-Bones, later covered by both Dawson and the Cramps. Yet Rhodes was more than a generation older than the rockabilly singers he was writing for in the 1950s, and his own tastes were perhaps more inclined toward country and hillbilly music, with his other outstanding credits including Silver Threads and Golden Needles (eventually a hit for the Springfields) and Porter Wagoner’s A Satisfied Mind. He also recorded quite a bit of primitive rockabilly and hillbilly by other artists at his small Texas studio, much of it not released until his death.
Some details of where to find those recordings at
Here is Ronnie Dawson’s recording of Action Packed:
And here is Ronnie performing Monkey Beat City in Australia in 1994, when he was about 55:
Elroy Dietzel’s cult rockabilly favorite “Rock-n-Bones” later covered by both Dawson and the Cramps:
I’ve got a nice version of Silver Threads on vinyl, by a 1960s Irish “showband” called The Cadets, which I must upload.
Starting point on The Cadets:
Dylan did a version of Satisfied Mind. Still seeking that at the moment but for the time being have settled for a nice version by an American actor and singer, new to me, called Hamilton Camp:
Details of the Dylan version, and the lyrics, at:
Jack Rhodes’s son put together a little video essay on his dad, at:
Interestingly, Rhodes’s early career was in bands with his step-brother, Leon Payne, who also wrote a good few classics and had a stint with Bob Wills …
Leon wrote hundreds of country songs in a prolific career that lasted from 1941 until his death in 1969. He is perhaps best known for his hits “I Love You Because“, “You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart” and the 1948 song “Lost Highway“, a song made famous by Hank Williams in 1949. Leon Payne also wrote under the pen-name of “Pat Patterson” on tracks such as “It’s Nothing to Me” performed by Sanford Clark.
He began his music career in the mid-1930s, playing a variety of musical instruments in public, and later performing on KWET radio in Palestine, Texas, starting in 1935. He also had a stint playing with Bob Wills‘ Texas Playboys in 1938. Payne was a regular working musician at Jerry Irby’s nightclub in Houston, Texas. He joined his stepbrother, famed songwriter Jack Rhodes, and formed Jack Rhodes and The Lone Star Buddies in 1949. They performed regularly on the Louisiana Hayride show in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was later on the Grand Ole Opry.
Much of his musical legacy is in the form of recordings of his songs by other artists, perhaps most famous of which are two of his songs recorded by Hank Williams: “Lost Highway” and “They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me”, which were both minor hits.
Turning to the co-author of Satisfied Mind – Red Hayes was one of Hank Thompson’s Brazos Valley Boys.
He once said:
The song came from my mother. Everything in the song are things I heard her say over the years. I put a lot of thought into the song before I came up with the title. One day my father-in-law asked me who I thought the richest man in the world was, and I mentioned some names. He said, “You’re wrong, it is the man with a satisfied mind.” It has been done a lot in churches. I came out of the Opry one night and a church service was going on nearby. The first thing I hear was the congregation singing “Satisfied Mind.” I got down on my knees.
Another possible story, taking in some of the above, is the crossover of rockabilly into punk and new wave.
On a collection called After Sun, found recently, I especially liked F-Folding Money by Tommy Blake (1958).
Hear it at:
It’s very funny – a laconic take on adult brush-off of teenage needs, with echoes of Summertime Blues, by Eddie Cochran, which was, of course, brilliantly remade by Sid Vicious.
Sid should have done F-Folding Money. The chorus line stutter was clearly meant to be sung as if the singer wanted to say he needed some Fuh-fuckin money but turned the adjective into Fuh-Foldin (meaning ready money in the pocket) just in time. But in 1958, Blake bowdlerised it a touch more by singing Eff-foldin. I thought it was crying out to be remade with the original joke made clearer.
Coincidentally, my son, Luke, called recently to recommend an unexpected collection of rockabilly covers made by Mark E Smith of The Fall, including F-Folding Money:
Quite good but for some reason, Smith stuck to Eff-Foldin, which I still think is an un-necessary obfuscation of the joke.
Tommy Blake was a nearly-man who blew his chances and he and his crew make a good story, as summed up at
FOR THE QUOTES COLLECTIONS …
ON HUNTER THOMPSON & PUB MEASURES
interviewed by alexis petridis for guardian 29.5.14, cartoonist ralph steadman recalled hunter s thompson ordering a whisky in a British pub and being served a standard measure …
“Hunter stared at it, then looked at me and asked, ‘What the hell is this? A free sample?”
Chris Ancliff of Maidenhead said in Times Letters of 5.1.8:
I recall it being explained to me that jazz is the only form of music that the musicians seem to be enjoying more than the audience.”
We all know the quote but Paul Lewis reporting from Gonzales, Louisiana, Guardian 30.5.14, gives us the attribution:
It was Edwin Edwards, now trying to make a comeback as successor to a tradition of colourful Louisiana governors, who said during an election campaign, in 1983: “The only way I can lose this is if I’m caught in bed with either a dead girl a or live boy.”
I’m slightly wary of George Monbiot, prophet of environmental disaster, but that is mainly because he is so convincing. I know I’m being swept along by argument. So it was with his piece in the Guardian of 27.5.14 …
Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by 4.5% a year. How big would that stash have been by the Battle of Actium in 30BC? This is the calculation performed by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham.
Go on, take a guess. Ten times the size of the pyramids? All the sand in the Sahara? The Atlantic ocean? The volume of the planet? A little more? It’s 2.5 billion billion solar systems. It does not take you long, pondering this outcome, to reach the paradoxical position that salvation lies in collapse.
Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible.
Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained. But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.
It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and pathologies … of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. Our ideologies are mere subplots. Now, with the accessible reserves exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our impossible proposition.
On Friday, a few days after scientists announced that the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet is now inevitable, the Ecuadorean government decided to allow oil drilling in the heart of the Yasuni national park. It had made an offer to other governments: if they gave it half the value of the oil in that part of the park, it would leave the stuff in the ground. You could see this as either blackmail or fair trade. Ecuador is poor, its oil deposits are rich. Why, the government argued, should it leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is drilling down to the inner circle of hell? It asked for $3.6bn and received $13m. The result is that Petroamazonas, a company with a colourful record of destruction and spills, will now enter one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, in which a hectare of rainforest is said to contain more species than exist in the entire continent of North America.
The UK oil firm Soco is now hoping to penetrate Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga, in the Democratic Republic of Congo; one of the last strongholds of the mountain gorilla and the okapi, of chimpanzees and forest elephants …
These new reserves solve nothing. They do not end our hunger for resources; they exacerbate it.
The trajectory of compound growth shows that the scouring of the planet has only just begun. As the volume of the global economy expands, everywhere that contains something concentrated, unusual, precious, will be sought out and exploited, its resources extracted and dispersed, the world’s diverse and differentiated marvels reduced to the same grey stubble.
Some people try to solve the impossible equation with the myth of dematerialisation: the claim that as processes become more efficient and gadgets are miniaturised, we use, in aggregate, fewer materials. There is no sign that this is happening. Iron ore production has risen 180% in 10 years. The trade body Forest Industries tells us that “global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow”. If, in the digital age, we won’t reduce even our consumption of paper, what hope is there for other commodities?
Look at the lives of the super-rich, who set the pace for global consumption. Are their yachts getting smaller? Their houses? Their artworks? Their purchase of rare woods, rare fish, rare stone? Those with the means buy ever bigger houses to store the growing stash of stuff they will not live long enough to use.
The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result, they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle-class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention.
Full article at
More on this proposed blog-line later. Meanwhile, I have mind a column on drill bits and want to record the following guidance:
Angle of the piece is my purchase of an SDS drill, which has a super-charged hammer action. It’s a powerful bit of kit and I am grateful for it in a granite-built cottage. But it comes with the warning that it is less precise than a standard drill, which reminds me why I turned one down about 30 years ago, when they were new on the market. Like most DIYers, 90 percent of my drilling is making holes for wall plugs and for that, I argued, I want precision. However, the extra power when you hit hard material does make up for the movement of the bit, to some extent, because an ordinary bit tends to wobble around anyway when it stops going forward. I am still working on the best combination of techniques and bits, and looking for some advice. More on that later. Meanwhile, here’s somebody else’s essay on the subject:
The SDS drill was introduced by Bosch a few years ago and it has revolutionised the ease with which one can drill hard masonry. For additional details on drill bits and usage see the Drill bits and Drilling FAQ.
The SDS drill is a drill with an enhanced hammer action that when compared to a conventional hammer drill is able to deliver hundreds of times the energy per hammer blow. To go with this it also has a different chuck design and special SDS drill bits to eliminate the possibility of bit slip, and also to withstand the force of its hammer action.
When drilling hard masonry or engineering bricks the difference is astonishing. Where an ordinary hammer drill may take minutes to make even a shallow hole, the SDS will pound through it in seconds. For this reason you also need to take it easy when drilling right through things like walls, because as you break through you can end up removing a large chunk of wall when the drill hammers its way out. If possible, always drill a small pilot hole through the wall first, and then drill inwards from both sides with the required drill size to avoid this.
SDS drills operate in 3 modes:
Like an ordinary drill, but maximum speed tends to be slower (under 1500 RPM) and torque higher.
Drill and hammer
The above mentioned enhanced hammer drill action. In spite of the extra performance, SDS drills also tend to be somewhat quieter than the conventional hammer drill.
Hammer only, no rotation
Not all models have this (often referred to as “roto stop”). It greatly expands the range of tasks you can do. You fit special SDS chisel bits and use the drill like a mini concrete breaker. By selecting the type of chisel, the drill becomes ideal for chasing cable runs or socket cut outs in walls, removing individual bricks, removing tiles, and light demolition.
What to look for
Safety clutch: Because the SDS chuck eliminates the possibility of the bit slipping, there is the problem of what happens if the bit should jam in the work. The mid range or better tools include a safety clutch that releases should this happen. Without a safety clutch you run a very real risk of being injured by the drill body, as it spins out of your grip. Broken wrists, or being thrown off a ladder are not unheard of results in these cases.
Sensible weight: i.e. 2kg not 5kg. Many of the budget tools are heavy. This is fine for demolition, but not so good for prolonged working.
Good speed control. Running slower results in a gentler hammer action. This makes starting cuts or marking out a cut much simpler.
Chisel position lock, for use in hammer mode: Many budget drills disengage the rotation of the bit, but leave it free to turn. You will not be able to chisel a nice straight chase in a wall with a freely rotating chisel. Better drills will lock the bit in one position, and the best will allow it to be locked in any user selected position.
SDS drill bits can be more expensive than conventional masonry bits (although usually last much longer).
You cannot put ordinary bits in an SDS chuck unless you fit a adapter chuck first. These typically extend the length of the drill further, and also do not allow use of the hammer mode. (Some SDS drills come with a replacement chuck for ordinary bits to circumvent this problem)
Even professional light-weight drills tend to be a few inches longer than a conventional hammer drill. This can make them more awkward to use in confined spaces.
I bought a budget model from Silverline. It’s not a bad machine but the instruction leaflet is crap and when I called the distributors, I ended up being advised to try Google for the answers to my questions. Excuse, for once, a few !!!
A FILOFACTS ON BROAD BEANS
Bee Wilson on broad beans, Stella Mag, Telegraph, May 2014:
For years I accepted the orthodoxy that frozen broad beans will do almost as well as fresh.
Some fresh broad bean pods had come in our veg box so, on a whim, I included them in the family supper. Podding the beans was therapy in itself. It’s a curious pleasure to feel the downy insides and extract the pale kidney-shaped beans. I blanched them for three minutes, then pinched out the grass-green insides. Warmed in butter with spinach, mint and garlic, the beans made a workaday pilaf of leftover roast chicken special.
After this, I realised I should stop viewing broad beans as an always-in the-freezer standby and start seeing them as a seasonal treat, like asparagus or artichokes. When fresh and young enough, you can serve them raw from the pods, with Parma ham or sharp sheep’s cheese, as the Italians do. Another way to showcase fresh beans is in Lucas Hollweg’s “peas, broad beans and ricotta on toast”, from his wonderful Good Things to Eat (Collins, £20). He rightly says this combination of beans, peas, ricotta, oil and mint on garlic-rubbed toast tastes like “a mouthful of early summer”. With frozen beans, the sparkle and crunch would be gone.
Freshly podded beans do not always delight. The pulse expert Jenny Chandler complains that some gardeners “feel that a broad bean is only worth harvesting once it’s a leathery giant”. You can boil such a bean for a quarter of an hour, and it still won’t tenderise. They are only fit for drying, as peasants once did throughout Europe for winter protein. Over-large specimens can make you see why there used to be a prejudice against broad beans, which were seen as windy and indigestible food for the poor. Frozen broad beans – which are never too big – are definitely more acceptable than the most elderly fresh ones.
Tiny fresh beans, though, are joyous. I have enjoyed infant beans podded, boiled and tossed with parsley and butter, as a springlike companion to ham; or made into a delicate green stew with asparagus and herbs and cream, to eat with tagliatelle. Half the pleasure of such a dish is knowing that you can eat it for only a few short early-summer weeks. Frozen just wouldn’t be the same.
MORE ON GOGGLEBOX
Telegraph selection of Best of Gogglebox lines at