Woodstock 50: The “Woodstock” Song

So as it turns out, there is no “Woodstock 50” concert. The fact that its last gasp involved moving it to Maryland from upstate New York should have been the last nail in the coffin, but it kept on for a little while before the plug was pulled.

As I’m writing this, though, I’m listening to Bert Sommer’s set from Woodstock — As It Happened — 50 Years On, a streaming presentation from Philadelphia radio station WXPN. It’s running all of the archived music and announcements available, mostly from the 38-CD box set from Rhino Records.

But my Musical Cheese article is about a song that wasn’t performed at Woodstock, by an act that wasn’t there.

Here comes a story from my youth:

My first exposure to the song “Woodstock,” as far as I can remember, was from the Matthews Southern Comfort version. Perhaps the pop station I got to hear at the time skipped the Crosby, Still, Nash & Young version, and the original by Joni Mitchell. Or Matthews’ version was just more “pop friendly,” and in later years, “oldies friendly.” So I peeked at the Wikipedia entry on the song, which you can also see for yourself, of course, so a quick summary:

  • Iain Matthews chose the song to fill out a set on the BBC “Live in Concert” program on June 28, 1970.
  • The BBC was impressed enough with the performance to suggest to Matthews’ label, Uni, that they record it. Matthews’ band had just finished an LP and didn’t want to add to it, so they agreed to record it as a single.
  • Uni’s parent, MCA Records, agreed to release the single only if the CSN&Y version didn’t chart, which it didn’t. BBC DJ Tony Blackburn made it a pick of the week, and it went to #1 on the UK charts.
  • The record was released on Decca in the US in November, 1970. It failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100 charts, but lingered on the Record World “100-150” chart.
  • However, the record saw more airplay on Canadian radio, since being authored by Joni Mitchell qualified it for the new “30% Canadian Content.”
  • After going into heavy airplay on CKLW in the Detroit market, “Woodstock” gained steam again in the US, hitting Billboard’s Hot 100 chart on March 6, 1971, eventually peaking at #23.
  • Matthews was reportedly nervous about meeting Joni Mitchell, since the band had totally redone the song, mainly because he couldn’t hit her high notes. But Mitchell, reportedly, said she quite enjoyed it.

As it turned out, Matthews split from his band, finding he did not enjoy the press of touring and interviews. Southern Comfort put out a few more albums before disbanding in 1972. Matthews continued to make records, scoring a hit in 1978 with “Shake It.

For now, here’s a YouTube of the record. Enjoy.

One-Hit Wonder LP Parade: Sailcat – Motorcycle Mama

One-Hit Wonder LP Parade:
Sailcat – Motorcycle Mama

I’m starting what I hope will become a series of posts, which I think few people have done before. You can always find people looking over obscure LPs, but this series focuses on the LPs from which that wondrous category “One-Hit Wonders” can be drawn. Does the rest of the album explain why some of these bands dropped out of the record charts? Does the LP stand up to the single’s “One-Hit Wondrous-ness?”

Motorcycle Mama by Sailcat (Elektra) is one of those records that never seems to drop out of oldies playlists. The single was such a mishmash of laconic southern rock, with echoes of the “Singer-Songwriter” era, that automatically dates itself back to 1972, when it hit #12 on the Billboard “Hot 100” chart.

Continue reading “One-Hit Wonder LP Parade: Sailcat – Motorcycle Mama”

Who’s Still Around for Woodstock 50?

A couple embraces at the Woodstock music festival.

Who Might Still Be Able to Unite for Woodstock’s 50th Anniversary?

Updated to note the death of Canned Heat bassist Larry Taylor on August 19, 50 years and a day after his Woodstock appearance.

I asked this question on Quora: What acts from the original Woodstock might still be available for the 50th Anniversary festival, in their 1969 lineups?”

I got a lot of answers that missed the mark, like “The Who,” who are only half the Who they once were. So I decided to look into this myself.

Continue reading “Who’s Still Around for Woodstock 50?”

Movie Time: Untogether

Jamie Dorman and Jemima Kirke in "Untogether." Source: Freestyle Digital Media
Jamie Dorman and Jemima Kirke in “Untogether.”

Once more, I get to expand my “influencer” tag by reviewing a movie.

“Untogether” marks the directorial debut of writer Emma Forrest. It opens February 8 at the AMC South Barrington 30, following its premiere at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

The romance follows a couple who fall into bed together, then try to decide whether they want to be a couple. Nick (Jamie Dornan [50 Shades of Grey]) admits he broke up with his previous girlfriend only upon meeting Andrea (Jemima Kirke [Girls]), at a party. Despite not wanting not to commit too soon, Andrea takes one of Nick’s shirts home with her, and Nick starts deleting other women from his phone’s contacts.

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Movie Time: American Street Kid

Today I am adding a “Movie Reviewer” hat to my rack. It seems my social media profile somewhere qualified me for this, so I have had the occasional offer of screeners for upcoming films. 

“American Street Kid” had a showing December 11 at Chicago’s Regal Webster Place, in advance of a wider run later. It’s a documentary that takes the often ignored subject of homeless children, here living in the streets of Los Angeles, around Hollywood and the Venice beach area.

Director Michael Leoni himself was rescued from a life on the street by friends and a girlfriend. He wrote a play based on his experiences, “Playground.” During its run, he discovered some homeless girls had been coming to see the play several times, telling him its was a realistic reflection of their own lives. But shortly after meeting Leoni, each girl was found dead on the streets.

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Musical Cheese Archive: 28 February 2012

I guess this has been pretty low on my list of priorities, but I do slog along with it. In 2012, while attending an evening computer class at Illinois Institute of Technology, I was able to host a radio shift on the campus station, WIIT. For the first time in nearly 30 years, I was back on the radio, with “Musical Cheese”.

Last time I was on the air, everything was still turntable based. There were CD decks, but not a lot of discs to play them on. Now music came not only from CD’s but I could play music from my laptop, or from a memory card. As much as I was intrigued by the idea of replacing my heavy crates with a memory chip the size of a postage stamp, that I carried in my cell phone, the only drawback was that I couldn’t crossfade songs if they were both on the SD card. And I wanted to improvise by keeping a larger music collection on my laptop, and a big crate of CDs. I even brought in a few tunes from Spotify, and managed not to let any of their ads on. Continue reading “Musical Cheese Archive: 28 February 2012”

Can You Tame Wild Wimmen: Gotham by Gaslight

Just as I finally decided to get my dormant musicalcheese.com url to point to this section, I also got approved as an iTunes affiliate. So, If I can offer some musical cheese stories good enough to get you to click on and buy the music indicated, I might get a nickel or so.

Gotham by Gaslight

While the latest movies adapted from DC Comics have been somewhat hit or miss, they have had several animated videos produced for the home market. Many of these are adaptations of some of the comics’ graphic novels, like “The Killing Joke” or best-known storylines. But rather than being straight adaptations, they twist away from the source material in interesting ways. Continue reading “Can You Tame Wild Wimmen: Gotham by Gaslight”

Eclipse Journal 2: August 21

Sean & Mark McDermott

I probably am not going to be able to hide the fact that I’m writing this story about the August eclipse seven months later, in the midst of a February snow system. Very well. Let me just cop to that fact, and my need to put some interesting “cornerstone copy” on my site that’s a little less than five years old.

Eclipse Day Wakeup

From our campground in DuQuoin to out viewing site in Murphysboro. Just a few seconds less than maximum totality further south and east.
I believe I had set the alarm on my phone for about 7 am on Monday. But I probably didn’t need to bother. I was getting perhaps an hour of sleep at a time. Sean tried to sleep sitting outside in the muggy night, even though he was being bugged by mosquitoes and whatever other insects are out at that place and time. Continue reading “Eclipse Journal 2: August 21”