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?”

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”

The Return of Musical Cheese! Sept 12, 2012

Here we are with a new semester at good ol’ WIIT, the voice of Illinois Institute of Technology. The little radio station that could now has a new board and all us DJ’s have had to go in for re-training.

I discovered that this board is much easier to use than the last one,  as long as I don’t try to do anything fancy, like try to put phone calls on the air. The two CD decks will start playing when you hit the “on air” button on the board. And best of all, they have another deck for digital media: Flash drives, USB drives, etc. We are even closer to realizing my dream of being able to bring in all my music for a show on the half-a-postage-stamp sized chip in my cell phone. Continue reading “The Return of Musical Cheese! Sept 12, 2012”

Musical Cheese II: The saga continues!

Now, I don’t know how long I’ll be doing this little broadcast from the studios of WIIT. There may be a job coming down the line that keeps me from coming in for class, who knows? The next podcast could be my last!

So I learned a few things after last week’s opening salvo. First, the Virtual DJ software on my Windows netbook is by default expecting a soundcard installed with two outputs: one for cue and one for air. So whenever I dropped an MP3 track on one of the cue decks, a channel on the song playing on air would cut out. Finally found the configuration to acknowledge that there’s just the one stereo output. Now if I can just figure why the plug feeding the sound board only plays the right channel (I tried my headphone in the jack, that’s pure stereo). For the sake of this podcast, I tracked the right channel into both ears.
Continue reading “Musical Cheese II: The saga continues!”

Back in the Booth! My Musical Cheese show

It’s something I’ve awaited for 25 years. I had promised myself that, if by some chance I got myself affiliated with a school or college with a radio station, I would get myself an air shift!

And that one-class certificate course I’m taking at Illinois Institute of Technology is my ticket.
Once I knew I would be going to the downtown campus for a class, I signed up to do a radio shift on WIIT-FM, broadcasting from the campus center on State St.
Continue reading “Back in the Booth! My Musical Cheese show”

What I learned Today #3: Cielito Lindo

Despite having plenty of access to Latino culture as a resident of a major metropolis, I still have not for the life of me been able to learn much Mexican folk music. You know, the songs that define the culture for an entire nation, yet here in America they’re rudely appropriated from their original context to sell stuff or in an attempt to be funny. You know: “I dance! I dance! I dance! Upon a Mexican hat!”

Recognition usually comes to me out of the blue. Today I’m listening to ancient records on WFMU’s “Antique Phonograph Music Program” for Jan 13. The announcer intros a song from 1924 he calls “Beautiful Heaven.” It’s a Latin tinged orchestra instrumental, which suddenly leads into the familiar chorus of “Ay, Yi, Yi, Yi!” Hey! I know this tune. Some searching around the title finally informs me that yes, it is a Mexican folk tune, originally titled “Cielito Lindo.”

As the Wikipedia article I linked to will inform you younger kids, this tune is better known to us Anglos of a certain age as the “Frito Bandito” song. Hope I can remember at least its proper title when I hear it again.

Frito Bandito

Yes, as a kid I had a sticker with this artwork on my dresser drawer.