Monday, August 29, 2011

Gregg Allman - Low Country Blues

In my short lifetime I’ve liked some pretty good singers – Paul Rodgers, John Lennon, David Gilmour and Ronnie James Dio just to name a few.  But by far my favorite vocalist of all-time is Gregg Allman.  Between the Allman Brothers Band and his own Gregg Allman & Friends, I’ve seen him in concert nine times.   The first time I had the pleasure of seeing him live was the day after Carol and I got married in 1987.  We saw him open for Stevie Ray Vaughan [RIP] & Double Trouble.   I first got hooked on Gregg Allman’s voice when I first heard the Allman Brothers’ version of One Way Out.  I’m usually pretty skeptical about white guys trying to sing the blues, but Gregg Allman has earned that right.  He’s had his share of trials and tribulations, some of them of his own doing [five or six wives, drugs, booze], some of them not [brother Duane killed in a motorcycle accident in 1971, his own father murdered by a hitchhiker when he was two].  He recently had a liver transplant [due to liver cancer and Hepatitis C], from which he is slowly recovering.  He’s been sober since 1996, but he still has a feel for the blues.  For proof, listen to him on the Allman Brothers’ Hittin’the Note.  That album found Gregg Allman in perhaps the finest voice of his career.  Since that release we Allman Brothers fans have been craving another release of any kind from Gregg Allman.  Our hopes were answered with Low Country Blues.

Low Country Blues finds Gregg in as fine a voice as he was with Hittin’ the Note.  The big difference is he doesn’t have the big seven-piece band on Low Country Blues.  The music of the Allman Brothers is firmly in the blues-rock category, with the soul, R&B and jazz influences to the fore.  In the Allman Brothers, the guitar is king.  How could it not since the likes of Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks have all passed through its ranks?  What has made the Allman Brothers stand out is their inventive blend of traditional formats (Chicago, Delta, Country, Swamp, Appalachian) that reinvented the contours of the blues song.   Low Country Blues is pure blues.   Doyle Bramhall and T-Bone Burnett provide the sympathetic guitar work, but they don’t overpower the arrangements like Warren Haynes or Dickey Betts could.  Gregg’s Hammond B-3 is mixed just high enough to let you know it’s there.  Colin Linden’s Dobro adds just enough coloring to make the arrangements that much more exotic.  The production emphasis is where it should be on a Gregg Allman solo release – that voice.  He is sounding better now than in the Allman Brothers’ Fillmore East/Eat a Peach heyday.  After those two seminal albums, you could hear how the drugs and booze affected Gregg’s voice.  His voice was good then – it’s great now.  It rasps, it sweeps, it snarls, it bites, and it does it even more effectively today than back in his younger days.   T-Bone Burnett did an excellent job in capturing the rawness of Gregg Allman’s voice.  He let Gregg do only one or two vocal takes of each song.  That’s another endearing quality of Low Country Blues – a slickly-produced album it is not.

I haven’t heard the Sleepy John Estes original Floating Bridge.  I heard Eric Clapton cover it on Another Ticket.  Gregg’s version sounds nothing like that.  With his own acoustic guitar, Dr John’s piano, a few electric guitars wailing in the background and a rubbery upright bass, the song is “bouncy.”  Of the twelve songs on the album, there is one Gregg Allman original.  He wrote Just Another Rider with Allman Brothers/Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes.  Just Another Rider fits snugly amongst the other songs created by blues legends.  Am I implying Gregg Allman is also a blues legend?  Yes!  When he sings I feel like snappin’ my pistol in your face/the stone cold graveyard gonna be your restin’ place on Muddy Waters’ I Can’t Be Satisfied, you get the feeling he means it.  I’ve heard Muddy’s original, and I’ve also heard BB King’s Please Accept My Love.  Gregg does both songs justice.  Otis Rush’s Checking On My Baby reminds one of Gregg’s performance of Stormy Monday from the Fillmore East album. The traditional Rolling Stone is transformed by Gregg, T-Bone Burnett and Dr John into a 7-minute trance blues with a hypnotic percussion, a piano that doubles the upright bass lines, a dobro that gives the song a swampy feel, and a stark vocal.  It just oozes atmosphere.  This is the one that always makes me reach for the “repeat” button on my iPod.  I won’t go so far as to mimic Paula Abdul [her oft-repeated “you took the song and made it your own” cliché], but Gregg sings all of these blues nuggets very well.  

T-Bone Burnett, the producer of choice these days, produced this disc as he did for BB King’s latest, One Kind Favor [2008].  I mention One Kind Favor because both it and Low Country Blues have the same sound.  It’s almost like T-Bone Burnett cuts records and saves a place to “insert vocalist here.”  Both albums were made the same way.  Both were cut without the artists’ own bands.  Dr John’s piano and Jay Bellrose’s calf-skin drums grace both records, as does the acoustic upright bass.  The horns on both are arranged by Darrell Leonard, he of several albums from Taj Mahal.  Both albums have that 1950s throwback feel.  T-Bone Burnett gathered hundreds of songs for Gregg Allman and BB King to listen to, from which they chose which songs they were going to record.  And both singers got to chose from songs from the early blues era.  In BB King’s case it was the likes Blind Lemon Jefferson, Howlin’ Wolf, Lonnie Johnson, T-Bone Walker and Big Bill Broonzy.  With Gregg Allman it was Muddy Waters, Otis Rush, Bobby Blue Bland, Skip James, Junior Wells, and [ironically] BB King.  Both men covered the “Who’s Who” of American blues.  

The thing with both records is that both harken back to an earlier and simpler blues era.  If you like Low Country Blues, do yourself and pick up a copy of One Kind Favor while you’re at it.  Gregg Allman has said he can’t wait to do another record with T-Bone Burnett.  As much as I like Low Country Blues, I hope Gregg has more of his own tunes to offer the next time around.

Recommended songs:  Just Another Rider, Rolling Stone, Devil Got My Woman, I Can't Be Satisfied, Floating Bridge

Just Another Rider

Floating Bridge

I Can't Be Satisfied

Rolling Stone

Devil Got My Woman

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Conspirator

We saw The Conspirator a couple of nights ago on Pay Per View.  The story looked promising – the telling of the story of Mary Surratt.  She was the first woman executed by the US government.  Her crime – being part of the conspiracy to kill Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward.  The story was a courtroom drama, much like another such movie that is one of my favorites, Breaker Morant.  But where Breaker Morant has passionate and firey performances from Edward Woodward, Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson, one gets the feeling the life has been sucked out of The Conspirator, at least in the courtroom anyway.  Despite this being a courtroom drama, it’s what happens outside the courtroom that things get interesting.

For students of history, and especially those who want to know more about the Lincoln assassination up until Mary Surratt’s trial, this movie gets it right.  If you didn’t already know the facts surrounding the conspiracy to decapitate the US government, this movie gives you a fairly good primer.  There was indeed a conspiracy to kill Lincoln and the others, and the place these conspirators often met was Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse in Washington.

Most of the characters in this movie are not very sympathetic or very likeable.   Senator Reverdy Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) at first starts out as a noble character, insisting on defending Mary Surratt in the face of public outrage at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  He talked a great game about Constitutional rights, but he didn’t “walk the walk.”  When the going got tough, he pawned the case off to a novice attorney in his employ, Capt. Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy).  His excuse was that Mary Surratt might get a more fair trial if she was represented by a Yankee.  For awhile that excuse held water, but when Aiken needed Johnson’s help Johnson conveniently needed to attend to some business in Baltimore.  Aiken himself felt his client was guilty when he took the case – at least he was honest.   Aiken redeemed himself later when he saw the trial in which he was participating was a sham.  He started his own investigation and realized it wasn’t Mary Surratt the feds were after, but her son John Jr., who had fled the country to Montreal before the assassination.  The trial was a kangaroo court, rules were made up as they went along, evidence was tampered with, and witnesses for both the prosecution and the defense lied to save their own skins.  Aiken evolved from being a skeptic about Mary Surratt’s innocence to Surratt’s fiercest defender.  He showed his own resolve when people started to shun him for being Surratt’s lawyer.  The social club he belonged to expelled him for “conduct unbecoming a member.”  His girlfriend Sarah dumped him [bitch!] because of his devotion to principle, for trying to ensure Mary Surratt got a fair trial.  Even his closest friends began to doubt him, but at least they stuck with him.

Secretary of War Edwin Stanton [Kevin Kline] is consistent – he’s loathsome throughout the movie.  He wants Mary Surratt to be executed – period.  He even told Aiken if either Mary Surratt or her son, John Jr. was executed, that would be fine with him – he wasn’t particular.  When a majority of the tribunal found Mary Surratt guilty but opted to spare her the death penalty, Stanton wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and got the tribunal to reconsider.  When Aiken filed a Writ of Habeus Corpus to get a civilian trial for Mary Surratt, Stanton got Andrew Johnson to suspend the writ.  Kline’s Stanton cared not for the law, but vengeance.  Kline played Stanton very well.

Mary Surratt [Robin Wright] doesn’t generate a whole lot of sympathy.  She betrayed her Confederate sympathies when she referred to Abraham Lincoln as “your president” when talking with Aiken.  She isn’t very helpful to Aiken because her only thought was to protect her son.  Perhaps she knew that since her son was not in custody to be tried, that she was as good as dead and didn’t put up a fight to save herself.  She didn’t really deny that she knew nothing of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln.  She did admit she knew of a plot to kidnap [but not kill] Lincoln.  While she doesn’t generate any sympathy, Wright’s Surratt generates respect.  She is no clichéd “helpless female” – she’s a widow who’s had a hard life and has a steely resolve to get her through that hard life.  There are three times when you see any emotion from Mary Surratt – when her daughter testifies on her behalf, when Aiken tried to make the trial about her son, and right before she was led to the gallows.  But when she got to the gallows, she was recomposed.  You get to see the last thing Mary Surratt sees as the execution hood is placed over her head.  She went to her death clutching a rosary bead.  She exhibited more resolve and composure than the males who were being executed with her.

There is one poignant moment at the very end of the movie.  John Surratt Jr. had surrendered himself to the authorities after his mother’s execution.  Aiken [who by this time no longer practiced law] visited the younger Surratt in his prison cell to deliver to him the rosary his mother held onto when she died.  John Jr. looked at the rosary, but handed it back to Aiken.  He said “this is yours – you were more of a son to my mother than I was.”

At the end of the movie there’s a blurb about how the Supreme Court upheld the right for citizens to be tried by a jury of their peers, even in wartime.  The implication is clear – trying civilians with military tribunals is wrong.  Another blurb told of the government’s inability to convict John Surratt Jr. of anything relating to the Lincoln assassination, thus implying that Mary Surratt was wrongly convicted.  Was she guilty or not?  The movie lets you draw your own conclusions.  Many historians think she was guilty as charged.  Some historians aren’t so sure. 

Here’s what this movie was really about – this was a thought piece about how a country struggles uphold its ideals for the rule of law in times of crisis.  One cannot help but juxtapose the post-Civil War period with the post-9/11 world we live in today.  If that was Robert Redford’s intent, he succeeded.  As I set out to write this little blurb, I so wanted to bash Robert Redford over the head because I initially thought his movie about Mary Surratt’s “trial” [and I use that term loosely] was a propaganda piece for the Left.  Mary Surratt’s conspirators were led into the courtroom with hoods over their heads [Abu Grahib anyone?].  Mary Surratt herself wasn’t let out of her cell until Aiken intervened.  But the more I thought about it, the more I thought this could happen at any time, not just after 9/11.  American citizens of Japanese descent were deprived of their civil liberties during World War II.  People who opposed World War I were jailed for sedition [Eugene V. Debs comes to mind].  "In times of war, the law falls silent," goes Cicero's maxim, quoted in the film by Surratt's prosecutor, Joseph Holt (Danny Huston).  And so it seems, no matter the times.

The Conspirator is a good movie that could have been great, but watch it anyway. :-)

Leaves of Grass

There we were in our usual place, in front of the TV surfing for something to watch after dinner.  I wasn’t in the mood to watch any news on any station (all the news is bad these days).  Deadliest Catch is done for the season.  True Blood isn’t on until Sunday [yeah, it’s a guilty pleasure].   None of the baseball games interested me.  Then I found a movie in progress on Showtime called Leaves of Grass.  I saw it had Edward Norton so I stopped surfing.  Ever since I saw him in Primal Fear and American History X I’ve been a fan, so I left the TV on that station.  Tim Blake Nelson [the guy in O Brother Where Art Thou who said “we thought you was a toad”] wrote and directed the movie, and he has a supporting part.  It's a down-home kind of story set in Oklahoma about two brothers and their family.

Edward Norton plays the two brothers.  The first is Bill Kincaid, a professor of classics at Brown University.  He’s an accomplished guy – he has a reputation as a true scholar who is dedicated to his work of philosophical exploration.  He’s a published author and is about to get offered his own department at Harvard.  He wanted to get as far away from Oklahoma as he could, and worked very hard at losing his Southern accent.  His twin brother Brady is a stoner who grows some wicked good weed.  As one would expect of a guy in his profession, Brady is in trouble with others who are in his line of work, but mainly his chief customer, drug kingpin Pug Rothbaum [Richard Dreyfus].  One day while visiting his drug-addled mother [Susan Sarandon] in a rest home, she asks Brady if Bill will ever come back to see them.  Brady replies that it’ll probably take either him or his mom dying to make that happen [foreshadowing!].

Bill gets a phone call telling him his brother was killed by an errant crossbow.  So Bill hops on a plane to Tulsa.  While en route he has a conversation with a Jewish orthodontist who is relocating to Oklahoma to start an orthodontist practice.  He’s met at the airport by Brady’s partner-in-crime and best friend, Bolger [Tim Blake Nelson].  On the way back to Brady’s house they stop at a local convenience store, where they’re met by some of the area’s other drug dealers who mistake Bill for Brady.  A fight ensues, Bill gets the crap kicked out of him and gets knocked out.  When he comes to, there’s Brady to greet him.  Bill realizes he’s been had.  The reason Brady wanted to get Bill back to Oklahoma was to use him in a scheme to get out of all of his debts so he can marry his pregnant girlfriend [Melanie Lynskey].  What is very fun to watch is how these two brothers interact with each other – the learned scholar and the pot head.  Norton does such a great job playing both characters it’s easy to forget he’s the same guy.

Brady is every bit as smart as Bill [their mom implies he’s even smarter than Bill], but he chose to remain in Oklahoma.  Each is extremely articulate in his own way.  As Bill expresses his disdain for Brady’s chosen “career path,” he can’t help but be impressed by Brady’s hydroponic system for marijuana cultivation.  Brady, on the other hand, tells Bill that he reads everything Bill publishes, even though he has to use the “fuckin’ OED” to get through them all.  Meanwhile, while Bill is in town for the Brady funeral that doesn’t happen, he meets a pretty English teacher [Keri Russell] who likes to quote Walt Whitman [hence the Leaves of Grass title] and fish for catfish by hand.

After the characters are fleshed out, the movie gets to Brady’s last big caper, which doesn’t end well.  There are some weird twists along the way to keep you interested.  The dialog amongst all the characters is priceless.  As the movie progresses you find that you can’t walk away from it for fear of missing something witty.  The script doesn’t insult your intelligence.  It’s like watching a Coen Brothers movie.  Just when I thought American filmmakers had run out ideas, Tim Blake Nelson proved me wrong.  This is definitely not your average Hollywood fare.  It’s not a remake, it’s not a sequel, and it’s not an American adaptation of a foreign film.  Despite the use of a tried-and-true concept [twins who are polar opposites], it’s an original film that’s well-acted and fairly well-written.  I loved it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Beatles - Tony's "Perfect" White Album(s)

A few days ago, I actually got a request from a friend to write a blog about the “perfect” White Album.  Ever since its release in November 1968, Beatlemaniacs have debated what the album should have contained.  Should it have been a double album?  Should it have been two separate albums – the “White” Album and a “Whiter” Album [as Ringo Starr once suggested]?  Or should the Beatles heeded producer George Martin’s advice and distill all the songs down to a single album with all the best songs?   I’m going to play record executive and come up with a single LP White Album, then I’ll create a two-LP White Album that looks a little different from what came out in 1968.

First of all, the Beatles recorded two singles in 1968.  The first, Lady Madonna, was recorded in February 1968 and released while they were trying to find themselves in India.  The second single, Hey Jude [A-side]/Revolution [B-side], was recorded during sessions for the White Album but not included on the album in accordance with standard English record company practice of the day.  I never liked that practice.  Sgt Pepper would have been much better if Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane stayed on the album for which they were intended.  Standard practice was also 12-14 songs per album.  The Beatles themselves had a couple of rules – two of George’s songs, and one for Ringo.  I’ll stick with that rule.  I’m going with the three single songs and keeping ten others from the original White Album.  So here’s my running order for the single LP:

Side 1:
Back in the USSR / Dear Prudence / Glass Onion / Lady Madonna / Revolution / While My Guitar Gently Weeps / Helter Skelter  - 23 min. 50 sec.

Side 2:
Hey Jude / Birthday / Yer Blues / Savoy Truffle / Julia / Good Night  - 22 min. 58 sec.

Now for the double LP:

Side 1:
Back in the USSR / Dear Prudence / Glass Onion / Lady Madonna / Revolution / While My Guitar Gently Weeps / Helter Skelter  - 23 min. 50 sec.

Side 2:
Birthday / Yer Blues / I’m So Tired / Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey / Sexy Sadie / Blackbird / Piggies / Julia – 21 min. 43 sec.

Side 3:
Hey Jude / Revolution 1 / Savoy Truffle / Cry Baby Cry / Good Night – 21 min. 34 sec.

Side 4:
Helter Skelter [Take 2 – Anthology 3] / Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da [Anthology 3 version] / Across the Universe [Anthology 3 version] / While My Guitar Gently Weeps [Take 1 – Anthology 3] / Not Guilty [Anthology 3] / What’s the New Mary Jane [Anthology 3] – 24 min. 2 sec.

For my single LP I kept the first three songs [Back in the USSR, Dear Prudence, Glass Onion] as is.  I like them just the way they are.  I like hearing Revolution [the single], While My Guitar Gently Weeps and Helter Skelter in that order.  Plus I don’t have too many “John” or “Paul” songs bunched together.   I slipped Lady Madonna between Glass Onion and Revolution for that reason – and John name checks Lady Madonna on Glass Onion anyway.   I have Hey Jude to kick off Side 2 because I can.  I can follow Hey Jude with anything, so why not Birthday and Yer BluesSavoy Truffle is here because it’s another “George” song.  It fits better in this running order than Long Long Long or Piggies.  I wanted to keep one acoustic song – I chose John’s Julia.  The “Ringo” song is Good Night, a lullaby written by John.  It was a good closer for the original White Album, and it reprises its roll here.

I carved out most [but not all] of the acoustic songs because I wanted something more hard-edged.  That way I cut the songs to three sides with one side left over for “extras” like what you would find on “deluxe editions” of re-released albums today.  That’s what takes up Side 4.  The Anthology 3 version of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is a complete take.  IMHO it’s much better than what came out.  This one’s a perfectly good take.  It’s no wonder the rest of the group couldn’t stand the song and Paul’s “perfectionism.”  Across the Universe was first done before the Beatles went to India.  Take 1 of While My Guitar Gently Weeps is an acoustic demo, but it’s good enough for release.  It even includes an extra verse that didn’t make the final version.  George’s Not Guilty took over 100 takes and just missed the final running order.  It didn’t see the light of day until George recorded it for his self-titled album release in 1979.  John’s What’s the New Mary Jane was an experimental “song” kind of like Revolution #9, only much more listenable.  Since Revolution #9 was already on the album, they wouldn’t have two “songs” like that, so What’s the New Mary Jane stayed unreleased until 1996.  Take 2 of Helter Skelter is included to show how the song progressed from beginning to release.  What a pity they didn’t release the 22-minute version.

So there they are, my perfect White Albums.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tony's Picks - Grateful Dead

As the anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death approaches it’s time to do the annual ritual of immersing myself in the music of the Grateful Dead.  These guys were together for a long time [1965-95] and produced a lot of music.  They weren’t overly fond of recording studios, so they produced only 13 studio albums in that thirty-year span.  Their place was the live stage, and the recordings of those performances take up miles of storage shelf space.  They played over 2,000 shows and have recordings of almost every one of them.  Included below are my favorites from my collection of Grateful Dead and Dead-related albums.  Still on my “to get” list are Wake of the Flood, Europe ’72, and Aoxomoxoa.  Maybe the next time I go TDY I’ll fix that.  There are a few glaring omissions from my list – no Casey Jones [too repetitive for me], Alabama Getaway [never really like it], and no Touch of Grey [it’s an average song at best].

Disclaimer #1:  In my own mind I don’t see myself as a Deadhead.  I feel that distinction goes to those who have seen the Grateful Dead in the flesh.  A friend told me that Deadheads define whether or not they are in fact Deaheads and that status is not conferred by people outside the world of the Grateful Dead.  For me to claim “Deadhead” status would be dishonest since I never saw them live.  Carol saw them once – she’s a Deadhead.  I approach my picks as a fan of the music, not as a hardcore Deadhead.  Some would argue just being a fan of the music qualifies you as a Deadhead.  I’m not so sure…

Disclaimer #2:  The Grateful Dead have released many live albums.  There is the four-part View From the Vault series, the 36-volume Dick’s Picks series, the 16-part Road Trips series, and over 30 other live recordings.  True hardcore Deadheads will have all of them – I own but a few.  For any live versions of Dead songs that I like, I’m sure there are many other better versions that exist on archive recordings that I do not own.  So at the risk of insulting the intelligence and tastes of Deadheads everywhere, I apologize ahead of time if your favorite version of a particular song isn’t on my list.  I can only rate what I’ve heard.

Disclaimer #3:  Although Jerry Garcia is no longer with us, surviving members of the Grateful Dead keep his music alive in different groups – The Other Ones, Phil Lesh & Friends, Bob Weir & Ratdog, and Further.  I will include some of that music on my list – I think it’s appropriate since those groups are keeping the spirit of the Dead alive and well.

Box of Rain [Grateful Dead, American Beauty - 1970] – Phil Lesh sings to his dying father.  He wasn’t the only member of the Dead to have a dying parent during the recording of American Beauty.  Jerry Garcia’s mom was hit by a car [or was it a bus?  I’m not sure…] and lingered for awhile before she too passed on.

Uncle John’s Band [Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead – 1970] – Goddamn well I declare, have you seen the light?  This one is fun to play, maybe because it’s so easy to play.

New Speedway Boogie [Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead – 1970] – the story of Altamont from the Dead’s point of view.  The phrase “please don’t dominate the rap Jack if you’ve got nothing new to say” could be applied to any politician anywhere.

Friend of the Devil [Grateful Dead, American Beauty - 1970]

Ripple [Grateful Dead, American Beauty - 1970] – David Grisman on mandolin.

Black Peter [Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead – 1970]

Sugar Magnolia [Grateful Dead, American Beauty - 1970]

Truckin’ [Grateful Dead, American Beauty - 1970]– there’s some classic lines I never forget in this – “livin’ on reds, Vitamin C and cocaine/all a friend can say is ‘ain’t it a shame…’” “what a long strange trip it’s been…” and many more.

Bertha [Grateful Dead, Skulls & Roses – 1971] – Los Lobos does a fabulous version of this song.  But this one is pretty good.  Hundred Year Hall also has a pretty good version even though the recording is average.

Playing in the Band [Bob Weir, Ace – 1972] – This is from a Bob Weir solo album in name only.  Ace featured all the Grateful Dead minus Pigpen.  This version far surpasses what appeared on the Dead’s Skull & Roses album a few months earlier.

Loser [Jerry Garcia, Garcia – 1972] – this, along with others from Garcia, became semi-permanent fixtures in Dead setlists.  Jerry played all the instruments on Garcia except Bill Kreutzmann, who played drums. 

Deal [Jerry Garcia, Garcia – 1972]

To Lay Me Down [Jerry Garcia, Garcia – 1972]

The Wheel [Jerry Garcia, Garcia – 1972] – Interesting story – I was just in Fort Collins last month.  While I was at IHOP I heard this song over the sound system.  Only in Colorado…  If you ever want to hear spaced-out steel guitar from Jerry, this is your song.

Cassidy [Bob Weir, Ace – 1972] – Donna Jean sings great harmony with Bob here.

Sugaree [Jerry Garcia, Garcia – 1972] – How could one not like Sugaree?

Franklin’s Tower [Grateful Dead, One From the Vault – 1991] – Originally appears on Blues for Allah [1975] – The show this was taken from was supposed to be the last show the Dead would play before they retired from the road.  We all know the retirement didn’t work out too well.  An interesting note – Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts loved Jerry and after his death always played a little bit of Franklin’s Tower to introduce Blue Sky.

U.S. Blues [Grateful Dead, One From the Vault – 1991] – Originally appears on From the Mars Hotel [1974] – Wave that flag…  I have to play it every 4th of July.  It just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t.

Unbroken Chain [Phil Lesh & Friends, Instant Live: Darien Center, NY 7/8/06 – 2006] – Originally appears on From the Mars Hotel [1974],  I don’t think the Dead ever did this song any justice.  Phil Lesh & Friends didn’t have any problems.

Hell in a Bucket [Grateful Dead, In The Dark – 1987] – an unusually up-tempo song from the Dead, maybe because it came from Bob Weir and not jerry Garcia.

When Push Comes to Shove [Grateful Dead, In The Dark – 1987]

West LA Fadeaway [Grateful Dead, In The Dark – 1987] – I heard this one a lot while I was in San Antonio for Air Force Office Training School.  Los Lobos covers this on their latest, Tin Can Trust.

Throwing Stones [Grateful Dead, In The Dark – 1987] – Ashes ashes, all fall down…

Foolish Heart [Grateful Dead, Built to Last – 1989]

Standing on the Moon [Grateful Dead, Built to Last – 1989] – By this late stage in the game, Jerry was getting very good at the very slow ballads.  This has what I think is one of the best lines in a love song - A lovely view of heaven/But I'd rather be with you.

Eyes of the World [Grateful Dead, Without a Net – 1990] – originally appears on Wake of the Flood [1973] – This is over 16 minutes of improvisational bliss.  Branford Marsalis sat in on this one.  He’d never played with the Dead before, had never heard the song either, but being the outstanding jazz musician that he is, he followed along quite well.

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo [Grateful Dead, Without a Net – 1990] – Originally appears on Wake of the Flood [1973].  “Come on baby I’m gone goodbye/Have a bottle of rock ‘n rye…

Dupree’s Diamond Blues [Grateful Dead, Dozin’ at the Knick – 1996] – Originally appears on Aoxomoxoa.  Both this one and Mississippi Half-Step sound very similar.

Althea [Grateful Dead, Without a Net – 1990] – Originally appears on Go To Heaven [1980]

Stella Blue [Grateful Dead, Dozin’ at the Knick – 1996] – Originally appears on Wake of the Flood [1973].  Warren Haynes covered this song on his Live at Bonnaroo CD.

Row Jimmy [Grateful Dead, Dozin’ at the Knick – 1996] – Originally appears on Wake of the Flood [1973] 

Patchwork Quilt [Phil Lesh & Friends, There and Back Again, 2002] – I include this because it is about Jerry Garcia.  This is Warren Haynes’ elegy to Jerry.  Warren was with the Allman Brothers at the time, and the line We were at Jones Beach when we got the word… is true.  The blood of his music runs through the veins of our guitars/Bright lights, Dark Star… 

Tennessee Jed [Phil Lesh & Friends w/ Bob Weir, Live from Bonnaroo Music Festival 2002 – 2002] – Originally appears on Europe ’72 [1972] – an outstanding version of Tennessee Jed by Phil Lesh & Friends with special guest Bob Weir.

St Stephen/The Eleven – I have three versions of this combo that deserve inclusion here.  The Dead played this at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in 1968.  That version appears on Two From the Vault.  This version was Jerry at his mind-bending best.  The next version is from The Other Ones’ The Strange Remain.  Recorded three years after Jerry’s death, The Other Ones got two guitarists to “replace” Jerry.  The interplay between the two is a wonder to behold.  Then there is a version from Phil Lesh & Friends There and Back Again.  Again there are two guitarists to “replace” Jerry – Warren Haynes and Jimmy Herring.  Their interplay gives the song a different character with a little harder edge.  Regardless of the version I’ve always loved how the music goes from 4/4 time to 11/2 time.  This is always fun to listen to.

This list is more than a bit slanted to the songs Jerry Garcia wrote with Robert Hunter.  I don’t intend to slam Bob Weir.  I never tire of Playing in the Band and others.  I just like Jerry’s songs a whole lot better.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tony's Picks - The Band

“Back in 1967 or ’68, I heard a record called Music From Big Pink and it changed my life.  It changed the course of American music. Please welcome The Band!” – Eric Clapton, 1992. 

So said Eric Clapton when he introduced The Band at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden.  They came out and played When I Paint My Masterpiece, a Dylan song they recorded in 1971 for their Cahoots album.  Indeed, Music From Big Pink changed Eric Clapton’s life.  It’s because of what he heard on that album, he immediately felt that what he was doing with Cream was irrelevant.  So he broke up Cream and began a musical journey that took him into some dark places before he settled on a musical path.  My first exposure to The Band came when I first saw The Last Waltz.  I took three things away from that movie – I love to hear Levon Helm sing [his 1970s voice reminded me a lot of Gregg Allman], who is that crazy guy with the cowboy hat [it was Ronnie Hawkins], and could Martin Scorcese possibly get any more shots of Robbie Robertson in the movie?

In 2000 Capitol Records issued a “greatest hits” CD.  It’s not bad, they put some pretty good songs on it.  The band’s music is such that you can’t possibly summarize it all in one CD.  Here is my list of my favorite Band performances. Note that I listed a few things they did with Bob Dylan as he figures large in their history as a group.

The Shape I’m In [The Last Waltz, 1978] – there’s something missing from the studio version that makes this song come alive, and that “something” is the horns you hear on this version from The Last Waltz.  Levon Helm is my vocalist of choice in The Band, but Richard Manuel is outstanding on Robbie Robertson’s song about…Richard Manuel.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down [The Last Waltz, 1978] – here is why Levon Helm is my Band vocalist of choice.  Who else but a Southerner could sing this song?

Mystery Train w/ Paul Butterfield [The Last Waltz, 1978] – “Play a little blues? Paul Butterfield?”  The Band originally recorded this song for their Moondog Matinee album.  This live version smokes!  Paul Butterfield’s harp playing is incredible.

The Weight [Music From Big Pink, 1968] – how could I compile a list of Band favorites without this song?  "Half past dead" must be pretty damn tired...

Long Black Veil [Music From Big Pink, 1968] – I’d always associated this song with Johnny Cash until I heard this version.  I love how Rick Danko sings this one.

Chest Fever [Music From Big Pink, 1968] – Garth Hudson’s Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor introduction is the hook.  That’s enough for me…

Tears of Rage w/ Bob Dylan [The Basement Tapes, 1975] – The version from Music From Big Pink is ok – this one is better.

This Wheel’s On Fire w/ Bob Dylan [The Basement Tapes, 1975] – see my comments on Tears of Rage.

Up On Cripple Creek [The Band, 1969] – see my comments on The Weight above.  The Last Waltz version is awesome.  Levon Helm didn’t want to do The Last Waltz, but you couldn’t tell by listening to that version.  See my comments about The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

Rag Mama Rag [The Band, 1969] – I think if any Band song captures that vibe of old timey Americana, this one is it.

The Unfaithful Servant [The Band, 1969] – This is a quiet acoustic song from Robbie Robertson.  Wonderful singing from Rick Danko.

Whispering Pines [The Band, 1969] – what Rick Danko did for The Unfaithful Servant, Richard Manuel does for Whispering Pines.  It’s another quiet acoustic tune from Robbie that could be the mirror image of The Unfaithful Servant.

King Harvest (Has Surely Come) [The Band, 1969] – I’d hate to be the guy in this song.  The barn burned down, his horse went insane, bad weather, no crops, can’t pay union dues, and ends up on skid row.  There’s some tasty guitar playing from Robbie at the end of the song.

The W.S. Walcott Medicine Show [Stage Fright, 1970] – Another Southern-flavored song, only it addresses the minstrel shows that Levon Helm saw in his childhood.

Stage Fright [Stage Fright, 1970] – who among The Band had stage fright?  Was it Robbie?

Daniel and the Sacred Harp [Stage Fright, 1970] – I can’t put my finger on it. I just like this one a lot.  Richard Manuel sings the “Daniel” part, Levon is the humble narrator.  This has a good “old timey” vibe.

When I Paint My Masterpiece [Cahoots, 1971] - Levon's mandolin and Garth's accordion lent the song a European feel.  They played this at the Bobfest in 1992.

4% Pantomime w/ Van Morrison [Cahoots, 1971] – Van Morrison, the “Belfast Cowboy.”  A good duet with Richard Manuel and Van Morrison – they sound like they had fun doing it.  Too bad most of Cahoots sounds like they’re exhausted [they probably were].  But I never thought I would use the words "fun" and "Van Morrison" in the same sentence.

Endless Highway [Cahoots, 1971] – a bonus track on the remastered Cahoots, it’s better than most of the songs that came out on the original release.

Forever Young (Continued) w/ Bob Dylan [Planet Waves, 1974] – this is a sped-up, more funky version of the slower, more familiar overplayed Dylan song.  This version makes me like Forever Young

Ophelia [Northern Lights-Southern Cross, 1975] – this one feels like New Orleans.  There’s no downside to that.

Acadian Driftwood [Northern Lights-Southern Cross, 1975] – Robbie Robertson tells the story of the Acadians who were exiled from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in the 1750s.  All three Band vocalists sing and there are no synthesizers.  Garth’s accordion and Byron Berline’s fiddle provide the proper Cajun feel.  The French lyrics at the end of the song are a nice touch. Very impressive.

It Makes No Difference [Northern Lights-Southern Cross, 1975] – can anyone sound as sad as Rick Danko does on this tale of heartbreak?  Robbie didn’t write many love songs, but this one is a keeper.

Evangeline w/ Emmylou Harris [The Last Waltz, 1978] – Levon, Rick and Emmylou Harris sing otherworldly harmonies to die for.  What’s not to like?  Does it get any better than this?

Don’t Do It [Rock of Ages, 1972] – the last song these five musicians would play together at The Last Waltz.  I don’t have a copy of that particular performance, but this one from Rock of Ages will do just as well.  Robbie Robertson finally gets to show off what a good lead guitarist he is.  I love Allen Toussaint’s horn arrangement.

Tell Me Momma w/ Bob Dylan [The Bootleg Series, Vol 4: The “Royal Albert Hall” Concert, 1998] – This is from Dylan’s 1966 concert in Manchester – the infamous “Judas!” show.  This is the opening salvo from Dylan’s electric set that pissed off so many people.  The crowd of dyed-in-the-wool folkies didn’t know what hit it.

I purposely did not include anything they did without Robbie Robertson.  While some of the music they did without Robbie is noteworthy [their covers of Atlantic City and Blind Willie McTell and Rick Danko’s Book Faded Brown come to mind], most of it lacks the magic they had as a quintet.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tedeschi Trucks Band - Revelator

Since the listening public became aware of the talent that is Derek Trucks, he has been on a quest.  With each successive record he’s put out, he’s proving himself to be a fairly good songwriter, a fine arranger and bandleader.  The sounds he has pursued include rock, blues, jazz, funk, gospel and Eastern modal music.  His band’s performances are incendiary, full of improvisation and inspiration.   To my ears, he is the reincarnation of the late Duane Allman.  It’s fitting this slide guitar wizard occupies Duane’s chair as one of the two guitarists [with Warren Haynes] in the Allman Brothers Band.  One of his albums [Soul Serenade] is almost completely instrumental, save a guest vocal turn from Gregg Allman.  One album [Joyful Noise] features several vocalists, including Rubén Blades, Solomon Burke, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Javier Colón, and Susan Tedeschi [Mrs. Derek Trucks].  Songlines and Already Free find the Derek Trucks Band hitting its stride with a permanent vocalist [Mike Mattison].  Both albums have carefully crafted and executed songs that don’t lend themselves to jamming.  Through all the Derek Trucks Band albums he has proven hard to pigeonhole into any specific style.  This guy is always searching for the lost chord.

Susan Tedeschi – what can I say about her that hasn’t already been said by others?  Pick your favorite superlative to describe her as a vocalist and it will fit.  She’s been around since she graduated from the Berklee College of Music.  I first heard her sing John Prine’s Angel From Montgomery on Warren Haynes’ first Christmas Jam CD.  Since that discovery, I’ve since acquired Wait For Me, Back to the River, and Hope and Desire.  The first two are electrifying guitar blues with her band and contain both originals and select covers.  The last is all covers, where Susan shows off her ability to interpret others work, much in the same way as Emmylou Harris.  It’s a step away from her usual blues guitar albums – she concentrates only on her singing.  Susan met Derek Trucks in 1999 when her band opened some dates for the Allman Brothers Band.  They got married in 2001, had a baby, appeared as guests on each other’s albums, had another baby, built their own home studio [Swamp Raga Studios], then they decided they wanted to spend more time together as a family.  The couple began touring as the Soul Stew Revival.  Now the Tedeschi Trucks Band, this unit features players from both bands [Mike Mattison and Kofi Burbridge from DTB, Tyler Greenwell from Susan Tedeschi’s band], bassist Oteil Burbridge of the Allman Brothers, another drummer [JJ Johnson], another backup vocalist [Mark Rivers], and a horn section [11 players in all]. 

Now that Derek and Susan have put their respective bands on ice for the time being, they’ve produced an album of original songs, Revelator.  One might expect a band with so many instruments to sound like a mess, but Derek and Susan make it work.  The template for the album can be found on Susan’s Revolutionize Your Soul from Back to the River.  It’s got Derek, horns, and background singers.  They also continue the song craft that Derek began with Songlines and Already Free.  All songs on Revelator are Tedeschi Trucks Band originals.  I’ve seen it written that this band is a lot like Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, and that description is pretty accurate.  This band is all over the stylistic map - love songs [Midnight in Harlem], more Eastern modal stuff mixed with soul [Simple Things], bluesy gospel [Don’t Let Me Slide], a touch of New Orleans [Until You Remember], funk [Love Has Something To Say].  And did I say Susan is a pretty good guitar player in her own right?  Check out her guitar work on Love Has Something To Say.

Revelator is a fairly well-executed fusion of the best musical abilities of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.  It’s good, but not great.  If I have a complaint it’s that there are too many slow, laid back tunes.  I think they played it a little too safe.  I’ve heard Derek play “lights out” with the Allman Brothers – check out any version they’ve done of I Walk on Gilded Splinters and you’ll know what I mean.  I don’t expect Derek to solo his brains out, but I do expect to hear more of what made him noticed than what I hear on Revelator.  The rhythm section just doesn’t pick up the pace.  I know bassist Oteil Burbridge is capable of much, much more - I’ve heard it. That fire just isn’t on Revelator.  I count three songs that sound like they have some pace to them – the opener Come See About Me, Learn How to Love, and Love Has Something Else to Say.  Maybe there will be more up-tempo numbers next time.  I certainly hope so.  If you want a record to relax to, then Revelator is for you.  If you want to get your adrenaline going, look elsewhere.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Strange Things in Norway

Shortly before Anders Breivik went on his killing spree in Norway on July 22nd, he published a manifesto detailing his thoughts on multiculturalism, Marxism, Islam, and their effects on Norwegian society.  Much of his manifesto, the 1,500-page 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence, is devoted to the “Islamization” of Europe, and how “cultural Marxism” is allowing Islamic colonization of Europe.  He accuses these “cultural Marxists” as wanting to deconstruct European traditions, culture, and even the various nation-states within Europe.  He identifies those in Norway who belong to the Labour Party, Socialist Left Party and the Center Party as being responsible for this “Islamic colonization.”  He chronicles how Europe and Christendom has been under attack by Islam for the past 1,400 years.  He details how Europe escaped Islamic domination in 732 when Charles Martel stopped the invasion of the Umayyid Caliphate at the Battle of Tours, and the stopping of the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna in 1683.  He says that now Europe is again at war with Islam, only this war is a demographic one, one with a mass migration of Muslims accompanied by a high Muslim birthrate in Europe.  According to him, the Muslims are being aided and abetted by the cultural Marxist elites of Western Europe.  He accuses the European Union of deliberately destroying the cultural traditions of member states by flooding them with immigrants and erasing the traditions of the indigenous peoples of Europe, the Jews and Christians.  To wit, the word “indigenous” appears 160 times in his manifesto.  Breivik claims there has been a “genocide” conducted against the “indigenous” peoples of Europe for many years.

His cure for solving Europe’s Islamic colonization is to remove what he sees as the political doctrines of “cultural Marxism” and multiculturalism.  He advocates assimilation of Muslims into European society, and mass deportations of Muslims from Europe who do not assimilate.  In a video self-interview posted on-line with his 1,500 page document, he said he is part of an indigenous-rights movement whose ideology is cultural conservatism. "I am very proud of my Viking heritage. My name, Breivik, is a place name from Northern Norway, dating back to before the Viking era."  Breivik identifies himself as a “Justiciar Knight Commander for Knights Templar Europe and one of several leaders of the National and pan-European Patriotic Resistance Movement.”  He states as his military objectives as the use of guerrilla warfare against the above-mentioned political parties.  The method of choice would be sabotage operations or the “use of shock attacks” against these “category A and B traitors.”  Such was his plan when he committed his crimes on July 22nd.  

Breivik’s crimes in the name of the indigenous peoples of Europe remind me of something I saw on IFC about a year ago.  It was a documentary of Norwegian black metal called Until the Light Takes Us.  Filmmakers Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites moved to Norway to pursue their interest in that country’s black metal scene. They discovered a story of extreme aesthetics, murder and church burning.  What is “black metal”?  It’s a sub-genre of thrash metal that’s raw and poorly produced.  It has “blast beat” drumming [very fast tempo – over 180 beats per minute] and distorted guitars.  The vocals are mostly high pitched rasps and guttural growls that are most unintelligible.  Many vocalists try to sound like what they think a demon or something from hell would sound like.  The lyrical themes have mostly pagan or satanic themes.  The documentary follows two of the leading lights of Norwegian black metal.  Gylve Nagell [aka Fenriz] of the band Darkthrone is a quiet, unassuming guy who just goes about his business as he laments the commercialization of black metal.  The other guy is Varg Vikernes [aka Count Grishnackh], who is as charismatic and outspoken as Fenriz is quiet and unassuming.  For Fenriz, it’s all about the music, but for Vikernes there is an extreme Norwegian nativist political and religious [pagan] agenda in play.  Also of interest, all the interviews of Vikernes for this documentary took place in the Trondheim maximum security prison, where he served 16 years of a 21-year sentence for murder and arson.  

In keeping with the pagan aesthetic, members and fans of the Norwegian black metal scene claimed responsibility for over 50 arson attacks on Christian churches between 1992–1996. Many of the buildings were hundreds of years old, and widely regarded as important historical landmarks.  One of the first and most notable was Norway's Fantoft Stave Church.  This church had been in place in Bergen since 1883.  It had been moved from Fortun, located at the eastern end of Sognefjord, where it was built around 1150.  Its ruins appeared on the cover of Burzum’s album Aske [Norwegian for ‘ashes’].  Burzum is the one-man band black metal project of Varg Vikernes, who like Breivik is proud of his Viking heritage.  In Until the Light Takes Us Vikernes tells about how and why he and others burned churches: the Christians put the churches over sacred pagan grounds hundreds of years ago and so the black metal movement, for ostensibly nationalistic, back-to-the-Roots ideals, decided to burn the churches down. Like Breivik, Vikernes sees an external force [in this case Christianity] as being a force of oppression against “indigenous” cultures in Norway.  Norwegian police believed Vikernes was responsible for the Fantoft Stave Church burning, but they could not prove it.  However, Vikernes was found guilty for the arsons of Holmenkollen Chapel [the church King Harald V and the royal family attended], Skjold Church and Åsane Church.  He was also convicted for the murder of Øystein Aarseth [aka Euronymous], who owned an independent record store named Helvete [Norwegian for Hell].  Aarseth also founded his record label Deathlike Silence Productions in its basement, releasing some of the most important Norwegian black metal recordings. Several musicians in the scene often met in the basement of the record store; including the members of Mayhem, the members of Emperor, Varg Vikernes, and Snorre Ruch of Thorns.  Bård 'Faust' Eithun worked in Helvete and lived at the back of the building, and Tomas 'Samoth' Haugen also lived there for a time. The store's walls were painted black and decorated with medieval weapons, posters of bands, and picture discs, while its window featured a polystyrene tombstone. 

Parties at Helvete were legendary: huge, chaotic, candle lit affairs, where devotees wore corpse paint, black capes, and replicas of Viking gear. From his base at Helvete, Aarseth became a leader of the scene. He often expressed hope that Black Metal would incite young people to violence; conceiving methods of torture, he held lengthy lectures on how the pain would scare the victims. "It was an exciting period," says Samoth, the guitarist for Emperor. "We all hung out and talked about our hatred for Christianity and how to get the Viking religion back." All of this “Inner Circle” despised Christianity's glorification of weakness, it's sympathy for the sick and needy. So the Circle devised the idea of setting fire to the pride and glory of Norway — it's beloved wooden churches. That would remind the people of Norway that they were all still the children of Odin.  When I stumbled onto this story of these church burnings [of which I thought there were only a few], I came upon this list I found in Wikipedia and was somewhat started to see how long the list of church burnings was.  

1992 - 
May 23: burning of Storetveit Church in Bergen
Jun 6: burning of Fantoft Stave Church in Bergen – Varg Vikernes is strongly suspected as the culprit, but was not convicted.
Aug 1: burning of Revheim Church in Stavanger
Aug 21: burning of Holmenkollern Chapel in Oslo – Varg Vikernes and Faust were convicted for this.
Sep 1: burning of Ormøya Church in Oslo
Sep 13: burning of Skjold Church in Vindafjord  – Varg Vikernes and Samoth were convicted for this.
Oct 3: burning of Hauketo Church in Oslo
Dec 24: burning of Ǻsane Church in Bergen  – Varg Vikernes and Jørn Inge Tunsberg were convicted for this.
Dec 25: burning of a Methodist church in Sarpsborg – a firefighter was killed while fighting this fire. 

1993 -
Feb 7: burning of Lundby New Church in Gothenburg, Sweden

1994 - 
Mar 13: burning of a church in Sund
Mar 27: burning of Seegård Church in Snertingdal
May 16: attempted burning of Gol Stave Church in Buskerud
May 17: attempted burning of Åmodt Chapel in Buskerud
Jun 4: burning of Frogn Church in Drøbak
Jun 19: attempted burning of Heni Church in Gjerdrum
Jul 7: burning of a church in Jeløy
Jul 21: attempted burning of Odda's Church
Aug 13: attempted burning of Loop Chapel in Meldal
Dec 10: attempted burning of Ǻkra Church
Dec 22: attempted burning of Askim Church
Dec 26: attempted burning of Klemestrud Church 

1995 - 
May 13: burning of Lord Church in Telemark
May 25: burning of Såner Church in Vestby
Jun 14: burning of Moe Church in Sandefjord
Jul 21: attempted burning of a church college in Eidanger
Sep 3: attempted burning of Vågsbygd church college in Oddernes
Nov 3: burning of Innset Church in Rennebu 

Why the antipathy toward the Lutheran Church?  Here’s what Vikernes had to say about it:
In our contemporary society, youth are pretty much lost. They have no direction. Nobody is telling them what to do. That is, people are telling them what to do, but the youth have an instinct telling them this is wrong. People are telling them that Christianity is good, people are telling them that the USA is good, NATO is good, our democracy is good, but we know, if not intellectually, we know instinctively that this is wrong.
Extremism comes in different shapes and sizes anywhere you go.  Black metal has nothing to do with what Breivik did, but those who follow it are a bit extreme.  Given Anders Breivik’s expressions of his Christian faith, Vikernes and others like him who are part of Norway’s neo-Nazi fringe would probably excoriate him for not being nationalistic or extreme enough.  Vikernes would probably burn Breivik’s church given the opportunity.  But both Vikernes and Breivik have this in common:  they blame outside influences for Norway’s problems.  It is as if Vikernes and Breivik are two sides of the same coin.  In my research, I found that church burnings continue in Norway today.  It isn’t happening on the same scale as what it was during the 1990s, but it’s still happening.  The average Norwegian must feel like Dylan’s Mr. Jones – something is happening but they’re not quite sure what it is.  But whatever “it” is, “it” is pretty ugly.