Such said news about Ms Ronstadt that came as news to me only now — so sorry too that her amazing vocals will be with us only on record. …ironically one of my nicknames in hs was “haystacks” after a certain wrestling chap, I do believe. Any-who, I do like a Lowell George a heap and thus this makes the reblog for Rebloggin’ Sunday an easy one! Merci beaucoup to lightbulbhead for sending down the mojo wire that is tumblr!
Lowell George with Linda Ronstadt
Live at WHFS bootleg, 1974
I mentioned WHFS when I wrote about Robyn Hitchcock’s cover of “More Than This”, and here is a recording from their 70s incarnation, a free-form DJs paradise, with a loose mandate to play anything you wanted that wasn’t a hit. Before becoming the place to hear British imports and American indie rock it was the place to hear deep cut Zappa, Ramones, and Emmylou Harris. So it seems natural to have Lowell George of Little Feat stop by one March day with a handful of friends—including Linda Ronstadt—and play a laid back set from which this recording was taken.
"Willin’" is by any measure one of Lowell’s signature tunes, appearing in two different versions on Little Feat’s first two albums, and in 1974 Linda Ronstadt recorded a version that would appear on her breakthrough album, Heart Like A Wheel. But here, removed from any studio anxiety, removed from playing in front of an audience beyond a handful of friends and folks in the studio, the song finds its center. Lowell George here slouches toward infinity, his almost comically tongue-in-cheek spoken opening verse one of the most audible winks I’ve ever heard. He resists the urge to ramp up the bridge and chorus; the tempo stays close to constant, unlike both Little Feat versions and Ronstadt’s then recent recording. This is a waltz—though that’s a little harder to hear without the delineating drums—and the way Linda comes in on harmonies is a dance all its own.
Ronstadt does not get enough credit for her ability to compliment and elevate her fellow performers. Whether singing backing vocals with the likes of Neil Young, Paul Williams, Gram Parsons, Maria Muldaur and many others, or working with her own bands and studio musicians, she consistently improved and highlighted the work of her collaborators. And on this recording of “Willin’” it is as easy to hear as anywhere in her vast catalog; the moment she chimes in on the word “Tucson” her bright clear voice fills a void you didn’t know existed in the overall sonic palette. When that fine clear high opens up on the a cappella chorus, it’s like sunlight beams down on the weary voiced Lowell George. For two and a half minutes Linda Ronstadt is Dallas Alice, a bright shining light in the darkness.
I’m reblogging this again in the light of Linda Ronstadt’s revelation of her Parkinson’s diagnosis. To know that we will never again hear that magisterial voice rise into the air is a serious gut punch.
John Paul Keith “Everything’s Different Now” by Big Legal Mess
Anna (Go To Him) ~ The Beatles
This great Beatles “cover” — never fond of that word prefer “rendition” but it’s just a word — was among the more inspired moments on “Please Please Me,“‘s tracks fueled by Lennon’s soulful, aching vocal. In fact, the Arthur Alexander version sounds restrained and even smooth compared with Lennon’s tortured pleading. Even the way he phrases “Oh now” on the bridge going into the line about how “every girl I’ve ever had breaks my heart and leaves me sad” is more definitely soulful. I’m sure Mr. Alexander would have approved! And the sparse arrangement helps, abandoning the lavish orchestration and having George Harrison claim the keyboard riff for electric guitar! One of the very best early singles from the Lads and one that didn’t chart well! I know we usually have a Blues track on Mondays but it’s a holiday weekend here on this side of the Big Pond — I have been strolling down Penny Lane all day! Cheers, y’all!
Really good one from the Fab Four.