Songs named after places are common, but great ones are standards, i.e. "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," "Moonlight in Vermont," etc. As usual, we have a little bit of everything here in the second edition of this concept. I think each track is a contender regardless of title but the common thread is like listening to an atlas. A hip atlas. So take your last summer vacation while sitting in a chair at work or home and ALL bags are free, natch, and all music is first class. You can read part one of this particular series right here.
Below is a jukebox containing all the songs I picked this week. After you read about them below, go back and listen to whatever you like by just clicking on that title in the jukebox, or stream the whole playlist by clicking on the "play" icon at the top. It's free and it's the entire song. We're not selling anything. We're just in the business of hopefully making your days better by listening to great music.
1. "Going to New York" — Jimmy Reed (2:19)
This Chicago bluesman had a burnin’ desire to go to New York. As he says, “I’m goin’ to New York, I’m goin’ if I have to walk!” The reverse was true for me. But we both made it to where we wanted to go. How ‘bout choo?
2. "Back to Philadelphia" — Charlie Gracie (3:43)
Charlie's early 45s in 1957 got me off my guitar training wheels and onto the real thing so a few years ago I jumped at the chance to produce him. This is one of the tracks from those sessions. This is a pretty good advertisement for Philly and since he’s STILL there, one knows it’s from the heart.
3. "Jackson Station" — Band of Heathens (3:12)
These Austin-based folk-rockers have been loved by the Americana charts since their 2005 debut. Their first two albums were live, but this is from their first studio self-titled album in 2008 and they remind me of the softer side of Skynyrd. They’re still out there with at least two original members which is one more than Skynyrd, but THEY started in the late '60s. I think you’ll like this, in case you haven’t heard them before.
4. "Mississippi Kid" — Lynyrd Skynyrd (3:20)
See wot I mean? The singer’s voices are way different but their country soul reminds me of the former band’s stance above. Lawdy, this was my mandolin debut as a sideman back in 1972!
5. "Vietnam" — Jimmy Cliff (3:56)
What better songwriter could take on this subject back in the day than Jamaican Jimmy? What a great track, and one that has easily stood the test of time. I never get tired of Jimmy Cliff...
6. "Up in Arkansas" — Al Kooper (3:03)
When I lived in Gnashville, I got to spend some time with one of my heroes, Tony Joe White. This was one of my favorites of his, so one day I went into my home studio and played all the parts to see what I could do with this song considering my Queens, New York background. If you don’t play it right after HIS version, it’s tolerable — but it remains unreleased, so I just threw it in here 'cause I know no one’s heard it but my dog.
7. "The Poor People of Paris" — Chet Atkins (1:56)
This was a massive hit for bandleader Les Baxter in the early '50s and as a pre-teen there was something about this melody that got to me. I just went nuts when I found THIS cover version buried in an old Chet album a few years ago. We got to play "Green Onions" together in Gnashville a few years before he departed this Earth. This is one of my faves, based on my childhood.
8. "Salt Lake City" (stereo version) — Beach Boys (2:01)
Well, everyone knows what a Brian Wilson fan I am and this was one of my early favorites. Thanks to engineer Mark Linnett for bringing this one-track original mono album track into the much more informative two-track world. The piano solo is not as buried as on the original and the sound is wonderful. Still never been to Utah, but I sure do love this music.
9. "Going Back to Iuka" — Albert King (3:59)
This was recorded in Muscle Shoals in the early ‘70s and originally released in 1982. It then came out on CD remastered in 1990.The MS Swampers were the backing band and Don Nix originally produced this. A quick Google search tells me that Iuka is a tiny (population 3,028!) town in Mississippi.
10. "Rainy Night in Georgia" — Ray Charles (4:31)
Two Tony Joe White covers in one column? And a new TJW album due out any minute called Hoodoo? The Lord is smilin' on us all this week. I love the way Ray could take white orchestral charts (usually written by producer Sid Feller) and STILL have that stinging soul permeate them and forge a great marriage of black and white. This track is like that. Wonder what Tony Joe thought of this version? Here it is, so you KNOW what I thought. I love his hopefully pseudo-drunken fadeout as well. See ya next week.
The Mike Bloomfield box set is in the can and Sony claims it will be out in early January. That will make a happy New Year for me and hopefully some of you.