Friday, February 26, 2010

A question for Ronnie Van Zandt...

re: Simple Man

Dear Ronnie,
I know that you are in heaven with your mama now, and I hesitate to bring up anything that might cause an emotional rift between you two, but I just have to ask something about the song, Simple Man.

You know the song, the one that goes:
Be a simple kind of man.

And maybe some day you'll love and understand.

Baby, be a simple kind of man.

Won't you do this for me son, if you can?

In it, you share all the sage advice your mother gave you when you were young. And it is fine advice--follow your heart...find a woman...forget your lust for the rich man's gold... All good stuff.

My question is this: did it ever bother you that she seemed to have such low expectations for you? I mean, "Be a simple kind of man?" Is that really the best she thought you could be? Just be simple. Don't be complex, or ambitious, or interesting, or multifaceted. Just simple. In the song, you never say what your reaction to all this advice was, or if you followed it. 

Honestly though, I'm surprised you remembered the conversation at all. You say that she said, "Come sit beside me, my only son," so this must have happened before your brothers Donnie and Johnny were born. You would have been, what, four years old? Pretty heavy stuff to put on a preschooler. Seriously, Ronnie, the more I think about it, I don't know if your mom was doing you any favors with this little heart-to-heart.

Anyway, I sincerely hope all is well with you, and honestly, do not feel any pressure to respond personally to this question. Just wanted to let you know that some of us are still thinking about what you said. 

But no matter what your mom says, I'm still gonna lust for the rich man's gold. Gimme that gold, rich man!

Got a question for one of the Van Zandt brothers or another classic rocker?
Send it in to the rockmocker, and we'll post it here.

Full lyrics to Simple Man here

Friday, February 19, 2010

A reader question for Journey...

Rockmocker reader T.I. of Chicago* writes:
I'm hoping you can pose a rather vexing question to the fellows from Journey. In their song Lights, Steve Perry sings, "When the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay..." Exactly what time of day is Mr. Perry describing? Lights generally go down around bedtime, and yet the sun would shine on the bay during the morning because the bay is east of the city. If the song were about Oakland, the setting sun could perhaps illuminate the bay while the lights are going down. But reportedly the song is not about Oakland, but San Francisco.

I once posed this question to a friend of mine, and she suggested that the song described morning, and that it was reasonable to assume lights (such as streetlights) would be "going down" around this time. But I pointed her to John Stewart's song "Gold," in which we are told "When the lights go down in the California town, people are in for the evening." (And "Gold" had Stevie Nicks singing backup and Lindsey Buckingham on guitar and production, so you know it's authoritative about late-'70s California.)

All of this has me very confused. I hope you can help.

Wow. Now that is a well-considered (and by that I mean “long”) question! Seriously, T.I., we applaud your perseverence in what has obviously been a long search for truth. Normally, we avoid answering questions on this site, considering ourselves to be merely a conduit to the rockers we so admire, but your question piqued my interest so I did some searching. (There’s this little site called wikipedia…). Seems Mr. Perry himself has more-or-less addressed this point. If you believe what you read on the Internet, your answers can be found here. Attn: San Francisco readers! Steel yourselves. Apparently Perry wrote this song about a different cit-tay altogether--one whose abbreviation rhymes with "the bay".

How about you then? Got a question for a classic rocker?
Send it to the rockmocker and we'll pass it along.

A special welcome to all the new tri-state readers who heard me on WLW. Be sure to sign up to get posts via email in the right column.


* Incidentally, did it ever strike you that the song Tra La La by the Banana Splits sounds eerily similar to Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley? Me neither. But it did to T.I. of Chicago who submitted today's question. T.I. is a clever fellow who would like to invite Rockmocker readers to visit his website, a part of which is dedicated to identifying similar-sounding songs. Clever indeed. Thanks, T.I.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Speaking of the pompatus of love...

Dear Steve Miller,
It's been awhile since I've written. I hope you are still being well and truly rocked by your sweet baby. I know to what great lengths you went to make that happen.

Just a quick question today regarding The Joker
You say:
People keep talkin' about me baby, 
say I'm doin' you wrong (doin' you wrong),
But don't worry, don't worry, don't worry now mama,
Cause I'm right here at home.

If I read you correctly, you're saying that the mere fact of you being right there at home rules out any possibility that you are doing your baby/mama wrong? Does she actually buy that? I'm no fancy social worker, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of wrong-doing happens, in fact, right there at home.

Still, if you would have stopped the song there, you might have convinced your sweet baby, if only grudgingly, that you were doing her right. But just a few lines later--after providing a laundry list of things you are (picker, grinner, lover, sinner, etc.)--you mention, almost as an afterthought, that, oh yeah, "I get my lovin' on the run."

Dude, you are either super-ballsy or your sweet baby has the intellectual capacity of an actual sweet baby. But, whatever works for you, Steve Miller. Just keep on tokin' and it'll probably all be fine.

Incidentally, have you ever considered playing your music in the shade? Not even The Joker can laugh away basal cell carcinoma. Think about it.

Full lyrics to The Joker here.
The mystery behind "the pompatus of love" revealed here. Really!

Below: The Joker, 1973. This one is well worth 3 minutes of your life. 
To see The Joker with kittens (Fatboy Slim remix), go here. Yes, kittens.

Got a question for the Space Cowboy or another classic rocker?
Query the Rockmocker.
Sign up to get rockmocker posts via email over there...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rock is dead.

We don't traffic in concert reviews here at Rockmocker Central Command, and after seeing/feeling/touching/healing yesterday's half-time extravaganza, it's just as well. No slipped nipples, thankfully. No denim-clad crotch-into-camera slides. Just flashes of Pete's white belly whilst nominally windmilling and two rock and roll heroes attempting the impossible--to live up to their legacy. Everyone in the world over 40 feels older today. Except for Pete and Roger who feel richer.

Anyhow, before we dismiss The Who entirely, I do have one quick parting question for them:

re: Long Live Rock
How are you so sure that you were "the first band to vomit in the bar and find the distance to the stage too far"? I know many bands have had and continue to have that problem, and I'm not saying it didn't happen to you, but first? What about The Spinners? Or the Electric Prunes? Or Badfinger? They all seem likely to have vomitted in the bar. How about Dizzy Gillespie? Hot Tuna? The Acid Reflux Experience? (Okay. I made that last one up.)

Also, did you always vomit as a band? How do you synchronize that?

Lyrics to Long Live Rock here.
Question for a once-mighty rocker? Query the Rockmocker.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A reader question for The Who...

Whoa... The Rockmocker apologizes for the looong delay between posts! While I cannot divulge the location, for the last several days I was attending--okay, I was keynote speaker at--a Monsters of Classic Rock summit meeting in Reykjavic, Iceland...oops! I divulged. ...Anyway, amazing what you learn when the masks come off and you're just "hanging out" with superstars. You might be interested to know, for instance, that Ric Ocasek is actually a quite handsome man who stands 5'3", Sir Elton John loves John Wayne movies and squirting Cristal through the gap in his teeth, and Jim Morrison is planning a comeback for 2012 in honor of the Mayan apocalypse. Oh! I've said too much.

While I was away reader questions have literally been figuratively stacking up, so let's get right to it!
We're all looking forward to seeing The Who perform at the Superbowl on Sunday--mostly to see if Roger Daltrey has the temerity to sing the line, "I hope I die before I get old", which according to actuarial tables should actually be amended to, "I hope I'm now dead."

Today's question comes from Rockmocker reader, D.R., who writes:
Dear The Who,

Nothing looks any different in the street? Really? Even with the slogans replaced, the parting on the left now parting clear over on the right and everybody's beards so much longer than they were yesterday? I just don't think you're paying attention, dude. And by the way, if you really need to fight in the streets, maybe you should put your children someplace safer than at your feet. 

Excellent and insightful question, D.R.! Clearly, The Who is not paying attention to the situation on the street. Sounds to me like they are ripe for being fooled again!
And what is it about rockers that makes them want to put their children in harm's way? Granted, The Who does say later in the song that he will "move myself and my family aside," but that's only if they happen to be left half alive. Oh rockers, will you ever learn about child safety?

Well, readers, enjoy the mini-concert on Sunday and be sure to watch this space for more updates from the Monsters of Classic Rock conference. Late in the evening, Stevie Nicks whispered something in my ear that you just will not believe...

Below: The Who (sigh) when they were The Who...
Won't Get Fooled Again
Parting on left/parting on right line at 4:40
Solos start at 5:45 and mercifully end with...
The Scream at 7:50
Instrument destruction at 8:40. Thank you.

Question for a classic rocker? Ask the Rockmocker!