Saturday, June 18, 2005

Summertime Blues

Summertime Blues

Well, I went to my congressman
He sent me back a note
It said, "I''d like to help you, hon
But you're too young to vote"

I don't know about other people, but I always believed this song to be written by the Who, after I saw them perform this at Woodstock( the movie/ I'm not old enough to have been at this most wonderful of concerts in person).

Their electrifying, drug-fuelled performance, their equipment-smashing madness, a white-jumpsuit wearing Pete Townshend windmilling and leaping about the stage, Keith Moon's insane drum-rolls- everything was perfect in the movie, if not in real life:
It has, strangely, sometimes been described as their worst gig ever, involving Pete bashing his guitar on a man's head for interrupting their set. Luckily, I never got to see this happen which is why it seems near flawless to me, to this day.

And then I found out that this song, the song that I thought gave Woodstock more flavour than it is given credit for, the song that so perfectly described the repression felt by the youth of the time, the bleakness of work and the betrayal by their government at Vietnam that Woodstock through one long summer of peace and music was to cure, was written by Eddie Cochran and Jerry Caphart to be performed by Ed Cochran, in 1958, nearly a decade before I had believed it to be written.

Now, this in no way diminished my respect for the performance that made this song so famous. They transformed this song into something altogether wild and full of the madness that was the Who, which makes it very hard for me not to associate this song with them.

However, this did greatly increase my respect for Ed Cochran, who to someone born in the late 80s, seemed more an Elvis sound-alike than a good songwriter and performer. I could just as well have labelled the Byrds, the Monkees, the Beach Boys etc. nothing but lesser-quality facsimilies of the Beatles, which though partly correct appearance-wise, is not all that their music was. People borrowed music techniques all the time- heck, even the Beatles weren't always a hundred percent original. But the remarkability of the lyrics, their twisting even the slightest thing they borrowed to something no one else was capable of, is mostly why it isn't seen as a corruption and the borrowing generally considered too inconsequential to be of note.


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