Play "Free Bird"!
Bob Schneider concerts remind us of the all-you-can-eat roadside smorgasbord where we stopped after a daylong field trip in the fourth grade. You paid, like, $2.75, then packed your piehole till you were pretty sure you were gonna yak. Our friend Jon H. managed to put away 27 pieces of fried chicken.
You grow up, and the lost smorgasbords of your youth leave a void. So you fill that abyss with the live sounds of peerless Austin-based rocker Bob Schneider, whose two-hour-and-then-some sets careen from sing-along jams pioneered by Schneider's raunchy alter-ego band the Scabs, to unreleased material that might or might not appear on an upcoming album (tentatively titled Fuck All You Motherfuckers), to songwritery ballads that make the college chicks go all weak-kneed.
And then, boys and girls, there's our topic for today: the covers.
Along with the vast catalog of originals, Bob and the band have a penchant for dipping into others' oeuvres, typically the territory classic rockers like to call deep cuts -- from Grandmaster Flash to the Climax Blues Band, Violent Femmes to Kansas, "Hooked on a Feeling" to "The Weight."
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With this in mind, we sat down with a pitcher of margaritas and downloaded a CD full of rawk. Then we phoned Schneider on the road. While he watched the miles roll by, we played him our CD, requesting that he rate the songs on the Bob-O-Meter for cover consideration. The annotated results (* = already covered):
"All Right Now" (Free) At one point when I was in high school, that was my favorite song. But no.
"(Don't Fear) the Reaper" (Blue Öyster Cult)* We did a recording of it that I submitted to the folks at Six Feet Under. They passed on it.
"Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)" (Hollies) A definite maybe.
"Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" (Looking Glass) Not sure I could do it justice. You know who would? Big Head Todd.
"Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" (Rolling Stones) It's like going to a radio station and somebody gives you a bunch of CDs -- "I'll take all these CDs." And then you never listen to them.
"Take It Easy" (Jackson Browne)*
"Crazy On You" (Heart)
"Turn the Page" (Bob Seger) Someone sent me a Bob Seger record cover where I look exactly like Bob Seger at a certain age. I might consider doing that one with the Scabs, but with Bob Schneider I'd do one that didn't have any sax. I'd probably do "Like a Rock."
"Spanish Moon" (Little Feat)
"Can't You See" (Marshall Tucker Band)
"You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" (Bachman-Turner Overdrive) A definite-for-sure yes.
"Games People Play" (Joe South)
"Tuesday's Gone" (Lynyrd Skynyrd) We do "Sweet Home Alabama." Sometimes people request "Free Bird," and they're joking. We play it anyway.
"La Grange" (ZZ Top)* May do it again.
"Free Ride" (Edgar Winter Group) For the Scabs, definitely.
"Midnight Rider" (Allman Brothers Band) That's a hard one. You playing me that song may have been the key to unlocking what's wrong with me. Because half of me is saying absolutely not, and the other half is saying fuckin' cool!
We like our legends large, and that's part of what's made David Allan Coe (who plays the Sam Houston Race Park Friday) such an icon. The stories about him are legion, and untangling truth from fiction would be as fruitless as trying to outrun your past. They're forever intertwined, like who we are and what we were. Or as Coe says, "It's the past that molded my future and paved the way to my current situation." It's tempting to put parts of Coe's legend in boldface type -- and who are we to resist temptation?
It's a past that found the rebellious Coe in and out of reform schools during his youth, culminating in a stint in the Ohio state penitentiary. Legend has it he spent time on death row for killing a fellow inmate who demanded a blow job. When a Rolling Stone writer questioned this account, Coe penned a musical response: "I'd Like to Kick the Shit Out of You."
He got out of prison in 1967, a longhaired, earring-clad, tattooed rebel sporting the colors of the Outlaws biker gang with whom he once ran. He recorded an album called Penitentiary Blues the next year. It's as much blues as country, with a raw, almost-rock energy that would characterize the "outlaw country" movement led (inspired?) by Coe, Billy Joe Shaver and Coe's lifelong friends Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
Coe would never make it as big as Waylon and Willie, but he wrote a number of hits, especially for other artists, such as Tanya Tucker's "Would You Lie with Me (in a Field of Stone)" and Johnny Paycheck's "Take This Job And Shove It. " He's a terrific storyteller, with equal talent for cutting wise (as on the classic Steve Goodman-penned "You Never Even Called Me By Name," where Coe opines the perfect C&W song must have a mama, a train, a truck, prison and getting drunk), and cutting to the heart of a matter (as on his Human Emotions record, dedicated to his failed marriage and split into the "Happy Side" and "Suicide"). In the '80s he even wrote several X-rated "biker" albums with songs such as "Pick'em, Lick'em and Stick'em" and "Little Suzie Shallow Throat. "
Bankruptcy in 1990 almost broke Coe, as rights to all his songs were sold off and federal agents interrupted a concert in Knoxville, storming the stage and taking the guitar right out of his hands, as well his diamond rings, the cash out of his pocket and his belt buckle. But this "Longhair Redneck" is nothing if not resilient, and he's pushed on, building a new base of young fans while touring with Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker and Hank Williams III. Time has certainly changed Coe, and he's more reserved than in his biking, hell-raising, polygamist (yep!) days, but the legend follows him, sometimes haunting him, forever intertwined with the music in his down-home, outlaw heart. -- Chris Parker
MOTOR CITY CHICKENHAWK
MOTOR CITY CHICKENHAWK
What is there left to be said about Ted Nugent? The Motor City Madman -- who plays Tuesday at the Verizon -- has worn many hats over the first 57 years of his life. He's been a guitar slinger, an offender of Mexican immigrants, a bloodthirsty bow hunter, a self-proclaimed aficionado of underage girls and a gay-basher in words if not in deeds. He's also a big backer of Dubya and the war in Iraq; in fact, he just got back from a tour of U.S. military facilities over there. (His tourmate was Toby "Let's Put a Boot in Their Ass" Keith, who, believe it or not, was astonished by Nugent's hardline politics.)
Upon his arrival back home, the Nuge professed that it would have been really cool if some raghead had tried to kidnap him. "I was just hoping somebody would take me hostage," he said. "Just aim for the laundry."
One wonders why he doesn't just enlist, but then it seems that like a lot of his far-right chickenhawk buddies, Nugent doesn't like shooting at things that might shoot back at him. Nugent was born in 1948, which would have made him prime drafting age during the four most lethal years (for U.S. troops, anyway) in the Vietnam War. You'd think he would have been the first in line down at the enlistment office on his 18th birthday, ready to sign up for frontline grunt duty, wouldn't you?
Well, you'd be wrong. According to an article that appeared 15 years ago in the Detroit Free Press's Sunday magazine, the Nuge posed as a lunatic -- a real Motor City Madman-- to get out of serving. According to the story, he stopped all forms of personal hygiene 30 days before his draft physical, and in the last week before the big day "he stopped using bathrooms altogether, virtually living inside pants caked with his own excrement, stained by his urine."
Of course, the Nuge wasn't scared or anything like that -- he was just doing his bit for national security. "If I would have gone over there, I'd have been killed, or I'd have killed, or I'd killed all the hippies in the foxholes I would have killed everybody."
Yeah, Mister Stinkybritches, I'm sure that comforts all those "hippies" who actually served. -- John Nova Lomax
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