Every-every time I drink this beer, see its label, or hear its reference, I can’t help but think of this song, and this fascinating band… the immensely underrated, Minutemen, and this, their 1983 opus, The Anchor.
When Fridays creep up on you (and this one most certainly has), it’s always a pleasant, and calming recess to loop the soothing earworm, Don’t Worry, Be Happy. It’s all I can do right now to maintain what ember of sanity dimly shimmers along the crescent alcove of the raging fire that sits in front of me. It’s a mad, salivating dash to Thanksgiving, kids, and I’ll gleefully accept defeat if, and when the needle rounds its last, vibrant groove. Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
In 1966, Tim Hardin released his first studio album, Tim Hardin 1, and on this radiant release was not a reason to wonder, but instead a Reason to Believe, that Tim Hardin was, in fact, a timeless (and ultimately reckless) force, begging to be messed with.
The album’s third track, Smugglin’ Man, paints a greasy, underhanded picture of a deceitful man, THE man, able and willing to supply illegal substances to, among others, the Indians, the Arabs, and the Jews. This man of opportunity is, of course, Tim himself, or “Timmie” as the song goes. Be it guns, whiskey, gin or blatantly put, “anything illegal,” Tim was your late night go-to guy. Yes, Smugglin’ Man is a hell-of-a rockin’ R&B ditty, sung by a demon with an angel’s voice.
Cut to 1970’s compilation album, Tim Hardin.
Capitalizing on Tim’s breakout success of the late 60s, Tim Hardin (the album, not the man) was yet another repackaged, “Best of,” whose 9 (of 10) tracks made up the bulk of his first two albums (Tim Hardin 1 and Tim Hardin 2, naturally). I’m a completist sucker, so I had to have Tim Hardin, even though I’d already owned these songs two, and some even three times over.
All of this is very well, nice and good, but the (long-winded) message at heart, here, is that there is a hilarious oversight printed on this comp’s front cover. Instead of a rum-runnin’ man with a deviant mind for smugglin’, is instead a jaunty fellow with the habit for snuggling. As it’s printed, Snuggling Man paints a much different, and more family friendly picture than the gin-smugglin’, whiskey-sellin’ scar on the pale face of morality.
So, if you’re familiar with the song, here’s a little gift, smuggled, and snuggled, from me, to you…
I’m an old time snugglin’ man and I know just what to do
I’m an old time snugglin’ man and I know just what to do
I sell guns to the Arabs,
I sell dynamite to the Jews
– Lyrics by Tim Hardin, snuggler extraordinaire.
Would you pay 95 Lincolns for Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell? Well I did, and thanks to the “every album should have a protective plastic sleeve, because who knows the ramifications of unprotected audible indulgence,” type situation, I’d forgotten that I owned this album. So, yeah… Meat Loaf. Eat up, kiddos. (Insert quippy, quasi-comical, closing statement here.)
There is something distinctly haunting that unjustly fills the room when I listen to the fortuitous desperation that surrounds Tim Hardin when he sings the lyrics, “I’ll never get out of these blues alive” on the Fred Neil classic, Blues on the Ceilin’ from Tim’s 1963 recorded, 1967 released (third) album, This is Tim Hardin. For you see, he didn’t. Escape those blues, that is. Mr. Hardin, my current crutch, passed on December 29, 1980. The cause of his untimely death? The blues… in the form of diacetylmorphine.
Other monumental iconic phrases from this track are:
– I’d do it all over, but I’d rather not
– Love is just a dirty four-letter word to me
– The bitter the blues, the better they keep
– The toast was cold, the orange juice was hot
White. Boy. Blues. As prolific an oxymoron as it is, has its fair share of respectable highlights. Tim Hardin isn’t known for his blues-driven ways (and that’s painfully unfortunate), but instead, for his often covered and heart-tuggingly sweet If I Were a Carpenter.
When I drink whiskey, alone, I subconsciously gravitate towards Tim Hardin. Like a beaming source of intellectual and soul-bearing light, Mr. Hardin asks only one favor of us while we enjoy his personal blues-documenting catalog, and the favor is that we must share in this man’s heartfelt dismay. Pain manifests itself in many forms, up to and including a soulful voice accompanying sincerity projecting from the blackened heart.
Send for the newest Johnny Cash poster! So reads this adsert from the house copy of Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. I mean, come on (read, COME OWN), people! This is a 22” x 33” mother sucking poster that is as big and bold as life! BIG… and BOLD… AS LIFE! You’re wasting time! Drop whatever you’re doing right this God-given second! Feeding the baby? Well, maybe don’t drop the baby, but rather, set the baby down on the linoleum next to Thomas the Train and this month’s copy of Bon Appetite magazine, and ORDER! THIS!! MOTHER LOVING POSTER!!!
As an avid Tim Hardin fan, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this collection of field-tending utterances (of creative genius) fashioned a JC version of the song (arguably, Tim Hardin’s most famous), If I Were A Carpenter. Death makes legends of mediocre men. Such is not the case with regards to both Hardin and/or Cash. 1969, the year of this album’s release, I imagine, was a tempting and paranoid time. I never saw 1969… I never breathed the tree-hugging stench of the summer of love, but I am, however ill fashioned, and comfortably basking in this year’s creative brilliance, for lack of a better term.
It’s currently 11:02 in the PM and the whiskey has already dressed itself in the warming linens of my fingers’ skin, so, just about anything read (written) from this point forward need not be taken without a grain (or two) of seasoned salt. Hardin vs. Cash… both are dead, yet, both remain amicably fruitful in the receptive throats of those thirsty for heartfelt tones.
All detours lead to Hardin… – The Prudent Groove
Do you know what I hate? Whiskey. Yeah. I hate whiskey. It’s not the lovingly-bitter pinch it leaves on your exasperated tongue, it’s not the superhuman strength it willingly, and fervently gives you, it’s not the subtle suggestions it, well, suggests, that leave you STRONGLY considering running for a seat on the United States House of Representatives… instead, it’s the overwhelming velocity in its seemingly subtle proposals that provoke me to nudge the dials on my home stereo from, oh, I don’t know, say a neighborhood pleasing, tolerable volume, to a RAGING, cacophony of disruptive and uncongenial banter of my emotional choosing (namely, Guns N’ Roses, Refused, Guns N’ Roses, and ok, well mainly Guns N’ Roses).
There are specified channels of unquestionable vitality that never consider stepping down from atop their immortal foundation, and 1987 G N’ R is absurdly no exception.
Editor’s note: I extend my intense apology for the choice of photos for the following X posts. You see, I’ll be out of the office for the next X days and, well, I’ve forgotten to take pictures of the proper albums prior to my last minute post writing (you know, with the proper daylight and all). Something tells me, however, not a soul will notice, or venture to care, and therefore this Editor’s note will have served as a monumental waste of both your, and my time. Carry on.
It’s comforting, just how powerful the sadness of others can be. One man’s sadness is another man’s solace, I always say (I’ve never said that). I’m not saying go out and make someone cry, I’m just saying the emotional release that some artists offer can be a wonderful companion.
While painting pictures of our ancestors desecrating the Plaines of our nation’s majestic beauty, Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard offer a beautiful imagine of how the diseased minds of those ancestors would respond upon seeing their failed endeavors being overtaken by beautiful, luscious flowers. “Let us sacrifice our time, our family’s time, our souls, our worries, and our lives to the building of this conveyance called, the railroad… then lets abandon our progress and allow for nature’s beauty to restake her claim,” said no one ever! Probably because “restake” isn’t an actual word.
Bugs & Flowers is a rolling wave of solace. It’s that much needed alleviation when you had no Earthly idea you were in desperate need of it. Clocking in at 4:13, Bugs & Flowers is the comfort from a loved one that you want never to leave your side, but eventually always does. The entire album could be this song repeated, 11 times and show no hint of getting old. Melancholy is a powerful thrill.
Throughout the song, Mr. Lewis talks of taking a solitary walk in the forest over a series of deteriorating crossties. Along this self-reflecting journey, he comments on the backs of shiny bugs, infinite dust, and crosstie devouring flowers.
It’s difficult sometimes, when the whiskey takes over. It’s as though solemn innocence loses its struggling will to survive. Lucky for me there’s a soundtrack to this struggle.