Anecdote – The day reality hits and life is over

9 Captain Beefheart & Magic Band Poems & Peons BookCoverImage

The day reality hits and life is over

Three years is a long time but it goes very quickly.

I had chosen my college on the basis of the Roy Harper poster that had featured inside the door; I was now, three short years later, contemplating life in the future beyond education. It looked like a huge void.

There were a few pluses – I had managed to accrue 7 O Levels, 3 A Levels and two one year Ancillaries. Unfortunately none of the grades achieved were at all inspiring. I had done the barest minimum to get by. I had managed to exist on my meagre grant for three years, even managed to buy a lot of great vinyl, seen all the top bands, fallen in love with the most gorgeous young lady on the planet, and had an incredible time in London during the height of the sixties underground.

Three years of sex and drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll, subsidised by the State, were actually coming to an end. It was difficult to contemplate. For three years I had been free-wheelin’ with no commitments. I had been free to do what I wanted, met some incredible people, lived through an inordinate amount of wondrous experiences and contemplated the mysteries of life. It had been wild.

But in a matter of weeks that was coming to an end. There were no more grants to eke out. I was going to have to get money from somewhere in order to meet the bare necessities necessary for the body to operate. That meant working.

Unfortunately I was not talented in the areas that mattered. I could not play any musical instruments; I was not going to make a living out of art and had no other creative means of earning a living.

I decided to try writing. I had a lot to say. I had a wealth of experience to draw on; a tsunami of ideas to pour forth. I merely needed an audience. I was sure that once I had scribbled out my first amazing masterpiece of a book the publishers would be falling over themselves.

That turned out to be a little far from the reality I had imagined.

So in May 1971 I was contemplating what on earth I was going to do with the remainder of my sorry life.

The major hurdle was finals. I was far from certain that I was going to pass. I had hardly been the most diligent of students. The world was too full of exciting people, places and things to be stuck into learning about things I wasn’t interested in. Fortunately I loved Biology and had amazingly absorbed quite a lot of information. The bits I enjoyed I excelled at. The bits that did not grab me I ignored.

A career, even in my beloved Biology, sounded like a death sentence to me.

I decided that I would wait and see what the results of my finals were like before deciding. Miracles could happen. Things turned up.

I was viewing the end of my college days as the death of a dream. The other side was oblivion. My life was over.

Pete was heading off to the States. That sounded good to me. I managed to persuade Liz that this was a good move. Who knew what might unfurl? The world was full of opportunities. What could be better than three months travelling around America? We’d work our way round and then come back and head off to Africa or India.

It didn’t quite work out that way. But the idea was reasonable, if you saw it from the perspective of one who despised the strictures of society. I did, unbelievably, scrape through my finals. We had our three months in America and a further three years in London. It was a bit of life after death. But we did not get to Africa or India for quite a while to come.

The important thing was that we were still roaming freely and not tied down. Life was good.

If you enjoy my poems or anecdotes why not purchase a paperback of anecdotes for £7.25 or a kindle version for free.

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Or a book of poetry and comment:

Rhyme and Reason – just £3.98 for the paperback or free on Kindle

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My other books are here:

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Opher’s World Roll of Rock honours

Opher’s World Roll of Rock honours

Well it seems that every day another luminary bites the dust.

I thought it about time to do a list of all the great Rockers who are no longer with us. I use the term Rocker in its widest possible context. These are the guys I’ve loved. If I didn’t like them they don’t feature.

They don’t have to be good. They merely have to have impacted on me at some time in my life.

They are not in any order and I’ve probably repeated or missed out lots. Just let me know who and I’ll put them in.

 

Opher’s Roll of Rock Honours

 

Jimi Hendrix

John Lennon

Brian Jones

Elvis Presley

Bo Diddley

Duster Bennett

Jim Morrison

Paul Kantner

Lou Reed

Buddy Holly

George Harrison

Muddy Waters

Son House

Hank Williams

Robert Johnson

Jackson C Frank

Tommy Tucker

Slim Harpo

Eddie Cochran

Gene Vincent

Esquirita

Otis Redding

Bessie Smith

John Cipollina

Junior Kimbrough

Jimmy Reed

Bo Carter

Bert Jansch

John Renbourn

Keith Emmerson

David Bowie

Ian Dury

Syd Barrett

Nick Drake

Phil Ochs

Woody Guthrie

Don Van Vliet

Rick Wright

Jack Bruce

Keith Moon

Paul Kossof

Keith Relf

Ronnie Lane

Joe Strummer

Pete Seeger

John Peel

Johnny Thunders

Joey Ramone

Nico

Albert King

Kokomo Arnold

Alexis Korner

Graham Bond

Elmore James

Ray Manzarek

Willie Dixon

Johnny Kidd

Sonny Burgess

Billy Lee Riley

Etta James

Hound Dog Taylor

Big Mama Thornton

Screaming Jay Hawkins

Sandy Denny

Janis Joplin

John Lee Hooker

Billy Boy Arnold

Memphis Minnie

Carl Perkins

Billy Fury

Jet Harris

Adam Faith

Bill Monroe

Bill Haley

Louis Jordan

Ben E King

BB King

Davy Graham

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Terry

Leadbelly

Lonnie Donnegan

Ken Colyer

RL Burnside

Professor Longhair

Richard Farina

Arthur Lee

Bryan Maclean

Alan Freed

Little Walter

Sid Vicious

John Bonham

Bob Hite

Bob Marley

Roy Brown

Chris Wood

Marvin Gaye

Dennis Wilson

Freddie King

T-Model Ford

Ian Stewart

Big Joe Williams

Steve Marriott

Rick Grech

Kurt Cobain

Nicky Hopkins

Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith

Rory Gallagher

Jerry Garcia

Jeff Buckley

Cozy Powell

Gene Autry

Heinz

Kirsty Macoll

Joey Ramone

Rufus Thomas

John Entwhistle

Noel Redding

Mitch Mitchell

Edwin Starr

Johnny Cash

Ray Charles

Jim Capaldi

Long John Baldry

James Brown

Ruth Brown

Ike Turner

Dewey Msartin

Snooks Eaglin

Andy Fraser

Frankie Ford

Mick Green

Dale Hawkins

Gregory Isaacs

Peter Tosh

Michael Smith

Poly Styrene

Amy Winehouse

Hubert Sumlin

Johnny Otis

Levon Helm

Paul Butterfield

Mike Bloomfield

Percy Sledge

George Martin

John Lord

Kevin Ayers

Alvin Lee

Trevor Bolder

JJ Cale

Bobby Womack

Tommy Ramone

Johnny Winter

Bobby Keys

Cilla Black

Allen Toussaint

Johnny Gustafson

Phil Everly

Doc Watson

Sky Saxon

Lux Interior

Boz Burrell

Alex St Claire

Hank Ballard

Chuck Willis

Skip Spence

Screaming Lord Sutch

Lee Brilleaux

Mick Ronson

Albert Collins

Peter Tosh

Joe Tex

Tim Hardin

Steve Peregrine Took

Marc Bolan

Bon Scott

Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan

Clyde McPhatter

Junior Parker

Duane Allman

Al Wilson

Sam Cooke

Cyril Davies

Cliff Gallup

Elmore James

Ray Manzarek

Willie Dixon

Johnny Kidd

Sonny Burgess

Billy Lee Riley

Etta James

Dusty Springfield

Hound Dog Taylor

Big Mama Thornton

Big Maybelle

Sandy Denny

Janis Joplin

John Lee Hooker

Billy Boy Arnold

Memphis Minnie

Carl Perkins

Billy Fury

Adam Faith

Bill Monroe

Bill Haley

Louis Jordan

Ben E King

Davy Graham

Sonny Boy Williamson

Sonny Terry

Leadbelly

Lonnie Donnegan

Ken Colyer

Brownie McGhee

Professor Longhair

Richard Farina

Peter Lafarge

Arthur Lee

Bryan Maclean

Otis Spann

James Cotton

Rock ‘n’ Roll – extract from my book Rock Routes.

IMG_6343 Rock Routes

Rock ‘n’ Roll Music

Rock ‘n’ Roll is nothing more than black Rhythm & Blues played by white musicians with a bit of Country & Western thrown in for good measure. There are exceptions to this but this definition allows us to see the complicated interwoven relationship that exists between the music that became known as Rock ‘n’ Roll and its black cousin Rhythm ‘n’ Blues. Throughout their short evolution the two styles have become so closely associated that it is almost impossible to distinguish one from the other. Indeed there is a great deal of confusion as to which type of music an artist is playing within the confines of a single performance or album.

Does it matter?

Not really. It only matters if you want to explore the various avenues that lead to the stuff you love.

You might find a few more things to get enthusiastic about.

You may get to understand why you appreciate it.

It is possible to trace the roots of Rock music right back to the 18th and 19th centuries with the introduction of African rhythms and beat to the European Folk Tradition. This was a meeting of spirits that was to reach fruition in the Southern States of America, particularly New Orleans in Louisiana and Memphis Tennessee. It was a merger that first gave rise to Country Blues, Cajun and Gospel. It led to Rhythm ‘n’ Blues, Jazz, Bluegrass, Honky Tonk and Country Boogie. In the early part of the 1950s it gave birth to a vigorous hybrid that came to be known the world over as Rock ‘n’ Roll.

It took the world by storm and altered all our lives. It was a revolution. It was strongly allied to the prevailing youth culture of teenagers that emerged after World War 2.

The very name itself set the whole tone for everything that followed. It was coined by Alan Freed who borrowed it from the black slang for sex. It set generation against generation and rocked the world. It instigated a sexual revolution and social change on unheard of proportions. It upset the prevailing racial and gender attitudes and provoked the move to equality and freedom that prevails today. It set in motion a climate of questioning that altered the deferential way people thought about politicians.

The moment Elvis shook his hips the world would never be the same. Even Elvis did not have a clue that would happen. He was as bemused as everyone else. It took on a life of its own. It was powerful.

 

To understand where it began and where it went we have to go back to the very beginning. The story of Rock begins with the fusing of the two cultural traditions in the latter part of the 19th century to produce a new type of music that we now refer to as Country Blues. This was first written about by W C Handy who recalls hearing a black musician playing this style of music at the railway station in Tutwiler Mississippi in 1903. He was playing an old guitar by running up and down the frets with a penknife. W C Handy was hearing Country Blues, bottle-neck style, for the first time. He was captivated.

Opher Goodwin and his life with Rock Music – Intro to Rock Routes.

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About the author

I was born in 1949 so I have lived through the whole Rock era.

I started collecting records when I was only ten years old and going to concerts when I was fourteen years old – The Birds (British with Ron Wood) and Them (with Van Morrison) were my first two gigs.

I have since amassed thousands of albums and, as my wife points out repeatedly, have a real obsession.

I have been fortunate enough to see most of the best:

Acoustic blues – Son House, Skip James, Bukka White, Big Joe Williams, Dave Honeyboy Edwards

Electric Blues – Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, Lazy Lester, T-Model Ford

Rock ‘n’ Roll – Jerry Lee, Bo, Chuck, Little Richard

Beat – Birds, Nashville Teens, Downliners sect, Stones, Them

British Underground – Hendrix, Floyd, Sabbath, Taste, Cream, Led Zep, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall, Free, Arthur Brown, Chicken Shack

US Acid – Beefheart, Country Joe, Love, Doors, Mothers

Singer/Songwriters – Roy Harper, Nick Harper, Dylan, Cohen, Joni, Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Billy Bragg, Duster Bennett, Ian Dury, Davey Graham, Tim Rose

Punk – Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, Tom Robinson………..

 

To name but a few – I could go on and on and on. It’s the ones you didn’t see that rankle.

 

I taught a course on Rock Music at school. I ran the first adult education History of Rock Music course in the country.

 

I wrote the entire History of Rock Music up to 1982 in 4 volumes totalling 1500 pages.

 

This book is the abbreviated version. An edition with charts showing the evolution and relationships of genres and artists will be forthcoming.

If you want to check out my books on Rock Music you can purchase them here:

My memoir of my exploits with live music:

My overview of Rock Music up until the 1980s:

My tributes (and pen pictures) of some of the geniuses I have encountered:

Or my views on what are the best Rock Albums of all time:

Amazon and on-line purchasing – Has it destroyed the fun of collecting?

Opher's World tributes cover

Amazon and on-line purchasing – Has it destroyed the fun of collecting?

I can’t help thinking that the ease with which anything can be tracked down has taken all the fun out of collecting. Instead of a hunt for a rare gem or unexpected bargain it has become a few clicks followed by a weighing up of how much you’re willing to pay.

I used to spend my Saturdays going off around the second-hand shops scouring the racks for the gems that others had missed. Your knowledge gave you the edge.

You met like-minded people, exchanged views on what you had purchased, and talked. It was a social event.

What has replaced that?

If you want to check out my books on Rock Music you can purchase them here:

My memoir of my exploits with live music:

My overview of Rock Music up until the 1980s:

My tributes (and pen pictures) of some of the geniuses I have encountered:

Or my views on what are the best Rock Albums of all time:

 

The warmth of Vinyl. Is it merely nostalgia?

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The warmth of Vinyl. Is it merely nostalgia?

There is a big ongoing debate concerning the benefits of the attributes of vinyl compared to digital.

Is it merely nostalgia or is there a noticeable difference?

Well I started collecting vinyl singles in 1960 when I was eleven. My older friend Clive sold on his Buddy Holly and Adam Faith singles to me and I played them endlessly on my old Dansette. Then I started on the albums. I’ve still got all my old Beatles, Stones and Roy Harper albums in my collection. I’ve got four thousand albums so you could say I’m a vinyl junkie.

I used to have eleven thousand vinyl albums. But I sold a lot back in the eighties. I still regret that.

However I also have ten thousand CDs and a huge wadge of MP3s.

I like music!

I am happy to sing along at the top of my voice to an old Rock classic on the radio, played with limited range through tinny speakers in the car. I like listening to old bootlegs and Blues recordings from the 1930s that were created on very dubious equipment. Quality of sound is not the foremost attribute of the music to me; it is the quality of the music that comes first.

There is the factor of ears to take into account. My ears are so worn, due to the pounding they’ve taken from a thousand loud gigs, a million loud albums and the odd other loud extraneous noise, which I doubt I can still discern too much either way.

So, being a scientist, I decided to do an experiment. I took a number of my favourite albums and compared CD, vinyl and MP3. This is what I found:

I like all three formats.

The CD has great clarity on acoustic numbers and separation.

The MP3s have far less separation of instruments.

The vinyl has more ‘warmth’ and genuine vibe – though a number of crackles. I don’t mind the crackles; they add to the ambience.

Of the three I did prefer the sound of the vinyl.

 

You can check out my journey through Rock Music in my classic book – ‘In Search of Captain Beefheart’. It is a memoir of my journey and search for the holy chords.

Anecdote – 1964 – Hitch-hiking round France for the Summer

I was fifteen in 1964 and had decided that I would head off for the continent with my older friend Foss. He was sixteen and about to leave school. Hence he was wise, mature and trustworthy. He would look after me.

We had it all planned out. We would catch the ferry to Calais and then hitch. It was fool-proof.

We worked evenings delivering advertising leaflets and somehow got enough money together to last us six weeks. We took ruck-sacks, a tent (with no front) and sleeping bags.

I’m not sure what was in the ruck-sack, I can’t remember taking much in the way of clothes, but I do know that I had the Stones first album and the newly released single ‘It’s All Over Now’ dangling from the back in a bag. I lugged those records all round France – well at least the little bit we trudged round.

It was a bit of an adventure.

The first thing we discovered was that we did more hiking than hitching. Probably due to our huge ruck-sacks, but possibly because of our long-hair, the drivers seemed reluctant to stop.

We ended up setting our tent up with the rats in the back garden of the Youth Hostel.

The French youth seemed in awe of us. Our long-hair caused a bit of a sensation. They would step out into the road to let us by and shout ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ after us. We got friendly with them all and they taught us a full range of swear-words in French. Sadly I’ve long since forgotten them.

A very large German guy called Hans was staying in the hostel. He adored the Rolling Stones and used to give us a great big bear-hug and demand that we play it at full volume. There were two timid Austrian girls who would invariably be clustered round the small portable record player listening intently to classical music. Hans, this giant of a lad, would go across with a jovial grin, thump the table with his ham of a fist, causing the needle to skid across, and say ‘Rolling Stones’.

The girls would scurry away and he’d play the whole album at full volume, nodding his head in time to the music and grinning.

That was a great summer. I became an expert at table football, discovered yoghourt, wine and that there were hundreds of different types of cheeses and bread. In post-war Britain we were living in the shadow of rationing and a paucity of food. The British had become extremely conservative. Cheese was cheddar and bread was white bloomers or sliced fluffy stuff. If you wanted something exotic you had a Hovis.

I was wide-eyed walking round the market. There was a whole stall of bread, black bread, brown, with rye and whole-grain. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Then the cheeses; it was the first time I’d ever seen cheese with holes in, great round cheeses sliced open, goats cheese, sheep’s cheese, green cheese and blue-veined. It opened up whole new horizons. The expansion of my palate was augmented by two Slavic girls who took a shine to me. They would cook up these delicious meals and force them on me. They seemed to think I needed fattening up. I’d never eaten so well. The variety, spices and flavours were heavenly.

Shopping was an experience. I rapidly discovered that the French could not understand French; at least not the way I spoke it. I was reduced, after a painful series of pronunciations that were getting more and more like Peter Sellers, to having to point. But the shop-keepers had a sense of humour. On one occasion I wanted a single onion for my spaghetti. The greengrocer only sold them by the kilo and they were ridiculously cheap – something like 10 centimes a kilo. I tried to negotiate the price of a single onion which he found extremely amusing. From that day on, every time I went past the shop he would rush out and give me an onion with great delight. In other places the humour was not quite so benign. I bought, having developed quite a taste for this novel discovery, fifteen cartons of different flavours of yoghourt. But I had not taken a bag. The shopkeeper was very unhelpful and I could not get him to sell me a bag. He was determined to see how I would manage to carry those fifteen cartons. I was equally stubborn and decided to show him that I could. Somehow I got back only having dropped three.

A circus came to the market square. There were jugglers, tumblers, horse-riders, clowns and a strong man who lifted up weights with these great wicked daggers into his arm-pits so that if he bent his arms he would impale himself.

The summer was long and hot. We drank wine, ate bread and cheese and hung out with a range of nationalities.

I was fifteen and I discovered that people were people where-ever they were from, and we could get along famously. I also discovered that there was a world of difference and difference was good. The whole feel of the place was a world away. Oh – and foreign girls were terrific and they liked little English lads with long hair.

That summer shaped my life.

Free – A little Bit of Love – lyrics that sum up a better way of living.

Freeband

What the world needs now is more naivety. We need some trust, love, fellowship and benevolence.

Back in the sixties, for a short while, we had a sharing, peaceful community. I liked it best like that. I believe that if you are open, altruistic and caring people respond to you. It works.

Most people are kind and pleasant. It is only the greedy, selfish, power-mad minority that spoil it all.

Perhaps we should all try giving out a little bit of love. We might just find it will come back at us.

“Little Bit Of Love”

I believe
If you give
A little bit of love
To those you live with
A little bit of love
Oh oh oh
Has gotta come your way.

Well in my mind
It’s easy
To lose sight of the truth
But in my heart
I can’t deny
My feeling inside

‘Cos I believe
If you give
A little bit of love
To those you live with
A little bit of love
Oh oh oh
Has gotta come your way.

Man in the sky
You say you are flying
To lose sight of the world
You wanna stay high
Then don’t deny
Your feeling inside

‘Cos I believe
If you give
A little bit of love
To those you live with
A little bit of love
Oh oh oh
Has gotta come your way.

Yeahh!
Whooo!

I believe
If you give
A little bit of love
To those you live with
A little bit of love
Oh!
Has gotta come your way.

I believe
If you give
A little bit of love
To those you live with
A little bit of love
Whooooo
Has gotta come your way

Rock Routes – complete with cover photograph of the Grateful Dead in San Francisco that I took in 2013, is now available in Kindle on Amazon for £2.45.

Why not give it a try?

If you are a fan of Rock Music or simply want to find out more then this may be right up your street!!

The Who – Won’t get Fooled Again – lyrics about the futility of war and regime change. Violent revolution changes nothing.

Who

The sixties was an age of liberation. There was talk of a revolution. The students and workers took to the streets in Paris and set up barricades. Never had there been such a generation gap; such a difference in philosophy between the young who wanted peace, love, equality and a global perspective and the older generation with its paranoia and belligerence.

The Vietnam war had brought it all to a head. The cold war raged and the assured mutual destruction of the nuclear arsenals meant we all lived a few minutes away from annihilation.

We thought there was a better way – global brotherhood.

The trouble is that it is always the psychopathic and sociopathic people who rise to the top. They seem so plausible. They are so coherent; so strong. Once in power they are just the same as the old lot.

The Who summed it up in one of the most powerful songs of its day.

Won’t Get Fooled Again

We’ll be fighting in the streets with our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

The change, it had to come, we knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that’s all
And the world looks just the same and history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they are flown in the last war

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again, no no

I’ll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I’ll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

There’s nothing in the streets, looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left is now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play, just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again, no no

Yeah
Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Read more: Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again Lyrics | MetroLyrics