Music Myths and other Silly Things
Who doesn't like a good story? There are many great ones and some not so much about music. I try and put a little story into my blogs and during the course of my research I have run across some that are quite curious. Some of these myths about songs and artists have innocent enough beginnings and been perpetuated or at least not denied by the artists themselves, others come from malcontents and the misinformed.
Here is one that falls in the category of a silly thing; Bob Dylan and the 'Stealers Wheel' song "Stuck in the Middle with You", released in April, 1973.
1. Bob Dylan did not write this nor did he sing this song, nor is this song about Bob Dylan.
2. If you do a search for 'Dylan and Stuck in the Middle" you will get results like the following:
- Home » Artists » Bob Dylan » Stuck In The Middle With You
- Bob Dylan - "Stuck In The Middle With You" lyrics
- Bob Dylan: CD's Sheet Music Tablature, Stuck in the Middle with you - Bob dylan
- A Youtube posting: 68,167 views•Nov 14, 2012, Dutchmeister. 42 subscribers, "Best work of Bob Dylan ever: Stuck in the middle with you"
- Stuck In The Middle With You, Bob dylan, https://www.musica.com/, Testo della canzone Stuck In The Middle With You di Bob Dylan
- http://similarlyrics.com, BOB DYLAN lyrics, Stuck In The Middle With You
The song was written by Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty (Baker Street) who were 'Stealers Wheel' and it's true they had Dylan somewhat in mind when they wrote the song and it was in-part a bit of a parody, but more so a shot at the state of the Recording Industry in general via a story about a cocktail party. So how did it all get started? In large part to a line from an article in Rolling Stone Magazine reviewing the song, and I am paraphrasing "the best Dylan song he never wrote" or something to that effect. As often happens words are spoken or written and then in isolation or distortion they take on an entirely different meaning. Here we are in 2019, some 46 years after the fact and there is still misinformation about the song. No, not a Dylan song. No.
Mama Cass Elliot was most notably a member of "The Mamas and The Papas" the 1960's folk sensations that had hits with "California Dreaming" and "Monday Monday" among others. After the band broke up Elliot had a moderately successful solo career. While on tour in London, England she passed away July 29, 1974. She died of a heart attack and while no doubt being overweight as well as binge diets, drug use, alcohol and busy tour schedules were contributing factors she did not as the vicious rumor indicates, from choking on a ham sandwich. This stems from an initial remark made by a medical examiner on scene at the time of her death. He reported that there was a ham sandwich present and she most likely choked on it. Fact is she had ordered a sandwich but she had never taken a single bite before she succumbed to her heart attack. This is confirmed by the Coroners report as well as others on site investigating her death. To anyone who considers themselves at all knowledgeable about popular music this has been known since shortly after her death in 1974.
I was very recently listening to a radio program about music and movies where the hosts were joking about the death of Cass Elliot. Their misinformed and callous behaviour inspired the topic for today's posting. If you didn't know, that's OK but consider yourselves a little better informed today but I would expect more from people who are so-called professionals in the 'business'. Let's stop the body shaming today.
"Puff the Magic Dragon" is not about smoking Marijuana. Sorry, but no it's just not, confirmed by the original author of the poem Leonard Lipton, who gave it to a University classmate named Peter Yarrow. Yarrow who wrote additional lyrics to make the hit song sung by his later band "Peter, Paul and Mary" (1963) says it's about what you hear, growing up and a loss of childhood innocence. My mother said they had to replace the needle on the record player because I made her play the song so much as a young child. Yes, I said needle and record player, look it up ;)
Now this story is about smoking Marijuana! The "420" origin buds (pot pun!) from a group of friends from San Rafael High School in Northern California. Apparently, back in 1971 they used to hang out after school around a big wall and called themselves the "Waldos". In the autumn of that year the five teenagers got hold of a hand-drawn map showing the location of a marijuana crop at Point Reyes, north-west of San Francisco. They went on a road-trip but never found the stuff but continued to smoke pot after school, usually around 4:20 p.m. The habit seems to have caught on. Sorry pot fans but 420 though celebrated on April 20, is not Bob Marley's Birthday, that would be February 6 (1945), and not the date of his death either May 11, 1981.
Buddy Holly and The Crickets were not named for a noisy cricket in Buddy's parents garage as dramatized in the movie "The Buddy Holly Story" starring Gary Busey as Buddy, still a great movie though not very factual at all. Buddy, following a couple unsuccessful attempts at getting a hit song needed a new band name to avoid a contract dispute with his old record company. While at the home of his producer Norman Petty they were brainstorming names. Inspired by one of Holly's favorite blues bands circa early 1950's 'The Spiders' they got stuck on insect names and combed through an encyclopedia, that's a book, look it up. They briefly considered the 'beetle's' but thought that sounded like a bug you wanted to squash under your boot, not very attractive they thought, hence landing on the music making little critters. Ok the noisy critters in my basement are getting squashed, Buddy Holly fan or not! And yes it is true that The Beatles were big Buddy Holly (& the Crickets) fans and went through a similar process eliminating insects to find their name.
Speaking of the The Beatles, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is not a song about LSD the hallucinogenic drug. Though the band would later admit to have taken LSD and other drugs on occasion this song was apparently innocently inspired by young Julian Lennon’s drawing of his schoolmate, Lucy O’Donnell that seem to depict her in a sky like image with stars. Somewhere there is a photo of the art piece, and yes I said drawing, do kids still do that? I hope... Covered about 150 times, by Elton John in 1974.
In the movie 'Deliverance', the ‘Dueling Banjos’ (which were actually a guitar and a banjo) scene was always a planned part of the original script in the movie. The banjo playing boy was not autistic and he was an actor but could not play the banjo. However there is this myth based upon some published story that says "An Autistic boy was watching the filming at the gas station and heard the music....until the cameraman happened to catch it on film, This is how this remarkable scene, ‘that was included in the movie’, was developed and filmed. NOTE: The family of the boy was well paid and beat poverty by accident. The guy playing the guitar in Deliverance is Ronnie Cox." Well the Ronnie Cox part is true, the rest is just made up stuff.
The actual song from the movie was written by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith (previously mentioned in R&R pt. 1) and performed by Smith (guitar) and Don Reno (banjo) and titled "Feudin' Banjos" (1955). The music for the song in the movie was performed by Eric Weissberg on banjo and Steve Mandell on guitar, and used without permission from Smith who was not credited and later was successful in a lawsuit.
"Jingle Bells” was not a Christmas song! It was written in the mid-19th century by James Pierpont, who was living in the Southern US at the time and missing the snowy winters of his home in New England. Seems it was played around the Thanksgiving holiday and noting the beginning of winter as time went on the two holidays and subsequently the music just got linked together. Hey "River" by Joni Mitchell is not a Christmas song either but it's now a staple song of radio stations and artists covering 'Holiday' songs.
The CCR song "Fortunate Son" is not about Al Gore Jr. The song talks about a "Senator's son" who avoids the Vietnam war draft due to being born "with silver spoon in hand". I actually had never heard this before but apparently this myth has been floating around for over 40 years. According to John Fogerty who wrote the song, he said "I was thinking about David Eisenhower, the grandson of Dwight, who married Julie Nixon"
The Paul Simon (post Garfunkel) song "Mother and Child Reunion" was written by Paul Simon. This story is true, it was inspired by a dish on a Chinese Food restaurant menu. Apparently this was not an uncommon name for a chicken and egg dish, Simon saw it on a menu and thought that's a great name for a song!
Happy music listening!
References: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page, Secondhandsongs.com
https://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/bob_dylan/stuck_in_the_middle_with_you-lyrics-106669.html, https://houseoflyrics.com/lyrics/bob_dylan/stuck_in_the_middle_with_you.html, https://www.testicanzone.com/testo-stuck-in-the-middle-with-you-bob-dylan.html, http://similarlyrics.com/bob-dylan/other/stuck-in-the-middle-with-you, Hank Bordowitz’s unofficial history of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bad Moon Rising:, snopes.com
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