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Episode 18: 1969 Part I
We’re putting down a marker with this episode, and the follow-up: the highest highs and the lowest lows of the entire Rock Era occurred in 1969. It’s a year so big, we had to cut it in two, in order to serve it up properly. We start in January, with The Beatles on The Roof, a 42-minute outdoor concert that definitely warmed up the neighborhood of Mayfair, London, England. Then we catch up with their friends and rivals, The Rolling Stones. The Stones broke out HUGE in 68 and 69, the beginning of an incredible five-year run: from Beggars Banquet on through to Exile On Main Street. Peak Stones, the sweet spot for the World’s Greatest Rock N Roll Band. Brian Jones is out, Mick Taylor is in. We talk about how that happened, and how it impacted the Stones’ sound and attitude. Another influence starts seeping in: American Country Music, thanks to Keith’s new best buddy, Gram Parsons. Brian’s tragic--and still unexplained--demise changes the Hyde Park Concert from a coming-out party into a memorial service. Emotion and conviction carry the day, and Hyde Park sets a very high and hopeful bar; it’s an early example of How To Successfully Pull Off A Really Big Concert. During that “Moon-Crazy Summer” of 1969, NASA pulls off something really big. It’s the single greatest feat--so far--of human exploration: The Apollo 11 mission to the moon and back. We look at the moon landing through the Rock N Roll lens; we’ll talk about space travel, science fiction, and fantasy...in books, film, television, and most of all, in Rock Music. Then David Bowie, with his lifelong knack for being ahead of his time, said take your protein pills and put your helmet on. And we did. And in just a short time we got used to it, became a little jaded about it. That comes later. Here and now in the summer of 1969; stardust, golden, billion year old carbon...got to get ourselves back to the garden. We’ll open Part Two at Yasgur’s Farm in upstate New York, and we’ll light a candle in the rain. Head over to Pantheon Podcasts for full show notes.
|Nov 18, 2019|
Episode 17: Bookends
Chapter 17 of Rock N Roll Archaeology is bookended by a couple of Simon & Garfunkel albums: “Bookends” from the spring of 1968; and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” from January of 1970.
Our story takes place mostly in New York City: a city big enough to spawn two very different, very talented--and very influential--artists: Paul Simon and Lou Reed.
We skip work on a cold January afternoon to catch a movie: Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate.” It’s a generation milestone of a film, and Simon & Garfunkel’s music is a big part of that; what’s more, we argue, it’s a different kind of soundtrack, something new in film and popular culture.
We meet Tom Wilson, the first African-American staff producer at Columbia Records. Tom oversaw the first two Simon & Garfunkel albums. We follow him for a little while and he leads us to...Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground.
We get to know Lou and the Velvets, and the scene from which they sprang: Andy Warhol’s Factory. We meet a Factory hang-around, an angry young woman with good reasons to be angry, but she takes it way too far, with tragic consequences.
And we’ll meet the first Punk Rock band: The MC5, and the revolutionary political milieu they occupied. Wayne Kramer of the MC5 has some things to say about that, and about a fateful MC5 gig at the Fillmore East.
Finally, we’ll meet one of our favorite artists ever, who came from the same scene as the MC5: Iggy Pop. We say “Amen” to Iggy Pop.
We wrap it back around to Simon & Garfunkel, and their take on the anger and disappointment, on the turmoil of the late 1960s. An offer of comfort and healing is the first big Pop hit of the 1970s.
Listen to episodes 1-16 of Rock N Roll Archaeology and all our other podcasts at www.pantheonpodcasts.com
|Apr 15, 2019|
Episode 16: East of Eden
We start our tale of Paradise Lost in Buena Vista Park, San Francisco, in the fall of 1967. Hippie, the Devoted Son of Mass Media, is dead, and the San Francisco Diggers are conducting the funeral.
From the funky streets of the Haight we head east a couple miles to the Fillmore West, and meet a complicated man, concert promoter Bill Graham. It was during these early years in San Francisco that Bill created the rock concert experience.
Then a brief trip to Texas, where Janis Joplin cleans up and then heads back; to San Francisco to find her family. We get to know Janis a little better, and talk about her early work with Big Brother and the Holding Company--and what happened when Janis left Big Brother.
We’ll spend a little more time on the Big Picture. Politically, culturally, in pretty much every way, 1968 was a pivotal year, in America and around the world.
Then across the Bay, to the lands that lie East of Eden. We’ll meet two very different acts, that interestingly enough, have similar stories: Sly and the Family Stone, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.
We close it out with a short meditation on the aftermath of the Summer of Love. We still dream it and dance to it.
|Oct 25, 2018|
Episode 15: Slouching Towards Bethlehem
An impressionistic look at the interplay of Rock N Roll and Culture in Los Angeles during the latter half of the 1960s. There are familiar elements: storytelling, critical discussion and commentary, and lots of Rock N Roll attitude. But this one is different from most of our previous RNRAP offerings.
|Mar 06, 2018|
Episode 14: I'd Love to Turn You On
We open in Manila, in the Republic of the Philippines, July 3rd, 1966. The second stop of the Far East leg of the Beatles’ 1966 tour starts out weird and ominous, and gets worse from there. By the time the tour sputters to a halt—late August in San Francisco—the boys are almighty sick of it.
|Jul 07, 2017|
Episode 13: Hard to Handle
We open at Waldo Point Marina in Sausalito, California, just north of San Francisco. Otis Redding takes a break from the road on Bill Graham’s houseboat, and comes up with a signature song.
|Apr 25, 2017|
Episode 12: Machine Gun
Jimi’s astonishing, supernatural talent was forged in poverty and neglect as he grew up in Seattle. We talk about that, and about the night Elvis came to town. After a short stint in the Army comes to a humiliating end, Jimi takes it on the road and spends the next four years paying his dues as a sideman.
|Jan 07, 2017|
Episode 11: I Can't Explain
We start by taking a clear-eyed look at the infamous seaside “Riots” in the resort town of Clacton, United Kingdom and several other towns in the summer of 1964. The British press were WAY over the top in their depiction of these events, but they did document the first schism, the first big division in Rock music and culture: the traditionalist Rockers versus the Modernists, or “Mods.”
|Oct 11, 2016|
Episode 10: Roll Away The Stones
Episode Ten opens up with Christian narrating at the site of the Bricklayer’s Arms Public House, in Soho, West London, where Brian Jones met with two younger men, school chums, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, in the fall of 1963.
|Aug 12, 2016|
Episode 9: The Medium, The Message, The Music
This show will contain familiar elements — storytelling, commentary, and musicology — but it is also a bit of a departure. It takes place mostly in the mid-sixties, but we’re not following a timeline or building a story: it’s more of a mosaic, a think-piece.
|May 05, 2016|
Episode 8: Meet The Beatles Part 2
The show opens December 27th, 1961, at the Cavern Club where Pete Best calls in sick, and the boys bring in Richard Starkey - Ringo Starr to the world - to sit in on drums, his first paid gig with the Beatles. It clicks musically; the band really swings with Ringo on drums.
|Mar 08, 2016|
Episode 7: Meet The Beatles Part 1
Digging into the Journey of the Fab Four in this 2 Part Special
|Feb 23, 2016|
Episode 6: Soul Sisters
Fall of 1963 in Manhattan, in the main room, the big studio at Columbia Records. A big-time, high-stakes recording session for Aretha Franklin is about to get underway.
|Jan 27, 2016|
Episode 5: The Ballad of Bob and J.R.
Two legends meet as we experience the events of the early Sixties in America.
|Dec 30, 2015|
Episode 4: The Change of the Guard
We briefly recap the first Golden Age of Rock N Roll: 1956 to 1959. A lot happened, and fast.
|Dec 09, 2015|
Episode 3: The Day the Music Died
We describe Rock N Roll as an “enfant terrible,” then an unruly toddler, then a hyperactive kid. When Buddy Holly breaks out in late 1957, we see Rock N Roll has stepped out into the world as a confident young adult. Our story begins on a snowy two-lane highway in rural Iowa, on February 2nd, 1959: the fateful last day of the Winter Dance Party tour.
|Nov 18, 2015|
Episode 2: Elvis and the Rise of Television
Archaeology is the study of human activity in the past, looking at lots of different things from lots of different angles. We take that approach with Rock N Roll. We recap episode one, and open in Memphis, 1954. Sun Records owner Sam Phillips has found his elusive crossover sound—and the artist who can deliver it. Elvis breaks out; in just a few months he’s on the cusp of national stardom.
|Nov 10, 2015|
Episode 1: The Precursors
We start by asking: how does Rock n Roll affect the larger society, and how does the larger society affect Rock n Roll?
|Oct 26, 2015|