Month: January 2015

I’m holding on

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

Led Zeppelin1969: Led Zeppelin opens for and intimidates Iron Butterfly.

Blondie19771981: Rocksteady! Blondie takes The Tide Is High to #1 on the charts. Something is irresistible about this tune written in the 1930s by Jamaican DJ and producer Duke ReidIn 1967, John Holt arranges it for The ParagonsNearly 15 years later, it becomes a signature song for Blondie. In 2002, Atomic Kitten’s cover is a hit and then in 2008, a cover by Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall also is popular. Here’s 40 years of The Tide Is High:


Ain’t no sound but the sound of his feet

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

Photo of Janis Joplin1971: Janis Joplin, who died the previous October, is all over the radio with Me & Bobby McGee.

Queen1981: Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust wins Favorite Pop/Rock Single at the American Music Awards in Hollywood.

Quantum Flood

The morning paper tells me

that if the ice jam in the Platte River

didn’t break overnight, a contractor

from Oklahoma will begin to dynamite

the stubborn frozen chunks this morning.

I, too, used to write in newspaper time and space,

careful not to speculate but mindful I am

meeting readers who will not awaken for hours.

The lead must time travel, toy with tense

to make space-bending sense. Now

I am free to be in the moment where I am,

to head out there with hot coffee and camera

so that I may know in the instant the jam is broken,

the water groans, surges forward

just like

ever it is ever in love with me.

Copyright (c) 2015 Steve Kline

You can’t keep your woman because you are watching mine

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

Tommy Ramone1952: Tommy Ramone is born.


Willie Dixon

1992: Willie Dixon, one of the founders of Chicago Blues, dies in Burbank, California, when he’s only 77 years old. A musician, vocalist, songwriter (Back Door Man, Little Red Rooster, Hoochie Coochie Man, I Just Want To Make Love To You, I Ain’t Superstitious, Bring It On Home and the Whole Lotta Love riff), arranger and record producer, Dixon is a towering figure in the world of Rock, especially the British vein. John Lennon and Mick Jagger wish they could be Willie Dixon. Here’s Willie with Weak Brain and Narrow Mind:

A hamhock in your cornflakes

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

Billy Bass Nelson1951: William “Billy Bass” Nelson Jr. is born in Plainfield, N.J. As a teen-ager, Nelson works in George Clinton’s barbershop. Clinton of course is a member of the doo-wop group The Parliaments, who score a nationwide hit in 1967 with (I Wanna) Testify. When Clinton puts together a backing band for a tour, he recruits Nelson to play guitar. Nelson switches to bass when his good friend guitarist Eddie Hazel joins the group. When the backing band needs a name for itself, Nelson comes up with Funkadelic. In 1971, Nelson parts ways with Clinton, moving on to play with The Temptations, among others. From Funkadelic’s self-titled 1970 debut LP, here’s What Is Soul:


The-Moody-Blues-Go-Now-1965-FLAC1965: Go Now, the Moody Blues’ second single, hits #1 on the U.K. charts.

Brick. No ‘s’. — What we have so far

Copyright (c) 2015 Steve Kline

If you had a “summer job,” you have your own stories. This one is mine. I am some five decades removed from the events I set down here, so some of the details might be dim and fuzzy. I will make them as clear as I can without embellishment. I’ve not lost my grasp on the memories. As well as I know anything, this I know: These things happened.

Brick. No ‘s’.



Blue Waters



Brick. No ‘s’. Blue Waters.

Copyright (c) 2015 Steve Kline

I could have killed it — at least I think I could have killed it — way back when I was 12.

It was June, just after school let out for the summer. The magical days with no homework, no early morning alarm, no despondent Sunday afternoon. Just barefoot weather and all day to hang out, poke around, laugh, run.

“Hey, I want to show you something,” said my friend Mark, who lived within walking distance of my house, which was walking distance from the woods that surrounded the Brickyard. Until that day, I had never explored that area much. It was north of a busy retail district that never held much interest for me.

We hiked across yards, busy streets, out to where the pavement ended and along the dirt road up to the Brickyard gate. The previous night’s soaking rain had turned the road to mud so we trudged through the grass and weeds on the west edge of the road, dodging puddles. Mud flew off of our heels and spattered our jeans, a mess we would not notice until hours later when we had returned to our respective homes and slipped off the jeans just before bed.

We skirted the brick-making plant, disappeared into thick woods, and trudged up a steep hill. Mark was ahead of me and when he got to the crest, he stopped, waiting for me without looking back. The hillside was covered with strata of wet, mud-slick leaves and it was hard for me to make any progress without my feet shooting backwards. My knees broke my falls, along with my right hand grasping nearby saplings. By the time I pulled up even with Mark, each pantleg wore a wet dark muddy oval over each knee.

“I call this place Blue Waters,” Mark said.

I sort of gasped and stepped back, stumbling and steadying myself by grabbing hold of the elbow on the left arm Mark had extended to prevent me from falling.

I was looking at a pond that was perhaps 200 feet around. The water was an unnatural greenish-blue color. I got the feeling that if I slipped and fell into it, I would dissolve. It looked toxic. The pond was edged by a uniform yard-wide strip of beige-whitish mud in which nothing grew.

Mark picked up a wide flat piece of soft shale and casually flipped it into the pond. It landed about 15 feet out and seemed to float for the briefest of moments before it slipped sideways and twirled and rocked its way to the bottom. The water was startlingly clear, and indeed the shale dissolved as it dropped down, leaving a watery/grainy contrail from the surface down into the depths where it at last disappeared from sight. I could not tell whether it disappeared because the water grew dark down there or because it had dissolved completely, like an evil and lifeless Fizzie that had no chance of bobbing back to the surface before it died.

“Yeah,” I said. “Cool.”

I took a step or two back from the pond.

Mark looked around for flat stones and started trying to skip them. I just wanted to go back to some place that didn’t make me so uneasy. I spied some flattened grass. Might be a path around the pond, I thought. I walked nearer to the patch of trodden grass and sure enough, a little rabbit-trail led off around to the east.

I had gone perhaps a dozen steps along this path, eyes downcast watching for mud and puddles, when I spied the brown leathery sluglike thing.

It was bigger than a thing like that should be — eight inches long or so, and fat with shiny skin. I could not tell if it had a front end, nor could I tell if the watery muddy mess in which the thing was squirming was leftover rainwater or if the liquid was oozing from within in its ugly mass.urgh-fat-sea-slug-krabi

When my eyes fell upon it, it went still for just a fraction of a second, as if it was aware it had been seen.

My immediate thought: Kill it. I wasn’t curious or even necessarily very frightened. The intent to kill it was almost involuntary, like the way I recoiled from the evil looking pond.

I looked for a weapon, a rock, a big stick . . .

Away off in the weeds I saw a weathered pile of brick, six or seven pieces of rust-colored broken baked clay. Before I could go pick one up, Mark called out:

“Hey! Let’s go over to Shopper’s Fair and get something to eat.”

We started back down the hill, jamming our heels into the moist earth to brake our descent.

I had a fleeting vague uneasy sense that something had eyes on my back. By the time we got back to a paved street, though, I had forgotten Blue Waters and the thing I did not kill. I would not think of it again until six years later on a searingly hot and terrifying July day at the Brickyard.





Let it shine, shine, shine, let it shine

Steve Kline Ages of Rock

Elmore James1918: King of the Slide Guitar Elmore James is born.

Bobby Bland1930: Bobby “Blue” Bland is born in Tennessee, where he cuts his musical teeth in the environs of Beale Street in Memphis around the likes of B.B. King and Johnny Ace. That is all the schooling he needs. He will come to be known as the Lion of the Blues. Here’s Turn on Your Love Light:

Let’s do the twist

Rock the Day January 26

1000509261001_2085963972001_Buddy-Holly-Rock-and-Roll-Legend1956: Buddy Holly is in the studio in Nashville for his first recording session with Decca Records.

Hank Ballard


Chubby Checker - Twisting USA Album Cover1962: Songs about a dance called The Twist go back to the 19th Century, including 1844’s Grape Vine Twist.  In 1938 Jelly Roll Morton, in Winin’ Boy Blues, sings, “Mama, mama, look at sis, she’s out on the levee doing the double twist” — a reference to both sex and dancing in those days. Hank Ballard and the Midnighters in 1960 score a minor hit with The Twist, the B-side of Teardrops on Your Letter. When Chubby Checker covers The Twist later that year, it starts a craze that sweeps the nation. Everyone does The Twist, from pre-teens to to folks in their 80s. Checker’s The Twist hangs on for years,  resurfacing in 1962 when it rises to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a second time, the only single to do so in two separate chart runs. When The Twist catches on in high society, performed in places like the Peppermint Lounge in New York, it marks a major turning point in adult acceptance of rock ‘n roll. Get up and get moving! Here’s Ballard’s original and Checker’s cover:

Lovers all have to stand trial

Rock the Day January 25

Etta_James1938: Jamesetta (Etta) James is born in Los Angeles. Her mom is 14-year-old Dorothy Hawkins and her absent father most likely pool player Rudolf “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone. By the age of 5, she is singing in the choir at St. Paul Baptist Church in south-central Los Angeles. She moves with her mother to the Fillmore District of San Francisco where, inspired by the doo-wop music she loves she forms a girl group, The Creolettes. The group is noticed by musician Johnny Otis, who changes their name to The Peaches and shortens Jamesetta’s first name to Etta. He helps them get a contract with Modern Records. In 1954, when she is just 16 years old, her single Dance With Me Henry is a #1 hit on the R&B chart, which leads to a gig opening for Little Richard. The song’s real title is Roll With Me Henry but it is changed to avoid controversy over any sexual innuendo. Like we can pretend sex has nothing to do with the music. Here’s Etta in a later recording with the original lyric intact:


Jailhouserock1958: For the first time ever, a single enters the U.K. charts at #1. It’s Elvis and Jailhouse Rock.

Rosanne Cash1986: Rosanne Cash’s Never Be You hits #1 on the country chart. The song is written by Tom Petty and Heartbreakers’ keyboardist Benmont Tench.