What I groove on

Archive for the tag “rock”

Rock n’ Roll and the White Whale

Herman Melville

OK, it is a reach – but I want to talk Rock n Roll and Herman Melville.  I know you are thinking “GrooveCentral has thrown a few curveballs in his day, but R and R and the main Herman together?”

We all know Herman from days long ago when we were forced to read “Moby Dick – or the Whale “.  It was cool, a bit verbose, and I was slightly wierded by the “Marriage Bed” scene between Ishmael and Queequeg and the boys getting a little too into it with “the Squeeze of the Hand” chapter where the joyful camaraderie of the sailors goes to high levels when extracting spermaceti from a dead whale.  My projected life as a sailor was never that strong, and after reading Moby Dick it was extinguished like an ant versus a shoe on the streets of America.  Things didn’t really work out for Herm cause nobody really dug MD when he was alive and by the age of 35 any semblance of popularity was swept away like the Atlantic City boardwalk was by Big Sandy.   Moby Dick was dedicated to Herm’s pal Nat Hawthorne, who later backed away from their friendship and the book never sold its initial printing of 3,000 copies in his lifetime. The total dough received by Herm  was just $556.37 from his American publisher.  He spent the rest of his days as a Customs House inspector and when he called it a day in 1891 no one really cared.


Jump ahead 100 years and we all remember the 1990’s electronica-house music craze.  Wasn’t that me with my shirt off, a baby pacifier in my mouth, sweating profusely, jumping up and down wildly, with glow sticks coming out of my ears, and hugging equally sweaty strangers? (No, it wasn’t.)  But if that was me, perhaps I was listening to a guy who has sold over 20 million albums named Richard Melville Hall whose ancestrial relationship was that Herman Melville was his great-great-great grand uncle.  You might know him as Moby.

In the 1920’s there was a confluence of publishing events called “the Melville Revival”.  This occurred when a fellow named Ray Weaver came out with a sucessful biography on Herm and in doing his research he came across an unfinished manuscript given to him by Herm’s grandaughter.  It was called ” Billy Budd” and in 1962 it was made into a motion picture debuting a young actor named Terrace Stamp who was nominated for an oscar


for best supporting actor.  We all know Terry from ” The Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Desert” , as General Zod in “Superman 1 and 2”, and of course as English tycoon Sir Lawrence Wildman from “Wallstreet”  (“Gekko, you’re a two bit pirate”).  It turns out that Terry’s brother Chris Stamp was the long time manager of The Who and also helped shape Jimi Hendrix’s early career in England.  Didn’t someone on the Pequod play the accordion? ( The Who’s hit single” Squeeze Box” a coincidence?)

The Who

So there must have been a time when Herm was sitting by himself, sipping a glass of mead somewhere in the Big Apple, contemplating why his literary career lasted  the length of time  it takes to burn a match.  But little did he know that through fate, some convoluted reasoning, and a big stretch of the imagination Herman Melville would be connected to rock and roll.


On another subject, GrooveCentral reached and paid off one of the winners of the GrooveCentralla Quiz we had a while back.  As promised, 3 drinks were purchased for the Great Tom Collins, who is always generous to a fault and the good times were ours (see picture).   The cloudiness of the evening’s events prevents a clear picture of the goings on, but Sir

Sir Tom & GrooveCentral

Tom always gives back more than he takes.  Good luck follows him closely because of the groove he spreads to the people.  Nelson (the other winner), you will be hearing from me shortly.  Again, Congrats to both.

Mr Tambourine Man

On this date, June 21st 1965, the Byrds released Mr. Tambourine Man, which marked the beginning of the folk -rock revolution. Written by Bob Dylan, it is the only time a Bobby song ever reached #1 on the U.S.pop charts. Rodger (” don’t call me Jim”, even though that’s the name he started his career with) McGuinn aimed at crossing the vocal style of Bob Dylan and John Lennon and with the harmonies of Gene Clark and Dave Crosby ( I’ve had a mustache longer than Dave  and I am not sure that’s a good thing) and Rodg’s ” Jingle-Jangle ” sound on his 12 string Rickenbacker.  Mr. Tambourine Man became a huge hit.  Newly signed to Columbia Records, the Byrds had access to an early demo version of M.T.M. even before their label mate Bobby D. had a chance to record it for his own upcoming album. Was Bob pissed? ” Wow, man, you can even dance to that!” said Bob without his wintry scowl.

The other big hit of the Byrds is Turn, Turn, Turn.  Another ” borrowed song”. This one from the folk icon Pete Seeger with the lyrics drawn from ” Ecclesiastes” in the Old Testament. Wow, Let’s party!

Currently, Rodger can be found as “The Ringer” in the Rock Bottom Remainders, a group composed of writers Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan ( Joy Luck Club), Scott Turow ( Presumed Innocent ), Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie), Matt Groening ( Simpsons creator ) and a few others. They play around for charity and are rumored to be calling it a day very soon. Bruce Springsteen once joined them on background vocals and remarked ” that they shouldn’t get any better because then they would be just another lousy band.”

The Byrds rendition is great stuff, but for me I prefer the version by Bill Shatner. Groove.

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