Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brewer & Shipley: The Story Behind the Music - and My First Video Production!

A few weeks ago I presented (via Youtube) one of Brewer and Shipley's "cult clasic tunes", and the following song, "Don't Want to Die in Georgia," from the same album is another. It has a message and a story behind it, and the music has what I call a funky-folk feel. Below is a video slideshow I put together with the song as a backdrop. Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome for Brewer and Shipley!
Story of Don't Want to Die in Georgia

1971 concert banter

Michael: “We'd like to do a song that sprang from our basic fear of the deep south. Actually our fears were unwarranted."

Tom: "Your fears were unwarranted. I still expect to be buried in a swamp down there."

Michael: (laughing) "No man. We met a lot of really nice people down there."

Tom: (in southern drawl) "Real nice!"

Michael: "We had to go to Atlanta one time, and Tom was really afraid."

Tom: "Horrified."

Michael: "We were flying in, he said ‘Ah man, I don’t want to die in Georgia’..... We wrote a song about it."

There are too many groups and individuals who have had great commercial success that I would not walk across the street to hear or see; rap, hip-hop, and other garbage that tries to pass as music these days are prime examples. We live in a "karaoke generation" where far too many people simply want fame and cash and actually fool themselves and their audiences into - not just thinking, but actually believing - that they have "talent." Talentless performers for a tasteless audience I call it. As the late Bill Hicks once quipped, "If you're in marketing or advertising - just kill yourselves now...You are Satan's spawn, filling the world with bile and garbage." That is the only reason 90% of what you hear on radio these days ever gets there in the first place.

Thanks to's Rock I have been having a great time rediscovering a lot of great old music and hearing some stuff I have never heard, either from bands with which I was unfamiliar or with songs I never heard from bands I have heard. One of these is Brewer and Shipley. Their songs were emblematic of the political and social unrest of the late 60's-early 70's. While I am certainly no liberal, I have great appreciation for many of the messages found in the music of that era. Brewer and Shipley were a folk-rock duo who sang about what they saw going on around them, and their voices blended together in such a way that it had a certain magic quality that has to be heard, a quality similar to that of Loggins and Messina and others, but unique unto themselves. You have probably heard their fairly big hit "One Toke Over the Line" and maybe thought they were just a "one hit wonder." That my be the case in terms of commercial success, but, as already stated above, commercial success means little to me and often has nothing to do with talent. Here's a little more of the story behind the music:
"Don't Want To Die In Georgia," from Brewer and Shipley's 'Tarkio' album, is another song about freedom and the restrictions placed upon it circa 1970. "Our music has always been somewhat autobiographical, reflecting our own experiences at the time," explains Brewer. "Our first three albums are like mini-time capsules in retrospect. Vietnam was still raging, and a lot of social unrest."

"Tom and I were traveling all over the heartland, and especially in the South, we pretty much were living Easy Rider. 'Cause here we were, a couple of guys wearing Nehru shirts, beads, and you didn't see a whole lot of that in those days. We really did have to pick and choose where we stopped to get something to eat or check into a motel or get gas." One such experience inspired "Don't Want to Die in Georgia": "One time we were doing something in Atlanta. John Lloyd, a black man who was a regional representative for Kama Sutra, was showing us around. There was so much tension, just because of the way we looked. And here we are with a black man too, and everybody knows how they were regarded, in those days especially. 'Don't Want to Die in Georgia' was sort of a metaphor for 'don't want to die anywhere,' really. It just happened to be Georgia.

"A lot of people would say a lot of that stuff was very political. But to us, it wasn't political at all. It was just social commentary, rather than political commentary. And even though we had social commentary, we also had spiritual commentary. That's probably why we're glad the message came across without slapping anybody in the face, or trying to cram anything down anybody's throat. We were just reflecting our own views. We've always pushed love as the only answer we know of that might fix things. I don't know how that's ever gonna happen, but that's what we think."



Blogger Oldcatman said...

I rarely listen to music--I have only bought 2 cds EVER!

Harry Chapin's hits and
Pavoratti's hits--that's it.

Whatever happened to this kind of music?

I remember their name but not their sound--nice song!

(from the past, Cheech and Chong are going a reunion tour (posted today).....

6:38 AM GMT+12  
Blogger Joe Ramen said...

"Whatever happened to this kind of music?" you ask.

Marketing and advertising ruined it.

I'm sure you remember their top 10 hit "One Toke over the Line." The chorus went:

One toke over the line, sweet Jesus.
One toke over the line.
Sittin' downtown in a railway station,
One toke over the line.

Glad you like it! I'm having a blast making music videos. Watch for more!

10:39 PM GMT+12  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home