Monday, June 22, 2009

If I leave here tomorrow ....

Red River Expedition at Kakabeka Falls 1877
Another painting by Frances Anne Hopkins

Where hurry up and wait originated

Traffic jams might generally be viewed as a problem originating in the 20th Century with the advent of automobiles. Not so, as is illustrated in this painting by Frances Anne Hopkins, our painter of forever and always and even beyond.

Boat after boat after canoe awaits its turn at landing to begin the portage of Kakabeka Falls. The painting is teaming with life and action. There appear to be men fishing. Others are gathered round fires, almost certainly preparing food and eating. Many are moving up and down the "stairway," hauling goods, provisions and watercraft along the trail.

Note the "steps" going up the portage incline. Steps have been gouged into the earth with entire trees cut and laid in place to create a stairway traversing the steep slope. This was a common technique employed by French voyageurs and, very possibly, by the Native Americans who taught them the trails and the streams to follow while journeying in primeval America.

Anyone who reads travel tales written during the 18th and 19th centuries in the wilderness areas of America will discover that traffic jams were not at all unusual. There are accounts, not only of river and lake travelers spending a significant amount of time in line at portages, but also of wagon expeditions waiting, sometimes for days, in a line for ferry transportation across a river or, sometimes, even at a place that provided the only safe ford for miles across a waterway.

Artists such as Frances bring visual life to words in diaries and journals about those days when adventures were no less "hurry up and wait" than they are today.

Would you still remember me?

Someone recently asked me if my blog was becoming a music blog. No, I replied, but I shift gears frequently and wanted to try a few more demonstrative elements to illustrate some of the music I enjoy. Citing lyrics from songs I am listening to at the time of writing, or simply those I like, has been part of my blog almost since its beginning. In fact, not too long ago, one of my posts ended with the entire lyrics from today's song being printed.

This particular "musical magic" is an anthem of the 1970s and beyond: "Free Bird," by the band Lynyrd Skynyrd. This, some might deduce through personal knowledge and/or intuition, is my all-time favorite song. 'Tis the music of a true vagabond.

My introduction to this piece came in a small, all-night restaurant, after making the rounds of a few bars with a young lady of French-Canadian origins and whose name was Michelle. A juke box device was mounted on the wall in our booth. I flipped through the selections. I noticed a totally unfamiliar band.

"Lie-Nerd, Sky-Nerd, who are they?" I asked my companion.

She laughed at me, and explained the pronunciation and the origin of this southern rock band. Women always seem to know more than I do -- virtually about everything. The song on the juke box was "Free Bird." It immediately became my theme song. I suspect I was not the first, and I know I will not be the last, to adopt it ....

Both versions I have here are by the original band members, some of whom were killed in an airplane crash and others of whom have departed via a more natural route. For those who do not know, the singer here, Ronnie Van Zant, was among those killed in the crash, and his brother, Johnny Van Zant, now does the vocals for the band. Very similar voices, the two boys have (had?).

The lead version shows the band in action. The problem with it is that the guitar amplifiers are revved up (for the fellow who thinks he is Hawaiian, and is wearing the flowered shirt) to the point there actually is feedback, and the singer really cannot be clearly heard. Guitar guys, what can you say? Never loud enough for them. If you watch the singer, he does not hide his agitation about this problem, either. Contrarily, when the singing stops and the rocking starts, you can understand why the brightest girls cluster round the guys with the guitars.

The second version only offers slides of the band, but the music is a studio recording and words of the song can be distinctly heard.

The full song is approximately 15 minutes in length, however, apparently YouTube does not permit songs longer than approximately 10 minutes in length, so both versions are cut off rather abruptly.

Maybe I will post another song or two after this one, to include my selection for the third best (maybe tied for second best) under the category of absolute best singer in the era of rock music. Then, I will be "traveling on" to another idea .... or, maybe, to another place .... or even to another time ....

Actual band performance ....



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkTQUtx818w

Slides and studio recording ....



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qD90Z912lLE

16 comments:

Jane Robbins said...

It was so nice reading your post and learning some things in the process. Keep it up!

Katy said...

Thank you thank you thank you for posting Free Bird, Fram. Absolutely one of the best songs of all time - I am eternally in that little bus travelling across the endless beautiful red rocks of the Mid West when I hear it. I was just at the start of a thrilling, exhillarating, terrifyingly wonderful part of my life then. Hearing Free Bird has reminded me that I somehow need to recapture that spirit now.

A Cuban In London said...

I loved the lesson traffic jams. Not even in my wildest dreams (and they get very wild, mate) could I have imagined that boat could work up that fuss on a river.

I loved Lynyrd Skynyrd and in regards to youtube, 10 minutes is its maximum, give or take a few seconds here and there. But, you know what, feedback included, I loved that first version. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Rachael Cassidy said...

Yes, Fram, I will remember you when you are gone. Never forgotten. In the short time we have communicated, you have certainly impacted my life.

and always... when enjoying a show from a cover band...there will always be a soul in the crowd who will yell above all others, "FREE BIRD!!"

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, for your visit, your very kind words and your encouragement, Jane.

I hope you return again.

Fram Actual said...

Yes, I recall your tale of crossing America while listening to "Free Bird," Katy.

There is something within the song that is both tragically melancholy and wildly exhilarating, I think, and it always seems to set me in motion. It probably is the guitars in the second segment of the song that seem to make it be a happy adventure by its conclusion.

Fram Actual said...

Traffic congestion is where you find it, CiL. With the recent D-Day anniversary and the attendant historical film coverage, it always causes me to wonder how any, among all the thousands of ships in that particular engagement, found their way to their designated locations.

It almost is unfair to post "Free Bird." The song is unique, and representative both of an era and of a way of life.

Fram Actual said...

Thank you, very much, young lady, for your super kind words and sentiments. My own thought is that you, Rachael, have had some remarkable experiences in life, and certainly have emerged stronger and wiser than most of us would or could under similar circumstances.

I believe it might be me you hear shouting, "Free Bird," with the sound carrying on the wind forever.

Magdalena said...

Oh, this guy doesn't look like free as a bird at all. Rather like dead drunk. But I like very much the piano in this song, delicate and very well done. I will pray the man of my life would not like this song :-) Have a good and joyful day handsome Fram the Marine. Bye, bye :-)

Polly said...

The boat traffic jam is very interesting! I would never have thought of that.

And I love the first song. I actually know it but in a completely different version. I'm learning a lot from your music posts, most of the artists you introduce are completely new to me.

Thank you for your comments on my blog!

TheChicGeek said...

Hey there, Fram :) This painting is very nice...so much to see. I love the colors in the sky and the water against the mountains...so pretty :)
Free Bird, yes, an excellent song...LOL
Magdalena, you are cracking me up with your comment...LOL You are so cute :)
Hope you are having a nice day today!

Fram Actual said...

You have me hiding in a corner, Magda, hoping you do not notice me standing here.

Yes, the piano work is beautiful. The piano man was a true artist, as are many of these rock and roll musicians.

There are many reasons to enjoy a song -- maybe for the lyrics, maybe for the melody, maybe for the voice of a singer, maybe for symbolic reasons. I think to love a particular song does not necessarily mean one has to have belief in it as a creed or a way of life. To me, this song is a banner expressing the nature of a free spirit, just as the Confederate battle flag in the background is a banner of independence.

Any day when you visit is a good and joyful day for me, Magdalena.

Fram Actual said...

When I first started wandering the sea of blogs in England and Europe, I was very literally amazed at the many differences in music and the popularity of so many singers and groups I had never heard of before. I think this experience is providing a learning opportunity for many of us in many ways, and I am loving it.

Your blog is fun, interesting and entertaining, Polly, and a happy place to visit. I need places such as your page to make myself smile more.

Fram Actual said...

Frances had great skill in her use of detail, and her eye for variations and shades of color are equal to or surpass that of any painter, I think. It sounds like you "popped" the painting up to the larger size. I hope others have thought to do that, as well.

Yes, "Free Bird," forever and a day, and even longer, Kelly.

And, to you, I will say that any day you visit is a nice day, and I love visiting your page because it, too, is a happy place to find refuge for a while.

TheChicGeek said...

Hi There, Fram :D
LOL...

Fram Actual said...

Hi there, Kelly ....

Something special ....