It's the first week of the second half of the year, which, in America, means it's the fourth of July, the anniversary of the official beginning of a rebellion that shook the world. This week on Stuck in the Psychedelic Era we celebrate the musical rebellion that helped define the 1960s in America, beginning with a brief history of protest songs. We start with a hit cover version of a Pete Seeger song...
Artist: Kingston Trio
Title: Where Have All The Flowers Gone
Source: CD: Songs Of Protest (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Pete Seeger
Label: Rhino (original label: Capitol)
Protest songs did not start in the 1960s. Indeed, two of the genre's torchbearers, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, had been around since the 1930s. But McCarthyism in the early 1950s had squelched virtually all non-conformist voices in the US, and it wasn't until late 1961, when the clean-cut Kingston Trio recorded their own version of Seeger's Where Have All The Flowers Gone, that a protest song received enough national exposure to become a genuine hit, going to the #21 spot on the top 40 charts in early 1962. Peter, Paul And Mary included their own version of the song on their chart-topping (five weeks at #1) debut LP later that year.
Artist: Peter, Paul And Mary
Title: Blowin' In The Wind
Source: 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Bob Dylan
Label: Warner Brothers
Just as knowing the chords for Van Morrison's Gloria was pretty much a prerequisite for being in a garage band, being able to play Bob Dylan's Blowing In The Wind was a must for anyone attempting to play folk music at a party in the mid-1960s. If there was more than one of you singing, you most likely used the Peter, Paul and Mary arrangement of the tune, with its three-part harmony. Their version was by far the most popular recording of the song, going all the way to the # 2 spot on the top 40 charts in the summer of '63.
Artist: Joan Baez
Title: There But For Fortune
Source: 45 RPM single (promo copy)
Writer: Phil Ochs
When I was a kid I used to occasionally pick up something called a grab bag at the local PX (my dad being in the military, I had access to such places). It was literally a sealed brown paper bag with anywhere from four to six 45 rpm records in it. Usually these were "cut-outs", leftover copies of records that hadn't sold as well as expected. Often they were five or six years old (albeit unplayed). Once in a while, though, there would be a real gem among them. My original copy of the Joan Baez recording of Phil Ochs's There But For Fortune was one such gem. I later found a promo copy while working at KUNM in Albuquerque, which is the one I use now, since my original is long since worn out. Not only was this record my first introduction to Joan Baez, it was also the first record I had ever seen on the Vanguard label and the first song written by Phil Ochs I had ever heard. Not bad for twelve and a half cents, especially when you consider that the flip side was Baez doing a Bob Dylan tune.
Artist: Country Joe And The Fish
Title: I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag
Source: Mono CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as EP)
Writer(s): Joe McDonald
Label: Rhino (original label: Rag Baby)
A relatively new arrival on the highly politicized Berkeley folk music scene in 1965, Country Joe McDonald had already organized a loose group of musicians to play at "teach-ins" designed to educate the public about what was really going on in Vietnam. He was also attempting to put together a newspaper with a similar focus, but found himself short of usable copy. His solution was to create a "talking issue" by inserting a 7" 33 1/3 RPM record into the paper. His own contribution to the record was the first recorded version of a song that would later become one of the best-known antiwar tunes ever penned: the iconic I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag. The actual makeup of the band called Country Joe And The Fish on this recording is not quite clear, other than the fact that both McDonald and Barry Melton played on it. An early video made of the group performing the song shows several people I don't recognize alternating on the vocals.
Artist: Mothers Of Invention
Title: Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here
Source: 45 RPM single B side (reissue)
Writer(s): Frank Zappa
Label: Barking Pumpkin (original label: Verve)
Help, I'm A Rock and its follow up track It Can't Happen Here are among the best-known Frank Zappa compositions on the first Mothers Of Invention album, Freak Out! What is not so well known is that the band's label, Verve, issued a single version of the track under the title Help, I'm A Rock, 3rd Movement: It Can't Happen Here, as the B side of the band's first single. This mono single version removes the avant-garde jazz piano and drum section from the piece, making the track slightly over three minutes in length. The result is one of the strangest a cappella performances ever committed to vinyl.
Artist: Phil Ochs
Title: Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends (originally released on LP: Pleasures Of The Harbor)
Source: CD: The Best Of Phil Ochs
Writer(s): Phil Ochs
In 1964, less than a week after my 11th birthday, an event happened over 2000 miles from where I lived that would have a profound effect on my view of humanity, particularly the portion of it that lived in large cities. Late one night, a woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death outside of her apartment in Queens, NY., in front of witnesses, none of whom came to her defense. One witness late told police that she "didn't want to get involved". After he was apprehended, the killer was asked why he had attacked her in front of witnesses. His chilling reply was that he knew no one would help, because "people never do". That did not ring true to my 11-year-old self. I had been raised by good-hearted people with small-town values. When someone was in trouble, you helped them out. That's just how it was. Yet, that had not happened when Kitty Genovese was attacked. Ever since then I've tried to find empathy for, not only the victims, but those who stand by and do nothing. I've tried to understand why. Although I've made some progress, I still haven't figured it out. Apparently I was not the only one affected by the story. Phil Ochs used it as the starting point for what would turn out to be his most popular song, Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends, from his 1967 LP Pleasures Of The Harbor. I didn't get to hear that song until the late 1970s. It was banned in most radio markets because of the line "smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer", and ended up stalling out a dozen or so spots short of the top 100 when it was released as a single in 1967. In fact, I only heard it after hearing the new that Ochs had committed suicide in 1976, and one of my fellow DJs at KUNM played the song as part of a Phil Ochs memorial segment. Apparently the Genovese story, as well as other events described in the song, affected Ochs profoundly as well.
Source: CD: The Beatles
Writer(s): George Harrison
Beatle George Harrison had first revealed an anti-establishment side with his song Taxman, released in 1966 on the Revolver album. This particular viewpoint remained dormant until the song Piggies came out on the 1968 double LP The Beatles (aka the White Album). Although the song was intended to be satirical in tone, at least one Californian, Charles Manson, took it seriously enough to justify "whacking" a few "piggies" of his own. It was not pretty.
Source: CD: Born To Be Wild-A Retrospective (originally released on LP: Monster)
Writer(s): Kay/Edmonton/St. Nicholas/Byrom
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Although they are mostly remembered for hits like Born To Be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride, Steppenwolf always had a social/political side as well, as evidenced by songs like The Ostrich and Don't Step On the Grass, Sam, but when it comes to pure political songs, the Monster trilogy is usually the first one that comes to mind. Personally, I consider it to be Steppenwolf's masterpiece.
Artist: Crosby, Still, Nash & Young
Source: CD: Decade (Neil Young anthology)
Writer(s): Neil Young
Label: Reprise (original label: Atlantic)
One of the most powerful records to come out of the Nixon years, Ohio was written by Neil Young in response to the shooting deaths of four college students by National Guard troops at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Young wrote the lyrics after seeing photos of the incident in Life magazine. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recorded the song with their new rhythm section of Calvin Samuels and Johnny Barbata on May 21st. The recording was rush released within a few week, becoming a counter-culture anthem and cementing the group's reputation as spokesmen for their generation. Young later referred to the Kent State shootings as "probably the biggest lesson ever learned at an American place of learning," adding that "David Crosby cried when we finished this take." Crosby can be heard ad-libbing "Four, why? Why did they die?" and "How many more?" during the song's fadeout.
From protest songs we move on to something there was no shortage of during the psychedelic era: youthful rebellion.
Title: My Generation
Source: Mono CD: The Who Sings My Generation
Writer(s): Pete Townshend
Label: MCA (original label: Decca)
In late 1965 the Who released a song that quickly became the anthem of a generation. As a matter of fact it's My Generation. Some of us, including Who drummer Keith Moon, did indeed die before we got old. The rest of us weren't so lucky, but hey, that's life.
Title: Let Me Be
Source: CD: 20 Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: It Ain't Me Babe and as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): P.F. Sloan
Label: Rhino (original label: White Whale)
The Turtles were nothing if not able to redefine themselves when the need arose. Originally a surf band known as the Crossfires, the band quickly adopted an "angry young men" stance with their first single, Bob Dylan's It Ain't Me Babe, and the subsequent album of the same name. For the follow-up single the band chose a track from their album, Let Me Be, that, although written by a different writer, had the same general message as It Ain't Me Babe. The band would soon switch over to love songs like Happy Together and She'd Rathr Be With Me before taking their whole chameleon bit to its logical extreme with an album called Battle Of The Bands on which each track was meant to sound like it was done by an entirely different group.
Title: Pushin' Too Hard
Source: CD: Nuggets-Classics From The Psychedelic 60s (originally released as 45 RPM single and included on LP: The Seeds)
Writer(s): Sky Saxon
Label: Rhino (original label: GNP Crescendo)
Pushin' Too Hard is generally included on every collection of psychedelic hits ever compiled. And for good reason. The song is an undisputed classic, although it took the better part of two years to catch on. Originally released in 1965 as Your Pushin' Too Hard, the song was virtually ignored by local Los Angeles radio stations until a second single, Can't Seem To Make You Mine, started getting some attention. After being included on the Seeds' debut LP in 1966, Pushin' Too Hard was rereleased and soon was being heard all over the L.A. airwaves. By the end of the year stations in other markets were starting to spin the record, and the song hit its peak of popularity in early 1967.
If life was difficult for a typical middle-class teenager in the mid-1960s (as it is for teenagers everywhen), imagine what it must have been like for someone living on the poor side of town.
Title: We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
Source: Mono CD: The Best Of The Animals (originally released in UK as 45 RPM single)
Label: Abkco (original label: M-G-M)
In 1965 producer Mickey Most put out a call to Don Kirschner's Brill building songwriters for material that could be recorded by the Animals. He ended up selecting three songs, all of which are among the Animals' most popular singles. Possibly the best-known of the three is a song written by the husband and wife team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil called We Gotta Get Out Of This Place. The song (the first Animals recording to featuring Dave Rowberry, who had replaced founder Alan Price on organ) starts off with what is probably Chas Chandler's best known bass line, slowly adding drums, vocals, guitar and finally keyboards on its way to an explosive chorus. The song was not originally intended for the Animals, however; it was written for the Righteous Brothers as a follow up to (You've Got That) Lovin' Feelin', which Mann and Weil had also provided for the duo. Mann, however, decided to record the song himself, but the Animals managed to get their version out first, taking it to the top 20 in the US and the top 5 in the UK. As the Vietnam war escalated, We Gotta Get Out Of This Place became a sort of underground anthem for US servicemen stationed in South Vietnam, and has been associated with that war ever since. Incidentally, there were actually two versions of We Gotta Get Out Of This Place recorded during the same recording session, with an alternate take accidentally being sent to M-G-M and subsequently being released as the US version of the single. This version (which some collectors and fans maintain has a stronger vocal track) appeared on the US-only LP Animal Tracks in the fall of 1965 as well as the original M-G-M pressings of the 1966 album Best Of The Animals. The original UK version, on the other hand, did not appear on any albums, as was common for British singles in the 1960s. By the 1980s record mogul Allen Klein had control of the original Animals' entire catalog, and decreed that all CD reissues of the song would use the original British version of the song, including the updated (and expanded) CD version of The Best Of The Animals.
Title: Dead End Street
Source: Mono Canadian import CD: 25 Years-The Ultimate Collection (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ray Davies
Label: Polygram/PolyTel (original label: Reprise)
The last major Kinks hit in the US was Sunny Afternoon in the summer of 1966. The follow-up Deadend Street, released in November, was in much the same style, but did not achieve the same kind of success in the US (although it was a top five hit in the UK). The Kinks would not have another major US hit until Lola was released in 1970.
Title: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
Source: Mono CD: More Nuggets (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: Ed Cobb
Label: Rhino (original label: Tower)
The Standells were probably the most successful band to record for the Tower label (not counting Pink Floyd, whose first LP was issued, in modified form, on the label after being recorded in England). Besides their big hit Dirty Water, they hit the charts with other tunes such as Why Pick On Me, Try It, and the punk classic Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White. All but Try It were written by producer Ed Cobb, who has to be considered the most prolific punk-rock songwriter of the 60s, having also written some of the Chocolate Watch Band's best stuff as well.
Artist: Janis Ian
Title: Society's Child
Source: Mono CD: Songs Of protest (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer(s): Janis Ian
Label: Rhino (original label: Verve Forecast)
Janis Ian began writing Society's Child, using the title Baby I've Been Thinking, when she was 13 years old, finishing it shortly after her 14th birthday. She shopped it around to several record labels before finally finding one (Now Sounds) to take a chance on the controversial song about interracial dating. The record got picked up and re-issued in 1966 by M-G-M's experimental label Verve Forecast, a label whose roster included Dave Van Ronk, Laura Nyro and the Blues Project, among others. Despite being banned on several radio stations the song became a major hit when re-released yet another time in early 1967. Ian had problems maintaining a balance between her performing career and being a student which ultimately led to her dropping out of high school. She would eventually get her career back on track in the mid-70s, scoring another major hit with At Seventeen, and becoming somewhat of a heroine to the feminist movement. Ironic, considering that Society's Child ends with the protagonist backing down and giving in to society's rules.
Even in the psychedelic era, youthful rebellion would often give way to (or sometimes even lead to) War!
Artist: Edwin Starr
Source: CD: Songs Of Protest (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Gordy)
It was 1970, and Motown Records staff producer Norman Whitfield was facing a bit of a dilemma. A track that he and co-producer Barrett Strong had included on the Temptations' LP Psychedelic Shack was starting to get a lot of airplay, and radio programmers were asking for the song to be released as a single. The problem was the song itself. War, co-written by Whitfield and Strong, had a powerful message that resonated with the anti-Vietnam War movement. This, of course, did not sit well with some of the more conservative radio station owners, a fact that Motown president Berry Gordy, Jr. was well aware of. At that particular moment in space and time, the Temptations were Motown's #1 cash cow (Diana Ross having left the Supremes earlier that year), and Berry did not want to take any chances with his top money makers. Eventually a compromise was reached. Whitfield re-recorded the track with second-string artist Edwin Starr, amping up the energy level of the song in the process, and ended up with one of the biggest hit singles of the year (and certainly the biggest of Starr's career).
Title: The Unknown Soldier
Source: CD: The Best Of The Doors (originally released on LP: Waiting For The Sun and as 45 RPM single)
Writer: The Doors
One of the oddest recordings to get played on top 40 radio was the Door's 1968 release, The Unknown Soldier. The song is notable for having it's own promotional film made by keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had been a film major at UCLA when the Doors were formed. It's not known whether the song was written with the film in mind (or vice versa), but the two have a much greater synergy than your average music video. As for the question of whether the Doors themselves were anti-war, let's just say that vocalist Jim Morrison, who wrote the lyrics to The Unknown Soldier, was pretty much anti-everything.
Artist: Bob Seger System
Source: LP: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man (originally released as 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Bob Seger
Bob Seger had a series of regional hits in his native Detroit in the mid-1960s, leading to a deal with Capitol Records in 1968. His first single for Capitol was 2+2=?, one of the most powerful anti-war songs ever recorded. The track was included on Seger's first album, Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, the following year, with one minor difference. Near the end of the song everything stops for a couple of seconds before the song resumes at full speed. Capitol was afraid of how that might go over with top 40 radio programmers (who were notoriously paranoid about "dead air") and had the band add a tone-bending power chord to the single version to cover up the silence. The album version (heard here), has the original silence intact.
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Title: Fortunate Son
Source: LP: Willy And The Poor Boys
Writer(s): John Fogerty
John Fogerty says it only took him 20 minutes to write what has become one of the iconic antiwar songs of the late 1960s. But Fortunate Son is not so much a condemnation of war as it is an indictment of the political elite who send the less fortunate off to die in wars without any risk to themselves. In addition to being a major hit single upon its release in late 1969 (peaking at #3 as half of a double-A sided single), Fortunate Son has made several "best of" lists over the years, including Rolling Stone magazine's all-time top 100. Additionally, in 2014 the song was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Artist: Eric Burdon and the Animals
Title: Sky Pilot
Source: CD: Songs Of Protest (originally released as 45 RPM single and on LP: The Twain Shall Meet)
Label: Rhino (original label: M-G-M)
After the original Animals lineup disbanded in late 1966, lead vocalist Eric Burdon quickly set out to form a "New Animals" group that would come to be called Eric Burdon and the Animals. The new band was much more rooted in the psychedelic era than its predecessor, with songs like A Girl Named Sandoz (Sandoz being the name of the lab that first developed LSD) appearing as the B side of their first single, and San Franciscan Nights, an invitation to Europeans to hook up with the hippie culture of Haight-Ashbury, making the charts in 1967. Their most memorable release, Sky Pilot, called the religious establishment to task for its tacit endorsement of warfare itself through the practice of including chaplains as part of the military heirarchy. The song, running over seven minutes in length, was spread out over two sides of a 45 RPM single, making it difficult for radio stations to play in its entirety (the album version cross fades into the next track). Nonetheless, Sky Pilot managed to hit a respectable #14 on the charts in 1968.
Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: Hymn 43
Source: CD: Aqualung
Writer: Ian Adnerson
Label: Chrysalis (original label: Reprise)
Eric Burdon And The Animals proved in 1968, with the song Sky Pilot, that you could now take on the religious establishment in a rock song and end up with a hit record. Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull, soon followed with the release of Christmas Song later that same year. It turned out that Christmas Song was only a hint of what would come three years later. Most (if not all) of the second side of the 1971 LP Aqualung presented a scathing criticism of what Anderson perceived as rampant hypocrisy within the Anglican church. Aqualung still stands as Jethro Tull's best-selling album, with over seven million copies sold worldwide. Hymn 43, a song that focuses more on America's heavy-handed use of religion as a tool, was released as a single, going to the #91 spot on the Billboard charts, despite being effectively banned on AM radio.
You'd think that war would be the way it ends (and that may yet be the case), although some would argue that religion will get there first. Still, it's probably a good idea to take a step back and consider the state of the Union, both then and now, before coming to a final conclusion.
Artist: Buffalo Springfield
Title: For What It's Worth (Stop, Hey What's That Sound)
Source: CD: Buffalo Springfield
Writer(s): Stephen Stills
By mid-1966 Hollywood's Sunset Strip was being taken over every night by local teenagers, with several underage clubs featuring live music being a major attraction. Many of the businesses in the area, citing traffic problems and rampant drug and alcohol abuse, began to put pressure on city officials to do something about the situation. The city responded by passing new loitering ordinances and imposing a 10PM curfew on the Strip. They also began putting pressure on the clubs, including condemning the popular Pandora's Box for demolition. On November 12, 1966 fliers appeared on the streets inviting people to a demonstration that evening to protest the closing of the club. The demostration continued over a period of days, exascerbated by the city's decision to revoke the permits of a dozen other clubs on the Strip, forcing them to bar anyone under the age of 21 from entering. Stephen Stills, a member of Buffalo Springfield, one of the many bands appearing regularly in these clubs, wrote a new song in response to the situation, and the band quickly booked studio time, recording the still-unnamed track on December 5th. The band had recently released their debut LP, but sales of the album were lackluster due to the lack of a hit single. Stills reportedly presented the new recording to label head Ahmet Ertegun with the words "I have this song here, for what it's worth, if you want it." Ertegun, sensing that he had a hit on his hands, got the song rush-released two days before Christmas, 1966, using For What It's Worth as the official song title, but sub-titling it Stop, Hey What's That Sound on the label as well. As predicted, For What It's Worth was an instant hit in the L.A. market, and soon went national, where it was taken by most record buyers to be about the general sense of unrest being felt across the nation over issues like racial equality and the Vietnam War (and oddly enough, by some people as being about the Kent State massacre, even though that happened nearly three years after the song was released). As the single moved up the charts, eventually peaking at #7, Atco recalled the Buffalo Springfield LP, reissuing it with a modified song selection that included For What It's Worth as the album's openng track. Needless to say, album sales picked up after that. As a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever even seen a copy of the Buffalo Springfield album without For What It's Worth on it, although I'm sure some of those early pressings must still exist.
Title: Ball Of Confusion
Source: CD: Songs Of Protest (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Label: Rhino (original label: Gordy)
By 1970 an interesting situation had developed at Motown Records. Various production teams had achieved a degree of autonomy not usually seen in the record industry, resulting in a variety of styles coming from the label, each of which was identified with a particular team. The psychedelic branch of the label was run by Norm Whitfield and Barrett Strong, whose work mostly appeared on the Gordy label. Their stable of artists included Edwin Starr, the Undisputed Truth and the Temptations, the latter of which had gone through several lineup changes that left them without original lead vocalist David Ruffin. Whitfield and Strong used this situation to their best advantage by splitting the lead vocals among several group members within each song. One of the first songs to take this approach was Ball Of Confusion, released in 1970. A longer version of the song, using a less edited version of the same Funk Brothers instrumental track, was released by the Undisputed Truth as a B side.
Title: Season Of The Witch
Source: CD: Donovan's Greatest Hits (originally released on LP: Sunshine Superman)
Writer: Donovan Leitch
Label: Sony (original label: Epic)
Year: 1966 (stereo version, 1969)
Season Of The Witch has proved to be one of the most popular and enduring tracks on Donovan's Sunshine Superman album. Due to a contract dispute with Pye Records, the album was not released in the UK until late 1967, and then only as an LP combining tracks from both the Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow albums. Like all tracks from both Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, Season Of The Witch was only available in a mono mix until 1969, when a new stereo mix was created from the original multi-track masters for the singer/songwriter's first greatest hits compilation. Season of the Witch has since been covered by an impressive array of artists, including Al Kooper and Stephen Stills (on the Super Session album) and Vanilla Fudge.
Artist: Barry McGuire
Title: Eve of Destruction
Source: CD: Songs Of Protest (originally released as 45 RPM single)
Writer: P.F. Sloan
Label: Rhino (original label: Dunhill)
P.F. Sloan had already established a reputation for writing songs that captured the anger of youth by the time he wrote Eve Of Destruction, which Barry McGuire took into the top 10 in 1965. It would be McGuire's only major hit, and represented folk-rock at the peak of its popularity.
With the state of the Union being basically a state of confusion, there seemed to be only one appropriate response to it. But of course, there were consequences.
Artist: Bob Dylan
Title: Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Source: CD: Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits
Writer: Bob Dylan
Some of the best rock and roll songs of 1966 were banned on a number of stations for being about either sex or drugs. Most artists that recorded those songs claimed they were about something else altogether. In the case of Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35, "stoned" refers to a rather unpleasant form of execution (at least according to Dylan). On the other hand, Dylan himself was reportedly quite stoned while recording the song, having passed a few doobies around before starting the tape rolling. Sometimes I think ambiguities like this are why English has become the dominant language of commerce on the planet.
Title: Don't Step On The Grass, Sam
Source: CD: Steppenwolf the Second
Writer: John Kay
Label: MCA (original label: Dunhill)
Never afraid to make his social and political views known, Steppenwolf's John Kay wrote Don't Step On The Grass, Sam for the band's second LP, released in 1968. It's taken nearly 50 years, but it looks like Kay's finally starting to get his wish.
Artist: Jefferson Airplane
Source: CD: Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets 1965-70 (originally released as 45 RPM single B side and included on LP: Early Flight)
Writer(s): Grace Slick
Label: Rhino (original label: RCA Victor)
The B side of the last Jefferson Airplane single to include founding member (and original leader) Marty Balin was Mexico, a scathing response by Grace Slick to President Richard Nixon's attempts to eradicate the marijuana trade between the US and Mexico. The song was slated to be included on the next Airplane album, Long John Silver, but Balin's departure necessitated a change in plans, and Mexico did not appear on an LP until Early Flight was released in 1974.
Artist: Graham Nash
Title: Prison Song
Source: Stereo 45 RPM single
Writer(s): Graham Nash
Graham Nash's Prison Song is one of those songs that by all rights should have been a huge hit. It was by a name artist. It had a catchy opening harmonica riff and a haunting melody. I can only surmise that once again Bill Drake (the man who controlled top 40 radio in the 60s and early 70s) decided that the lyrics were too controversial for AM radio and had the song blacklisted, much as he had done with the Byrds Eight Miles High a few years earlier. Those lyrics center on a subject that is unfortunately still relevant today: the utter absurdity of drug laws and the unequal sentences for violation of those laws in the US and its various states.