I was watching “Better Call Saul” and they played “Season Of The Witch.”
Does anybody know the original five minute Donovan cut today? Never mind the Al Kooper “Super Session” remake they used on this television show?
It was not a hit, but it was a standard in its original Donovan incarnation. There was the hypnotic groove, the emphatic vocal, and the indelible chorus. Made by someone denigrated by Dylan but with substance nonetheless, track down Howard Stern’s interview of a few years back, you’ll be utterly fascinated, desirous of having lived through the sixties yourself.
But the “Super Session” iteration is even slower, and more than twice as long, its eleven minute rendition was the most famous cut on the LP and dominated the nascent FM underground radio format.
You see “Super Session” ushered in the jam era. Players had done this forever, Kooper’s genius was to record it. Subsequently we got Moby Grape’s “Grape Jam” and ultimately the third record of George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” package. And at this late date, “Super Session” is legendary for its first side, including the playing of the long gone Michael Bloomfield. And back then playing this exquisite was plentiful, but when you listen to Bloomfield pick your jaw will drop, it’s a revelation, you wonder where all of today’s players went.
They don’t exist.
Or they’re imitating.
They’re not innovating.
It all came from the blues. They were the foundation of sixties rock and roll. They’ve been thrown overboard. Do we need to get back to the garden, do we need a blues revival to inspire a younger generation, not only bring rock back but infuse a whole swath of youngsters with soulfulness? The blues infected AM radio, but mostly they served to explode in the format known as album rock. You stretched out, you laid down your feelings, in a thirty to forty minute opus.
So when the show was done, I went to my phone, I pulled up “Super Session.”
And that’s when I saw “Harvey’s Tune.” The final track. An add-on to finish the LP.
Harvey Brooks was and still is a legendary bassist. Played with everyone from the aforementioned Dylan to Miles Davis.
And I love this tune. So I pulled it up in the darkness.
It’s dreamy, it sounds like nothing on the hit parade, nothing else on the LP. It reminded me of how broad our tastes were back then. How we had an affinity for melody, how music was about setting our minds free. Back when real horns, never mind real drums and bass, were featured on records.
This is music. A tiny slice of life. Barely two minutes long.
And it made me wonder how we got so far from the garden.
And whether we could get back.
You see there didn’t used to be so much money in music. It was just a business. One made up of hustlers and dreamers. Musicians wanted to play and enjoy the lifestyle, not get up early, stay up late and get high and blow.
Now everybody’s a mini-corporation, when they’re not bitching they are not.
There’s a lot more to classic rock than the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. It’s been fifty years, maybe it’s time for a comeback. Time to jump off from where we once were, after a revival, akin to the ones in folk and blues back then. Go back to the roots, the essence, and see if we can go down a new path of enrichment and fulfillment.