Tuesday Tunes 43: Wheels

A little bit later in the day than I usually post these, but we had a power cut this morning which took out just about everything for a couple of hours. As usual, we seemed to be the last area to be reconnected! But on we go with today’s dose of ‘msucucao.’ – see here for an explanation.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the football teams I support is Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs were top of the Premier League for a few weeks in the autumn, but form has dipped of late, culminating in three successive defeats prior to Sunday’s win over the team currently 19th in the league (out of 20). Last week, however, one of the tv pundits came out with the old phrase “the wheels have fallen off” to describe my team – he wasn’t far wrong, but it gave me the idea for this week’s theme: wheels. I thought for a few moments, and came up with six ‘wheels’ songs very quickly, so it seemed like a good idea. Here we go then, those wheels are rolling…

This week’s first tune is from Gretchen Peters, a woman whose music I have loved for quite some time, and who I think is criminally underrated. As evidence, the fact that this video has only been watched around 4,000 times in eight years is my proof! It is a fantastic Iive performance of a great song, with a spoken intro from Gretchen – the music begins at around a minute in:

This song was on the 2012 album Hello Cruel World, which was Gretchen’s first to chart here in the UK, reaching #70. As far as I can tell she hasn’t enjoyed chart success in the US, where she is better known as a songwriter whose songs have been covered by many well known artists: the most successful was probably Independence Day, which was a #12 for Martina McBride in the US country chart. This song was also the title track of a limited edition live CD/DVD following the Hello Cruel World tour. This was released in book format, and was sold at concerts in 2013/4 – which is when I bought my copy.

I have shared a version of this one before, by Julie Driscoll in Bonfire Night Tunes last November. As I mentioned then, it was first recorded by The Band, on their debut album Music From Big Pink, so I thought I’d give you their version this time:

Considering that the video is 50 years old, I think it has stood the passing of time well. It shows what a good live band they were, though I never got to see them – very few bands of their stature came anywhere near Dover (Kent, UK, the original), where I lived at the time! The song was co-written by Rick Danko and Bob Dylan – The Band had previously been his backing musicians. The album peaked at #30 in the US but didn’t make our charts – it is still a great album to me, though.

My next song is by one of my all-time favourites, John Mellencamp. He has been here before, but not with this song:

I view this song, and the accompanying video, as a positive affirmation of faith in the ability of the human race to continue to thrive, whatever it faces. And that means all types of human beings, as you can see from the video. The chorus says it well:

“Human wheels spin round and round

While the clock keeps the pace

Human wheels spin round and round

Help the light to my face”

This was the title track of Mellencamp’s Human Wheels album, released in September 1993, which peaked at #7 in the US and #37 here. It was also released as a single, reaching #48 on the main Billboard chart, but it wasn’t a hit here. He is another in that long stream of American acts who haven’t achieved the success here that I feel they deserve, sadly.

This next tune is a thing of absolute beauty, from one of the loveliest voices I’ve ever known:

The song was written by Anna McGarrigle and was the title track of Linda Ronstadt’s fifth album, released in 1974, which was a US #1 and spent a total of 51 weeks on their chart. As usual, at that point, it did absolutely nothing over here – please see the comment on the song above! Come to think of it, that comment applies to just about all of today’s featured artists. In 2011 she was interviewed by the Arizona Daily Star and announced her retirement, and then in August 2013 she revealed that she has Parkinson’s disease and “can no longer sing a note.” Her diagnosis was subsequently re-evaluated as progressive supranuclear palsy. That is so sad, but thankfully we still have her whole back catalogue of beautiful albums to enjoy. A footnote to this one: in case you were wondering, the pianist in the video is Andrew Gold, who in addition to playing in Linda’s band produced the album from which this came. He has also featured in this series, in episode 22 if you’d like to see it again.

Having kinda trailed them with the meme at the top, I couldn’t really omit this next one. I’ve featured it in posts before, though not in this series, but as it is one of my favourite Foo Fighters songs I thought I’d give it another spin:

There used to be an ‘official’ video for this song, but it is no longer to be found on the Foos’ YouTube page. This is pretty damn good though! The Foo Fighters are the one act in this post that stands apart from the others in terms of chart placings. None of their albums has ever reached a higher chart position in the US than it has here, and this song is a case in point. It has only appeared on their Greatest Hits album, in 2009: that album peaked at #11 in the US but was #4 here. Wheels was released as a single from it, reaching #72 in the US, but got to #22 here. Odd, that. However you view it, it’s still a great song, from another of my favourite bands.

I thought I’d leave you this week with a little bit of fun:

I absolutely love this video. There is so much to enjoy in it apart from the song itself, such as the stern ‘Madame,’ and all those visual jokes and side glances, some of which you’ll probably miss on first watching. It was released on OCMS’ debut album in 2004: the album was #1 in the US Bluegrass chart and #68 on the Country albums chart. The song has become the band’s signature tune and, although it didn’t chart as a single at the time, it has certified US sales of more than 1.1m. The basis for it was the melody and chorus for a tune part-written by Bob Dylan in 1973, for the Pat Garrett movie. Dylan said that he borrowed it from Arthur Crudup, and called it Rock Me Mama, but it was never officially released, though it has appeared on bootlegs. Ketch Secor of OCMS wrote the additional lyrics in 1998, and the rest, as they say, is history. There have been several cover versions of the song: both Nathan Carter (in Ireland) and Darius Rucker (in the US and Canada) have had chart hits with it, but my advice is to leave the inferior versions alone and stick with this one. In these dismal days, with snow gently falling outside, we need something like this to brighten things up!

That’s all for this week. I wonder if Spurs will give me a prompt for next time? If you see ‘rubbish’ or ‘useless’ as the theme you’ll know that they did. Until then, stay safe and warm. Take care.

31 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 43: Wheels

  1. hi clive
    good theme of wheels
    and nice how it unfolded

    i like that phrase the wheels have fallen off
    – and side note A in the 90s i took a lot of road trips – partly because my family moved and then it just became my lot in life
    – and the scariest place i ever drive through / or time i was most guarded was outside of New Orleans – two cars on the highway with wheels completely stolen!
    st. louis MO was also a bit unnerving

    enjoyed the wheels theme and loved the meme about Kurt and Foo Fighters – and that Foo Fighters song deserves to be shared as many time as it seems to fit into posts – they are such a good band!

    oh and
    the Linda Ronstadt song was another takeaway – so beautiful
    gracias 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never heard of Gretchen before, but she has quite the voice.

    I’m also a fan of John Mellencamp, but I have not heard this song, but I agree it is a good one, as is the video.

    I’ve never heard of the Ronstadt song, but like all of her work it is wonderful.

    I don’t know much about the Foo Fighters, but I know they have been nominated for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame this year…

    And like a broken record, I don’t know much about Old Crow Medicine Show, but I loved this song. It’s my favorite of all these Wheel songs.

    And I can’t believe you left off the classic kids’ song – Wheels on the Bus.

    I also thought of Spinng Wheel by Blod, Sweat, and Tears

    Great post, as always. Seems like this prompt was right in your wheelhouse…

    Liked by 1 person

    • and by the way, speaking of football, my wife and I just finished watching the series Ted Lasso on Apple TV. The English Premier League is a big part of it, but it was a great series, one of the best I’ve seen in a while…

      Liked by 1 person

    • In order! –

      Gretchen has a great voice and writes some amazing songs. I have everything she has ever recorded and never tire of listening to them.

      I bought that album the day it was released, and was halfway through a second listening before the drive home from work was over! I’ve loved it ever since – great album.

      This was a relatively early Linda Ronstadt song, so it may have slipped past you. Incredible live performance too, and that voice!

      The Foo Fighters were formed by Nirvana’s drummer, Dave Grohl, after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. He plays guitar in this band and is their main singer and songwriter. This is one of my favourites of theirs – if you want to see more, try the videos for Resolve and Learning To Fly, there is some good humour in them.

      I love OCMS and this song. It is far superior to the cover versions and the video is hilarious. I featured them much earlier in this series – another video full of their humour.

      Wheels On The Bus did come into the reckoning after what I said about my team, but I thought better of it. Spinning Wheel didn’t quite make the cut – I was already up to six by the time I thought of it. Good song though.

      And finally, thank you! This was probably the easiest post of the whole series to find the songs.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great theme today, Clive! Here’s hoping your team gets the wheels back on. As you probably guessed, I’ve never heard the Gretchen Peters tune before. While I love electric guitars’ sound, there is something great about going back to the basic acoustic version.

    I like The Band, but I seldom hear any of their music anymore.

    I’m pleased to learn that you are also a fan of John Mellencamp, John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp, or whatever he’s calling himself these days. I own the Human Wheels album and still listen to it a lot. My favorite track from that album is What if I Came Knocking.

    Thumbs up for most Linda Ronstadt tunes. I remembered that she was once linked romantically with our former governor, Jerry Brown. When I Googled that, I found out she had many famous boyfriends, including Aaron Neville, George Lucas, Jim Carrey, Mick Jagger, Albert Brooks, Steve Martin, JD Souther, John Boylan, and Bill Murray. That’s quite a list of accomplished men.

    Foo Fighters are in my playlist each week. Too many great songs to list, but I like The Pretender.

    The only version of the Old Crow Medicine Show’s song that I’ve heard was the one by Darius Rucker.

    Sorry for the novel, but you picked out some interesting artists/tunes this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pete. We have a game this evening, fingers crossed!

      I listen to a lot of acoustic music – it is especially enjoyable it it is a good song and singer too!

      You’re right about the Band, they don’t feature much on the radio these days.

      I’ve been a fan of Mellencamp since the early days and have everything he has recorded, even the ones in his Johnny Cougar days. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite from Human Wheels, though – it’s a great album.

      Linda Ronstadt has made some great records, and her love life has been well documented. I guess that happens when you have the voice and face of an angel.

      Foo Fighters have made some great records too – before they played Glastonbury a few years ago they live streamed an unannounced warm up gig from a small venue on Facebook. They played for over two hours – it was amazing.

      I’ve never liked Darius Rucker’s version of the song, it took all the fun out of it.

      Glad you enjoyed the selection.

      Liked by 1 person

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