Thursday, June 22, 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Songs for the Truck Stop

An overflow crowd at a public meeting in Santa Fe showed up to protest a proposed Flying J truck stop off I-25 south of the city.

According to a news story by my Santa Fe New Mexican colleague Justin Horwath, residents of the nearby Rancho Viejo neighborhood claimed the truck stop would bring unwanted traffic, crime and pollution. One guy even warned of the danger of light pollution coming from a 24 truck stop.

In other words, a fairly typical Santa Fe NIMBY battle. I must have covered a million of 'em back when I had the City Hall beat.

But for a lover of vintage country music, there just seems something un-American about attacking a truck stop,

As any serious country music fan knows, a truck stop is a hallowed place, an oasis on the highway, where a pretty waitress will pour you another cup of coffee (for it is the best in the land!)

A truck stop is where the brave men and women who bring the food to our supermarkets, and other goods to our stores can take a shower, grab a burger and a piece of pie and share a little face-to-face conversation with fellow humans to relieve the tedium that white-line brings.

Surely that outweighs a little light pollution.

Whenever someone protests a truck stop, somewhere out on the Lost Highway, the ghost of Big Joe sheds a quiet tear as he drives his Phantom 309 through the shadows.

O.K., I'll stop. Enjoy some classic American truck driver songs. Most of these have been banging around in my head since I read Justin's story,

I first heard "Truck Drivin' Man" done by Buck Owens. Butit was written and first recorded back in 1954 by an Alabama-born singer named Terry Fell.

Dave Dudley --  born David Darwin Pedruska in Spencer, Wisc. -- is best known for his truck-driver songs in the 1960s. His best-known song is this hit from 1963.

Red Simpson was a pioneer of the Bakersfield Sound as well as an important purveyor of truck driving songs. "Roll, Truck Roll" is my favorite Simpson tune.

Kitty Wells, one of the giants of 1950s country music, sang a sweet testimonial to truck stop waitresses

Dick Curless, a New Englander who wrote many truck driving songs in the 1960s, did this song about "truck stops with swingin' chicks" in this tune called "Chick Inspector."//

Here's another Red, Woodrow Wilson "Red" Sovine, who made it big with truck driver tunes. He's responsible for the spooky "Big Joe & The Phantom 309." This maudlin little weeper, also a "talking" song -- or maybe you can call it "white rap" -- was even a bigger hit for Sovine. It's about a guy who drives a truck called the "Giddy Up Go."

But this one is my favorite truck driving song of all time. I prefer the version by New Mexico's own Last Mile Ramblers, who performed and recorded it back in the '70s. But a Texan named Doye O'Dell was the first to record "Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves" back in 1952. The song features a hotshot steel guitarist named Speedy West.

You can bet your bottom dollar that I'm going to play a big load of truck driver songs on The Santa Fe Opry Friday night on KSFR.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Let's Get Residential

On this Wacky Wednesday let us now praise The Residents and the joy they bring.

This anonymous music and art collective has been together for more than 40  years in various evolving forms.

Today we salute one particular aspect of The Residents -- their cover songs. They've been reinterpreting, deconstructing and mutating popular songs by better-known artists  in their own peculiar way  since the very beginning.

In fact, the very first track on their very first album Meet The Residents (1974) was a version of Nancy Sinatra's "Boots."  Check this out.

Since that time, The Residents have released entire albums of covers of specific artists including Elvis Presley (The King & Eye), Hank Williams and John Phillip Sousa (Stars & Hank Forever) and George Gershwin and James Brown (George & James). Here's a tune from that one.

The eyeball boys took a stab at Ray Charles ...

Here's a classic performance of an Elvis classic on Night Music, a syndicated show in the late '80s and early '90s that remains my favorite TV music show since Shindig. On that same episode, The Residents backed Conway Twitty on a song.

Here's a Rolling Stones favorite as re-imagined by The Residents

The Residents go country ... but I don't think Hank done it that a way.

And finally, a little Sousa for yousa

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Sunday, June 18 , 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Sundays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out) by The Hombres
All Was Well by Benjamin Booker
Whettin' My Knife by The Ghost Wolves
Baby, I'm in the Mood for You by Dion
Bionic Girl by The Exterminators
You Can't Sit Down by Wolfman Jack
The World by The Count Five
Rocketship to Freedom by The Molting Vultures
Wandering Black Hole by Rattason
I Smell A Rat by Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
Killing the Wolfman by The King Khan & BBQ Show
Ghost Robot by Willis Earl Beal

Murder in My Heart for the Judge by Moby Grape
Society of Plants by The Blind Shake
Death of an  Angel by Destination Lonely
Onion by The Mekons
Into the Floor by Afghan Whigs
Nutbush City Limits by Ike & Tina Turner
Mama Guitar by The Oblivians
I Fuck Alone by The Grannies
I Think I'm Going Down by Weird Omen
The Beat Generation by Bob McFdden & Dor

Advanced Romance by Frank Zappa & The Mothers with Capt. Beefheart
Squatting in Heaven by The Black Lips
Happy People Make Me Sick by The Monsters
Wasn't That Good by Wynonie Harris
Psycho Love by The Meteors
Think About It by Grey City Passengers
Give Me Back My Wig by Hound Dog Taylor

Over the Mountain, Across the Sea by Johnny & Joe
Lips of a Loser by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears
Village of Love / Going Back to the Village of Love by Nathaniel Mayer
Leaving it All Up to You by Don & Dewy
Come on Up to the House by Tom Waits
CLOSING THEME: Over the Rainbow by Jerry Lee Lewis

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Friday, June 16, 2017


Friday, June 16, 2017
KSFR, Santa Fe, NM
10 p.m. to midnight Fridays Mountain Time
Host: Steve Terrell 101.1 FM
Email me during the show! terrel(at)

Here's my playlist :

OPENING THEME: Buckaroo by Buck Owens
Ain't I'm a Dog by Ronnie Self
Settin' the Woods on Fore by The Tractors
Gonna Be Flyin' Tonight by Wayne Hancock
Big Mouth by Nikki Lane
So You Wannabe an Outlaw by Steve Earle with Willie Nelson
Take Your Love Out of Town by Zephaniah Ohora
She's No Angel by New Riders of the Purple Sage
The Nail by Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
Little Ramona (Gone Hillbilly Nuts) by BR5-49

It's Her Turn Now by Boris McCutcheon
Hurtin' on the Bottle by Margo Price
Jubilee by Ashley Monroe
My Tennessee Mountain Home by Dolly Parton
Come as You Are by Iron Horse
Last Thing I Needed First Thing this Morning by Chris Stapleton
Truck Driver's Woman by Nancy Apple

Nobody's Dirty Business by Bettye Lavette
Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me by Mississippi John Hurt
Did You Hear John Hurt by Dave Van Ronk
It Gets Easier by Willie Nelson
Cumberland Gap by Jason Isbelle
Fair Swiss Maiden by Roger Miller
Lover of Your Dreams by Zeno Tornado
Intentional Heartache by Dwight Yoakam
Make Him Behave by The Collins Kids

Nothing Takes the Place of You by Shinyribs
Please Don't by Lauria
I Drink by Bobby Bare
Lost From Me by Stephanie Hatfield
I'm Going Home by Slackeye Slim
Old Dog Tray by Peter Stampfel & The Bottle Caps
CLOSING THEME: Comin' Down by The Meat Puppets

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

TERRELL'S TUNE-UP: Booker & Dion

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
June 16, 2017

This week I’m looking at a recently released album by one of my favorite new artists of the past few years as well as one by a guy whose music I’ve enjoyed for nearly 60 years. I’m talking about Benjamin Booker — age twenty-seven, for those keeping score at home — and the mighty Dion DiMucci, who will turn seventy-eight next month.

Three years ago, Booker’s rocking self-titled debut album was one of the most exciting records I’d heard in years. His record company had hyped the album as a cross between the dark punk-blues of Gun Club, the Mississippi gospel of Blind Willie Johnson, and the crunching glam-rock of T-Rex.

But it wasn’t only that. “I was just a music lover who wondered what it would sound like if Otis Redding strapped on a guitar and played in a punk band,” Booker told NPR a couple of years ago. And dang if that’s not what he sounds like.

His first album was so good that I almost dreaded hearing the follow-up. How could the kid possibly top that album? How could Booker possibly avoid the dreaded sophomore slump?

Now the wait is over. Booker’s new one, Witness, is here. And, while it’s not nearly as head-turning as his first, it would be wrong to call the new record a slump or a setback. The late Richie Havens had a sweet and wise song called “Younger Men Grow Older,” and indeed, Booker seems to have grown in the past three years. Witness shows the effects of maturity on this artist. Not only are the lyrics more pointed, more socially aware, but the music shows a willingness to experiment and explore, with the end result even more grounded in gospel and soul music.

No, Booker hasn’t forgotten how to rock. The album opens with “Right On You,” which could go blow-for-blow with the wildest tunes on the first album. “Off the Ground” starts off deceptively mellow, with Booker singing gently over an acoustic guitar and piano for about a minute before suddenly shifting into a full-throttle rocking rage. And the album ends with the frantic “All Was Well,” in which Booker borrows freely from Rev. Gary Davis’ “Samson & Delilah.” (“If I had my way, I would tear this building down.”)

But this album is bound to be better remembered for the slower, more gospel-soaked songs like “Believe,” in which Booker sings, “I just want to believe in something/I don’t care if it’s right or wrong.” One of my favorites is “The Slow Drag Under,” a funky tune with a swampy guitar. It almost could be a Prince song. I suspect this and “Truth Is Heavy” have their psychic roots in Prince’s Sign O’ The Times.

The title tune features guest background vocals by none other than Mavis Staples, the living embodiment of soul and gospel music. It was inspired not only by police killings and white nationalist violence of recent years but also by a personal incident in Mexico, where Booker was shoved around by locals who, as a Mexican friend explained to him, “don’t like people who aren’t from here.”

Booker sings, “Right now we could use a little pick-me-up/Seems like the whole damn nation’s trying to take us down/When your brother’s dying/Mother’s crying/TV’s lying.”

This album might be the closest thing to Marvin Gaye’s landmark album What’s Going On that we’ve heard in years.

Speaking of musicians in transition, that certainly was the case of the venerated rocker Dion in the mid-’60s. Norton Records has just released his “lost” album of 1965, Kickin’ Child. 

Here’s a man who started off literally singing on New York street corners with his doo-wop group, the Belmonts. Dion knew exactly how it hurt to be a teenager in love, and he had the hit single in the late ’50s to prove it.

Then, going solo in the early ’60s, he was responsible for three of the toughest songs of the era: “Ruby Baby,” “Runaround Sue,” and, most bitchen of all, “The Wanderer.”

His record label, Columbia, had other plans for Dion. They saw this handsome Italian singer as some kind of lounge singer, a potential monster of easy listening.

But Dion wouldn’t go for that. He’d developed a love for the music of Bob Dylan and a friendship with Columbia producer Tom Wilson, who was responsible for Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home. Wilson agreed to produce an album by Dion and his new band, The Wanderers.

But Columbia wasn’t quite sure what to do with the album. The company released a few singles, including the title song, and through the years, some of the songs have dribbled out on various Dion compilations. But the actual album was shelved, never released for public consumption until now.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate the music industry?

The aura of Dylan and folk-rock in general are palpable here. There are three Dylan songs on the record. One is a passable cover of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Then there’s “Farewell,” an obscure one from the early ’60s. But I prefer the tracks that eschew the jangly, Byrdsy sound in favor of a harder-edged Highway 61 Revisited blues-rock sound.

By far the best Dylan song is another obscure one, “Baby, I’m in the Mood for You,” which Dion makes his own. And even better than that is a Dion original, “Two-Ton Feather.” That one plus the title song are the best examples of Dylan’s influence on Dion’s songwriting and The Wanderers’ sound.

But that’s not to say the more folkie style doesn’t suit Dion well. He sang another song here written by a major ’60s folk-scene figure. “I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound” is one of singer Tom Paxton’s greatest songs. And Dion rips into the heart of it with his emotional performance.

Let there be video!

Witness this ....

But young Benjamin stills knows how to rock

Here's the title song of Kickin' Child

And here's "Two Ton Feather"

And here's a cool video Dion recently posted on his Facebook page

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Great American Dog Songs

As I wrote yesterday, I'm dealing with the loss of my dear old mutt, my friend and security dog, Rocco Rococo. On Wacky Wednesday I posted some great old  novelty tunes about man's best friend (plus a pretty cool houserocker by Hound Dog Taylor). Today I'm posting some classic American songs about dogs.

In 1853, Stephen Foster revealed himself to be a major dog lover with his sentimental song "Old Dog Tray."

Old dog Tray's ever faithful,
Grief cannot drive him away,
He's gentle, he is kind;
I'll never, never find
A better friend than old dog Tray.

My favorite version is by Peter Stampfel, singing here with The Bottle Caps.

Here's one that would have been appropriate for Wacky Wednesday as well as Throwback Thursday, "Quit Kickin' My Dig Around" by Gid Tanner & The Skillet Lickers.

Another old favorite is "Old Blue," which has been recorded by many folks. (The Byrds did a great cover on their album Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde. But here's an older recording by Memphis bluesman Furry Lewis.

Hank Williams knew what it was like to be in the doghouse. Here's "Move it On Over."

Even sadder than "Old Dog Tray" is "Old Shep." Hands down, the greatest version of this tearjerker is Elvis Presley's 1956 cover, I posted that on my Facebook page the day Rocco died. But the original was by Red Foley. "I cried so I scarcely could see ..."

Rocco Ralph Rococo, 2002-2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


My beloved 15-year-old fuzzy-faced mutt Rocco Rococo left this earthly plain this week, so I'm dealing with some real pain here.

So this Wacky Wednesday is for Rocco. It's a set of  wacky tunes about man's best friend. I think my best friend would wag his tail for these.

Let's start out with Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs ode to a cartoon canine lawman, Deputy Dawg.

"Marie Provost" is Nick Lowe's sardonic ode to Marie Prevost (he calls her "Provost") the one-time movie star who died in January, 1937, She died of malnutrition, basically drinking herself to death at the age of 38. According to Hollywood legend -- perpetrated by a chapter in Kenneth Anger's scurrilous Hollywood Babylon -- she was eaten by her own pet dachshund, Maxie. That gruesome tale is widely disputed, though it inspired Lowe's song.

Hey Hey it's The Monkees singing this dumb doggy ditty from their first album

Rockabilly Ronnie Self offers this shoulda-been-a classic tune that's not only a bitchen rocker, but also an pioneering experiment in radical grammar: "Ain't I'm a Dog."

Finally, here's Rocco's favorite house rocker, Hound Dog Taylor playing a tribute to Howlin' Wolf

Rocco Rococo in happier days. Photo by Helen Sobien

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Songs for the Truck Stop

An overflow crowd at a public meeting in Santa Fe showed up to protest a proposed Flying J truck stop off I-25 south of the city. Accor...