This was the first track I got. I bought “Dixie Chicken” based on a review and played it twice through and was flummoxed until this track, the second to last on the album, emerged.
“Juliette” is sweet and subtle, in a world inundated with these qualities, which are absent from the hit parade.
Think short winter days, alone in the living room on the couch.
“Juliette” sounds like that.
Most people know this from the Bonnie Raitt cover on her second Paul Rothchild album, “Home Plate”… Still, I’m sure even Bonnie would admit Little Feat’s take is superior.
The magic is in Lowell’s vocal, the way it goes up and down, twists around, like regular human speech.
Still, there are those lyrics…
You might say you ain’t got a hold on yourself
You might say you always try your best
You might say you only need a rest
You might say you can only fool yourself
Ain’t that the way it always is…you’re your own worst enemy.
But it gets even better…
Don’t believe the words you read
They’re written on the street
And every time you know you play their game
They’ll knock you down and take your pride away
That’s their goal, to not only knock you down, but take you out of contention.
Don’t be intimidated by anyone. You’ve got a right to your opinion.
But you’ve got no right to make someone listen.
See how bad you need to cry
But no matter how you try
It’s the same old story once again
You always hide from the one who calls you friend
I call you friend
We have trouble relying on those who are nice to us. We all need friends, they’re the key to life. You might think it’s about money and fame, but they pale in comparison to interpersonal relationships.
Listening to “Fool Yourself” you feel Lowell George is your best friend.
A seemingly minor track on James Taylor’s “Gorilla,” after you’ve become inured to “Mexico” and “Lighthouse” and the rest of the magic tracks on that album suddenly this emerges. It seems just a little ditty. But it’s the subtle extras that make it work. And those extras are contributed by one Lowell George. Listen for his slide and background vocals… They’re barely there, but they make the song complete.
“I Feel The Same”
It’s the chicken pickin’ in the break that totally slays me. It begins around 3:38 and if you do no other listening from this playlist, be sure to check out Lowell’s work here. The whole track sounds like a Little Feat number, as well it should, since Bill Payne plays the piano… And sometime check out Chris Smither’s original, but Bonnie makes this song her own, it’s my favorite of this whole playlist.
“Face Of Appalachia”
Lowell cowrote this song with John Sebastian, which originally appeared on John’s “Tarzana Kid” LP.
Credits are not complete on the album, but I’ve got to believe it’s Lowell on the track. Even if it’s not, listen just to hear Valerie Carter wail at 3:24.
Imagine a day when music was not made for the hit parade, to make you rich and famous, but to enrich your and your listener’s lives.
“Face Of Appalachia” is pure magic.
“Sailing Shoes”/”Hey Julia”/”Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley”
Already forgotten, Robert Palmer was a giant long before he broke through on MTV. Not only does he cover Little Feat’s “Sailing Shoes,” Lowell’s all over the album. But the way these three songs interweave and connect will truly blow your mind, when Palmer finally segues into “Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” you’ll thrust your arms in the air stunned at the triumph.
“Long Distance Love”
For some unknown reason Little Feat’s fifth album, the commercially disappointing “The Last Record Album,” is missing from Spotify. Therefore, you’ll be unable to hear this magical track.
Then again, through the magic of YouTube, it’s right here!
You think you’re sticking it to the man by not signing up with Spotify, but it’s available on YouTube anyway!
As well as this live take you’ll find fascinating if you’re a fan:
As for the lyrics and heartbreaking sound…
If you’ve ever been on the losing end of a long distance relationship, this is your anthem.
“Roll Um Easy”
The famous take is on Linda Ronstadt’s “Prisoner In Disguise,” the follow-up to her smash “Heart Like A Wheel.”
But if it’s a cover you’re interested in, check out J.D. Souther’s:
It’s got the magic of the original, it’s even more haunting in its own way.
And speaking of J.D…listen to Lowell wail on “Midnight Prowl” from “Black Rose.” Lowell’s playing, along with J.D.’s plaintive vocal, makes the track. You didn’t call Lowell to dominate, but to enrich.
But be sure to check out the original from “Dixie Chicken.”
After getting “Juliette,” I flipped “Dixie Chicken” over again, and discovered this, the second track on the first side.
Play this once, and you’ll spin it twenty times, intrigued by the lyrics, the playing, the sound. Ain’t that Lowell, nailing it by shooting just a bit left of center. You know what he’s talking about, but he dances around it, evidencing the underlying tension in the situation.
“On Your Way Down”
Not an original, it was composed by Allen Toussaint. But Little Feat did the definitive version. It’s smoky, late night tired, but full of wisdom.
And it’s got the most famous line about the music business ever.
You might be quoting that cruel and shallow money trench line by Hunter Thompson, but no one knows the real deal like someone who’s lived it:
Well it’s high time that you found
The same dudes you abused on your way up
You might meet up on your way down
And we all descend.
Unless you’re planning on committing suicide at your peak, pay attention.
This is one of those rare instances where the live version eclipses the studio take. It’s the bass, it’s the keyboard, it’s the horns, IT’S THE GROOVE! And lying dead center is Lowell himself. This is one of the greatest advertisements for live music ever.
There was hookers and hustlers
They filled up the room!
You’ve been there, a place dark and electric, where you can feel the danger but have no desire to leave.
There’s whiskey and bad cocaine
Poison gets you just the same
And if that don’t kill you soon
The women will down at the Spanish Moon
It’s an absolute killer. And if you’re lucky, one night at a Phish show, they’ll whip it out.
Check out this version: Phish | 10.31.10 | Mercenary Territory
“All That You Dream”
And while we’re on the live album, “Waiting For Columbus,” we’ve got this smoking number which is almost as good in its studio take on “The Last Record Album” and was covered by Linda Ronstadt but is definitively recorded here….
Meanwhile, this is not a Lowell George original, it was written by Bill Payne and Paul Barrere, whose grave misfortune it was to be in a band with a certified superstar, so their star qualities were overshadowed.
Still… If you’re a big fan, the lyrics are indelibly imprinted upon your brain…
I’VE BEEN DOWN, BUT NOT LIKE THIS BEFORE!
In the seventies it was o.k. to not be a winner. Hate to inform you, but most of us are not.
Another “The Last Record Album” song defined in its live take.
Between the horns and the vocal, you want to run right down to the gig!
And there’s that famous line…
And I did my time in your rodeo…
Now that’s how to describe life! A series of experiences where you’re roped up and brought down yet get up and do it all over again…
And for those of you focusing on fame more than music…
I’ve been out here so long dreamin’ up songs
Writing music is a full time job. It’s about distilling your experiences. Which is why if you haven’t lived you’ve got nothing to say. Which is why all the two-dimensional young ‘uns have oldsters write their lyrics!
“Rock And Roll Doctor”
Only because if it wasn’t for this, the band probably would have broken up. Finally, they had radio success. When fans had given up, the band finally broke through, albeit still on a limited level.
This has got nothing to do with Lowell, it’s pure Bill Payne, and its genius, check it out.
“Fat Man In The Bathtub”
Listen to this tale about someone who doesn’t want nobody who won’t dive for dimes. Because even fat people need sex. And when they’re as charming and talented as Lowell George they get it. This son of a furrier grew up in Hollywood and found a way to make it.
And then he expired.
But while he was here, he dazzled all those paying attention, and is still remembered by those who were exposed.
We were enamored of the fat man in the bathtub with the blues.
It was on his promotional tour for his initial solo album that Lowell O.D’ed. So early in the album’s cycle that it seems like a posthumous work. It’s not his best effort, but it contains a positively exquisite cover of Allen Toussaint’s “What Do You Want The Girl To Do.” That was Lowell’s magic. Sure, he could write, but it was his ability to see a production in his head, to see the necessary parts and then put them together in the studio that was his true skill. It was all in service to the final production. It wasn’t about fame or lifestyle, but the music.