Song Mango https://songmango.com Song Mango identifies, profiles, analyzes and celebrates the greatest, most influential Rock-N-Roll songs of all time, both past and present. Tue, 30 Oct 2018 01:56:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 StonesTest™ Vol. 11– The Golden Years https://songmango.com/stonestest-vol-11-the-golden-years/ Fri, 26 Oct 2018 21:30:00 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=649101 Welcome back! The 11th installment of the StonesTest™ will assess your knowledge of the band’s “Golden Years” (1968-1972) – an extraordinary period of output that encompasses Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St. (1972).

After the Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request in December 1967 as a half-baked attempt to challenge the Beatles’ psychedelic masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the band returned to what they do best: stripped down blues-flavored rock-n-roll. Beggars Banquet rose to #3 on the UK charts, followed by #1 rankings for Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile.

The Golden Years produced monster hits like “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Brown Sugar,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and “Shine a Light.”

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StonesTest™ Vol. 11 – The Golden Years

Welcome back! The 11th installment of the StonesTest™ will assess your knowledge of the band’s “Golden Years” (1968-1972) – an extraordinary period of output that encompasses Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St. (1972).

After the Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request in December 1967 as a half-baked attempt to challenge the Beatles’ psychedelic masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the band returned to what they do best: stripped down blues-based rock-n-roll. Beggars Banquet rose to #3 on the UK charts, followed by #1 rankings for Let It BleedSticky Fingers and Exile.

The Golden Years produced monster hits like “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Gimme Shelter,” “Brown Sugar,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and “Shine a Light.”

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DeadTest™ Vol. 41 – Songs From The 2nd Set https://songmango.com/deadtest-vol-41-songs-from-the-2nd-set/ Sat, 04 Aug 2018 15:12:29 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=649077 Welcome to the 41st installment of the DeadTest™!! This one takes aim at the Grateful Dead’s 2nd set, where the songs get stranger and stranger.

It’s my guess – knowing how dialed in the SongMango audience is – that we’ll see some top-notch scores and speedy completion times on this one. Show what you know!

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DeadTest™ Vol. 41 – Songs from 2nd Set

Welcome to the 41st installment of the DeadTest™!! This one takes aim at the Grateful Dead’s 2nd set, where things get stranger and stranger.

It’s my guess – knowing how dialed in the SongMango audience is – that we’ll see some top-notch scores and speedy completion times on this one. Show what you know, ladies and gents!

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The Coolest Thing: Mayhem Inside a Black Flag Concert https://songmango.com/the-coolest-thing-mayhem-inside-a-black-flag-concert/ Tue, 24 Jul 2018 13:56:05 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648879 Black_Flag_in_performance_(1984)

Black Flag in ’84: Greg Ginn, Henry Rollins, Kira Roessler (l to r)

“The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Week” features the ferocious, convulsing energy unleashed inside a Black Flag gig at L.A.’s Olympic Auditorium in 1982. This is exactly the kind of riotous live performance that made Black Flag a pioneering force behind America’s hardcore punk scene.

The raw fan-shot footage (below) reveals a band-audience combustion that sends lightning strikes of mayhem snaking through the crowd, like a lit fuse sizzles toward explosion. It’s a sight to behold, a glimpse at the nonconformist rebellion that attracted legions of loyal followers in the late-’70s and early-’80s.

BlackFlagFoot-stomping fans delight in unfettered access to the stage, weaving wildly between band members and then hurtling themselves back into the surging crowd. If it wasn’t for the instruments and Henry Rollins’ mic, you couldn’t tell the audience from the band.

Without further ado, here’s Black Flag on July 17, 1982, setting fire to “Depression,” an original song that highlights the band’s embrace of social isolation and neurosis.

Right here, all by myself,
I ain’t got no one else,
The situation is bleeding me,
There’s no relief for a person like me…

(The YouTube video is labeled incorrectly as being from Santa Monica, 1983 when in fact it’s from the Olympic Auditorium, 1982.)

The Black Flag lineup in the footage is Greg Ginn (guitar), Henry Rollins (vocals), Dez Cadena (guitar), Chuck Dukowski (bass) and Chuck Biscuits (drums).

Read more on Black Flag here.

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The Rock-n-Roll Twilight Zone: Owsley Acid, The Dead and The CIA https://songmango.com/the-rock-n-roll-twilight-zone-owsley-acid-the-dead-and-the-cia/ Thu, 26 Apr 2018 16:30:55 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648923 Welcome to another mind-blowing episode of the Rock-N-Roll Twilight Zone as host Richard Syrett interviews SongMango founder Peter Wendel (and others) about Owsley Acid, the Grateful Dead, and the CIA’s key role in introducing LSD to the American public.

Other interview topics include: Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests; Owsley Stanley’s amazing engineering feat, the Wall of Sound; the Army’s interest in spraying LSD on the enemy during battle.

The audio may take a second to load, but it’s worth the wait…

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DeadTest™ Vol. 40 – Call the Next Song (Part 2) https://songmango.com/deadtest-vol-40-call-the-next-song-part-2/ Tue, 03 Apr 2018 13:44:28 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648824 The 40th volume of the DeadTest™ focuses on the band’s silky-smooth transitions, seamlessly weaving one song into another.

Can you call the next song? There ain’t a Deadhead alive that doesn’t love getting it right!

WARNING: This could be the toughest test of all – the degree of difficulty is off the charts. Shake out the cobwebs, and make sure your ears are clear (no hats or hoods).

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DeadTest™ Vol. 40 – Call the Next Song (Part 2)

Welcome back to Jerry Land! The 40th volume of the DeadTest™ focuses on the band’s silky-smooth transitions, seamlessly weaving one song into another.

Can you call the next song? There ain’t a Deadhead alive that doesn’t love getting it right!

WARNING: This could be the toughest test of all – the degree of difficulty is off the charts. Shake out the cobwebs, and make sure your ears are clear (no hats, hoods or cotton balls).

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The Coolest Thing: Springsteen’s Wild Sit-In with Southside Johnny in ’78 https://songmango.com/the-coolest-thing-springsteens-wild-sit-in-with-southside-johnny-in-78/ Tue, 20 Mar 2018 14:28:46 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648578 BruceSpringsteen3Featured“The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Week” features Bruce Springsteen’s legendary 1978 sit-in with Southside Johnny at Cleveland’s intimate Agora Ballroom. Watch the two biggest forces behind the “Jersey Shore sound” go wild, leaving it all on the stage.

The backstory is worth hearing: How two Jersey musicians turned a three-hour delay into a night of pure rock-n-roll bliss for those lucky enough to be there.

Thursday night, August 31, 1978, found both Bruce and Southside Johnny playing separate gigs in Cleveland – Bruce at the Coliseum and Southside at the Agora Ballroom. The story turns on the fact that Bruce and Southside shared a guitarist by the name of Steve Van Zandt (aka Miami Steve and Little Steven).

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Bruce and Little Steven

So one show couldn’t start until the other one ended because not even Little Steven could be in two different places at once.

So what happened? Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes had to start their show almost three hours late because they had to wait for Steven to wrap up with Bruce across town at the Coliseum. But Van Zandt wasn’t the only one to hike over to the Agora Ballroom after the curtain closed at the Coliseum – keyboardist Roy Bitten, saxophonist Clarence Clemons and Bruce himself went along. To say the crowd at the Agora was blown away, would be a huge understatement (even after waiting three hours for the show to start).

It doesn’t get any more Jersey than this!

The expanded band sets a simmering fire to the stage as they open with “The Fever,” a song Bruce wrote and gave to Southside Johnny for his first album. Next comes a ripping rendition of “I Don’t Want to Go Home” (9:05), a Little Steven original. Then they pour gas on the fire with Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party” (12:48) – and the house comes down.

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DeadTest™ Vol. 39 – Can You Call the Next Song? https://songmango.com/deadtest-vol-39-can-you-call-the-next-song/ Mon, 12 Mar 2018 23:14:48 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648729 The 39th volume of the DeadTest™ collection dives into the legendary transitions of a band that could seamlessly blend one song into another (and back again). One song rising out of the ashes of another. Even without a head full of LSD, sometimes it was hard to tell where one song ended and another began.

One thing’s for sure, I’ve never met a Deadhead that didn’t take great (almost annoying) delight in calling the next song correctly.

WARNING: This is one of the tough test – at least a 8.5 degree of difficulty. You’ll need your thinkin’ cap and a well-trained ear.

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DeadTest™ Vol. 39 – Can You Call the Next Song?

The 39th volume of the DeadTest™ collection dives into the legendary transitions of a band that could seamlessly blend one song into another (and back again). One song rising out of the ashes of another. Even without a head full of LSD, sometimes it was hard to tell where one song ended and another began.

One thing’s for sure, I’ve never met a Deadhead that didn’t take great (almost annoying) delight in calling the next song correctly.

WARNING: This is one tough mama – posting a 9.5 degree of difficulty (out of 10). You’ll need your thinkin’ cap and a finely tuned ear.

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DeadTest™ Vol. 38 – Dead & Company Shows https://songmango.com/deadtest-vol-38-dead-company-shows/ Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:31:20 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648536 DeadAndCompanyLogoFeatured3The 38th installment of the Day-Glo DeadTest™ collection dives into the sound of the hottest Grateful Dead splinter band (for lack of a better term) on tour. Dead & Company joins an elite group of bands – including The Other Ones (1998), The Dead (2003) and Furthur (2009) – that has, at some point, dominated the touring scene for Heads, young and old.

The band consists of former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir (vocals, guitar), Mickey Hart (drums) and Bill Kreutzmann (drums). John Mayer plays lead guitar and sings, Oteil Burbridge is on bass (and sometimes sings) and Jeff Chimenti is on keys.

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DeadTest™ Vol. 37 – Dead & Company Shows

The 38th installment of the Day-Glo DeadTest™ collection dives into the sound of the hottest Grateful Dead splinter band (for lack of a better term) on tour. Dead & Company joins an elite group of bands – including The Other Ones (1998), The Dead (2003) and Furthur (2009) – that has, at some point, dominated the touring scene for Heads, young and old.

Good luck passing this one. If you’re used to hearing Jerry playing lead, Dead & Company will take you out of your comfort zone.

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NeilTest™ Vol. 9 – Simmering Solos https://songmango.com/neiltest-vol-9-simmering-solos/ Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:36:16 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648661 The ninth installment of the NeilTest™ collection takes a look at some of the guitarist’s most memorable solos. For this test, we focus primarily on Neil’s guitar wizardry, but we’ve also sprinkled a couple haunting harmonica solos in there for good measure.

To get a passing grade, you’ll need to be familiar with Neil’s studio work as well as his famously raucous live sound. He’s the Godfather of Grunge, after all!

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NeilTest™ Vol. 9 – Simmering Solos

The ninth installment of the NeilTest™ collection takes a look at some of the artist’s most memorable solos. For this test, we focus primarily on Neil’s guitar wizardry, but we’ve also sprinkled a couple noteworthy harmonica solos in there for good measure.

To get a passing grade, you’ll need to be familiar with Neil’s studio work as well as his famously raucous live sound. He’s the Godfather of Grunge, after all!

Now roll your sleeves up and get to work!

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The Coolest Thing: Neil Young Performs for Passers-by on a Sidewalk in Scotland https://songmango.com/the-coolest-thing-neil-young-performs-for-passers-by-on-a-sidewalk-in-scotland/ Sat, 06 Jan 2018 14:37:45 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648594 NeilYoung.Austin.1076

Neil Young in ’76

Ringing in the New Year with extremely cool vintage footage of Neil Young performing “The Old Laughing Lady” on a sidewalk in Glasgow, Scotland.

It’s 1976, and Neil is at the tail end of his tour of Japan and Europe. The Glasgow Apollo is the last stop, April 2nd.

Neil’s archives are available here.

Director Murray Grigor and cinematographer David Peat capture Young roaming the Glasgow streets, and eventually parking himself on the pavement to play his banjo and harmonica at the entrance of Glasgow’s Central Station.

Looking like a strung-out street performer – disheveled in his scarf and deerstalker hat – Neil delivers an unvarnished take on “The Old Laughing Lady,” a sparse and haunting song about death. The Grim Reaper in disguise?

They say the old laughing lady
Dropped by to call
And when she leaves
She leaves nothing at all

The power of the lyrics comes through in the eyes of the passers-by, particularly from a few Scottish laughing ladies. After he finishes the song, Neil signs an autograph for a young lass.

Read more about the filming here at Open Culture.

Young and Crazy Horse would perform at the Glasgow Apollo later that evening. They opened with “The Old Laughing Lady.”

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DeadTest™ Vol. 37 – New Year’s Eve Gigs https://songmango.com/deadtest-vol-37-new-years-eve-gigs/ Sun, 31 Dec 2017 15:45:22 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648543 Welcome back to Jerry Land! The 37th volume of the psychedelic DeadTest™ collection focuses on specific song performances from the band’s biggest New Year’s Eve shows – like Winterland 1978 and Oakland 1987. There’s nothing better than ringing in the New Year with the Grateful Dead!

CAUTION: There are a few tough ones in here so listen to each clip carefully.

Happy New Year, ladies and gents!!

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DeadTest™ Vol. 37 – New Year’s Eve Gigs

Welcome back to Jerry Land! The 37th volume of the psychedelic DeadTest™ collection focuses on specific song performances from the band’s biggest New Year’s Eve shows – like Winterland 1978 and Oakland 1987.

CAUTION: There are a few tough ones in here so listen to each clip carefully.

Happy New Year, ladies and gents!!

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Bob Weir and Phil Lesh Announce First-Ever “Duo Tour” https://songmango.com/bob-weir-and-phil-lesh-announce-first-ever-duo-tour/ Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:42:46 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648504 BobbyPhilTourSpring2018Bob Weir and Phil Lesh – legendary Grateful Dead bandmates – will join forces next spring in a first-ever “Duo Tour.”

The pair will perform a string of two-night stands, starting off at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall, March 2-3, 2018. The duo will continue on to Boston’s Wang Theatre, March 7-8, and the Chicago Theatre, March 10-11.

Each show will feature an acoustic and electric set.

Weir first announced the tour on Sunday afternoon on SiriusXM’s Tales from the Golden Road.

Ticket info is here.

Bob Weir & Phil Lesh Official Tour Dates

March 2nd – Radio City Music Hall, New York City
March 3rd – Radio City Music Hall, New York City
March 7th – Wang Theatre, Boston
March 8th – Wang Theatre, Boston
March 10th – Chicago Theatre, Chicago
March 11th – Chicago Theatre, Chicago

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AllmansTest™ Vol. 11 – Duane’s Session Work https://songmango.com/allmanstest-vol-11-duanes-session-work/ Tue, 05 Dec 2017 20:00:03 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648469 DuaneAllmanAnthologyFeaturedWelcome to the 11th installment of the AllmansTest™. This volume dives into Duane Allman’s early work as a session guitarist, and beyond. That is, recordings Duane made without the Allman Brothers Band, and he made a lot of them back in the day.

The elder Allman brother was a sought-after session guitarist down in Muscle Shoals, AL, who contributed to a multitude of top-notch albums for a host of A-list artists. To pass this test, you’ll need to be familiar with those contributions and the artists he worked with.

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AllmansTest™ Vol. 11 – Duane’s Session Work

Welcome to the 11th installment of the AllmansTest™. This volume dives into Duane Allman’s early work as a session guitarist, and beyond. That is, recordings that Duane made without the Allman Brothers Band, and he made a lot of them back in the day.

The elder Allman brother was a sought-after session guitarist down in Muscle Shoals, AL, who contributed to a multitude of top-notch albums for a host of A-list artists. To pass this test, you’ll need to be familiar with those contributions and the artists he worked with.

Even if you’re a huge ABB fan, this one could give you a tough time. So good luck!

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FACE-MELTERS: 5 Huge Performances of “Estimated Prophet” https://songmango.com/face-melters-5-huge-performances-of-estimated-prophet/ Mon, 04 Dec 2017 14:24:12 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648246 CaliforniaBeachEstimatedProphetFeatured

A prophet on the burnin’ shore!

Debut: February 26, 1977
Last Time Played: July 5, 1995
Total Times Played: 383+
Songwriter(s): Weir, Barlow

“Estimated Prophet” is all about the power of LSD – and where it can take you.

Psychedelics opened the portal for the Grateful Dead and their fans to interact at the highest levels – starting with the band’s musical contributions to the California “Acid Tests” in the mid-’60s and continuing unabated for some 30 years until the tragic death of frontman Jerry Garcia (aka Captain Trips) in the summer of 1995. “Estimated,” a song the band played nearly 400 times, pays tribute to the Dead’s legions of faithful fans who made the long, strange trip possible.

The Prophecy of LSD

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Owsley in 1967

LSD-25 was perfectly legal in the great state of California until October 6,1966. Garcia once said: “We were lucky to have a little moment in history when LSD was still legal and we could experiment with drugs like we were experimenting with music.” And oh boy, did they experiment. Owsley Stanley, the Dead’s resident LSD chemist extraordinaire, produced more than 5 million doses of the psychedelic drug between 1965 and 1967 – and that was just the beginning.

“Estimated Prophet,” a Bob Weir-John Barlow collaboration that debuted in early-’77, offers a wild-eyed glimpse into the heady days of LSD when the drug flowed like wine on tour, and the trips were deep, heavy and often profoundly spiritual (with the potential for powerful visions of grandeur).

We’re standing on the beach
The sea will part before me
(Fire wheel burnin’ in the air)
And you will follow me
And we will ride to glory
(Way up the middle of the air) 

BobWeir7FeaturedIn the book, Grateful Dead: The Music Never Stopped (1983), Blair Jackson writes about the origin of “Estimated Prophet”:

According to Weir, he and Barlow wrote the song from the perspective of a crazy, messianic zealot, a type which one invariably encounters in Deadhead crowds now and again. As Weir explains: ‘The basis of it is this guy I see at nearly every backstage door. There’s always some guy who’s taken a lot of dope and he’s really bug-eyed, and he’s having some kind of vision. He’s got a rave he’s got to deliver.’ In Estimated Prophet, the psychopath claims ‘My time comin’ any day, don’t worry about me,’ and Weir essentially lets him rave.

The Best of “Estimated Prophet”

We’ve gathered some of the top all-time performances of “Estimated Prophet” – in chronological order – from across the Grateful Dead’s illustrious 30-year touring run.

The song features Jerry Garcia’s signature lead guitar sound, which was made possible by a Mu-Tron III envelope filter (not a wah pedal). Other songs that showcase the Mu-Tron are “Shakedown Street” and “Dancin’ in the Streets.”

MAY 22, 1977
The Sportatorium, Pembroke Pines, FL

THE GREATEST PERFORMANCE OF 1977? Tight-and-right, 9-minute version that has to be in the conversation for the best all-around performance from the year considered to be the band’s technical apex. Rich, well-delivered vocals (Donna included), and jubilant play from Jerry. “Estimated” would continuing evolving into ’78 and ’79, which brought extended bridge jams and longer leads from Garcia (never, ever a bad thing!). By the end of ’79, the song could take a full 15 minutes to unwind.

FEBRUARY 3, 1978
Dane County Coliseum, Madison, WI

JERRY STRETCHES OUT! Monster five-star effort with a sweet, extended solo (3:30-4:42) from Garcia. Keith Godchaux shines on the keys (high in the mix), keeping the band grooving along. Spectacular outro jam capped with a towering, super-smooth transition into “Eyes.” Listen at the archive here. Released commercially on Dick’s Picks Vol. 18.

DECEMBER 26, 1979
Oakland Auditorium, Oakland, CA

MASSIVE PEAKKKK!!! Bring your oxygen tank ’cause this one gets way up in the clouds! Jerry takes it to another level. He starts the climb at 3:45, and doesn’t stop ’til he’s at the top of the world. Bobby tries to break back into the vocals at about 5:56, but Jerry ain’t quite done yet. This one loses some of the technical precision of the ’77 versions, but it more than makes up for it in the enormous peak. Absolutely nuts! The post-lyric jam is one of the best I’ve heard with Brent Mydland, who replaced Keith on the keys earlier in the year, showing that he’s fully acclimatized.

APRIL 19, 1982
Baltimore Civic Center, Baltimore, MD

RARE REPRISE! Here we have an inspired well-paced performance of “Estimated” from “The Raven” Space show in Baltimore. Tasty audience recording captures the band laying down a rare and triumphant reprise of the main melody at the end of the post-lyric jam. The crowd loves it! Powerful and totally unexpected! (This wasn’t the only time the band played a reprise, but it was one of the very few.) Bonafide face-melter.

MARCH 29, 1990
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY

BRANFORD MARSALIS ON SAX! Stellar latter-day performance – from an epic show – adorned with the jazzy lightness of Branford’s sax leads. Bobby can still wail, and Jerry can still stick his leads!

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The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Week: America’s Top Bluegrass Players On One Stage https://songmango.com/the-coolest-thing-youll-see-all-week-americas-top-bluegrass-players-on-one-stage/ Mon, 13 Nov 2017 20:09:01 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648308 SamBushBluegrassWikiFeatured

Sam Bush

Today’s installment of “The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Week” features six of America’s most influential bluegrass musicians on the same stage. We’ve got star-studded footage capturing the blazing soloing skills of the players that took bluegrass to a new level in the ’70s and ’80s – like Béla Fleck, Tony Rice and Sam Bush.

The year was 1988 – the inaugural year of the now-famous MerleFest in Wilkesboro, NC. Bluegrass pioneer Doc Watson founded the festival as a tribute to his son Merle Watson who died in a tragic tractor accident in 1985 at the age of 36.

The footage (below) from the very first MerleFest showcases the last song of the evening, “John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man.” There’s so much heavyweight talent on the stage, it’s a miracle it doesn’t collapse mid-song. The lineup (from left to right): Mark O’Connor on fiddle, Sam Bush on mandolin, Tony Rice on guitar, Béla Fleck on banjo, John Cowan on bass and Jerry Douglas on dobro.

When these guys bust out into their solos – and get down into a groove – your jaw will drop and your toe will start tappin’. Better hold on tight!

As you’ll see, the (lucky) crowd is relatively small and tame at the first MerleFest, with just a few dancers at the back, clogging away. The crowds got much larger and much wilder as word got out.

(As a side note, Fleck, Bush and Cowan were all members of the band, New Grass Revival. Another point worth noting is that Bush, Rice and Fleck all played with Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia, who rose out of a bluegrass background. The banjo was the first stringed instrument Garcia learned to play.)

It’s hard to overstate the importance and influence these six players had on the new wave of bluegrass that swept onto the scene in the late-’70s and ’80s.

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The Coolest Thing: Tom Petty Shootin’ the Breeze and “Learning to Fly” https://songmango.com/the-coolest-thing-tom-petty-shootin-the-breeze-and-learning-to-fly/ Sat, 21 Oct 2017 21:16:05 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648250 “The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Week” is a two-parter dedicated to the late, great Tom Petty. He could be the coolest guy ever so it all kinda makes sense. And yesterday would have been Tom’s 67th birthday (October 20th).

PART I: Tom Petty and friend and fellow entertainer, Garry Shandling, shootin’ the breeze at Petty’s home studio in the late-’90s.

The footage offers a rare glimpse into Tom’s personal life and creative mind. The interaction between Petty and Shandling (who died last year at the age of 66) is at times hilarious and at others, awkward. All the while Tom is chain-smoking cigarettes, and drinking god knows what.

PART II: Here’s video of Tom (with Stevie Nicks) performing “Learning to Fly.” It’ll move you.

Well some say life, will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God knows where
I guess I’ll know when I get there

God bless you, Tom! Thanks for all the great memories!

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PettyTest™ Vol. 3 – Remembering Tom https://songmango.com/pettytest-vol-3-remembering-tom/ Mon, 16 Oct 2017 18:50:05 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648206 TomPettyWiki1FeaturedTom Petty passed away on October 2, 2017, at the age of 66. Such a heavy, shocking blow to the rock community, and beyond. He will be missed by legions around the world.

The third volume of the PettyTest™ celebrates the music of one of America’s most treasured icons – a rock-n-roll heartland legend who gave us a river of unforgettable songs over a career that spanned nearly half a century.

From his 1976 self-titled debut to his final studio release, Hypnotic Eye (2014), Petty served up a contagiously singable mix of arena-anthem rockers and heart-aching ballads in as authentic and unique a voice as you’ll ever hear.

Rest in peace, Tom. You’re an American hero!

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PettyTest™ Vol. 3 – Remembering Tom

Tom Petty passed away on October 2, 2017, at the age of 66. Such a heavy blow to the rock community, and beyond. He will be missed by legions around the world.

The third volume of the PettyTest™ celebrates the music of one of America’s most treasured icons – a rock-n-roll heartland legend who gave us a river of unforgettable songs over a career that spanned nearly half a century.

From his 1976 self-titled debut to his final studio release, Hypnotic Eye (2014), Petty served up a contagiously singable mix of arena-anthem rockers and heart-aching ballads in as authentic and unique a voice as you’ll ever hear.

Rest in peace, Tom. You’re an American hero!

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NeilTest™ Vol. 8 – Cortez the Killer https://songmango.com/neiltest-vol-8-cortez-the-killer/ Mon, 02 Oct 2017 22:44:26 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648171 The eighth volume of the NeilTest™ explores the ethereal, time-tripping classic “Cortez the Killer” – an expansive song that’s home to some of the artist’s most memorable guitar work.

To get a passing grade, you’ll need to know “Cortez” inside and out, as well as identify some of the best-played covers in circulation.

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NeilTest™ Vol. 8 – Cortez the Killer

The eighth volume of the NeilTest™ explores the ethereal, time-tripping classic “Cortez the Killer” – an expansive song that’s home to some of the artist’s most memorable guitar work.

To get a passing grade, you’ll need to know “Cortez” inside and out, as well as identify some of the best-played covers in circulation.

WARNING: This has a high degree of difficulty!

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The Coolest Thing You’ll See All Week: Johnny Cash’s Stirring Debut of “Man in Black” https://songmango.com/the-coolest-thing-youll-see-all-week-johnny-cashs-stirring-debut-of-man-in-black/ Tue, 26 Sep 2017 15:17:58 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648124 JohnnyCash72FeaturedThere aren’t many instances when a song – one that will become hugely influential – has been performed live for the first time and the audience has truly understood the significance of the moment. This week’s “Coolest Thing” captures one such instance.

Johnny Cash debuted his now-classic “Man in Black” on February 17, 1971, at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University. It was a tense time in America’s history as civil unrest and the ongoing horror of the Vietnam War threatened to tear the country apart.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner
Who has long paid for his crime
But is there because he’s a victim of the times

Cash1969According to Cash, who was just days shy of his 39th birthday on the night of the debut, “Man in Black” (or “The Man in Black”) was conceived after he visited Vanderbilt and talked with students about the challenges facing the country. He then returned to campus the following week to perform the song live for the very first time.

Johnny laid out the “Man in Black” backstory in his moving intro to the Vanderbilt students that night in 1971 at the Ryman Auditorium:

…I talked to several of you, and we asked each other a lot of questions. I asked you questions; you asked me questions. An idea for a song started brewing then, and since I saw you last Saturday, I wrote this song. And I just finished writing this song – the fourth or fifth re-write – this morning. So that’s why I got to have the cards to remind myself of what the words are – the last version I wrote. This song is a very personal thing, I suppose you might say, but it’s the way I feel about a lot of things. This song is called, “The Man in Black.”

“Man in Black” is one of the greatest late-stage Vietnam protest songs ever written, but it’s much more than “just” a song protesting war. It addresses an array of social injustices (as Cash and the Vanderbilt students saw them) – like unfair treatment of the elderly and the poor, and the unacceptable cost of war – that were playing out in the early-’70s.

Johnny’s words of protest are still relevant today.

I wear it for the sick and lonely old
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold
I wear the black in mournin’
For the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men

When he finished performing “Man in Black” for the first time, Johnny received a long and moving standing ovation. Rest in peace, Mr. Cash.

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DylanTest™ Vol. 5 – All Along the Watchtower https://songmango.com/dylantest-vol-5-all-along-the-watchtower/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 15:43:13 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648101 The fifth volume of the DylanTest™ explores the legendary artist’s dark and foreboding track, “All Along the Watchtower” – a song that many musicians have covered, including Jimi Hendrix who delivered a master stroke.

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DylanTest™ Vol. 5 – All Along the Watchtower

The fifth volume of the DylanTest™ explores the legendary artist’s dark and foreboding track, “All Along the Watchtower” – a song that many musicians have covered, including Jimi Hendrix who delivered a master stroke.

Good luck, folks! Have fun with it.

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DeadTest™ Vol. 36 – St. Stephen https://songmango.com/deadtest-vol-36-st-stephen/ Tue, 12 Sep 2017 23:10:29 +0000 http://songmango.com/?p=648078 The 36th volume of the DeadTest™ digs deep into “St. Stephen” – a biblical heavyweight amid the band’s expansive live repertoire. Whenever the Grateful Dead played “Stephen,” it was an earth-tilting event.

“St. Stephen” aficionados shouldn’t have much trouble passing this one, but you’ll still need to focus. Good luck!

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DeadTest™ Vol. 36 – St. Stephen

The 36th volume of the DeadTest™ digs deep into “St. Stephen” – a biblical heavyweight amid the band’s expansive live repertoire. Whenever the Grateful Dead played “Stephen,” it was an earth-tilting event.

“St. Stephen” aficionados shouldn’t have much trouble passing this one, but you’ll still need to focus.

Answers aplenty in the bye and bye