Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tehachapi to Tonopah

Sometimes a song will make you do foolish things.

Over the years I've driven many American roads making photographs. Partially inspired by Robert Frank's The Americans and partially by Jack Kerouac's On The Road, which I'm currently re-reading for the first time since I was a teenager in its "restored" single paragraph scroll version. Not to mention my favorite film genre- the road movie. On all of these drives, music has been central to my relationship to wherever I am - sometimes by accident and sometimes quite deliberately.

One of my favorites for California has always been the first Little Feat record, which contains two truck driving songs by the late Lowell George: "Truck Stop Girl" and "Willin,'" the latter of which inspired me last week to drive from Tehachapi to Tonopah. I know, I know.

I don't know yet if the photographs are gonna be any good, but I do believe I've exorcised from my obsessive self the need to do this again. I found some lovely scenery out there in the empty spaces between Tehachapi, CA. (quaint small western town) and Tonopah, NV. (decrepit dying one-horse casino town,) but quickly found myself hightailing it to Yosemite to cleanse my palate.

Anyway, below are a few versions of each of these numbers. Little Feat recorded "Willin'" twice in the studio on each of their first two records. The first version features Ry Cooder on guitar, and the second is anchored by Bill Payne on the piano and Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel. Also, a radio broadcast of Lowell George joined by Linda Ronstadt on harmony vocal, and Steve Earle's version with the Bluegrass Dukes. Then, It's "Truck Stop Girl" by Little Feat, Kelly Willis, and my favorite version by the Byrds, who also have a live version of "Willin''' but I've excluded it because I've always found the vocals to be a little weak.

Okay, here goes...


Download:

"Willin'" mp3
by Little Feat
from Little Feat, 1971.

"Willin'" mp3
by Little Feat
from Sailing Shoes, 1972.

"Willin'" mp3
by Lowell George with Linda Ronstadt
from WHFS-FM Radio Broadcast, 1974.

"Willin'" mp3
by Steve Earle
from SideTracks, 2002.

"Truck Stop Girl" mp3
by Little Feat
from Little Feat, 1971.

"Truck Stop Girl" mp3
by Kelly Willis
from Rig Rock Deluxe, 1996.

"Truck Stop Girl" mp3
by The Byrds
from Untitled, 1970.

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***************** BONUS *********************
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Download:
"The Heart of California (for Lowell George)" mp3
by Terry Allen and the Panhandle Mystery Band
from Smokin' The Dummy, 1980.

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even though it's one of my favorite songs, I've never been able to decide which version of "Willin'" I like better, the one from the first or the one from the second record. Maybe you should do a post about bands who recorded more than one version of a song, where it's impossible to decide which is better. But the only other song I can think of which meets that description is "What Goes On" by the Velvets.

DeCapite said...

You, Sir, are a fucking genius.

Anonymous said...

"Barkis is willing."

Anonymous said...

I only assume you've already done Tucson to Tucumcari.

Consonance made flesh!

Safe travels...

JSG

Ted Barron said...

A whole post of "What Goes On" could be interesting. I can think of at least 4 versions, and would have to listen to them back to back, but I think my favorite is on the Live 1969 Album.

I think I'd have to go with the revised version of "Willin'" from Sailing Shoes if I had to make a choice.

Jay, I've never driven directly from Tuscon to Tucumcari, but I've spent the night in both towns at least twice, and probably traveled the road that connect them. Tucumcari, was I think near the place where Billy The Kid met his death. It's name also I was told was derived from an Indian-English name "two-come-Carrie" for a guy named Carrie who came there twice! I remember a pretty good donut shop there, but It's probably gone now, as I'm sure are the extemely cheap Rt. 66 motels that I stayed in.

craig said...

I had to take a download. Thank you, there was stuff there I never heard. It's comin' up to summer here in NZ, today felt like the first day. I'm walking home tonight with Little Feat on repeat.

Anonymous said...

hey, that linda ronstadt/lowell george version has been killing me for a couple of weeks. is that whole seesion available somewhere? and thanks!

Ted Barron said...

There is a bootleg of the whole radio performance that you could probably find by doing a little sleuth work on the web. I don't have it, just a few tracks. Thanks for stopping by...

Anonymous said...

Barkis is willing, awesome - was on a Dickens kick the past couple of years. Didn't even know there were two Feat versions of this song. Cool blog. Found this site by looking up Tihachapi when it was mentioned on "Pit Bulls and Parolees," and of course remembering "Willing." Saw Feat but unfortunately post-Lowell George.

Anonymous said...

These tracks are not available as of 26 May 2012 - can somebody save me?