Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: dolly parton

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Be A Different Song

Enthusiasts, I was vague in my wording, which is a sin. Language was stolen for us by Prometheus and eleven of his wacky buddies from a Las Vegas casino; for this, they were chained to boulders for eternity and eagles randomly came by to eat their nipples. That you didn’t know when the eagles were coming back was the worst torture: if eagle-time were always noon, then at least you could steal yourself for the de-nippling.

What are you talking about?

Gods and legends. Like always.

Someone should eat your nipples.

Go away, I’m talking to the Enthusiasts.

They should have their nipples eaten, too.

Why?

They know what they did.

Regardless, I’m actually interacting with the nice people for once instead of ignoring emails and making fun of the Comment Section.

How so?

I asked them to name the BEST EVAR song whose title was a woman’s name.

Sexist.

I was going to ask about the BEST EVAR man’s name song.

Suuuuuuure you were.

Swear.

Uh-huh

Anyway, millions of Enthusiasts wrote in with their picks, but like I said at first: I was unspecific in my request. What’s the point of Rock Nerd lists and bullshit unless it’s picky and arbitrary? There’s no fun in arguing about something as nebulous as “Best Song,” but “Best Song by a Band with a Really Short Drummer?” That’s a serious Rock Nerd party right there, my friend.

So: we reduce the entrant pool by upping the requirements. We look for not just the Best Song containing a Woman’s Name in the Title, but Best Song in which the Woman’s Name is the Whole Title.

This means My Sharona is out (not that anyone voted for it) and so is Polk Salad Annie and Ruby, Don’t you Take your Love to Town. Sheena is a Punk Rocker is also, sadly, disqualified.

But The Ramones still make the list:

An underappreciated classic from their most-appreciated album. Of note: Joey managing to rhyme “Ramona” with “come over,” and declaring that the titular Ramona was, in fact, a spy for the BBI. What is the BBI, you ask? Excellent question. You should ask Joey.

Also of note: the intralyrical band member shout-out. This is an extraordinarily rare Rock Move, but when performed well, it wows the judges. Examples can be found at the end of Surrender by Cheap Trick and in the bridge of Girls, Girls, Girls by the Crue.

Next up is something by the Allman Brothers:

Nah, I’m fucking with you. This is what Hakim Bey would call a TAFZ (Temporary Allman-Free Zone).

What is it with you and the Allmans?

If they wanted me to like them, then they shouldn’t have talked so much shit about the Dead.

You pick a side and stick with it, huh?

I’m loyal.

Talk about Dolly Parton.

If you don’t like Dolly Parton, then you’re wrong.

Anything else?

Nope.

You’re the greatest undiscovered literary talent in America.

Why, thank you.

Just continue.

BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE!

The keen-eyed will notice that this song’s title is actually Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), and therefore not eligible. The keen-eyed should remember what I like to do to people’s eyes in the stories I write. Bruce gets a pass because he is Bruce.

Could’ve gone with Rosalita.

Rosalita doesn’t have the line about Madame Marie in it. Therefore, Sandy is better than Rosalita.

SLAP!

Did you just slap me? How is that even possible?

Don’t worry about it.

Ow.

Go on with your list and know that I’m watching you, buster.

Ow.

Bunch of you chose Gloria, but you all chose the wrong one and should be ashamed of yourselves. I advise you begin drinking heavily. Sure, Rock Nerds are supposed to worship Van Morrison and Patti Smith, but I like brunettes with unruly eyebrows and growly voices in spangled jumpsuits. Plus, the synth riff is killer.

I’ve posted this before; I don’t care: I’ll post it every day until I die. Little Richard on all the cocaine in the entire world.

Jesus, my gums are getting numb watching him.

If you rub your dick on the screen, you’ll be able to fuck all night.

SLAP

Why!?

You’re vulgar.

Violent is worse than vulgar!

Also more persuasive. Stop being coarse.

Here’s something wholesome:

Shortly after this performance Buddy Holly’s plane would be shot from the sky by a rocket launcher-wielding Don MacLean.

And there’s Lorelei by the Pogues, and Angie by the Stones and Victoria and Lola by The Kinks and that one from Rod Stewart that was kind of about him being molested. The Band did Ophelia AND Caledonia AND Evangeline, because it’s more fun to write about people with interesting names; Beatles had Michelle and Eleanor Rigby and Elvis Costello wrote Alison and Veronica.

But I like this one:

HE LOVES BERNADETTE SO MUCH.

Dude.

It’s an exciting tune. I got aroused.

Sexually?

Yes.

SLAP

You had to know that was coming.

I think I’m into it now.

Ew.

And Levi Stubbs was Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, so this wins.

EXCEPT:

Yup, it’s the love ballad sung by a grown man in a kitty suit.

Listen to it! It’s one of the prettier rock ballads ever written, plus no member of KISS besides Peter Criss appears on the track, which makes it by default better than the songs the band members played on.

Okay, I’m done.

That’s how you wrap it up for the nice people?

Yeah, fuck ’em.

Okay, yeah.

Live Nudies

The Nudie Suit experiment has never been properly explained; this sounds like a job for Lost Live Dead. There’s not many pics of The Boys in their suits, and they only wore them for a few shows: one (or more) of the Winterland run in December ’72, and then again at New Year’s. The outfits came out again 2/19/73 in Chicago, and then made their final appearance on 3/19/73 at Nassau Coliseum. (And not even for the whole show: everyone changed during set break.)

Wait, you’re saying. Those sound suspiciously like facts, TotD. You don’t traffic in fact and research.

Stop talking, I’d say, or I’ll throw myself out the window and you’ll never find out how the Little Aleppo story ends.

Wow, you’d reply. That got dark real fast.

And then I’d start crying. Are you happy? Is that what you wanted?

Stop this.

They did it. It’s all their fault.

Who is “they?”

Them.

Just stop it.

Fine. The dates from Winterland and Chicago may be wrong–I’m just going on Archive comments–but the Nassau show is a confirmed event. There is, Enthusiasts, evidence.

Look:

Bobby says in an interview that Garcia had his first, in fact had his before April of ’72 because he brought it to Europe with him (even though he didn’t have the balls to wear it onstage.) After March of ’73, though, they were gone forever. Phil still has his…

…and it still fits. (Phil went a little low-key with his, which I disagree with. What’s the point of a Nudie Suit if it can’t be seen from space?)

Who has Garcia’s? Gotta be worth something, more if it hasn’t been laundered.

But let me start at the beginning: 1902 was a terrible time to be born Jewish in Kiev. There’s never been a good time, but 1902 was worse than usual.

“Izzy?”

“Yes, Schmuley?”

“We should go somewhere where there aren’t Cossacks.”

“What is it with those guys?”

“They just seem to like hitting us with sticks.”

“And kicking.”

“Kicking, too. Let’s go to America.”

“You mean the Land of the Free, a country built on immigration that would never turn away needy and desperate refugees?”

“No, America.”

“Oh, okay. At least there’ll be jobs.”

“Sure.”

And so on.

One of these newly-arrived Jews was a young man named Nuta Kotlyarenko, who renamed himself Nudie Cohn and became a tailor, first in Minnesota where he met his wife Bobbie; they opened a shop in New York selling underwear to showgirls, and then moved to Los Angeles in the 40’s to make Western Wear. Spangles and frills and themes, and the last one is the most important: the key to the Nudie Suit is the theme. Anyone can slap some rhinestones onto a jacket, but a Nudie has a raison d’etre.

Look at this bullshit:

That’s some down-home bullshit right there.

That’s Porter Wagoner (right), and he was the first Country star to start wearing Nudie Suits; in fact, Nudie gave him his first suit for free, thinking it would be good promotion. It was. Soon, every male Country star had to have a Nudie Suit.

Hank Williams had one:

The notes represented his love of music.

Gram Parsons had one, too:

The drugs represent his love of drugs.

Every artist has a masterpiece, and Nudie Cohn was certainly an artist. His greatest suit of all time may have been both his simplest and his flashiest. You’ve seen it before once or twice:

“AH’M BACK!”

No, you’re not. Shh.

Anyway, Nudie Cohn died in 1984, but you can still get “Nudie Suits;” they make periodic comebacks adorning roots-rockers or alt-country acts. (You really can’t wear a Nudie Suit anywhere other than the stage. If you walk into a Taco Bell dressed like this, you will get gorditas thrown at you.)

Circling back to the Dead (this is about the Grateful Dead, remember), we still have many questions. Why would Garcia have had one in the first place? A Nudie Suit wasn’t an impulse purchase, nor could it have been a gift: they were hand-made, so you have to visit Nudie for measurement and fittings, and very expensive. And recall that Garcia got his before everyone else did, so it wasn’t a group decision. Garcia–in an entirely out-of-character move–bought himself a Nudie Suit out of nowhere? None of this makes sense. Bobby was the one who thought he was a cowboy. Someone explain this to me.

Like I said, the rest of the band thought it was a spiffy idea, so they followed Garcia down to the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, where Nudie’s of Hollywood was located, and fancied themselves right up. Bobby and Billy looked like this:

“I was gonna get skank on the legs, but I settled for pot.”

Quiet. This is not a dialogue post.

“Ah, suck my nuts.”

Great.

Even Keith had one, though there’s just this one black-and-white photo of him:

Poor Keith. He doesn’t want to be in a Nudie Suit. He knows he’s not pulling it off. Aw.

Much like the Farewell Shoes, Mrs. Donna Jean was not included. She did, however, wear a very fetching red number when the rest of the band payed dress-up. She looked like this:

Another alternate reality created, another unwritten future. What if they hadn’t learned to write songs? What if they buckled down and rehearsed and continued being the band they were in ’77? What if Brent didn’t die? And: What if they gave a shit about what they looked like?

Alas, it was not to be. The Nudie Suits were put in the closet, and the tee-shirts and jeans came out; in the 80’s, sweatpants and short shorts replaced the jeans. Never again would the Dead have “stage clothes.” But for a moment, they looked bitchin’.

Grand Ole Dress Code

dolly-porter-opry

This, Enthusiasts, is what you’re supposed to wear at the Ryman Auditorium; you should also be at least this Gentile. Bobby, who is currently doing a victory lap around the music industry like a retiring sports legend, is there tonight; he’s wearing a sports coat, at least, but he is also of course wearing his Birkenstocks. This is simply not done, and in fact may be the first time a man has ever worn sandals on that particular stage.

TotD now presents Other Clothing Never Worn Onstage At The Grand Ole Opry:

  • Tie-dye.
  • Uggs.
  • Pink sweatpants with JUICY written across the butt.
  • Dashiki.
  • Barrister’s wig. (There have been a shitload of wigs worn at the Ryman–hell, Dolly’s wearing one in the picture–but not a powdered, curly, symbolic, foreign wig.)
  • Assless chaps. (Again: there have certainly been chaps at the Ryman, but none of that David Lee Roth tushee-window bullshit.)
  • Armor, plate.
  • Armor, chain.
  • Armor, all.
  • Rainbow-colored Speedo.
  • Turtleneck. (It’s just a weird rule; no one knows why they’re banned, but the last person to flout the proscription was Randy Travis; ever since then, he’s had his career and life systematically ruined by a shady group of country music insiders known as the Hillbilluminati.)

Life Is Short: Listen To ’73

Listen: if I have to sell this thing past mentioning it’s 14 minutes of Nudie suits, pompadours, casual sexism, aggressive gentilism, and four or five of the most beautiful country duets ever recorded.

There’s two types of music, Enthusiasts: good and bad; Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner singing together is good music.

Fully Dressed In A Nudie Suit

This is the legendary (no bullshitting or snark or irony implicit) Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner doing Lost Forever in your Kiss on some long-gone hillbilly TV show, and it is a little scary: I will not lie.

The guitarist’s Jesus sticker and Porter’s facial structure combine to give a very clear message of “Fuck off, Jewboy” to those of us attuned to those sorts of things. Plus, it’s the sixties, so Dolly has to giggle at Porter’s jokes and show deference to him, even though she’s a brilliant songwriter and performer and businesswoman and clearly the brains of this outfit. (Nobody’s planning a summer vacation to Porter Wagoner’s theme park, are they?)

Also, the audience is made up of, like, four random children and both Dolly and Porter’s hair need red blinking lights on their apexes per FAA regulations.

But then they start singing…

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