Saturday, May 10, 2008
(part 67) "HOLY HOLY HOLY" ON THE AIR IN SAN FRANCISCO
This is only a demo of the song Holy Holy Holy and probably only some of the final lyrics, but I wanted to get something up to give this song a real sense of existing.. I put the words, as they are, into the video to make it easier to understand. Sorry for the spelling mistakes in the video...
What I am writing about here regarding religious beliefs, or the lack thereof, was an extremely important subject to me back in the 60's. There wasn't an evangelical movement back then like there is today. Religion was viewed somewhat differently in that time frame by mainstream America.
There was no TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) on cable TV, or anything else like we have come to take for granted presently. There were no cell phones, no cable news channels, etc. Newspapers and magazines, network news in the morning and evening, and AM radio was where we learned about our world, unless you were part of what was making the news, which we were. We, being the anti-war pro peace hippie movement.
Religion represented the establishment and all the establishment stood for, which in our opinion was the war, fear of sex, drugs, and rock n roll, guilt, and fear of self expression. Religion and government were intertwined in such a way that set up false moral structures, which were assumed by it's supporters to be the last word on all things moral and important to the whole collective body of America.
The hippie and peace movements were embraced by the new direction of music and art and most of it's creators. They, for the most part, had very different ideas about their world. Most of these ideas were not shared by those in positions of power within the entertainment and radio broadcast mediums. As a fact, that became one of the driving forces behind underground FM radio in the 60's.
The tensions that existed between this duality of forces was what I was attempting to get at by writing some of the kinds of songs I wrote at the time, like Hitler and Jesus. The title itself was a perfect metaphor for the pairs-of-opposites philosophy I was experimenting with. Yin and Yang, positive and negative, light and dark, etc.
I saw Holy Holy Holy as a way to draw a distinction between the supposed goodness of religion, and religion's inability, to produce members who could see that blowing up Vietnam was not a net positive for the world. I saw that people who were going to church, and proclaiming their moral high ground, were also supporting a war which I, and much of the country was against.
Establishment types were afraid of braless hippie girls, but seemingly unmoved by the war's increasing body count on television and in print news media. The priests, who I saw as leaders within religious structures, whatever the denomination, had, in my opinion and that of others, a moral obligation to speak out against the ongoing slaughter of human beings.
I should add, that I am aware what I'm saying was not true in all cases. There were many, but never enough, who did speak out, such a Martin Luther King, in his brilliant speech against the war in April of 1968. My need, which was to articulate through music and lyrics, my own growing dissatisfaction with the world around me, was met with animosity and skepticism by many, and down right hatred by some.
The more I worked at capturing, through art, what I believed to be the truth, the further I was pushed to the side of the "money for music" business. A lot of music business people said, "Yeah, the guy's real talented, but why doesn't he write something commercial?"
This infuriated me, because I had written many things that were commercial and they'd complained about them too. I decided that if they were going to keep me out I might as well write the kind of songs I wanted to. I knew by then that I was far more serious about what I did than they ever figured out. I'd already had my shot at bubble gum music and wasn't planning to go back to it again.
Sometime after I'd recorded "Holy Holy Holy," and had a tape copy in my hands, I ventured up to San Francisco to see a friend of mine, Greg Thomas. Greg introduced me to the band Blue Cheer. I told them about the tape of Holy Holy Holy and they all thought it sounded pretty interesting.
One of the guys in the band said he knew the girl who was a DJ on the first underground FM rock station on the west coast. He said she was on that afternoon, and we ought to go to the station and see if she'd play the tape on the air. We all decided it was a good idea and piled into the car and headed for the station.
The lady DJ was on the air when we arrived but she invited us in anyway, feeling loved by all the attention she was getting from Blue Cheer. It seems this particular lady was known to like downers so we asked her if she wanted a couple? She, without hesitation, said, "Yes!" I pulled a couple of 3 grain Tuenals out of my pocket and handed them to her. She promptly swallowed both of them.
We all broke up laughing and said, "Damn girl, you really do like those things." While we joked around for twenty or thirty minutes it became apparent that the DJ lady was getting pretty loaded and beginning to slur her words. It was at that point we brought up the tape. Without batting an eyelash, or knowing full well what was on the tape, she asked, " Do you have it with you? Give to me, I'll put it on."
I handed her the tape and watched as she threaded it through the machine and picked up her mic, hitting the cut-in switch. Now you have to remember that this was a live broadcast. "Hello all you.." She broke in, "I have some special guests in the studio with me today."
She went on saying, "I'm here with some of the guys from Blue Cheer, Greg Thomas of Mint Tattoo, and Bobby Jameson, who's visiting us from L.A.. I'm gonna to play a brand new song of Bobby's for the first time anywhere." She clicked on the tape and let it rip. I stood back listening to the song play, when about half way through it the telephone switchboard lit up like a christmas tree and all hell broke loose.
The tape was quickly yanked off the air and the lady DJ handed it back to me saying, "You guys better get out a here because the station owner is on his way and we got big trouble." I apologized to her as we left saying, "I hope you don't get in any trouble or fired." She said, "Don't worry about it. It was worth it. Trippy song Bobby."
We thanked her for playing the tape and exited through the door and down the stairs to the street below. We didn't know whether we should feel guilty, happy, or impressed that the song had caused such a reaction. Someone said as we got in the car, "Yeah, and they didn't even hear the whole thing!"