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Posts Tagged ‘John Campbell’


Bring tea for the Tillerman
Steak for the sun
Wine for the woman who made the rain come
Seagulls sing your hearts away
‘Cause while the sinners sin, the children play
Oh Lord, how they play and play
For that happy day, for that happy day

–Tea For the Tillerman, Cat Stevens


This was one of those days when I had to go against my instincts in choosing a song for my  Sunday Morning Music selection. I came into the studio early this morning and I wanted to hear something louder and more raucous. Not necessarily angry though that wasn’t out of the question.

I first thought of an old Del Fuegos song from the mid-80’s, Nervous and Shaky. It’s a song from a Boston based garage-rock band that had a brief burst of notoriety, looking for a bit like they could be a next big thing. I liked their stuff a lot and this song still pops in my head every so often. I tried finding a YouTube video that captured the sonic boom of the vinyl version but it just doesn’t come through well enough so I moved on.

Then it was Jack White (not quite right today) then late bluesman John Campbell who I featured here ten years ago, writing about being wowed by him in a tiny club opening for the legendary Buddy Guy. Then it the Clash and Little Willie John and on and on. 

Nothing felt right to share.

Then I came across a version of Wild World, the old Cat Stevens song– it’s fifty years old!— performed as a duet by him with the late Chris Cornell.

It instantly felt right. It felt nostalgic since the Cat Stevens albums of that time were among the first I bought for myself as a pre-teen and remained on my playlist for quite a few years after. Plus, being aware that it is indeed a wild world out there is a good bit of advice for anyone. So here is that performance with Chris Cornell plus I threw in the very short title track from the album that it was on, Tea For the Tillerman. It’s a song that always strikes a vibrant chord within me.

By the way, the image at the top is the album cover art for that album, created by Cat Stevens. Most folks who grew up in that time will recognize it immediately.

So, give a listen and have a good day. But remember, it’s a wild world out there.

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One of my favorite performances of live music came about 20 years ago in October of 1991.  It was at The Haunt in Ithaca.  There is a newer, larger Haunt in Ithaca now but the old one was tiny, tucked well off the street in an alley of sorts.  It held maybe a hundred or so people.  I went with a friend to see the legendary Buddy Guy and some opening act we’d never heard of before. John Campbell.  As we stood just off the edge of the very compact stage waiting this tall character with long hair appeared. He was very gaunt with a strange glow about him and and you couldn’t help but look at him as he passed.  He seemed very inward and serious.  A little scary, actually. 

We thought he was just  somebody heading backstage then he stepped up on the small stage with the three fellows following him and picked up a well worn Gibson acoustic guitar as the other three took up their instruments.  He started fingering a few notes, blues progressions then broke into a full fledged guitar attack with the rest of quartet.  The rest of that night was blues guitar nirvana in this little crowded club.  Buddy Guy, appearing afterward,  was, well, Buddy Guy, which is to say great.  A memorable performance  but Campbell was spectacular, belting out all sorts of blues including extraordinary slide moves on his National resonator guitar.  Having expected nothing it was like finding something new and wondeful, something you couldn’t believe had existed without your prior knowledge.

John Campbell died less than two years later at the age of 41.  He never achieved  huge fame although he was well known in the blues community.  But I will always remember being in that tiny club  that night, discovering a hidden treasure, which is what he remains.  Here’s a song he played that night:

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