The Rodeo Song ~ Garry Lee and the Showdown

The-Rodeo-Song-By-ShowdownGarry Lee and the Showdown were a country band from Armpit, Alberta, Canada.

A true collaboration of Alberta talent at its finest, Showdown began as a barn band in Armpit, Alberta in the late 70’s when Garry Lee Berthold would whistle while milking Bessie. His neighbor Charles Holly heard the blissful dairy-duties and before long, the two were jamming with their little animal friends. Deciding it would be best if their husbands simply abandoned farm life, Mrs Holly and Berthold packed up the kids and hubbies and headed to town. Arriving at the bustling metropolis of Medicine Hat, the two quickly took to fiddles and geetars. Low and behold … they were good. So good in fact they moved to the big city – Leduc. There, they attracted the attention of more farmers, fellow banjo and guitarist Kelly La Rocque and drummer Paul McLellan. When they decided to go on the road, Berthold decided to shorten his name to Garry Lee.

A cult following soon developed, unable to get enough of the group’s pure magnetism on stage. Two-stepping … this silly dance then that one … the boys were hot. They decided corporate types were never going to catch on to their brand of country music mixed with dry prairie humor, so they threw a couple of bags in their pickups and headed for the studios. Eventually agreeing to let Garry’s German Shephard in the building, the guys came out of Damon Studios in the spring of 1980 with what is quite honestly one of the most cleverly written, witty, ground-breaking, slickest sounding country records to ever come out of Canada, WELCOME TO THE RODEO. With Gaye Delorme’s song, “The Rodeo Song”, the band gained instant notoriety. Though the album jacket praises the song for being a future classic, right below it is a warning for radio DJ’s not to play it. Read the lyrics below and you’ll know why …..

The Rodeo Song

Originally written by Gaye Delorme, Garry Lee and the Showdown were the ones to make it famous in their 1980 album, “Welcome to the Rodeo”.  For obvious reasons, it would never receive radio air play, so its popularity was spread mainly through clubs and other venues.

The Rodeo Song – Gaye Delorme

Well it’s 40 below and I don’t give a fuck
Got a heater in my truck and I’m off to the rodeo
And it’s allemande left and allemande right
Come on ya fuckin’ dummy get your right step right
Get off the stage ya god damn goof, get off

piss me off, fuckin’ jerk, get on my nerves

Well here comes Johnny with his pecker in his hand
He’s a one ball man and he’s off to the rodeo
And it’s allemande left and allemande right
Come on ya fuckin’ dummy get your right step right
Get off the stage ya god damn goof, get off

piss me off, fuckin’ jerk, get on my nerves

Well it’s 40 below and I aint got a truck
and I dont give a fuck cause I’m off to the rodeo
And it’s allemande left and allemande right
Come on ya fuckin’ dummy get your right step right
Get off the stage ya god damn goof, get off

piss me off, fuckin’ jerk, get on my nerves

Well here comes Johnny with his pecker in his hand
He’s a one ball man and he’s off to the rodeo
And it’s allemande left and allemande right
Come on ya fuckin’ dummy get your right step right
Get off the stage ya god damn goof, get off

piss me off, fuckin’ jerks, get on my nerves

  • Audio from the 1994 album, The Rodeo Song “The Original Hit”:

showdown

Play The Rodeo Song - by Garry Lee and the Showdown

Pictures of Matchstick Men – Status Quo

Status-Quo---1968--1Status Quo, also known as The Quo or just Quo, are an English rock band whose music is characterized by their distinctive brand of boogie rock.

The origins of Status Quo were in the rock and roll freakbeat band “The Spectres” formed in 1962. Francis Rossi and Alan Lancaster met at Sedgehill Comprehensive School, Catford, and were members of the same orchestra. They started a band called The Scorpions, later changing the name to “The Spectres”. Rossi and Lancaster played their first gig at the Samuel Jones Sports Club in Dulwich, London. In 1963 they added drummer John Coghlan. They began writing their own material and after a year met Rick Parfitt who was playing with a cabaret band called The Highlights. By the end of 1965 Rossi and Parfitt, who had become close friends, made a commitment to continue working together. On 18 July 1966 The Spectres signed a five-year deal with Piccadilly Records, releasing two singles that year, “I (Who Have Nothing)” and “Hurdy Gurdy Man” (written by Alan Lancaster), and one the next year called “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet” (a song originally recorded by New York psychedelic band The Blues Magoos).

By 1967, the group had discovered psychedelia and changed their name to Traffic (later amended to Traffic Jam, to avoid confusion with Steve Winwood’s Traffic). At this time the line-up also included organist Roy Lynes.  In late 1967 the band became The Status Quo, and in January 1968 they released the psychedelic-favored “Pictures of Matchstick Men”

Pictures of Matchstick Men

The song opens with a single guitar repeatedly playing a simple four note riff before the rhythm guitar comes in with chords and the drums and lyrics begin. Pictures of Matchstick Men is one of a number of songs from the late sixties to feature phasing (the audio effect).

I wrote it on the bog. I’d gone there, not for the usual reasons…but to get away from the wife and mother-in-law. I used to go into this narrow frizzing toilet and sit there for hours, until they finally went out. I got three quarters of the song finished in that khazi. The rest I finished in the lounge.”

The song is an example of bubblegum psychedelia. Their following release Black Veils of Melancholy was similar but flopped and so caused the group to change direction.

The “matchstick men” of the song refer to the paintings of L.S. Lowry.

Pictures of Matchstick Men – Francis Rossi

When I look up to the skies
I see your eyes a funny kind of yellow
I rush home to bed I soak my head
I see your face underneath my pillow
I wake next morning, tired, still yawning
See your face come peeping through my window

Pictures of matchstick men and you
Mirages of matchstick men and you
All I ever see is them and you

Windows echo your reflection
When I look in their direction now
When will this haunting stop?
Your face it just won’t leave me alone

Pictures of matchstick men and you
Mirages of matchstick men and you
All I ever see is them and you

You’re in the sky and with the sky
You make men cry, you lie
You’re in the sky and with the sky
You make men cry, you lie

Pictures of matchstick men and
Pictures of matchstick men and you
Pictures of matchstick men ….

  • Audio from the 1968 album, Picturesque Matchstickable Messages From The Status Quo:

Picturesque

Play Pictures of Matchstick Men - by Status Quo

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades ~ Timbuk3

timbuk3Timbuk3 was an American alternative pop band formed in 1984 by the husband and wife team of Pat MacDonald (acoustic, electric, bass and MIDI guitars, harmonica, vocals, drum programming) and Barbara K. MacDonald (electric guitar, mandolin, violin, rhythm programming, vocals).

The duo began playing together in Madison, Wisconsin. Initially they performed live as a duo backed up by a large boombox. This boombox technique, unique at the time, represented a transition in music, and its public popularity set the stage for backtracking and samplers becoming common place techniques still used today.

Timbuk3 was signed by I.R.S. Records after appearing on an episode of MTV’s The Cutting Edge in 1986. Soon after, they released their first album, Greetings from Timbuk3.  They were joined in 1991 by Wally Ingram and Courtney Audain.  The group broke up in 1995, with the ex-members going on to record other music independently.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

The inspiration for the song, and the title specifically, came when Barbara K. MacDonald said to her partner and husband Pat MacDonald “The future is looking so bright, we’ll have to wear sunglasses!” But, while Barbara had made the comment in earnest – it was the early ’80s, the two had met and married and were starting a family, their first EP was coming, their book was filling up with gigs – Pat heard the comment as an ironic quip and wrote down instead, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”

From there, the lyrics to the song were born, but not the song as it ended up in the minds of popular culture. While Pat wrote a song of a youthful nuclear scientist and his monied future, listening audiences heard a graduation theme song.

Pat revealed on VH1’s “100 Greatest One-hit Wonders of the ’80s” list that the meaning of the song was widely misinterpreted as a positive perspective in regard to the near future. Pat somewhat clarified the meaning by stating that it was, contrary to popular belief, a “grim” outlook. While not saying so directly, he hinted at the idea that the bright future was in fact due to impending nuclear holocaust. The “job waiting” after graduation signified the demand for nuclear scientists to facilitate such events. Pat drew upon the multitude of past predictions which transcend several cultures that foreshadow the world ending in the 1980s, along with the nuclear tension at the height of the cold war to compile the song.

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades – Pat MacDonald

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher
He wears dark glasses

Things are goin’ great
And they’re only gettin’ better
I’m doin’ all right
Gettin’ good grades
The future’s so bright
I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

I got a job waitin’
For my graduation
50 thou a year
will buy a lotta beer

Things are goin’ great
And they’re only gettin’ better
I’m doin’ all right
Gettin’ good grades
The future’s so bright
I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

Well I’m heavenly blessed
And worldly wise
I’m a peeping Tom techie
With x-ray eyes

Things are goin’ great
And they’re only gettin’ better
I’m doin’ all right
Gettin’ good grades
The future’s so bright
I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher
He wears dark glasses

Things are goin’ great
And they’re only gettin’ better
I’m doin’ all right
Gettin’ good grades
The future’s so bright
I gotta wear shades
I gotta wear shades

  • Audio from the 1986 album, Greetings from Timbuk 3:

Greetings_From_Timbuk_3

Play The Future's So Bright - by Timbuk3

Sylvia’s Mother ~ Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show was a pop-country rock band formed around Union City, New Jersey in 1968. There the band’s earliest incarnation played many small clubs around the ‘Transfer Station’, an area of bars and restaurants, all advertising ‘live’ music.

The founding core of the band consisted of four friends–George Cummings, Dennis Locorriere, Ray Sawyer, Billy Francis–who had played up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest, ending up in New Jersey one by one, with invitations from founding band member George Cummings. Told by a club owner that they needed a name to put on a poster in the window of his establishment, Cummings made a sign: “Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show: Tonic for the Soul.” The name was inspired by the traveling medicine shows of the old West. To this day, frontman Ray Sawyer is mistakenly considered Dr. Hook because of the eyepatch he wears as the result of a near-fatal 1967 car accident.

The band played for about two years in New Jersey, first with drummer Popeye Phillips, a session drummer on The Flying Burrito Brothers first album, The Gilded Palace of Sin. Citing musical differences, Popeye returned home to Alabama and was replaced by local drummer Joey Oliveri. When the band began recording their first album it became obvious that they would need a more solid back beat, and Olivieri was replaced by session player John “Jay” David, who was asked to join the band, full time.

In 1970, their demo tapes were heard by Ron Haffkine, musical director on the planned Herb Gardner movie, Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?, starring Dustin Hoffman as a successful songwriter having a nervous breakdown. The songs for the film were written by cartoonist, poet and songwriter Shel Silverstein, who determined that Dr. Hook was the ideal group for the soundtrack. Among the several songs the group did for the film, Dennis Locorriere sang the lead on “Last Morning,” the movie’s theme song, later re-recorded for their second album, Sloppy Seconds. The film was released in 1971 by National General Pictures to mixed reviews.

Meanwhile, CBS Records head Clive Davis had a memorable meeting with the group, described in Davis’ autobiography. Drummer David used a wastepaper basket to keep the beat, and while Sawyer, Locorriere and Cummings played and sang a few songs, Francis hopped up and danced on the mogul’s desk. This meeting secured the band their first record deal. Subsequently the band went on to international success over the next 12 years with Haffkine as the group’s manager as well as producer of all the Dr.Hook recordings.

Their self-titled 1971 debut album featured guitarist Cummings, singer Sawyer, drummer David, singer/guitarist, bass player Locorriere, and keyboard player Billy Francis. The album included their first hit, “Sylvia’s Mother.”

Shel Silverstein wrote the lyrics for many of Dr. Hook’s early songs (in fact, he wrote their entire second album), such as “Sylvia’s Mother”, “Everybody’s Makin’ It Big But Me”, “Penicillin Penny”, “The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan”, “Carry Me Carrie”, “The Wonderful Soup Stone”, and at least 24 more, some co-written with Ray Sawyer and/or Dennis Locorriere.

Sylvia’s Mother

The song tells the story of a man trying to say one last goodbye to his ex-girlfriend but is not able to get past her mother, who tries to interfere.

Sylvia’s Mother – Shel Silverstein

Sylvia’s mother says Sylvia’s busy, too busy to come to the phone
Sylvia’s mother says Sylvia’s tryin’ to start a new life of her own
Sylvia’s mother says Sylvia’s happy so why don’t you leave her alone
And the operator says forty cents more for the next three minutes

Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her,
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell her goodbye

Sylvia’s mother says Sylvia’s packin’ she’s gonna be leavin’ today
Sylvia’s mother says Sylvia’s marryin’ a fella down Galveston way
Sylvia’s mother says please don’t say nothin’ to make her start cryin’ and stay
And the operator says forty cents more for the next three minutes

Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her,
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell her goodbye

Sylvia’s mother says Sylvia’s hurryin’ she’s catchin’ the nine o’clock train
Sylvia’s mother says take your umbrella cause Sylvie, it’s startin’ to rain
And Sylvia’s mother says thank you for callin’ and sir won’t you call back again
And the operator says forty cents more for the next three minutes

Please Mrs. Avery, I just gotta talk to her,
I’ll only keep her a while
Please Mrs. Avery, I just wanna tell her goodbye

Tell her goodbye…
Please… tell her goodbye..

  • Audio from the 1972 album, Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show:

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Play Sylvia's Mother - by Dr. Hook &

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

tracyBorn in Cleveland, Ohio, Tracy Chapman began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of eleven. She was accepted into A Better Chance, the national resource for identifying, recruiting and developing leaders among academically gifted students of color, which enabled her to attend Wooster School in Connecticut, and was eventually accepted to Tufts University.

In May 2004, Tufts honored her with an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, for her contributions as a socially conscious and artistically accomplished musician.

Fast Car

The song’s narrative is complex and evolving, telling a tale of generational poverty. The song’s narrator tells the tale of her hard life, which began when she quit school to look after her father, who was unable to work any longer- however, the mother decided to leave him, due to the fact that he was an alcoholic and that she wanted more out of life. Eventually, she decides to leave her small dead-end town with her partner in hopes of making a better life for themselves. Despite obtaining employment and being able to pay off the bills, they are ultimately unable to break the cycle, and her life begins to take an ironic twist when her own partner remains largely unemployed and becomes a heavy drinker who spends more nights at the bar with his friends than he does with his own children. Rather than abandoning him and her children (much like how her own mother did in her childhood), she vows that she’ll stay behind, claiming that she’s “got no plans and ain’t going nowhere”; but in saying this, she also gives her partner an ultimatum: decide whether to stay or “take his fast car, and keep on driving”.

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere

Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove

You got a fast car
And I got a plan to get us out of here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won’t have to drive too far
Just ‘cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

You see my old man’s got a problem
He live with the bottle that’s the way it is
He says his body’s too old for working
I say his body’s too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody’s got to take care of him
So I quit school and that’s what I did

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way

I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
And we go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain’t got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You’ll find work and I’ll get promoted
We’ll move out of the shelter
Buy a big house and live in the suburbs

I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I’d always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain’t going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

I remember we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I had a feeling that I belonged
And I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way

  • Audio from the 1988 album, Tracy Chapman:

tracy-chapman-album

Play Fast Car - by Tracy Chapman

Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull

jethro-tullJethro Tull are a Grammy Award winning British rock group that formed in 1967-1968. Their music is marked by the distinctive vocal style and lead flute work of front man Ian Anderson. Initially playing blues rock with an experimental flavor, they have, over the years, incorporated elements of classical, folk and ‘ethnic’ musics, jazz and art rock.

During the early 1970s Jethro Tull went from a progressive blues band to one of the largest concert draws in the world. In concert, the band was known for theatricality and long medleys with brief instrumental interludes. While early Jethro Tull shows featured a manic Anderson with bushy hair and beard dressed in tattered overcoats and ragged clothes, as the band became bigger he moved towards varied costumes. This culminated with the War Child tour’s oversized codpiece and colorful costume.

Other band-members joined in the dress-up and developed stage personae. Bassist Glenn Cornick always appeared in vest and headband, while his successor Jeffrey Hammond eventually adopted a black-and-white diagonally-striped suit (and similarly striped bass guitar, electric guitar, and string bass). It was a ‘zebra look’, and at one point a two-manned zebra came out excreting ping pong balls into the audience while both performers moved forcefully around their stage areas. John Evan dressed in an all-white suit with a neck-scarf of scarlet with white polka-dots; described as a “sad clown” type with extremely oversized shoes, he joined in the theatrics by galumphing back and forth between Hammond Organ and grand piano (placed on opposite sides of the stage in the Thick as a Brick tour) or by such sight-gags as pulling out a flask and pretending to drink from it during a rest in the music. Barriemore Barlow’s stage attire was a crimson tank-top and matching runner’s shorts with rugby foot gear, and his solos were marked by smoke-machines and enormous drumsticks. Martin Barre was the island of calm amongst the madmen, with Anderson (and sometimes Evan) crowding him and making faces during his solos.

The band’s stage theatrics peaked during the Thick As A Brick tour, a performance distinguished by stage hands wearing the tan trench-coat/madras cap ensemble from the album art, extras in rabbit suits running across stage and an extended interlude during which Barre and Barlow entered a beach-tent onstage and swapped pants.

A Passion Play was planned to have a full-length film to go with the stage theatrics. However, from this effort, it seems that only a few excerpts have survived to be re-released on recent commemorative videos of the band, including the interlude “The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles.”

A similar multi-media effort had been planned for Too Old To Rock and Roll… but was not completed. Thereafter, the emphasis on theatrics was reduced but never eliminated. In 1982’s Broadsword and the Beast concerts, the entire stage was transformed into a Viking ship. Anderson often dressed as a country squire on tours in the late 1970s, with the rest of the band adopting the style during their folk phase. The A tour featured the same white jumpsuit uniforms worn by the band on the album cover. Certain routines from the 1970s have recently become ensconced in concerts, such as having a song interrupted by a phone call for an audience member (which Anderson now takes on a cell) and the climactic conclusion of shows including bombastic instrumentals and the giant balloons which Anderson would carry over his head and toss into the crowd.

Locomotive Breath

“Locomotive Breath” is a song by the British progressive rock band Jethro Tull from their 1971 album, Aqualung. It is notable for a long bluesy piano introduction (particularly during live performances) and its flute solo by flautist Ian Anderson.

“Locomotive Breath” was recorded in a rather unusual manner for the time: the entire track was pieced together from overdubs; most of the parts of the song were recorded separately. Ian Anderson did his normal flute and vocal parts in addition to bass drum, hi-hat, acoustic guitar and some electric guitar parts. John Evan’s piano parts were then recorded; Clive Bunker added the rest of the drums and Martin Barre finished the electric guitar parts. All of these recordings were then overdubbed onto each other because Anderson was finding it difficult to communicate his musical ideas about the song to the other band members.

The composition is designed to resemble a train chugging. Anderson occasionally says a word like “Oh-OH!” in the style of “All aboard?!”, as shouted by train conductors.

The term “locomotive breath” refers to the steam exhaust from a steam locomotive. The song’s lyrics use the imagery of an impending and unavoidable train wreck as an allegorical portrayal of a man’s life falling apart – or even death itself, as Ian Anderson has put it. Despite this, elements of humour are present, as Anderson often includes in his lyrics.

Locomotive Breath – Ian Anderson

In the shuffling madness
of the locomotive breath,
runs the all-time loser,
headlong to his death.
“Oh” He feels the piston scraping —
steam breaking on his brow —
old Charlie stole the handle and
the train “it” won’t stop going —
no way to slow down. “OhooOh”

He sees his children “jumping” off
at the stations — one by one.
His woman and his best friend —
in bed and having fun.
“Oh” He’s crawling down the corridor
on his hands and knees —
old Charlie stole the handle and
the train “it” won’t stop going —
no way to slow down. “Heaheya”

He hears the silence howling —
catches angels as they fall.
And the all-time winner
has got him by the balls.
“Oh” He picks up Gideons Bible —
open at page one —
I “THINK” God “he” stole the handle and
the train “it” won’t stop going —
no way to slow down.
“no way to slow down
no way to slow down
no way to slow down
no way to slow down”

  • Audio from the 1971 album, Aqualung:

61d9-P2Y7nL._SS280_PJStripe-Robin,TopLeft,0,0

Play Locomotive Breath - by Jethro Tull

No Excuses ~ Alice in Chains

alice-in-chainsAlice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1987 by guitarist Jerry Cantrell and vocalist Layne Staley. Although widely associated with grunge music, the band’s sound incorporates heavy metal and acoustic elements. The band is known for its distinct vocal style which often included the harmonized vocals of Staley and Cantrell.

Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden.

Following the demise of his band Sleeze in 1986, vocalist Layne Staley formed Alice N’ Chainz, a band which he said “dressed in drag and played speed metal”. The new band performed around the Seattle area playing Slayer and Armored Saint covers. Staley met guitarist Jerry Cantrell while working at Music Bank rehearsal studios, where the two struggling musicians became roommates, and lived in a rehearsal space they shared. Alice N’ Chainz soon disbanded and Staley joined a funk band who at the time also required a guitarist. Staley asked Cantrell to join as a sideman. Cantrell agreed on condition that Staley join Cantrell’s band Diamond Lie, which at the time included drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Starr. Eventually the funk project broke up and in 1987 Staley joined Cantrell on a full-time basis. Diamond Lie played in clubs around the Pacific Northwest, often stretching 15 minutes of material into a 45-minute set. The band eventually took the name of Alice in Chains.

Local promoter Randy Hauser became aware of the band at a concert, and offered to pay for demo recordings. However, one day before the band was due to record at the Music Bank studio in Washington, police shut down the studio during the biggest marijuana raid in the history of the state. The final demo was named The Treehouse Tapes, and found its way to the music managers Kelly Curtis and Susan Silver, who also managed the Seattle-based band Soundgarden. Curtis and Silver passed on the demo to Columbia Records’ A&R representative Nick Terzo, who set up an appointment with label president Don Ienner. Based on The Treehouse Tapes (a 1988 demo tape sold by the band at shows), Ienner signed Alice in Chains to Columbia in 1989.

Alice in Chains rose to international fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, along with other Seattle bands such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. The band was one of the most successful music acts of the 1990s, selling over 17 million albums worldwide. The band achieved two number-one Billboard 200 albums (Jar of Flies and Alice in Chains), 13 top ten songs on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and seven Grammy Award nominations.

Although never officially disbanding, Alice in Chains was plagued by extended inactivity due to Layne Staley’s problems with substance abuse, culminating in his death in 2002.

In 2005, guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez, and drummer Sean Kinney reunited to perform a benefit concert in Seattle for victims of the tsunami disaster that struck South Asia] On March 6, 2006, the surviving members performed at VH1’s Decades Rock Live concert, honoring fellow Seattle musicians Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. The band followed the concert with a short United States club tour, several festival dates in Europe, and a brief tour in Japan. Comes with the Fall vocalist William DuVall joined Alice in Chains as lead singer during the band’s reunion concerts.

Kinney mentioned in a February 2006 interview that he would be interested in writing new material, but not as Alice in Chains. He explained, “If we found some other dude, I’d love to move on, write some cool tunes and change the name and go on like that. I don’t see continuing as Alice and replacing somebody. … We’re not trying to replace Layne. We want to play these songs one more time, and if it seems like the right thing to do, it’ll happen. I don’t know how long it will go or where it will take us. It’s kind of a tribute to Layne and our fans, the people who love these songs. It’s not some ‘I’m broke and I need the money’ situation. We love playing together.”

In April 2009, the band went into Dave Grohl’s Studio 606 and laid down the tracks to their new album in ten years called, “Black Gives Way To Blue” — a tribute to Layne Staley — which was released in September 2009.

No Excuses

It was written by Jerry Cantrell about his unstable relationship with band vocalist Layne Staley.

Alice in Chains performed an acoustic version of “No Excuses” for its appearance on MTV Unplugged in 1996 and the song was included on the Unplugged live album and home video release.

No Excuses – Jerry Cantrell

It’s alright
There comes a time
Got no patience to search
For peace of mind
Layin’ low
Want to take it slow
No more hiding or
Disguising truths I’ve sold

Everyday it’s something
Hits me all so cold
Find me sittin’ by myself
No excuses, then I know

It’s okay
Had a bad day
Hands are bruised from
Breaking rocks all day
Drained and blue
I bleed for you
You think it’s funny, well
You’re drowning in it too

Everyday it’s something
Hits me all so cold
Find me sittin’ by myself
No excuses, then I know

Yeah, it’s fine
We’ll walk down the line
Leave our rain, a cold
Trade for warm sunshine
You my friend
I will defend
And if we change, well I
Love you anyway

Everyday it’s something
Hits me all so cold
Find me sittin’ by myself
No excuses, then I know

  • Audio from the 1994 album, Jar of Flies:

51XwFWgcFnL._SS280_PJStripe-Robin,TopLeft,0,0

Play No Excuses - by Alice in Chains
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