Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Back in 1969 Three Dog Night had a huge success with a Nillson song, simply titled “One”.
“One is the loneliest number” they had said, and I had the 45 record of it. Everybody in my sixth grade class was singing this song.

One day I decided to check out the song on the flipside. It was called ‘Chest Fever”, and had this heavy heavy organ chord going, and lyrics I couldn’t understand because they were sung like “Louie, Louie” was sung, that is to say unintelligibly, so I figured it had to be a dirty song, just like they said if you ever did hear a word from “Louie, Louie” it was going to be dirty.
I didn’t know it then because it would be 5 years before I knew what the lyrics were.

What I did know then was that that organ really got its hooks in me, right down to the bones.

It took 5 years to find that it wasn’t Three Dog Night that wrote the song, but a guy named Levon Helm and The Band
All my friends were listening to “One” and “Hang On Sloopy” and “Sugar, Sugar”, completely oblivious to songs like “Chest Fever”
Chest Fever was heavy. It was maybe the first really heavy tune I discovered all by myself.

I can still see dads Hi-fi stereo I would play it on. There was no 45 adapter for the spindle, and I would have to center it manually. I play those chords in my head every now and then, and it takes me back to that summer and fall of ’69 when I would walk down the street hoping to see Cathy or Jerri that lived on my block. But instead of humming “Hang on Sloopy” on those walks, I was humming “Chest Fever”.
Like I'm hummin' them now.

I know she's a tracker, any scarlet would back her
They say she's a chooser, but I just can't refuse her
She was just there, but then she can't be here no more
And as my mind unweaves, I feel the freeze down in my knees
But just before she leaves, she receives


flask said...

i keep seeing references to levon helm this week.

did i miss a cultural event or just coincidence?

bulletholes said...

He is in the final stages of cancer, according to his wife and daughter. Thanks for stopping by Flask!

red dirt girl said...

great song, cowboy!
never heard it before, but the organ chords do hook you in ...


bulletholes said...

We been missin' you might like the Dogs...the intro goes to 2:18, but its cool to see them jam after here

West Texas Insomniac said...

We lost a kind man and a gentle soul today. God bless Levon Helm, indeed. I've seen just about every band or artist I wanted, save for a handful. I wanted to see Les Paul at the Iridium Jazz Club, where he played every Monday night until he was no longer with us. I wanted to see Buck Owens at his place in Bakersfield. And once I heard that Levon Helm was having his Midnight Rambles, I wanted to go see him at The Farm. But we can't always have what we want. I was just listening to "When I Go Away", off of Helm's "Electric Dirt" album from 2009, and wishing it weren't so damned relevant. RIP.

red dirt girl said...

Love those Dogs - I vaguely remember them (I was about 7 or 8 yrs old at the time ;) - but can't remember which song it was that I loved. Thanks for the link.