We gotta get out of this place

(2012 mostly but abandoned; found buried in my drafts and cleaned up in 2018)

Had the Animals’ We Gotta Get Out of This Place running through my head lately (which is a major improvement on Margaritaville). I’ve always loved the Animals but don’t have anything by them, not one record. Considering that Eric Burdon might be my favorite English singer ever, that makes no sense at all. Oh well. But Youtube has the song  in spades. I could never figure out why people put up tunes that are already up a hundred times already but then most people don’t make any sense at all either.

The point is that I found out there are two versions of We Gotta Get Out of This Place, an American and an English version. Somehow the American was the wrong take. That was the version that we heard on the radio throughout the vinyl years here in the States. I think it’s on their Animal Tracks LP, too, and the greatest hits everyone stateside used to have. Then came CDs, and MGM made dead sure that it was the correct English version that got on all future CD releases. English band, English version, everything’s logical again. (Well almost, it was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and originally intended for the Righteous Brothers, but wound up in England instead.)

Watch my Daddy in bed a dyin’, Eric tells us in the first verse, see his hair been turning grey. He’s been workin’ and slavin’ his life away. Newcastle was a beat up, used up city by the time the Animals came together, as the Empire fell it fell too, coal pits closing, ship yards shutting down, ancient factories empty. London was far away. When the band played the blues you get the feeling it felt them for real, not like art school kids but the more like way they felt the blues in the tough bars in Chicago. Maybe the South side and Newcastle weren’t that far apart in a lot of ways, poor, cold, scuffling for money. Ignored. That is certainly the sound in Eric Burdon’s voice. It’s almost like he’s channeling some long dead singer in Chicago, someone struck down in a knife fight, maybe, or died, lingering, of consumption. The windows let in a sticky breeze. I can almost smell those TB sheets.

So with all those We Gotta Get Out of This Places to pick from, I selected one that was taken directly off a seven inch. You can tell because the guy picks up the single, shows it to us, both sides, and pulls the record from the sleeve and puts in on the turntable. The magic of digital cameras. He whisks the tone arm into position and then drops the needle into the grooves with perfect timing and the song begins on a bass note. Dum-da-dum-da-da-da-da Dum-da-dum-da-da-da-da Ting! then there’s a beat and another ting! and the drummer shifts the stick a couple inches back from the edge of the ride for the next ting!, less resonant, fainter, higher pitched and in comes Eric, over three more tings, In this gritty ol’ part of the city, where the sun refuse to shine…. and he owns you, he does, he’s got you, you’re listening. People are telling him there ain’t no use in trying, and there’s the rhyme, the shine, tryin’, dyin’, and it’s all downhill from there but listen to the edge in his vocal here. The anger. The girl, doomed, the Daddy, dying, his hair turning gray, working and slaving his life away. Eric knows. Working and working, work, work, the band chants, it’s a road gang work song, all rhythm, work, work work and suddenly Alan Price carries them into the chorus, we gotta get out of this place if it’s the last thing we ever do….. Entire pubfulls of voices ring that out when the jukebox spins it, girl there’s a better life for me and you. Not that they believe there is. You look in the mirror back of the bar as you sing and doubt that there’s anything better at all. Just this. This is it.

Watch my daddy in bed a-dying, Eric demands again in the second verse, his voice now cracking with pent up rage, watch his hair been turning grey. He been working and slaving his life away. He then slips out of the melody to say–not sing–yeah I know he been working too hard, a bit of jazz phrasing that startles, almost dissonant, then back into the melody again, you know I been working too babe, the band pushing behind him, I been working so hard….and then from the deepest depths of everything that was Eric Burdon in 1965 emenates this Chicago blues banshee wail utterly untranscribable, a sound the likes of which I’m sure had never been heard on a rock’n’roll record before then, and it roars above the band for several extraordinary seconds and must have scared the bejesus out of everybody.

The song finishes up in a catchy afterthought. Girl, there’s a better place for me and you, Eric sings. I found a live version from some goofy pop music show, the band dead serious performing a dead serious song, and as the second verse builds to its cataclysmic finale the idiot director gives us a close up shot of the guitar player. Eric’s bloodcurdling howl is unseen by everyone except the mash potatoing kids. I never found another televised version that did the American take. But no matter, by next year everyone was dropping acid and loving everyone and a primal scream would have just bummed a thousand trips. Heaven’s above, it’s a street called Love, Eric explained, when will they ever learn? Though I like that song too, and Sky Pilot, and Monterey, and his psychedelic freak out River Deep, Mountain High too. But none contain that bone chilling howl heard on the American release of We Gotta Get Out of This Place. I guess they’d finally gotten out of that place after all.

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The oats they’re feeding me: the poetic license of Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad

The lyrics to “Inside Looking Out” by the Animals, with the Grand Funk Railroad version in italics.

Sittin’ here lonely like a broken man
Sell my time and do the best I can
I wasn’t boss this around in me
I don’t want your sympathy, yeah

I’m sitting here lonely like a broken man.
I serve my time doin’ the best I can.
Walls and bars they surround me.
But, I don’t want no sympathy.

Oh baby, oh baby
I just need your tender lovin’
To keep me sane in this burnin’ oven
When my time is up, be my rebirth

No baby, no baby,
All I need is some tender lovin’.
To keep me sane in this burning oven.
And, when my time is up, you’ll be my reefer.

Like Adam’s work on God’s green earth
My rebirth, my rebirth
Baby, yeah it means my rebirth
Yeah

Life gets worse on God’s green earth.
Be my reefer, got to keep smokin’ that thing.
No, no, no, no, no, no.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Baby baby baby
C’mon c’mon c’mon
Yeah yeah, c’mon, yeah yeah

I said now baby … baby …, let me smoke it … smoke it …
Makes me feel good … feel good, yes, I feel good … ahhhhh …
Yes, I feel alright … feel alright …, yes, I feel alright … feel alright …
Yes, I feel alright … Ahhhhh …
Ohhhhh …

Ice cold waters runnin’ in my brain
They drag me back to work again
Pains and blisters on my minds and my hands
From living daily with those canvas bags

Ice cold water is runnin’ through my veins.
They try and drag me back to work again.
Pain and blisters on my mind and hands.
I work all day making up burlap bags.

Thoughts of freedom they are drivin’ me wild
And I’ll by happy like a new born child
We’ll be together, girl, you wait and see
No more walls to keep your love from me

The oats they’re feeding me are driving me wild.
I feel unhappy like a new born child.
Now, when my time is up, you wait and see.
These walls and bars won’t keep that stuff from me.

Yeah, can’t you feel my love
Baby, baby, need you, squeeze you
No-body but, nobody but, you girl
I love you, need you

No, no, baby,
Won’t keep that stuff from me.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

All right
I said everything’s gonna be all right
And if you don’t believe what I say
Just listen baby and I’ll tell you

I need you right now mama.
I need you right now baby.
Right by my side, honey.
All night long.

Can’t you feel my love
Can’t you see my skill
Can’t you yell my love
It’s getting louder
It’s getting louder
A little closer, yeah

Make me feel alright …
Yes, all …, yes, all …, yes, all … alright

I said baby, I need you, c’mon, squeeze, please
Lord, I love you, I need you, yeah
Yeah, right by my side
I need you here by my side

You better come on up and get down with me.
I’ll make you feel real good, just you wait and see.

But I can’t help it baby
But, I’ll be home soon
I’ll be home soon, yeah
All right, whoa

Make me feel alright …, yes, I feel alright …
Yes, all …, yes, all …, yes, alright.

 Apparently if there was a lyric sheet, Mark Farner was too stoned to read it.

House of the Rising Sun

(I think this was an unused first draft of something I posted to the blog a couple years ago.)

I was never into the early Beatles stuff. Not my thing. Too teeny bop. I thought they were much better once they started taking drugs. But also in 1964, amid all the screaming and yeah yeah yeahs, the Animals released House of the Rising Sun and rock music suddenly grew up. Most fans didn’t–they were still silly squirrelly teenagers–but House of the Rising Sun is a thoroughly adult piece of music. A man whose squandered his life away in a whorehouse in the New Orleans has his tale told by the incredibly blues soaked and angry voice of Eric Burden. The arrangement is hip and driving and Alan Price’s keyboards are pure jazz, just wonderful. There is nothing teenaged about this, the only innocence has long ago been lost to sin and damnation. I mean this was grown up shit. And I’ve never understood why people don’t recognize this record for what it is…that The House of the Rising Sun points the way to the depths of feeling, emotion and blues authenticity–as well as sophisticated soloing– that British rock music would be capable of within a couple years. I Love You Yeah Yeah Yeah stuff is fun, but House of the Rising Sun is real. The subject is real, the words are real, and the music is as real as pop music got in 1964.

I’m not putting down the Beatles at all. I’m just saying it’s time to recognize House of the Rising Sun as the landmark record it truly was. It was the first great grown up rock record of the 1960’s, and must have opened up a whole new world to zillions of kids looking for something deep and dark and bluesy, something beyond Merseybeat. More than any other British Invasion single, it brought back to America its own music, the blues, with all its passion and power and groove. And to this day, even after a zillion listens–I heard it on the radio today, in fact–it has lost none of its power for me. It’s still gets down and gets evil.  You see Eric on Ed Sullivan howling this sad tale, and Alan Price unrolls one of the great bluesy organ runs, the band pushing themselves harder and faster till Eric, channeling a doomed, broken man, tells the kids not to do what he has done. Do they listen? No, they scream themselves silly. Helter Skelter began with the Animals, with this song, all that vile, twisted nastiness to come with Hells Angels beating up hippies and hippies slaughtering movie stars, you can hear all of that in House of the Rising Sun. You can hear it now, anyway. Back then all you could hear was the silly, squealing girls.