the mamas and the papas

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Victoria Spivey and Lonnie Johnson: Dope Head Blues (1927)

Victoria Spivey and Lonnie Johnson: Dope Head Blues (1927)

When Lou Reed took a bit of flak for writing about street life (drugs, hookers, transvestites) he just picked the wrong idiom. These topics were common enough in literature and pulp fiction, but new to rock music. Dope songs were certainly common in jazz and the blues -- in fact there has been a long tradition of singing about marijuana, cocaine...

Barry McGuire: California Dreamin' (1965)

Barry McGuire: California Dreamin' (1965)

After his growling and apocalyptic version of PF Sloan's Eve of Destruction in '65 the former folkie Barry McGuire -- who had been in the New Christy Minstrels and had co-written their big hit Green Green -- was looking for new material to include on his second album. Producer Lou Adler lined up a number of covers -- the Beatles' Yesterday...

Janis Joplin: Trouble in Mind (1965)

Janis Joplin: Trouble in Mind (1965)

The great Janis Joplin has been dead for over four decades now but it would be fair to observe that no woman in rock has ever approached her deep understanding of the blues and earthy, powerful delivery . . . let alone her self-destructive approach to life. Yet she has been largely forgotten and, as this essay notes, no one seems in any mind...

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