Bob Lefsetz: Welcome To My World - "Foghat Primer"
I JUST WANT TO MAKE LOVE TO YOU
The Willie Dixon cover that got no love in the "sophisticated" New York market.
I learned about this track from my college buddy John Hughes, it was all over the radio in his hometown of Kansas City during the summer of '72. That's the way it used to be, music was local, before the Internet truly turned us into a global village.
I didn't know and I didn't care. Savoy Brown never flew on my radar, did I really need to pay attention to the remnants?
Then the band released three more albums, none of which gained much traction, despite the second, "Rock and Roll," featuring a brilliant literal cover photograph by Robert Downey (Senior, not Junior, you know, the man responsible for "Putney Swope"!)
Then, on their fifth LP, "Fool For The City," the band hit pay dirt.
TAKE IT EASY!
Eight minutes and fifteen seconds long and FM radio played the whole thing, incessantly.
It's the kind of track you hate at first and then you come to love.
It hooks you when it breaks from the opening chorus into...
"I'm in the mood
The rhythm is right
Move to the music
We can roll all night"
There's that dancing bass guitar, making you nod your head, especially if you're in a Camaro, and then that electric guitar STRUM!
It feels so good, even though it's not supposed to!
And when the track slows down four and a half minutes in, you're hooked. You find yourself singing along, even though you don't want to.
You can induct Patti Smith into the R&RHOF, you can lionize Lou Reed, but it's stuff like "Slow Ride" that is the backbone of seventies rock and roll. PLAY IT!
FOOL FOR THE CITY
I actually prefer this to "Slow Ride."
I'd lived in Vermont, Salt Lake City, I'd finally relocated to Los Angeles, where you could buy a burger at midnight and there were GIRLS!
The magic is about the energy and the crunchy guitars and that bridge...
"I'm like a fish out of water I'm just a man in a hole
The city lights turn my blues into gold
I ain't no country boy, I'm just a homesick man
I'm gonna hit the grit just as fast as I can"
The track's been screaming along and then it takes a left turn, as if you pulled off the Interstate into a rest stop to contemplate your life and ogle the wildlife.
And then it breaks down completely...
"I'm tired of laying back, hanging around
I'm gonna catch that train, then I'll be city bound"
And then the track starts to scream again! He's singing about a train, but nothing could accelerate this fast.
It's the time changes, the soloing, the almost understated vocal... "Fool For The City" will never win any awards, but it's there to ride shotgun with you every single day.
And this is from the follow-up, it's the opening cut on "Night Shift."
The chorus is simple, but infectious.
YOU'RE MY DRIVIN' WHEEL!
And then the guitar rips off a riff and you get whiplash from the changes and it's a ride so good you can't help but take it again.
"When I was stone blue
Rock and roll sure helped me through"
Ain't that the truth. If you haven't got an e-mail from a fan saying your music saved their life, you're not a rock star.
Life is complicated, and we count on our music to grease the wheels, to get us through.
"Oh, let me ride on the mystery train
Ride through the night in the pourin' rain"
Listen to that slide guitar! Brings you right back to Memphis and the original fifties mystery.
"Laid off work and I can't be free
I need some rock 'n' roll therapy"
These aren't professionals, the fans of Foghat are hourly workers, blue collar, those who need a beer at the end of the day to get them through.
"Put on a 45 and let the needle ride
Jukebox jumps and I'll be satisfied"
That's what's wrong with too many of those critics' favorites, they appeal to your brain, to your intellect, but not to your gut, to your genitals, where rock has spoken to its true fans since the days of Elvis.
"Stone Blue" will definitely help you through.
My personal favorite. Because of the twinkly guitar sound, the riff, but most especially this lyric, which I can never get out of my brain...
May be sleazy
But it's cheap and it's easy"
What a great rhyme! Simple, yet so right.
Admit it, there's an appeal in sleaze. Especially when it comes to doing the do...we keep selling luxury, but what we really want is the basics...
"Desk clerk's heart beats like a hammer
Got a smile like a beat-up piano
Gives a nudge and a wink as you sign in
'I got a room you can have a good time in!'"
It's funny, it's sexy, it's stupid, but IT FEELS SO RIGHT!
So how did I discover Foghat, how did I become such a devoted fan?
BECAUSE KLOS WOULDN'T STOP PLAYING THEM!
It was the midseventies, and I'd be driving around on a Saturday night and they'd be playing these songs, over and over and over again. And at first I pushed the button, but then I came to love them!
Pooh-pooh Foghat. Tell me you're a devoted fan and I didn't point out any deep cuts. But what I'm truly hoping to do here is to turn on those who weren't alive back then, have them drop the needle, press play on this music which seemed so obvious back then but is positively revelatory today!
P.S. You'll want to play the live versions of "Fool For The City" and "Slow Ride" from the 1977 live album, KLOS did!