Sunday Morning Song – John Hiatt – The Music is Hot

Still beaming from the experience of seeing John Hiatt and the Jerry Douglas Band live earlier this week. This song was one of several that Hiatt performed off his new album Leftover Feelings. He introduced it by saying that when he first moved to Tennessee from Indiana as a young man, he got to know a women who absolutely loved music, and would listen to it all the time on a little transistor radio tuned to station WSM while she did all things that a mother does to make her house run. And so he wrote this song with her in mind.

I love how Hiatt puts you right there in the woman’s daily life and how integral music was to her.

Hope everyone has a nice Sunday!


Sheets dance on the line
White as the clouds gone by
Screen door kicking time
As kids melt into the sky
And you’re making your moves
Trying just to stay alive
And the mus
ic is hot

On your transistor radio
A song about trains
You can hear that whistle blow
Waylon walks the line
Merle’s mama tries to tell him so
And the music is hot

You got a story ’bout twenty miles long
You got a tune like a number one song
You got the sweat like the shirt off my back
You got the heart let me open it a crack
Fiddles and steel takin’ you higher
Passed cotton fields and telephone wires
Out to the church and the gospel choir
And you’re g

Sun going down
You’re scrounging to feed the dog
You’re wearing a dress
You saw in a catalog
The crickets have started
To sing with those old bull frogs
And the music is

You tuck in the kids
And think of a nice long bath
You notice your mom
Staring back from a photograph
Quick as you turn
You’re pretty sure you hear her laugh
And the music is hot

You got a story ’bout twenty miles long
You got a tune like a number one song
You got the sweat like the shirt off my back
You got the heart let me open it a crack
Fiddles and steel takin’ you higher
Passed cotton fields and telephone wires
Beyond the church and the gospel choir
And you’re gone

Van Morrison – Caravan Bonus! Live versions

Earlier today I posted my last pick in Hans Postcards song draft – Caravan by Van Morrison. In researching the post, I found 2 great live versions that I thought I would put in a separate post. I love hearing live versions of songs – obviously in person is the best but if done right, a recording of a live performance can be an entirely different listening experience than hearing the studio version – its the artist and band interpreting their work in that moment, and sometimes the energy and spirit of the song comes through much better than the studio version.

The first live version of Caravan I’d like to feature is from Van Morrison’s 1974 double live album Its Too Late To Stop Now. Recorded during Morrison’s three-month tour in May-June 1973 with his eleven-piece band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, its a bit faster paced than the studio version and comes toward the end of the disc. I love Van’s soulful vocal performance as well as the 4 piece string section.

The author Nick Hornby, in his book, Songbook, about his 31 favorite songs, names the live version of Caravan from this album as the song he wants played at his funeral. To quote him: “in the long, vamped passage right before the climax Morrison’s band seems to isolate a moment somewhere between life and its aftermath, a big, baroque entrance hall of a place where you can stop and think about everything that has gone before.” On a personal note, I’ve told family and friends that I’d like Caravan and Drift Away by Dobie Gray played at my funeral, as they are my two favorite all time songs.

The second live version I’d like to feature is Van Morrison’s performance as part of the Band‘s farewell concert held on November 25, 1976 (Thanksgiving Day) immortalized in the documentary The Last Waltz. I love how he builds the song into a crescendo and then just walks off the stage. According the Songfacts:

Music journalist Greil Marcus credited Morrison’s “Caravan” with turning the energy of the show around and sparking a strong second half of performances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the Band, and others.

From Wikipedia: When asked about his enjoyment performing in The Last Waltz, Eric Clapton commented that “For me, Muddy [Waters] and Van [Morrison] steal the show. Van doing [“Caravan”] with the leg kicks. Some of the greatest live music you’ll ever see.” I would definitely agree about the leg kicks!

Van Morrison – Caravan

I’ve been participating in a song draft run by Hans Postcard. Here’s my last pick, and the last pick of the entire draft!

Well, here we are, the last song pick of the draft!  I’d like to thank Hans and Badfinger20 at PowerPop for inviting me to be a part of it.  We’ve heard songs across genres, across decades, and across continents (thanks Aphoristical!) and I’ve really enjoyed being exposed to so many great songs and getting to know other fellow music aficionados.

For my last pick, I’m going with Van Morrison’s Caravan, off his 1970 album Moondance. Moondance has always been one of my favorite albums and I say that not being super familiar with the rest of Van Morrison’s work.  It has always just been one of those albums that I connect with in a special way – its imagery of getting caught in the rain, romantic autumn dances in the moonlight, and traveling gypsies sitting around campfires telling stories never fails to move me – its like a parallel world where all the problems and annoyances of everyday life are gone and your feel in touch with the universe in a spiritual (mystical you might say) way.

Caravan is my favorite song on the album – in fact, its one of my favorite songs ever.  Remember back in week 3 I said that Drift Away by Dobie Gray was my favorite – this is the other one!  From the opening tinkling piano notes, it just takes me to another plane.  Like then whole album, its pastoral, natural imagery just connects with me. The imagery of this group of folks sharing each other’s company, enjoying life, moving on to the next place, all with a radio playing music along the way.  I especially love the lyrics about music and the radio:

Turn up your radio and let me hear the song
Switch on your electric light
Then we can get down to what is really wrong
I long just to hold you tight, so maybe I can feel you
Sweet lady of the night, I shall reveal you

If you won’t turn it up, turn it up, little bit higher radio
Turn it up, that’s enough, so you know it’s got soul
Radio, radio turn it up, hmm

I just love how the sax line punctuates the lyrics, the la la la’s, the whole thing.

Van Morrison recorded this album while living in Woodstock, NY.  The radio reference in Caravan has an interesting genesis.  According to SongFacts:

Morrison’s house was a mile away from any other houses, but while living there he swore he could hear a radio playing as though it were in the same room. This mystery fascinated Morrison.

“I could hear the radio like it was in the same room. I don’t know how to explain it. There was some story about an underground passage under the house I was living in, rumors from kids and stuff and I was beginning to think it was true. How can you hear someone’s radio from a mile away, as if it was playing in your own house? So I had to put that into the song, It was a must” (quoted from Celtic Crossroads: The Art of Van Morrison, by Brian Hinton, 2000, as referenced in Wikipedia.)

Definitely adds to the mystical element of the song, I think! Again, thanks for the wonderful musical journey on our little music blog caravan if you will, these last 10 rounds, and I can’t wait til we do it again next summer!

John Hiatt Live with the Jerry Douglas Band

This past Monday night my wife and I saw John Hiatt live at the Rams Head On Stage venue in Annapolis MD. It was my first concert in probably 2 years. Words cannot begin to describe the absolute joy I felt sitting in the Rams Head experiencing one of my favorite artists live again. I felt like a parched man wandering through the desert who had finally found an oasis to quench his thirst. A battery that was about tapped out that suddenly was recovering its charge. I felt I was connected to that mystical musical source that sustains my soul and provides its purest power in the form of live music. It was such an incredible feeling.

Hiatt was on tour to promote his new album, Leftover Feelings, a collaboration with dobro master Jerry Douglas, whose band was backing Hiatt on this tour. Consisting of Mike Seal on electric guitar, Daniel Kimbro on stand up bass, Christian Sedelmyer on fiddle, and Douglas on dobro and lap steel guitar, the band really brought out the country and Americana aspects that are an inherent part of much of Hiatt’s music (and yes even a bit of bluegrass). Hiatt played a number of tunes off the new album, while sprinkling in songs from over his entire career. It was a real kick to hear some of his classics brought to live in this new way by the band. Here’s a video I shot of Slow Turning, off the album of the same name from 1988 – note the audience reaction when it gets to the lyrical reference to Charlie Watts.

John Hiatt – Slow Turning, Rams Head On Stage, Annapolis MD, 11-15-21

Hiatt was in fine form, and it seemed to me that he was really enjoying having a band backing him to bring added life to his songs. I have seen him a number of times over the last 5-6 years, and with the exception of the 30 year anniversary concert tour for Slow Turning (where he was backed up by the Goners), its always been him solo acoustic. He was ducking and weaving and stomping around on stage like he was 30 years younger.

Highlights of the concert for me were Feels Like Rain , another tune off of Slow Turning, Have a Little Faith in Me from Bring the Family (my wife and I’s wedding song, done solo as the first encore), as well as Your Dad Did (also from Bring the Family). In all the years I’ve been seeing Hiatt live (going back to the late 80s, I’ve never heard it live. Your Dad Did tells the humorous story of a new Dad with his young family, realizing with some degree of surprise and horror that he’s not that different from his own Dad, I think something that a lot of us realize as we get older. It was a real treat to hear if finally live after all these years.

After a 18 song, close to 90 minute set, Hiatt closed the show with Riding with the King, a classic older song from 1983 Here’s the video I shot of that one – they really burned it up and you can see what I mean about Hiatt having a ball.

I’m still riding the high of the concert the next day, and am so grateful that Maryland has such a high vaccination rate that I felt comfortable attending this show and that Hiatt felt comfortable enough to tour. Hopefully this is a sign that we are inching closer to something approaching normalcy, at least in regards to live music. If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking him out live!


  • That Thing You Need (Solo)
  • All the Lilacs in Ohio
  • Perfectly Good Guitar
  • Slow Turning
  • Crossing Muddy Waters
  • Long Black Electric Cadillac
  • The Music is Hot
  • I’m in Asheville
  • Your Dad Did
  • Feels Like Rain (with Jerry Douglas)
  • LIft Up Every Stone (with Jerry Douglas)
  • Little Goodnight
  • Master of Disaster
  • Mississippi Phone Booth
  • Drive South
  • Thing Called Love


  • Have a Little Faith in Me (solo)
  • RIding With the King

Fountains of Wayne – Red Dragon Tattoo

I’m participating in HansPostCard Song Draft. Here is my 9th pick.

Wow, well here we are in the 9th round of the draft.  For my penultimate choice, I’ve decided to add another song from my favorite genre of music, power pop.  Way back in Round 1, I chose the power pop classic Cruel to be Kind by Nick Lowe.  But I just can’t limit myself to one!   For today’s choice, I want to feature Red Dragon Tattoo, a song from one of my favorite power pop bands, Fountains of Wayne.

Fountains of Wayne (named after a lawn ornament story in NJ) put out 5 albums of power pop gems from 1996 until they split up in 2013. The two main bandmembers and songwriters, Chris Collingwood and Adam Schlesinger, had a knack for telling these amusing, often hilarious slice-of-life vignettes wrapped up in incredible guitar driven pop melody earworms that always hit the sweet spot for me.  Whether it’s the guy wondering why the girl of his dreams is with a motorcycle biker (“Leave the Biker”), the guy trying to figure out how to pick up the women behind the desk at the DMV (“Yolanda Hayes”), or the teen with an perhaps unhealthy obsession with his girlfriend’s mother (“Stacy’s Mom”, their biggest hit), Fountains of Wayne drop you into these people’s lives for a few minutes of power pop bliss. 

Red Dragon Tattoo (off their sophomore album Utopia Parkway) is one of my favorites – a story of a perhaps slightly misguided guy who has decided that all he needs to do to win the girl of his dreams is to get a tattoo.  Its clear that he’s never done anything like this before, and the song details the day he goes to get the tattoo.  I love how the lyrics match up really well with the melody.  It all builds to the bridge, which stills makes me laugh out loud when I hear it:

Will you stop pretending I’ve never been born?
Now I look a little more like that guy from Korn
If you came a little bit closer
You’d see it isn’t painted on, oh no no

Can’t be sure, but not sure if the tattoo is going to do the trick for our hero….

Sadly, Adam Schlesinger passed away in April of 2020 from complications of COVID-19. 


Monday, gonna take a ride on
The N train down to Coney Island
With the money I saved
Gonna get me engraved

Drink down a lot of Basil Hayden
Get kicked out when I can’t see straight and
What an island to be on
Under the neon

Red dragon tattoo
Is just about on me
I got it for you
So now do you want me?
With nothing to prove
Will you be my honey?

Oh yeah, in you I confide
Red dragon tattoo
I’m fit to be dyed
Am I fit to have you?

I hear the man say, “Wanna see the others?”
A mermaid and a heart that says mother
But I don’t know from maritime
And I never did hard time

I brought a .38 Special CD collection
Some Bactine to prevent infection
And in case I get queasy
A photo of Easy Rider

Red dragon tattoo
Is just about on me
I got it for you
So now do you want me?
With nothing to prove
Will you be my honey?

Oh yeah, in you I confide
Red dragon tattoo
I’m fit to be dyed
Am I fit to have you?

Will you stop pretending I’ve never been born?
Now I look a little more like that guy from Korn
If you came a little bit closer
You’d see it isn’t painted on, oh no no

Red dragon tattoo
Is just about on me
I got it for you
So now do you want me?
With nothing to prove
Will you be my honey?

Oh yeah, in you I confide
Red dragon tattoo
I’m fit to be dyed
Am I fit to have you?In you I confide
Red dragon tattoo
I’m fit to be dyed
Am I fit to have you?

Steve Earle – I Ain’t Ever Satisfied

I’m participating in Hanspostcard‘s Song Draft – here’s my eighth pick.

For my 8th round pick in the song draft, I’d like to feature a song by one of my favorite artists, Steve Earle.  Together with Bruce Springsteen, John Hiatt, and Frank Turner, Steve Earle would comprise the Mt. Rushmore, if you will, of my favorite artists.

I Aint’ Ever Satisfied is off of Earle’s second record, Exit 0, released in 1987.  Given Earle’s life history (the varied musical styles, from country to rock to folk to bluegrass; the many record companies, string of marriages, and drug and addiction issues) it could perhaps be viewed as his theme song.  The singer in the song is never satisfied, always moving on to the next thing, culminating in this humorous conclusion:

Last night I dreamed I made it to the promise land
I was standin’ at the gate and I had the key in my hand
Saint Peter said “Come on in boy, you’re finally home”
I said “No thanks Pete, I’ll just be moving along”

I’ve always loved that image, of Earle standing at the gate, and the bearded St. Peter welcoming him to heaven, and Earle saying no thanks, and walking off into the clouds (or whatever).

This is one of my favorite songs by Steve Earle, and that’s saying something since there are many.  I think part of it is because of how I first heard it.  I was driving in my car, flipping channels on the radio, looking for a song I recognized.  I hit one channel and heard the initial acoustic guitar part of the song.  Not recognizing it, I quickly flipped away.  And then for some reason, I can’t tell you why, I decided to flip back to just hear a bit more of the song.  And that’s when I heard the drums and piano kick in, and the main melody start, and I was hooked!  Luckily at the end of the song, the DJ announced who it was, and I immediately knew I had to seek out the album.  I had heard of Steve Earle but didn’t know any of his music.  I loved Exit 0, went out and got his first album Guitar Town, loved it, and have been a fan ever since.  In my mind, Steve Earle is one of the best American songwriters out there.

Would I have become such a big fan of Steve Earle if I had not flipped back to I Ain’t Ever Satisfied? Perhaps, as I’m sure I would have been exposed to his music some other way.  But this experience made me feel that I was destined to be a fan if that makes sense.  Something made me switch back to the song.  And it taught me an important lesson – always be open to hearing new music, give a new song a chance even if it doesn’t sound like what you are expecting.  Don’t ever be satisfied, if you will, by what you know or enjoy.

Roy Orbison – Running Scared

I’m participating in HansPostcard’s 2021 Song Draft. Here’s my 7th round pick.

Ok so far during the draft, I have 3 songs from the 1970s, 2 from the 1980s, and 1 from the 1990s.  Time to go back, to the foundational times, and feature a song by, for my money, one of rock and roll’s best voices ever – Roy Orbison.  Orbison’s voice seemed otherworldly at times, and gave his songs an added power emotion that would exist with someone else singing it.

While there are any number of songs I could feature, I have always loved Running Scared.  It was released in March 1961, and went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #9 on the UK Singles chart.

 Written by Orbison and his songwriting partner Joe Melson, the song is a great example of the kind of melodramatic mini-opera type song that Orbison excelled at.  Its unusual in that it has no chorus, and begins in a bolero style, with the insistent guitar strumming immediately setting the tension of the song.  The singer is with his girl but is “running scared” that her former lover is going to show up and steal her away. As AllMusic puts its: “The keys to the building tension of “Running Scared” are the mounting layers of instrumentation to the arrangement, as orchestral instruments and backup voices slowly pile on over the first few verses to create an atmosphere of growing suspense.”  You can feel the singer’s anxiety building, his insecurity about his status with his girl evident in his voice.  Then the climax of the song, as his worst fears are realized, and there in front of them stands the former lover.  What will his girl do?  The music builds to a crescendo as she makes her choice.  It’s a testimony to the power of Orbison’s powerful vocal performance that even though the lyric’s rhyme scheme kind of gives it away (“be” doesn’t rhyme with “him”), you aren’t totally sure what’s going to happen until the final line (“ You turned around and walked away with me.”  A life time’s worth of drama, all in 2 minutes and 15 seconds!

A couple of interesting facts I discovered while researching the song, all according to Songfacts – Orbison and Melson claim they wrote the song in 5 minutes. The recording engineer for the session gave the song an exaggerated dynamic range – while most songs of that era had a range of 3 decibels, Running Scared had a range of 24 decibels. 

This was the last song Roy Orbison ever sang live. As was his usual habit, he closed his December 4, 1988 show with Running Scared, just two days before his sudden passing from a heart attack on December 6.

As an added bonus, I’ve also included a clip of Orbison performing Running Scared live as part of A Black and White Night, a 1988 concert film that featured Orbison backed by an all star band, and I mean all star – Elvis Presley’s TCB band, along with Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, k.d. lang, Jennifer Warnes, Bonnie Raitt, among others.  It gives you a sense of Orbison’s incredible talent to hear him sing the song live, and its also a kick to see all these famous musicians in the background and happy, in fact honored to be backing Orbison.

Richard Thompson – Beeswing

This past week my selection for Hanspostcard‘s song draft was 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, by Richard Thompson, available here. In the comment thread, fellow blogger Aphoristical pointed out that Thompson’s Beeswing was just as good. Having not heard it in a while, I went back and listened to it, and I have to agree!

Since I haven’t posted any Sunday morning song in forever, I thought this would be a great choice

Beeswing is off of Thompson’s 1994 album Mirror Blue. Like 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, its a slower ballad about two doomed lovers, although this time there’s no death or motorcycles involved. This time, the individual needs and desires of the two, and their inability to agree about what they want in life and in their relationship, leaves each alone by the end of the song, and regretting the ways things turned out (at least from the protagonist’s perspective, but maybe from both?).

The couple meet working in a wash house, and he’s immediately taken with her beauty, but she wants no type of commitment:

Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
So fine a breath of wind might blow her away
She was a lost child, oh she was running wild
She said “As long as there’s no price on love, I’ll stay
And you wouldn’t want me any other way”

They move on from the wash house, living here and there, until he suggests settling down – that doesn’t go over too well:

And I said that we might settle down, get a few acres dug
Fire burning in the hearth and babies on the rug
She said “Oh man, you foolish man, it surely sounds like hell
You might be lord of half the world, you’ll not own me as well”

They end up splitting up, and we get to the song’s conclusion, where the man laments how things turned out:

And they say her flower is faded now, hard weather and hard booze
But maybe
that’s just the price you pay for the chains you refuse

Oh she was a rare thing, fine as a bee’s wing
And I miss her more than ever words could say
If I could just taste all of her wildness now
If I could hold her in my arms today
Well I wouldn’t want her any other way

Thompson’s brilliance is in telling this tragic love story so eloquently in a five and a half minute song – the lyrics stand alone even if you removed the music – you feel the heady early romance, the pain and torment as things start to go astray, and the bitter regret looking back at a lost love.

Beeswing is a great example of Thompson’s brilliance as a songwriter.


2021 Song Draft- Round 6 Pick 4- Mike and Paul’s Music Blog selects- ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’- Richard Thompson. Richard Thompson 1952 Vincent …



Here’s my latest song pick for the draft I’m participating in – had to get Little Steven in!

2021 Song Draft- Round 5 Pick 5- Mike and Paul’s Music Blog selects- ‘Lyin’ In A Bed Of Fire’- Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul. Little Steven…