Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves Music Video

You may or may not know this but "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" was Chers first music video. You can kind of tell with the oversized earrings, wild hair, and that phallic microphone that it is old, but few would guess that it is her first music video ever. Let's watch this classic video and read the lyrics shall we? Oh, and did I mention this is one of my favorite Cher songs?


My mama used to dance for the money they'd throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel
Sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good

Gypsies, tramps and thieves
We'd hear it from the people of the town
They'd call us gypsies, tramps and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

Picked up a boy just south of Mobile
Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal
I was sixteen, he was twenty-one
Rode with us to Memphis
And papa woulda shot him if he knew what he'd done


I never had schoolin' but he taught me well
With his smooth southern style
Three months later, I'm a gal in trouble
And I haven't seen him for a while
I haven't seen him for a while

She was born in the wagon of a travelin' show
Her mama had to dance for the money they'd throw
Grandpa'd do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel
Sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good

Chorus - End

Ahhhh, I feel better now. I think the song and the hair both soothe me. Thank you Cher.


I Believe

James Fortune & FIYA Featuring Zacardi Cortez & Shawn McLemore

The current number one Gospel song (according to Billboard) is I Believe by James Fortune & FIYA Featuring Zacardi Cortez & Shawn McLemore. I guess all of those people play a big role in making one great song! Listen to the song on the video below and tell me if you think it deserves such accolades:

I certainly think it does - this song is so filled with wonderful, soulful rhythym! My favorite lyrics:

"I believe

the storm will soon be over

I believe

the rain will go away

I believe

that I can make it through it

Oh Oh Oh Oh

I believe

it’s already done"

Leo Kottke Weighs in On Life, Literature and Guitar (Part Seven)

I remember a week that I did at the Troubadour in L.A. right near the beginning there. My opening act was a comedian named Robert Klein, who you don’t see much of anymore, but he’s still working. We played 3 sets a night and every night he did the same set. Not just the same material, but the same timing – syllable for syllable, pause for pause. It was exactly the same. And every set that I heard, I laughed. I knew exactly what was going on and I had it memorized, but I’d laugh.

I went into his dressing room one night and said, ‘I laugh every time and I’ve heard this shit three times a night for four or five nights. It amazes me.’ Then I asked him, ‘How do you get up for that?’ He said, ‘What’s the alternative?’

For me, talking to the crowd – I don’t have the alternative of being quiet. Nowadays, it feels kinda rude. But it isn’t an act. It’s a different way to be yourself. I’m more at home on stage than I am anywhere else and I’m sure a lot of people say that. But even when it sucks, it’s a great place to be. I would never talk to a crowd that way that you and I are talking – they’d be bored shitless.


I don’t know how conscious of this you are, but in the past 3 or 4 years John Fahey has had something of a re-immergence. People are re-releasing his records. Why has there suddenly been a focus on him?

John found a way to synthesize all the different strains of music. They largely centered around the guitar, but for John, it included a lot of anything that he was interested in.

He found this place where it all meets from Skip James to Charles Ives. He knew it was nuts. He delivered it that way not because he was trying to be coy or eccentric, but because he was in the middle of it. He found Skip James. He took Skip James to the hospital to get fixed up before he did any playing.

All of that has an effect beyond what it had on me or anyone else who worked with him or listened to him. I swear that that’s true. And that stuff is what we’re trying to describe, that stuff gets transmitted in ways that we know nothing about. It doesn’t have a space-time thing to it that we would understand. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that people are aware of him. What he did is already out here. What it means is something that he discovered and that resonates out there.


I don’t want to overstate his importance, but are you saying that without him folk music – or music – wouldn’t be the same?

Yeah, no question.

Maybe people need that. Maybe we need something that’s solid. That has something to do with it too. It certainly isn’t what’s made available to us, we have to find it ourselves and people have found John by themselves. That means a lot…That’s the thing about technology that’s great. People are stumbling over things that they never would have had a chance to trip over. And they know what they’re doing.

Leo Kottke Weighs in On Life, Literature and Guitar (Part Six)

I’ve seen you play twice. Once at Kent State and once in Nelsonville, Ohio. Neither places were big cities and only have small venues. Where I saw you in Nelsonville was a beautiful old theater, but both of those places are off the beaten path. Obviously, you have to go to major markets, but do prefer playing smaller spaces?

I don’t. It was over ten years ago I wanted to start working secondary markets. You can cover the major markets once a year – that’s kind of the drill. I’m alone, I can travel, why don’t I grab some of these?

I wanted to play Tuktoyaktuk, which is the northern most town in the Northwest Territories. It’s on the Beaufort Sea. And I wanted to play it in the winter. The promoter called them and they said yes. The theater seats 250 people and the promoter asked what the population of Tuktoyaktuk was – it’s 1,000. So you have to sell a quarter of the population to fill the place. In order to even get there, you have to drive up the river – on the river up to Tuktoyaktuk. I think a band has played there. And I think it was Metallica, but it’s a lot easier if it’s someone like me…To limit yourself to a certain market or a certain demographic or a certain kind of place is really ungrateful.

The two times that I’ve seen you – I want to call it an act. The stories that you tell all have punch-lines. It seems premeditated or at least it seems like you know what stories will get a laugh. Do you want to be a comic?

For the first 3 years I was playing, I never opened my mouth. I couldn’t even look up. I was scared to death of the people. And one night, I remembered trying to kill a chicken when I was a kid – I was having trouble with the goose-neck microphone stand. And before I could stop myself, I asked the crowd if they’d ever killed a chicken. They laughed and I remembered in one big lump this thing about the chicken. And that’s the main reason I open my mouth. You’re not repeating anything, I don’t have a script ever, but there are subjects that I’ll return to. I’ll return to them only if I have to. Otherwise, it’s like that first time I opened my mouth. I discover either something I’d forgotten about or something that was right in front of my nose that I didn’t get until now. It’s like running into a room where your friends are and yelling, ‘Guess what? Look at this shit!’ That’s what happens.

Leo Kottke Weighs in On Life, Literature and Guitar (Part Five)

That’s definitely one of the ways it turns out to be really human. We’re really a goofy bunch. Wonderful things happen, terrible shit happens and when you try to organize it and try to make us go towards a goal – we don’t do that. It’s like letting a bunch of ants loose, so it’s very hard to organize us.

I was never in a battle situation. I was certainly nearly killed a couple of times – it was just peace time stuff. It’s really weird, I have a couple of friends that are still in the military, who have had a life time in it. I really don’t know how they do that.

Your music isn’t really all that political, but in the twenty minutes time we’ve been talking the conversation’s already examined why the music business is falling behind where it should be and then the multi-pronged war. So, why don’t all of these ideas come across in your music? I read that you’ve written lyrics that you find to be too personal, too revealing to play in public. What we’re discussing isn’t emotionally revealing, but it easily goes beyond standard interview questions for a guitarist.

Are you familiar with Samuel Beckett? For me, he’s better than Shakespeare. He just kills me. He wrote Waiting for Godot. What I like are his novels. The reason that I bring him up is that as an artist, he was aware of what life was like for the people around him. He was a big humanitarian all on his own. He gave away most of his money, but he preferred to be by himself - fought in the resistance during World War II. He was Irish, but preferred being in France. Ireland had peace, but he lived in war. And he didn’t like the war, but he wrote. None of that comes in, because there’s something more. That’s why I went on and on about human beings, because there’s something more than us. And I think that sometimes we can get a glimpse of it through the living stuff that people make. So that can be anything we ordinarily call art or music…

I’ve got the greatest job on earth and in order to do it the way I think works best, I have to shut up. I may refer to things in an interview, but I don’t do it in the music.

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Leo Kottke Weighs in On Life, Literature and Guitar (Part Four)

It had nothing to do with the diving, but they all come as an anomaly. It was two things: it was sex and it was war. They just met in that title. I’m sometimes the last guy to know what they are. I loved the idea that in the crudest possible metaphor, it would work. Never has anybody, anywhere talked about what the title means. I wouldn’t claim anything that I just said, but it comes close. That was probably 1968 when I wrote that. The record came out in ’69, that was the Tet Offensive. I had friends that were already dead. Then I had friends that made it through the war that died in a relocation camp in Florida or O.D.’d at Golden Gate Park or things like that. Guys were just shattered by the experience.

You were in the Navy right? What years were you actually in the service? And where were you?

Yeah, I was in the Navy, but I’d been discharged before that war got really hot. It was just starting up when I was discharged.

I was in the Navy for a total of about a year. I left the continental shelf behind. I was on a submarine called the Half Peak. They were all named after fish and they really had to look to find Half Peak. If you look it up, it’s a fish about the size of your thumb, only a lot skinnier. Some kind of weird little thing. It doesn’t bring to mind war-like behavior.

The draft got everybody or you had a way around it. I joined up when I was underage. I just wanted to be underwater. I love the idea of a submarine and I wanted to be on one, so I joined the god-damned Navy. And I found out that I liked the submarine, but I couldn’t stand the Navy. It was just too military. I don’t know what I thought it would be, but of course it was military. And I didn’t fit with that. It’s a hell of a way to get around – it’s really something.

But if you’ve been in the service, you know how it works and in the best of times it’s no more organized than the bad boy down on the street corner. It’s very drifty shit. It’s amazing that it works as well as it does. Up until now, the only place that it’s been discussed much was with people like Tolstoy, who makes the point, war – rather than service – is just chaos. You can have all the plans you want, but once it’s going nobody knows what else can happen.  (CONT)

Leo Kottke Weighs in On Life, Literature and Guitar (Part Three)

You’re right, to get back the start of your question though, labels always had an opinion, and have an opinion about what they want me to do. I’m one of those butt-lucky people that never got interfered with much. The biggest - and probably not a smart thing to do – interference was Capitol. It was that first contract telling me to sing. And I hadn’t figured out how I wanted to sing yet and I wasn’t interested in singing. Now all of this is filtered through my producer at the time – for all I know, it was just the producer saying it – they said we can’t get it on the radio. So I sang. I would have been more interested, since it was one of those early records, if all I had done was instrumental shit.  But it didn’t work out that way. Other than that, I’ve been pretty much able to do whatever I want.

The Takoma record was the first studio record you released, but there’s a live recording [12-String Blues, 1969] that dates before that and you sang on that one.

It was on a label called Oblivion. I sang on that one and in the beginning that is all I did. I went quite a while before I ever made a record, working jobs in Illinois and Minnesota, places like that. I first heard John Fahey, who owned Takoma Records, after a job I played in Chicago with a friend of mine. But I was singing back then because – I don’t know. It was that thing that kicked in, just hadn’t quite happened yet.

I was playing the way that I play, pretty much. There’s a kind of voice that you get early on, if you’re ever gonna get one. That was happening on the guitar, but it hadn’t developed yet. I was playing some instrumentals, there was a tune, a title I can’t live with now, but I still get requests for it called “Vaseline Machine Gun”.

That’s actually my favorite title of any of your songs. Where’d that name come from?

It has all kinds of meanings for me. I was actually diving in a quarry and the first guy went in and came out and said it stunk down there. ‘Cause if you go down deep enough in a quarry, it’s filled with gasses – noxious, sulfurous shit. I end up going down and that’s when I thought of the title for the tune.  (CONT)

Leo Kottke Weighs in On Life, Literature and Guitar (Part Two)

You just mentioned your first major label record deal. And it sounded like you said that smaller labels were gone.

Oh, no. I was saying that the major labels are gone. And if they aren’t gone, they’re all scrambling for the changes that they need to make. They just don’t exist, not in the way they did in 1970.

Is that good or bad?

It’s just different machinery. I wouldn’t make that kind of judgment, ‘cause that’s just shooting myself in the face – both professionally and...If I think that I’m in a dead industry, that’s stupid. It won’t mean anything for me professionally. And it’s not dead, just changing. The last thing people are comfortable with is change. Changing isn’t always the answer – changing faster and you can’t even comprehend. What we see – we were just talking about selling music or selling an act – is gross, as in macro indexing. It’s moving even faster at the level that you’re at or I’m at. Because it so fast, we can’t see it, we just see the larger stuff and that’s why people are frequently caught with their pants down. Although, you could think that the labels should have anticipated some of what’s going on, they didn’t. They couldn’t track it down.

Since we’re talking about labels, I’d guess that the larger labels that you’ve worked with have tried to steer your career in a way that they think would be more profitable or useful to them. Are you on Private Music?

Yeah, which doesn’t really exist anymore except as a name. It’s really BMG, which is RCA. I don’t even really know anymore and I’m actually in the process of leaving the label. I’ve asked them to let me off. Not so much because of the way technology is changing, but actually because I want to see what happens. I just want to see what I do next. It’s easy for me to do that. In straight show business terms, as an act, I’ve been around forever. Records don’t mean much. What does mean something is touring -personally and professionally. The more you play, the more you want to play.

When I started out, I thought the shit would kill me – it would destroy my interest in playing, because it was so hard - getting there and dealing with all of it. But the opposite end, it really is good for you to play. Conductors, actually, live longer than the rest of the population. It’s not because they’re flapping their arms around, it’s because they’re immersed in the music all the time. (CONT)