Rest in Peace, Mr. Jack Bruce (1943-2014): Your Music Lives On!

Cream

CREAM

JACK BRUCE (1943-2014)

Artist Biography by Richard Skelly

Songs for a TailorAlthough some may be tempted to call multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and composer Jack Bruce a rock & roll musician, blues and jazz were what this innovative musician really loved. As a result, those two genres were at the base of most of the recorded output from a career that went back to the beginning of London’s blues scene in 1962. In that year, he joined Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. Throughout the following decades and into the 21st century, Bruce remained a supreme innovator, pushing himself into uncharted waters with his jazz and folk-rock compositions.

Bruce‘s most famous songs were, in essence, blues tunes — “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Strange Brew,” “Politician,” “White Room” — and they were ones he penned for Cream, the legendary blues-rock trio he formed with drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton in July 1966. Baker and Bruceplayed together for five years before Clapton came along, and although their trio only lasted until November 1968, the group is credited with changing the face of rock & roll and bringing blues to a worldwide audience. Through their creative arrangements of classic blues tunes like Robert Johnson‘s “Crossroads,” Skip James‘ “I’m So Glad,” Willie Dixon‘s “Spoonful,” and Albert King‘s “Born Under a Bad Sign,” the group helped popularize blues-rock and led the way for similar groups that came about later on, like Led Zeppelin.

Bruce was born May 14, 1943, in Lanarkshire, near Glasgow, Scotland. His father was a big jazz fan, and so he included people like Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller among his earliest influences. He grew up listening to jazz and took up bass and cello as a teen. After three months at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, he left, disgusted with the politics of music school. After traveling around Europe for a while, he settled into the early blues scene in 1962 in London, where he eventually met drummerGinger Baker. He played with British blues pioneers Alexis Korner and Graham Bond before leaving in 1965 to join John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, whose guitarist was Eric Clapton. This gave him time to get his chops together without having to practice. With Manfred Mann, who he also played with before forming Cream, Bruce learned about the business of making hit songs.

Shadows in the AirCream‘s reputation for long, extended blues jams began at the Fillmore in San Francisco at a concert organized by impresario Bill Graham. Bruce later realized that Creamgave him a chance to succeed as a musician, and admitted that if it weren’t for that group, he might never have escaped London. After Cream split up in November 1968, Bruceformed Jack Bruce & Friends with drummer Mitch Mitchell and guitarist Larry Coryell. Recording-wise, Bruce took a different tack away from blues and blues-rock, leaning more in a folk-rock direction with his solo albums Songs for a Tailor (1969), Harmony Row (1971), and Out of the Storm(1974).

Live at the MilkywayIn 2010, Bruce joined the Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Band with Reid, organist John Medeski, and drummer Cindy Blackman, and toured in the late part of that year and in early 2011 to sold-out performances and rave reviews. Also in 2011, Pledge Music, a company that pairs fans and artists to fund projects, released Jack Bruce and the Cuicoland Express Live at the Milky Way, from a 2001 concert in Amsterdam. The high-quality recording was provided by Bruce‘s daughters, who designed the cover as well. The Lifetime Tribute Band’s tour had been so successful that the group renamed itself Spectrum Road and entered the studio. They emerged with a self-titled album that featured covers of Lifetime material and originals. In 2013, Bruce reconvened the rhythm section under his name for the album Silver Rails (with Robin Trower, Phil Manzanera, Uli Jon Roth, and Bernie Marsdenalternating in the guitar chair). It was released in March of 2014. Just seven months later, however, he died at his Suffolk home from liver disease.”






 

Allen Ginsberg (1926 – 1997): “Howl”, “Ballad of American Skeletons” and “Song” [Precious Poetry, 13th Edition]

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“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection

to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night…”

GINSBERG. Howl. FULL TRANSCRIPTION.

 

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“A Ballad of American Skeletons”

performed by Allen Ginsberg and Paul McCartney

The Royal Albert Hall – 1995

Said the Presidential skeleton
I won’t sign the bill
Said the Speaker skeleton
Yes you will

Said the Representative skeleton
I object
Said the Supreme Court skeleton
Whaddya expect

Said the Military skeleton
Buy Star Bombs
Said the Upperclass skeleton
Starve unmarried moms

Said the Yahoo skeleton
Stop dirty art
Said the Right Wing skeleton
Forget about yr heart

Said the Gnostic skeleton
The Human Form’s divine
Said the Moral Majority skeleton
No it’s not it’s mine

Said the Buddha skeleton
Compassion is wealth
Said the Corporate skeleton
It’s bad for your health

Said the Old Christ skeleton
Care for the Poor
Said the Son of God skeleton
AIDS needs cure

Said the Homophobe skeleton
Gay folk suck
Said the Heritage Policy skeleton
Blacks’re outta luck

Said the Macho skeleton
Women in their place
Said the Fundamentalist skeleton
Increase human race

Said the Right-to-Life skeleton
Foetus has a soul
Said Pro-choice skeleton
Shove it up your hole

Said the Downsized skeleton
Robots got my job
Said the Tough-on-Crime skeleton
Tear-gas the mob

Said the Governor skeleton
Cut school lunch
Said the Mayor skeleton
Eat the budget crunch

Said the Neo-Conservative skeleton
Homeless off the street!
Said the Free Market skeleton
Use ’em up for meat

Said the Think Tank skeleton
Free Market’s the way
Said the S&L skeleton
Make the State pay

Said the Chrysler skeleton
Pay for you & me
Said the Nuke Power skeleton
& me & me & me

Said the Ecologic skeleton
Keep Skies blue
Said the Multinational skeleton
What’s it worth to you?

Said the NAFTA skeIeton
Get rich, Free Trade,
Said the Maquiladora skeleton
Sweat shops, low paid

Said the rich GATT skeleton
One world, high tech
Said the Underclass skeleton
Get it in the neck

Said the World Bank skeleton
Cut down your trees
Said the I.M.F. skeleton
Buy American cheese

Said the Underdeveloped skeleton I
Send me rice
Said Developed Nations’ skeleton
Sell your bones for dice

Said the Ayatollah skeleton
Die writer die
Said Joe Stalin’s skeleton
That’s no lie

Said the Petrochemical skeleton
Roar Bombers roar!
Said the Psychedelic skeleton
Smoke a dinosaur

Said Nancy’s skeleton
Just say No
Said the Rasta skeleton
Blow Nancy Blow

Said Demagogue skeleton
Don’t smoke Pot
Said Alcoholic skeleton
Let your liver rot

Said the Junkie skeleton
Can’t we get a fix?
Said the Big Brother skeleton
Jail the dirty pricks

Said the Mirror skeleton
Hey good looking
Said the Electric Chair skeleton
Hey what’s cooking?

Said the Talkshow skeleton
Fuck you in the face
Said the Family Values skeleton
My family values mace

Said the N.Y. Times skeleton
That’s not fit to print
Said the C.I.A. skeleton
Cantcha take a hint?

Said the Network skeleton
Believe my lies
Said the Advertising skeleton
Don’t get wise!

Said the Media skeleton
Believe you me
Said the Couch-Potato skeleton
What me worry?

Said the TV skeleton
Eat sound bites
Said the Newscast skeleton
That’s all Goodnight

20

* * * * *

Allen Ginsberg with Jack Kerouac in San Francisco (1956)

Song

The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.

Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
constructs
a miracle,
in imagination
anguishes
till born
in human–
looks out of the heart
burning with purity–
for the burden of life
is love,

but we carry the weight
wearily,
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.

No rest
without love,
no sleep
without dreams
of love–
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
or machines,
the final wish
is love
–cannot be bitter,
cannot deny,
cannot withhold
if denied:

the weight is too heavy

–must give
for no return
as thought
is given
in solitude
in all the excellence
of its excess.

The warm bodies
shine together
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
in happiness
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye–

yes, yes,
that’s what
I wanted,
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to return
to the body
where I was born.

Allen Ginsberg
* * * * *

You might also like:

Portrait of Allen Ginsberg, December 1963

Allen Ginsberg’s article about cannabis: “The actual experience of the smoked herb has been clouded by a fog of dirty language perpetrated by a crowd of fakers who have not had the experience and yet insist on downgrading it. The paradoxical key to this bizarre impasse of awareness is precisely that the marijuana consciousness is one that, ever so gently, shifts the center of attention from habitual shallow, purely verbal guidelines and repetitive secondhand ideological interpretations of experience to more direct, slower, absorbing, occasionally microscopically minute engagement with sensing phenomena…”  See also: Lester Greenspoon’s comments.

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Previously on Awestruck Wanderer:

Who’s next? Feel free to suggest poets in the comment box!