Re: Ricky Nelson's harder rocking version of "If You Can't Rock Me"
Date: January 19, 2022 20:18
I actually LOVE Nelson's take on "Honky Tonk Women." I love most of the songs he recorded with the Stone Canyon Band.
Pick up the Legacy boxed set (4 CDs) if you aren't a completist. A fine overview of his rich career. "Rick Nelson In Concert" is one of my favourite live albums.
*** The Fun Facts … As to the song “Garden Party”: The lyrics to the song provide a detailed account of what transpired that fateful evening at Madison Square Garden, with listeners continually attempting to connect the dots. “My old friends,” refers to the other artists on the bill that night, Bo Diddley, Bobby Rydell and the Coasters. “Yoko brought her walrus” was a nod to John Lennon (“I Am the Walrus) and Yoko Ono who were both at the show that evening. “I said hello to Mary Lou, she belongs to me” were two of the songs Nelson sang, while “I sang a song about a honky tonk,” referenced “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones, a cover Rick laid down. “Out stepped Johnny B. Goode” was a gesture to the night’s headliner Chuck Berry, as was the line “Playing guitar like ringing a bell,” a line from Berry’s 1958 hit sing. It seems the lyrics that most captured everyone’s attention were “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes.” While most thought Rick was referencing Howard Hughes, in reality it was Nelson’s dear friend George Harrison (of the Beatles) who was known to register at hotels using the name Hughes, and attended the show in disguise along with Mr. Dylan. By Jenell Kesler from Discogs.com
Zimmerman about Rick Nelson:
“He sang his songs calm and steady like he was in the middle of a storm, men hurling past him. His voice was sort of mysterious and made you fall into a certain mood. I’d always felt kin to him. In a few years’ time he’d record some of my songs, make them sound like they were his own, like he had written them himself. He eventually did write one himself and mentioned my name in it. The thing was that Ricky was still making records and that’s what I wanted to do, too.” - Bob Dylan
Ricky said this about Bob Dylan’s influence; “My idol as far as a writer is Bob Dylan, who I think was really the spokesman for that period where the country was going through a lot of changes, politically, and I really think he was the poet of that era.”
After Ricky’s death, Bob Dylan paid tribute to Ricky while on tour, with a moment of silence and a version of Ricky’s hit song “Lonesome Town” at each concert.
He also covered Legend In My Time (I’d Be) in concert which he only performed 3 times in 1989 and never again.
The entire excerpt from Bob Dylan’s book “Chronicles” where he talks about Ricky’s influence on his music:
"One afternoon I was in there pouring Coke into a glass from a milk pitcher when I heard a voice coming cool through the screen of the radio speaker…Ricky Nelson was singing his new song, “Travelin’ Man”. Ricky had a smooth touch, the way he crooned in fast rhythm, the tonation of his voice. He was different than the rest of the teen idols, had a great guitarist who played like a cross between a honky-tonk hero and a barn-dance fiddler.
Nelson had never been a bold innovator like the early singers who sang like they were navigating burning ships. He didn’t sing desperately, do a lot of damage, and you’d never mistake him for a shaman. It didn’t feel like his endurance was ever being tested to the utmost, but it didn’t matter.
He sang his songs calm and steady like he was in the middle of a storm, men hurling past him. His voice was sort of mysterious and made you fall into a certain mood. I had been a big fan of Ricky’s and still liked him, but that type of music was on its way out. It had no chance of meaning anything. There’d be no future for that stuff in the future. It was all a mistake.
What was not a mistake was the ghost of Billy Lyons, rootin’ the mountain down, standing ‘round in East Cairo, Black Betty bam be lam. That was no mistake. That’s the stuff that was happening. That’s the stuff that could make you question what you’d always accepted, could litter the landscape with broken hearts, had power of spirit.
Ricky, as usual, was singing bleached out lyrics. Lyrics probably written just for him. I’d always felt kin to him, though. We were about the same age, probably liked the same things, from the same generation although our life experience had been so dissimilar, him being brought up out West on a family TV show.
It was like he’d been born and raised on Walden Pond where everything was hunky-dory, and I’d come out of the dark demonic woods, same forest, just a different way of looking at things. Ricky’s talent was very accessible to me. I felt we had a lot in common. In a few years’ time he’d record some of my songs, make them sound like they were his own, like he had written them himself. He eventually did write one himself and mentioned my name in it.
Ricky, in about ten years’ time, would even get booed while onstage for changing what was perceived as his musical direction. It turned out we did have a lot in common. There was no way to know that standing in the kitchen of the Café Wha? listening to that smooth, monotone drawl. The thing was that Ricky was still making records and that’s what I wanted to do, too.
I envisioned myself recording for Folkways Records. That was the label I wanted to be on. That was the label that put out all the great records. Ricky’s song ended and I gave the rest of my French fries to Tiny Tim, went back into the outer room to see what Fred was up to."
In an interview published in bobdylan.com Bob was asked to pick a favorite song by another artist that mentions his name in the lyrics. His pick: “Garden Party” by Ricky Nelson.
The Wikipedia page has some real good facts about the song telling us the song relates the story of Nelson being booed at a concert at Madison Square Garden on October 15, 1971 and billed as “Richard Nader’s Rock ‘n Roll Revival.”
Also on the bill were Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Bobby Rydell.
Wiki reports that “Nelson came on stage dressed in the then-current fashion, wearing bell-bottoms and a purple velvet shirt, with his hair hanging down to his shoulders. He started playing his older songs like “Hello Mary Lou”, but then he played the Rolling Stones’ “Country Honk” (a country version of their hit song “Honky Tonk Women”) and the crowd began to boo. While some reports say that the booing was caused by police action in the back of the audience, Nelson thought it was directed at him. Nevertheless, he sang another song but then left the building and did not appear onstage for the finale.”
Wiki also tells us that “One more reference in the lyrics pertains to a particularly mysterious and legendary audience member: “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes, wearing his disguise”. The Mr. Hughes in question was apparently George Harrison, who was a next-door neighbor and good friend of Nelson’s. Harrison used “Hughes” as his traveling alias.”
They suggest that “hid in Dylan’s shoes” may refer to an album of Bob Dylan covers that Harrison was planning but never recorded.
Ricky Nelson however did cover lots of Dylan songs over the years, I shall Be Released, If You Gotta Go, Mama You’ve Been On My Mind, Love Minus Zero, walking Down the line and perhaps best of all She Belongs To Me.