Lives of the Poets (with Guitars): Thirteen Outsiders Who by Ray Robertson

By Ray Robertson

“The days of poets moping round citadel steps donning black capes is over. The poets of this present day are amplified.”
— LEONARD COHEN

Picking up the place Samuel Johnson left off greater than centuries in the past, Ray Robertson’s Lives of the Poets (with Guitars) deals up an amplified accumulating of 13 graphics of rock & roll, blues, folks, and alt-country’s such a lot inimitable artists. Irreverent and riotous, Robertson explores the “greater or lesser heat” with which each and every musician formed their style, whereas supplying soaking up perception into their frequently tumultuous lives.

Includes essays on Gene Clark, Ronnie Lane, The Ramones, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Townes Van Zandt, Little Richard, Alan Wilson, Willie P. Bennett, Gram Parsons, Hound puppy Taylor, Paul Siebel, Willis Alan Ramsey, and John Hartford.

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True, true, no doubt true. But. But the flip side of idealistic is impractical, and if Ronnie and Kate had been less of the latter they might also have been less of the former. Better a flawed vision than a competent compromise. The Passing Show was a fiasco, okay, and what do you know? We’re still talking about it forty years later. Poorer, pissed off, but unrepentant, Ronnie recorded another album (Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance) for another label (Island) with another version of Slim Chance (among the new recruits, string man deluxe Charlie Hart, who would stick and pick with Ronnie until the end).

At one of these, long-time Byrds fan Tom Petty was in attendance and was inspired enough to record a song from the group’s rich catalogue for his next album, a sure-fire royalty bonanza for whomever the lucky writer turned out to be. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of the three ex-Byrds performing that night at the Ventura Theatre, but Gene, whose “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” was included on Petty’s massive-selling Full Moon Fever album. The Byrds helped give him his start, the Byrds would help finish him off.

Barely had bookings. I got paid a lot of money with Jerry Jeff [Walker, his previous employer] and I just walked away to play with Gene . . I had already worn out two copies of No Other. I know I was present during certain problems, he had his problems and I was there when some unpleasant things went on and 20 gene clark everybody has lots of stories about Gene, but I was also there and I saw a real goodness in Gene . . He had a good heart. I remember we were loading out in Santa Fe, the very first show, and he grabbed my amplifier and he’s carrying it out behind the club and he almost slipped in the snow.

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