Saturday Odds & Sods: Smokestack Lightning

Subway Portrait by Walker Evans

I usually start off with some sort of introduction but, in the immortal words of Jeff Probst, I got nothing for you. On with the show this is it.

This week’s theme song is an amalgamation of blues songs recorded by Chester Arthur Burnett DBA Howlin’ Wolf in 1956. Wolf gets credit for the final lyrics but it’s a traditional melody. Wolf previously recorded the song as Crying At Daybreak. Damn, that story is so bloody complicated that it gives me the blues.

We have three versions of Smokestack Lightning for your listening pleasure: the 1956 original, The Yardbirds, and Etta James.

Who among us doesn’t like train songs? Here’s a slicker one written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer:

Since the featured image is one of Walker Evans’ subway portraits, here’s a subway tune before we move on:

We begin our second act with a piece about the latest Zodiac Killer theory.

Zodiac, My Zodiac: As a kid growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was alternately fascinated and appalled by the Zodiac Killer. He’s become a figure of fascination because he was a tease and celebrity wannabe. There have been countless books and documentaries on the subject as well as David Fincher’s brilliant feature film, Zodiac.

I don’t have a candidate but I’m open minded. Slate’s Laura Miller reviews a new book by Jarrett Kobek, How To Find Zodiac. Kobek’s candidate is a fanzine writer named Paul Doerr; presumably no relation to BoSox hall of famer Bobby Doerr or the owners of Doerr Furniture in New Orleans. Time to close that door…

Laura Miller is unconvinced by Kobek’s theory, but I’m intrigued. Zodiac *could* have been a frustrated writer. Beats the hell outta me. As with  D.B. Cooper, I prefer the mystery to a solution.

The last word of the segment goes to Santana with a song that was on the Zodiac soundtrack:

Let’s move from the macabre to the celebratory.

Joni Mitchell Returns: I almost said comeback, but she never went anywhere. Joni Mitchell has been seriously ill for many years but played her first live set in two decades at the Newport Folk Festival last Sunday. And my friend Chrissie the stage mother was there. I’m green with envy.

Rolling Stone Magazine has the details.

Here’s a seasonal song from the surprise set:

I wish I could say that the Joni Mitchell Dozen had something to do with it but even I’m not that egomaniacal.

Welcome back, Joni.

Let’s continue our celebration of the olds.

Norman Lear At 100: Television wouldn’t be the same without Norman Lear. He’s still very much with us as well as with it. He wrote an op-ed piece for the NYT this week: On My 100th Birthday, Reflections on Archie Bunker and Donald Trump. It made me want to call someone meathead and order them out of my chair.

Here’s where Norman thinks Archie would be politically in 2022:

For all his faults, Archie loved his country and he loved his family, even when they called him out on his ignorance and bigotries. If Archie had been around 50 years later, he probably would have watched Fox News. He probably would have been a Trump voter. But I think that the sight of the American flag being used to attack Capitol Police would have sickened him. I hope that the resolve shown by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and their commitment to exposing the truth, would have won his respect.

There’s also a swell Norman-centric piece at Vulture, 100 Years of Norman Lear: Rita Moreno, John Amos, Valerie Bertinelli, and other collaborators reflect on working with the TV legend.

Happy belated Birthday, sir. Thanks for making the world a better and funnier place.

The last word of our second act goes to Stevie Wonder:

We begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.

Separated At Birth: Valerie Bertinelli became a teevee star on Norman Lear’s One Day At A Time. Surely, I’m not the only one who thinks she looks like her late, great former husband Eddie Van Halen?

We might as well rock our way out of the segment:

The Movie List: I closed last week’s entry with a picture of Loretta and Doolittle Lynn with the actors who played them in Coal Miner’s Daughter: Tommy Lee Jones and Sissy Spacek. It’s Sissy’s turn to be listed. Listed? I *am* a realtor’s kid, so it comes out sometimes.

The Sissy Spacek Dozen

  1.  Carrie
  2.  Badlands
  3.  Coal Miner’s Daughter
  4.  Missing
  5.  Three Women
  6.  Bloodline
  7.  Castle Rock
  8.  Crimes Of The Heart
  9.  Welcome To LA
  10.  Affliction
  11.  Heart Beat
  12.  The Long Walk Home/The Help

The last one is a cheat as both movies involve the interactions of white Southern ladies with their Black maids. The Long Walk Home is the better movie, but The Help is campy fun.

Best Of SCTV: My countrywoman Andrea Martin is back in vogue with her performance as the psychic nun in Evil. Here are two SCTV clips featuring the Awesome Andrea.

Saturday GIF Horse: We have two images from Norman Lear shows. First, George and Helen Willis cutting a rug in The Jeffersons followed by Archie giving Mike the raspberry in All In The Family.

The Jeffersons Dancing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music under a new rubric.

Saturday Closer: I’m not sure if Leon Bridges’ music is best described as neo-soul or neo-blues. I am, however, sure that it’s good. Hit it, Leon.

That’s all for this week. The last word goes to Brian DePalma directing Sissy Spacek in Carrie.