The Cowboy & The Bear   Leave a comment

Not the greatest of Um gigs on Friday. Not going to do that live looping thing again in hurry. I practiced it about 5 times with varying results but the performance version was at least 500% worse than the worst of the run-throughs. Also I was actually going to just use a sports whistle as a sound source, rather than vocals, but some reason, possibly beer, I threw that idea out the window. The other fuck-up, and this is a mistake I’ve made several times, was that I had a kind of prepared joke intro and the trouble with prepared texts is that they often rely on certain prerequisites such as an audience and so on. I remember I was asked to compere for a Broken Family Band (remember them?) gig once and I wrote this loose spurt of improvised mind jazz on the train on the way down and then in the context of a very big and empty Cargo it just did not work at all. I think I got up and sang “Like a Rhinestone Cowboy… touched for a the very first time…” and a few souls just stared blankly back at me. But yeah, seeing Jo and Bobby and Dave looking at me empathically the other night just made my stupid prepared joke about the size of the bosom of my community seem stupid so I dived into the loop section without my mojo and boy it showed/sounded. And then of course for the rest of the gig I was stuck in that fucked frame of mind. Still, it’s possible that that’s the kind of gig that feels awful on the inside and then looks kind of intense on video because a couple of random strangers said nice things. The first was this well-preserved dude who asked if the songs were seperate entities or discrete parts of a complex whole, and when I informed him that they were the former he enquired whether they might be expanded, perhaps? The the second guy was a nice American who seemed shocked to discover that I was a Cambridge resident as he had lived here for five years and had never heard of me. Indeed his unknowingly squandered chances of catching the staggeringly local Pete Um phenomenon were now sadly all but at an end as his wife’s Phd was now finished and they were off back to the States in the next few weeks.

Volcano The Bear were very good though, as tends to be the case. They have a knack (it’s not really a knack) of doing very simple yet effective things that make most acts look like they haven’t got any imagination. They can be dry as in lacking heat and then imperceptibly shift into being dry as in obliquely funny. At one point Aaron made us laugh by simply moving slightly closer to Daniel at the end of a tune. You can’t Google how to do that kind of thing.

I Googled Rhinestone Cowboy just to check the spelling. Didn’t realise what the song was about.

Song history

Weiss wrote and recorded “Rhinestone Cowboy” in 1974, and it appeared on his 20th Century Records album Black and Blue Suite. Neither that version, nor a cover by Neil Diamond made much of an impression on audiences (although Diamond’s version did garner adult contemporary airplay).[citation needed] In late 1974, Campbell heard the song on the radio and, during a tour of Australia decided to learn the song. Soon after his return to the United States, Campbell went to Al Coury’s office at Capitol Records, where he was approached about “a great new song” — “Rhinestone Cowboy.”[1]

Several music writers noted that Campbell identified with the subject matter of “Rhinestone Cowboy” — survival and making it, particularly when the chips are down — very strongly. As Steven Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic put it, the song is about a veteran artist “who’s aware that he’s more than paid his dues during his career … but is still surviving, and someday, he’ll shine just like a rhinestone cowboy.”[2]

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