Category: John Stewart and His Music
Sky Blue Eight
A song about the paint color of a pick up truck? Yeah, well I like it alot. John wrote songs, recorded them, they were never released and the they morphed into something else. It was always a guessing game to figure out what some of them finally became.
I always loved this song. I first heard it as bootleg many years ago. John never wanted to release it even though I irritated him regularly to do so.
What did this song become? My best guess is Quarter Moon on the Golden Gate. But I could be wrong. Anyone have any ideas? Let me know.
January 19, 2008
It’s difficult to believe that it’s now been four years since John passed from us. Sometimes in the mornings when I go out for the newspaper there’s a rain crow that gives me hell. Always makes me think of John. Every morning as I go down the stairs from the bedroom I pass his vest hanging over the back of my chair. In the living room, next to my guitar stool, hangs his leather jacket with the patches on it. From time to time someone will order a cd from the Neon Dreams catalog and I burn the cd, print the insert, address the envelope and go to the Post Office. I think about him alot.
I wanted to do something to mark this date but couldn’t decide what it should be. A few years ago I loaded this video clip on Youtube. At that time I wasn’t able to do it as a high resolution video. Now I can. I hope you enjoy this. It’s from the Front Row Moonlight dvd that we did in Dalry in 2001. This medley was the finale of the performance and the end of the video. This is for Buffy and Mikael and Jeremy and Amy and Luke. And for Dave and Tom and Jorgo and for me.
If You Should Remember Me- Video Medley
and here is the audio of the file. Just click on the link to listen:
There Were Some Songs…
That John HAD to sing. Not that he minded singing them. It’s just that you could tell that the audience was waiting for them and sometimes he’d make them wait until the end of the show. Pirates of Stone County Road, July You’re A Woman, Daydream Believer, California Bloodlines- which he didn’t always do but one that I was always waiting for- and this song, Mother Country.
John wrote so many songs. I’ve watched him do set lists. I’ve even written a few of them for him. When Tim Riley and his Merry Men got the lyrics database online it allowed John to do songs that he had long ago forgotten. But John loved to sing some of the early songs.
Here he is doing Mother Country. This is from a live recording from either TV or radio. I believe that it was from one of his Tonight show appearances and I swear that I can hear John Denver singing with him on the final chorus.
September 5, 1939
Happy Birthday, John. Today would have been your 72nd birthday. I’m pretty sure that you’d still be writing songs, playing music, eating donuts, looking for your glasses, looking for your phone chargers, buying the latest cel phone and Ipod, you’d have had at least two Ipads by now, you’d be pissed at either me or Dave-or maybe both of us, you’d still call Tom DeLisle your best friend and you’d still have the most loyal fans in the world. Buffy would still be your angel.
You’d be singing Mother Country and Pirates of Stone County Road and Daydream Believer because you LIKED to sing them. You’d still be pissy whenever it suited you and you’d still forget about it in ten minutes. And Buffy would still be your Angel.
At the request of Cat here is one of John’s songs from the Johnny Moonlight album.
Now, let’s have some cake…and some donut holes.
John Stewart and His Dreams of Neon
As many of you may know, I began working with John Stewart in early 2000. I’d been a fan for many years and had seen him in California and in the midwest. Like many of his fans I was too intimidated to speak to him. He had that effect on some people. That all changed one afternoon when we found ourselves struggling to hook up a video projector at the John Stewart Ultimate Weekend in Naperville, Il. We started talking and soon became friends. John had many interests and I shared a good many of them. After the Weekend was over we found ourselves talking by phone almost every day. Then he convinced me (and Dave) to get the Motorola Talkabouts so we could email each other any time we wanted. Sort a Pre-Tweet thing.
At this time, John was releasing some material with Appleseed Records. Jim Musselman was a good friend to John and John fit well with the Appleseed lineup. But John also loved to tinker and when home recording of cd’s came around he spent many hours working on new songs. Many of these became cd’s that he would sell at gigs. Sometimes they had music on them and sometimes they were blank. It was a little primitive back in those days and sometimes he didn’t pay attention to what he was doing. When he did something new he would send the cd’s to me and to Tom DeLisle, A few days would go by and Tom would email and say “How did you like it?” and I’d say “I thought the volume was a little low.” Then we’d call and make some excuse about how we had damaged the disc and could he burn us another. If he were with us today I’d be getting the dog-stare right now.
In any case, Kris and I began helping him with Neon Dreams. we had the cd’s mass produced and inserts printed. It was far from slick but the quality of the music was always good. One of the last projects we worked on was the Tanforan cd. John wanted to do a cd of older material but sung in his mature voice and sung as he would experience the songs at his age. The title was going to be Macon, 1957. The first song he did was July You’re A Woman.
I think this was recorded at Jimmy Dukes’ house in the San Diego Hills. Dave Batti on bass, Dennis Kenmore on drums and John Hoke on guitar. John referred to the band as Johnny and the Nasty Britches.
Here it is, sung as a ballad. I hope you enjoy it.
Sometimes things just sort of seem to land in your lap when you need them the most. It’s been a rough last few months. I’m not complaining about my life because I’ve got it pretty easy compared to the people of northern Japan, Libya, the Ivory Coast and a thousand other places.
This song just jumped out at me today. I don’t think it was ever released on an album and I don’t know why it wasn’t. it could be one of those great songs that John decided could be something else that was better. He did that with a lot of very good songs; songs that would have stood on their own. But that was John.
In later years John didn’t play harmonica very often. In this song he screws the lyrics up a couple of times. That was John, too. Never sang a song the same way once.
This song is called Hope. It was recorded on 10/16/89 at the Winning Post in York, England.
Punch the Big Guy
Punch the Big Guy was recorded and released in 1987, first as an LP and then later on cassette. It was a great change from John’s previous recordings in that it was louder and the songs were produced to a higher level. I don’t mean to imply that his previous work wasn’t well-produced. Punch the Big Guy just took it to a different level with the addition of some echo in the vocals and some computer orchestration. It is, perhaps, his most critically acclaimed album. Many of the songs are ones that he would continue to do in live shows until the end of his life. Ticket To the Stars, Night of a Distant Star, Runaway Train, all were songs that he loved to sing.
Oddly enough, the song titled Punch the Big Guy was not on the album. Not many people have heard it and this recording, while not of great quality and in mono, is one of the best that I’ve been able to find. I don’t know why it was left off of the album; possibly due to the time constraints of the LP. Thanks go to Fred Grittner for cleaning up the audio file.
In any case, here is
January 19, 2008
Perhaps this isn’t the finest version of this song that John ever performed. From my vantage point-six feet from him- it could have been the best. It was the best I ever heard. It was Dalry, Scotland and The Turf Inn. September of 2003. John was booked for three shows in three nights and he asked Kris and me to come along and record them.
This was the first show. We had car problems on the way to Dalry and arrived minutes before the show was to start. John was being John. I was closest so I bore the brunt of his John-ness. When the show started neither of us wanted to look at the other guy which was difficult because we were only a few feet apart and I had a camera in his face.
John killed them. His voice was rugged and he occasionally hit a clinker on the guitar. But his raw emotion carried everything past the flaws. It was something to hear. On the last chorus you can hear some of the beautiful Scottish voices singing along.
Three years gone and I miss him every day.
Please. Today would you listen to John Stewart’s music? Or, play it. Let’s keep the music alive.
John and Buffy on Christmas Eve
John Stewart loved children. It was always a treat to see him at Fantasy Camp, on the floor explaining his latest gadget to the children in the room. And he loved giving. This was one of his favorite times of the year and always looked forward to being with his family and his friends.
Buffy, as a licensed and practicing angel, knows that this time of the year is her time to shine.
Here are two songs for your Christmas Eve. They are both from Buffy’s Christmas Album. The first is John singing Mary’s Baby and the second is Buffy doing Silent Night.
Peace to All and Be Well for the New Year.
John Stewart Music On A Snowy December Day
It’s pretty well documented in his songs that John Stewart did not care for cold weather or snow. In later years he occasionally became irate when someone would suggest he might come East of Denver between October and May. He was a California kind of guy and it showed in his songs.
I can’t remember who it was, maybe Jimmy Buffett, who commented about fans who would come to a show to hear “that ONE SONG”. For me it was always California Bloodlines. John didn’t always do it but I was lucky enough to hear it many times.
This song is from a recording made at Tom Anderson’s place in Scottsdale. It was recorded in 2000, and John was playing the big-ass Taylor 12 string with 8 or 9 strings on it.
It’s a song I don’t mind hearing on a cold and snowy December day in Ohio.