Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
The Long Ryders - "Looking For Lewis And Clark"

The Long Ryders named themselves after the Walter Hill movie, but used the sixties/Byrds spelling of "Riders." So while "Looking For Lewis And Clark" is undoubtably one of the more compelling songs of the mid-eighties roots rock movement, you get the feeling something other than the typical back-to-basics may be looming. For instance, The Ryders are looking for Lewis and Clark, who were explorers themselves: Get it? (Not proud that it took me damn near thirty years to get it.)

The song kicks in with a whistle and a howl, so you get the feeling you're in for a good ride no matter what happens with the lyrics. There are mentions of Tim Hardin and Gram Parsons in the same verse in a bid for Songwriter Credibility, but then they mention their own band name and that seems a tad forced. There's also a bizzarre mention of the Yellow Pages, which you kids out there will have to Google. And speaking of which: HEY DEX AND VERIZON, WHY DO YOU STILL DROP OFF DOZENS OF PHONEBOOKS IN MY APARTMENT BUILDING'S LOBBY?? The song ends with a nod to "Louie Louie", which establishes garage rock credentials. And geography credentials also, as Lewis and Clark finally reached the Pacific near Portland … where both Paul Revere and the Raiders and The Kingsmen both recorded "Louie Louie" in the same week and in the same studio in 1963. Incredible!

Flipping the album cover over (advised, since the cover eerily mimicks what Lester Bangs once wrote about White Witch: Observe the dude standing on the left … a true dork) to scan the credits and you see that it was recorded at a studio in Oxfordshire, England. Hey that's not roots rock at all! What gives? Also, this: "The Long Ryders wish success and happiness to all bands." I smell a simmering feud and hope it involved The Paisley Underground and/or Dwight Yoakam. One can only daydream.