Tuesday, June 04, 2019
Lynyrd Skynyrd - “Workin’ for MCA”
I. PLAY IT PRETTY FOR ATLANTA
I scored a used copy of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s double album Gold & Platinum back in my early eighties high school days in the bins at Mother’s Records in Grand Forks. This was my Skynyrd album to rally around (one of my many faults is that I tend to rely on anthologies and not albums of artists’ masterworks) and it did yeoman’s work as I played its live version of “Free Bird” over and over and over while watching in glee as the Minnesota Vikings choked away the 1998 NFC Championship to the Atlanta Falcons. (Ronnie Van Zant: “Play it pretty for Atlanta.”) I remember resetting the needle over and over again to listen to that song, volume muted on the TV. I was temping then, living in a shoebox apartment and making jack. I did a shot of whiskey after the game, had some beers, and splurged by ordering a Domino’s, chuckling over all the fans with their Purple flags on their cars, that morning they had been convinced that their team would wipe out the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The memory of this day still brings joy.
For some reason Gold & Platinum only had ONE song from Second Helping, their best album. “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Workin’ for MCA”, “Don’t Ask Me No Questions”, “The Needle and the Spoon”, “Call Me The Breeze” ... hell. “Workin’ for MCA” being the track that blows the most doors down. The hardest and best hard rock of the seventies, here Skynyrd’s guitar attack lives up to all the hype, as the sound shreds and leads are traded back and forth furiously. On the rear sleeve of the album, it lists what type of guitar each of the three six-stringers and bass player uses, while Ronnie Van Zant is noted as being a J&B man.
II. TOP FIVE PEOPLE OR THINGS DISSED BY RONNIE VAN ZANT ON SECOND HELPING:
5. Fools who didn’t appreciate Curtis Loew
3. People who ask question rather than talk fishing
2. Pencil pushers
1. Neil Young
III. ANOTHER LIST! BEST ANTI-RECORD LABEL ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SONGS
4. The Sex Pistols, “EMI” — Damn were the Pistols fun. I still like John Lydon’s claim that fired bassist Steve Alford was brought back to play bass on Pistols recordings, meaning these punk nasties used a studio musician rather than Sid Vicious.
3. Graham Parker, “Mercury Poisoning” — “He’s got Mercury Poisoning” the background singers declare, like in a long-lost sixties blue-eyed soul gem. Graham Parker is at his best when he’s pissed off.
2. The Clash, “Complete Control” — Depending on what day it is, this might be number one, imagine my surprise well into adulthood finding out that dub master Lee Perry was the producer of this hard rock masterpiece. But I wanted to write about Lynyrd Skynyrd, so this week it’s number two. Maybe Joe Strummer decries pencil pushers in this one, but I can’t understand much of the lyrics.
1. Workin’ for MCA — A rare song about a record company executive who doesn’t smoke a big cigar (see AC/DC “Show Business”, The Animals “The Story of Bo Diddley”, Boston “Rock ‘n’ Roll Band”, and Pink Floyd “Have a Cigar”), here the exec is a Yankee slicker. Ronnie decries pencil pushers in the same line as honky tonk queens. A few years later on “Gimme Back My Bullets” he would rail against pencil pushers again. Makes me feel guilty for all my time spent working in offices, especially in my twenties where my and a bud changed the lyrics of this one to “Workin’ for HGA.”