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May 24, 2013 6:14 AM   Subscribe

You might have heard at one time or another a 60s band called Canned Heat, who made a wee bit of a splash way back when with a little number called Going Up the Country. The song featured a simple but very catchy little flute riff between verses. If you ever wondered where that riff came from (not to mention the melodic contour of the tune itself) you need look no further than a 1928 recording by Henry Thomas, who played the flute melody on his quills, or, panpipes. The song was called Bull Doze Blues.

Henry Thomas, previously at Metafilter. Just for good measure, here's another from Henry Thomas, a wonderful little "list of train stations" songs: Railroadin' Some. Go Henry!
posted by flapjax at midnite (37 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, and did y'all notice how Henry very suddenly speeds up the tempo at the very end of Bull Doze Blues? It's kinda hilarious! My guess is that they motioned him in the studio: "times up!" Haha!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:16 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


'jax, you come up with the awesomest stuff.
posted by LN at 6:22 AM on May 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks, LN. Jes' doin' my job.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think we need to add a "Are you Henry Thomas?" branch to the panflute flowchart.
posted by scruss at 6:41 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This Canned Heat gave me a lot of trouble in Elite Beat Agents.
posted by gilrain at 6:52 AM on May 24, 2013


I can confidently say that this is one of the best flute solos in rock music history.

Also, allow me to link the all time classic Legion of Rock Stars cover of the song.
posted by Old Man McKay at 7:01 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was the Canned Heat song credited to traditional arrangement or did they recieve songwriting credit?
posted by ericthegardener at 7:14 AM on May 24, 2013


The song was credited to Alan Wilson from Canned Heat, who wrote the lyrics (and sang them), with no mention of Henry Thomas.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:18 AM on May 24, 2013


It's my understanding that the band quickly and publicly credited Thomas though, as "inspiration."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:20 AM on May 24, 2013


Everything old is older again
posted by Outlawyr at 7:27 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Dammit, Outlawyr, that shoulda been my pst title!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:30 AM on May 24, 2013


I can confidently say that this is one of the best flute solos in rock music history.

Right up there with the solo in Wild Thing, for sure.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:35 AM on May 24, 2013


That's an ocarina in Wild Thing.
posted by Floydd at 7:41 AM on May 24, 2013


My first gig as a roadie for the Sons of Champlin was in the summer of 1968. The show was in Hollywood at the original "Queen for a Day" studio, converted into a rock concert hall now called the Kaleidoscope. Canned Heat topped the bill, and Sly and the Family Stone were second.

During the three-night stand each band played two sets a night. Canned Heat played the same song twice each night so they could get a track for a live album. The song was "Refried Boogie," a one chord song for 40 minutes, with extended solos by each member.

Twice a night, for three nights.

In all that time, three days and six sets, Canned Heat played one chord.

Guitarist Henry Vestine had a custom made amplifier at that show that drove six huge speaker cabinets. The amp was huge and had to sit on a chair with a fan behind it to keep it from melting.
posted by Repack Rider at 7:44 AM on May 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I thought the "flute" was panpipes.
posted by jonmc at 7:47 AM on May 24, 2013


That's an ocarina in Wild Thing.

I thought the "flute" was panpipes.


It has been scientifically proven that the flute, the panpipes, and the ocarina are all the same instrument, when they wind up in a rock song. Scientifically proven.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:55 AM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for that link, though, Floydd. I had always assumed that it was a recorder on Wild Thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:59 AM on May 24, 2013


It has been scientifically proven that the flute, the panpipes, and the ocarina are all the same instrument, when they wind up in a rock song. Scientifically proven.

Well dust my broom, so they are! You learn something new every day. Thanks, flapjax!
Oh, and this is how I knew it was an ocarina. Because "...Teddy on the ocarina."
posted by Floydd at 8:03 AM on May 24, 2013


Henry Thomas should know a lot about the blues just from the time he had to say goodbye to E.T. twice in one day.
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:04 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


And as we all know, the lead singer of Canned Heat was Kermit The Frog.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:05 AM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gotta say I like this canned heat song a bit less hearing this. Some appropriation is truly re-contextualizing (Led Zeps satanist blues ripoffs are fine imo) but the whole song is basically that power riff plus falsetto.

I still like Canned Heat for being blues aficionados who brought the dying art into the mainstream and helped give lots of actual blues artists attention and gigs, but, much like Clapton and Paul Butterfield, their actual musical accomplishments dim every year, especially in light of the growing legacy of real blues music.

I just watched the Secret History of R&R about Howlin' Wolf. One of the best parts was about how on the Chess London Sessions (where Wolf was flown to London to play his old songs with young British giants like Clapton and Winwood and Watts) Clapton insisted that Wolfs amazing guitar player Hubert Sumlin play on the record, or otherwise he was out. Hard to imagine a lot of musicians doing this now for their heroes. That record is still one of the highest selling blues albums of all time, and paid for a lot of kidney dialysis. That makes up for a lot of dorky dad guitar faces that have been unleashed on the world in imitation of God ever since.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:08 AM on May 24, 2013


Henry Thomas should know a lot about the blues just from the time he had to say goodbye to E.T. twice in one day.

The previous Henry Thomas thread (linked above) also contained an ET joke. Everything old is new again!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:19 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The previous Henry Thomas thread (linked above) also contained an ET joke. Everything old is new again!

I changed some of the words around and told mine in a Kermit voice, but otherwise it's probably pretty much the same.
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:35 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very nice post (and yeah, Canned Heat should have credited Thomas right up front, not that stealing songs was something they invented). You don't often hear AAA blues, and after five stanzas of it the sixth comes as a shock with its AAB:
If you don't believe I'm sinking, look what a hole I'm in
If you don't believe I'm sinking, look what a hole I'm in
If you don't believe I'm sinking, look what a fool I've been.
posted by languagehat at 8:42 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is simply charming. Thank you.
posted by Eideteker at 9:00 AM on May 24, 2013


Speaking of everything old is older again, Canned Heat is limp syncing in the linked video. I love the way the guy playing the recorder quickly flips it around after the first bit.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:09 AM on May 24, 2013


Jon Savage on Canned Heat's Woodstock Anthem.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:11 AM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Canned Heat is limp syncing in the linked video.

Is this a meme with which I am unfamiliar, or the most awesome typo ever?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:25 AM on May 24, 2013


It's a common spoonerism I think.

Searching for the original song on Spotify I found this obscure collection called Songs Before Other Acts Made Them Famous. Been jamming to Blind Blake and such all day. I love spotify.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:41 AM on May 24, 2013


Great to see Mr. Thomas get some props. Quill Blues by Big Boy Cleveland is also worth a mention.
posted by issue #1 at 9:43 AM on May 24, 2013


I think you mean spommon coonerism.

I'm sad to find out that it's a reworking. Not that it's a shock, per se. More that they didn't give proper credit at first.

Legion of Rock Stars? FUCK YEAH! Tom Mott is a fucking god among men.

I <3 flute so much.

Everyone knows that the only person to play panflute is ZAMFIR!

As for rock flute, one of my favorite discoveries sometime the past couple years is Ian Anderson's Eurology. Fuck I love the progressions on this.

Must be a blues kind of day - a friend posted some SRV and I posted John Lee Hooker's "I'm in the Mood" to a friend who posted she was in the mood for love! REOWR the soul must be breakin' loose!
posted by symbioid at 9:49 AM on May 24, 2013


You've done it again, flapjax, though I can't say I am surprised, considering your many amazing posts here. But how the hell did you find out that this 1928 blues track contained pretty much the exact same solo on the Canned Heat track we know so well from Woodstock? I am flabberghasted!
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:15 AM on May 24, 2013


But how the hell did you find out that this 1928 blues track contained pretty much the exact same solo on the Canned Heat track we know so well from Woodstock?

No big mystery, Seeker! It's just that... I have ears! :)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:04 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


And for those who wondered where the Beastie Boys got the flute sample on Sure Shot, here it is.
posted by jonp72 at 6:36 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


That video is incredible. Not only are they LIMP syncing, but the superfluous Coke bottle base line, the flute solo played on a two-way three-penny bamboo recorder and the open mouthed stylings of "Blind Owl" Wilson truly send the whole thing up for the best music industry piss take I've seen in ages.
posted by salishsea at 11:29 PM on May 24, 2013


T'was the great thing about a lot of 60's music. Channeled a bunch of other times as well.
posted by telstar at 4:45 AM on May 25, 2013


So you posted this yesterday morning. I hadn't thought about the song in ten years, probably. Later in the day, I hear it on the store music at REI. WTF, Flapjax? Are you following me from my *future*?
posted by notsnot at 8:48 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


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