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Traffic: John Barleycorn Must Die

Some bands always sound fresh because their sound is so unique. Steely Dan, for instance, fits that description. Traffic certainly also qualifies. Here are The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, Dear Mr. Fantasy, Freedom Rider and Glad.

The rock-and-roll song with the most unique genesis probably is John Barleycorn Must Die. This site has two versions of the lyrics. The song — which could have been called John Barleycorn Must Die in a Sickeningly Painful and Violent Manner — is not your average hit record:

Although written versions of the song date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, there is evidence that it was sung for years before that. There are a number of different versions, but the most well-known one is the Robert Burns version, in which John Barleycorn is portrayed as an almost Christ-like figure, suffering greatly before finally dying so that others may live.

Wikipedia suggests a method to the mayhem:

John Barleycorn in the song is a personification of the important cereal crop barley and of the alcoholic beverages made from it, beer and whisky [sic]. In the song, John Barleycorn is represented as suffering attacks, death and indignities that correspond to the various stages of barley cultivation, such as reaping and malting.

Here is discography and bio for the band, which at its height featured Dave Mason, Steve Winwood, Chris Wood and Jim Capaldi. Other players came and went.

Our New Things: Links to Music Sites and Info on Analog Tech and Vinyl

TDMB has focused on music and musicians. We will continue to do that, of course. We're also expanding our coverage to include vinyl and analog equipment.

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Check out is some of what we've written so far:

-- Assessing the Value of Vinyl Records: An Overview

-- 7 Quick Tips on Optimizing Your Turntable Cartridge

-- Why Vinyl Records Continue to Thrive

-- Finding the Best Amplifier

-- Finding the Best Phono Preamp

-- What Speakers Do I Need for My Turntable?

Check out more articles on analog equipment and vinyl.

The site also is home to The Internet Music Mapping Project, an effort to list and describe as many music-related sites as possible.

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The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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