It’s Monday and you know what that means: MUSIC! It’s time for the Monday’s Music Moves Me blog hop where a bunch of us bloggers come together each week to celebrate our love of music and share it with others. This week is a Freebie meaning we all can present whatever we want in our 4M posts. I’m taking advantage of this freebie to continue what I started with last week’s theme of Songs with Body Parts in the Title.
My Rock & Roll Head to Toe series kicked off last week with a logical place to start, the Head. But what’s even more top of mind than the head is what’s on top of the head (for most folks anyway)…and that’s HAIR. So HAIR is where the second installment in the body parts series is going to take you, on a musical ride through songs with the word HAIR in the title (well, there may be a few exceptions).
Here are ten of my favorite HAIR songs, plus a few (three) I discovered along the way that are quite a departure from my typical music choices, but I think you’ll like them just the same. Below is some background information and interesting tidbits on the various songs included in my playlist, plus a few surprises so be sure to scroll down.
Up first is by far my most favorite Hair song:
Hair of the Dog by Nazareth – “Hair of the Dog” is the title track of Nazareth’s 1975 album Hair of the Dog. It is sometimes called “Son of a Bitch” because of the repeated lyric in the hook (“Now you’re messing with a son of a bitch”). The song is about a charming and manipulative woman who can get men to acquiesce to her every need. The singer is letting her know that she has met her match in him, a self-described “son of a bitch.”
“Hair of the Dog” uses a talk box extensively during its bridge. The song’s title, which does not appear in the lyrics, is a pun (“hair of the dog” = “heir of the dog” = “son of a bitch”).
As a standalone song, it only charted in Germany, where it peaked at #44. In the United States, because the Hair of the Dog album was a top-20 hit on the album charts, the song received extensive airplay on album-oriented rock stations (despite “bitch” being a borderline profanity) and remains in the playlist of most classic rock formatted stations. In the USA, it was released as the B-Side of Love Hurts.
Almost Cut My Hair by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (CSNY) – “Almost Cut My Hair” is a song by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, originally released on the band’s 1970 album Déjà Vu, the second album by trio Crosby, Stills & Nash, and their first as a quartet with Neil Young.
The song describes a real-life dilemma faced by many hippies: whether to cut one’s hair to a more practical length, or leave it long as a symbol of rebellion. It was written by David Crosby, and features solo vocals by Crosby, with the rest of the band joining in on instruments rather than on vocal harmony, as in many of their other songs. Unlike most of the tracks on Déja Vu, the quartet and their studio musicians, Dallas Taylor (drums) and Greg Reeves (bass), all recorded it at the same place and time. It was one of only two songs from the album that Neil Young joined in on, despite not writing.
Although the notion of long hair as a “freak flag” appeared earlier, notably in a 1967 Jimi Hendrix song “If 6 Was 9”, Crosby’s song has been credited with popularizing the idea of long hair as a deliberate and visible symbol of the wearer’s affiliation with the counterculture, and opposition to establishment values. The song also writes about the singer’s “paranoia” at seeing the police; James Perone writes that, “more than any other song of the entire era”, it “captures the extent to which the divisiveness in American society … had boiled over into violence and terror.” [Nearly 50 years later and as a nation we’re more divisive than ever].
“Almost Cut My Hair” became one of Crosby’s signature songs, and “probably his most important political song”. Crosby himself stated “It was the most juvenile set of lyrics I’ve ever written … but it has a certain emotional impact, there’s no question about that.”
Of this song, Neil Young called this “Crosby at what I think is his best.”
San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair) by Scott McKenzie – “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” is an American pop music song, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, and sung by Scott McKenzie. The song was produced and released in May 1967 by Phillips and Lou Adler, who used it to promote their Monterey International Pop Music Festival held in June of that year.
John Phillips played guitar on the recording and session musician Gary L. Coleman played orchestra bells and chimes. The bass line of the song was supplied by session musician Joe Osborn. Hal Blaine played drums. The song became one of the best-selling singles of the 1960s in the world, reaching the fourth position on the US charts and the number one spot on the UK charts. In Ireland, the song was number one for one week, in New Zealand the song spent five weeks at number one, and in Germany it was six weeks at number one.
Fun Fact: The Bee Gees song “Massachusetts” is a reaction to this song. The Bee Gees’ song is about someone who has been to San Francisco but is now homesick for Massachusetts. Check it out:
Hair by the cast of Hair – “Hair” is the title song to the 1968 musical Hair and the 1979 film adaptation of the musical. Of the musical, Wikipedia says:
“Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. The musical’s profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of “rock musical”, using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a “Be-In” finale.
Hair tells the story of the “tribe”, a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the “Age of Aquarius” living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War. Claude, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and their friends struggle to balance their young lives, loves, and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society. Ultimately, Claude must decide whether to resist the draft as his friends have done, or to succumb to the pressures of his parents (and conservative America) to serve in Vietnam, compromising his pacifist principles and risking his life.
After an off-Broadway debut on October 17, 1967, at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater and a subsequent run at the Cheetah nightclub from December 1967 through January 1968, the show opened on Broadway in April 1968 and ran for 1,750 performances. Simultaneous productions in cities across the United States and Europe followed shortly thereafter, including a successful London production that ran for 1,997 performances. Since then, numerous productions have been staged around the world, spawning dozens of recordings of the musical, including the 3 million-selling original Broadway cast recording. Some of the songs from its score became Top 10 hits, and a feature film adaptation was released in 1979. A Broadway revival opened in 2009, earning strong reviews and winning the Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for Best Revival of a Musical. In 2008, Time wrote, “Today Hair seems, if anything, more daring than ever.”
The video in my playlist is the cast of the 2009 Broadway revival of the musical HAIR, performing the number “Hair” live at the 2009 Tony Awards. (If you’re into this musical, YouTube has tons of different casts performing the musical’s hits over the decades, including the original 1969 cast performing at that year’s Tony Awards (very different from the one presented in my playlist above) and London troupes as well).
Many of you will also be familiar with the cover version by The Cowsills, an American singing group from Newport, Rhode Island, comprised of six siblings noted for performing professionally and singing harmonies at an early age, later with their mother. The song was a major hit for the Cowsills in 1969 and their most successful single. (The Cowsills version cuts out most of the religion-themed lyrics, changing “long as God can grow it” to “long as I can grow it” and removing some verses.) Their version spent two weeks at number one on the Cash Box Top 100 and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. “Hair” was kept out of the number one spot by another song from the Hair cast album: “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by The 5th Dimension. It also reached number one on the RPM Canadian Singles Chart.
Here are The Cowsills in 1969 performing the song for The Wonderful World of Pizzazz television special (air date March 18, 1969).
Sister Golden Hair by America – “Sister Golden Hair” is a song written by Gerry Beckley and recorded by the band America for their fifth album Hearts (1975). It was their second single to reach number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, remaining in the top position for one week. The lyrics were largely inspired by the works of Jackson Browne. Say’s Beckley: ”it was based on a composite of different girls. When asked if it was written to anyone, Beckley said: “No, this is all poetic license. With ‘Sister Golden Hair,’ as far as my folks were concerned, I was writing a song about my sister, and I couldn’t quite fathom it; they must not have listened to the lyrics.” Haha
Fun Fact: This song was used in a bloody scene in the 2001 episode of the TV series The Sopranos, “Another Toothpick.” After mobster Bobby Bacala Sr. kills two people, the song plays on his car radio as he drives off. When he has trouble breathing and can’t reach his inhaler, he crashes the car and dies, but the song keeps playing.
(I was a big Sopranos fan and remember seeing this episode, and this particular scene. Did you see the episode and what went down before this clip?)
The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair by Led Zeppelin – “The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair” (also known as “The Girl I Love”) is a song performed by English rock band Led Zeppelin. It was recorded by the BBC on June 16, 1969 for Chris Grant’s Tasty Pop Sundae show during the band’s UK Tour of Summer 1969 and was broadcast on June 22, 1969. The song was later included on the live Led Zeppelin album BBC Sessions, released in 1997. It is the only known performance of the song by the band.
The lyrics in the first verse are an adaptation of the 1929 blues recording “The Girl I Love She Got Long Curley Hair” by Sleepy John Estes. The 2016 remastered edition of The Complete BBC Sessions includes “Contains interpolations from “Let Me Love You Baby” by Willie Dixon [and] “Travelling Riverside” by Robert Johnson” in the credits for the song
Cut My Hair by The Who – “Cut My Hair” is on The Who’s sixth studio album Quadrophenia, released as a double album in October 1973. It is the group’s second rock opera. Set in London and Brighton in 1965, the story follows a young mod named Jimmy and his search for self-worth and importance. Quadrophenia is the only Who album entirely composed by guitarist and lead songwriter Pete Townshend.
Fun Facts & Background: 1972 was the least active year for the Who since they had formed. The group had achieved great commercial and critical success with the albums Tommy and Who’s Next, but were struggling to come up with a suitable follow-up.
Townshend became inspired by “Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock”, the title of The Who’s unreleased 1972 autobiographical album and in autumn that year began writing material, while the group put out unreleased recordings including “Join Together” and “Relay” to keep themselves in the public eye. In the meantime, bassist John Entwistle released his second solo album, Whistle Rymes, singer Roger Daltrey worked on solo material, and Keith Moon featured as a drummer in the film That’ll Be The Day.
Townshend had met up with “Irish” Jack Lyons, one of the original Who fans, which gave him the idea of writing a piece that would look back on the group’s history and its audience. He created the character of Jimmy from an amalgamation of six early fans of the group, including Lyons, and gave the character a four-way split personality, which led to the album’s title (a play on schizophrenia). Unlike other Who albums, Townshend insisted on composing the entire work, though he purposefully made the initial demos sparse and incomplete so the other group members could contribute to the finished arrangement.
In the liner notes for the Who’s 1974 rarities collection Odds & Sods, Townshend said, “I had an idea once for a new album about the history of The Who called “Rock Is Dead—Long Live Rock.” That idea later blossomed into Quadrophenia.”
Interesting stuff, yeah?
Next up are two good covers by two really good “hair bands”:
Hair of the Dog – Guns ‘n Roses do a cover of the classic Nazareth song
Almost Cut My Hair – a cover of CSNY’s song by Queensryche
This next song almost counts as fitting the theme. The word hair isn’t in the title but it is in the lyrics. …”I’ve lost a few more hairs, I think I’m going bald…”
I Think I’m Going Bald by Rush – This song is on Caress of Steel, the third studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released in 1975. The album showcases the band’s continued evolution to hard progressive rock as opposed to the blues-based hard rock style of the band’s first album.
“I Think I’m Going Bald” was written for Canadian rocker Kim Mitchell, who at the time was frontman of the band Max Webster and a close friend of the members of Rush. According to the book Contents Under Pressure, it was also inspired by the song “Goin’ Blind” by Kiss, whom Rush had frequently been an opening act for in their earlier years.
Now for a bit of a jarring juxtaposition: How about we finish out with a few old-timers. Anyone remember these? (All three of these songs have made me cry while putting this post together, I think primarily because of my current emotional state and from being smacked hard by the reality of what aging truly looks like and how cruel time can be to one’s body, mind and spirit. God help us all!)
You Comb Her Hair by George Jones – “You Comb Her Hair” is a song by George Jones. It was released as a single in 1963 and reached #5 on the Billboard country singles chart. Written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard, the song is an ode of love and devotion from a father to his daughter, and was typical of Jones’s releases during this period. In a 1994 article by Nick Tosches for the Texas Monthly, Jones confessed that he regarded the early sixties as his finest period, stating, “We did a lot of the pure country then.” Johnny Cash recorded the song for his 1966 album Happiness Is You.
That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine by The Everly Brothers – “That Silver-Haired Daddy Of Mine” was the first hit song of American cowboy entertainer Gene Autry, a duet with fellow railroad man, Jimmy Long, which Autry and Long co-wrote. Written and recorded in 1931, the single achieved greatest popularity in 1935 on Vocalion 02991, selling 5 million copies. It was featured in the 1935 Western films Tumbling Tumbleweeds and The Phantom Empire.
The lyrics are addressed to the elderly father of the narrator; they wish to repay him for the trouble they have caused him.
The song was covered by The Everly Brothers on their 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us and by Simon & Garfunkel on their albums Old Friends and Live 1969.
FUN FACT: On the children’s show, Sesame Street, Herry Monster sings a song called “Furry Blue Mommy of Mine”, which shows just how much he appreciates and loves his mother. This song is a parody of “That Silver Haired-Daddy of Mine”.
Snow In His Hair by Johnny Cash – “Snow In His Hair” appeared for the first time on Hymns by Johnny Cash, the fifth album and first gospel album of Johnny Cash. The album was produced in 1958 and was then officially released in 1959. Cash said he left Sun Records because Sam Phillips wouldn’t let him record the gospel songs he’d grown up with. Columbia Records promised him to release an occasional gospel album; this was a success for him to record. This album was Cash’s first and most popular gospel album, and is an example of traditional hymns set to country gospel music. The album was recorded simultaneously with The Fabulous Johnny Cash.
Well, that’s a wrap for this one. Were any of your favorite Hair songs included above? What others can you think of? (there are TONS!)
Thanks for hanging out with me here. Rock on and May you all have great hair days this week…
And don’t forget: Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked and Colette of Jamerican Spice and Alana of Ramblin’ with AM. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below: