Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians. And, man, what a year of thanks to give! Anyway, today’s selection is a classic from a little band called War.
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Years ago, my friend “CC” told me he had tickets to go see War at Casino Rama — at the time they were in some legal dispute and were called The Lowrider Band. I don’t know, the memory is fuzzy because those were the days when I was training to make my liver bigger than my brain. Well, seeing a band from yesteryear at a casino (which ran cheesy commercials) was not exactly my idea of fun. We’d probably be in a crowd of 70-year old bluehairs and Nicholas Cage types from Leaving Las Vegas, listen to some rambling reminiscing from some has-been once-was group of slow, aging musicians, and I would be bored out of my skull. But “CC” is more than just a friend. He’s my brother. Not by blood but he’s my brother all the same. So, I went.
It was an amazing concert. The crowd was so mixed and even included a set of teenage girls behind us who, when the band came out, predictably guffawed at the notion of anyone older than a Jonas Brother trying to entertain them from the stage. But once they started playing, I became increasingly enthralled by their showmanship, audience connection, and their sheer ability to rock and jam and, most importantly, funk. And this funky music made me feel so good.
Their songs often ended in jam sessions which were longer than the song which spawned them. They had around seven musicians among them and, really, only a handful were from the original band but it felt like the closest I was ever going to get to being at the original Woodstock. And, as far as has-beens go, these guys really weren’t. Sure, they weren’t cracking out Billboard Top Ten hits but their musicality was a giant, tipping over the ramshackle huts of the majority of today’s popular artists.
By the end of the night, the crowd was on its feet, cheering and craving more from these funky ambassadors. And those guffawing teenage girls behind us were just as taken in. Their guffaws had changed to awe and I remember thinking that maybe there was hope for the Britney Spears generation.
Trivia Note: As a Star Wars fan, I am ashamed to admit I did not know that War recorded an album in 1977, titled Galaxy, which was inspired by the seminal George Lucas film. Who knew?
Shockingly, they have yet to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and, for my money, this makes that Cleveland establishment resoundingly invalid. However, they’re up again for nomination. Visit www.rockhall.com for more info. No offense to The Beastie Boys, whom I also enjoy, but they’ve got no business getting into The 44114 before War does and I’m pretty sure the Boys would agree.
Finally, if you visit their Wikipedia page, you’ll see that War had many more recognizable songs than just the two most famous ones in the videos above. So, in my lifelong plagiarism of Grosse Pointe Blank, I give you my Top Five War Songs, in no particular order:
- Low Rider
- Why Can’t We Be Friends?
- The World is a Ghetto
- Summer (full-length)
- Don’t Let No One Get You Down
Hope you’ve enjoyed a little War. Peace!