The What If? Files – Fantasy Rock Team-ups
I love those new apps for the smartphone, especially the ones that let you listen to terrestrial radio anywhere in the world. Lately I’ve been digging WDST-FM, Radio Woodstock, operating out of the New York town that shares its name with the festival.
WDST is one of those rare stations whose DJs will say something like “Boz Scaggs has a new album out …” and they will actually play a song from that new Boz Scaggs album. Amazing – you don’t usually hear that on those big-box corporate radio stations. It’s an awesome radio station.
Anyway, the other day a Radio Woodstock DJ on the morning show – Ron VanWarmer, I believe – said something intriguing. He’d just spun a song from Texas guitar wonder Gary Clark Jr. and after giving the background info on the tune, added: “Wish we could pair him up with somebody like Janis Joplin … that would be so cool.”
He never explained what would make this particular fantasy pairing so great, aside that they’re both Texans and represent a certain authenticity in the music from different eras, but it was a provocative thought nevertheless.
So today we thought we’d carry Ron’s idea a bit further, and suggest a few more fantasy team-ups that would most certainly result in some great music. If only …
Levon Helm with Mumford & Sons – A father of modern folk music and one of America’s greatest singers (and drummers) fronting a foursome of English folk strummers and pickers would be a happy experience for fans on both sides of the Big Pond. Levon in his prime would anchor the Mumford boys with his Arkansas accent on vocals – and Helm’s steady backbeat on the drums would give Marcus Mumford’s right foot a serious break, not to mention a run for the money. If Levon had held on for just a few more years, this dream pairing may have actually taken place. Ah, Levon – we miss ya.
YouTube: “Ophelia” by Levon Helm
Stevie Ray Vaughan with Bruce Springsteen – This could have happened, but sadly never did. They both recorded for the same label, and both worked with the legendary producer John Hammond Sr. Such a New Jersey-Texas connection could have blown anyone else off the stage, and once Stevie Ray warmed up on guitar he probably would’ve left even the Boss in the dust.
Iggy Pop with the Sex Pistols – Another one that might have taken place had the stars been right. Hell, the Pistols even covered the Stooges’ “No Fun.” How much fun would it have been with Iggy on vocals for that one?
YouTube: “Search and Destroy” by Iggy and the Stooges
Jim Morrison with the Flaming Lips – Two different departments of the psychedelia branch, surely this matchup would make heads explode. Or implode – guess it depends on the drugs.
Pee Wee Herman with the Beatles – Think about it. Some of the Beatles’ best songs were so simple as to be nearly childlike, and how cool would it be to hear Mr. Herman warbling along to “Yellow Submarine” or “Octopus’ Garden” or “I Want To Hold Your Hand”? OK, maybe that last one would be really creepy.
Jim James with the Jefferson Airplane – Never thought about it till now, but possibly Mr. Yim Yames is this generation’s Marty Balin.
YouTube: “Know Til Now” by Jim James
Otis Redding with the Roots – A no brainer. These guys share the stage, and it could make heads explode AND blow the roof off the sucker. For that matter, wouldn’t you like to hear Janis Joplin wail a few with Questlove and company? Somewhere up in snowy New York state, Ron VanWarmer’s head is exploding.
YouTube: “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” by Otis Redding