Monday, March 7, 2011

“Going Up the Country,” corrected

There’s a clever faux-documentary from the future airing on YouTube, The Beatles: 1000 Years Later. A sample: “The Beatles rose to prominence when they traveled from their native Linverton to America to perform at Ed Sullivan’s annual Woodstock Festival.” I thought of this documentary while reading WCBS-FM’s description of Canned Heat’s 1968 song “Going Up the Country”:

It was the heart of the 1960s, when the first wave of Baby Boomers were reading Steinbeck and Kerouac and romanticizing life on the road. Delivered in [Bob] Hite’s warbling, almost embarrassed falsetto — complete with jug and recorder as accompaniment — “Going Up The Country” invites us to “pack [our] leaving trunk” to go to some unknown place where “the water tastes like wine” and jump in and “stay drunk all the time.”

Could there be a more romantic, utopian and fantastic picture of life in the country?
“Steinbeck and Kerouac”: Kerouac, okay, but Steinbeck? I suppose the writer might be thinking of Travels with Charley (1962).

“Hite’s warbling, almost embarrassed falsetto”: Alan Wilson, not Bob Hite, sings on “Going Up the Country.”

“[C]omplete with jug and recorder”: neither jug nor recorder can be heard on the record. There is a flute though, played by Jim Horn. Where do the jug and recorder come from? From this lip-syncing performance, which features beer bottle (not jug) and wooden flute (not recorder).

“Could there be a more romantic, utopian and fantastic picture of life in the country?” Well, yes. Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” comes to mind. What the WCBS-FM writer overlooks in “Going Up the Country” is the urgency of flight:
Now baby, pack your leavin’ trunk, you know we got to
    leave today
Just exactly where we’re goin’ I cannot say
But we might even leave the USA
’Cause there’s a brand-new game I don’t want to play
I remember thinking (back in the day) that these lines carried a suggestion of fleeing to Canada to avoid the draft. Perhaps that was the start of my life as a close reader.

Other Canned Heat posts
Alan Wilson
Canned Heat (in east-central Illinois)
Forty years apart (“Bull Doze Blues” and “Going Up the Country”)
Hooker ’n Heat

comments: 1

Rebecca Davis Winters said...

It's possible to find some pretty funny things on the Internet. On my blog I have a post about "The Weirdest Alan Links Ever", which includes a conspiracy theorist website with some Canned Heat-related content.