Monday, June 14, 2010

Three Years Ago On A Warm Dark Night

Q: What do Gram Parsons and Back Fence superstar Mark West have in common?

A: The influence of George Jones and Lefty Frizzell

Our regular readers will remember that three years ago our WeightStaff field reporter snagged an interview with the elusive, notoriously media-shy Mark West. Mark is the bass player and vocalist in the Vinnie Ferrone Band, which performs regular gigs at The Back Fence bar in Manhattan's West Village. West was featured in our very rare "Ten Questions With..." series back in June 2007. Question Five (of 10) inquired about Mark's influences. Surprisingly, he responded with traditional country music performers George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, and "old Kenny Rogers". I've always been surprised by this response, but it makes me respect the man even more. I superficially would have expected him to say Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Ray Charles. But Mark's response demonstrates his ability to appreciate real music from all directions.

Take a listen to Lefty Frizzell's recording of Long Black Veil from 1959, the original recording of this much-covered track. West's indication of Lefty as an influence makes so much more sense when hearing the soul in his vocal delivery of this dark tune. I can absolutely hear Mr. West delivering a killer vocal on this. I'll be sure to request it next time I watch him perform at The Back Fence.

Bonus Fact:
Long Black Veil appears on The Band's Music From Big Pink album and is the the only non-original (or non-Dylan song) on their first four albums.


WeightStaff said...

Three years ago/On a warm June night/I spoke with Mark West/ Despite all of my fright...

Ha, yes, a memorable evening indeed.

Another tidbit: the Frizzell and Cash versions used the line, "the SLAYER who ran looked a lot like me" whereas The Band version used the line, "the MAN who ran..." Never understood why they replaced the word.


Anonymous said...

I cant believe it's been two years since that frightful night. We should go back to the back fence in the near future.

Also, i've always wondered about the lyric switch. My opinion, not to step on Lefty Frizzel's work, but "a man who ran" is a better lyric for phrasing, pace, and rhyme.

I wonder if there is a story behind the word switch, or was it just happenstance during a run through in the studio, or maybe the version The Band was familiar with had "man" rather than "slayer." I suppose unless the ghost of Rick Danko is reading and commenting on your blog, we may never know.