An all-time rock monster of a song, and a perfect '70s rock gem, Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" stands tall as a peak (pardon the pun) example of what American rock music could be. And there's a great story to the song, which we'll learn courtesy of Mountain's own Corky Laing, who brought the song to the band.
“When I play Mississippi Queen, I think of Jesus Christ”
Guitar pickup ash trays!
“If you need to beat up a tornado, you throw on Mississippi Queen.”
Mountain’s Corky Laing walks us through the creation of this iconic rock track
“A lot of our brothers and sisters never made it back:” Nantucket Sleighride and the reality of an often-greedy industry
The name of the real Mississippi Queen revealed
The pep-talk/wake-up call Corky Laing got from Warren Haynes
A bonus Jimi Hendrix story, an extra PG-13 joke and more, only on the Patreon version!
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Turn up the radio and sing along. It's time for another great song. This is the Great Song Podcast. Season's. Greetings, and welcome once again to the Great Song Podcast. I'm Rob Alley. Hi, I'm J.P Motor Rob and we are here to celebrate the greatest songs in modern music history. We're gonna tell you what makes 'em great, why we think they're awesome, and why you should too J.P.
How you doing today, man? And I am doing fantastic. So we kickstarted seventies month last week. With an epic tune. With an epic cowbell part. Yeah. And if that is cow bell's greatest mention in rock and roll music, or it's peak, if you will, then this number two has to be just the pinnacle of this. That's right.
Without the aid of Saturday Night Live, this is the number one cowbell song in history. Absolutely adds. Great. And we have the guy who played such cowbell on the end of this, but Rob, tell him why I'm using words such puny as peak. And Pinnacle because the band we are talking about is Mountain. Mountain.
This is Mississippi Queen. And there it is. Yeah. Come on. That's chunky. I'm gonna turn this up in my headphones.
Mississippi Queen I.
Dang it. Dang it. Yeah. Dang. All of. Dang all of it straight to heck. And let there be space that's a fricking just monster of a song. Just so big, you know? Absolutely. That was 1970, Man. Like that's bigger than 1970. Should have been. That's bigger than a mountain. That's That's right. Mountain is the perfect name for that sound.
Yes. You know what I mean? It. Big and broad and earthy and, and like. It's just I That's perfect. Absolutely Perfect. That is Mississippi Queen by Mountain from the 1970 album climbing. We are gonna be talking to quirky Lang, founding member of Mountain. He's the drummer that you're hearing. He's the guy who came up with the idea for the song.
We'll talk to him a little about the origin of the song and the, and the dancer thereof, who inspired it. Um, but that is from the 1970 album climbing exclamation point. There we go. Uh, written by quirky Lang, Leslie West, Felix Palardy, and David Ray. We'll talk maybe a little bit more about that here in just a minute.
It went to number 21 on the billboard, Hot 100, and that's it. Like that's the only chart. This is a US hit. Okay. But a. Class Mash. Yes. Um, the album itself went to number 17 in the US and number 19 in Canada reaching gold status here in the States. So almost that, that, that song had to have charted in Canada.
Maybe it just didn't show up in my research. It, it has to have, um, let's see. There's not much. On this earth that rocks any harder than the intro to this song. That's good. Right. Uh, and that's another mountain Rocks, right? This is like a, This is a like, I don't think of a, When I think of mountain, and I think of this song, I think of like the Rocky Mountains.
I think of a hard, jagged, uncomfortable mountains. Yeah. Not one of these, like we have around here with trees and plants and there's no trails. No, this is up where. Animals can't survive. That's very hot. This is like freaking good luck making it up this dang mountain. You know? Everyone has a beard.
Everybody. Everyone. Yeah. And it's, And it's full of like frost, you know? And creatures, there's like crickets in the beard. Yeah, there's tendons and just all kinds of, you're just having to eat whatever you can catch right up on this mountain cuz it's so hard and craggy. Okay. First of all, they've never had a salad.
Never. I'm just telling you. As, as, uh, Earnest P World would say men who have never tasted ke , you know, that was pretty good. Not a terrible earnest. That was pretty good. Yeah. R i p Jim Barney. That's right. Um, so yeah, like you said, this is not a cowbell themed month that we're going on. It just so happened that that's right back cowbells, the cowbell isn't featured on this track just about as much as, as on last week's episode on, we're gonna bring Mark Farner band back and talk about where American band's Yeah, that's right.
Um, but, but at the beginning of the song you do, you get 24 straight beats of just cowbell as far as the drum part, right? And then you get this heavy rib, ba ba and then followed by these monster flas and this, and then this whaling guitar lead. But let's hear one more time, just the drums at the beginning of this, cuz this.
This drum intro or this intro? In general, I, I'm dead serious when I say this rocks as much as just about anything I've said before on the show that like helter skelter to me still stands up as one of the heaviest rifts of all time. And I would say this is right up there in that same kind of way. This is 1970.
Yeah. And in 2022, this still hits. All the way hard, right? This peaks every meter. Um, so, but listen to these flas, these flames are heroic, like a flam for the non drummers is when you hit both sticks at the same time, on, on a drum or, or it could be two different drums, but you hit both sticks at the same time, but just barely apart from each other.
So instead of being like, which is me, snapping two fingers at the same time, a flame is gonna be like, Right. Just that was really good. Just barely. I try. That's together. Oh no. First one was really together. That's together. And then flame is right, Like that kinda thing. Just a little bit of space. Right. Um, and these flames are perfect.
Absolutely perfect. And then it, and a little, a little kick in between Crack and crack. Right? It's one of those. Um, the same kind of feels, you hear from like Tony Thompson in the disco era. Yep. You hear from Dave Gro on like, smells like teen spirit, right? It's all, it's that right? This is one of the most perfect ever of those kind of feels.
Check it out one more time.
Here they come.
Every time that gets me so hype, dude. It's like, you forget, You know what I mean? It's like, all right, I've lived a little bit of life since the last time I heard this intro, and then it, it, I mean, it gets my, it gets my neck moving in a weird way. This song, it's like a, I don't head bang, you know what I mean?
But this gets my, it just gets in my neck. I don't know how to explain it. Um, and I love that the first chord that you hear is actually the five. So we're in or in F So it's a c. Yeah. So the, the first five that it's a five, and then when, when you go into the, the verse, you go, That's your one chord man.
This, So, uh, but the first chord is actually a five, and the solo is playing a major three in the way that. Perfectly seventies. We're getting this right, which is the major, There's some tension for you. Yeah. Um, but, uh, I love that the song is clearly in a minor mode, but that big major third to open up the song is really indicative of this era.
I feel like, um, this is cool. The Beastie Boys sampled the intro on their classic album, Paul's Boutique. Have you heard this? Uhuh? Okay. So there's a song on Paul's, uh, Paul's boutique called, uh, looking down the barrel of a. Let's check out where it's sampled. It comes, uh, the actual sample on the Beasty Boys song comes about a minute in, I think it's around a minute and four seconds.
I'll, uh, I think I can kind of cue it up here. Oh, no, I'm sorry. It's, it's about 1 51. So first, here's a little bit of the Beastie Boy song itself. You'll also hear a cool sample of Pink Floyd's Time, the bell on time, which gives this kind of a really dark, uh, thing. Listen for that first. You're here here, I think, right?
Guitars sound good? Yeah. Okay. So let's go to 1 51 and, uh, you're gonna hear, you're gonna hear quirky Lang. Get, get your rich. Right. You get the flames and you get a little, yeah, er that's good. So that's, that's a pretty sick sample. I like that. Uh, let's see. Lead singer Leslie West told song facts.com. I, I thought this was funny.
When I play Mississippi Queen, now I think about Jesus. All right, , let's unpack that a little bit cause that's probably unexpected, uh, especially if you know what the song is about. So let's unpack that a little bit. Uh, Leslie West, uh, was diabetic and in 2011, he had played the night before in Biloxi, Mississippi, uh, at the, I think it was a hard rock, uh, hotel casino kind of thing.
And his right leg started swelling to the point where he had to go to the emergency room. They actually amputated his leg below the knee or he was gonna die. So like in Mississippi, The night after playing, he got his life saved by, by, you know, having this amputation, uh, that kept him from dying. And so now he said, When I, when I sing Mississippi Queen, I think about Jesus because, because my life got saved in Mississippi.
Yeah. And, uh, so I, but I just thought that was a funny way to, to start that story. Yeah. The thing I read that quote actually came at the end of it, but I thought this is the, that should be the headline. Yeah, that's the headline there. Because what , Um, well, Rob mentioned Leslie, let's talk about Leslie and the rest of the band.
Absolutely. Hey, let's meet the band. It's time to meet the band. Hey, mama. Let's meet the band. Let all meet the band.
All right, We're gonna meet the Band of Mountain that played on Mississippi Queen on guitar. Uh, Rob mentioned Leslie West. He started mountain with, uh, Felix. Papa, which ironically was the name of his first solo project. His first solo project was called Mount. Yep. Um, considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal.
He was in the 1986 movie, The Money Pit with Tom Hanks and Shelley was he now? Absolutely. He recorded and played with Joe Bonamassa in the early two thousands before Joe went and got huge like everywhere. Yeah. So he played, Leslie played with him. He was the original band leader for the Howard Stern Show.
But his five episodes as a band leader were never released, so, Huh. Really? They never released those with him as the leader. Interesting. Um, he died in 2020 of complications from heroin and diabetes, but, uh, gear, he had two Les Paul Juniors that he alternated between. Okay. And a Gibson flying V with the neck pickup removed.
And he used that hole for an ash tray , which is seventies rock at its peak. Wow. And it's mountain. Um, he also had a signature series Dean and played a Kramer later in his life. Um, amps he used, he was sponsored by Carls Burro Amps, which I guess were pretty big as the Beatles. Mick Jagger and Oasis are noted as using them.
I wasn't super familiar. I must ashamedly admit I wasn't. Super big on Carls burro amps, but they're apparently pretty big. Okay? Cause that's what a lot of rock stars use, um, on bass guitar. Uh, Felix, who we talked about Poplar, he wrote, arranged and helped co-produce all kinds of stuff for cream. Uh, the album Israeli Gears, he wrote Strange Brew, which is track one on the album, which features clap in on lead vocals.
And that was the first time Clapton led a song as Jack Bruce normally led, uh, led. Most of them, he played most notably at Gibson Eeb one violin bass. Which looks like a double base with a false painted F hole on there. Oh, really? They're painted, They're painted. They're not, I didn't know that. Yeah, they, So it looks like an F hole, but it's just painted on.
Okay. Um, through Sun Amplifiers, which he stated was originally a, a Jimi Hendricks Amp that he played through Hendricks's Amp. Um, he had to retire due to deafness from his loud shows playing with Mountain, his wife, Gal Collins, with whom he wrote Strange Brew, actually shot and killed him with a dinger.
He gave her as a present no month prior. So let that be a lesson to you husbands by your wife. A blanket or an apron or something less. A blanket, something less aggressive. Don't go by Bonner. A Derringer. Um, so yeah. Anyway, on Oregon. Wow. Steve Knight, uh, played traditional jazz for 25 years following the original ceasing of Mountain in 1972, and he died, uh, suffered from Parkinson's 2000.
And then Corky on drums, who is the surviving member of Mountain. Yeah. He's the lone surviving member. And you guys are gonna really like him. He's super fun. Right. And that would be Lawrence Gordon Gorky, Corky Lang. There we go. He got the name Corky because growing up his brothers called him Gorky, as they were trying to pronounce his middle name Gordon.
Yeah. And uh, and so it morphed from Gorky into Corky eventually, and we talk with him about that in the interview. So you guys hang around and enjoy hearing him talk about it. Yeah. Um. Let's see. First of all, this song is short. Yeah. Two minutes and something, two minutes, 31 seconds And out leaves you wanting more.
Yeah. Like you never go. All right, I'm done with this. Yeah. You know what I mean? It's like, let's rewind it. Let me hear that bit one more time. Uh, Quirky has said he kind of modeled the feel, uh, a little bit after Cripple Creek by the band. Okay. Um, you familiar with Cripple Up? Cripple Creek? Okay. I'll play it for you.
Maybe. I'll play it for you cuz you can definitely hear the, like, the, you know, the feel itself, but it's such a heavier feel for Mountain, but it's the groove, you know, demo or tempo. Oh, Mountain. There you go. But obviously this feels like the, it's, you know, Mississippi. Hold on. What's happen? So Quirky actually took it to, uh, to Levon Helm and was like, Are you okay with this?
You know what I mean? Which credit to him. Yeah, that's right. Credit to Corky for just being like, I don't like, Obviously I didn't, I don't think I ripped this off, but I want you to hear it. That's good to get your text. That's a smart way to do that. Just do that folks. Yeah. How much, how much ask for permission, legal and financial stuff can you save yourself if you're just like, you know, whatever, Be courteous.
Um, but, um, You know, so if you, because I think if you sort of wanted to call this the Hard Rock Cripple Creek, you probably could. I think so, but it's not, But it's not similar in any way other than just the way that, Yeah. So anyway, Quirky talked toon about it and Levon was like, Don't sweat it. You know what I mean?
Don't try to pay me like, whatever, Which credit toon. Absolutely. You know what I mean? Don't, don't be greedy. Be generous. I think it'll all work out in the end. So, yeah, that's, that's very cool. You also mentioned cream. Um, and, and I think it is safe to say in the way that we said like, uh, heart is the American led Zeppelin, right?
You could say that Mountain is sort of the American. Uh, Evolution of Cream, Right. Three piece. Similar sound. Similar sound. And like they, they sort of took that Israeli Gears Era cream and really leaned into it. You know what I mean? Uh, and I think very, And Leslie's a good guitar player. Yeah. I mean, he's got good jobs.
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Uh, let's see. If you miss our interview with Warren Haynes back in season nine, uh, we mentioned something that you'll hear in our chat today with Quirky that Warren kind of chided quirky for messing around too much with Mississippi Queen and kind of losing the heart of it. Um, and so you'll hear that.
Come up. We interviewed them both on the same day. We did back to back, back to back. And it was like, That is crazy timing. Yeah. Really crazy. Uh, so you'll hear that come up in today's interview and if you go back then and listen to Warren's episode, you can hear Warren's take on it when we asked him about it.
Uh, which is very cool. So Dolly wrote, uh, Jolene and I'll Always Love You on the same day, right? We interviewed Yeah. Corey and Warren on the same day. That's right. There you go. Absolutely. This is our Jolene. Okay. Uh, I have one more little tidbit. There's honestly, there's not a ton of research to like, be found on this song unless I just sort of missed the well of information.
So I kind of have one thing and then a cover. Um, but, but I figure I don't wanna steal your thunder and I'm afraid I might with my other thing that I have. Okay. So why don't we go ahead and do stuff, The genius. Let's do it and then I'll come back with my last one. I don't think you'll, you'll steal it.
Okay. I'm going someplace. Okay. Here. Stu the genius, Stu the genius, stu the genius. It's time to stu the genius. Jump them and take your part. I take your part. All right, we're gonna play Stu the genius Mississippi trivia. Okay? Okay. Okay. 80%. I'm Alrighty. Here we go. 80%, you got the bell. I don't know. We got the be It's up.
You can reach it. Go stretch. That was impressive. Rob just reached nine. I don't, don't like stand as we've established feet. That was awesome. That was great. Okay. Which of these root beers was invented in Biloxi, Mississippi, The 18 hundreds. Barbs, I, B, C A and W, or mug, Which root beer feels the most? Biloxi.
Let's see. Barks, I, b, c A and W or mug. Uh, I want it to be barks. It is barks. There we go. One. All right. Which Chicago Bear was born in Columbia, Mississippi? Mike dka. Dick Butkis. Walter Payton. J Cutler. Ooh, I think it's Cutler. It's Walter Payton. Dang it. That was my guess until you said Cutler. Cutler was born in Indiana.
Born Indiana. Indiana. Okay. All right. Which cleaning Supply created by Jackson, Miss Native Harry Cole. Okay. Um, was from Mississippi. Mr. Clean. Okay. Pine Saw or Lysol Disinfectant, Mississippi. They have pine trees in Mississippi. Uh, I think I'm gonna go pine salt pine saw. Smells like lemon. Come on. There we go.
All right. Two for three. Two for three. The only pitcher to ever, The only player to ever pinch hit for Babe Ruth. Oh. Is from Mississippi. Wow. His name. Sam Vick. Okay. Vic. Sams . Sam. Oh no. Where's Jo Vic Samson . Well, tribute to Twig Ziegler. Okay. Sam Vick. Okay. Vic. Sams Samson victory. Okay. Samson,
I'm gonna go with. I'm gonna go, I'm gonna go with Samson Victory, Sam Vic. Okay. Okay. You gotta get this one. Here we go. Dang it. Okay. The largest of these in the world is on display at Old Spanish Fort Museum, which is in Mississippi. Okay. The largest one of these. Okay. Crab Oyster. Shrimp. Oh, I, I'm gonna say shrimp.
That's shrimp. Good job. Real done. The largest shrimp in the world on display. Is it alive? I don't know. It's on display. I wouldn't think so. At Old Spanish Fort Museum, Sam Vick Pinesol. Walter Payton and Bar Sam Vick. That's some good trivia right there. Only person to ever, Only person to ever pinch hit for Babe Ruth.
I love that. Okay. All right. So I did, Okay. I did 60%, 60%. All you're, I'm trying to keep the average up. That's all. Everybody slumps. That's alright. It's fine. Everybody has to be pinchy for it's right. Sorry, Ruth, we're going to Sam Vick. Even George Herman. I wonder what Sam Vick's career numbers are. I don't know.
I should have looked up more about him. I just thought that was a neat, neat fact. We do special mini, so we'll put it on Patreon. Uh, Okay. Uh, so obviously this song is Mississippi Queen. It has a state in the title, and so I was thinking about songs and, and states, you know what I mean? Okay. So I looked up an article from The Guardian called 50 Songs for 50 States.
Okay? All right. I'm not gonna go through all 50, um, but. Just, I wanna see, first of all, if you have any, we'll go through a few states and just see if anything triggers to mind. Well start with Tennessee. Which one would be Tennessee? I'd probably say Tennessee Waltz. Is that the one for Tennessee? Okay. It's not, it's actually, Okay.
So think one level further. Uh, it doesn't have, it doesn't have the name 10 doesn't have the word Tennessee in the time, man. So not all these like have extra. I like Rocky Top. Oh, actually that would be a great one. Uh, it's actually Graceland by Paul Simon. Okay. All right. And this is just a, a writer for The Guardian who chose like, if, like, if I'm driving through this state, this is the song I want to, Okay, so, man, this is hard.
That's Graceland by Paul Simon. So let's start, let's start with an easy one though. How about Alabama? Okay, well, any song by Alabama or Sweet Home Alabama? There you go. Sweet Home, Alabama. Hey, Let's see. Good luck on Alaska. That would be, uh, the Alaska Song by Lacey j Dalton. Okay. Um, how about Arizona? I'll say this as a hint.
Some of these do have the state name in the title. Some of them are just named after the state. All the Arizona. It's called Arizona, but Kings of Leon. Okay, Good job. Uh, let's see. Okay, so speaking of Queens, uh, The Arkansas song on this list has the word queen in the title. Can you think of it? Arkansas Queen.
That's right. It has both of those words in the title. I don't know this song. The Queen from Arkansas. It is Mary Queen of Arkansas by Bruce Springsteen. Okay man, I don't know that song. How about California? It's pretty easy One. Well, don't have Think it. California Sherick Older. Um,
also a song by Katie Perry. California girls. There you go. That'd be the Beach boys. Uh, let's see. All right, let's go through a few. Here. There. Go. Colorado Girl by Towns Van Zant. Really? That's the Colorado song. Yeah. Come on. Versus like, Rocky Mountain. Rocky Mountain High. Rocky Mountain High Freaking Colorado.
Come on. I thought that was the one I was gonna take a guess on. John Denver. I don't know. Uh, let's see. Uh, I live in Connecticut by Aerosmith. I don't know that song. I don't know. It's probably older. Uh, Delaware by Perry Commo, Florida by Vic Chestnut. Uh, Georgia, We've done this song. Oh man. Uh, that's Josh Lee.
There you go. Midnight. Midnight Train to Georgia. Originally titled, Do you remember? Oh, Midnight Plane to Houston. Houston, Yeah, it was Houston. Midnight Plane to Houston, right? Houston, yeah. Blue Hawaii. Um, Idaho by Josh Riter. Let's see. Uh, name a state name. A state Iowa Got the dry cleaner from Des Moines by Joni Mitchell.
Uh, how about, okay, Maine. All right. We're coming up on Maine. That would be going to Maine by mountain goats. I don't like this guy's list. . I think it's, I think it's a woman. I don't like this girl's list. I don't, I don't like this young lady's list. Uh, let's see. This list was compiled by, hold on. Laura Barton.
Okay. Laura Barton. Definitely female. All right. Kentucky Blue Moon of Kentucky. Keep on shining. Kentucky. Kentucky. Got. Man of constant sorrow. Okay. Uh, yeah. Kansas Scott, Wichita Lineman by Glen Campbell. That's, that's all right. That's go in there. Uh, Louisiana. Or if I said Louisiana, What you got something about to buy you way down to Louisiana, down to New Orleans River Green.
Johnny be good. Johnny be good by check. Barry? Yeah. Uh, let's see. Any other good ones? Martha? Martha and the Vandellas dancing in the street from Michigan. I feel like there's probably a better Detroit. Than dancing in the story Detroit. That's one of those deals. We're, we're gonna name every city and include Detroit, you know?
Right. Yeah. Um, yeah. I mean, the hard of rock and rolls still beaten. Oh. Uh, or, or, um, you know, freaking, freaking lack a rock. Anything by Bob's secret. Come on, like a rock. Yeah, dude. I saw the funniest video on, uh, Instagram the other day. It was literally a, a Chevy truck in a tornado. Okay. And it's being like blown over on its side, spinning around and around and around, and then it gets set back up on its wheels and just drives off.
That's, it's just being ized by this, by this, uh, by this tornado. And so somebody took it and played like a rock over the top of it and like, this is the best free advertising that ever existed. Exactly. And just, it's just so heroic looking when it drives off. Oh, like Rock. I was just hysterical. Uh, Minnesota, I would've expected something by Prince.
I would feel like in that truck, Mississippi Queen is playing. Yeah. And that guy's like, ah, that's right, dude. If you need to beat up a tornado That's right. You throw on Mississippi Queen. Yeah. Mississippi Queen was not on this list, but you can't argue with what they went with it. They went with Crossroad Blues by Robert Johnson.
Okay. That's Which is okay. That's a seminal like, All right, fine. Uh, let's see. Frank Zappa, Montana. Springsteen again, Nebraska. Okay, I'll give you that. How many songs could possibly be about, about Nebraska? Uh, Viva Las Vegas for Nevada. Um, Jersey Girl by Tom Waits. Let's see, New Mexico by Johnny Cash Walk on the wild side for New York.
Of all the, there's tons of New York songs. So much Sinatra on that, right? You almost gotta go. Yeah. Right. Or if you go, Alicia Keys Modern. You go, Alicia Keys. Um, but I guess you're trying to go maybe state of New York even that, that song, that Lou song is about New York City, Carolina, in my mind. Uh, North Dakota, Lyle Lovet, uh, Ohio, Modest Mouse, Oklahoma Hills, Woody Guthrie.
Uh, let's see what else we got. I don't know. None of these other states. Rhode Island. Uh, Rhode Island got, Rhode Island is famous for you by Blossom Dairy from 1960. I have no idea what that is, Texas. Uh, heading for the Texas border by Flaman Groovy. . I don't know it. I would've thought there should have been many other songs.
Probably. Uh, this person is obviously cooler than us, you know what I mean? , so whatever. But you're not listening to her podcast, You're listening to ours. And we would be the Great, Song Podcast, right here on your radio dial. I do wanna cover, uh, At least one cover of this song. You might have more, but probably the most noteworthy cover would be, uh, you'll see m i ssi, ssi i crooker letter quicker letter I.
There you go. Did you do that hump back up back? I, I did. I definitely did that when I was, when I was little. Uh, this is the Ozzie Osborne version. Big old fat cowbell. Woo.
I assume that's Zach. Wild
Little extra riffage. No space there. Yeah. Mississippi Grade if you know what I need . It's definitely Aussie. It's a little too major for my taste. It's a little too major for my taste and it moves a little more, it kind of moves. Like it has a cast on it. Yeah. You know what I mean? His vocal uhhuh man, queen, like, I don't know.
It's very on beat and you know, part of the Parker's galore. Yeah. Part of the, uh, you know, part of what I like about it is that this is the, it's. Like rawness. Yeah, it's, it's more syncopated. Everything's offbeat. Mississippi Queen, all the accents are offbeat, you know what I mean? Versus Mississippi Queen.
Nah. Alright. I'll pass the guitar. Sound dope though. Yeah, like it's, that's they're thick. Fantastic. And we are two. We'll see you next week. No, I'm just kidding. Um, we are gonna kick it to our interview with Lawrence Gordon Gorky, Corky Lang, and. And, uh, we'll see you on the other side, but first, stop what you're doing.
I don't care if you're overt tuning Ossie Osborne's vocals right now. , uh, stop what you're doing. You're getting paid by the hour. It's fine. You'll be fine. Oh, go stop what you're doing and use that finger. Take that finger off the fader and put it on your phone and go to Instagram. Go to Facebook, go to Twitter and follow us at Great Song Podcast.
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Um, patreon.com/great song pod. All right. We're gonna take it to quirky Lang and we'll be back to tuck you in on the other. This is the Great Song Podcast. Ladies and gentlemen, as promised, we are here with quirky Lang of mountain and other endeavors that we'll get into in a little bit, uh, quirky. Thank you so much for joining us today on the Great Song Podcast.
Uh, it's my pleasure. It's my pleasure to be here. And yes, it's my pleasure, like Keith says, to be anywhere , but I'm glad to be here, right? Glad to be here. Well, let's start, Obviously we're, we're focusing on, uh, Mississippi Queen today. Um, but, uh, I, I wanna ask you str uh, just right off the bat about that iconic, uh, intro fill.
It's simple but powerful. Just a couple of flames, crack, crack. Did you, did you workshop any other fills for that intro? Or did or is it just this is, this is what I'm gonna do? Um, you know, or, or were there other versions of that intro for Mississippi Queen for you? . Well, to answer your question, there was never any other idea of starting the song that way in terms of playing that style.
Instead of playing a lot of busy, uh, 32nd notes, etc. I decided, and Felix had a favorite drummer, his that just played it real. Blackham Black em. They're fla, they're black. And they talk a lot when you go black 'em, Black 'em, you're ready to tell a story. So that's why we put that in and I use it a great deal and I'm, I'm pleased that you were actually found, you pointed that out because it is one of my favorite fills.
Here I am, black and black. Yeah. It's a great way to enter the room, you know, It's, it's really powerful. That's right, That's right. We've even talked, uh, recently about guys like, uh, Dave Gro from Fu Fighters and Nirvana, um, talking about his, his sort of co-opting of that sound, and he would talk about, you know, classic drummers like yourself and even guys like Tony Thompson, who would use those, those types of fills to say a lot instead of.
Using a lot of notes to say something, do something simple but powerful, um, and how it really helps the, helps the music move along. So, um, well I was playing just quickly. I was playing with a trio. Well, actually of course, with Mountain keeping in mind, you're, you're sitting between, in those days, you're sitting between two to four stacks of either Sun or Marshal amps.
It wasn't any sophisticated, uh, what you call it, um, uh, monitoring of the drums. It was just play as loud as can and hit it as hard as you can. And it was just a basic, it was a formality of just cutting through the sound, you know, in those days, I mean, now of course, you know, you can plug up all kinds of triggers for the drums, but back then there was no tricks.
And I had, I had Tim Valleys, which were like neutron bombs for Tom. Tom. Yeah. You. You know, I don't know if you've ever heard, I mean, I have, yeah. They cut. It's about cutting through. It's about, you know, cutting through. So that was a style that developed, you know what I mean? It developed over the years of playing that.
Let's talk about the cowbell for a second. While we're on that intro, legend has it, uh, that the cowbell. On that intro got inserted as kind of a result of some frustration of yours in the studio. Is that true? Can you confirm that for us and share that cowbell? Well, no, I wouldn't. Frustration, it's a little bit of a big word.
Uh, the cowbell again, impact cutting through, uh, you know, in the old days, in the chest, one, dude, I want two, three, You do that? Yeah. Well, there's no, you, you wouldn't hear that with all the amps and everything like that. So the only way to count it in would be. Cow, cow count. You can't go wrong with that. So that's basically another function.
You know, that was a, that was a functionary thing to do, and Felix and Leslie loved it because there was no question of where the one is. If you knew how to count to four, the one came right after that. 1, 2, 3, 4 in. So it's pretty, it's, it's pretty, it's it's accessible. Go. So, uh, your name is Lawrence Gordon, Corky Lang.
Tell our listeners how you went from Gordon to Goy to Corky. How did we land? Well, quickly, if you don't mind, I have a book out which explains it all, and I don't wanna sound like a promo. No, please. We'll, we'll, we'll push it for you. Yeah. , The book is called Letters to Sarah. It's a book that my partner and I too, ya te uh.
Put together instead of a Wikipedia, it's a story of a musician, a kid growing up in Montreal with triple uh brothers, a sister, a big family. And over the years, being on the road, even locally in some of the, you know, no motel, motels, et cetera, we would, I would write to my mother cuz I was lonely. You know, a lot of people don't understand.
Well, I don't know if they understand or even care, but you know, after going from an audience, let's say from the Carnegie Hall to a hotel on, on Broadway, it's as quiet as can be in the hotel. So I used to write, I used to write a lot, but I would write to my mom just to stay in the loop in the family cuz it was a huge family and my partner to your fa.
Well, as it turned out, my mother kept. These letters over a period of 30 odd years, you know, all the way up until West Bus Lang and after and until she passed away. And I didn't know, she, I didn't even know she saved the letters, but tuya my, my girl found them. In some storage room because my mother had passed away and left all this stuff.
And long story short, she found these letters and she said, Instead of doing a Wikipedia, why don't we write sort of a memoir, but using the letters as a time. As the time capsule. So if it's like in 1974 or 19, it would be sort of in a, um, it would be in a, um, you know, it would be in, in a flow. Like each, each of the letters would reflect where I was.
Uh, there was sort of in sequence, long story short again, um, it came together and it took a year or two, uh, way, but I. A few years back, and it came out as a book and, um, it got a lot of reaction. It was really quite cool because it's not like a book about snorting ants off the kitchen table with Aussie Osborne.
It, it wasn't that deck. And there's a few moments there, but she didn't wanna do, She's a professor and she's brilliant, and she said, Let's do a book. You know what I'm saying? Rob not just a like, uh, like the diary of a heroin addict, right? I mean, how. Did you say about putting a needle in your arm? Well, these days you can say a lot , but what I'm getting at, what I'm getting at is that the book reflects a lot of those moments that you are a asking about.
So again, you could tell your listeners, I think they'll enjoy it if they don't enjoy it. I say it also makes for a good drum pad, you know, if you wanna play on that's, That's multipurpose. You, uh, you touched on a little bit of West Bruce and Lang. For our listeners, that's Leslie West and Jack Bruce of Cream.
Um, I like, why don't you a lot a kind of a underrated power trio. I think you guys are, Jack Bruce is all about the power trio. How did you end up syncing up with him and bringing him in with Leslie? How did that lab happen? That's a good question. I, I'm not sure if that's in the book however. All right. So what else?
Well, Leslie and I were pretty tight when Felix decided to take a bit of a break because, uh, he had hearing problems apparently, and lesbian and I went to England and, uh, again, uh, I was always a big fan. Leslie's a huge fan of cream. So as it turned out, because of Felix affiliation with producing cream, we sort of knew them.
We sort of knew Jack. We were going over at Island Records because a couple of the island records banned like, uh, Mata Hoople, uh, free. They were breaking up. Coincidentally, at that time, this was. 72. 71, 72. And we were going over to sort of hook up with one, a couple of the guys, we did hook up with Paul Rogers and uh, we went to Island Studios to play.
And at the time, over in Watts from Mo came into play and I think there was the other guitar player in Mata Hoop, uh, Ian Hunter Ian was in, in Mo. Ian, Ian wasn't at that session. Okay. But what. Uh, uh, Chris, the owner of Violin, really loved mountain and loved us, was really cool. It was a very good, uh, it was a very good symbiotic relations with the company and the musicians were all first division.
Uh, and uh, so he called PE and he put people together to record. At Island Studios a great little studio. So we were there jamming, we got off and I remember saying, Wow, do you wanna form an official band that night? Coincidentally, Jack had just got back from playing with Tony Williams lifetime. It was a jazz tour that they came and they were in Germany.
They just came back and Jack. I think may, we may have left a message for Jack just to hang out. He called and he said, Hey man, I'm ready to go. Let's go, let's go. And I said, Let's, let's go, let's do, let's. He said, I don't believe it. I, I think. We can make a band with Jack. Jack wants to play in a band, . And I said, Well, that's, that's pretty cool.
And again, being super fans of, of Jack himself, he said. Yeah. So we started recording, or I guess jamming. I hate the word these days, but jamming and. We call it. I like the, just making noise is pretty, you know, humble instead of jamming, jam this, jam it up your ass. You know what I'm saying? We, we were talking, we were talking about playing an island and we did record and it, it came out of the shoot.
Really beautifully. I mean, we had the greatest time and of course, like you said, how did I get involved in it? I mean, Jack did have any drummer in the world he wanted, and I remember asking Jack and Cluley saying, You know, Jack, I really appreciate playing with him, but you know, are you all right with it?
You know, cuz I'm not. Up there with Leslie in terms of, uh, in terms of that tier. He said, Well, he had spoken to Tony Williams and Tony Williams and I met up in Montreal at the black bottom when he was taking a vacation from Miles Davis. He had his own band. This is, I'm, I'm trying to keep track here. I hope you're taking notes.
This goes back into the late sixties. We had a trio called Energy and we were playing with Tony Williams, Larry Coryell, a few, some great jazz musicians. The band at, at the time, Energy was self-contained and we played sort of, at that time you'd call it Progressive Rock. Mm-hmm. , we instrumentation anyways.
And that's when I was sitting there watching Tony Williams play every night for two weeks and we got to be friends. Little did I know that he liked me, which is pretty good, you know, like he. He liked me and I guess Tony endorsed me at that point. Tony endorsed me to Jack and that's how I get in there.
And when I stayed in there, it took a lot of playing and I would do a lot. I'm being humble here, but I was really lucky. Well, it's, you know, like I say in the book, you in the music business, you are who you're playing with. You know, you're on a level and you gotta keep that level going. It's sort of a selfish.
Indulgent way of taking on a career. But in any place when you wanna move up, you've gotta pick up and play with the best of the best if you can. Yeah, if you, Again, that's where the luck comes in. And I was very lucky and you brought up West Bruce and Lang, which sort of has a bit of a bitter taste. It's bittersweet because the band was being promoted way before we were.
They had already booked a sold out tour in America in March and April, and we hadn't even made a record in February. So then we were under this pressure. We had Robert Stigwood, this manager doing this in England, and we had our man and the management came in and they saw money. And boy did they start squeezing everything.
They squeezing the record companies. It was, And the trouble was we were just three band musicians. We didn't realize what was going on on the periphery. Of our brand. We didn't even have a brand, we didn't even know what to call it at that time. So it was kind of bittersweet because we didn't really get a chance, I feel, to write the proper music.
I mean, why don't you, It's not exactly the cultural Mecca song of the, of the universe. It was pretty, I mean, the lyric on that is so profound. Why don't you, you know, Come on. So, but it, it went with the aggressive attitude of the music. It did, it matched. You know, and we had a great time doing it, but we never really got into sitting over a period of time, wood shedding and writing some really proper, substantial music.
So we did a lot of, as you say, jamming, making noise and the, the thing that carried that was the energy. We did have the energy, the three of us at that. To blow it out and we had a great time. But as a result of what I would consider the rock and roll machine, um, you know, It died over a period of time.
Like any of the bands, you know, there's always gonna be something. And I respect a lot of the bands that have stayed together because they have nurtured their, their music on their own. Like I would use The Rush as a perfect example. Rush used to open up for Mountain and West Bust, Lang, and a lot of shows, and at the time, I don't think even Neil with Perk was with them.
But the point is, Here they are, three Canadians who kept track of everything. They really, you know, they colonized or cor. Take in chronicle order. They put together a career that was brilliant. I always felt that Leslie and I stayed together, but because Felix had been part of this murder with Gail, that was a very sad time.
It was like Leslie and I felt like little orphaned at the time, and we did the best we could. Over the time after West Moser Lang, it, it, it fell from grace, you know? And, uh, I'm sorry to say, it happens to every marriage, you know, goes up, goes down. And, um, but I, in general, when it comes to West Moser, Lang, one of the most powerful times of anybody's life, you know, they really were thinking that we were better than Led Zeppelin.
The only thing we didn't have was that material. You know, I think. And certainly Leslie could keep up with Jimi page in many ways. Certainly kept up weight wise, that's for sure. . And, but, uh, I mean that with due respect, by the way. So what I'm saying is it was a bittersweet time. Okay. Because there could have been so much more if it wasn't the money grab.
And that's been the Nant Tuckus FLA ride comes to mind. If you don't mind me rambling. No, it good. Now. Now Tuck Slay, right, is a metaphor for what happens with the, when the rock and roll machine takes off and tries to get bigger and bigger, the same way as the Whalers went for the big whale, you know, and they're taking their left.
In their hands cuz they're out in the ocean and they're shooting harpoons into these mammals, these gigantic, and these mammals take them for a ride. In other words, the mammal representing, if you don't mind examining on, is greed. That's the greed that the big thing is not. Success and joy and passion.
It's nothing but fat. Well fat. And when the goes under, so do so, do the, uh, into the whalers. There's six 'em in a boat. So if you take the, the metaphor for the, the sleigh ride is what the whale takes, those whalers on you. You know, they're, they're attached to the, they're attached to the harpoons. The harpoons are attached to the boats and they, they are taken for a ride across the ocean and they don't know if they're ever coming back.
You know what I'm saying? Yeah, sure. When you on the road as a band promotion, radio, TV full, you know, you name it, the machine takes you out and a lot of our brothers and sisters never really made it back. Yeah. The sadness and the bittersweetness of going for the big one. Wow. That's quite a metaphor.
That's really, that's pretty deep. That's really a striking, striking metaphor when you, when you lay it out. Well, thank you. Most of the time when the drummer brings a song to the band, it sounds like a song brought by the drummer, but in this case, tell us about how you brought the lyrics to the Queen and how the song was formed on Mississippi Queen.
It ended up being probably mountain's biggest hit. Yeah. What dad tell you, that's a bit of a story, so stay with me. I'm taking for the Rob. I I'm gonna be asking questions after this . Um. Mississippi Queen took place when the band Energy was playing in Nantucket Island, which is a small island off, off the, uh, off of Boston, off the Cape.
And we were playing at this beach club. And what happened that particular evening, on the hottest day of the summer in Nantucket, the lights, the power on the island went out because everybody started using their new air conditioners. In Uck, it, you didn't need an air conditioner, but because it was so hot, Long story short, here I go again and my friend Roy Bailey took a girlfriend of his, he met in in Mississippi and she was coming up to stay with him in Nantucket and they were on the dance floor and they're going at it and we're playing up on Grandpa Creek.
She sends. I'm telling cuz this is the feel for Mississippi Queens. Yeah. I kept the field. I didn't want her to stop dancing because she was absolutely dropped dead beautiful. And she was wearing, she was wearing a see through knitted dress and there she was per Pipe. And I'm watching her and I'm playing and.
Go out and I said, No, don't stop. Don't wanna see. I was watching her little sick on the drums and I'm watching, I'm looking at, and hey, this is, there's no microphone. So I'm screaming, Hey Mississippi. And she looks at me, Hey, Mississippi, of course. Hey, this is, But she's looking at me. I said, Maybe I could pick her up.
You know, I wouldn't do it. Well, any wrong story short, uh, I thought I would get lucky and pick her up right then, but my. He picked her up and got lucky back at his place, . So that's the way the initial it started off. And all it was was me screaming, screaming out Mississippi Queen. I got broke up. You know what I mean?
You know what I mean? What happened is they kept dancing to my rap, you know, it was a rap at that point, you know, Hey, you come from Pittsburgh, you know, and I knew she came from Mississippi and I took the song back to New York. We went back in the fall and I took the song I. I wrote the lyrics down cuz I said, wait a second, these lyrics worked musically as like, uh, they were dancing.
So I figured, okay, you were talking about drummers bringing, you know, songs in. And I said to the guys in the band, the two guys, I said, Uh, you wanna help me finish these lyrics cuz I think this could work and you're looking at me. Court. We don't have a, we have no record deal. We got nothing. What are you doing?
I said, I just have this feeling about this lyric and I'm still picturing her, you know, uh, um, I think her name was Molly. That's right. Molly. Oh, wow. Yeah, her name was Molly, and that's in the book, by the way. Uh, and, uh, so I just kept the lyrics. And then a month later, if I may jump ahead, uh, I get together with Leslie because we're in the studio recording, mountain climbing in New York, and Leslie said, Go.
We need some to that. We had, we had come up with some psalms. Felix said, PSMs, we need that. So I pulled this. Out my back pocket. Seriously, Just like I just happened. I said, What do you think? And he looked and he went, This is going. And he started playing Right away. We standing up. There's no drums or anything, it's just with the guitar.
The song wrote itself. At that point, Leslie belted it up. Right there. And then I said, Geez, good thing I saved this lyrics. You know? Cause that it was there, they were written out. It wasn't like, wow, this and that. This was, this was pretty committed. And I remember bringing it to the studio. Felix said, What you got?
What you, Unless he said, You're not gonna believe this, Felix, we got this. This is gonna. And anyway, so, um, we played it. Felix says, Well, let's do it again. Let's do it again. We playing with that every time we redo it. Rerecord, actually the sound, the song, the track that we used was the very first track. Of course, it.
But, uh, you, I gotta say, I got pretty lucky along the way with that song. You know, I do have a lot, lot of different people. Oh, the bank was a financial pleasure. Yeah, it was good. You basically think about that and you're, you're in the business. Okay. How long? 20 minutes. 20 years. You gotta think of this.
This is over 15 years ago. Yeah. Right. It still blows me. Because you know when they say, you know, in this business, when I started, it was basically, it wasn't rock, it was pop. It was the sound of cereal. When you pour milk in, it pops. It wasn't rock yet. So this was like the first rock song with the bass and everything up front, cuz Felix was the bass.
He made sure that bottom end was full blown anyways, unless he just wailed on it. You know, Otis ready, you call it what you want. He just wailed And, and, uh, yeah, again, it was a great experience and as a result of 50 years later, we played, I played the song as you know. Uh, um, there I am, the last man standing on the Mountain, which is, I wish everybody what I did do, and boy this coffee is kicking in.
I'm actually keeping the mountain repertoire alive. Yeah. That's the name of the, the name of the brand is, uh, Quirky Lang Mountain. Cause I don't want the impression that this is the real mountain. Anybody. It was a fan, knows what the real band was all about. This is me playing with two of the really brilliant players to emulate.
And simulate the original recording of the bands because for a while they're talking about jamming the last 10 years with less than we butchered those songs to death. You know, because we just, we didn't, we weren't respectful of the audience. The audience didn't even recognize some of the songs, even though there were hits at the time.
So the point is, Warren Haynes got up with me at one point. He's a big fan of Mountain and uh, he was at the Beacon Theater and she could shut me. Times. I know you're, This is great. Funny enough, we have Warren on, He's our next interview. He's at 12 o'clock and the next 20 minutes, the person. Tend are my best test, are my best.
He, he invited me to see, to see the band at the Beacon Theater, New Year's Eve 2011. And I went down there the night before and I was sending a Mad Apps. The drum comes up, Hey Cor, I don't know if you know this man, but we sent out like uh, a to our fan base, asking them what song they would want the band to cover.
And it came back, coincidentally, Nauck Slay Ride. And I said, Well, that's Fed. And then Matt says, By the way, and the Slay. Version the fast. Is that a five four bar or a six eight bar? I said, it's just a lot of bars. . I said, It's a lot of, I said, And he said, Well wait a second. This is the night before New Year's Eve, and he says, Why don't you come and play the song when we play at New Year's Eve at at midnight?
I said, Well, I'm Matt. I haven't been invited. He, okay. We went upstairs to, and he'll remember this call, Wayne. We went upstairs and I walk in the room and Warren says to me, I know what you're gonna ask. Why am I not asking you to play tomorrow night? Nant Tuck is playwright. Well, court, here's the answer.
Guys take out the, You guys have never played the song properly since I heard it. Wow. And I, He's right. And that Spider State says, I love the song, but I'm not hearing it. You forgot the song, Cor And I went, Whoa. Wow. You know what, Warren, you're right. He said, I'll tell you what, Corn, You go Corky. You go home and you learn the song.
And tomorrow afternoon during soundcheck, if you can come back and remember the arrangement and play it, wow, you could play New Year's Eve. Okay. And boy, I went back home. I found out how much I didn't know about that song and wow. I came back with all the, all the enthusiasm in the afternoon of the sound check.
I played it and Warren says, All right, co, you're on. So that was New Year's Eve, 2011, born and he's a beautiful, and he actually played on some of the mountain recordings, Masters of War. But uh, yeah, that was a real, that was really a, a very honor. To go New Year's Eve with the government I and Warren and play Nant Tuckus later.
I think it's online. I think it's on somewhere out there, but I don't even know why I told you the story, except I am the repertoire As a result of that conversation, you know, a lot of people come up. The guitar. Hey man, why don't you come out and play this? We're playing mountainside. Come on and join us.
And I said to myself after that conversation with Warren, and I've told Warren this, uh, I'm not gonna play the songs with anybody unless we get it right with the keyboards and everything, which I've been doing for the last two and a half, three years. And it's been wonderful. The response has been terrific.
And for one reason, it's the material. The material that we wrote back in 69, 70, 71, uh, it lasts. It has that lasting effect and there is no, there's no bigger enough than people responding a half a century later going, Wow, it sounds fresh and new. Even though it's that old, it's great. No, it's wonderful to be able to do it.
Well, hey, we have one that we ask everybody. You've been a, a lot of fun, quirky, I hope at 75 that we're out, uh, rocking like you are. You just had your 75th birthday not too long ago. So, uh, happy, uh, Actually it's 74, but it's oh, oh 74. Sorry, my math was wrong. That's right. I'm feeling 24, so it doesn't, I hope I'm off the couch at 74 and not sitting there.
Um, so you're on tour either with CO or with. Mountain, whoever you're on tour with, solo projects, you go into a gas station, what is your gas station snack? Food of choice. And while you're thinking of it, I'll tell you mine, I get a Three Musketeers bar. Uh, cuz when I was growing up, my mom would say, You could have any candy bar you want.
And it's the most ounces, they're all the same price. So what is your gas station snack food of. Well, first thing I do at the gas station is past gas . I, I can't, I can't, I can't eat candy bars. I'm diabetic. Okay. So what, what I usually do is find the best togar in the, in the shop. Oh, there you go. But I, I, I, I've actually had to, you know, take it easier on those foods, on the, on, on that, on that kind of shopping much for having Absolutely.
It's, it's really been a. All right, you guys take care and just stay healthy. All right. You too. Thanks, Corky. Talk to you soon, man. All okay. Bye-Bye now. Byebye. This is the Great Song Podcast, and thanks again to Quirky Lang for joining us. Yeah, that guy was awesome. Lawrence Gordon Gorky, Quirky Lang. There we go.
I'm gonna say that a lot. Every chance you get, every chance I get, uh, thanks to Corky for joining us to talk about this awesome song. You can go check him out on the road at, uh, at a mountainous place near you. Take some extra oxygen. You're gonna need it cuz that drum field's gonna take your breath away.
Ah, we'll be back again next week with another great song. Until then, I'm Rob. I am J.P. Go listen to some music.