Thursday, 6 November 2014

Finding Franklin

Every few months, I go on a Franklin's Tower listening binge. And since there are so many good versions of this song, I thought I'd try to list down some of the best.

Studio version
First time I heard this, I was stoned, nice and mellow, in Mapper's room. Blues for Allah was playing - and the cassette was slipped in when the first chew was being made. Most of Help/Slip was spent doing justice to the smokes, and by the time Franklin's came on, I was uniquely - receptive, shall we say?


September 1, 1979, Holleder Memorial Stadium, Rochester
For a long time after I left IIM, I wasn't listening to much music. The internet was fantastic, but it was a time of discovery of other sites - and most of my time was spent using Altavista's image search and waiting for the photo features from Danni's hard drive to load. Then, one day, I attended one of those informal quizzes.  The guy conducting it played Terrapin station and made a reference to Leigh Hunt and asked for a connection. The only thing  I knew about Hunt was "Lo, Abou Ben Adhem's name led all the rest" And I didn't get any points for the Terrapin identification, because the whole Lady with a Fan segment was linked to Hunt's "The Glove and the Lion". Anyway, I went home, fired up my modem and went looking. This was in the pre-wikipedia days - even pre-google, where directories like Hotbot and Yahoo reigned supreme. Anyway, from there, I discovered that there were a number of sites that allowed you to download songs and sets - and one of them was I'm not even sure if this is the version I downloaded - over several days and failed attempts - but I remember it was a concert from the seventies and that it was in Rochester. Anyway, here's this one, with a very satisfying mellow tightness to it.

March 30, 1990, Nassau Coliseum (Without a net version)

Another one from BITS. Here it's Brent Mydland's keyboards as much as Jerry's guitar that make the song. I really liked Without a net - and it was one of the first CDs I bought, trying to replicate the feel of listening to it one night in Pilani, sitting on the steps outside Macho's room in Mal - the last in the Pi wing. The notes would cascade out, complementing the light from a lone 40 watt lamp, the conversation would ebb and flow as we would look at the enchanter's cloak of the sky, velvety blue-black and spangled with stars like tiny silver sequins and let the music wash over us, washing us clean of the doubts and insecurities of young adulthood - for a little while, at least.

May 9, 1977, War Memorial, Buffalo

This one's a relatively recent discovery. No R & D done. This was when I had just started going to the gym - and I needed music to stop me from thinking how completely unfit I was - whether it was on the crosstrainer or the treadmill or wherever. I had a bar of fruitellas to keep the saliva in mouth and an IPod to stop me hearing myself pant. The in-gym music was mostly hip-hop - Akon's Right Now and Yankee Daddy's Gasolina and  a song which I always heard as "In the moonlight, all over India, We are the boss". It was a weird collection. To tune this out, I had Everybody wants to rule the world, a lot of OMD, Cale, Springsteen, Atho antha paravai, the Choral and other stuff. I also had this concert from 1977 - since it had a number of my favourite songs - Tennessee Jed, Big River, The Music Never Stopped, Bertha, Not Fade Away etc. But the Franklin's was always one of my favourites. I also knew exactly how long it was - and would measure how much breath I had left based on where I was in the song. Oh - and the bit at 5:11 was one of my favourites.

June 9, 1997, Winterland Arena
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner". In 1993-4, I was in IIM C and Kozhandai was in XL. He visited - either for some cultural thing - or just chumma. He brought with him a casette - it was, I think one of the green Meltrack C-90 tapes. On one side was the Jerry Garcia Band. On the other was this - Winterland 6 9 77. The whole thing just blew me away. Even with the cassette hiss and crackles, I knew I was listening to something special. Deal. The Music Never Stopped.  Estimated Prophet leading into St Stephen into Not Fade Away (fantastic) into Drums and back again into St Stephen. But the highlight was the fantastic Help/Slip/Franklin - especially with the high intensity ending and the orgasmic riff after "If you get confused, let the music play". I spent a long time trying to track it down - and when I did, it was every bit as good as when I heard first heard it.
Anyway - this is it. My favourite. And thanks, Ramki Muthukrishnan

And here's the whole concert

There are others, of course. Pembroke pines, off one of the early Dick's Picks
And this fantastic one from 1976, Alameida County Coliseum, the entire set is a thing of beauty.