Friday, 19 September 2014

T-Shirt Friday 23 !

A  'Chopping Wood' T-Shirt!
T-Shirt Friday 23? - I hear you ask, but should it not be 25??? Ah well, here is the missing '23'! Admittedly it has been some time since there has been any T-Shirt Friday's at all!!! do not fear though, there is and will be a 25, however just for this week lets go back into the 'Bad Fog of Loneiness' and bring forth out of the mists this one from the vaults... 
So... where did we leave off... the T-Shirt Friday Quiz Conundrum question! which was... 'Cosmic Egg' was an album released by which Australian heavy rock band? The answer is of course Wolfmother! - did you get it right? How will you celebrate? maybe with your pet Wolf if you have one, or cook your Mother dinner, however you decide to celebrate just enjoy! it's Friday and the weekend is coming after all!

A version of today's T-Shirt can be found here:
Mine is an older version and sadly doesn't seem to be available any more.

"I was chopping down a palm tree, When a friend dropped by to ask, If I would feel less lonely, If he helped me swing the axe. I said: No, it's not a case of being lonely, We have here, I've been working on this palm tree, For eighty seven years, I said: No, it's not a case of being lonely, We have here, I've been working on this palm tree, For eighty seven years, He said: Go get lost! And walked towards his Cadillac. I chopped down the palm tree. And it landed on his back."

'Last Trip To Tulsa' - Neil Young

It's seems fitting almost to publish T-Shirt 23 after having already released T-Shirt 24, it's the kind of thing that Neil might do, in fact has done... like recording albums and then releasing them many years later or never releasing them at all!

'Harvest' on it's release in 1972, divided both critics and fans opinions. Even Neil himself in retrospect has described the album (almost in the same breath) as an 'MOR aberration' and his 'finest album'. Neil's most famous quote from that time, is about the song 'Heart Of Gold' "This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I met more interesting people there."
Often though 'Harvest' along with it's counterpart 'After The Gold Rush' released in 1970 are an accessible way in to a sometimes uncompromising but brilliant artist.
This is true of myself, 'After The Gold Rush' was my first Neil Young album and from that moment I was captivated. Once you have heard Neil and you 'get him' you kind of sign up to be a life long fan, no matter what direction he wants to take you in. However I was a bit confused... 'Heart Of Gold' was the first Neil song I'd actually ever heard, (they often played it at Walthamstow Dog Stadium along with some other classics between races) but it didn't appear to be on the cassette tape of 'After The Gold Rush' that I'd just purchased. Some more digging was necessary. Of course at that point I was very naive and had no idea of how vast Neil's output and back catalogue was. Somehow though the cassette tape that greeted me when I walked back into Woolworth's at Chingford Mount was 'Harvest'.

Collecting and cutting up wood have both become a bit of a fixture for my Dad. Fairly recently Mum and Dad decided to get a wood burning stove, it really suits the house, keeps it lovely and warm and just looks so romantic. Wood in abundance is of course needed though, Dad has collected a number of tools in readiness to prepare old planks, logs and trees! And it's at a tree where this story really begins... Whilst staying back at my Parents, my Dad mentioned that he might need some help with a tree that had fallen down at my Brother-In-Laws, Mum's house, it needed to be cleared and there was an opening over the upcoming weekend to do it, I did very little in preparation, until that is last minute on the Saturday morning, we needed to be up early... Still half asleep I dressed myself adding two odd socks to the mix and went downstairs, we had some breakfast and off we went. The tree was already down although there was a stump which Dad had to cut through and we began to clear the chunks of wood, noticeably there was a lot of amber sap seeping out through the bark which I'd managed to get down my t-shirt, I looked down not even taking into account before that moment the tee that I had on... it's OK I thought it's only that old worn out 'Neil Young - Harvest' t-shirt and then it hit me... that old Neil Young shirt... the lyrics of the last verse of 'Last Trip To Tulsa' filled my head. Without even knowing it or putting any thought into it I was wearing the right t-shirt for the chop! 
Incidentally 'Chopping Wood' is a way of playing drums where the drummer plays a strong rim-click on the two and four beats, often Ken Buttrey's drum's on 'Heart Of Gold' are described as 'cutting wood' or 'chopping wood drum style'.

Walking back from Woolworth's I slid the tape in my Walkman and popped on the headphones, from that day onwards I played 'Harvest' over and over again, to the point of when you could no longer read any of the text on the body of the cassette tape and the tape itself was getting worn, the case was scratched and you could barley see the beautiful typography of Tom Wilkes cover design through it. I loved that album so much and I wanted to tell the world, I found a way to do so... the below t-shirt! 
In somewhat a similar way to the tape, I wore it so much, (taking it everywhere with me) that the print soon became very faint, it gained holes and started wearing very thin, soon it became apparent that with much sadness it would have to be retired and put away into the bottom of the chest of drawers at my Mum and Dad's... and there it stayed, only to be rediscovered quite by mistake many years later while in a dozy rush to get down the stairs to have breakfast and help my Dad chop up a tree!

Well here we are again it's time for the T-Shirt Friday Quiz Conundrum! which this week is: What is the title of the famously unreleased 1977 Neil Young album?

More info on Neil Young? -

Neil's website -
Wood Burning Stoves -
Tom Wilkes (One of my favourite all time album cover designers / art directors) -

Detail of the 'Harvest' T-Shirt with tree sap!