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Revisiting SRV’s Couldn’t Stand The Weather Before They Change It Again

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Stevie Ray Vaughan was the first blues artist I started listening to long before I found out he wasn’t “blues” enough for some listeners. I heard his “Pride & Joy” for the first time in Orlando on the radio on vacation years after he’d passed and I had a copy of Texas Flood by the time I got home. It wasn’t love at first listen as I was still firmly wed to my alternative rock phase and a little of the blues-based glam rock. To those ears at that time, Vaughan sounded purer than I was prepared to embrace. Time went on and I wound up working as an overnight DJ at a classic rock station that played Vaughan’s music alongside The Allman Brothers Band, Styx, Boston, The Stones, Doors, Zeppelin, and others. Something clicked for me in that context and I began listening to his music and declaring my admiration for him with evangelistic fervor.

Years later I began a more in-depth study of the blues and it was during this period I began to pick up on vibes of suspicion towards Vaughan and his mainstreaming of the music and his close proximity to Jimi Hendrix and rock and roll. Rather than laughing at such nonsense and having confidence in my own ears, I distanced myself from those CDs in my collection. I now realize I was being a moron. Vaughan was a prodigious talent and a gift from the heavens and his loss at such a young age and at a point in his life when he seemed to be ready to make his best work yet is beyond tragic.

Sony/Legacy is once again re-issuing his sophomore album Couldn’t Stand The Weather, this time in a two-CD deluxe format. My copy is on its way and I’m anxious to hear all the additional goodies that have been appended to the original eight-song album released in 1984. In anticipation of the “new” album I spent some time listening to those original tracks.

The song that stood out to me most the first time I heard this record was his blistering cover of Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).” Now the song that stands out most to me is his cover of Guitar Slim’s “The Things (That) I Used To Do.” SRV’s version is the first I heard but everybody has done this one and I now have umpteen versions of it on my iPod. Among those who’ve done it: Albert Collins, Junior Parker, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie King, Chuck Berry, Big Joe Turner, G. Love and Special Sauce, Buddy Guy, and Luther Allison (Freddie, Muddy, and Chuck’s versions are brilliant and should be heard).

I marvel almost as much at Vaughan’s big, brash Texas voice as I do his exceptional guitar work and this is one of the songs where his voice stands out so much to me. I can picture him throwing his head back and hollering the titular phrase that begins the song. I’ve been known to restart the song after listening to only those opening seconds, just to hear that part.

I shake my head when I think that I nearly let nameless naysayers dissuade me and this song is a reminder: “the things that I used to do/I won’t do no more.”

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About Josh Hathaway

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    naysayers also used to say that SRV was nothing more than a Hendrix clone. they were obviously wrong too.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    They accused him of being too Hendrix or ripping off the Alberts too much (Collins and King). You can hear all three of those players in his work and then some but Vaughan had something unique and special to himself.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “his blistering cover of Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).'”

    That’s the first thing I ever heard by him somewhere in the late ’80s. It was on a classic rock station but I didn’t know it wasn’t Jimi at first. The vocal threw me but I assumed it was a version I hadn’t heard because while I had heard other covers of Jimi before but I never heard anyone sound that frakkin’ good before. Then I started collecting his albums.

    Being “too Hendrix” is not a bad thing

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    “Being ‘too Hendrix’ is not a bad thing”

    Not usually, although I can think of exceptions. Most modern guitar players have been inspired by or influenced by Hendrix somewhere along the way. Some guitarists are too derivative for my liking. I never got that with Vaughan. I thought he blended enough influences and had enough of his own ideas. I had my stupid period where I got briefly blown off course but even then I never questioned how great a player he was. Now I’ve pulled my head out of my ass and it’s all good. I remember nearly falling backwards the first time I heard his “Voodoo Child,” too.

  • bluesatsun

    Amen, the naysayers have never really listened!

  • http://soundlust.com Joanie

    Few things you should know: “Pride & Joy” was the first song my son started bopping to as a baby. True story. Could it be that he shares a birthday with SRV is a contributing factor? Who knows.

    “Pride & Joy” is also my ringtone. Makes me smile every time.

    SRV was amazing on so many levels. “Life By The Drop” and “Cold Shot”, along with “The Things (That) I Used To Do” (which he did BRILLIANTLY) are amongst my favorite songs. I actually walk out of clubs if I hear someone else try to do play them and butcher them. I also mentally flip the bird at the band on the way out.

    Final item: I was blessed to have seen SRV in concert just months before he died. It was magic. MAGIC! One of the greatest concerts I’ve ever attended.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    Wow, Joan! That’s amazing. You got to see him when he’d returned from his struggles and was at the top of his game. In Step is such a great record and I’ve heard songs from that final tour in the box set and other re-issues. He really sounded like he had emerged and was ready to have another creative burst. Would love to have seen him!

  • kreuzs

    SRV is no clone of the Jammin Gypsy Jimi
    They’re both heroes and great guitarplayers.
    Rainbows and Stones
    Dmenno

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