FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Robins Weep

Some days I wake up and the music I hear in my head is the chorus to Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”  All day long I hear that lonesome whippoorwill until night finally falls, the midnight train whining in the distance.  It’s not that I’m lonely or anything, mind you, yet that haunting chorus becomes the day’s soundtrack.

There’s a band out of southern California that renders music as uniquely forlorn as any Hank Williams tune.  The name of that group is, somewhat mysteriously, I See Hawks In LA.  Composed of founder Rob Waller on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, guitarist Paul Lacques, former Strawberry Alarm Clock bassist Paul Marshall and percussionist Shawn Nourse, I See Hawks In LA bring experienced musicianship (and many experienced guest musicians) to their work.   Echoes of the Byrds and Gram Parsons and even The Holy Modal Rounders inform the music this group makes while its lyrics touch on themes of war, peace, freedom, family and that greatest topic of all, love.  Sometimes the lyrics are full of humor and sometimes they are full of sadness.  Sometimes they sing of the counterculture and sometimes one hears ironic commentary on today’s commercial culture of brands and empty meaning.   Waller’s vocal delivery is a countrified alto that capably evokes whichever emotion the song hopes to convey.

Existing in a country world where the farmers of tradition grow organically and have parents who once called themselves Sunshine, the melodies I See Hawks In LA create are timelessly modern.  One of my favorite songs by the group  is titled “Raised By Hippies” and appears on their third album California Country. The story of a girl raised in a schoolbus by parents who conceived her in the Haight-Ashbury then moved to the hills of  Tennessee, the song’s catchy melody highlights the joy the girl transmits no matter where she goes.  More than one of us knows a story like this one.

The most recent album, titled Hallowed Ground (Big Book Records) continues the Hawks’ trend of danceable rock music imbued with country sensibilities.  Fiddle plays a prominent role in several of the songs on the disc yet it is the vocals that once again capture my ear.  Lyrically, it is a concerned warning about the environmental disaster we are living in.  If the song “Last Lonely Eagle” by New Riders of the Purple Sage were to become an entire album, this is what it would sound like. The third song “Carbon Dated Love” warns of an LA doomed to die.  “Now all ye hunters and ye gatherers prepare/For wild blue wandering….”  The pedal steel and guitar trade licks reminiscent of the best Sneaky Pete Kleinow.  The next tune, with  singer Rob Waller sounding a bit like an early Waylon Jennings, continues the theme of a parched, sterile and deadly future.

Despite the dystopian outlook that underscores this album, the true spirit is that of a paean to the beauty of the western landscape and sky, Celtic history and life, love, and the hippie nomad.  This spirit is quite clear in the song “Highway Down”–an LA cowboy’s song to the countryside he loves and a prayer that it will somehow survive.  Even as he digs a grave on the highway down.  “Lord knows I love this Valley,” sings Waller. “Though it’s as wounded as an alley.”  Like the child raised by hippies, the folks in “The Environmental Children of the Future”  is a tribute to those young and old who have taken the best of the counterculture ethos and are trying to live a future where the earth matters as much as the people on it.  “The environmental children of the future,” go the lyrics, “Took their elders by the hand” and showed them how to live—after the flood as it were.

There is an overall joy that emanates from the Hawks’ music.  Acoustic guitar progressions accentuate Celtic fiddle melodies on some songs while the melodies of others are carried by a rock guitar reminiscent of James Burton’s work with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.  The lyrics display a wry sense of the situation we find ourselves in while remaining hopeful about our future as a species.    Other songs display an equally wry approach to the ups and downs of love.  This is the music the 1960s counterculture was meant to produce in its brightest hours.  The fact that it appears now some forty years later in a world arguably more hopeless is a sign of hope in itself.  Despite the echoes of that lonesome whippoorwill, I See Hawks In LA wipes away those tears we are sometimes too blue to cry.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net

 

Your Ad Here

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail