I read the papers
And I got the blues
I’m so sad to hear the news
Help wanted, but not enough
You know these times are gettin’ rough
Another pandemic themed song this week from Little Feat.
Around the mid 70’s the band were incredibly popular, mainly with musicians and music writers. In truth they soon went off the boil wasted by the hedonism of the LA music scene and a general lack of direction. After a couple of cracking records main man Lowell George was losing interest and a couple of the band members were finding Jazz Rock just a bit too enticing. The last Record Album which is where this track was taken from sounds tired in places. It’s a brief sketch of a record not helped by the face that drummer Richie Hayward had been involved in a motorcycle accident necessitating hospitalisation and further diluting the funk of the Feat.
This kind of works to Long Distance Love’s advantage, it’s the perfect musical representation of a hangover. George sounds tired and washed out. The resignation in his voice speaks for itself but it’s a good enough piece of song writingto use a device where in the first line he calls ‘missing persons’. Although one suspects the object of his affection is missing emotionally rather than physically it set the scene perfectly.
Unlike a lot of the bands output this is almost pure LA singer songwriter territory. The chord sequence seems like some amalgamation of two or three songs off Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Its based round the gorgeous sound of what I assume is a Fender Rhodes piano, the keyboard sound of 1975 as much as the Hammond organ was the sound of 1971. This being Little Feat rather than James Taylor however there’s still a slipperiness to the beat with bars being dropped here and there. It’s a device musicians are almost incapable of now, music is so studio technology based to 4 beats to the bar but this lifts the song out of a potentially maudlin trap.
Like so much music in the 70’s I only got to hear it occasionally having been introduced to it via a clip on the Old Grey Whistle Test. It stayed with me. Punk was on its way, soon we wouldn’t want to listen to Americans who wore dungarees onstage and had a Fender Rhodes Piano. In a couple of years Lowell George would be dead at the ridiculously young age of 34 and although the band inevitably reformed they would forever symbolise a specific time and place though the sound of their music.