“Midnight Cowboy” — Sleep Aid

Today Zero to 180 turns eight.

Several months ago, I received a surprise phone call from writer, Steve Rosen, who informed me that he was putting together a feature article for Cincinnati Magazine that uses my “Cincinnati in Song” piece as a launching point.. Furthermore, for this piece, I was invited to contribute a 500-word sidebar of my Top Ten Cincinnati songs — such a marvelous birthday gift! . To help generate buzz for this article (entitled “Sing a Song of Cincinnati“) in the magazine’s December issue, I rolled out my Top Ten on Zero to 180’s Facebook page one song per day (beginning December 1st), with supplemental historical details not previously disclosed.

Unfortunately, today’s post threatens to undo all the positive momentum, as a result of the misguided decision to unfurl a new guitar arrangement of the “Midnight Cowboy” theme by Silver Spring-based music duo, Dubble Trubble.

Dub-inspired pop fusion (or so it says in their press packet), this take on John Barry‘s haunting soundtrack theme may one day end up as the title track of the duo’s debut collection — Twelve O’Clock Cowboys — of late-night sounds (streaming audio link):

“Twelve O’Clock Cowboy”

Richard Harrington recently observed that Joni Mitchell submitted her own composition for the film – titled “Midnight Cowboy” – only to have the song rejected!. The sole recording of Mitchell’s soundtrack offering, notes Harrington, can be found on the Atlantic debut album by Washington, DC’s one-time “favorite folk singer” (and Roberta Flack collaborator), Donal Leace, who departed us this past November due to COVID-19.

Donal Leace rememberedWashington Post

Zero to 180 Milestones:  Years 0-7
  • Inaugural Zero to 180 post that established a bona fide cross-cultural link between Cincinnati (via James Brown’s music recorded and distributed by King Records) and Kingston, Jamaica (i.e., Prince Buster’s rocksteady salute to Soul Brother Number One).
  • 1st anniversary piece that featured an exclusive “Howard Dean” remix of a delightful Sesame Street song about anger management (with a special rant about how WordPress’s peculiarities made me homicidal the moment I launched this blog).
  • 2nd anniversary piece that refused to acknowledge the milestone but instead celebrated the under-sung legacy of songwriter/session musician, Joe South – with a link to South’s first 45, a novelty tune that playfully laments Texas’s change in status as the nation’s largest state upon Alaska’s entry into the Union.
  • 3rd anniversary piece that revealed the depths to which Zero to 180 will sink in order to foist his own amateur recordings onto an unsuspecting and trusting populace.
  • 4th anniversary piece that formalized – as a public service – musical chord changes for an old (and tuneless) “hot potato” playground game called ‘The Wonderball.’
  • 5th anniversary piece that paid tribute to the Buchanan & Goodman “break-in” records that helped fuel (along with Mad Magazine) this young music fanatic’s appetite for satire.
  • 6th anniversary piece that introduced contemporary music product (dub-inspired pop fusion) — in direct violation of Zero to 180’s must-be-20-years-or-older policy.
  • 7th anniversary piece that gave the previous year’s submission a good swift kick in the pants.

Sleepy’s “Asphalt Cowboy”: First & Best Version

Don’t be misled by the German 7-inch soundtrack companion whose A-side bears the dual title, “Midnight Cowboy-Asphalt Cowboy” — Ferrante & Teicher did not, in fact, release an early version of the truck-driving country classic, “Asphalt Cowboy” in 1969.

Asphalt Cowboy German 45Sleepy LaBeef, in truth, recorded the first – and greatest – version of “Asphalt Cowboy” in Nashville at summer’s zenith (i.e., July 31) as a new decade (1970) dawned:

“Asphalt Cowboy”     Sleepy Labeef     1970

Produced by Shelby Singleton and recorded at Singleton Sound Studio in Nashville with the following musicians:

Jerry Shook: Guitar
Stevie Singleton: Guitar
Chip Young: Rhythm Guitar
Hargus Robbins: Piano
Bob Moore: Bass
Kenneth Buttrey: Drums

Asphalt Cowboy 45

“Asphalt Cowboy,” co-written by Lawton Williams, who hit the charts back in 1964 with his vocal tune, “Everything’s OK on LBJ,” was also recorded by Rod Hart and used as the B-side for novelty trucker tune, “C.B. Savage.”

Mr. LaBeef stormed through the Nation’s Capitol just this past week in preparation for a series of dates up the East Coast to follow in early September.

Veteran DC musicians, Darryl Davis & Jack O’Dell, with Sleepy LaBeef in Annapolis

Sleepy LaBeef - MD July 2014

Cincinnati: Hard Rock Capital of the World?

I have an album of repackaged material from the Buddah label – a compilation entitled Heavy Mix – that is one of the odder releases from everyone’s favorite reissue label, Pickwick.   I love that the cover art has a cement theme:

Heavy Mix - Pickwick

Even more intriguing than the kitschy cover concept is the cryptic bit of text at the bottom of the label of “Heavy Mix” cement:Hard Rock Cement Co

First is an unattributed quote that proclaims in classic 1969-speak, “Gettting It Together,” followed by the name of a fictitious business – Hard Rock Cement Co. – that is allegedly located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Not sure I follow, but okay, why not.   Now, it is true that The Sacred Mushroom came from Cincinnati, and it would be fair to call them “hard rock” – as this track from 1969 would clearly indicate.

Or perhaps Pickwick was making reference to the Ludlow Garage – Cincinnati’s closest approximation to Bill Graham’s famous Fillmore rock venues – whose proprietor in 1969 was Jim Tarbell, the one responsible for bringing in such “hard rock” acts as Neil Young, The Allman Brothers, and The Grateful Dead (and who would later become a Cincinnati City Council Member and hold the title – by mayoral proclamation – “Mr. Cincinnati” for life).

My favorite track on this motley mix is a surprisingly supple cover of the theme from the 1969 Oscar-winning film (Film; Director; Adapted Screenplay) – “Midnight Cowboy” – by John & Yoko’s one-time backing band, Elephant’s Memory:

Midnight Cowboy – Elephant’s Memory

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to hear “Midnight Cowboy” by Elephant’s Memory.]

There’s a nice little drum break starting around the 1:18 mark where the drumming alternates between speakers – consider using this track in the event you need to test the stereo directionality of your computer’s speakers.