It’s been a long time since I’ve done a Midweek Music Moment but I’m going to try and do them again, although I know there will not be weekly installments like before. What triggers this is seeing that Welcome To Goose Creek by Goose Creek Symphony was released this week in 1971.
I probably first heard it in 1975 but it’s a record I’ve owned and listened to ever since. In fact, I spent quite a bit of time in the 1990s searching for it on CD. I was thrilled when the band first issued it in that format through its website, where it is still available for $17. (Interestingly, while the vinyl goes for peanuts on eBay — perhaps due to age — used versions of the CD sell there for $50-$60 while a new copy of the 2000 reissue of the CD is listed on Amazon for $99.)
The music is unique. Some go so far as to call it esoteric. A good description is to imagine a rock and roll jam band playing bluegrass. Or, perhaps more accurately, a bunch of locals sitting on a porch somewhere in the “hollers” of Appalachia whose local music flavor music suddenly metamorphs into pure rock. While there are robust country and bluegrass influences at the core of this music, the layers of rock and roll the band add to it is what makes Welcome To Goose Creek distinctive and memorable.
Given the heavy country and bluegrass feel, most people slotted the band into the “country rock” genre. Granted, there’s a number of tunes on the album that are similar to some of the band’s contemporaries. And one tune actually reminds me a bit of Leon Russell. But while the comparable bands were countrifying rock, Goose Creek’s bluegrass flavor seemed to take it a step further.
Fittingly, Welcome to Goose Creek opens with the title tune, inviting listeners in to its style and sound with instrumental and vocal intonations. Some songs are even more in the bluegrass camp, particularly the brief “Higher On The Mountain.” It has the fiddle playing, hand clappin’ and foot stompin’ that seems to typify a barn dance. Yet the album also contains perhaps the best showcase of the breadth of the Goose Creek sound. “The Corn Won’t Grow, So Rock ‘N Roll,” clocking in at over seven minutes, starts out as a slow, acoustic song. As it proceeds, though, additional layers are added and in the middle it is plainly bluegrass. But starting about four and a half minutes in, you would have no doubt you were at a rock concert of a band that had never heard of bluegrass, fiddles and the like.
Welcome to Goose Creek was the band’s second album and probably remains my favorite. The follow-up, Words of Earnest also was well done (and even incorporated some horns) but by 1974 the band embarked on a 17-year hiatus. While never returning to the national stage, the band resurfaced in the 19902s, albeit with only two of the members who were involved in the first three recordings. Still, 1996’s The Goose Is Loose and 1998’s Acoustic Goose. The diverse electric and acoustic sound may provide a better overview of Goose Creek’s musical journey.
Now I’m not a huge bluegrass fan. On the take it or leave it scale, I lean more toward the latter. But if you don’t find yourself unconsciously tapping your foot when listening to Welcome to Goose Creek, more’s the pity.
People are talkin’ about our problems,
Some people talk but they don’t know
What’ll they do when there really is a problem?
20 years from now when the corn won’t grow
Goose Creek Symphony, “The Corn Won’t Grow, So Rock ‘N Roll,”
Welcome To Goose Creek