© 2017 Gary Green Productions, Inc.
MUSIC

Still At Large: Gary Green Volume 3

Folkways Number 05356

The changing decade: 1981

Recorded in late 1981, just five years before Folkways founder Moe Asch's death, Gary's last Folkways album features his brother Ron playing lead guitar on several tracks, a long soliloquy on the first meeting with Maybelle Carter, and a part-rock-parody tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis in a parody piano solo by Gary that was later covered by rocker ex-Pixie Frank Black. Gary's biting satire on the religious right Jesus Christ Was A Republican became a cult favorite and was featured on NBC's late night Tomorrow Show before an interview with right-wing fanatic Jerry Falwell, who is lambasted in the song. But by far the most notable feature of this third album is the bitterness of the lyrics, born out of Gary's contempt for the election of Ronald Reagan as president of the United States, and of his own run-ins, arrests, and battles with political corruption and "the establishment" because of the left-leaning politics that he could not (or would not) keep out of his journalism. This is the only one of Gary's albums that Moe Asch allowed Gary to use other musicians; Gary's brother Ron plays guitar and mandolin on all the cuts on side one. Recorded in Baltimore Maryland in 1981 and released in 1982, the title STILL AT LARGE reflected Gary Green's status after fleeing his adopted home state of Tennessee following his exposing a string of political corruptions and voter fraud that reached the Governor's office. With the support of Folkways' owner and founder Moe Asch, legendary folksinger Pete Seeger, and Gary's old friend civil rights/political activist lawyer William Kunstler, this album served as a legal fundraising tool as well as a springboard refocusing Gary's politics and music even more radically and more intensely than before. Five years after the release of his first album, Gary's voice, his politics, and his music were much more intensely focused in this recording. Then in a total paradox, the second side of this album featured no political songs at all and jumped back to the basics of Gary with either guitar and (for the first time recorded) piano in five very country (not even western) tracks. Instruments and vocals by Gary Green; no overdubs. Steel string guitar is a Gibson model SJ from 1956 with Gibson medium gauge steel strings. Nylon string guitar is a handmade Brazilian Giannini concert size with Albert Augustine SP strings. Ron plays a pre-CBS Fender Stratocaster with Ernie Ball super slinky strings. light gauge. That low D-string tuning pops up again on this album. The piano is Gary's mother's Lester brand Betsy Ross spinet which she gave to Gary when she retired.
The Tracks: Click here for the original 1981 album insert lyric sheet and liner notes. Below are descriptions of each track: Side one track one Jesus Christ Was A Republican Of all of Gary Green's songs, this one alone received the most airplay and was certainly the most controversial. A satirical attack on the religious right wing in America, often misunderstood because of Gary's southern accent and delivery, and always turning heads, this song was topical in 1981 when it was written as well as into the next century. Side one track two Millhands and Farmers Karl Marx meets Music Row? This song is a labor anthem with a country music theme and tune. Aimed at the blue-collar, southern working class roots from which he sprang, Green wrote this song to his own people; with a far-left flair. Side one track three There Ain't No Too Ways About It Radical as the rest of this side of the album, this song (again with a strong Country Music beat) conspiratorially (if not paranoidly) blames the government agencies for the infamous assassinations of the 1960s’ as well as the racial, political, and labor repression of the 1980’s.   Side one track four Snakebite Poison Not just because of brother Ron Green's screaming "fuzz box" guitar and the deliberately off-key instrumental of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," this is a song that Gary did not expect to make Moe's cut to be released. He was wrong. The song is a painful and bitter poetic attack on Gary's beloved southern homeland, blasting the economic system that gave rise to the Ku Klux Klan, an Atlanta serial killer of children, Neo-nazi children's summer camps in Georgia, and northern liberals for destroying a southern class that would have never allowed such racist atrocities. Again, filled with Gary's 1970’s-1980’s paradoxes, the song is powerful and disarming at the same time. Side one track five I Feel That Cold Wind Blowing Again A pure and simple indictment of the Reagan administration as a rebirth of 1950’s McCarthyism, put to a 1960’s country tune and beat.   Side one track six I Can Never Go Home Again Political only between the lines, this sad lament (with Ron's haunting mandolin solo) is Gary's longing for the good times in Tennessee before he fled the state in 1979. Side two track one There Is A Cat Behind Every Genius Of course there is a political overtone, but it is very light. This is, pure and simple, a song for cat lovers from a cat lover. Side two track two A Bullet, A Bottle, and A Bible A country ballad, void of politics, about a young man that went to prison for a murder committed by his girlfriend. Clearly influenced by the darker side of "classic" country music from Gary's roots: Johnny Cash, the Louvin Brothers, Hank Williams, et all. Charlie Louvin, Gary’s friend from his backstage-at-the-opry days, told Gary that he wished he and his brother, Ira, had done this song 35 years earlier. Johnny Cash said that Gary had succeeded in writing a “real” country song. Side two track three That Burnt Out Rock And Roll A haunting piano ballad about the pain and hollowness Gary saw behind the eyes of Ricky Nelson and Jerry Lee Lewis. A song of suicide and the emptiness of fame. This is the only recording of Gary playing the piano, though he composed at the piano as often as the guitar. The song was covered in the 21st century by rocker Frank Black, formerly of the group The Pixies. Most Pixies fans hated Gary’s version of the song and did not understand the parody piano lines, choosing to think that Frank “saved” the song. Side two track four Who Can Stop the Fiery Rain A fearful reflection of the last of the cold war worries about nuclear destruction and the lies told to hide the immediacy of the returned threat at the time of the recording. Side two track five Remembering Mother Maybelle Carter: The Last Minstrel Is Coming Home The most "Smithsonian-like" of any of Gary's recordings and made as if he knew it would be his last recording for the legendary label, this is a tribute to the grand queen of Country Folk music, Maybelle Carter. Mother Maybelle had just died and this track features a three-minute monologue by Gary, telling of the first time he met her. He then breaks into a very up-tempo instrumental of her Wildwood Flower which he then blends into his vocal of a tribute song to her called The Last Minstrel Is Coming Home. The eeriness of the vocal makes one wonder if it was totally about Maybelle or perhaps a little about Gary himself, since it was his last professional recording… so far.