Monthly Archives: November 2014

“The Chokin’ Kind” Times Five – Unintentionally Topical?

 Reid Dickie

Harlan Howard once defined country music as “three chords and the truth.”

chokin 7Howard (left) was one of Nashville’s most prolific and preeminent songwriters spanning the late 1950s to the late 1990s. He wrote dozens of hit songs, fifteen of which charted in 1961 alone. Among his best known songs are I Fall to Pieces, Heartaches by the Number, Busted, Pick Me Up on Your Way Down, Streets of Baltimore, Tiger by the Tail and one of the greatest crossover songs ever, The Chokin’ Kind.

Two verses, a thoughtful change up, another verse and a reiterating coda tell the story of the singer’s realization that the partner wants more than love, they want utter control of the singer’s life, frighteningly so. The partner will go to any lengths to achieve this but the singer is gone. In the final verse the singer advises the partner to change for their own sake and that of future relationships. The coda reaffirms the fear and the untenable nature of the relationship.

The line that opens the second verse, “You can kill a man with a bottle of poison or a knife…” is often misheard as being “..a Bible or poison or a knife.”

Several of Howard’s songs crossed over into other genres but it was The Chokin’ Kind that scored biggest. I picked it to feature not just because it’s a fantastic song but it’s been covered in very distinct fashion by these five artists. I inserted audio players so you can hear the full versions of each. You’ll find the players under the album covers.

Originally a hit for Waylon Jennings, The Chokin’ Kind reached #8 in the U.S. and #4 in Canada on the country music charts in 1967. The song appeared on his 1968 album Hangin’ On which reached #9 on the U. S. country chart.

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Joe Simon recorded a gorgeous soulful version of The Chokin’ Kind that became the song’s best known version and biggest chart success. It stayed at #1 on the U.S. R & B charts for three weeks in the spring of 1969, selling over a million copies. On the U.S. Pop charts it reached #13 and #17 in Canada. Though he had two other #1 songs, this would be Joe’s biggest hit.

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Allen Toussaint, New Orleans singer, producer and songwriter (Working in a Coal Mine, Southern Nights, Mother-In-Law, Ride Your Pony) added his delta spice to the song on his 1971 album Toussaint.

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Extraordinary master of a 1953 Fender Telecaster (nicknamed Nancy), Roy Buchanan brought his hypnotic style to the song. At the outset it’s almost an arena rock epic but Roy switches into a funky mode retaining the song’s subtleties. Roy included it on his 1986 album Dancing on the Edge. That’s not Nancy in the picture.

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She sounds black and southern but she is blond and British. Joss Stone wails her marvelous rendition of The Chokin’ Kind on her 2003 release The Soul Sessions. The album was a huge hit in Britain, selling over a million copies and going platinum, a feat it also achieved in the U.S. and Canada.

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Filed under 1960s, Music

Inside Birtle Indian Residential School 2014


Reid Dickie

UPDATE June 28, 2015 The remains of the residential school and the land it sits on have been put up for sale on Kijiji. Price reduced from $99,000 to $79,000 CDN. Here’s the link

Perched on the edge of the Birdtail River valley above Birtle, MB stands the ruins of an Indian residential school. Built in 1930, this two- and three-storey red brick and limestone building was the third residential school in the town. The 1882 school burned down in 1895. The 1895 school, near this site, was demolished and replaced with the present building. Closed in 1972 and largely abandoned to the elements since, today the place is a fascinating shambles. In June 2014 I took pictures and video of the school inside and out. BIRTLE 005Smashed glass brick basement windows. Thoroughly vandalized, there are few unbroken panes of glass left on the building. BIRTLE 002Rear view of the building.  BIRTLE 004Appropriate graffiti on old shed next to school. BIRTLE 030The facade of the three-storey section of  school.  BIRTLE 010Smooth limestone pointed arch over the front entrance.  BIRTLE 029Just inside the front door looking out.  BIRTLE 025Remains of a colourful mural on the wall inside the front door.  BIRTLE 028Hallway to large auditorium. BIRTLE 014Ice cube trays on a decomposing couch with evidence of fire on the floor. Several small areas in the building have been blackened by fire but it’s mostly masonry with little to burn.   BIRTLE 012Well-graffitied auditorium.   BIRTLE 019Ruined elegance. Once-stylish over-stuffed armchair now oversees the peeling of the floor tiles.BIRTLE 024Bird’s nest atop hanging metal ceiling fragment.  Pigeons, robins and swallows use the place to roost and nest.BIRTLE 021The one remaining unbroken urinal in the building.   BIRTLE 023View out third floor window of pretty little Birtle in the valley below.


This archival picture shows the school not long after it was built in 1930.

Click here to view my five and half minute video tour of the school.

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Filed under Day Tripping, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Photography, Schools

Just This – New Video In a Contemplative Mode

Snapshot 3 (17-11-2014 1-07 AM)Click any picture to play my 3:55 video.

Snapshot 1 (17-11-2014 1-07 AM)









Snapshot 4 (17-11-2014 1-08 AM)


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Filed under Art Actions, DickToolery, video art

Oasis In Space – Found Sound Poetry and Video

        Reid Dickie

And the big Mississippi
and the town Honolulu
and the lake Titicaca,
the Popocatepetl is not in Canada,
rather in Mexico, Mexico, Mexico!
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Canada, Málaga, Rimini, Brindisi
Yes, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet, Tibet,
Nagasaki! Yokohama!
Nagasaki! Yokohama!

Snapshot 5 (10-11-2014 2-48 PM)So begins Ernst Toch‘s fanciful sound poem Geographical Fugue composed entirely of world place names. Toch was a prolific Austrian composer of classical music and film scores who endeavored to stretch the boundaries of music. He’s credited with singlehandedly inventing an idiom called Spoken Chorus which combines the spoken word and music creating a new form of expression. Geographical Fugue, written in 1930, caused a sensation when it was first performed and remains Toch’s most performed work even though he dismissed it as unimportant. Snapshot 1 (10-11-2014 2-44 PM)

The piece strictly follows the form of the fugue with four voices entering one at a time: tenor, alto, soprano, bass. The basic structure is that of the canon or round (Row, row, row your boat) resulting in unexpected rhythms and harmonies. Composers John Cage and Henry Cowell translated the poem from its original German.

Snapshot 2 (10-11-2014 2-45 PM)I combined Toch’s sound poetry with footage taken of the earth from the International Space Station and offered with annotations by NASA.

I found both the sound and vision at Click any picture to watch my 3 minute video.

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Filed under 1930s, Guff, video art

Fellini’s TV Commercial for Campari 1984

Snapshot 1 (09-11-2014 10-59 PM)

Federico Fellini, visionary Italian filmmaker, made a few TV commercials in his career. In 1984 he created a commercial for the aperitif Campari.  “In just one minute,” writes Tullio Kezich in Federico Fellini: His Life and Work, “Fellini gives us a chapter of the story of the battle between men and women, and makes reference to the neurosis of TV, insinuates that we’re disparaging the miraculous gifts of nature and history, and offers the hope that there might be a screen that will bring the joy back. The little tale is as quick as a train and has a remarkably light touch.” Click the picture to watch.



Filed under 1980s, Film, Trains

Mid-Century Winnipeg – The Cave Supper Club

Wpg Earle Hill & His cavemen at Cave Club 1937

Taken in 1937 in Winnipeg’s Cave Supper Club (likely located where Giant Tiger is at Donald and Ellice), Earle Hill and his Cave Men are about to entertain the evening crowd. There were also Cave Supper Clubs in Vancouver and Edmonton (it was a chain). Stalactites and huge mushrooms were prominent motifs in all of them.

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Filed under 1930s, Local History, Manitoba Heritage, Music, Winnipeg