Sunday, February 06, 2005

hot licks

the media critic's guru, Dan Hicks

Although he fails to give Dan Hicks his props for his post's title, I will give James Wolcott grudging admiration for the best and most readable blog entry of the week. But don't miss out on Dan Hicks. Talented, mercurial, misanthropic, seemingly alcoholic, Hicks has it all. Oh - he also sings and plays guitar and writes songs.

For those of you who don't know, Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks were a San Francisco Bay Area attraction during the 60's and 70's, distinguished most by their utter lack of any relationship to anything else happened there at the time , musically or culturally. Hicks drew his inspiration from classic country, folk, and jazz (heavy on the swing), and relied on acoustic guitar & bass, jump-jivin' fiddle, and two female backup singers to carry the day. The 70's dance/rock/soul act Kid Creole and the Coconuts owed a lot to Hicks' style, and he is overdue for a revival. In a Bay Area suffused with shoulder-length hair (for men), granny dresses, and beads, Hicks dressed in pinstripe suits and fedoras and his Lickettes were dolled up like gun molls.

Classic Hicks favorites included the Jimmie Rodgers-derived "Reelin' Down," a drifter's ballad, and the swinging ode to domestic decomposition, "Is This My Happy Home?" Then there was his best-known tune, consciously or otherwise referenced by Wolcott, "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away." Lesser-known songs also hold great pleasures. My favorite is the haunting yet swinging fiddle-driven story of obsession, "I Scare Myself." Escapists among you will appreciate his response to the rash of reported UFO kidnappings in the 70's, simply titled "Hell, I'll Go."

Oh, Wolcott's post is great too.