Music Rewind welcomes Alan Ziegler to discuss Band on the Run from Paul McCartney & Wings.
A fascinating conversation on how this album shaped a young mind into a love of Classic Rock and a life of a self-proclaimed music snob.
Album: Band on the Run Artist: Paul McCartney & Wings Year: 1973
Transcript as follows: Participant #1:
Hello and welcome to Music Rewind, a podcast where we look to tell the stories behind our favorite albums. I'm your host, Steve Epley, and in each episode, I will invite a guest to tell us about their favorite music album, how they discovered it, and what makes it special to them. Joining me today is the person who was instrumental in my musical journey over the years, second only to my father, Alan Ziegler. Al is a program manager out in Northern California by day and an avid music enthusiast the rest of the time, and he even spent some time as a classic rock DJ back in the day. I've known him for well over 40 years because he is my cousin. Welcome to the show, man. Thank you. Thanks for those flattering words and thanks for having me. Excited to be here and doing this new podcast. So I did a short stint as DJ on a classic rock station weekend overnight. Music always been present in my life. Starts typically when I wake up in the morning and they're on the radio and listen to music all day long until I go to bed. Over the years been the music festivals, tons of concerts, spent thousands and thousands of dollars worth on music albums and cassettes CDs, MP threes, and then back to albums. Even in college, my major was radio and GB. I still enjoy record collecting, and I'm always trying to find some old gems that I might have missed over the years. And I love new music as well. It's a shame we never got the chance to go to Bonaire with me, my dad, and their brothers. Yeah, I kind of retired from the big concerts. Got a little too happy for me, I think. What was the radio station? The radio station was
it covered a peoria area? Oh, yeah. It was fun while it lasted. There's some good stories I could probably tell about that sometime. Well, we'll bring it back on Alex Radio Tales. Yeah. There you go. All right, well, let's jump right into this, Alan. What is your favorite album and how did you discover it? So I want to tell everybody about Banned on the Run by All, McCartney and Wing.
It changed my life. It shaped my life. So Band on the Run, it was released in December of 73. I was two months away from my 6th birthday, and I have memories of my grandma's dark colored wood console stereo with the rotor metal covering the red velvet speaker holes. I remember that stereo well. And then on the console you left on top, and inside was the Am FM radio turntable. And then there was the eight track player. So I would play this eight track Band on the Run over and over. I can remember pushing the buttons and fast forwarding it and knowing when to just push the buttons just right, because like an A track for the people that are older and probably know, had those four buttons and you had to push it in just the right spot, and then it would change tracks. And it was pretty crazy. I can remember all that and just trying to find the right song because I only played four songs on that album on the Run title track, obviously. Jet, Helen Wheels and 1984. It's not only like, my first musical memory, but this is actually my very first childhood memory. I can't picture Grandma listening to Wings at all. Grandma was a big Beatles fan and very much Paul McCartney's solo in particular. Really? Yes. Later in years, when I discovered the Beatles, much later on, I asked her about it because our grandmother was born in England, and I asked her, what do you think of the Beatles? And she just said, they're fine, they're fine. I wonder if, over the years, her opinions change because, like, McCartney would get busted for pot a couple of times and then Lennon would be a little political. That could be. Or maybe she was just trying to humor me,
kind of burst my musical bubble a little bit there. Well, when I got the chance to use that big ass stereo, all that was there was really Disney Records and disco left by Kevin. Funky Town. Funkytown yeah. Lipsync. That's it. Lips Incorporated. Yeah. Yeah. My sister and I would play that over and over again. And trust me, I got left for a reason because that wasn't very good. Yeah, the good ones are gone. I don't know. The good ones are gone. Absolutely. So did anybody specifically turn you on to this album or that style of music at that time? Right. It's no coincidence that a track was left in the console. I remember it was Wars Why Can't We Be Friends? A track, the one that has the cartoon character and the guy with the gold tooth. I would play that because I had Low Rider on it. And then title track. I like that. Do you remember that? But for the most part, I was lucky because I had twin uncles that were ten years older than me. These uncles annoyingly shaped my life because they turned me on to such great music at a young age, and that love of music never left me. So if you can imagine being six years old and having twin 16 year old uncles that let you hang out with them, cruise around in their cool cars, hang out and meet girls, and always playing great music like Dr. Hook Chicago or Doobie Brothers and coarse Wings and the Beatles and how can you not want to be just like them? They're a great role model. Well, you in turn pass that down, because over the years at family events, you were the one handed me CDs 1213 years older than me. So it about worked out the same. Yeah. That's interesting how that worked out that way. Yeah, you couldn't script it. Like, that actually like full circle and you can't really do that these days with Spotify and other avenues kind of running the show there. You don't get that album hand me down aspect of it. Actually, I heard it on the podcast, something kind of interesting the other day that I never thought about. This is like the MP3 versus the album debate that no one ever wins. So the guy was saying how when you play an album, you have kind of a physical connection with that album because you have to be listening to know when to turn that album over. So no matter what you're doing, you kind of have at least part of your ear listening to every song on there. And there's 20 minutes on album side roughly, right? So it kind of keeps your attention for 20 minutes and you're at least blessing because you know you're going to have to eventually get up and flip that record over. So I thought, Oh, okay, that's kind of interesting. And then he went on to compare it to like he said I could go to my Spotify playlist and I could hit play right now and it wouldn't turn off until tomorrow at 06:00. He said, I don't really have any tangible attachment to that. I can just let it play and play. Whereas an album, you have to stick with it because you got to flip that album over eventually. Yeah, you're committed to it. Yeah, it sounds simple, but it actually like that's kind of a cool point. But on the flip side to that, with this day and age of wireless, headphones and phone can sit anywhere. For instance, Band on the Run, I had only really downloaded back in the Naster Days, the title track and Jet never really at the time didn't really think with me, but Band on the Run was always a good tune and so that's really all that I had heard of the album. And this time around when you told me that this was going to be your album, I downloaded the whole thing and I've probably listened to it a dozen times. I've dove into it. I have a new appreciation for the album, but I don't have a disc man tethered to me. I'm able to walk around and do stuff around the house and just keep listening to the album straight through. Yeah. And it was a great experience. I rediscovered a new album, which is one of the things I hope to do with this whole project that was pretty good. Sometimes when you hear someone explaining a song or showing you a certain art especially that you didn't know was even there, or maybe you kind of just cross over it sometimes it gives you a different appreciation of the song, too. After I listened to the album a couple of times, I looked into the production of it and I didn't realize it was recorded in Nigeria. Yeah. And under terrible conditions. I guess the studio was pretty substandard. Nigeria was going through a civil war. Yeah. They actually got robbed at gunpoint. Yeah. And the two of the band members left, like, days before they left for Nigeria. So it was literally Paul Linda and guitarist. Yeah. Danny Lane. Yeah, that's it. Yeah. The drummer and the dark player, Jimmy McCullough. These bales, literally days before they were supposed to fly to Nigeria. That's crazy. Bam members are like, Screw it, we'll do it ourselves. I'm curious if there was more creative differences, or I'll be damned if I'm going to fly to Nigeria during a civil war. Yeah. You might think that those two made the smarter decision, but everybody's unscathed, so I guess it's all right. But they were able to bring out of it a great album. Yeah. Especially with and knowing that Paul McCartney played the bulk of the drums was interesting on it. Right. I didn't realize that he was as versatile a musician. Obviously, I knew bass and piano, but I didn't know he played everything else print style, just doing it all. A lot of people don't know that Paul is actually the one doing the solo on Tax Man, and that's one of my I did not know that. Yeah, that's one of my favorite Beatles songs, too. And I didn't know that at first, either. But yeah, he's doing the guitar solo. I think he might have played drums on Hilter Skelter, but don't quote me on that. And I believe him and John Lennon were the only two on the oh, shoot. What's the song? I have to think of the one where they're talking about getting married in Gervalt or Spain. Oh, the Ballad of John and Yoko. Yeah. The ballot. John and Yoko. It was just those two. They did all the instruments, which that's what Mrs. Vanderbilt reminds me of, is The Ballad of John and Yoko. Really? Yeah, just the base of it and just that real is what really kind of jumps out at me on it for some reason when I hear that song. I think it's the British version of The Graduate, but it's in a song.
I don't even know how to describe that, but it's like, you know the Dustin Hoffman movie The Graduate? I think it's because somewhere in the lyrics, he says, leave me alone, Mrs. Vanderbilt. It gives me that he's young and she's old, and then he talks about her not having any money, but gets her bills paid somehow. Yes. I was trying to decipher the lyrics myself on that one, because he also changes it and he says, Leave me alone, Mrs. Washington in the back half. So I don't know if that was a political statement, which Paul's not really the political guy. Lyrics themselves on this album. We can dive into that. I'm going to be honest, I think I get banned on the run other than that. It's like a stoned out mishmash of lyrics with hookie, choruses and I think my six year old brain, I love the hooks. And they're catchy. They are catchy. Come on, Jet. Come on. Who can't love that, right?
And that one grows on you with repeated listing. It does. Because to me, it was definitely a substandard compared to Band on the Run, which is the best song on the album, probably. Well, since you, I guess. Yeah, I didn't say it was my favorite, but it was probably the best song on the album. It's probably the best put together, the most cohesive and lyrically the best on them. Yeah, I'll give you the on that. Because, like I said, it does have a message of it. It's about him finally escaping the Beatles shadow, more or less, I think. So, yeah. That's kind of an impression that I get when I listen to it because this was also like a do or dive moment for him. He had two studio albums that didn't do that great. So this one, he really needed to prove that he could do something on his own. Yeah, that is true. George Harrison had that hugely popular album come out right after the Beatles. And of course, you got competition with Linen, so yeah, you had to be on your game, for sure. Ringo started his all star band by that point. I don't know when that comes. I don't think so. Not yet. What tracks stand out for you? What are your kind of favorites? Yeah, so those four I mentioned earlier, I mean, Band on the Run, I like the music and I like how it's kind of three songs in one. Yeah, it tells the story. It's almost like listening to a movie in your head. It just seems like the way the music builds and it ebbs and flows and it's almost like there's beginning, middle and end. It's just a really well put together song. And then Jet with that hooky.
That's cool. And again, the lyrics in Jet, I have no clue what that's about. And I've actually heard a couple of people have said that they've heard that Paul say that song is about a bunch of different things at a bunch of different times. So apparently he doesn't know what it's about either. I read that Jet itself is the name of the dog. That's the name of the dog. No, that was the name of their dog. Okay, well, when we get to Helen Wheels, that was the name of their Range Rover. Yeah. Okay. Again, we all know that Paul likes pot.
Take it for what it's worth, I guess. Yeah. But after Jet, when they go into Bluebird, when I went back and listened to that, that's a really nice song.
Love song, really nice harmonies. And then that sac solo is pretty cool in a kind of a mellow rock kind of way. The sac solo saved it for me, otherwise it was fairly forgettable. But I did like that saxophone in there. All has this thing about birds. Phones, too, if you want to go back and look that up. Black Bird obviously is the first one you think of. But apparently there's like three or four other songs about birds that he does. And then I was thinking, he's written so many songs, I mean, you got to repeat some themes, right? That's true. I mean, this guy's probably written, what, 5000 songs in his life? Who knows? That Mrs. Van De Belt that we talked about. This is probably my favorite on the album, though. That's your favorite song? It is. I mean, I even had my five year old daughter bounce around going, ho hey. Ho. Yeah, that's definitely again. See, that's the hook, right? You don't know what he's talking about. He's got that hook. Yeah, and then let me roll it. That's another one.
So let me roll it. I had heard this one before, if you had asked me before any of this. That was the John Lennon song. I honestly thought that was a John Lennon. Oh, really? And see, I always figured it was just a drug reference song, but I'm not going to deny that, like roll it like a joint. And maybe it is a love song in marijuana, I don't know. But again, to me, I love the bass, I love how it sounds on that. It's got a great intro, too, like the very beginning of it. Yeah. And the guitar almost sounds like it's sampled and then just repeated and then just repeat it's like a sample, almost. When you flip it over to Side Too, things get derailed. Because that first
I don't like the mimonia part of it, but I do like where it slows down for the verses. You talk about rain in La. Yeah, that part sounds nice, but then it cuts back to the weird Mamonia. Yeah, they started Side Too with that. Yeah, that's Side Too. That's an interesting choice. I know. It's almost like I just want to get out of the way because the next one, No Words, is not any better than me. No, it's not. That's definitely the low point of the album.
It'd be another skip if you have it on CD and that album. But then when you get the Hell on Wheels, though, now that is a cool song. That's a good Cruising song. And knowing that it was about a Land Rover and road trip from Scotland to London that makes sense. Yeah.
Interestingly enough, that didn't appear on the UK versions available. That was only on the US version. Yeah, that's an odd choice there, too, because I don't know the reason why, but it's a good tune. Yeah. I assume it was a single, right? Yeah, there was a single in England. I think it was a a single release in the US. So I don't know why it didn't appear on the UK. In fact, I have a vinyl version and mine doesn't have Helen wheels on it. So I'm going to go have to go get me a US version because that's got to be on there for me. Saying a cuss word, singing the song, singing back, and maybe in Hell on Wheels, I was singing Hell on Wheels, not Helen Wheels. And then I could say, No, Mom, I'm saying Helen wheels, not Helen wheels, because it's a bad word. Of course. Yeah, it's a clever word play there with Helen and Wheels. Right.
And then the 1985 you forgot one in there, which is Picasso's last words. Oh, Picasso's last word. Yeah, you can skip that one, too. That's like a bunch of song snippets that aren't half as interesting. But it's weird because it's actually the longest track on the album. It's like a bunch of snippets that don't really do anything for me.
What's interesting about that one, though, is apparently he was at dinner with Dustin Hoffman, and Dustin Hoffman dared him write a song about something, and Picasso had just died, and his last words were, Drink to me. Right. So Paul McCartney did and Dustin Hoffman's like, oh, he's doing it, he's doing it. Oh, wow. Okay. It doesn't mean it had to be a great song, but he had a song kind of on the spot. Yeah. Well, I didn't even know that, so that is kind of impressive. I think they did that not in Nigeria, but at Gingerbrakers personal studio in Nigeria. Oh, that's cool. Okay. Well, I still don't like it. Yeah, it's not the best. And I think when you compare it to, say, Abbey Roads medley, it blows it out of the water. Yeah. Which I see. It seems like filler. Oh, yeah, definitely filler. And that seems like side, too. Is a lot of filler in me, too. That's a good way to put it. Yeah. But again but it ends strong. Yeah. I like
that little code at the end where they ban on the run and it kind of page out so you know, it's the end of the album. I thought that was kind of cool. What I liked about that one was the great piano intro kind of Lady Madonna esque. Yeah, definitely. I didn't think about the Lady Madonna aspect of it, but yeah. Again, if you could tell me what that song is about, I'd love to hear it because I don't know. Yeah, that's another gibberish lyrics no one here gets out of life.
Yeah. If you take them literally. Didn't really age well, but still good, too. Again, whatever hook you put in there, you remember that and you just fully forget that long. It doesn't make any sense. It's still, overall, a great album. Yeah. I'm glad you picked this one. It was a good listen and definitely going to be one that I'll return to several times over. Cool. That's good. To know. So Band On The Run made your top slot. Which ones didn't? What was on your shortlist? Well, if I go to my short list, I go to a different reasoning. I can be a music bob there and say, oh, Dark Side of the Moon is my favorite album. I won't fault you for that. But that is a great album. But my shortlist are the ones that I go to and play a lot of that's the ones I consider my favorite and none of them are going to be like Band on the Run because I will go to I like to play my music loud, so I go to Bad Motor Finger from Soundgarden. That's a great album. The Helicopters Rock and Rolls Dead. That's one of them. That's not what I'm aware of. How's it look that one up? The Helicopters are I don't know if they're defunct or not. I think they're Swedish band. The Smoke album from Driving and Crying. That's what I like. All right. Because that one is like they just went in the studio and turned everything up to eleven and hit record. So I love that album. Tesla Psychotic Supper. Another one. The Tesla is a band that outside of the five man acoustical jam. I don't really know their catalog. Oh, yeah. They're actually from here in Sacramento as well. Okay. Coincidentally, I guess the other couple I can think of, brother Kane, the Seeds album, that's one of my favorites again because it's basic rock and roll type stuff and that's what I love. Black Crows, Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. That's got a little bit more depth to it. Was that their follow up to Shake Your Money Maker?
It might have been,
yes. On it. Yeah. Hotel Illness. I love the guitar tones of that album. Medium kind of guitar loving kind of guy. Just the tones on that album are totally worth listening to. For me, I don't care if there's anything else on the album, I just love listening to those. I always like Chris Robinson's voice. He's got a great Southern blue sort of voice to him. Yeah, absolutely. And his brother plays some killer blues rock type guitar always. That's a good short list there. Couple I'm going have to to research on my own here. Yeah, the Helicopters, that'd be a good one for you. All right. We'll have to bring you back on here and you can talk one of those albums or homes. Sure. Well, overall, Allen, I want to thank you for your time today. Truly a pleasure to sit and talk with you. Talk about Band On The Run. Feel free to tell us. Well, I have nothing to promote, I have nothing to sell. I have no online presence. Other guests might. So this is the time where they can pitch whatever they want. Well, thanks for letting me do this. Talk about the album, it was super fun and I hope it works out great for you. I'm sure it will, because this is a cool concept for me, the album. It always reminds me of a particular moment in my life when I'm back six year old me. Right. But what's crazy is it gave me a direction and sent me down on a path. And the album kind of made me who I am today. And that's kind of amazing when you think about it, that an album could do that to a person. My twin uncles, so Stephen and Kevin Ethley. How can I express how much they probably unwillingly at the time, ended up shaping my life? They instilled in me a lifelong love of music and classic rock in particular, and like a debt I could never repay to them. Well, to further on that, two memories I have of my older cousin Alan here is at one Christmas, I was listening to Melancholy and the Infant Sadness that I had just gotten. And you had all kinds of thoughts on it already. To me, this was a brand new album and it was changing my life at the time. Oh, yeah. And you had thoughts on it and you were I don't even remember. This was at the Ochre Building. And you blew my mind at that point with all the musical knowledge you had about that album, about Billy Corgan, and you had thoughts on their previous albums, which I then had to go and get. And so that sent me down the pumpkins path. That's cool. But then at a later date, it might have been a year later at Christmas again, I don't know. But you brought me some CDs that I still listen to today, which is the best of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Oh, wow. Yeah. Something that I had never heard before and that blew my mind. But then also Arrow Smith Gyms. Oh, yeah. This is at the time where Aerosmith was coming out with Crying and newer aerosmith, yes. I hate all that new shit. Everything that they've done since they got sober. I hated that one. Had Mama Kin and all these where they just jam. And it's not the MTV Aerospace that I knew that opened me up to realize that how bands can really change over time, not necessarily for the worst, but just they can reinvent themselves. And their earlier albums are always worth going back and listening to for many reasons. Again, Musical Journey that helped me look backwards in time on that. And then, lastly, we were at Uncle Jim's and I was trying to play a record, and for some reason, I wanted to hear Desperado. And you were insistent, Just play the album. But Desperado's, track five, he's like, you're like, I don't care. Just play the whole thing. They're all good songs. This was their greatest hits, Eagles Greatest Tits, so play the whole album. And I did, but I remember that specific because you're like, that's not the best one there. Just play the whole album. Right? That's what I was trying to do. Play the whole album. Yeah, that is a really good point. And that goes back to the album versus MP3 or streaming debate, too, right? Yes, because sometimes those tracks that are on a CD or album on the not second side on the CD, but you know what I mean? Buried back there in the 10th or 11th or 12th spot, whatever, sometimes those songs can be really cool, but maybe they're not super popular, so they're always worth listening to the whole thing. Absolutely. And never take somebody's word that this is the best song on the album. Very true. I try not to be a music mob, but I am. Nothing wrong with that. And everybody tells me that. I am proud of it. But I listen to blues, punk, classic rock, obviously, I can pretty much handle anything but new country and freaking opera. You're going to love our Phantom of the Opera in the future. Then I'm going to listen because maybe someone can make me appreciate it. Well, not like that kind of opera that has an actual story. I don't know. I have been to an opera once. I went to the Barber of Seville and it was interesting, to say the least. I mean, it really wasn't my thing, but okay, but in that context of seeing a story evolve and the holly musical story that I could do. Yeah, there was an actual story being played out on stage, right? Yes. It was all in Italian. But you could interpret the story that you were watching. Right? I would not pick up an Italian opera on vinyl and lay it on a lazy Sunday afternoon. No, I couldn't picture myself doing that. But on the countryside, I'll lean more towards bluegrass than in country. Whether it's Old Crow Medicine Show or Stanley Brothers, there's a lot of good music out there that just doesn't get played. I would not know about it if someone else hadn't turned me on to that sort of thing. Yeah, I can even take that a step back. And I like some of the I guess I would say, like the Appalachian type music, the real rootsy type music that involves the bluegrass, but even a little bit more even raw than that. Some of that Americana, I guess, might be the label they put on it nowadays. I like a lot of that, too. Get that Old Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack. Yeah, that kind of stuff. Fantastic soundtrack it is. All right, I think we've rambled on enough about music. Well, hopefully you're going to contribute to this at some point. Maybe someday I'll bring you back and we'll reverse our positions here. We'll see. Maybe it would be an interesting way to end the season. Maybe, yeah. That's the beauty of being the host, though. I don't have to pick. Or like a bonus. You could interview yourself. That'd be horrible to listen to.
Like to thank Alan again for joining us. And thank you all for listening to this episode of Music Rewind. A podcast from the Ciderial Media Group. Please subscribe wherever you listen to your favorite podcast and feel free to give us a rating if you enjoy the show. Until next time,
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