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7.23-HOUSE IN THE COUNTRY(Blood Sweat & Tears)

Al Kooper
Al Kooper

LISTEN

[Intro]

No need to worry.
Folks in a hurry-
Leave them behind you;
No one can find you.

House in the country (2x)

All the relaxin'
Will soon fill the cracks in;
Good for your head too
If you are led to

[Refrain]

     Green surrounding,
     Love abounding--
     You won't find a manhole there.

Yes, yes I need you
Come let me feed you.
I've never tried to--
Come let me hide you.

[Refrain]

          I have never brought anybody there--
          Bring your own friend to sleep with.
          When we arrive, after the drive
          Then you can shower, and talk for an hour
          Then sleep in your chair.

[Break]

Sleep on the floor there.
Don't ask for more there.
Sun wakes you up too.
Glad you came up to

[Refrain]

House in the country (4x)

[Coda]


House in the Country begins with a sort of galloping sound and the “rivet” of somebody imitating a bullfrog. There are crickets and it sounds as if it’s night. It kind of scary until a Donald Duck voice says something indecipherable: reportedly it’s a scrambling of someone saying House in the Country Take One. A comic fanfare starts up with slide trombones. A simple electric organ accompanies the beginning lyric, using backward recorded cymbals for percussion. The B section brings back the horns; they follow the melody. The C section has more percussive horns to play against the lyric. Thereafter follows a splice of some roadhouse piano, barroom voices and a boop-boop-be-do clarinet (a dream when I suppose “you” have fallen asleep in the chair) before returning to the A verse with different lyrics. The last minute of the three minute song is a coda full of audio clips presented in a comic mode. For a moment we seem to hear a spaceship, then startlingly, close to the mike, an infant’s voice. The roadhouse piano starts up again with a little joke on the clarinet, followed by outdoor sounds of night, out in the country: the riveting frog, crickets, a dog, and a spooky wind, the aural scene ending with a crash.

So there’s a lot going on, all while feeling like Blood Sweat & Tears are pulling out magic tricks to entertain the kids. I grant that the musique concrete seems more of a series of vignettes than a narrative. I cannot explain the roadhouse scene, particularly in its repetition. At first, I thought the roadhouse scene was a dream, but in the coda it seems to be lecherous bar in the proximity of the house in the country, so that the house is not really escape from troubles after all. Despite the friendly invitation of the singer, the aural landscape is spooky. And the singer really has little more to offer than a shower. “You” will have to sleep on the floor if you stay over. (Can’t share the bed because there are no “manholes” here, wink wink.) I’m not at all sure that this is the scenario that Blood Sweat & Tears wanted to convey.

Even if House in the Country is a musique concrete of limited success, it is one of the rare instances of using the technique extensively throughout a psychedelic song. Humor saves it as it had saved the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. And it brings up a cultural theme that would begin developing in the hippie culture in 1968. For the first time, alternate consciousness was being presented not as a magic mushroom or spirituality or the pleasures of sex, but as getting out of urban areas and starting loving communes away from the negative energies of the cities. This corresponded with the beginnings of awareness that some of these rock music artists were becoming parents and starting families. The back to nature movement, only nascent when this song was released, corresponded with the desire to start new Edens, to begin again on the simplest level for the good of the next generation. Truly, many of hippies at the time would not have shunned sleeping on the floor in order to live someplace where they and their children could have some peace of mind.

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