Some time ago I was approached by an acquaintance. He had embarked on a project to celebrate and commemorate members of the Mythic 27 Club, those artistes who had died at the age of twenty-seven.
Amongst the seemingly endless roster of names were such greats as Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison. I was asked if I would write twenty-seven paragraphs about someone, and I chose Alan ‘Blind Owl’ Wilson of Canned Heat.
These lines were published as part of a combined literary/graphic exposition in France, but they have never been published in English.
So here we are: twenty-seven paragraphs about the voice of Canned Heat. Great band, great singer, and sorely missed…
Truth is I never cared to see much beyond the music.
Maybe that’s why my eyes didn’t work so well.
Maybe I just needed to see sounds, and that was all I needed to see.
Until I saw the trees.
Until I saw the redwoods.
Out there on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
The rivers, the valleys, the woods, the sea, the coastline, the rocks, the cliffs, the trees. They’re all the same. Been here forever, and will go on being here long after all of you have gone.
They haven’t changed. But we have.
We changed too fast, too furiously, acting like crazy children with a box of fireworks.
Seems like we set our hearts on exploding them all at once, and yet we never even considered the consequences.
Happened just the way I figured it would.
And now, are we sorry? Maybe some of us, the ones with little voices and little hands…but the big voices, the greedy hands, the ones who don’t care for anything beyond the here-and-now, they go on believing that Man is in competition with Nature, and that Man can win.
I am watching from up in the grandstand, and I laugh.
You know, we believed we could change everything with love.
We believed that love was more powerful than bullets and bombs and helicopter gunships, more powerful than Agent Orange and napalm.
More potent than Canned Heat.
We believed in Woodstock and Monterey and Haight-Ashbury. We believed that if we believed in ourselves enough, then it would all come out right in the end.
But it didn’t.
Got to a point where I couldn’t take it any more.
Had to get out. And get out for good.
You know, if every year of my life was an hour of yours, you’d be dead tomorrow. Think about that for just a moment.
July 4th, 1943, Boston, Massachusetts to September 3rd, 1970, Topanga Canyon, California.
That was it. Went by in a flash.
But such a bright flash, you know? So bright, even I could see it!
I’ve gone up the country now, ‘cause baby, that’s where I wanted to go.
Some place I never been before.
You know the water does taste like wine, and I stay drunk all the time.