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"CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL" - A New Series Created By William Mesnik, The Mind Behind “Mesmerized”- EPISODE # 8 - "LITTLE STEVIE GROWS UP"- FEATURING THE ALBUM "JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE" By TRAFFIC (UA 1970) IN HIGH DEFINITION WITH NARRATIVE

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EPISODE #8: JOHN BARLEYCORN MUST DIE by Traffic (United Artists, 1970)

Stevie Winwood was 14 when he was recruited by the Spencer Davis Group. And, after he was done shouting out those R&B classics: Keep on Running, Give Me Some Lovin’, and I’m a Man, he had established himself as a Rock n Roll legend before he was legal to drink.

I feel like we grew up together, Stevie and I. When I was old enough to get into hallucinogens, there he was, directing my head’s Traffic, sending me on mind-excursions like Who Knows what Tomorrow may Bring, 40,000 Headmen, and Paper Son.

But, it was after the departure of Dave Mason (the co-creator of Traffic), and the short, impulsive “Supergroup” power trip of Blind Faith, with the reformation of Traffic’s core trio (with Jim Capaldi on drums and Chris Wood on woodwinds), that the mature Stevie Winwood began to emerge.

This is where his improvisational jazz ambitions flourished, and where his connection to traditional English folksong manifested, and the combination of these elements conjured a futuristic, mystical, Pre-Raphaelite brew. Sure, Jethro Tull, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, and Fairport Convention had been ploughing the same furrow, but it was Stevie, (trusted because he had been with me so long), that I allowed to usher me into the that ancient world – in retrospect, a world to which I’ve always felt inexplicably drawn.

For a Jewish boy from Queens to feel that he has lived a prior lifetime in medieval England has always been an amusing notion for me. Plus, I hate kitschy, commercialized Renaissance fairs. Nevertheless, a piece of my musical soul resides somewhere with Sandy Denny, June Tabor, Anne Briggs, and the Incredible String Band as my cohorts, wearing our leather Robin Hood britches, drinking mead, and harmonizing about Matty Groves.

Mr. Winwood went on to garner his biggest hits during the synth-pop 80’s, and I don’t believe his story his done being written. He is a musical force of nature. But, Barleycorn will always be my touchstone for the kid I grew up with.


By Rich Buckland 05/02/2021 03:36 PM

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