Quicksilver Messenger Service - Happy Trails Lyrics

Happy Trails

Happy Trails, Quicksilver Messenger Service (Capital ST 120)
review by Greil Marcus

Happy TrailsOn the cover of what is presumably Quicksilver's last album is a delightful picture that might remind on of the old Fredric Remington paintings of the old west. The lettering is done in pure thirties world fair script, on the back are members of the band in pen-and-ink, their cowboy portraits matching their sound: there are even little pictures of Coit Tower and the Statue Of Liberty. It's Quicksilver's version of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, on tour from sea to shining sea.

It begins with an entire side dedicated to Bo Diddley's "Who Do You Love," superbly recorded at the Fillmores East and West. Quicksilver has been doing this number for some years. Now they have taken Bo Diddley's horror story and come back with one of the best rock and roll recordings to emerge from San Fransisco, a performance that captures all the excitement and grandeur of the great days of the scene in a way that is almost too fine to be real. If rock and roll really will stand, as the Showman sang, it will be music like this that makes it that way.

Quicksilver goes into it at full speed. John Cipollina's guitar alternately harsh and sweet, clashing with Gary Duncan's rhythm, Greg Elmore's drumming simple and solid, never an iota of sloppiness, not a note missed. They  use the infamous Bo Diddley rhythm not as a crutch, not as something for the rhythm section to play with while the lead takes it; Quicksilver finds dimensions of that "bump bubby bump bump-bump bump" beat that no one has even suggested before, as a motif or a bridge, as an idea rather then as a pattern.

The vocals are wild and screaming, like on the first Moby Grape album, but with singing constantly jerked in like a zipper pulled hard. This combination of vocal anarchy and almost vicious timing pushes everything just past that point where one thought the limits were.

Describing this song is almost like trying to explain the plot of a movie by Godard; it opens with some of the finest hard rock ever recorded, then moves fast through a Bloomfield-like solo by Gary Duncan (but with an edge on it). Then into an interlude of yelling and shouting by the audience, the participation of the listeners almost like a "found object" out of Dada, a beautiful example of the kind of communication rock and roll is all about. Cipollina takes over again, the excitement flashes, and finally David Freiberg and his bass slowly take it apart and put it back together, with chilling words whispered and hissed out to the audience-"graveyard mind...don't mind dyin'"- the tension builds and they hit it all at once, guitars harder and harder. Elmore pounding, voices screaming, everything working. By the time the band yells "Bye!" to the audience it's just not to be believed.

There is another side to this record:"Mona" comes off very well, as do two compositions by Gary Duncan which closely resemble "The Fool." Happy Trails closes with Dale Evan's "Happy Trails," which was a nice idea. But it took me two hours to even get to the other side.

Who Do You Love? (3:24) Bo Diddley

I walked forty-seven miles of barbed wire,
I got a cobra snake for a necktie,
I got a brand new house by the road side,
Made out of rattlesnake hide.
I got me a chimney made on top,
Made from a human skull,
Now come on, take a little walk with me,
Now who do you love?
Come on Arlene, take me by the hand,
Let me know you understand,
Who do you love? ...
Ride nine times on the midnight train
Through the fire and cold rain,
Who do you love? ...
I've got a tombstone hand in a graveyard mine,
Just twenty-two and I don't mind dying,
Who do you love? ...

Mona (6:53) Bo Diddley

Hey, Mona, hey hey hey hey, Mona,
I'm gonna tell you what I'm gonna do,
I'm gonna build my house next door to you,
Can I make love to you once in a while?
Maybe we could do a little kissing and tellin' lies.
When I come out on the front, girl,
You'll listen to my heart goin' bumpity bump.
I need you baby and it ain't no lie,
When I'm through lovin' I'll surely die.

Maiden Of The Cancer Moon (3:07) Duncan

Cavalry (13:25) Duncan

Call It Whatever You Want!

Happy Trails (0:47) Dale Evans

Happy trails to you, until we meet again,
Happy trails to you, keep smilin' till then.
Happy trails to you, till we meet again.

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