Skyward: Sky Saxon of the Seeds, RIP

A second highly-influential musician left us on June 25th, 2009. That musician was Sky Saxon, frontman of the legendary ’60s garage band, the Seeds.

Three chords and the truth? Hell, Sky and the Seeds didn’t even need that many, as they demonstrated on their best-known song, the almighty “Pushin’ Too Hard.” Keyboards? “[Keyboardist Daryl Hooper’s] idea of a creative solo was to play the same riff over and over at varying octaves.”* That was also the general concept behind many of the lead guitar lines.

I own a lot of Nuggets and Pebbles type stuff (for those not familiar, those are compilations of ’60s garage-rock songs). It’s happened several times to me where I hear a song that’s just awesome, and spend some money, sometimes a lot, to find more of the band’s work. Almost inevitably, I just wasted my money, because everything else the band did was completely horrible.

Not so with the Seeds. I don’t own everything they did, and I won’t, but they put out five albums (one under the moniker “The Sky Saxon Blues Band”) and I have their first two. There is a lot of bad stuff on them, but loads of good stuff too.

Probably the best way to go is a compilation. There are several out there, and I can’t tell you which is the best, but the one I have is called Evil Hoodoo and it’s well worth your time and your money. It contains such classics as:

  • “The March of the Flower Children” (“Somewhere, the children are out there playing, so happy, in their own flower garden.”)
  • “Mr. Farmer” (“Mr. Farmer, let me watch your crops. Mr. Farmer, let me water your crops. Mr. Farmer, let me harvest your crops.”)
  • “Rollin’ Machine” (“Everybody, do you hear me out there? Wanna take you ridin’ on my rollin’ machine.”)
  • “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” (“You fly around like a bee, hurtin’ everything you see.”)

Shit, maybe I do need the rest of their albums.

My sad postscript to this piece: Sky Saxon played a gig at Red’s Scoot Inn here in Austin just a few weeks ago. I wanted to go but for one reason or another I didn’t end up making it. See the artists you love when you can, because you never know.

Rest in peace, Sky Saxon.

The Seeds – “Pushin’ Too Hard”

The Seeds – “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” (Sound quality is not the best, but I couldn’t resist this great American Bandstand archival footage, and sound quality isn’t so important with garage rock anyway. You can hear the studio version here.)

The Seeds – “The March of the Flower Children”

*The New Rolling Stone Record Guide, which also notes that “Sky Saxon’s world view was limited to two subjects–sex and drugs.” Based on his music, that’s only a slight exaggeration.

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2 Responses to Skyward: Sky Saxon of the Seeds, RIP

  1. Alex LaPointe says:

    I saw “Saxon” there and got all excited for a second.

    “Denim and Leather, brought us all together. It was you who set the spirit free.”

  2. JM Dobies says:

    Dig this podcast tribute to Sky:

    THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #16: Riot on Sunset Strip Revisited

    In an episode dedicated to the memory of Sky Saxon, Mal Thursday trips back in time and space to Los Angeles, California, circa 1966, and the teenage riots that inspired the exploitation classic Riot on Sunset Strip. Then, dig some bitchin’ Seeds covers from Thee Headcoats, Alex Chilton, the Zeros, the Fiends, and the Freak Mountain Ramblers, as well as a set of Mal’s favorite Seeds tracks. Special guest appearances by Deborah Walley and Mimsy Farmer.

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