Hoyt Axton was better known for authoring hits than for his own chart-busting ability. But, where would part our lust for alternative be without his writing Snowblind Friend (Steppenwolf), No No Song (Ringo), Lightning Bar Blues (Brownsville Station / Hanoi Rocks), Greenback Dollar (Kingston Trio) and Joy To The World (Three Dog Night)?
Though my need to hear these songs by the cover artists endures, my desire to hear them by Hoyt has never waned.
To hear the amped-up, psychedelic blues version by the gods called Steppenwolf is to hear the desperation and haunt of drug addiction within the poignant time frame from its debut. But to hear Hoyt sing it elicits a timeless scene of hardened hopelessness and bleak, murderous hate with a soulful growl more feral than human – accentuated within a beat driven and fuzz-bass cauldron. However, you can see where John Kay did derive most of the instrumentation from.
With the love grass in his hand
Oh but the pusher is a monster
Good God, he's not a natural man
The dealer for a nickel
Lord, will sell you lots of sweet dreams
Ah, but the pusher ruin your body
Lord, he'll leave your, he'll leave your mind to scream
God damn, The Pusher
God damn, God damn the Pusher
I said God damn, God,
God damn The Pusher man
Never Been To Spain
Hoyt was a great country artist and his roots are in plain view on this track. A straight-ahead guitar and piano driven track without the snappy frills, you’ll be warmed to hear the occasional fiddle and the pulsing drive of a hearty 4/4 drum beat.
Side note: Ever hear Elvis cover this track? A bit funny to hear him sing the line “Well I never been to England / But I kinda like the Beatles”.
Well I never been to England
But I kinda like the Beatles
Well, I headed for Las Vegas
Only made it out to Needles
Can you feel it
Must be real it feels so good
Oh, feels so good
Well I never been to Heaven
But I been to Oklahoma
Well they tell me I was born there
But I really don't remember
In Oklahoma, not Arizona
What does it matter
What does it matter
Hoyt Axton: The Pusher
Hoyt Axton: Never Been To Spain
From: Joy To The World & Country Anthem [CD 2001]