Billy Cobham, “Crosswinds.”

“My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.” – Errol Flynn

L-R: me, Billy, me.
Head tilt, my dude. HEAD TILT.

Name: Billy Cobham, Crosswinds (Atlantic, 1974).

Is this title acceptable? Yes. Aviationally speaking, “crosswinds” are those that blow at an angle, um, across the intended line of flight of an aircraft, the course of a ship, or anything in motion that needs wind behind its back. Crosswinds blowing across the runway make plane landings and takeoffs more difficult than if the wind were blowing straight down the runway. It’s a metaphor for being a jazz drummer/composer/arranger, you see. Musicians always think of dope and meaningful album titles (with the exception of Maybach Music, which is stupid).

Global events at the time of its release: Taking it back to ’74, epic epic sexy songs on the charts included George McCrae’s “Rock Your Baby” (!) and William DeVaughn’s “Be Thankful for What You’ve Got” (!!). The Raiders’ record was 12-2 (the NFL season was only 14 games). Shaw Brothers movies were on the teevee, sloppily dubbed and getting the blood flowing inside a whole generation of boys who’d grow up to be rappers. Big L was born. Dilla was born. Derek Fisher was born (FISH!). Kareem was playing for the Bucks and that was a big time-waster, just a stop along the way in his career–a prelude to his destined greatness in LA. Everyone wanted to see Raquel Welch naked. The Ramones got together. The Rumble in the Jungle between Ali and Foreman took place, which was just an excuse to fly the whole Fania crew and Bill Withers and James Brown to Kinshasa to do a concert (Zaire 74). I am almost positive there were lots of songs by lots of singers during the show, but the VOICE OF LAVOE drowned all of them out, as it was at its strongest and clearest and Lavoe was convinced he had the strength to shake off the heroin devil and if you were backed by Marrero on timbales in front of a euphoric crowd, you’d probably feel invincible too.

Produced by: Mr. Cobham himself.

Entered my life: August 2010. Grady’s Record Refuge, in lovely Ventura, CA. $5. Five dollars, knucklehead. Five! HA HA. I rule. This record is simply unavailable in Los Angeles County; I know, as I have tried to locate it for several years with great lack of success. YEARS. Luckily, in Ventura, I am the only person who’s been looking for it since nobody’s a digger there. Everyone’s either surfing or shopping at antique stores downtown.

Difficulty of finding, vinyl-wise (1-10 scale): Please refer to the previous paragraph. In Ventura, it’s a 2.4. In LA, it’s a 10. Once again, LA-area dusty-fingered crate-digging boys who are my competition for good finds: HA HA.

Breaks contained: “Heather” is used in Big K.R.I.T.’s “Somedayz” but it’s more well-known for providing the sparkly intro for “’93 Til Infinity” when Tajai is talking and introducing his buddies (We hailin from East Oakland, California, andummm…). “Crosswind was used in Gangstarr’s “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” which is not Guru’s finest lyrical moment but that bassline makes up for all his shortcomings. Plus it sounds so much like Ripple’s I Don’t Know What it is, But It Sure is Funky,” it would blend beautifully into Special Ed’s “I Got it Made.” Email me if you want me to shut up about imaginary blends, and/or if you want me to draw you a diagram about imaginary blends.

Regarding the Souls who hail from East Oakland, indulge me for a second while I discuss. The whole “greenbacks in stacks” stanza is a great example of rhythmic wordplay, and “If you’re really dope why ain’t you signed yet?” is one of history’s great devastating lines and feelings-hurters, a straight, painful shot right into the hearts of so many independently-minded rappers. Today’s version would be “If you’re really dope why don’t you call out rappers who keep asking Ricky Rawss to hop on their tracks.” The best, though, has to be “So many females/So much inspiration,” a truth about life that packs so much meaning into 6 little words and makes you nod in agreement, even if you’re a straight girl like me. It works in 2 ways: a) I find it flattering—because perhaps, as a female, I have provided or could hope to provide inspiration to a young man who may or may not be a rap professional; b) I find it to be the god’s honest truth—females are inspiring, fuckin A, let’s face it. Even if I weren’t one, I’d mean that. Examples that immediately come to mind are Raquel Welch, all those street fashion sites with ladies who are naturally stylish (unlike myself), and Lara Stone’s impossible face/hair/body/swagger.

Reason for this post on today of all days: 93 ‘Til Infinity came out 16 years ago this very day! Aw, that’s sweet. Rap anniversaries are only going to become more frequent and more poignant as I get older. I’m especially looking forward to 2034, when I’ll be celebrating the 30th anniversary of Mm…Food.

Facts of nerdy interest that excite me and might show up on Jeopardy! someday: Billy Cobham es panameño! I didn’t know that; did you? This is because “Cobham” does not strike me as Panamanian-sounding, but then, Bernie Williams is Puerto Rican despite being named “Bernie Williams.” So, sure, Billy is of Panamanian descent – just like Ruben Blades, who started writing songs while working in the mailroom at Fania Records. Cobham was also in Jazz is Dead, a Grateful Dead cover band made up of jazz musicians. I tell you, this man is perfect in every way.

Sartorial accompaniment: shorts, tank, fabulous Wu pendant that protects me from all enemies like it’s ’93, and sandals, because it is approximately 157 degrees outside today. This whole outfit cost me $23. Buying clothes is not my thing; buying records is. Gross habits/net income, people.

Suitable activities while listening: Call up Bridget (she got friends). Think about Guru and get flooded with memories. Take a look in the mirror and wonder if you’ve gone a little bit too red with the highlights (as it turns out: no, it’s just the peachy color of the tank top brings out the ginger in a girl’s hair). Prepare to get street harassed upon stepping out the front door in that outfit (the flesh-exposing shorts! the flesh-exposing shirt!); really get that psychological guard up. Peruse pictures of the various Fashion Weeks and fantasize about the chocolate-brown Pucci number with not enough breast coverage paired with lace-up footwear that’s perfect to add to my “Stripper librarian goes to Coachella” closet.

Life lessons, important messages contained:

– The whole album is just over a half hour long. That’s the way to do it. Those of us afflicted with musical ADD appreciate it. Coincidentally or maybe not so coincidentally, Ramones was recorded the following year and is just under a half hour long. Obviously Joey and Dee Dee and the gang were influenced by Billy’s fusion jazz.

Best YouTube comment: I listen to this tune at the great antiquity, and remain very much in the impression. And, I am glad to listen to this tune now. Thank you. I couldn’t have put it better myself, sdpragit. Honorable mention goes to Dinso11’s “really great song…it really make me relaxing.”

Other notable things about today:

– The Kinks released “You Really Got Me” today in 1964. Dave Davies got his guitar to do those magical things by him cutting the speaker of his amp with a razor blade and poking pins into it.

Dr. John and the Beastie Boys getting into any and all Halls of Fame is really great. Do we all no longer care about MCA’s health, by the way?

– Maino + Joell’s “Ask Me About Brooklyn” works because of that Morgan Heritage hook, despite it being a not very good song with verses full of references to individuals whose deaths will be avenged but whom I’ve never heard of.

– Freeway + Jake One’s “Beautiful Music” works because Jake One exists and decided to go into music as a career. Freeway still has that dirty-lookin beard and that fatigue in his voice, but those are good things to me. I don’t care for a pretty rapper. Those factors make up for the fact that the opening verse in which Freeway talks about himself like an actual freeway (“They said the freeway closin’/they said they saw the signs/but we done construction in preparation/we back open”). Groan. Sloppy songwriting.


2 thoughts on “Billy Cobham, “Crosswinds.”

  1. danps

    Rush is still not in the Rock Hall and the induction ceremonies are not held at the actual site, a condition it shares with precisely zero other halls of fame in the omniverse. Hometown or no, the whole shoddy operation can kiss my pale white American ass.

    Turns out “The Hair Song” is pretty rockin – nice call. For a change of pace you might enjoy Like The Wheel


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