Steve Forbert Remembers the Late Johnny Winter With This Psychedelic Jam

The singer/songwriter makes a good vinyl choice.


Steve Forbert tells BlastEcho about his favorite song you’ve never heard:

“Birds Can’t Row Boats” by Johnny Winter

In the mid-’60s, before focusing on his true calling as a bluesman, Johnny Winter explored various musical styles on various Texas indie-label releases. When he hit the big time in 1969 with his, well, perfect first [self-titled] Columbia album, I, like lots of others, sought out any vinyl with his name on it.

Those little Texas labels that had taken a chance on the younger Johnny were able to find national distribution for his early recordings. Three or four “Texas” albums were suddenly in the “cut-out” bins and I snapped them up. They were very interesting, not really all that bad at all… and offered somewhat of a musical education in themselves — Johnny covering James Brown or covering Johnny “Guitar” Watson or beginning to write his own songs. You could tell he loved R&B, sure, but he also dug folk rock.

Johnny’s wackiest move in his growing process was “Birds Can’t Row Boats.” This foray into psychedelic drug-influenced poetry (a spoof on Blonde On Blonde Bob Dylan?) was a scream. It’s still unique among all of the songs I’ve ever heard and a tongue-in-cheek favorite of mine.

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