Peter Case

Rock ‘n’ Roll

On Tour! Come on out…

On this track, it’s Case & Ridgway bringing the noise!  I’m out on tour solo, now, and playing a few gigs with my pals Dead Rock West, rocking the house, I promise.

Tour listings and links at www.


Here’s another jam, from McCabe’s, with Ron Franklin, and DL Bonebreak from X!


12 hour turnaround

you get up to the room after navigating a freeway & a service road—then, a crowded motel office—now crossing the parking lot with luggage—two trips with arms clinging to instruments & clothes on hangers—the next door neighbor eyes you suspiciously—or is that hostility in his eyes—predation? the door clicks behind—the light is felt for, your fingers do the walking in the dark—and they come on—the aroma? is it an odor? its a dry & chemical cleaner thats been used—the room is chilly—there is one thin garishly colored cover for the bed—orange & blue—and from experience you know the heater will either misfire or fry you—But some time without having to keep an eye cocked at the highway—time to close yr eyes & fall into inner space—play some music through the tiniest & tinniest of speakers—reading—writing—‘rithmetic—the little stale schoolhouse—drinking lots of water from plastic bottles—in this room the near-by highway presents as a steady roar—gotta get some sleep so I can drive tomorrow but its so much fun just being in this dump alone & not moving.

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John Lennon BIRTHDAY (belated)

When I was a kid John Lennon was one of my biggest heros. At 16 years old I read the Rolling Stone interview, and JL said something like ‘I’m the kind of person, when I have a hero, if I find out they wear green socks, I’ll run out and buy green socks’  and  I immediately started to wear green socks myself. Wore ’em for years. I know that’s fucked up.

He did a photo spread in Look Magazine, with Yoko, it must have been around the time of  the making of the White Album, and the pictures made a big impression on me. Him and Yoko were posing in a big empty house that they’d just moved into. She was sitting with him and he was playing the guitar, and  I just really admired him, with his girl and guitar in a big house where nobody could tell him what to do. It was one of the things that clarified, at the time, my ideas about life. Of course, my image of him was rubbish. He was mad, painfully insane, destroying his mind with drugs, about to break up his great band. But that flux was part of what was great about him. I would consciously, and unconsciously, imitate all of that before too long myself.

I identified with the depth of his problems, as expressed in Yer Blues. That was my favorite for a while. My band ‘Pig Nation’ performed it at every gig we did, through 1969 and 1970. Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan were my other biggest living heros, and that song kind of summed it all up for me.

‘I’m lonely, want to die,’  Pig Nation used to rehearse in my parents basement and my Mom once called down the stairs: ‘Boys, play that nice song about suicide again!’

I’d seen the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show every time they were on. That was the first time I ever talked back to a grown up. My Dad was making cracks about their hair and I told him to be quiet. He got me good for that one! That was the first trouble JL got me in. I still have a 1964 diary somebody gave me for Christmas. ‘Saw the Beatle last night on TV. Mom and Dad think they stink. I think they’re great!’  Then me and a couple guys skipped outta school at lunch, and went downtown. I was 9, what is that, 4th grade?  And we stood in the drugstore reading the first Beatle magazines ’til the guy asked us to buy something or leave.  My first adventure with truancy, thanks John.

So you see, he was a big one for me. I became a songwriter in 1965, right after ‘I Feel Fine’ came out. Me and George Pope, my first songwriting partner, wrote ‘Stay Away,’ that was my first tune. We played it in my band, The Telstars, and that was it: all I ever wanted to do, after that.

I could go on and on. But I think you see. I spent three years living and playing on the streets of San Francisco. That was sort of my ‘Hamburg’ period. Me and my pals would play 12 or or more hours a day, everyday. During this time, I didn’t give a fuck about anything, just like I knew JL didn’t when he was a young rocker. It was a dark time in a way, but it taught me that I could project rock and roll.

When he died I was in the Plimsouls. That night me and Eddie Munoz had just written our song Shaky City. When the news sunk in,  I cried my guts out. What a disaster.   Eddie didn’t cry. He just said ‘ They kill all our heroes.’

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Give Me One More Mile (Lead off track on the Case Files LP/CD)


Produced by Andrew Williams, at Mike Meltzer’s TMOP Studio in Van Nuys, CA, sometime in the mid-90’s. With Sandy Chila on Drums, David Jackson on Fender Bass, and  Peter Case on 12 string, harmonica, and vocals.  This is the opening track on the Case Files compilation, on Alive/Naturalsound Records, available from their site:

The Case Files (2011)
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The Plimsouls in the Nineties, Playing With Jack, featuring Clem Burke.

Kool Trash (1998)

Davido, Eddie and I, with Clem Burke going crazy on drums. The Williams Brothers, Andrew and David, sing backups, the way they did on the original A Million Miles Away. Ethan Johns, (son of Glyn) engineered this,  and Andrew Williams produced it. Ethan brought in a Gretsch that was once David Crosby’s, and I played it throughout, one of the greatest guitars I’ve ever had my hands on, it just had a river of electric musical power running through it, amazing.  The lyrics spin a cautionary tale, but its all with a rock n roll sense of humor. This track was pretty much ignored at the time by radio etc. I thought they’d be all over it. What did I know? But its still a good listen…


By the way, I’ll be at McCabes in Santa Monica Saturday Night, July 8, 8pm.  C’mon out!






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The Plimsouls Live, 1983 Who’s Gonna Break The Ice?

This is from a live album, Beachtown Confidential, recorded at the Golden Bear, in Huntington Beach, one of our favorite clubs, in 1983, and released on Alive/Naturalsound Records. This and the other two Plimsouls Live recordings I believe are the best recordings we did, and surpass the studio versions for sound and excitement. We were a live band!   Below is a link to the record at the Alive store. There’s another one available there, Live! Beg, Borrow and Steal, from The Whiskey a Go Go Halloween 1982.

There was talk at the time that this tune would be the next single…


Both of these are available at iTunes and Apple Music:


For the vinyl or CD:

Beach Town Confidential (1983)


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This track I made with Stan Ridgway has just come back into focus…

Let’s Turn This Thing Around is a track we recorded at Stan’s Lumberyard Studio, back during the W. Bush epoch.  Sad to say, it’s come back into relevance. But it’s a rockin’ little number I want my jockey to play, ‘cept that never happens. So, here it is!

Me on vocals and banjo, Stan on drum machine and SOUNDS.


Let’s Turn This Thing Around

when the next election comes & goes•

before it’s stolen by a nose

Americas been growing strange•

we the people want a change



Democracy is our ideal •

without the truth its all unreal

Jesus Christ said it plain•

you can’t serve God on a golden chain




Our countrys split that what were told

Our constitutions bought & sold

turn off the tv hear the news

without the lies & violent spews



who are the heros? who, the thieves?

who tells lies & who believes?

we the people hear the voice

the time has come to make the choice



when the next election comes & goes•

before it’s stolen by a nose

Beware the ones who turn their backs•

on reasoned words for false attacks



Americas been growing strange•

we the people want a change



How many thousands more will die

before they suck this country dry

They listened in what’s that about?

The time has come to raise a shout

its up to us to clear THE HOUSE






This was released on The Case Files compilation of rare tracks, on alive/naturalsound recordings a few years back. It’s still available on LP and CD:

Heres the link


The Case Files (2011)
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Joey And Chris And A Million Miles Away

[above: Chris and Joey] [earliest version of A Million Miles Away, from 1981 tour]



I ‘d met Joey Alkes and Chris Fradkin at  just the right time, the same week the Plimsouls began playing in the Hollywood clubs. We’d hit it off immediately.

I ‘d always wanted to be a Brill Building songwriter,  like Otis Blackwell, Doc Pomus, or Carol King,  who were adept at composing three minute rock ’n roll symphonies on demand.  I felt Joey and Chris were my ticket to that dream, to that kind of fun. And we always had a blast writing songs.

I’d get up in the morning, get some coffee and head straight over to Joey’s. Chris would show up, and we’d get right into making up songs, trying anything and everything out, looking for a real idea.

Joey’s from Brooklyn, was a few years older than me and Chris, had been in the army, was a published poet, too, but  his specialty was great song hooks.

Chris had studied music, and played guitar and piano. He’d been music director for a wild band Joey had managed in Denver, and always had a lot to say about grooves and arrangements.

Chris and I would sing and play riffs or chords on our guitars, me still banging on the Yamaki deluxe, that same guitar I’d been banging’ on for years. We’d work for hours without stopping, sometimes making up several songs in a session. It was fun, a lot of laughs, tough sometimes if you thought you had something and the other guys gave it the thumbs down.

But the great thing about writing with Joey and Chris was the camaraderie, and that came through in the music. I wrote a different kind of song with them than I did alone.

Joey  lived in one of those Hollywood pads where the apartments circled a pool. Even on the sunniest day, we never sat by the pool, but we sort of looked at it through the windows as we gathered around his kitchen table and worked. Joey didn’t play an instrument, but he’d be singing choruses and horn parts—just making sounds, that added to the general feeling.

We knocked out a load of songs over there. “Now,” “Lost Time,” “Hush Hush,” were all on the first Plimsouls album. “Hypnotized,” the first song we wrote, was featured on our debut e.p.. Writing became nearly my favorite thing to do, and whenever the ‘souls were back from the road I’d go over. Sometimes it would be like a party; we’d buy beers and bottles of wine, or whiskey, get high, and keep writing. Sometimes we’d get too messed up and have to adjourn to the next day. But we just kept writing songs. It was so much fun, walking in with nothing and coming out with a song a few hours later. When we got one, we’d put it down on the boom box, making a cassette I could take with me. I’d go learn it with the band. And then, when everybody got to it, wow, that was the best feeling.

Meanwhile it seemed like every gig the band played was bigger than the one before it. The EP had been a hit on local radio, especially a song I’d written on my own, called “Zero Hour.”  Like Rodney Bingenheimer, KROQ’s great punk rock dj liked to say, “IT’S ALL HAPPENING!” And there was pressure to come up with a powerful song to lead off the next record.

One night Chris and I went out to see the Germs play a gig at the Starwood. The place was going nuts. Punks were climbing up the walls to the balcony and diving off head first, back into the crowd. We watched it from the back for a while, then decided to work on a song.

We drove to Barney’s Beanery, a horrible bar and restaurant a mile or so up the road. We sat in a booth in the back, and Chris ate dinner, while I drank a beer and scribbled lyrics on a scrap of paper. We talked about the words, and each kicked in some lines. I was remembering something from a long time back and the feeling was pouring into the song. I’d been having an affair with a girl I really thought a lot of, and that had just broken off. Something of my childhood was in it too. A lyric was taking shape based on all of this. We wrote the second verse and a bridge but still had no title or chorus.

We got out of the restaurant and drove the five minutes over to Joey’s. He rang us in the front door of his building and met us outside his door.  His wife Esther was asleep. I went in and grabbed the cheap acoustic 12 string I’d left behind the table and came back out playing. The whole song came to life as I sang the lyrics. I played the guitar riffs between the lines the way Chris and I had laid them out that afternoon, and the build up of the bridge. It was all coming together in a rush. But what’s the title, where’s the chorus? I told Joey I wasn’t sure, then somehow  Joey nailed the chorus, just like that. “I’m a million miles away” and I threw on the tag “and there’s nothing left to bring me back today,” and we had another one.

We taped it on cassette, adding it to the other two songs we’d done that day, and that was it. We forgot all about it for a while.



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Dangerous Book (Plimsouls with Clem Burke) ( & a few words about my Bookstore Education, thanks to Acappella Books!)

Kool Trash (1998)

When I was a kid I read for hours in the local bookstores, working my way through the Hardy Boys detective series, then moving on to Ian Fleming’s secret service novels. I didn’t understand anything about detectives or spies, so it was strictly fill-in-the-blanks, piecing together a picture of the world from bookrack to bookrack, unguided, racing through the set-ups to the death-defying sex scenes.

I loved the nearest branch of the public library too, ever since the Friday night when I was six, in 1960: My pal Pete Damon and I had our first sleepover and brought five or six picture books about bugs back to the house to study by flashlight, all night in bed. That’s still one of the best times I ever had in my life, it was so much fun, reading about walking sticks, and praying mantises, sharing the pictures of anthills and beehives. Life seemed huge, friendly, ancient, inexhaustible.

But the reading experience at Ulbrich’s Books at the local suburban plaza, was different. They had popular titles, the latest things, like The Sport Of Judo by Kiyoshi Kobayashi and Harold Sharp. Me and Pete poured over that and eventually brought it home, learning to throw each other all over the yard, using Advanced Foot Sweeps, and the Major Outer Rear Drop Throw. That was 1965, when I was 10. I still have my copy of that summertime obsession.

Another big bookstore discovery, perhaps the most important, was in February, 1966, when a Dell paperback called Folk-Rock: the Bob Dylan Story, by Sy and Barbara Ribakove,  appeared one day on the same rack that held James Bond and Mike Hammer. “The First! The one and only!” shouted the cover in a red balloon. I purchased a copy for 50 cents. The book began with a list of all the times Dylan ran away from home, and told the story of his first flight, to Chicago, when he was ten.

“Destiny appeared in the form of a weathered Negro street singer strumming a guitar. Bob, awed, couldn’t pull himself away. ‘I went up to him and began accompanying him on spoons—I used to play the spoons when I was little.’ …Before the police corralled him and took him home to his parents, Bob spent three months tagging after the street player and his friends, one of whom gave him the priceless gift of an old guitar.”  Man, that’s better than Pinocchio.

As I got into my teenage years, I found and read Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media, a book that still carries a message for me. Norman Mailer’s Why Are We In Vietnam?  amazed me because the story was of a teenage genius named DJ, along on his father’s demented hunting expedition to Alaska. The novels that spoke to me the most were Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey. It seemed like you could base your whole life on those. Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Coney Island Of the Mind, and Leonard Cohen’s The Spice-box Of Earth inspired me to make my own poetry.  William Blake became important to my survival, and as life got more psychedelic, I had my portable copy. All of these eye-opening texts came my way at Ulbrich’s Books. I spent hours perusing books in the store, but the owners were patient, and never once threw me out.

I grew up, said goodbye to my pals, and got out of that town a few years later. I remember reading Ed Sanders’ book The  Family, before I split. It was a terrifying vision of California, and Charles Manson.  At the time,The Greening Of America was a sensation as well, though I never bought it, just glanced into it. And Future Shock. Well, everybody was living that one.

Despite Sanders’ warnings, I landed in San Francisco at 18 years old and began living a precarious existence as a wandering street singer for several years, no doubt inspired by my reading about Bob Dylan’s nonexistent friend.

My bookstore of choice in San Francisco was City Lights, an iconic landmark even then. I knew it was Ferlinghetti’s shop, and had read much of the poetry he’d published by Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and others. I’d see him coming and going about his business, as I played on the busy corner across the street.

During the day, if traffic was too slow on the sidewalks to bother playing, or if it was cold or raining, I’d go into City Lights, downstairs into the basement, pick a book out from the shelves, pull up a chair, and read for hours.  The Travels of Marco Polo introduced my imagination to the magic, mystery and beauty of the East—what a story! Charles Dickens, and his street characters in Oliver Twist captivated me, with tales of running away into city-wide adventure. I bought Hunter Thompson’s satire of ’70s America, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas and read it straight through, sitting all night at the counter in Hunt’s Donuts at Mission and 20th.

My next trip back to City Lights, I climbed the stairway above the front counter cash register and in the quiet room up there, devoured  Harlan Ellison’s  I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. But my bible at the time was Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. The tales of Doc the marine biologist, and Mack, the king of the bums, mythically reflected the adventures I was having in San Francisco.  All of these books were spellbinders, opening up in vivid ways ideas of life beyond the world I knew.

Back downstairs, in the philosophy section, I was reading Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good And Evil, which left me dumbfounded. What the hell? I would have loved to go beyond that duality, but I didn’t get it. I was struggling, but enjoyed the aphorisms anyway. Martin Buber’s I & Thou—which I was led to believe by a writer named Stephen Pickering had been one of Dylan’s favorites—was about the quest for God. I reached, tried to understand, didn’t get so far. But it was fascinating. I was willing to know more, and that was a start. Not “getting it” was sometimes a major piece of my bookstore education, as I tried to come to terms with concepts that were beyond me. Anyway, I spent a lot of time in there, sometimes even nodded off, but the City Lights staff never pushed me out.

After joining a rock and roll band, I moved to Los Angeles in ’76. My favorite bookstore down there eventually became Dutton’s, where I became friends with a poet, the late Scott Wannberg, and once again spent a lot of afternoons hanging out reading, and talking, though I didn’t quite have the time for that I’d had before.

I’m back in San Francisco now,  after years of living in Southern California, and I’m happy to report that City Lights is booming. With online book sales and high rents shutting down bookstores almost daily, that is quite an accomplishment. I still make a pilgrimage there, going up to the poetry room, which is, without wanting to get too saccharine about it, like a visit to a sanctuary, a peaceful spot where life can be appreciated and contemplated, and important and beautiful voices can be heard.

I went there for the 60th anniversary of the store, walked upstairs, and there was the man himself, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 94 years old, pouring champagne for well-wishers and enjoying the day. I had a copy of his new book Time Of Useful Consciousness and I asked him if he would please autograph it. I took the opportunity to thank him for the poetry, as well as the store, for allowing me to read my way through it, in the ’70s.

“I used to go up in that room above the front door, and read. I was homeless at the time, and I want to thank you for your hospitality. Sometimes I’d even fall asleep up there. You and the staff were always so kind. I feel like I got a lot of my education here.”

“Ah yes”  he replied, “That was the science fiction room.”


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