Circus Maximus — “You Know I’ve Got the Rest of My Life to Go”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — February 8, 2022

348) Circus Maximus — “You Know I’ve Got the Rest of My Life to Go”

Geoffrey Himes recounts that:

[Jerry Jeff Walker] was born Ronald Clyde Crosby on March 16, 1942, in Oneonta, N.Y. He joined the National Guard and went AWOL under the name of Jerry Ferris, thanks to the borrowed ID of a fellow guardsman [Who is he, Don Draper?!]. He hitchhiked around the country and wound up in Louisiana. “The folk music boom of the Fifties and Sixties barely touched New Orleans,” Chris Smither told me in 2014. “The Quorum Club on Esplanade had folk acts, and I used to go down there to hang out. This guy Jerry Ferris played there and I thought he was pretty good. Many years later I opened for him when he was calling himself Jerry Jeff Walker. But it was a fringe thing in New Orleans; it has always been a horn and keyboard town.” [I]n Greenwich Village, Ferris renamed himself Jerry Walker after Harlem jazz pianist Kirby Walker. He wasn’t making much headway as one of a thousand guitar-strumming, singer-songwriter folkies that had popped up like mushrooms in the wake of Bob Dylan. So he joined a psychedelic-rock band called Circus Maximus for two albums, before drifting back to the folk scene in the Village.

As Bruce Eden notes in All Music Guide, Circus Maximus was “[a] precursor to the cosmic cowboy movement, [a] folk rock/outfit [that] had more than a touch of psychedelia and plenty of country.  Jerry Jeff Walker got his start here.” Ochsfan says:

Had this group received a little more exposure during its brief existence, they would undoubtedly be spoken of in the same reverential tones as Buffalo Springfield. Indeed, the competition in songwriting between Jerry Jeff Walker and Bob Bruno mirrors the duel between Neil Young and Steve Stills. Circus Maximus added enough psychedelic touches to be in step with the times, but not so many that they completely obscured the country-folk base of their sound. If The Byrds had kept David Crosby instead of making Sweetheart of the Rodeo, you’d have something pretty close to what’s found here. Jangly guitars mingle with close harmonies and frenzied keyboards, but none of it sounds forced. . . . Bruno is clearly the heavier, more psychedelicized of the two. . . . “Rest of My Life To Go” [is a] high-energy, guitar-drenched rave-up . . . .

Richie Unterberger, of course, has a different point of view:

[Their ’67 album is a] jumble of folky electric guitars, Farfisa organs, and eclectic lyrics . . . . [M]uch of this psychedelic folk-rock sounds quite dated. . . . Some of the . . . songs (such as “You Know I’ve Got the Rest of My Life to Go” . . . .) are awkward derivations of the Byrds’ jangly folk-rock.

All Music Guide

OK, Richie, I knew awkward, awkward was a friend of mine, “You Know I’ve Got the Rest of My Life to Go” is no awkward. In fact, it’s awesome!

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