RIP, Reverend D. Wayne Love (Jake Black) of Alabama 3

Every time I do a tribute post it breaks my heart, no matter who it is. I just discovered that Jake Black of Alabama 3 passed away yesterday, only a few days after having performed at a large concert in northwest England. 

Alabama 3 is best known for composing the theme song for HBO hit TV series The Sopranos, “Woke Up This Morning,” but their discography goes back more than two decades. From Wikipedia: “The band formed when Jake Black met Rob Spragg at an acid house party in Peckham and they decided that a fusion of country music with acid house was a musical possibility.”

Every member of the group has an alias. Jake Black was known as Reverend D. Wayne Love; Robb Spragg is known as Larry Love. When you pay attention to the lyrics of their songs, you’ll often hear them talk back and forth to each other using these monikers. You’ll also notice they use certain phrases a lot in many of their songs. The one that sticks out is “Lord above.” 

Jake Black was a clever song writer; the music industry has lost a great soul. His bandmate Nick Reynolds said in an interview with Sky News, “Jake was a great raconteur and wit—he could bring the house down with an acid quip. An intellectual polymath, he would call my dad and they would speak for hours bouncing from Genet to Burroughs, Russell or Fellini, to Merckx or Coppi. We’ve lost a truly great and unique frontman, his disciples have lost their favorite minister. RIP, Jake, Gone but never forgotten.”

(Note: Did you notice that, cyclists? He must have been a cycling fan to discuss Merckx and Coppi!)

There are a few excellent tracks for indoor cycling that you need to have in your repertoire. In honor of the Reverend D. Wayne Love, here are some songs to put in your playlists this week and to add to an end-of-year tribute to artists we lost in 2019.

Woke Up This Morning, Hits and Exit Wounds, 4:03, 89 bpm

You’ll find many remixes and lengths on Spotify, iTunes, and other music resources. I rather like the version of the original track with Reverend D Wayne telling a story at the beginning, which is typical of Alabama 3. (See the Spotify link below.) For cycling class, you may prefer the Sopranos version. At just under 90 bpm, it’s perfect for a warm-up or a tempo-paced effort. People recognize this track so you’ll get a lot of thumbs-ups from your riders. I’ve used it as a warm-up for a 6 a.m. class; when they hear “Woke up this morning” and lift their heads, you know you’ve got them in the palm of your hand.

Black once told the London Times, “It’s totally ironic that we, who disapprove of anything villains do, should be picked for the theme song of a show that shows the human side of villains.”

Mansion on a Hill, La Peste, 3:00, 86 bpm

Good for a recovery song or a short higher-intensity effort. You can also describe climbing a hill to the mansion at the top, using a faster cadence. It would fit in well with a theme ride about riches and money.

Ain’t Goin’ to Goa, Exile on Coldharbour Lane, 3:56, 88 bpm 

Twenty years ago I heard “Ain’t Goin’ to Goa” and thought it was one of the funniest songs I’ve ever heard. Funny story…a few years prior, I had dated a Swedish guy named Bjorn who would spend weeks at a time on the beaches of Goa in India listening to music and seeking “spiritual enlightenment.” At the time, I had even fantasized about meeting him there—but it seemed a little out there for me. Goa has a crazy music scene (it even spawned its own sub-genre of electronic music called Goa Trance), and the lyrics to this song paint an amusing satirical picture of the spiritual side of Goa. From listening to stories from my friend Bjorn, there’s definitely some truth to it, especially the hippies on the beach and the consciousness expansion part. I’ve posted the lyrics below for your reading pleasure.

Many of Alabama 3’s tracks fall into this same tempo range, making them all good for simulating a flat road. I usually use this one for an endurance session and ask riders to pay attention to the words. I will point out some of the funny lyrics.


Ain’t Going  to Goa (lyrics)

Larry Love, do you remember when I came upon you in that place of suffering in the Valley of Darkness? I took away all your pain and put love in your cold, cold heart. And from that day forward told you to go out and spread my word through music—sweet, pretty, country-acid-house music. Well, that day, Larry, you not only joined my church, you embraced my whole philosophy, my whole way of life. Because remember, little man, don’t you go to Goa.

I believe I’m gonna
Shut down my chakras, shift Shiva offa my shelf
Take down my tie dyes, my Tibetan bells
Cool down my karma with a can of O.P.T.

Ain’t no call for Casteneda in my frontline library.

There’s one thing I know, Lord above,
I ain’t gonna go,
I ain’t goin’ to Goa, Ain’t goin’ to Goa now
Ain’t goin’ to Goa, Ain’t gonna Goa now.
Ain’t dancin’ trance, no thanx, no chance to tranquilize me.
Ain’t sippin’ no smart bar drinks, yo, that don’t satisfy me.
Dosing up my dharma, with a drop of gasoline,
I ain’t down with Mr. McKenna, tantric mantra talkin’ don’t move me.
There’s one thing I know, Lord above,
I ain’t gonna go,
Ain’t goin’ to Goa, Ain’t gonna Goa now.
I don’t need no freaky, deeky, fractal geometry, crystal silicon chip.
I ain’t walking on lay lines, reading no High Times put me on another bad trip.
Timothy Leary, just check out this theory,
He sold acid for the F.B.I.
Well, he ain’t no website wonder, the guru just went under,
You can keep your California Sunshine.
Yeah, I believe you, D. Wayne. 
‘Cause the righteous truth is, there ain’t nothing worse than
Some fool lying on some third world beach in
Spandex, psychedelic trousers, smoking damn dope
Pretending he gettin’ consciousness expansion. I want
Consciousness expansion, I go to my local tabernacle
An’ I sing with the brothers and sisters
Ain’t goin’ to Goa, Ain’t gonna Goa now.
Ain’t goin’ to Goa, Ain’t gonna Goa now.

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