One man"s view of music - past, present, and future.A look at recordings and music from many genresfrom the Mad Doctor of Musical Mayhem

You are watching: Two hangmen hanging from a tree

I can’t tell you when I first heard of the Midwestern country-rock ensemble Mason Proffit, but I am sure that it was after they disbanded in 1973. In 1975, I became aware of their two principal members – The Talbot Bros. (Terry and John Michael) with the acquisition of their first album after Mason Proffit. This album was recorded to fulfill the band"s contract with Warners. The duo’s LP was one of my favorites and I became familiar with their work; however, I could never find their first album “Wanted . . . Mason Proffit” that was released on Happy Tiger Records. The Happy Tiger imprint was wholly owned by the Flying Tiger Freight Line and was in business from 1969 to 1971. Mason Proffit recorded two LPs for Happy Tiger, one for Ampex Records, and two new albums for Warner Brothers. Warners later re-released the first two Happy Tiger releases in 1974 as “Come and Gone.” On a trip to Salem, Virginia where my band was booked for the weekend in 1986, I finally found a copy of “Wanted . . . Mason Proffit.” Early Saturday morning, I headed out to nearby downtown Roanoke and found a vintage records store. That day I walked away with two other collectibles: Dave Mason’s “Alone Together” in vomit-tone colored vinyl on Blue Thumb and John and Yoko’s “Unfinished Music No. 2 – Life with the Lions” on Zapple Records. By the way, the best cut on the Lennon/Ono LP was titled “Two Minutes of Silence” – which, as you may guess, was two minutes of silence. Mason Proffit gained notoriety throughout the US by touring with “up-and-coming” acts like John Denver, the Doobie Brothers, Mac Davis, and Steely Dan. Their first album produced the regional hit “Two Hangmen.”

Terry Talbot claims that the song was banned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); however, having studied broadcasting law, I have never encountered a reference to the FCC banning any single record release. Although in the Pacifica case, the FCC cited and fined WBAI New York after airing a George Carlin record in the middle of the afternoon.I am guessing that individual programmers self-censored this tune during the political charged arena of 1969. One other reason it didn’t become a national hit was because Happy Tiger wasn’t a major player in the music promotional world.

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As I rode into Tombstone on my horse, his name was MackI saw what I’ll relate to you, going on behind my backIt seems the folks were up-in-arms, a man now had to dieFor believing things that didn’t fit, the laws they"d set asideThe man’s name was “I’m a Freak”; the best that could seeHe was the executioner, a hangman just like meI guess he’d seen loopholes from working with his ropeHe’d hung the wrong man many times, so now he turned to hopeHe talked to all the people from his scaffold in the squareHe told them of the things he found, but they didn’t seem to careHe said the laws were obsolete, a change they should demandBut the people only walked away, he couldn"t understandThe marshal’s name was “Uncle Sam,” he said he’d right this wrongHe’d make the hangman shut his mouth, if it took him all day longHe finally arrested Freak, and then he sent for meTo hang a fellow hangman, from a fellow hangman’s treeIt didn’t take them long to try him in their court of lawHe was guilty then of “thinking,” a crime much worse than allThey sentenced him to die, so his seed of thought can’t spreadAnd infect the little children, that’s what the law had saidSo the hangin’ day came ‘round, and he walked up to the nooseI pulled the lever, but before he fell I cut him loseThey called it a conspiracy, and that I had to dieSo to close our mouths and kill our minds, they hung us side-by-sideAnd now we’re two hangmen, hangin’ from a treeThat don’t bother me, at allTwo hangmen, hangin’ from a treeThat don’t bother me, at all