Sundays usually start early for me with a Sydney sesh with Tony as we discuss and work on his EP. His band members (Australian legends Tamam Shud) are working through it. Good luck everyone. I usually have three or four seshes on Sundays but Rajan in Brooklyn had to postpone and my next sesh wasn’t until 9.30PM with Doug in Wappingers Falls near Woodstock. So, I watched Chelsea beat Leicester in the FA Cup quarter final and then I did my daily French lesson and learned the word for squirrel. I know it in German (Eichhörnchen, tricky to say), I know it in Spanish (ardilla), and now I know it in French, but it’s also hard to say (écureuil). There’s something really nice about knowing the name of an animal in another language (it’s ekorre in Swedish). I suppose I could learn it in Turkish, Italian, Polish etc, but then there’s a lot of animals in the world.
I’ve been working with Noelle in Montreal and we decided that I would write some chord sequences for her (as I did with Jed for the Space Summit album) and have her write the melodies and the words and then work on what the song needs from then on, together. It’s a system that seems to work if Space Summit is anything to go by. The thing with music is that really anything can work, whether simple or complex (or neither) you just have to throw it out there and see what comes back. Collaborating isn’t pressure, it’s exploring the ease to which someone else might be able to find value in your ideas as you give each other an ingredient that neither has, your uniqueness.
It was cold today, the great black-backed gull was in its usual place on the wall outside our building waiting to be fed by the man in the flats opposite. Olivia and I went up the alleyway to the Co-op and there on another wall was local mischievous cat Pepper. Pepper lives at The Honey Pot cafe two doors down and is mostly friendly but skittish and easily distracted. Today she/he was friendly and was up for some ear scratching. Olivia noticed a wound since we last saw her/him and one wonders if as the gull and the cat patrol the same territory, if they got into a fracas… It’s easy to determine who would win.
I learned a new word today, “dysphemism”, the opposite of euphemism. One might insensitively say loony bin instead of mental hospital although they both sound dodgy to me. Mental illness it seems is becoming more of an issue in this crazy world, but it’s worse when the people who are supposed to be rational are nuts. How did that happen? As Fun Boy Three said, “The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum”. Remember two years ago when you were saying that every time you see the news it gets worse? How is it possible that it’s still getting even worse? Is corruption and evil a bottomless pit?
Today is Elon Musk’s birthday, I bought his wife’s record a couple of months ago. They seem like an odd couple, him and Grimes, but so do Toyah and Robert Fripp, ha ha. One never knows where chemistry hits. It is also Belgian and Man City footballer Kevin De Bruyne’s birthday. What do you buy millionaires for a birthday present? Not many people remember Country singer Bobby Bare who is 85 today. It’s also the anniversary of the death of Elvis’ guitarist Scotty Moore. We are born, we die and someone else takes over. There’s something weird about the fact that nobody is alive from before 1900. This means that all experience of that century and all the centuries before is gone and only exists in written documents that we hope are true. I guess that’s the problem with the bible, no mobile phone video evidence. Imagine what a different world we would live in if we knew the real truth of the past.
Music today had me running screaming to the sixties for inspiration and I found it with Buffalo Springfield and their first self-titled album released in 1966. Songs are written by Stephen Stills and Neil Young who both play lead guitar. Richie Furay plays rhythm guitar, Bruce Palmer bass and Dewey Martin drums. The band were only together for two years and three albums with bass player Bruce Palmer only playing on one track on their third album replaced by Jim Messina. Palmer who was apparently continually getting arrested for drug possession made a mad solo album in 1970 (or 1971 depending on who you ask) called The Cycle Is Unbroken reviewed here by Julian Cope.
They were considered a North American band as Furay and Stills were American and Palmer, Martin and Young Canadian. Their first single was Neil Young’s Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing which I covered for a Buffalo Springfield tribute album. But it was the second release, Stephen Stills’ For What It’s Worth, that became a major hit. The band is considered Folk Rock, a bit like The Byrds, Beatles influences and sixties Pop and with Messina and Furay going on to form Poco and with the emergence of Country Rock the influence of these people was great. You know what happened to Stills and Young? Dewey Martin died in 2009 aged 68. Bruce Palmer died in 2004 aged 58.
I don’t have Poco’s first album (Pick Up The Pieces) but I have their second, Messina and Furay are there on guitars with George Grantham on drums, Rusty Young on pedal steel and Timothy B. Schmidt on bass. Eagles’ Randy Meisner had been in the first incarnation of Poco but some shenanigans had him leave. They took his pic off the painting on the cover art and replaced it with a dog. They kept his bass but erased his lead vocals, nice. The multiple harmonies and the West Coast feel saw them develop into a popular seventies American touring act. This album has some great instrumental sections, too. I haven’t played it for years and was surprised at how good it was. Side 1 has six songs, Side 2 “Nobody’s Fool/El Tonto de Nadie, Regresa” is one 18 minute song…great! Meisner’s dispute with the band might have been forgotten as he went on to form a band called Eagles and mainly wrote (with help from Frey and Henley) million seller, Take It To The Limit, which he also sang.
Stephen Stills’ solo album was released after the success of his post Buffalo Springfield band, Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969) and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Déja Vu (1970). It features one of his most famous songs, Love The One You’re With. A big success, it reached No.3 on the Billboard chart. To A Flame and We Are Not Helpless features ‘Richie’ on drums, aka Ringo Starr. Crosby and Nash, John Sebastian, Booker T. Jones and Dallas Taylor also appear along with both Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. It’s a very soulful album and is dedicated to James Marshall Hendrix who had died just two months before its release.
There was of course a time when West Coast music hadn’t yet become bland Yacht Rock, they made real albums, American style, harmony style. Their second self-titled album from 1972 was when they became an official duo and became the sound of an era. They went on to sell 16 million albums through the seventies, but at that point Kenny Loggins had great hair and an amazing beard, it all went wrong when he started to trim. Jim Messina had replaced Bruce Palmer in Buffalo Springfield and then formed Poco with Richie Furay, but Messina was happier in the producer/engineer chair and left Poco after four albums. Messina and Loggins together were the kind of chemistry that I was talking about earlier, sometimes it just happens. The style of music is irrelevant, it’s whether it works in the context of the style you are in and for these two it absolutely did.
Song Of The Day is my version of Neil Young’s Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing which you can hear if you go to the Bandcamp link below. I’m singing, playing guitar, bass and drums on this one, look out Todd Rundgren. On the first Buffalo Springfield album Richie Furay sang it, I guess at this point in 1966 they hadn’t decided yet if Neil Young’s voice was awful or amazing.
MWP – lead vocals, guitar, electric 6 & 12 string guitars, bass, drums
Dare Mason – backing vocals, acoustic guitar, organ, keyboards