Well, this is the album that started it all off, of somewhat dubious history as I've mentioned elsewhere. Back in '73 a writer from Rolling Stone interviewed me and happily remarked that a review in the Stone would guarantee us 10,000 in sales and launch my "career."
|The big deal with
the biggest of
record labels. Everything that I despise about recording happened as well as
some of the really good stuff. We were living in a rented house on the shore of the
Hudson near Nyack, NY. Loudon Wainwright III had just recorded "Dead
Skunk" here in the "Brick Hit House," as engineer/owner Brooks Arthur dubbed it.
Melanie had recorded "Lay Down." Bruce Springsteen was running late
one evening and asked if it was okay if he continued into my allotted hours. Sure, Bruce,
sure. Your first LP, too.
I got sick doing vocal overdubs, laryngitis, (Ha!-- now that's irony) and my sister told me to take the money and run to the Islands and let them come after me. Good advice which I failed to heed.
My favorite moment: we're recording guitar overdubs (yuk) for "Lonely Lady" with Jeffrey Southworth (composer for the Chevy commercial, "Heartbeat of America," as you've probably heard) on wah-wah guitar. There was a rock critic on the studio sofa. Jeffrey's having trouble. "Can he hear himself?" I ask Brooks. "Not really," is Jeff's reply. When we got it straight, he laid down a lovely one take track, for what the song was worth. Thanks, Jeff. You have to hear yourself.
2000 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, oboist and all-around good guy, Lew Spratlan, played on "Pennsylvania Hills." I never had a mentor as a musician, but Lew came pretty close. He's Professor Emeritus at Amherst College now after serving as head of the music department for many years.
Some personal notes:
Virtually all the players on this album were my friends from Amherst College, with the exception of Jack Bone on bass, Tim Jackson on drums, and Chuck Griffith, a friend from Baptist Bible Seminary. I've lost track of all these people over the years. Kevin (now Mason Daring) had been my room-mate and partner in a duo for a while. On his web-page he mentions that his band, "Daring, Jones, Southworth and McNeer" had a contract with CBS that fell through--much the way I have described subsequent to the release of John Paul Jones in 1973. While we did audition for CBS as that group, we were not signed, and while Dick and I were finishing mixes of songs by that group (modeled, as far as I was concerned after Crosby Stills and Nash-- with original writing and tight three part harmonies, our names as the band name a la CSN), Craig and Jeff showed up to announce they were leaving the band to join Jim Steinman in NYC for a musical Jim was working on. Jim had always wanted to write the ultimate teen anthem, and congratulations to him for fulfilling his dream as Meatloaf's writer.
Our band, as far as I am concerned came together again later for a while when things in NYC fell apart and Jeff and Craig returned. When that venture again dissolved, Kevin and I worked together. Kevin once called me his "best friend," the warmth and candor of which was all the more jarring for the fact that the automatic mutual expression wasn't in me. We were all young and pretty naive. We let each other down a number of times as most young folks do, following the allure of career.
I wish some of these lessons could be taught, and in an ideal world, mentors would help us through our blind spots. I called Kevin in the early '90's because I needed a music business lawyer (he had become one, as well as the very successful composer for the John Sayles movies, among other projects), and he gave me a lead or two, and I probably shouldn't have been surprised that otherwise he was all business, if not out-right cool. Similar responses have come from other people in the (music?) business-- it is an unwritten rule, or commonly understood, I suppose, that one doesn't speak to other people in the profession unless they are at a similar level of success-- especially if they might want something. If you're an artist, be forewarned: music business people do not want to talk to you at all directly concerning your career, except perhaps at a cocktail party. You're an artist, after all, you don't understand how business works, and no one wants to deal with your emotionality. Brooks wouldn't take my call in 1979 while I was in LA. A few others were outraged that I had (admiringly, after my love for Phil Ochs' work--presumably, presumptuously) taken Ochs' pseudonym John Train for my band in NYC in the early '80's.
Lyrics are not avaialable at this site.
Engineer: Brooks Arthur, assistant, Larry
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