I cannot believe it. It seems like yesterday, and at the same time it feels like a thousand years ago, that we sent these out. I'm the luckiest "girl" in the world, since I found my soul mate...a man with a heart of gold.
I'll pick him up at PHL tonight, but in the meantime here's the demo track for Club Dead from the Video Dreams CD. It'll give you a chance to see how a song develops in the recording and production process.
If you already have the 1996 Video Dreams CD, you can put that on and compare. If you don't have it, you can get it HERE and listen to part of Club Dead as it appears on the CD. Scroll down for the YouTube link.
Premium members - click on the link above and start playing! One room will be open 24/7, the other will start on Friday Night at 9pm eastern. Make sure you're in the right place on January 10th! Have fun and BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER! (A good New Year's Resolution, don't you think?)
Happy Thanksgiving to you! I'm thankful to still be around, and that you're still hangin' in there with me! And now it's time for a holiday classic:
THE TURKEY (and Other Delights)
Looking through the October 12th  issue of Billboard Magazine, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the "Indian Reservation" single had FINALLY been certified platinum. Considering that it had been eligible for years, I guess it is a case of better late than never. In any event, I will be proud to hang the new platinum disc next to the gold ones I have been lucky enough to have for many years.
The whole thing got me thinking about the INDIAN RESERVATION album, so I pulled it out and listened to it for the first time in many and many a moon. Most of the cuts are penned by outside writers, but two of them are originals: "Take Me Home", written by Melcher and me (and the only Raider song Sly Stone played keyboards on!), is one, and the other is "The Turkey". And since it's so close to Thanksgiving, I feel compelled to explain this somewhat odd bird, er, track.
It was the Spring of 1971. I was on my first solo tour, reaping the rewards of "Arizona", backed by a band called Instant Joy. I was opening for The Carpenters at venues ranging from Kentucky college field houses to Carnegie Hall. Yeah, we jumped around quite a bit! This was just when "Indian Reservation" started climbing up the charts, and Columbia Records - the slumbering giant - suddenly woke up and demanded an album NOW!
This was fine, except that we didn't exactly have an entire album in the can, as they say. So. . . I made arrangements for CBS to ship me all of the unreleased tapes that I had recorded in the preceding few months. I couldn't take time off to fly back to LA, but we were in Tennessee with one entire day and night and the following day off, so the tapes were waiting at Columbia's Nashville facility when we got there. I immediately went to the studio, and the guys in Instant Joy tagged along to see how a real album was assembled. I waded through the tapes, listening for hours, until I had mixed down and sequenced enough tunes for an album. We rushed it into mastering, and as the mastering engineer did the final "tweaking", he came to the last tune and said, "That's nine! Don't you need one more?" I quickly counted the cuts - YIKES! - only nine! It was CBS policy at the time that you had to have ten tracks.
In a panic I called CBS in Hollywood, and enlisted a trusted engineer to personally comb the tape vaults to search for any more likely "candidates." Nope . . . there was nothing he could find. I paced around the studio muttering to myself. What am I gonna do?? Suddenly it occurred to me - I was standing in a recording studio with a band. DUHH. I would write an instant song, do an instant recording with Instant Joy, make an instant mix, and that would be cut number ten. INSTANT ALBUM! Voila! My butt was saved! But we had to move fast, er, instantly.
I turned to Tony Peluso, the guitar player, who was the unofficial leader of Instant Joy. "How about it? Wanna cut a record?" Everybody was overjoyed, but then someone brought up the fact that, except for Tony's guitar, all of the rest of the band's equipment was somewhere on a semi, headed for our next gig with The Carpenters. "Besides, what song are we gonna do?" These guys were worried about the details!
"Never mind!" I reassured them. I was a man on a mission. We scrounged around the studio and found one bass drum, one cracked snare drum, a set of hi-hat cymbals, and ONE (not a PAIR) but ONE bongo drum. The engineer had a bass guitar stashed in his office, and we wheeled in a Hammond organ from an adjacent studio. "Whattya mean, no instruments?!"
But we still needed a tune. "All right, guys," I said (like I knew what I was doing), "Give me four minutes of funky uptempo blues changes with a semi-Latin feel, and oh yeah, throw in a half-note hi-hat accent every couple of bars or so. Got it? Okay, roll the tape and count it off!" After a couple of false starts we had the pattern down, and ten minutes later we were all crowded in the control room listening to the playback of the rhythm track. Then the engineer set up a vocal mic and I put on headphones, still without a clue as to what I was going to sing. The tape began to roll, and after about a minute an idea occurred to me and I began to emote.
I narrated a verse and left the next twelve bars open for a guitar solo. Continuing this pattern, I ad-libbed verses two and three, and by the time I got to the end of the tape the story of The Turkey was immortalized forever, for better or worse. (No comments, please!) What do the lyrics mean, you ask? I have absolutely no idea!
Tony overdubbed his solos and we were finished at last. Or were we? After listening back a few times prior to mixing, I got the bright (?) idea that the final touch would be some authentic turkey gobbles to punctuate the line "I am the turkey!" At this point we had all been awake for over 24 hours, so everyone was getting punchy. When the engineer couldn't find his Barnyard Animals Sound Effects record, I said, "No sweat! Come on, guys, we'll all gather around the mic and gobble at the appropriate times!"
I thought we could do it in one take . . . well . . . the first time we all started to gobble together, it was all over! Imagine six grown up, bleary-eyed men, staring at one another across a microphone at 4 o'clock in the AM making animal sounds - you get the picture! Everyone literally fell on the floor laughing. We pulled ourselves up and I said, "Let's try it again!" And we did - again, and again. Every time we tried to make gobbling sounds, it was hilarious, and we had tears running down our faces. It must have taken a couple of hours before we got through the entire tune without someone cracking up.
Finally, "The Turkey" was DONE! We put the finished master of "INDIAN RESERVATION" in a box and shipped it off to LA. Three weeks later, the album was on the street. On the cover, arranging credit for "The Turkey" is given to "I.J." Get it? - Instant Joy. Of course, they also recorded it, but Columbia wouldn't reveal that information at the time. But now you know the rest of the story!
So...today we got up at 2am and I deposited ML at PHL at 6am so he could get to San Diego. I then decided to fulfil a history buff's dream of visiting nearby Valley Forge....and took the drive with its requisite stops when no one else was there, communing with General Washington's spirit at his HQ...very big deals to me.
Afterwards, I stopped at the Visitor Center right after it opened, and then returned to a dead SUV. STUCK AT VALLEY FORGE!!
After a visit from AAA, I continued on my (much later) way...but was unable to get the song out of my head. Fa la la la la....
What I learned at Valley Forge was that GW kind of exaggerated the hardship there in the hopes of raising more desperately needed $.
But it was a stunningly beautiful area...all green, rolling hills. Not a bad place to be stranded. And I was reminded of one of Mark's most simple but deepest and saddest lyrics...
Ahhh...the 60s....oops, I mean the 10's. (That just sounds awful...TENS????")
Anyway, today Mark and I had our "I'm going to Costco, what do you need?" conversation. After PA on this Happy Together run, the bus travels west, but Mark comes home until he flies out again on 7/3 for the Del Mar show the next day. So, this is a Costco trip to stock the bus with his necessities through AZ.
Protein drinks? Check. Protein bars? Check. Dried fruits? Check. Vitamins and supplements of all colors and shapes and sizes? Check.
So...just like the 60s, everyone on the bus shares their best recommendations: Regular fish oil or krill? Krill: Norwegian or Antarctic? Multivitamin or not? And about those joints....well, Mark recommends Kirkland Extra Strength Glucosamine HCL 1500mg w/the same of MSM, supplemented w/Schiff's Move Free.
The bus and guys aren't near Costco for a while, so I've been charged with supplying them with the goods.
Mark's not a doctor, but plays a septuagenarian who can fold up like a jackknife as he takes a bow on stage...and who can kick over his head....so I'd pay attention to his advice.
The Happy Together Tour is en route to NH. Today is their one off day per week, and it was spent getting from Nashville to Lebanon, NH. Unfortunately, there is no "there" there..."there" being an airport...so while the band and crew rode the buses up there, Mark and the boys and the tour promoter flew into Boston.
Two rental cars and almost 4 hours later, they're just about there. Mark just called from the Puckett-Lewis-Lindsay-mobile, and says they're on the road with the Volman-Kaylan-Promoter-mobile.
So many thoughts come to mind. Who's passing them (albeit unlikely)...ok, who are they passing and did those folks look over and say, geesh, that looks like....!!! Or were they oblivious, just as we all are when toolin' down the road?
Oh, to be a fly on the (inside) window of those cars! The stories, ya think?
I'm hoping they don't harken back to old NW Raider days where the 2 band cars would have oatmeal bomb throwing duels. If anyone in Lebanon sees two cars with Quaker Oats decoration....it's just boys being boys!
PS Chuck Negron decided not to fly today and stayed on the bus. I think he made a very wise choice.
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OK, I'm patiently waiting for my guy to get back from the recording sessions this week up North...so the kids and I were listening to some old demos on the computer....and I thought, heck, let's let some others enjoy them too! This is Atascadero,... (more)