Podcasts about James Jamerson

  • 51PODCASTS
  • 75EPISODES
  • 1h 1mAVG DURATION
  • 1MONTHLY NEW EPISODE
  • Nov 9, 2022LATEST
James Jamerson

POPULARITY

20152016201720182019202020212022


Best podcasts about James Jamerson

Latest podcast episodes about James Jamerson

Building Abundant Success!!© with Sabrina-Marie
Episode 2321: Tony Micale ~ of The Reflections talks Golden World Music & Motown, Dick Clark, Rock & Soul & STILL Touring! Pt.1

Building Abundant Success!!© with Sabrina-Marie

Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2022 49:45


PBS, Golden World/Motown, Dick Clark Caravan of StarsSeems all of the Great Music Scene Happened before My Entrance in the World!!Tony Micale is my Guest & The Original Lead Singer of the  Reflections.  The Reflections were Golden World's most successful group. This Interview was so much Fun.!  Tony & The Reflections are still on Tour Today & thru 2023. reflections-music.comI Could Not do a Spotlight on the Music Scene without highlighting Golden World Records in Detroit, Michigan.Black Business owners the Beautiful Joanne Bratton & Businessman Ed Wingate opened The label Golden World Records in 1964. Joanne ran the Company. My Family were Business Partners with the owners. They owned Hotels, Nightclub's also. Gold World Music & Artists would eventually be acquired by Berry Gordy to become a part of Motown.The Group the Reflection's had the labels 1st Million Selling Hit " Just Lke Romeo & Juliette" The Made the cover of Record World & toured with the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars.  They played the Apollo Theater with James Brown. The Reflections achieved success purely on the strength of their well-crafted harmonies and cool professionalism.  It's no wonder that six decades later The Reflections are still heralded  as one of the finest vocal groups of The Sixties Pop and Doo-Wop Music Era.They made their movie appearance in Columbia Pictures "Winter-A-Go-Go" in 1965, performing "I'm Sweet On You". They were signed to the same Detroit R&B label as their blue-eyed soul peers, The Flaming Ember and The Shades Of Blue..Songwriter Edwin (Hatcher) Starr, The Dramatics, Carl Carlton, The Sunliners (Rare Earth), George Clinton, Sidney Barnes, Pat Lewis & many other Producers, Songwriter, Artists & Musicians  started their careers at Golden World.The Golden World studio became Motown's "Studio B", working in support of the original Motown recording studio (Studio A) at Hitsville USA. Before its purchase by Gordy, the studio's recordings often included moonlighting Motown back-up musicians, including James Jamerson on bass and George McGregor on percussion.The famous clock that hung in Golden World Records is currently owned by Melodies and Memories in Eastpointe, Michigan, and is on display there. A restored old Steinway piano that Motown inherited from Golden World is now on display at the Motown MuseumThe Reflections continued to dominate the charts with  "Shabby Little Hut", "Poor Man's Son" and "Like Columbus Did".  They are still performing today to sold out shows  and standing ovations throughout The U.S.A. and Canada. The Reflections' name is proudly displayed on the wall of  The Cleveland Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame! Reflections-Music.com© 2022 Building Abundant Success!!2022 All Rights ReservedJoin Me on ~ iHeart Radio @ https://tinyurl.com/iHeartBASJoin me on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/yxuy23baAmazon Music ~ https://tinyurl.com/AmzBASAudacy:  https://tinyurl.com/BASAud

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 156: “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2022


Episode one hundred and fifty-six of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “I Was Made to Love Her", the early career of Stevie Wonder, and the Detroit riots of 1967. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "Groovin'" by the Young Rascals. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources As usual, I've put together a Mixcloud playlist of all the recordings excerpted in this episode. The best value way to get all of Stevie Wonder's early singles is this MP3 collection, which has the original mono single mixes of fifty-five tracks for a very reasonable price. For those who prefer physical media, this is a decent single-CD collection of his early work at a very low price indeed. As well as the general Motown information listed below, I've also referred to Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: The Soulful Journey of Stevie Wonder by Mark Ribowsky, which rather astonishingly is the only full-length biography of Wonder, to Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul by Craig Werner, and to Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul by Stuart Cosgrove. For Motown-related information in this and other Motown episodes, I've used the following resources: Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound by Nelson George is an excellent popular history of the various companies that became Motown. To Be Loved by Berry Gordy is Gordy's own, understandably one-sided, but relatively well-written, autobiography. Women of Motown: An Oral History by Susan Whitall is a collection of interviews with women involved in Motown. I Hear a Symphony: Motown and Crossover R&B by J. Andrew Flory is an academic look at Motown. The Motown Encyclopaedia by Graham Betts is an exhaustive look at the people and records involved in Motown's thirty-year history. How Sweet It Is by Lamont Dozier and Scott B. Bomar is Dozier's autobiography, while Come and Get These Memories by Brian and Eddie Holland and Dave Thompson is the Holland brothers'. Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson by "Dr Licks" is a mixture of a short biography of the great bass player, and tablature of his most impressive bass parts. And Motown Junkies is an infrequently-updated blog looking at (so far) the first 694 tracks released on Motown singles. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick note before I begin -- this episode deals with disability and racism, and also deals from the very beginning with sex work and domestic violence. It also has some discussion of police violence and sexual assault. As always I will try to deal with those subjects as non-judgementally and sensitively as possible, but if you worry that anything about those subjects might disturb you, please check the transcript. Calvin Judkins was not a good man. Lula Mae Hardaway thought at first he might be, when he took her in, with her infant son whose father had left before the boy was born. He was someone who seemed, when he played the piano, to be deeply sensitive and emotional, and he even did the decent thing and married her when he got her pregnant. She thought she could save him, even though he was a street hustler and not even very good at it, and thirty years older than her -- she was only nineteen, he was nearly fifty. But she soon discovered that he wasn't interested in being saved, and instead he was interested in hurting her. He became physically and financially abusive, and started pimping her out. Lula would eventually realise that Calvin Judkins was no good, but not until she got pregnant again, shortly after the birth of her second son. Her third son was born premature -- different sources give different numbers for how premature, with some saying four months and others six weeks -- and while he apparently went by Stevland Judkins throughout his early childhood, the name on his birth certificate was apparently Stevland Morris, Lula having decided not to give another child the surname of her abuser, though nobody has ever properly explained where she got the surname "Morris" from. Little Stevland was put in an incubator with an oxygen mask, which saved the tiny child's life but destroyed his sight, giving him a condition called retinopathy of prematurity -- a condition which nowadays can be prevented and cured, but in 1951 was just an unavoidable consequence for some portion of premature babies. Shortly after the family moved from Saginaw to Detroit, Lula kicked Calvin out, and he would remain only a peripheral figure in his children's lives, but one thing he did do was notice young Stevland's interest in music, and on his increasingly infrequent visits to his wife and kids -- visits that usually ended with violence -- he would bring along toy instruments for the young child to play, like a harmonica and a set of bongos. Stevie was a real prodigy, and by the time he was nine he had a collection of real musical instruments, because everyone could see that the kid was something special. A neighbour who owned a piano gave it to Stevie when she moved out and couldn't take it with her. A local Lions Club gave him a drum kit at a party they organised for local blind children, and a barber gave him a chromatic harmonica after seeing him play his toy one. Stevie gave his first professional performance when he was eight. His mother had taken him to a picnic in the park, and there was a band playing, and the little boy got as close to the stage as he could and started dancing wildly. The MC of the show asked the child who he was, and he said "My name is Stevie, and I can sing and play drums", so of course they got the cute kid up on stage behind the drum kit while the band played Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love": [Excerpt: Johnny Ace, "Pledging My Love"] He did well enough that they paid him seventy-five cents -- an enormous amount for a small child at that time -- though he was disappointed afterwards that they hadn't played something faster that would really allow him to show off his drumming skills. After that he would perform semi-regularly at small events, and always ask to be paid in quarters rather than paper money, because he liked the sound of the coins -- one of his party tricks was to be able to tell one coin from another by the sound of them hitting a table. Soon he formed a duo with a neighbourhood friend, John Glover, who was a couple of years older and could play guitar while Stevie sang and played harmonica and bongos. The two were friends, and both accomplished musicians for their age, but that wasn't the only reason Stevie latched on to Glover. Even as young as he was, he knew that Motown was soon going to be the place to be in Detroit if you were a musician, and Glover had an in -- his cousin was Ronnie White of the Miracles. Stevie and John performed as a duo everywhere they could and honed their act, performing particularly at the talent shows which were such an incubator of Black musical talent at the time, and they also at this point seem to have got the attention of Clarence Paul, but it was White who brought the duo to Motown. Stevie and John first played for White and Bobby Rodgers, another of the Miracles, then when they were impressed they took them through the several layers of Motown people who would have to sign off on signing a new act. First they were taken to see Brian Holland, who was a rising star within Motown as "Please Mr. Postman" was just entering the charts. They impressed him with a performance of the Miracles song "Bad Girl": [Excerpt: The Miracles, "Bad Girl"] After that, Stevie and John went to see Mickey Stevenson, who was at first sceptical, thinking that a kid so young -- Stevie was only eleven at the time -- must be some kind of novelty act rather than a serious musician. He said later "It was like, what's next, the singing mouse?" But Stevenson was won over by the child's talent. Normally, Stevenson had the power to sign whoever he liked to the label, but given the extra legal complications involved in signing someone under-age, he had to get Berry Gordy's permission. Gordy didn't even like signing teenagers because of all the extra paperwork that would be involved, and he certainly wasn't interested in signing pre-teens. But he came down to the studio to see what Stevie could do, and was amazed, not by his singing -- Gordy didn't think much of that -- but by his instrumental ability. First Stevie played harmonica and bongos as proficiently as an adult professional, and then he made his way around the studio playing on every other instrument in the place -- often only a few notes, but competent on them all. Gordy decided to sign the duo -- and the initial contract was for an act named "Steve and John" -- but it was soon decided to separate them. Glover would be allowed to hang around Motown while he was finishing school, and there would be a place for him when he finished -- he later became a staff songwriter, working on tracks for the Four Tops and the Miracles among others, and he would even later write a number one hit, "You Don't Have to be a Star (to be in My Show)" for Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr -- but they were going to make Stevie a star right now. The man put in charge of that was Clarence Paul. Paul, under his birth name of Clarence Pauling, had started his career in the "5" Royales, a vocal group he formed with his brother Lowman Pauling that had been signed to Apollo Records by Ralph Bass, and later to King Records. Paul seems to have been on at least some of the earliest recordings by the group, so is likely on their first single, "Give Me One More Chance": [Excerpt: The "5" Royales, "Give Me One More Chance"] But Paul was drafted to go and fight in the Korean War, and so wasn't part of the group's string of hit singles, mostly written by his brother Lowman, like "Think", which later became better known in James Brown's cover version, or "Dedicated to the One I Love", later covered by the Shirelles, but in its original version dominated by Lowman's stinging guitar playing: [Excerpt: The "5" Royales, "Dedicated to the One I Love"] After being discharged, Clarence had shortened his name to Clarence Paul, and had started recording for all the usual R&B labels like Roulette and Federal, with little success: [Excerpt: Clarence Paul, "I'm Gonna Love You, Love You Til I Die"] He'd also co-written "I Need Your Lovin'", which had been an R&B hit for Roy Hamilton: [Excerpt: Roy Hamilton, "I Need Your Lovin'"] Paul had recently come to work for Motown – one of the things Berry Gordy did to try to make his label more attractive was to hire the relatives of R&B stars on other labels, in the hopes of getting them to switch to Motown – and he was the new man on the team, not given any of the important work to do. He was working with acts like Henry Lumpkin and the Valladiers, and had also been the producer of "Mind Over Matter", the single the Temptations had released as The Pirates in a desperate attempt to get a hit: [Excerpt: The Pirates, "Mind Over Matter"] Paul was the person you turned to when no-one else was interested, and who would come up with bizarre ideas. A year or so after the time period we're talking about, it was him who produced an album of country music for the Supremes, before they'd had a hit, and came up with "The Man With the Rock and Roll Banjo Band" for them: [Excerpt: The Supremes, "The Man With The Rock and Roll Banjo Band"] So, Paul was the perfect person to give a child -- by this time twelve years old -- who had the triple novelties of being a multi-instrumentalist, a child, and blind. Stevie started spending all his time around the Motown studios, partly because he was eager to learn everything about making records and partly because his home life wasn't particularly great and he wanted to be somewhere else. He earned the affection and irritation, in equal measure, of people at Motown both for his habit of wandering into the middle of sessions because he couldn't see the light that showed that the studio was in use, and for his practical joking. He was a great mimic, and would do things like phoning one of the engineers and imitating Berry Gordy's voice, telling the engineer that Stevie would be coming down, and to give him studio equipment to take home. He'd also astonish women by complimenting them, in detail, on their dresses, having been told in advance what they looked like by an accomplice. But other "jokes" were less welcome -- he would regularly sexually assault women working at Motown, grabbing their breasts or buttocks and then claiming it was an accident because he couldn't see what he was doing. Most of the women he molested still speak of him fondly, and say everybody loved him, and this may even be the case -- and certainly I don't think any of us should be judged too harshly for what we did when we were twelve -- but this kind of thing led to a certain amount of pressure to make Stevie's career worth the extra effort he was causing everyone at Motown. Because Berry Gordy was not impressed with Stevie's vocals, the decision was made to promote him as a jazz instrumentalist, and so Clarence Paul insisted that his first release be an album, rather than doing what everyone would normally do and only put out an album after a hit single. Paul reasoned that there was no way on Earth they were going to be able to get a hit single with a jazz instrumental by a twelve-year-old kid, and eventually persuaded Gordy of the wisdom of this idea. So they started work on The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie, released under his new stagename of Little Stevie Wonder, supposedly a name given to him after Berry Gordy said "That kid's a wonder!", though Mickey Stevenson always said that the name came from a brainstorming session between him and Clarence Paul. The album featured Stevie on harmonica, piano, and organ on different tracks, but on the opening track, "Fingertips", he's playing the bongos that give the track its name: [Excerpt: Little Stevie Wonder, "Fingertips (studio version)"] The composition of that track is credited to Paul and the arranger Hank Cosby, but Beans Bowles, who played flute on the track, always claimed that he came up with the melody, and it seems quite likely to me that most of the tracks on the album were created more or less as jam sessions -- though Wonder's contributions were all overdubbed later. The album sat in the can for several months -- Berry Gordy was not at all sure of its commercial potential. Instead, he told Paul to go in another direction -- focusing on Wonder's blindness, he decided that what they needed to do was create an association in listeners' minds with Ray Charles, who at this point was at the peak of his commercial power. So back into the studio went Wonder and Paul, to record an album made up almost entirely of Ray Charles covers, titled Tribute to Uncle Ray. (Some sources have the Ray Charles tribute album recorded first -- and given Motown's lax record-keeping at this time it may be impossible to know for sure -- but this is the way round that Mark Ribowsky's biography of Wonder has it). But at Motown's regular quality control meeting it was decided that there wasn't a single on the album, and you didn't release an album like that without having a hit single first. By this point, Clarence Paul was convinced that Berry Gordy was just looking for excuses not to do anything with Wonder -- and there may have been a grain of truth to that. There's some evidence that Gordy was worried that the kid wouldn't be able to sing once his voice broke, and was scared of having another Frankie Lymon on his hands. But the decision was made that rather than put out either of those albums, they would put out a single. The A-side was a song called "I Call it Pretty Music But the Old People Call it the Blues, Part 1", which very much played on Wonder's image as a loveable naive kid: [Excerpt: Little Stevie Wonder, "I Call it Pretty Music But the Old People Call it the Blues, Part 1"] The B-side, meanwhile, was part two -- a slowed-down, near instrumental, version of the song, reframed as an actual blues, and as a showcase for Wonder's harmonica playing rather than his vocals. The single wasn't a hit, but it made number 101 on the Billboard charts, just missing the Hot One Hundred, which for the debut single of a new artist wasn't too bad, especially for Motown at this point in time, when most of its releases were flopping. That was good enough that Gordy authorised the release of the two albums that they had in the can. The next single, "Little Water Boy", was a rather baffling duet with Clarence Paul, which did nothing at all on the charts. [Excerpt: Clarence Paul and Little Stevie Wonder, "Little Water Boy"] After this came another flop single, written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Janie Bradford, before the record that finally broke Little Stevie Wonder out into the mainstream in a big way. While Wonder hadn't had a hit yet, he was sent out on the first Motortown Revue tour, along with almost every other act on the label. Because he hadn't had a hit, he was supposed to only play one song per show, but nobody had told him how long that song should be. He had quickly become a great live performer, and the audiences were excited to watch him, so when he went into extended harmonica solos rather than quickly finishing the song, the audience would be with him. Clarence Paul, who came along on the tour, would have to motion to the onstage bandleader to stop the music, but the bandleader would know that the audiences were with Stevie, and so would just keep the song going as long as Stevie was playing. Often Paul would have to go on to the stage and shout in Wonder's ear to stop playing -- and often Wonder would ignore him, and have to be physically dragged off stage by Paul, still playing, causing the audience to boo Paul for stopping him from playing. Wonder would complain off-stage that the audience had been enjoying it, and didn't seem to get it into his head that he wasn't the star of the show, that the audiences *were* enjoying him, but were *there* to see the Miracles and Mary Wells and the Marvelettes and Marvin Gaye. This made all the acts who had to go on after him, and who were running late as a result, furious at him -- especially since one aspect of Wonder's blindness was that his circadian rhythms weren't regulated by sunlight in the same way that the sighted members of the tour's were. He would often wake up the entire tour bus by playing his harmonica at two or three in the morning, while they were all trying to sleep. Soon Berry Gordy insisted that Clarence Paul be on stage with Wonder throughout his performance, ready to drag him off stage, so that he wouldn't have to come out onto the stage to do it. But one of the first times he had done this had been on one of the very first Motortown Revue shows, before any of his records had come out. There he'd done a performance of "Fingertips", playing the flute part on harmonica rather than only playing bongos throughout as he had on the studio version -- leaving the percussion to Marvin Gaye, who was playing drums for Wonder's set: [Excerpt: Little Stevie Wonder, "Fingertips (Parts 1 & 2)"] But he'd extended the song with a little bit of call-and-response vocalising: [Excerpt: Little Stevie Wonder, "Fingertips (Parts 1 & 2)"] After the long performance ended, Clarence Paul dragged Wonder off-stage and the MC asked the audience to give him a round of applause -- but then Stevie came running back on and carried on playing: [Excerpt: Little Stevie Wonder, "Fingertips (Parts 1 & 2)"] By this point, though, the musicians had started to change over -- Mary Wells, who was on after Wonder, was using different musicians from his, and some of her players were already on stage. You can hear Joe Swift, who was playing bass for Wells, asking what key he was meant to be playing in: [Excerpt: Little Stevie Wonder, "Fingertips (Parts 1 & 2)"] Eventually, after six and a half minutes, they got Wonder off stage, but that performance became the two sides of Wonder's next single, with "Fingertips Part 2", the part with the ad lib singing and the false ending, rather than the instrumental part one, being labelled as the side the DJs should play. When it was released, the song started a slow climb up the charts, and by August 1963, three months after it came out, it was at number one -- only the second ever Motown number one, and the first ever live single to get there. Not only that, but Motown released a live album -- Recorded Live, the Twelve-Year-Old Genius (though as many people point out he was thirteen when it was released -- he was twelve when it was recorded though) and that made number one on the albums chart, becoming the first Motown album ever to do so. They followed up "Fingertips" with a similar sounding track, "Workout, Stevie, Workout", which made number thirty-three. After that, his albums -- though not yet his singles -- started to be released as by "Stevie Wonder" with no "Little" -- he'd had a bit of a growth spurt and his voice was breaking, and so marketing him as a child prodigy was not going to work much longer and they needed to transition him into a star with adult potential. In the Motown of 1963 that meant cutting an album of standards, because the belief at the time in Motown was that the future for their entertainers was doing show tunes at the Copacabana. But for some reason the audience who had wanted an R&B harmonica instrumental with call-and-response improvised gospel-influenced yelling was not in the mood for a thirteen year old singing "Put on a Happy Face" and "When You Wish Upon a Star", and especially not when the instrumental tracks were recorded in a key that suited him at age twelve but not thirteen, so he was clearly straining. "Fingertips" being a massive hit also meant Stevie was now near the top of the bill on the Motortown Revue when it went on its second tour. But this actually put him in a precarious position. When he had been down at the bottom of the bill and unknown, nobody expected anything from him, and he was following other minor acts, so when he was surprisingly good the audiences went wild. Now, near the top of the bill, he had to go on after Marvin Gaye, and he was not nearly so impressive in that context. The audiences were polite enough, but not in the raptures he was used to. Although Stevie could still beat Gaye in some circumstances. At Motown staff parties, Berry Gordy would always have a contest where he'd pit two artists against each other to see who could win the crowd over, something he thought instilled a fun and useful competitive spirit in his artists. They'd alternate songs, two songs each, and Gordy would decide on the winner based on audience response. For the 1963 Motown Christmas party, it was Stevie versus Marvin. Wonder went first, with "Workout, Stevie, Workout", and was apparently impressive, but then Gaye topped him with a version of "Hitch-Hike". So Stevie had to top that, and apparently did, with a hugely extended version of "I Call it Pretty Music", reworked in the Ray Charles style he'd used for "Fingertips". So Marvin Gaye had to top that with the final song of the contest, and he did, performing "Stubborn Kind of Fellow": [Excerpt: Marvin Gaye, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow"] And he was great. So great, it turned the crowd against him. They started booing, and someone in the audience shouted "Marvin, you should be ashamed of yourself, taking advantage of a little blind kid!" The crowd got so hostile Berry Gordy had to stop the performance and end the party early. He never had another contest like that again. There were other problems, as well. Wonder had been assigned a tutor, a young man named Ted Hull, who began to take serious control over his life. Hull was legally blind, so could teach Wonder using Braille, but unlike Wonder had some sight -- enough that he was even able to get a drivers' license and a co-pilot license for planes. Hull was put in loco parentis on most of Stevie's tours, and soon became basically inseparable from him, but this caused a lot of problems, not least because Hull was a conservative white man, while almost everyone else at Motown was Black, and Stevie was socially liberal and on the side of the civil rights and anti-Vietnam movements. Hull started to collaborate on songwriting with Wonder, which most people at Motown were OK with but which now seems like a serious conflict of interest, and he also started calling himself Stevie's "manager" -- which did *not* impress the people at Motown, who had their own conflict of interest because with Stevie, like with all their artists, they were his management company and agents as well as his record label and publishers. Motown grudgingly tolerated Hull, though, mostly because he was someone they could pass Lula Mae Hardaway to to deal with her complaints. Stevie's mother was not very impressed with the way that Motown were handling her son, and would make her opinion known to anyone who would listen. Hull and Hardaway did not get on at all, but he could be relied on to save the Gordy family members from having to deal with her. Wonder was sent over to Europe for Christmas 1963, to perform shows at the Paris Olympia and do some British media appearances. But both his mother and Hull had come along, and their clear dislike for each other was making him stressed. He started to get pains in his throat whenever he sang -- pains which everyone assumed were a stress reaction to the unhealthy atmosphere that happened whenever Hull and his mother were in the same room together, but which later turned out to be throat nodules that required surgery. Because of this, his singing was generally not up to standard, which meant he was moved to a less prominent place on the bill, which in turn led to his mother accusing the Gordy family of being against him and trying to stop him becoming a star. Wonder started to take her side and believe that Motown were conspiring against him, and at one point he even "accidentally" dropped a bottle of wine on Ted Hull's foot, breaking one of his toes, because he saw Hull as part of the enemy that was Motown. Before leaving for those shows, he had recorded the album he later considered the worst of his career. While he was now just plain Stevie on albums, he wasn't for his single releases, or in his first film appearance, where he was still Little Stevie Wonder. Berry Gordy was already trying to get a foot in the door in Hollywood -- by the end of the decade Motown would be moving from Detroit to LA -- and his first real connections there were with American International Pictures, the low-budget film-makers who have come up a lot in connection with the LA scene. AIP were the producers of the successful low-budget series of beach party films, which combined appearances by teen heartthrobs Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in swimsuits with cameo appearances by old film stars fallen on hard times, and with musical performances by bands like the Bobby Fuller Four. There would be a couple of Motown connections to these films -- most notably, the Supremes would do the theme tune for Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine -- but Muscle Beach Party was to be the first. Most of the music for Muscle Beach Party was written by Brian Wilson, Roger Christian, and Gary Usher, as one might expect for a film about surfing, and was performed by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, the film's major musical guests, with Annette, Frankie, and Donna Loren [pron Lorren] adding vocals, on songs like "Muscle Bustle": [Excerpt: Donna Loren with Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, "Muscle Bustle"] The film followed the formula in every way -- it also had a cameo appearance by Peter Lorre, his last film appearance before his death, and it featured Little Stevie Wonder playing one of the few songs not written by the surf and car writers, a piece of nothing called "Happy Street". Stevie also featured in the follow-up, Bikini Beach, which came out a little under four months later, again doing a single number, "Happy Feelin'". To cash in on his appearances in these films, and having tried releasing albums of Little Stevie as jazz multi-instrumentalist, Ray Charles tribute act, live soulman and Andy Williams-style crooner, they now decided to see if they could sell him as a surf singer. Or at least, as Motown's idea of a surf singer, which meant a lot of songs about the beach and the sea -- mostly old standards like "Red Sails in the Sunset" and "Ebb Tide" -- backed by rather schlocky Wrecking Crew arrangements. And this is as good a place as any to take on one of the bits of disinformation that goes around about Motown. I've addressed this before, but it's worth repeating here in slightly more detail. Carol Kaye, one of the go-to Wrecking Crew bass players, is a known credit thief, and claims to have played on hundreds of records she didn't -- claims which too many people take seriously because she is a genuine pioneer and was for a long time undercredited on many records she *did* play on. In particular, she claims to have played on almost all the classic Motown hits that James Jamerson of the Funk Brothers played on, like the title track for this episode, and she claims this despite evidence including notarised statements from everyone involved in the records, the release of session recordings that show producers talking to the Funk Brothers, and most importantly the evidence of the recordings themselves, which have all the characteristics of the Detroit studio and sound like the Funk Brothers playing, and have absolutely nothing in common, sonically, with the records the Wrecking Crew played on at Gold Star, Western, and other LA studios. The Wrecking Crew *did* play on a lot of Motown records, but with a handful of exceptions, mostly by Brenda Holloway, the records they played on were quickie knock-off album tracks and potboiler albums made to tie in with film or TV work -- soundtracks to TV specials the acts did, and that kind of thing. And in this case, the Wrecking Crew played on the entire Stevie at the Beach album, including the last single to be released as by "Little Stevie Wonder", "Castles in the Sand", which was arranged by Jack Nitzsche: [Excerpt: Little Stevie Wonder, "Castles in the Sand"] Apparently the idea of surfin' Stevie didn't catch on any more than that of swingin' Stevie had earlier. Indeed, throughout 1964 and 65 Motown seem to have had less than no idea what they were doing with Stevie Wonder, and he himself refers to all his recordings from this period as an embarrassment, saving particular scorn for the second single from Stevie at the Beach, "Hey Harmonica Man", possibly because that, unlike most of his other singles around this point, was a minor hit, reaching number twenty-nine on the charts. Motown were still pushing Wonder hard -- he even got an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in May 1964, only the second Motown act to appear on it after the Marvelettes -- but Wonder was getting more and more unhappy with the decisions they were making. He loathed the Stevie at the Beach album -- the records he'd made earlier, while patchy and not things he'd chosen, were at least in some way related to his musical interests. He *did* love jazz, and he *did* love Ray Charles, and he *did* love old standards, and the records were made by his friend Clarence Paul and with the studio musicians he'd grown to know in Detroit. But Stevie at the Beach was something that was imposed on Clarence Paul from above, it was cut with unfamiliar musicians, Stevie thought the films he was appearing in were embarrassing, and he wasn't even having much commercial success, which was the whole point of these compromises. He started to get more rebellious against Paul in the studio, though many of these decisions weren't made by Paul, and he would complain to anyone who would listen that if he was just allowed to do the music he wanted to sing, the way he wanted to sing it, he would have more hits. But for nine months he did basically no singing other than that Ed Sullivan Show appearance -- he had to recover from the operation to remove the throat nodules. When he did return to the studio, the first single he cut remained unreleased, and while some stuff from the archives was released between the start of 1964 and March 1965, the first single he recorded and released after the throat nodules, "Kiss Me Baby", which came out in March, was a complete flop. That single was released to coincide with the first Motown tour of Europe, which we looked at in the episode on "Stop! In the Name of Love", and which was mostly set up to promote the Supremes, but which also featured Martha and the Vandellas, the Miracles, and the Temptations. Even though Stevie had not had a major hit in eighteen months by this point, he was still brought along on the tour, the only solo artist to be included -- at this point Gordy thought that solo artists looked outdated compared to vocal groups, in a world dominated by bands, and so other solo artists like Marvin Gaye weren't invited. This was a sign that Gordy was happier with Stevie than his recent lack of chart success might suggest. One of the main reasons that Gordy had been in two minds about him was that he'd had no idea if Wonder would still be able to sing well after his voice broke. But now, as he was about to turn fifteen, his adult voice had more or less stabilised, and Gordy knew that he was capable of having a long career, if they just gave him the proper material. But for now his job on the tour was to do his couple of hits, smile, and be on the lower rungs of the ladder. But even that was still a prominent place to be given the scaled-down nature of this bill compared to the Motortown Revues. While the tour was in England, for example, Dusty Springfield presented a TV special focusing on all the acts on the tour, and while the Supremes were the main stars, Stevie got to do two songs, and also took part in the finale, a version of "Mickey's Monkey" led by Smokey Robinson but with all the performers joining in, with Wonder getting a harmonica solo: [Excerpt: Smokey Robinson and the Motown acts, "Mickey's Monkey"] Sadly, there was one aspect of the trip to the UK that was extremely upsetting for Wonder. Almost all the media attention he got -- which was relatively little, as he wasn't a Supreme -- was about his blindness, and one reporter in particular convinced him that there was an operation he could have to restore his sight, but that Motown were preventing him from finding out about it in order to keep his gimmick going. He was devastated about this, and then further devastated when Ted Hull finally convinced him that it wasn't true, and that he'd been lied to. Meanwhile other newspapers were reporting that he *could* see, and that he was just feigning blindness to boost his record sales. After the tour, a live recording of Wonder singing the blues standard "High Heeled Sneakers" was released as a single, and barely made the R&B top thirty, and didn't hit the top forty on the pop charts. Stevie's initial contract with Motown was going to expire in the middle of 1966, so there was a year to get him back to a point where he was having the kind of hits that other Motown acts were regularly getting at this point. Otherwise, it looked like his career might end by the time he was sixteen. The B-side to "High Heeled Sneakers" was another duet with Clarence Paul, who dominates the vocal sound for much of it -- a version of Willie Nelson's country classic "Funny How Time Slips Away": [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder and Clarence Paul, "Funny How Time Slips Away"] There are a few of these duet records scattered through Wonder's early career -- we'll hear another one a little later -- and they're mostly dismissed as Paul trying to muscle his way into a revival of his own recording career as an artist, and there may be some truth in that. But they're also a natural extension of the way the two of them worked in the studio. Motown didn't have the facilities to give Wonder Braille lyric sheets, and Paul didn't trust him to be able to remember the lyrics, so often when they made a record, Paul would be just off-mic, reciting the lyrics to Wonder fractionally ahead of him singing them. So it was more or less natural that this dynamic would leak out onto records, but not everyone saw it that way. But at the same time, there has been some suggestion that Paul was among those manoeuvring to get rid of Wonder from Motown as soon as his contract was finished -- despite the fact that Wonder was the only act Paul had worked on any big hits for. Either way, Paul and Wonder were starting to chafe at working with each other in the studio, and while Paul remained his on-stage musical director, the opportunity to work on Wonder's singles for what would surely be his last few months at Motown was given to Hank Cosby and Sylvia Moy. Cosby was a saxophone player and staff songwriter who had been working with Wonder and Paul for years -- he'd co-written "Fingertips" and several other tracks -- while Moy was a staff songwriter who was working as an apprentice to Cosby. Basically, at this point, nobody else wanted the job of writing for Wonder, and as Moy was having no luck getting songs cut by any other artists and her career was looking about as dead as Wonder's, they started working together. Wonder was, at this point, full of musical ideas but with absolutely no discipline. He's said in interviews that at this point he was writing a hundred and fifty songs a month, but these were often not full songs -- they were fragments, hooks, or a single verse, or a few lines, which he would pass on to Moy, who would turn his ideas into structured songs that fit the Motown hit template, usually with the assistance of Cosby. Then Cosby would come up with an arrangement, and would co-produce with Mickey Stevenson. The first song they came up with in this manner was a sign of how Wonder was looking outside the world of Motown to the rock music that was starting to dominate the US charts -- but which was itself inspired by Motown music. We heard in the last episode on the Rolling Stones how "Nowhere to Run" by the Vandellas: [Excerpt: Martha and the Vandellas, "Nowhere to Run"] had inspired the Stones' "Satisfaction": [Excerpt: The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"] And Wonder in turn was inspired by "Satisfaction" to come up with his own song -- though again, much of the work making it into an actual finished song was done by Sylvia Moy. They took the four-on-the-floor beat and basic melody of "Satisfaction" and brought it back to Motown, where those things had originated -- though they hadn't originated with Stevie, and this was his first record to sound like a Motown record in the way we think of those things. As a sign of how, despite the way these stories are usually told, the histories of rock and soul were completely and complexly intertwined, that four-on-the-floor beat itself was a conscious attempt by Holland, Dozier, and Holland to appeal to white listeners -- on the grounds that while Black people generally clapped on the backbeat, white people didn't, and so having a four-on-the-floor beat wouldn't throw them off. So Cosby, Moy, and Wonder, in trying to come up with a "Satisfaction" soundalike were Black Motown writers trying to copy a white rock band trying to copy Black Motown writers trying to appeal to a white rock audience. Wonder came up with the basic chorus hook, which was based around a lot of current slang terms he was fond of: [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "Uptight"] Then Moy, with some assistance from Cosby, filled it out into a full song. Lyrically, it was as close to social comment as Motown had come at this point -- Wonder was, like many of his peers in soul music, interested in the power of popular music to make political statements, and he would become a much more political artist in the next few years, but at this point it's still couched in the acceptable boy-meets-girl romantic love song that Motown specialised in. But in 1965 a story about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks dating a rich girl inevitably raised the idea that the boy and girl might be of different races -- a subject that was very, very, controversial in the mid-sixties. [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "Uptight"] "Uptight" made number three on the pop charts and number one on the R&B charts, and saved Stevie Wonder's career. And this is where, for all that I've criticised Motown in this episode, their strategy paid off. Mickey Stevenson talked a lot about how in the early sixties Motown didn't give up on artists -- if someone had potential but was not yet having hits or finding the right approach, they would keep putting out singles in a holding pattern, trying different things and seeing what would work, rather than toss them aside. It had already worked for the Temptations and the Supremes, and now it had worked for Stevie Wonder. He would be the last beneficiary of this policy -- soon things would change, and Motown would become increasingly focused on trying to get the maximum returns out of a small number of stars, rather than building careers for a range of artists -- but it paid off brilliantly for Wonder. "Uptight" was such a reinvention of Wonder's career, sound, and image that many of his fans consider it the real start of his career -- everything before it only counting as prologue. The follow-up, "Nothing's Too Good For My Baby", was an "Uptight" soundalike, and as with Motown soundalike follow-ups in general, it didn't do quite as well, but it still made the top twenty on the pop chart and got to number four on the R&B chart. Stevie Wonder was now safe at Motown, and so he was going to do something no other Motown act had ever done before -- he was going to record a protest song and release it as a single. For about a year he'd been ending his shows with a version of Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind", sung as a duet with Clarence Paul, who was still his on stage bandleader even though the two weren't working together in the studio as much. Wonder brought that into the studio, and recorded it with Paul back as the producer, and as his duet partner. Berry Gordy wasn't happy with the choice of single, but Wonder pushed, and Gordy knew that Wonder was on a winning streak and gave in, and so "Blowin' in the Wind" became Stevie Wonder's next single: [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder and Clarence Paul, "Blowin' in the Wind"] "Blowin' in the Wind" made the top ten, and number one on the R&B charts, and convinced Gordy that there was some commercial potential in going after the socially aware market, and over the next few years Motown would start putting out more and more political records. Because Motown convention was to have the producer of a hit record produce the next hit for that artist, and keep doing so until they had a flop, Paul was given the opportunity to produce the next single. "A Place in the Sun" was another ambiguously socially-aware song, co-written by the only white writer on Motown staff, Ron Miller, who happened to live in the same building as Stevie's tutor-cum-manager Ted Hull. "A Place in the Sun" was a pleasant enough song, inspired by "A Change is Gonna Come", but with a more watered-down, generic, message of hope, but the record was lifted by Stevie's voice, and again made the top ten. This meant that Paul and Miller, and Miller's writing partner Bryan Mills, got to work on his next  two singles -- his 1966 Christmas song "Someday at Christmas", which made number twenty-four, and the ballad "Travellin' Man" which made thirty-two. The downward trajectory with Paul meant that Wonder was soon working with other producers again. Harvey Fuqua and Johnny Bristol cut another Miller and Mills song with him, "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday": [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday"] But that was left in the can, as not good enough to release, and Stevie was soon back working with Cosby. The two of them had come up with an instrumental together in late 1966, but had not been able to come up with any words for it, so they played it for Smokey Robinson, who said their instrumental sounded like circus music, and wrote lyrics about a clown: [Excerpt: The Miracles, "The Tears of a Clown"] The Miracles cut that as album filler, but it was released three years later as a single and became the Miracles' only number one hit with Smokey Robinson as lead singer. So Wonder and Cosby definitely still had their commercial touch, even if their renewed collaboration with Moy, who they started working with again, took a while to find a hit. To start with, Wonder returned to the idea of taking inspiration from a hit by a white British group, as he had with "Uptight". This time it was the Beatles, and the track "Michelle", from the Rubber Soul album: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Michelle"] Wonder took the idea of a song with some French lyrics, and a melody with some similarities to the Beatles song, and came up with "My Cherie Amour", which Cosby and Moy finished off. [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "My Cherie Amour"] Gordy wouldn't allow that to be released, saying it was too close to "Michelle" and people would think it was a rip-off, and it stayed in the vaults for several years. Cosby also produced a version of a song Ron Miller had written with Orlando Murden, "For Once in My Life", which pretty much every other Motown act was recording versions of -- the Four Tops, the Temptations, Billy Eckstine, Martha and the Vandellas and Barbra McNair all cut versions of it in 1967, and Gordy wouldn't let Wonder's version be put out either. So they had to return to the drawing board. But in truth, Stevie Wonder was not the biggest thing worrying Berry Gordy at this point. He was dealing with problems in the Supremes, which we'll look at in a future episode -- they were about to get rid of Florence Ballard, and thus possibly destroy one of the biggest acts in the world, but Gordy thought that if they *didn't* get rid of her they would be destroying themselves even more certainly. Not only that, but Gordy was in the midst of a secret affair with Diana Ross, Holland, Dozier, and Holland were getting restless about their contracts, and his producers kept bringing him unlistenable garbage that would never be a hit. Like Norman Whitfield, insisting that this track he'd cut with Marvin Gaye, "I Heard it Through the Grapevine", should be a single. Gordy had put his foot down about that one too, just like he had about "My Cherie Amour", and wouldn't allow it to be released. Meanwhile, many of the smaller acts on the label were starting to feel like they were being ignored by Gordy, and had formed what amounted to a union, having regular meetings at Clarence Paul's house to discuss how they could pressure the label to put the same effort into their careers as into those of the big stars. And the Funk Brothers, the musicians who played on all of Motown's hits, were also getting restless -- they contributed to the arrangements, and they did more for the sound of the records than half the credited producers; why weren't they getting production credits and royalties? Harvey Fuqua had divorced Gordy's sister Gwen, and so became persona non grata at the label and was in the process of leaving Motown, and so was Mickey Stevenson, Gordy's second in command, because Gordy wouldn't give him any stock in the company. And Detroit itself was on edge. The crime rate in the city had started to go up, but even worse, the *perception* of crime was going up. The Detroit News had been running a campaign to whip up fear, which it called its Secret Witness campaign, and running constant headlines about rapes, murders, and muggings. These in turn had led to increased calls for more funds for the police, calls which inevitably contained a strong racial element and at least implicitly linked the perceived rise in crime to the ongoing Civil Rights movement. At this point the police in Detroit were ninety-three percent white, even though Detroit's population was over thirty percent Black. The Mayor and Police Commissioner were trying to bring in some modest reforms, but they weren't going anywhere near fast enough for the Black population who felt harassed and attacked by the police, but were still going too fast for the white people who were being whipped up into a state of terror about supposedly soft-on-crime policies, and for the police who felt under siege and betrayed by the politicians. And this wasn't the only problem affecting the city, and especially affecting Black people. Redlining and underfunded housing projects meant that the large Black population was being crammed into smaller and smaller spaces with fewer local amenities. A few Black people who were lucky enough to become rich -- many of them associated with Motown -- were able to move into majority-white areas, but that was just leading to white flight, and to an increase in racial tensions. The police were on edge after the murder of George Overman Jr, the son of a policeman, and though they arrested the killers that was just another sign that they weren't being shown enough respect. They started organising "blu flu"s -- the police weren't allowed to strike, so they'd claim en masse that they were off sick, as a protest against the supposed soft-on-crime administration. Meanwhile John Sinclair was organising "love-ins", gatherings of hippies at which new bands like the MC5 played, which were being invaded by gangs of bikers who were there to beat up the hippies. And the Detroit auto industry was on its knees -- working conditions had got bad enough that the mostly Black workforce organised a series of wildcat strikes. All in all, Detroit was looking less and less like somewhere that Berry Gordy wanted to stay, and the small LA subsidiary of Motown was rapidly becoming, in his head if nowhere else, the more important part of the company, and its future. He was starting to think that maybe he should leave all these ungrateful people behind in their dangerous city, and move the parts of the operation that actually mattered out to Hollywood. Stevie Wonder was, of course, one of the parts that mattered, but the pressure was on in 1967 to come up with a hit as big as his records from 1965 and early 66, before he'd been sidetracked down the ballad route. The song that was eventually released was one on which Stevie's mother, Lula Mae Hardaway, had a co-writing credit: [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "I Was Made to Love Her"] "I Was Made to Love Her" was inspired by Wonder's first love, a girl from the same housing projects as him, and he talked about the song being special to him because it was true, saying it "kind of speaks of my first love to a girl named Angie, who was a very beautiful woman... Actually, she was my third girlfriend but my first love. I used to call Angie up and, like, we would talk and say, 'I love you, I love you,' and we'd talk and we'd both go to sleep on the phone. And this was like from Detroit to California, right? You know, mother said, 'Boy, what you doing - get off the phone!' Boy, I tell you, it was ridiculous." But while it was inspired by her, like with many of the songs from this period, much of the lyric came from Moy -- her mother grew up in Arkansas, and that's why the lyric started "I was born in Little Rock", as *her* inspiration came from stories told by her parents. But truth be told, the lyrics weren't particularly detailed or impressive, just a standard story of young love. Rather what mattered in the record was the music. The song was structured differently from many Motown records, including most of Wonder's earlier ones. Most Motown records had a huge amount of dynamic variation, and a clear demarcation between verse and chorus. Even a record like "Dancing in the Street", which took most of its power from the tension and release caused by spending most of the track on one chord, had the release that came with the line "All we need is music", and could be clearly subdivided into different sections. "I Was Made to Love Her" wasn't like that. There was a tiny section which functioned as a middle eight -- and which cover versions like the one by the Beach Boys later that year tend to cut out, because it disrupts the song's flow: [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "I Was Made to Love Her"] But other than that, the song has no verse or chorus, no distinct sections, it's just a series of lyrical couplets over the same four chords, repeating over and over, an incessant groove that could really go on indefinitely: [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "I Was Made to Love Her"] This is as close as Motown had come at this point to the new genre of funk, of records that were just staying with one groove throughout. It wasn't a funk record, not yet -- it was still a pop-soul record, But what made it extraordinary was the bass line, and this is why I had to emphasise earlier that this was a record by the Funk Brothers, not the Wrecking Crew, no matter how much some Crew members may claim otherwise. As on most of Cosby's sessions, James Jamerson was given free reign to come up with his own part with little guidance, and what he came up with is extraordinary. This was at a time when rock and pop basslines were becoming a little more mobile, thanks to the influence of Jamerson in Detroit, Brian Wilson in LA, and Paul McCartney in London.  But for the most part, even those bass parts had been fairly straightforward technically -- often inventive, but usually just crotchets and quavers, still keeping rhythm along with the drums rather than in dialogue with them, roaming free rhythmically. Jamerson had started to change his approach, inspired by the change in studio equipment. Motown had upgraded to eight-track recording in 1965, and once he'd become aware of the possibilities, and of the greater prominence that his bass parts could have if they were recorded on their own track, Jamerson had become a much busier player. Jamerson was a jazz musician by inclination, and so would have been very aware of John Coltrane's legendary "sheets of sound", in which Coltrane would play fast arpeggios and scales, in clusters of five and seven notes, usually in semiquaver runs (though sometimes in even smaller fractions -- his solo in Miles Davis' "Straight, No Chaser" is mostly semiquavers but has a short passage in hemidemisemiquavers): [Excerpt: Miles Davis, "Straight, No Chaser"] Jamerson started to adapt the "sheets of sound" style to bass playing, treating the bass almost as a jazz solo instrument -- though unlike Coltrane he was also very, very concerned with creating something that people could tap their feet to. Much like James Brown, Jamerson was taking jazz techniques and repurposing them for dance music. The most notable example of that up to this point had been in the Four Tops' "Bernadette", where there are a few scuffling semiquaver runs thrown in, and which is a much more fluid part than most of his playing previously: [Excerpt: The Four Tops, "Bernadette"] But on "Bernadette", Jamerson had been limited by Holland, Dozier, and Holland, who liked him to improvise but around a framework they created. Cosby, on the other hand, because he had been a Funk Brother himself, was much more aware of the musicians' improvisational abilities, and would largely give them a free hand. This led to a truly remarkable bass part on "I Was Made to Love Her", which is somewhat buried in the single mix, but Marcus Miller did an isolated recreation of the part for the accompanying CD to a book on Jamerson, Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and listening to that you can hear just how inventive it is: [Excerpt: Marcus Miller, "I Was Made to Love Her"] This was exciting stuff -- though much less so for the touring musicians who went on the road with the Motown revues while Jamerson largely stayed in Detroit recording. Jamerson's family would later talk about him coming home grumbling because complaints from the touring musicians had been brought to him, and he'd been asked to play less difficult parts so they'd find it easier to replicate them on stage. "I Was Made to Love Her" wouldn't exist without Stevie Wonder, Hank Cosby, Sylvia Moy, or Lula Mae Hardaway, but it's James Jamerson's record through and through: [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "I Was Made to Love Her"] It went to number two on the charts, sat between "Light My Fire" at number one, and "All You Need is Love" at number three, with the Beatles song soon to overtake it and make number one itself. But within a few weeks of "I Was Made to Love Her" reaching its chart peak, things in Detroit would change irrevocably. On the 23rd of July, the police busted an illegal drinking den. They thought they were only going to get about twenty-five people there, but there turned out to be a big party on. They tried to arrest seventy-four people, but their wagon wouldn't fit them all in so they had to call reinforcements and make the arrestees wait around til more wagons arrived. A crowd of hundreds gathered while they were waiting. Someone threw a brick at a squad car window, a rumour went round that the police had bayonetted someone, and soon the city was in flames. Riots lasted for days, with people burning down and looting businesses, but what really made the situation bad was the police's overreaction. They basically started shooting at young Black men, using them as target practice, and later claiming they were snipers, arsonists, and looters -- but there were cases like the Algiers Motel incident, where the police raided a motel where several Black men, including the members of the soul group The Dramatics, were hiding out along with a few white women. The police sexually assaulted the women, and then killed three of the men for associating with white women, in what was described as a "lynching with bullets". The policemen in question were later acquitted of all charges. The National Guard were called in, as were Federal troops -- the 82nd Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne from Clarksville, the division in which Jimi Hendrix had recently served. After four days of rioting, one of the bloodiest riots in US history was at an end, with forty-three people dead (of whom thirty-three were Black and only one was a policeman). Official counts had 1,189 people injured, and over 7,200 arrests, almost all of them of Black people. A lot of the histories written later say that Black-owned businesses were spared during the riots, but that wasn't really the case. For example, Joe's Record Shop, owned by Joe Von Battle, who had put out the first records by C.L. Franklin and his daughter Aretha, was burned down, destroying not only the stock of records for sale but the master tapes of hundreds of recordings of Black artists, many of them unreleased and so now lost forever. John Lee Hooker, one of the artists whose music Von Battle had released, soon put out a song, "The Motor City is Burning", about the events: [Excerpt: John Lee Hooker, "The Motor City is Burning"] But one business that did remain unburned was Motown, with the Hitsville studio going untouched by flames and unlooted. Motown legend has this being down to the rioters showing respect for the studio that had done so much for Detroit, but it seems likely to have just been luck. Although Motown wasn't completely unscathed -- a National Guard tank fired a shell through the building, leaving a gigantic hole, which Berry Gordy saw as soon as he got back from a business trip he'd been on during the rioting. That was what made Berry Gordy decide once and for all that things needed to change. Motown owned a whole row of houses near the studio, which they used as additional office space and for everything other than the core business of making records. Gordy immediately started to sell them, and move the admin work into temporary rented space. He hadn't announced it yet, and it would be a few years before the move was complete, but from that moment on, the die was cast. Motown was going to leave Detroit and move to Hollywood.

christmas tv love music women california history black europe earth hollywood man uk england fall change british french western detroit mayors blues wind run sun vietnam standing tribute miracles beatles straight beach dancing cd arkansas monkeys boy tears federal official rolling stones burning shadows pirates holland sand workout stones shortly morris supreme bob dylan dedicated billboard djs sunsets riots civil rights paul mccartney satisfaction mills signed temptations aretha franklin stevie wonder my life jimi hendrix james brown motown beach boys national guard cosby hull stevenson marvin gaye sealed someday willie nelson miles davis glover little rock roulette mixcloud ray charles tilt diana ross korean war castles airborne rock music brian wilson john coltrane supremes postman braille motor city gold star mind over matter grapevine smokey robinson airborne divisions gordy curtis mayfield licks copacabana redlining coltrane blowin clarksville saginaw wrecking crew all you need gonna come aip john lee hooker groovin dozier detroit news dusty springfield andy williams four tops fingertips police commissioners peter lorre ed sullivan show mc5 berry gordy dick dale one i love lions club marcus miller happy face rubber soul hardaway lyrically light my fire no chaser moy american soul dramatics vandellas i heard lamont dozier uptight ron miller shirelles john glover annette funicello royales lowman hitchhike frankie avalon mary wells dave thompson johnny ace john sinclair record shop marvelettes jamerson travellin funk brothers carol kaye frankie lymon brian holland young rascals billy eckstine jazz soul uncle ray nelson george roger christian king records ebb tide james jamerson motown sound when you wish upon how sweet it is hitsville bryan mills my show american international pictures i was made to be loved marilyn mccoo bobby fuller four little stevie wonder lorren i call where did our love go stuart cosgrove algiers motel billy davis jr bikini machine del tones bikini beach joe swift craig werner red sails donna loren muscle beach party mickey stevenson paris olympia scott b bomar tilt araiza
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 152: “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2022


Episode 152 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “For What It's Worth”, and the short but eventful career of Buffalo Springfield. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by Glen Campbell. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources As usual, there's a Mixcloud mix containing all the songs excerpted in the episode. This four-CD box set is the definitive collection of Buffalo Springfield's work, while if you want the mono version of the second album, the stereo version of the first, and the final album as released, but no demos or outtakes, you want this more recent box set. For What It's Worth: The Story of Buffalo Springfield by Richey Furay and John Einarson is obviously Furay's version of the story, but all the more interesting for that. For information on Steve Stills' early life I used Stephen Stills: Change Partners by David Roberts.  Information on both Stills and Young comes from Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young by David Browne.  Jimmy McDonough's Shakey is the definitive biography of Neil Young, while Young's Waging Heavy Peace is his autobiography. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick note before we begin -- this episode deals with various disabilities. In particular, there are descriptions of epileptic seizures that come from non-medically-trained witnesses, many of whom took ableist attitudes towards the seizures. I don't know enough about epilepsy to know how accurate their descriptions and perceptions are, and I apologise if that means that by repeating some of their statements, I am inadvertently passing on myths about the condition. When I talk about this, I am talking about the after-the-fact recollections of musicians, none of them medically trained and many of them in altered states of consciousness, about events that had happened decades earlier. Please do not take anything said in a podcast about music history as being the last word on the causes or effects of epileptic seizures, rather than how those musicians remember them. Anyway, on with the show. One of the things you notice if you write about protest songs is that a lot of the time, the songs that people talk about as being important or impactful have aged very poorly. Even great songwriters like Bob Dylan or John Lennon, when writing material about the political events of the time, would write material they would later acknowledge was far from their best. Too often a song will be about a truly important event, and be powered by a real sense of outrage at injustice, but it will be overly specific, and then as soon as the immediate issue is no longer topical, the song is at best a curio. For example, the sentencing of the poet and rock band manager John Sinclair to ten years in prison for giving two joints to an undercover police officer was hugely controversial in the early seventies, but by the time John Lennon's song about it was released, Sinclair had been freed by the Supreme Court, and very, very few people would use the song as an example of why Lennon's songwriting still has lasting value: [Excerpt: John Lennon, "John Sinclair"] But there are exceptions, and those tend to be songs where rather than talking about specific headlines, the song is about the emotion that current events have caused. Ninety years on from its first success, for example, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" still has resonance, because there are still people who are put out of work through no fault of their own, and even those of us who are lucky enough to be financially comfortable have the fear that all too soon it may end, and we may end up like Al begging on the streets: [Excerpt: Rudy Vallee, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"] And because of that emotional connection, sometimes the very best protest songs can take on new lives and new meanings, and connect with the way people feel about totally unrelated subjects. Take Buffalo Springfield's one hit. The actual subject of the song couldn't be any more trivial in the grand scheme of things -- a change in zoning regulations around the Sunset Strip that meant people under twenty-one couldn't go to the clubs after 10PM, and the subsequent reaction to that -- but because rather than talking about the specific incident, Steve Stills instead talked about the emotions that it called up, and just noted the fleeting images that he was left with, the song became adopted as an anthem by soldiers in Vietnam. Sometimes what a song says is nowhere near as important as how it says it. [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth"] Steve Stills seems almost to have been destined to be a musician, although the instrument he started on, the drums, was not the one for which he would become best known. According to Stills, though, he always had an aptitude for rhythm, to the extent that he learned to tapdance almost as soon as he had learned to walk. He started on drums aged eight or nine, after somebody gave him a set of drumsticks. After his parents got sick of him damaging the furniture by playing on every available surface, an actual drum kit followed, and that became his principal instrument, even after he learned to play the guitar at military school, as his roommate owned one. As a teenager, Stills developed an idiosyncratic taste in music, helped by the record collection of his friend Michael Garcia. He didn't particularly like most of the pop music of the time, but he was a big fan of pre-war country music, Motown, girl-group music -- he especially liked the Shirelles -- and Chess blues. He was also especially enamoured of the music of Jimmy Reed, a passion he would later share with his future bandmate Neil Young: [Excerpt: Jimmy Reed, "Baby, What You Want Me To Do?"] In his early teens, he became the drummer for a band called the Radars, and while he was drumming he studied their lead guitarist, Chuck Schwin.  He said later "There was a whole little bunch of us who were into kind of a combination of all the blues guys and others including Chet Atkins, Dick Dale, and Hank Marvin: a very weird cross-section of far-out guitar players." Stills taught himself to play like those guitarists, and in particular he taught himself how to emulate Atkins' Travis-picking style, and became remarkably proficient at it. There exists a recording of him, aged sixteen, singing one of his own songs and playing finger-picked guitar, and while the song is not exactly the strongest thing I've ever heard lyrically, it's clearly the work of someone who is already a confident performer: [Excerpt: Stephen Stills, "Travellin'"] But the main reason he switched to becoming a guitarist wasn't because of his admiration for Chet Atkins or Hank Marvin, but because he started driving and discovered that if you have to load a drum kit into your car and then drive it to rehearsals and gigs you either end up bashing up your car or bashing up the drum kit. As this is not a problem with guitars, Stills decided that he'd move on from the Radars, and join a band named the Continentals as their rhythm guitarist, playing with lead guitarist Don Felder. Stills was only in the Continentals for a few months though, before being replaced by another guitarist, Bernie Leadon, and in general Stills' whole early life is one of being uprooted and moved around. His father had jobs in several different countries, and while for the majority of his time Stills was in the southern US, he also ended up spending time in Costa Rica -- and staying there as a teenager even as the rest of his family moved to El Salvador. Eventually, aged eighteen, he moved to New Orleans, where he formed a folk duo with a friend, Chris Sarns. The two had very different tastes in folk music -- Stills preferred Dylan-style singer-songwriters, while Sarns liked the clean sound of the Kingston Trio -- but they played together for several months before moving to Greenwich Village, where they performed together and separately. They were latecomers to the scene, which had already mostly ended, and many of the folk stars had already gone on to do bigger things. But Stills still saw plenty of great performers there -- Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk in the jazz clubs, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, and Richard Pryor in the comedy ones, and Simon and Garfunkel, Richie Havens, Fred Neil and Tim Hardin in the folk ones -- Stills said that other than Chet Atkins, Havens, Neil, and Hardin were the people most responsible for his guitar style. Stills was also, at this time, obsessed with Judy Collins' third album -- the album which had featured Roger McGuinn on banjo and arrangements, and which would soon provide several songs for the Byrds to cover: [Excerpt: Judy Collins, "Turn, Turn, Turn"] Judy Collins would soon become a very important figure in Stills' life, but for now she was just the singer on his favourite record. While the Greenwich Village folk scene was no longer quite what it had been a year or two earlier, it was still a great place for a young talented musician to perform. As well as working with Chris Sarns, Stills also formed a trio with his friend John Hopkins and a banjo player called Peter Tork who everyone said looked just like Stills. Tork soon headed out west to seek his fortune, and then Stills got headhunted to join the Au Go Go Singers. This was a group that was being set up in the same style as the New Christy Minstrels -- a nine-piece vocal and instrumental group that would do clean-sounding versions of currently-popular folk songs. The group were signed to Roulette Records, and recorded one album, They Call Us Au-Go-Go Singers, produced by Hugo and Luigi, the production duo we've previously seen working with everyone from the Tokens to the Isley Brothers. Much of the album is exactly the same kind of thing that a million New Christy Minstrels soundalikes were putting out -- and Stills, with his raspy voice, was clearly intended to be the Barry McGuire of this group -- but there was one exception -- a song called "High Flyin' Bird", on which Stills was able to show off the sound that would later make him famous, and which became so associated with him that even though it was written by Billy Edd Wheeler, the writer of "Jackson", even the biography of Stills I used in researching this episode credits "High Flyin' Bird" as being a Stills original: [Excerpt: The Au-Go-Go Singers, "High Flyin' Bird"] One of the other members of the Au-Go-Go Singers, Richie Furay, also got to sing a lead vocal on the album, on the Tom Paxton song "Where I'm Bound": [Excerpt: The Au-Go-Go Singers, "Where I'm Bound"] The Au-Go-Go Singers got a handful of dates around the folk scene, and Stills and Furay became friendly with another singer playing the same circuit, Gram Parsons. Parsons was one of the few people they knew who could see the value in current country music, and convinced both Stills and Furay to start paying more attention to what was coming out of Nashville and Bakersfield. But soon the Au-Go-Go Singers split up. Several venues where they might otherwise have been booked were apparently scared to book an act that was associated with Morris Levy, and also the market for big folk ensembles dried up more or less overnight when the Beatles hit the music scene. But several of the group -- including Stills but not Furay -- decided they were going to continue anyway, and formed a group called The Company, and they went on a tour of Canada. And one of the venues they played was the Fourth Dimension coffee house in Fort William, Ontario, and there their support act was a rock band called The Squires: [Excerpt: The Squires, "(I'm a Man And) I Can't Cry"] The lead guitarist of the Squires, Neil Young, had a lot in common with Stills, and they bonded instantly. Both men had parents who had split up when they were in their teens, and had a successful but rather absent father and an overbearing mother. And both had shown an interest in music even as babies. According to Young's mother, when he was still in nappies, he would pull himself up by the bars  of his playpen and try to dance every time he heard "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie": [Excerpt: Pinetop Smith, "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie"] Young, though, had had one crucial experience which Stills had not had. At the age of six, he'd come down with polio, and become partially paralysed. He'd spent months in hospital before he regained his ability to walk, and the experience had also affected him in other ways. While he was recovering, he would draw pictures of trains -- other than music, his big interest, almost an obsession, was with electric train sets, and that obsession would remain with him throughout his life -- but for the first time he was drawing with his right hand rather than his left. He later said "The left-hand side got a little screwed. Feels different from the right. If I close my eyes, my left side, I really don't know where it is—but over the years I've discovered that almost one hundred percent for sure it's gonna be very close to my right side … probably to the left. That's why I started appearing to be ambidextrous, I think. Because polio affected my left side, and I think I was left-handed when I was born. What I have done is use the weak side as the dominant one because the strong side was injured." Both Young's father Scott Young -- a very famous Canadian writer and sports broadcaster, who was by all accounts as well known in Canada during his lifetime as his son -- and Scott's brother played ukulele, and they taught Neil how to play, and his first attempt at forming a group had been to get his friend Comrie Smith to get a pair of bongos and play along with him to Preston Epps' "Bongo Rock": [Excerpt: Preston Epps, "Bongo Rock"] Neil Young had liked all the usual rock and roll stars of the fifties  -- though in his personal rankings, Elvis came a distant third behind Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis -- but his tastes ran more to the more darkly emotional. He loved "Maybe" by the Chantels, saying "Raw soul—you cannot miss it. That's the real thing. She was believin' every word she was singin'." [Excerpt: The Chantels, "Maybe"] What he liked more than anything was music that had a mainstream surface but seemed slightly off-kilter. He was a major fan of Roy Orbison, saying, "it's almost impossible to comprehend the depth of that soul. It's so deep and dark it just keeps on goin' down—but it's not black. It's blue, deep blue. He's just got it. The drama. There's something sad but proud about Roy's music", and he would say similar things about Del Shannon, saying "He struck me as the ultimate dark figure—behind some Bobby Rydell exterior, y'know? “Hats Off to Larry,” “Runaway,” “Swiss Maid”—very, very inventive. The stuff was weird. Totally unaffected." More surprisingly, perhaps, he was a particular fan of Bobby Darin, who he admired so much because Darin could change styles at the drop of a hat, going from novelty rock and roll like "Splish Splash" to crooning "Mack The Knife" to singing Tim Hardin songs like "If I Were a Carpenter", without any of them seeming any less authentic. As he put it later "He just changed. He's completely different. And he's really into it. Doesn't sound like he's not there. “Dream Lover,” “Mack the Knife,” “If I Were a Carpenter,” “Queen of the Hop,” “Splish Splash”—tell me about those records, Mr. Darin. Did you write those all the same day, or what happened? He just changed so much. Just kinda went from one place to another. So it's hard to tell who Bobby Darin really was." And one record which Young was hugely influenced by was Floyd Cramer's country instrumental, "Last Date": [Excerpt: Floyd Cramer, "Last Date"] Now, that was a very important record in country music, and if you want to know more about it I strongly recommend listening to the episode of Cocaine and Rhinestones on the Nashville A-Team, which has a long section on the track, but the crucial thing to know about that track is that it's one of the earliest examples of what is known as slip-note playing, where the piano player, before hitting the correct note, briefly hits the note a tone below it, creating a brief discord. Young absolutely loved that sound, and wanted to make a sound like that on the guitar. And then, when he and his mother moved to Winnipeg after his parents' divorce, he found someone who was doing just that. It was the guitarist in a group variously known as Chad Allan and the Reflections and Chad Allan and the Expressions. That group had relatives in the UK who would send them records, and so where most Canadian bands would do covers of American hits, Chad Allan and the Reflections would do covers of British hits, like their version of Geoff Goddard's "Tribute to Buddy Holly", a song that had originally been produced by Joe Meek: [Excerpt: Chad Allan and the Reflections, "Tribute to Buddy Holly"] That would later pay off for them in a big way, when they recorded a version of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over", for which their record label tried to create an air of mystery by releasing it with no artist name, just "Guess Who?" on the label. It became a hit, the name stuck, and they became The Guess Who: [Excerpt: The Guess Who, "Shakin' All Over"] But at this point they, and their guitarist Randy Bachman, were just another group playing around Winnipeg. Bachman, though, was hugely impressive to Neil Young for a few reasons. The first was that he really did have a playing style that was a lot like the piano style of Floyd Cramer -- Young would later say "it was Randy Bachman who did it first. Randy was the first one I ever heard do things on the guitar that reminded me of Floyd. He'd do these pulls—“darrr darrrr,” this two-note thing goin' together—harmony, with one note pulling and the other note stayin' the same." Bachman also had built the first echo unit that Young heard a guitarist play in person. He'd discovered that by playing with the recording heads on a tape recorder owned by his mother, he could replicate the tape echo that Sam Phillips had used at Sun Studios -- and once he'd attached that to his amplifier, he realised how much the resulting sound sounded like his favourite guitarist, Hank Marvin of the Shadows, another favourite of Neil Young's: [Excerpt: The Shadows, "Man of Mystery"] Young soon started looking to Bachman as something of a mentor figure, and he would learn a lot of guitar techniques second hand from Bachman -- every time a famous musician came to the area, Bachman would go along and stand right at the front and watch the guitarist, and make note of the positions their fingers were in. Then Bachman would replicate those guitar parts with the Reflections, and Neil Young would stand in front of him and make notes of where *his* fingers were. Young joined a band on the local circuit called the Esquires, but soon either quit or was fired, depending on which version of the story you choose to believe. He then formed his own rival band, the Squires, with no "e", much to the disgust of his ex-bandmates. In July 1963, five months after they formed, the  Squires released their first record, "Aurora" backed with "The Sultan", on a tiny local label. Both tracks were very obviously influenced by the Shadows: [Excerpt: The Squires, "Aurora"] The Squires were a mostly-instrumental band for the first year or so they were together, and then the Beatles hit North America, and suddenly people didn't want to hear surf instrumentals and Shadows covers any more, they only wanted to hear songs that sounded a bit like the Beatles. The Squires started to work up the appropriate repertoire -- two songs that have been mentioned as in their set at this point are the Beatles album track "It Won't Be Long", and "Money" which the Beatles had also covered -- but they didn't have a singer, being an instrumental group. They could get in a singer, of course, but that would mean splitting the money with another person. So instead, the guitarist, who had never had any intention of becoming a singer, was more or less volunteered for the role. Over the next eighteen months or so the group's repertoire moved from being largely instrumental to largely vocal, and the group also seem to have shuttled around a bit between two different cities -- Winnipeg and Fort William, staying in one for a while and then moving back to the other. They travelled between the two in Young's car, a Buick Roadmaster hearse. In Winnipeg, Young first met up with a singer named Joni Anderson, who was soon to get married to Chuck Mitchell and would become better known by her married name. The two struck up a friendship, though by all accounts never a particularly close one -- they were too similar in too many ways; as Mitchell later said “Neil and I have a lot in common: Canadian; Scorpios; polio in the same epidemic, struck the same parts of our body; and we both have a black sense of humor". They were both also idiosyncratic artists who never fit very well into boxes. In Fort William the Squires made a few more records, this time vocal tracks like "I'll Love You Forever": [Excerpt: The Squires, "I'll Love You Forever"] It was also in Fort William that Young first encountered two acts that would make a huge impression on him. One was a group called The Thorns, consisting of Tim Rose, Jake Holmes, and Rich Husson. The Thorns showed Young that there was interesting stuff being done on the fringes of the folk music scene. He later said "One of my favourites was “Oh Susannah”—they did this arrangement that was bizarre. It was in a minor key, which completely changed everything—and it was rock and roll. So that idea spawned arrangements of all these other songs for me. I did minor versions of them all. We got into it. That was a certain Squires stage that never got recorded. Wish there were tapes of those shows. We used to do all this stuff, a whole kinda music—folk-rock. We took famous old folk songs like “Clementine,” “She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain,” “Tom Dooley,” and we did them all in minor keys based on the Tim Rose arrangement of “Oh Susannah.” There are no recordings of the Thorns in existence that I know of, but presumably that arrangement that Young is talking about is the version that Rose also later did with the Big 3, which we've heard in a few other episodes: [Excerpt: The Big 3, "The Banjo Song"] The other big influence was, of course, Steve Stills, and the two men quickly found themselves influencing each other deeply. Stills realised that he could bring more rock and roll to his folk-music sound, saying that what amazed him was the way the Squires could go from "Cottonfields" (the Lead Belly song) to "Farmer John", the R&B song by Don and Dewey that was becoming a garage-rock staple. Young in turn was inspired to start thinking about maybe going more in the direction of folk music. The Squires even renamed themselves the High-Flying Birds, after the song that Stills had recorded with the Au Go Go Singers. After The Company's tour of Canada, Stills moved back to New York for a while. He now wanted to move in a folk-rock direction, and for a while he tried to persuade his friend John Sebastian to let him play bass in his new band, but when the Lovin' Spoonful decided against having him in the band, he decided to move West to San Francisco, where he'd heard there was a new music scene forming. He enjoyed a lot of the bands he saw there, and in particular he was impressed by the singer of a band called the Great Society: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Somebody to Love"] He was much less impressed with the rest of her band, and seriously considered going up to her and asking if she wanted to work with some *real* musicians instead of the unimpressive ones she was working with, but didn't get his nerve up. We will, though, be hearing more about Grace Slick in future episodes. Instead, Stills decided to move south to LA, where many of the people he'd known in Greenwich Village were now based. Soon after he got there, he hooked up with two other musicians, a guitarist named Steve Young and a singer, guitarist, and pianist named Van Dyke Parks. Parks had a record contract at MGM -- he'd been signed by Tom Wilson, the same man who had turned Dylan electric, signed Simon and Garfunkel, and produced the first albums by the Mothers of Invention. With Wilson, Parks put out a couple of singles in 1966, "Come to the Sunshine": [Excerpt: The Van Dyke Parks, "Come to the Sunshine"] And "Number Nine", a reworking of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: [Excerpt: The Van Dyke Parks, "Number Nine"]Parks, Stills, and Steve Young became The Van Dyke Parks Band, though they didn't play together for very long, with their most successful performance being as the support act for the Lovin' Spoonful for a show in Arizona. But they did have a lasting resonance -- when Van Dyke Parks finally got the chance to record his first solo album, he opened it with Steve Young singing the old folk song "Black Jack Davy", filtered to sound like an old tape: [Excerpt: Steve Young, "Black Jack Davy"] And then it goes into a song written for Parks by Randy Newman, but consisting of Newman's ideas about Parks' life and what he knew about him, including that he had been third guitar in the Van Dyke Parks Band: [Excerpt: Van Dyke Parks, "Vine Street"] Parks and Stills also wrote a few songs together, with one of their collaborations, "Hello, I've Returned", later being demoed by Stills for Buffalo Springfield: [Excerpt: Steve Stills, "Hello, I've Returned"] After the Van Dyke Parks Band fell apart, Parks went on to many things, including a brief stint on keyboards in the Mothers of Invention, and we'll be talking more about him next episode. Stills formed a duo called the Buffalo Fish, with his friend Ron Long. That soon became an occasional trio when Stills met up again with his old Greenwich Village friend Peter Tork, who joined the group on the piano. But then Stills auditioned for the Monkees and was turned down because he had bad teeth -- or at least that's how most people told the story. Stills has later claimed that while he turned up for the Monkees auditions, it wasn't to audition, it was to try to pitch them songs, which seems implausible on the face of it. According to Stills, he was offered the job and turned it down because he'd never wanted it. But whatever happened, Stills suggested they might want his friend Peter, who looked just like him apart from having better teeth, and Peter Tork got the job. But what Stills really wanted to do was to form a proper band. He'd had the itch to do it ever since seeing the Squires, and he decided he should ask Neil Young to join. There was only one problem -- when he phoned Young, the phone was answered by Young's mother, who told Stills that Neil had moved out to become a folk singer, and she didn't know where he was. But then Stills heard from his old friend Richie Furay. Furay was still in Greenwich Village, and had decided to write to Stills. He didn't know where Stills was, other than that he was in California somewhere, so he'd written to Stills' father in El Salvador. The letter had been returned, because the postage had been short by one cent, so Furay had resent it with the correct postage. Stills' father had then forwarded the letter to the place Stills had been staying in San Francisco, which had in turn forwarded it on to Stills in LA. Furay's letter mentioned this new folk singer who had been on the scene for a while and then disappeared again, Neil Young, who had said he knew Stills, and had been writing some great songs, one of which Furay had added to his own set. Stills got in touch with Furay and told him about this great band he was forming in LA, which he wanted Furay to join. Furay was in, and travelled from New York to LA, only to be told that at this point there were no other members of this great band, but they'd definitely find some soon. They got a publishing deal with Columbia/Screen Gems, which gave them enough money to not starve, but what they really needed was to find some other musicians. They did, when driving down Hollywood Boulevard on April the sixth, 1966. There, stuck in traffic going the other way, they saw a hearse... After Steve Stills had left Fort William, so had Neil Young. He hadn't initially intended to -- the High-Flying Birds still had a regular gig, but Young and some of his friends had gone away for a few days on a road trip in his hearse. But unfortunately the transmission on the hearse had died, and Young and his friends had been stranded. Many years later, he would write a eulogy to the hearse, which he and Stills would record together: [Excerpt: The Stills-Young Band, "Long May You Run"] Young and his friends had all hitch-hiked in different directions -- Young had ended up in Toronto, where his dad lived, and had stayed with his dad for a while. The rest of his band had eventually followed him there, but Young found the Toronto music scene not to his taste -- the folk and rock scenes there were very insular and didn't mingle with each other, and the group eventually split up. Young even took on a day job for a while, for the only time in his life, though he soon quit. Young started basically commuting between Toronto and New York, a distance of several hundred miles, going to Greenwich Village for a while before ending up back in Toronto, and ping-ponging between the two. In New York, he met up with Richie Furay, and also had a disastrous audition for Elektra Records as a solo artist. One of the songs he sang in the audition was "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing", the song which Furay liked so much he started performing it himself. Young doesn't normally explain his songs, but as this was one of the first he ever wrote, he talked about it in interviews in the early years, before he decided to be less voluble about his art. The song was apparently about the sense of youthful hope being crushed. The instigation for it was Young seeing his girlfriend with another man, but the central image, of Clancy not singing, came from Young's schooldays. The Clancy in question was someone Young liked as one of the other weird kids at school. He was disabled, like Young, though with MS rather than polio, and he would sing to himself in the hallways at school. Sadly, of course, the other kids would mock and bully him for that, and eventually he ended up stopping. Young said about it "After awhile, he got so self-conscious he couldn't do his thing any more. When someone who is as beautiful as that and as different as that is actually killed by his fellow man—you know what I mean—like taken and sorta chopped down—all the other things are nothing compared to this." [Excerpt: Neil Young, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing (Elektra demo)"] One thing I should say for anyone who listens to the Mixcloud for this episode, that song, which will be appearing in a couple of different versions, has one use of a term for Romani people that some (though not all) consider a slur. It's not in the excerpts I'll be using in this episode, but will be in the full versions on the Mixcloud. Sadly that word turns up time and again in songs of this era... When he wasn't in New York, Young was living in Toronto in a communal apartment owned by a folk singer named Vicki Taylor, where many of the Toronto folk scene would stay. Young started listening a lot to Taylor's Bert Jansch albums, which were his first real exposure to the British folk-baroque style of guitar fingerpicking, as opposed to the American Travis-picking style, and Young would soon start to incorporate that style into his own playing: [Excerpt: Bert Jansch, "Angie"] Another guitar influence on Young at this point was another of the temporary tenants of Taylor's flat, John Kay, who would later go on to be one of the founding members of Steppenwolf. Young credited Kay with having a funky rhythm guitar style that Young incorporated into his own. While he was in Toronto, he started getting occasional gigs in Detroit, which is "only" a couple of hundred miles away, set up by Joni and Chuck Mitchell, both of whom also sometimes stayed at Taylor's. And it was in Detroit that Neil Young became, albeit very briefly, a Motown artist. The Mynah Birds were a band in Toronto that had at one point included various future members of Steppenwolf, and they were unusual for the time in that they were a white band with a Black lead singer, Ricky Matthews. They also had a rich manager, John Craig Eaton, the heir to the Eaton's department store fortune, who basically gave them whatever money they wanted -- they used to go to his office and tell him they needed seven hundred dollars for lunch, and he'd hand it to them. They were looking for a new guitarist when Bruce Palmer, their bass player, bumped into Neil Young carrying an amp and asked if he was interested in joining. He was. The Mynah Birds quickly became one of the best bands in Toronto, and Young and Matthews became close, both as friends and as a performance team. People who saw them live would talk about things like a song called “Hideaway”, written by Young and Matthews, which had a spot in the middle where Young would start playing a harmonica solo, throw the harmonica up in the air mid-solo, Matthews would catch it, and he would then finish the solo. They got signed to Motown, who were at this point looking to branch out into the white guitar-group market, and they were put through the Motown star-making machine. They recorded an entire album, which remains unreleased, but they did release a single, "It's My Time": [Excerpt: The Mynah Birds, "It's My Time"] Or at least, they released a handful of promo copies. The single was pulled from release after Ricky Matthews got arrested. It turned out his birth name wasn't Ricky Matthews, but James Johnson, and that he wasn't from Toronto as he'd told everyone, but from Buffalo, New York. He'd fled to Canada after going AWOL from the Navy, not wanting to be sent to Vietnam, and he was arrested and jailed for desertion. After getting out of jail, he would start performing under yet another name, and as Rick James would have a string of hits in the seventies and eighties: [Excerpt: Rick James, "Super Freak"] Most of the rest of the group continued gigging as The Mynah Birds, but Young and Palmer had other plans. They sold the expensive equipment Eaton had bought the group, and Young bought a new hearse, which he named Mort 2 – Mort had been his first hearse. And according to one of the band's friends in Toronto, the crucial change in their lives came when Neil Young heard a song on a jukebox: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] Young apparently heard "California Dreamin'" and immediately said "Let's go to California and become rock stars". Now, Young later said of this anecdote that "That sounds like a Canadian story to me. That sounds too real to be true", and he may well be right. Certainly the actual wording of the story is likely incorrect -- people weren't talking about "rock stars" in 1966. Google's Ngram viewer has the first use of the phrase in print being in 1969, and the phrase didn't come into widespread usage until surprisingly late -- even granting that phrases enter slang before they make it to print, it still seems implausible. But even though the precise wording might not be correct, something along those lines definitely seems to have happened, albeit possibly less dramatically. Young's friend Comrie Smith independently said that Young told him “Well, Comrie, I can hear the Mamas and the Papas singing ‘All the leaves are brown, and the skies are gray …' I'm gonna go down to the States and really make it. I'm on my way. Today North Toronto, tomorrow the world!” Young and Palmer loaded up Mort 2 with a bunch of their friends and headed towards California. On the way, they fell out with most of the friends, who parted from them, and Young had an episode which in retrospect may have been his first epileptic seizure. They decided when they got to California that they were going to look for Steve Stills, as they'd heard he was in LA and neither of them knew anyone else in the state. But after several days of going round the Sunset Strip clubs asking if anyone knew Steve Stills, and sleeping in the hearse as they couldn't afford anywhere else, they were getting fed up and about to head off to San Francisco, as they'd heard there was a good music scene there, too. They were going to leave that day, and they were stuck in traffic on Sunset Boulevard, about to head off, when Stills and Furay came driving in the other direction. Furay happened to turn his head, to brush away a fly, and saw a hearse with Ontario license plates. He and Stills both remembered that Young drove a hearse, and so they assumed it must be him. They started honking at the hearse, then did a U-turn. They got Young's attention, and they all pulled into the parking lot at Ben Frank's, the Sunset Strip restaurant that attracted such a hip crowd the Monkees' producers had asked for "Ben Frank's types" in their audition advert. Young introduced Stills and Furay to Palmer, and now there *was* a group -- three singing, songwriting, guitarists and a bass player. Now all they needed was a drummer. There were two drummers seriously considered for the role. One of them, Billy Mundi, was technically the better player, but Young didn't like playing with him as much -- and Mundi also had a better offer, to join the Mothers of Invention as their second drummer -- before they'd recorded their first album, they'd had two drummers for a few months, but Denny Bruce, their second drummer, had become ill with glandular fever and they'd reverted to having Jimmy Carl Black play solo. Now they were looking for someone else, and Mundi took that role. The other drummer, who Young preferred anyway, was another Canadian, Dewey Martin. Martin was a couple of years older than the rest of the group, and by far the most experienced. He'd moved from Canada to Nashville in his teens, and according to Martin he had been taken under the wing of Hank Garland, the great session guitarist most famous for "Sugarfoot Rag": [Excerpt: Hank Garland, "Sugarfoot Rag"] We heard Garland playing with Elvis and others in some of the episodes around 1960, and by many reckonings he was the best session guitarist in Nashville, but in 1961 he had a car accident that left him comatose, and even though he recovered from the coma and lived another thirty-three years, he never returned to recording. According to Martin, though, Garland would still sometimes play jazz clubs around Nashville after the accident, and one day Martin walked into a club and saw him playing. The drummer he was playing with got up and took a break, taking his sticks with him, so Martin got up on stage and started playing, using two combs instead of sticks. Garland was impressed, and told Martin that Faron Young needed a drummer, and he could get him the gig. At the time Young was one of the biggest stars in country music. That year, 1961, he had three country top ten hits, including a number one with his version of Willie Nelson's "Hello Walls", produced by Ken Nelson: [Excerpt: Faron Young, "Hello Walls"] Martin joined Faron Young's band for a while, and also ended up playing short stints in the touring bands of various other Nashville-based country and rock stars, including Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, and the Everly Brothers, before heading to LA for a while. Then Mel Taylor of the Ventures hooked him up with some musicians in the Pacific Northwest scene, and Martin started playing there under the name Sir Raleigh and the Coupons with various musicians. After a while he travelled back to LA where he got some members of the LA group Sons of Adam to become a permanent lineup of Coupons, and they recorded several singles with Martin singing lead, including the Tommy Boyce and Steve Venet song "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day", later recorded by the Monkees: [Excerpt: Sir Raleigh and the Coupons, "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day"] He then played with the Standells, before joining the Modern Folk Quartet for a short while, as they were transitioning from their folk sound to a folk-rock style. He was only with them for a short while, and it's difficult to get precise details -- almost everyone involved with Buffalo Springfield has conflicting stories about their own careers with timelines that don't make sense, which is understandable given that people were talking about events decades later and memory plays tricks. "Fast" Eddie Hoh had joined the Modern Folk Quartet on drums in late 1965, at which point they became the Modern Folk Quintet, and nothing I've read about that group talks about Hoh ever actually leaving, but apparently Martin joined them in February 1966, which might mean he's on their single "Night-Time Girl", co-written by Al Kooper and produced and arranged by Jack Nitzsche: [Excerpt: The Modern Folk Quintet, "Night-Time Girl"] After that, Martin was taken on by the Dillards, a bluegrass band who are now possibly most famous for having popularised the Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith song "Duellin' Banjos", which they recorded on their first album and played on the Andy Griffith Show a few years before it was used in Deliverance: [Excerpt: The Dillards, "Duellin' Banjos"] The Dillards had decided to go in a country-rock direction -- and Doug Dillard would later join the Byrds and make records with Gene Clark -- but they were hesitant about it, and after a brief period with Martin in the band they decided to go back to their drummerless lineup. To soften the blow, they told him about another band that was looking for a drummer -- their manager, Jim Dickson, who was also the Byrds' manager, knew Stills and his bandmates. Dewey Martin was in the group. The group still needed a name though. They eventually took their name from a brand of steam roller, after seeing one on the streets when some roadwork was being done. Everyone involved disagrees as to who came up with the name. Steve Stills at one point said it was a group decision after Neil Young and the group's manager Frazier Mohawk stole the nameplate off the steamroller, and later Stills said that Richey Furay had suggested the name while they were walking down the street, Dewey Martin said it was his idea, Neil Young said that he, Steve Sills, and Van Dyke Parks had been walking down the street and either Young or Stills had seen the nameplate and suggested the name, and Van Dyke Parks says that *he* saw the nameplate and suggested it to Dewey Martin: [Excerpt: Steve Stills and Van Dyke Parks on the name] For what it's worth, I tend to believe Van Dyke Parks in most instances -- he's an honest man, and he seems to have a better memory of the sixties than many of his friends who led more chemically interesting lives. Whoever came up with it, the name worked -- as Stills later put it "We thought it was pretty apt, because Neil Young is from Manitoba which is buffalo country, and  Richie Furay was from Springfield, Ohio -- and I'm the field!" It almost certainly also helped that the word "buffalo" had been in the name of Stills' previous group, Buffalo Fish. On the eleventh of April, 1966, Buffalo Springfield played their first gig, at the Troubadour, using equipment borrowed from the Dillards. Chris Hillman of the Byrds was in the audience and was impressed. He got the group a support slot on a show the Byrds and the Dillards were doing a few days later in San Bernardino. That show was compered by a Merseyside-born British DJ, John Ravenscroft, who had managed to become moderately successful in US radio by playing up his regional accent so he sounded more like the Beatles. He would soon return to the UK, and start broadcasting under the name John Peel. Hillman also got them a week-long slot at the Whisky A-Go-Go, and a bidding war started between record labels to sign the band. Dunhill offered five thousand dollars, Warners counted with ten thousand, and then Atlantic offered twelve thousand. Atlantic were *just* starting to get interested in signing white guitar groups -- Jerry Wexler never liked that kind of music, always preferring to stick with soul and R&B, but Ahmet Ertegun could see which way things were going. Atlantic had only ever signed two other white acts before -- Neil Young's old favourite Bobby Darin, who had since left the label, and Sonny and Cher. And Sonny and Cher's management and production team, Brian Stone and Charlie Greene, were also very interested in the group, who even before they had made a record had quickly become the hottest band on the circuit, even playing the Hollywood Bowl as the Rolling Stones' support act. Buffalo Springfield already had managers -- Frazier Mohawk and Richard Davis, the lighting man at the Troubadour (who was sometimes also referred to as Dickie Davis, but I'll use his full name so as not to cause unnecessary confusion in British people who remember the sports TV presenter of the same name), who Mohawk had enlisted to help him. But Stone and Greene weren't going to let a thing like that stop them. According to anonymous reports quoted without attribution in David Roberts' biography of Stills -- so take this with as many grains of salt as you want -- Stone and Greene took Mohawk for a ride around LA in a limo, just the three of them, a gun, and a used hotdog napkin. At the end of the ride, the hotdog napkin had Mohawk's scrawled signature, signing the group over to Stone and Greene. Davis stayed on, but was demoted to just doing their lights. The way things ended up, the group signed to Stone and Greene's production company, who then leased their masters to Atlantic's Atco subsidiary. A publishing company was also set up for the group's songs -- owned thirty-seven point five percent by Atlantic, thirty-seven point five percent by Stone and Greene, and the other twenty-five percent split six ways between the group and Davis, who they considered their sixth member. Almost immediately, Charlie Greene started playing Stills and Young off against each other, trying a divide-and-conquer strategy on the group. This was quite easy, as both men saw themselves as natural leaders, though Stills was regarded by everyone as the senior partner -- the back cover of their first album would contain the line "Steve is the leader but we all are". Stills and Young were the two stars of the group as far as the audience were concerned -- though most musicians who heard them play live say that the band's real strength was in its rhythm section, with people comparing Palmer's playing to that of James Jamerson. But Stills and Young would get into guitar battles on stage, one-upping each other, in ways that turned the tension between them in creative directions. Other clashes, though were more petty -- both men had very domineering mothers, who would actually call the group's management to complain about press coverage if their son was given less space than the other one. The group were also not sure about Young's voice -- to the extent that Stills was known to jokingly apologise to the audience before Young took a lead vocal -- and so while the song chosen as the group's first A-side was Young's "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing", Furay was chosen to sing it, rather than Young: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing"] On the group's first session, though, both Stills and Young realised that their producers didn't really have a clue -- the group had built up arrangements that had a complex interplay of instruments and vocals, but the producers insisted on cutting things very straightforwardly, with a basic backing track and then the vocals. They also thought that the song was too long so the group should play faster. Stills and Young quickly decided that they were going to have to start producing their own material, though Stone and Greene would remain the producers for the first album. There was another bone of contention though, because in the session the initial plan had been for Stills' song "Go and Say Goodbye" to be the A-side with Young's song as the B-side. It was flipped, and nobody seems quite sure why -- it's certainly the case that, whatever the merits of the two tracks as songs, Stills' song was the one that would have been more likely to become a hit. "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" was a flop, but it did get some local airplay. The next single, "Burned", was a Young song as well, and this time did have Young taking the lead, though in a song dominated by harmonies: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Burned"] Over the summer, though, something had happened that would affect everything for the group -- Neil Young had started to have epileptic seizures. At first these were undiagnosed episodes, but soon they became almost routine events, and they would often happen on stage, particularly at moments of great stress or excitement. Several other members of the group became convinced -- entirely wrongly -- that Young was faking these seizures in order to get women to pay attention to him. They thought that what he wanted was for women to comfort him and mop his brow, and that collapsing would get him that. The seizures became so common that Richard Davis, the group's lighting tech, learned to recognise the signs of a seizure before it happened. As soon as it looked like Young was about to collapse the lights would turn on, someone would get ready to carry him off stage, and Richie Furay would know to grab Young's guitar before he fell so that the guitar wouldn't get damaged. Because they weren't properly grounded and Furay had an electric guitar of his own, he'd get a shock every time. Young would later claim that during some of the seizures, he would hallucinate that he was another person, in another world, living another life that seemed to have its own continuity -- people in the other world would recognise him and talk to him as if he'd been away for a while -- and then when he recovered he would have to quickly rebuild his identity, as if temporarily amnesiac, and during those times he would find things like the concept of lying painful. The group's first album came out in December, and they were very, very, unhappy with it. They thought the material was great, but they also thought that the production was terrible. Stone and Greene's insistence that they record the backing tracks first and then overdub vocals, rather than singing live with the instruments, meant that the recordings, according to Stills and Young in particular, didn't capture the sound of the group's live performance, and sounded sterile. Stills and Young thought they'd fixed some of that in the mono mix, which they spent ten days on, but then Stone and Greene did the stereo mix without consulting the band, in less than two days, and the album was released at precisely the time that stereo was starting to overtake mono in the album market. I'm using the mono mixes in this podcast, but for decades the only versions available were the stereo ones, which Stills and Young both loathed. Ahmet Ertegun also apparently thought that the demo versions of the songs -- some of which were eventually released on a box set in 2001 -- were much better than the finished studio recordings. The album was not a success on release, but it did contain the first song any of the group had written to chart. Soon after its release, Van Dyke Parks' friend Lenny Waronker was producing a single by a group who had originally been led by Sly Stone and had been called Sly and the Mojo Men. By this time Stone was no longer involved in the group, and they were making music in a very different style from the music their former leader would later become known for. Parks was brought in to arrange a baroque-pop version of Stills' album track "Sit Down I Think I Love You" for the group, and it became their only top forty hit, reaching number thirty-six: [Excerpt: The Mojo Men, "Sit Down I Think I Love You"] It was shortly after the first Buffalo Springfield album was released, though, that Steve Stills wrote what would turn out to be *his* group's only top forty single. The song had its roots in both LA and San Francisco. The LA roots were more obvious -- the song was written about a specific experience Stills had had. He had been driving to Sunset Strip from Laurel Canyon on November the twelfth 1966, and he had seen a mass of young people and police in riot gear, and he had immediately turned round, partly because he didn't want to get involved in what looked to be a riot, and partly because he'd been inspired -- he had the idea for a lyric, which he pretty much finished in the car even before he got home: [Excerpt: The Buffalo Springfield, "For What it's Worth"] The riots he saw were what became known later as the Riot on Sunset Strip. This was a minor skirmish between the police and young people of LA -- there had been complaints that young people had been spilling out of the nightclubs on Sunset Strip into the street, causing traffic problems, and as a result the city council had introduced various heavy-handed restrictions, including a ten PM curfew for all young people in the area, removing the permits that many clubs had which allowed people under twenty-one to be present, forcing the Whisky A-Go-Go to change its name just to "the Whisk", and forcing a club named Pandora's Box, which was considered the epicentre of the problem, to close altogether. Flyers had been passed around calling for a "funeral" for Pandora's Box -- a peaceful gathering at which people could say goodbye to a favourite nightspot, and a thousand people had turned up. The police also turned up, and in the heavy-handed way common among law enforcement, they managed to provoke a peaceful party and turn it into a riot. This would not normally be an event that would be remembered even a year later, let alone nearly sixty years later, but Sunset Strip was the centre of the American rock music world in the period, and of the broader youth entertainment field. Among those arrested at the riot, for example, were Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda, neither of whom were huge stars at the time, but who were making cheap B-movies with Roger Corman for American International Pictures. Among the cheap exploitation films that American International Pictures made around this time was one based on the riots, though neither Nicholson, Fonda, or Corman were involved. Riot on Sunset Strip was released in cinemas only four months after the riots, and it had a theme song by Dewey Martin's old colleagues The Standells, which is now regarded as a classic of garage rock: [Excerpt: The Standells, "Riot on Sunset Strip"] The riots got referenced in a lot of other songs, as well. The Mothers of Invention's second album, Absolutely Free, contains the song "Plastic People" which includes this section: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Plastic People"] And the Monkees track "Daily Nightly", written by Michael Nesmith, was always claimed by Nesmith to be an impressionistic portrait of the riots, though the psychedelic lyrics sound to me more like they're talking about drug use and street-walking sex workers than anything to do with the riots: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] But the song about the riots that would have the most lasting effect on popular culture was the one that Steve Stills wrote that night. Although how much he actually wrote, at least of the music, is somewhat open to question. Earlier that month, Buffalo Springfield had spent some time in San Francisco. They hadn't enjoyed the experience -- as an LA band, they were thought of as a bunch of Hollywood posers by most of the San Francisco scene, with the exception of one band, Moby Grape -- a band who, like them had three guitarist/singer/songwriters, and with whom they got on very well. Indeed, they got on rather better with Moby Grape than they were getting on with each other at this point, because Young and Stills would regularly get into arguments, and every time their argument seemed to be settling down, Dewey Martin would manage to say the wrong thing and get Stills riled up again -- Martin was doing a lot of speed at this point and unable to stop talking, even when it would have been politic to do so. There was even some talk while they were in San Francisco of the bands doing a trade -- Young and Pete Lewis of Moby Grape swapping places -- though that came to nothing. But Stills, according to both Richard Davis and Pete Lewis, had been truly impressed by two Moby Grape songs. One of them was a song called "On the Other Side", which Moby Grape never recorded, but which apparently had a chorus that went "Stop, can't you hear the music ringing in your ear, right before you go, telling you the way is clear," with the group all pausing after the word "Stop". The other was a song called "Murder in my Heart for the Judge": [Excerpt: Moby Grape, "Murder in my Heart for the Judge"] The song Stills wrote had a huge amount of melodic influence from that song, and quite a bit from “On the Other Side”, though he apparently didn't notice until after the record came out, at which point he apologised to Moby Grape. Stills wasn't massively impressed with the song he'd written, and went to Stone and Greene's office to play it for them, saying "I'll play it, for what it's worth". They liked the song and booked a studio to get the song recorded and rush-released, though according to Neil Young neither Stone nor Greene were actually present at the session, and the song was recorded on December the fifth, while some outbursts of rioting were still happening, and released on December the twenty-third. [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "For What it's Worth"] The song didn't have a title when they recorded it, or so Stills thought, but when he mentioned this to Greene and Stone afterwards, they said "Of course it does. You said, 'I'm going to play the song, 'For What It's Worth'" So that became the title, although Ahmet Ertegun didn't like the idea of releasing a single with a title that wasn't in the lyric, so the early pressings of the single had "Stop, Hey, What's That Sound?" in brackets after the title. The song became a big hit, and there's a story told by David Crosby that doesn't line up correctly, but which might shed some light on why. According to Crosby, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" got its first airplay because Crosby had played members of Buffalo Springfield a tape he'd been given of the unreleased Beatles track "A Day in the Life", and they'd told their gangster manager-producers about it. Those manager-producers had then hired a sex worker to have sex with Crosby and steal the tape, which they'd then traded to a radio station in return for airplay. That timeline doesn't work, unless the sex worker involved was also a time traveller,  because "A Day in the Life" wasn't even recorded until January 1967 while "Clancy" came out in August 1966, and there'd been two other singles released between then and January 1967. But it *might* be the case that that's what happened with "For What It's Worth", which was released in the last week of December 1966, and didn't really start to do well on the charts for a couple of months. Right after recording the song, the group went to play a residency in New York, of which Ahmet Ertegun said “When they performed there, man, there was no band I ever heard that had the electricity of that group. That was the most exciting group I've ever seen, bar none. It was just mind-boggling.” During that residency they were joined on stage at various points by Mitch Ryder, Odetta, and Otis Redding. While in New York, the group also recorded "Mr. Soul", a song that Young had originally written as a folk song about his experiences with epilepsy, the nature of the soul, and dealing with fame. However, he'd noticed a similarity to "Satisfaction" and decided to lean into it. The track as finally released was heavily overdubbed by Young a few months later, but after it was released he decided he preferred the original take, which by then only existed as a scratchy acetate, which got released on a box set in 2001: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Mr. Soul (original version)"] Everyone has a different story of how the session for that track went -- at least one version of the story has Otis Redding turning up for the session and saying he wanted to record the song himself, as his follow-up to his version of "Satisfaction", but Young being angry at the idea. According to other versions of the story, Greene and Stills got into a physical fight, with Greene having to be given some of the valium Young was taking for his epilepsy to calm him down. "For What it's Worth" was doing well enough on the charts that the album was recalled, and reissued with "For What It's Worth" replacing Stills' song "Baby Don't Scold", but soon disaster struck the band. Bruce Palmer was arrested on drugs charges, and was deported back to Canada just as the song started to rise through the charts. The group needed a new bass player, fast. For a lipsynch appearance on local TV they got Richard Davis to mime the part, and then they got in Ken Forssi, the bass player from Love, for a couple of gigs. They next brought in Ken Koblun, the bass player from the Squires, but he didn't fit in with the rest of the group. The next replacement was Jim Fielder. Fielder was a friend of the group, and knew the material -- he'd subbed for Palmer a few times in 1966 when Palmer had been locked up after less serious busts. And to give some idea of how small a scene the LA scene was, when Buffalo Springfield asked him to become their bass player, he was playing rhythm guitar for the Mothers of Invention, while Billy Mundi was on drums, and had played on their second, as yet unreleased, album, Absolutely Free: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Call any Vegetable"] And before joining the Mothers, Fielder and Mundi had also played together with Van Dyke Parks, who had served his own short stint as a Mother of Invention already, backing Tim Buckley on Buckley's first album: [Excerpt: Tim Buckley, "Aren't You the Girl?"] And the arrangements on that album were by Jack Nitzsche, who would soon become a very close collaborator with Young. "For What it's Worth" kept rising up the charts. Even though it had been inspired by a very local issue, the lyrics were vague enough that people in other situations could apply it to themselves, and it soon became regarded as an anti-war protest anthem -- something Stills did nothing to discourage, as the band were all opposed to the war. The band were also starting to collaborate with other people. When Stills bought a new house, he couldn't move in to it for a while, and so Peter Tork invited him to stay at his house. The two got on so well that Tork invited Stills to produce the next Monkees album -- only to find that Michael Nesmith had already asked Chip Douglas to do it. The group started work on a new album, provisionally titled "Stampede", but sessions didn't get much further than Stills' song "Bluebird" before trouble arose between Young and Stills. The root of the argument seems to have been around the number of songs each got on the album. With Richie Furay also writing, Young was worried that given the others' attitudes to his songwriting, he might get as few as two songs on the album. And Young and Stills were arguing over which song should be the next single, with Young wanting "Mr. Soul" to be the A-side, while Stills wanted "Bluebird" -- Stills making the reasonable case that they'd released two Neil Young songs as singles and gone nowhere, and then they'd released one of Stills', and it had become a massive hit. "Bluebird" was eventually chosen as the A-side, with "Mr. Soul" as the B-side: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Bluebird"] The "Bluebird" session was another fraught one. Fielder had not yet joined the band, and session player Bobby West subbed on bass. Neil Young had recently started hanging out with Jack Nitzsche, and the two were getting very close and working on music together. Young had impressed Nitzsche not just with his songwriting but with his arrogance -- he'd played Nitzsche his latest song, "Expecting to Fly", and Nitzsche had said halfway through "That's a great song", and Young had shushed him and told him to listen, not interrupt. Nitzsche, who had a monstrous ego himself and was also used to working with people like Phil Spector, the Rolling Stones and Sonny Bono, none of them known for a lack of faith in their own abilities, was impressed. Shortly after that, Stills had asked Nitzsch

tv love american new york california history money black canada google hollywood babies man uk mother soul england americans british san francisco canadian child young west dj ms girl spring brothers blood arizona ohio heart toronto murder north america night nashville detroit new orleans fame supreme court reflections mountain stone states vietnam tribute mothers beatles martin luther king jr atlantic navy buffalo sons cd ontario tears cycle rolling stones shadows west coast pirates elvis trans raw costa rica rock and roll parks apollo jacksonville belong shortly claim pacific northwest riot bob dylan hop floyd newman el salvador runaways john lennon invention sweat expecting lsd knife satisfaction ludwig van beethoven carpenter chess matthews cocaine springfield greene neil young winnipeg ventures burned darin luigi other side jimi hendrix motown woody allen say goodbye mamas tonight show beach boys mgm manitoba dime returned sultans sinclair mort parsons jack nicholson flyers eric clapton willie nelson thorns ode mick jagger miles davis expressions atkins buckley joni mitchell lovin nicholson mixcloud tilt ihop sly monterey unsurprisingly dewey tokens eaton little richard papas awol ninety monkees bakersfield richard pryor redding clancy tom wilson mohawk san bernardino johnny carson stampede guess who stills garfunkel rock music roger corman randy newman buddy holly greenwich village bluebird merseyside hollywood bowl roadrunner phil spector sunset boulevard kenny loggins messina hardin otis redding sunset strip jerry lee lewis coupons steppenwolf roy orbison rick james romani byrds isley brothers spoonful bloomfield troubadour broken arrow hillman clapton hideaway glen campbell steve young david crosby shakin corman fonda patsy cline havens squires dizzy gillespie john hopkins bachman blood sweat california dreamin wrecking crew all over laurel canyon lenny bruce lonely hearts club band everly brothers davy jones james johnson pet sounds peter fonda whisk take me out fielder sgt pepper judy collins hoh high flying birds mike love rhinestones scorpios buffalo springfield mundi hats off andy griffith show john peel leadbelly dick dale hollywood boulevard david roberts scott young bobby darin gram parsons sam phillips sly stone fourth dimension chet atkins richie havens nesmith del shannon michael nesmith tim buckley it won banjos elektra records white buffalo sonny bono radars randy bachman warners grace slick sun studios micky dolenz richard davis john sebastian shirelles john kay don felder brother can you spare peter tork splish splash fort william kingston trio roger mcguinn dunhill james burton absolutely free jimmy reed al kooper john sinclair tork atco thelonius monk dillards dream lover van dyke parks baby don bobby rydell buddy miles scold plastic people farmer john whisky a go go gene clark soul live merry clayton comrie barry mcguire travellin tom paxton mike bloomfield chris hillman mitch ryder new buffalo richie furay kooper mothers of invention that sound jim messina cashbox bobby fuller owsley tim rose tim hardin bert jansch jim price mack the knife tom dooley michael garcia british dj standells gloria jones ahmet ertegun moby grape bruce johnston continentals strawberry alarm clock james jamerson medicine ball jack nitzsche david browne jerry wexler ben frank faron young american international pictures blue buffalo dave price fred neil noel redding bernie leadon morris levy hank marvin electric flag pinetop floyd cramer esquires chantels roulette records furay tommy boyce jake holmes monkees tv charlie greene buick roadmaster nashville a team tilt araiza
A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs
Episode 150: “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles

A History Of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs

Play Episode Listen Later Jun 26, 2022


This week's episode looks at “All You Need is Love”, the Our World TV special, and the career of the Beatles from April 1966 through August 1967. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a thirteen-minute bonus episode available, on "Rain" by the Beatles. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ NB for the first few hours this was up, there was a slight editing glitch. If you downloaded the old version and don't want to redownload the whole thing, just look in the transcript for "Other than fixing John's two flubbed" for the text of the two missing paragraphs. Errata I say "Come Together" was a B-side, but the single was actually a double A-side. Also, I say the Lennon interview by Maureen Cleave appeared in Detroit magazine. That's what my source (Steve Turner's book) says, but someone on Twitter says that rather than Detroit magazine it was the Detroit Free Press. Also at one point I say "the videos for 'Paperback Writer' and 'Penny Lane'". I meant to say "Rain" rather than "Penny Lane" there. Resources No Mixcloud this week due to the number of songs by the Beatles. I have read literally dozens of books on the Beatles, and used bits of information from many of them. All my Beatles episodes refer to: The Complete Beatles Chronicle by Mark Lewisohn, All The Songs: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Release by Jean-Michel Guesdon, And The Band Begins To Play: The Definitive Guide To The Songs of The Beatles by Steve Lambley, The Beatles By Ear by Kevin Moore, Revolution in the Head by Ian MacDonald, and The Beatles Anthology. For this episode, I also referred to Last Interview by David Sheff, a longform interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono from shortly before Lennon's death; Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, an authorised biography of Paul McCartney; and Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles by Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey. Particularly useful this time was Steve Turner's book Beatles '66. I also used Turner's The Beatles: The Stories Behind the Songs 1967-1970. Johnny Rogan's Starmakers and Svengalis had some information on Epstein I hadn't seen anywhere else. Some information about the "Bigger than Jesus" scandal comes from Ward, B. (2012). “The ‘C' is for Christ”: Arthur Unger, Datebook Magazine and the Beatles. Popular Music and Society, 35(4), 541-560. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007766.2011.608978 Information on Robert Stigwood comes from Mr Showbiz by Stephen Dando-Collins. And the quote at the end from Simon Napier-Bell is from You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, which is more entertaining than it is accurate, but is very entertaining. Sadly the only way to get the single mix of "All You Need is Love" is on this ludicrously-expensive out-of-print box set, but the stereo mix is easily available on Magical Mystery Tour. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick note before I start the episode -- this episode deals, in part, with the deaths of three gay men -- one by murder, one by suicide, and one by an accidental overdose, all linked at least in part to societal homophobia. I will try to deal with this as tactfully as I can, but anyone who's upset by those things might want to read the transcript instead of listening to the episode. This is also a very, very, *very* long episode -- this is likely to be the longest episode I *ever* do of this podcast, so settle in. We're going to be here a while. I obviously don't know how long it's going to be while I'm still recording, but based on the word count of my script, probably in the region of three hours. You have been warned. In 1967 the actor Patrick McGoohan was tired. He had been working on the hit series Danger Man for many years -- Danger Man had originally run from 1960 through 1962, then had taken a break, and had come back, retooled, with longer episodes in 1964. That longer series was a big hit, both in the UK and in the US, where it was retitled Secret Agent and had a new theme tune written by PF Sloan and Steve Barri and recorded by Johnny Rivers: [Excerpt: Johnny Rivers, "Secret Agent Man"] But McGoohan was tired of playing John Drake, the agent, and announced he was going to quit the series. Instead, with the help of George Markstein, Danger Man's script editor, he created a totally new series, in which McGoohan would star, and which McGoohan would also write and direct key episodes of. This new series, The Prisoner, featured a spy who is only ever given the name Number Six, and who many fans -- though not McGoohan himself -- took to be the same character as John Drake. Number Six resigns from his job as a secret agent, and is kidnapped and taken to a place known only as The Village -- the series was filmed in Portmeirion, an unusual-looking town in Gwynnedd, in North Wales -- which is full of other ex-agents. There he is interrogated to try to find out why he has quit his job. It's never made clear whether the interrogators are his old employers or their enemies, and there's a certain suggestion that maybe there is no real distinction between the two sides, that they're both running the Village together. He spends the entire series trying to escape, but refuses to explain himself -- and there's some debate among viewers as to whether it's implied or not that part of the reason he doesn't explain himself is that he knows his interrogators wouldn't understand why he quit: [Excerpt: The Prisoner intro, from episode Once Upon a Time, ] Certainly that explanation would fit in with McGoohan's own personality. According to McGoohan, the final episode of The Prisoner was, at the time, the most watched TV show ever broadcast in the UK, as people tuned in to find out the identity of Number One, the person behind the Village, and to see if Number Six would break free. I don't think that's actually the case, but it's what McGoohan always claimed, and it was certainly a very popular series. I won't spoil the ending for those of you who haven't watched it -- it's a remarkable series -- but ultimately the series seems to decide that such questions don't matter and that even asking them is missing the point. It's a work that's open to multiple interpretations, and is left deliberately ambiguous, but one of the messages many people have taken away from it is that not only are we trapped by a society that oppresses us, we're also trapped by our own identities. You can run from the trap that society has placed you in, from other people's interpretations of your life, your work, and your motives, but you ultimately can't run from yourself, and any time you try to break out of a prison, you'll find yourself trapped in another prison of your own making. The most horrifying implication of the episode is that possibly even death itself won't be a release, and you will spend all eternity trying to escape from an identity you're trapped in. Viewers became so outraged, according to McGoohan, that he had to go into hiding for an extended period, and while his later claims that he never worked in Britain again are an exaggeration, it is true that for the remainder of his life he concentrated on doing work in the US instead, where he hadn't created such anger. That final episode of The Prisoner was also the only one to use a piece of contemporary pop music, in two crucial scenes: [Excerpt: The Prisoner, "Fall Out", "All You Need is Love"] Back in October 2020, we started what I thought would be a year-long look at the period from late 1962 through early 1967, but which has turned out for reasons beyond my control to take more like twenty months, with a song which was one of the last of the big pre-Beatles pop hits, though we looked at it after their first single, "Telstar" by the Tornadoes: [Excerpt: The Tornadoes, "Telstar"] There were many reasons for choosing that as one of the bookends for this fifty-episode chunk of the podcast -- you'll see many connections between that episode and this one if you listen to them back-to-back -- but among them was that it's a song inspired by the launch of the first ever communications satellite, and a sign of how the world was going to become smaller as the sixties went on. Of course, to start with communications satellites didn't do much in that regard -- they were expensive to use, and had limited bandwidth, and were only available during limited time windows, but symbolically they meant that for the first time ever, people could see and hear events thousands of miles away as they were happening. It's not a coincidence that Britain and France signed the agreement to develop Concorde, the first supersonic airliner, a month after the first Beatles single and four months after the Telstar satellite was launched. The world was becoming ever more interconnected -- people were travelling faster and further, getting news from other countries quicker, and there was more cultural conversation – and misunderstanding – between countries thousands of miles apart. The Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, the man who also coined the phrase “the medium is the message”, thought that this ever-faster connection would fundamentally change basic modes of thought in the Western world. McLuhan thought that technology made possible whole new modes of thought, and that just as the printing press had, in his view, caused Western liberalism and individualism, so these new electronic media would cause the rise of a new collective mode of thought. In 1962, the year of Concorde, Telstar, and “Love Me Do”, McLuhan wrote a book called The Gutenberg Galaxy, in which he said: “Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence.… Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time.…” He coined the term “the Global Village” to describe this new collectivism. The story we've seen over the last fifty episodes is one of a sort of cultural ping-pong between the USA and the UK, with innovations in American music inspiring British musicians, who in turn inspired American ones, whether that being the Beatles covering the Isley Brothers or the Rolling Stones doing a Bobby Womack song, or Paul Simon and Bob Dylan coming over to the UK and learning folk songs and guitar techniques from Martin Carthy. And increasingly we're going to see those influences spread to other countries, and influences coming *from* other countries. We've already seen one Jamaican artist, and the influence of Indian music has become very apparent. While the focus of this series is going to remain principally in the British Isles and North America, rock music was and is a worldwide phenomenon, and that's going to become increasingly a part of the story. And so in this episode we're going to look at a live performance -- well, mostly live -- that was seen by hundreds of millions of people all over the world as it happened, thanks to the magic of satellites: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "All You Need is Love"] When we left the Beatles, they had just finished recording "Tomorrow Never Knows", the most experimental track they had recorded up to that date, and if not the most experimental thing they *ever* recorded certainly in the top handful. But "Tomorrow Never Knows" was only the first track they recorded in the sessions for what would become arguably their greatest album, and certainly the one that currently has the most respect from critics. It's interesting to note that that album could have been very, very, different. When we think of Revolver now, we think of the innovative production of George Martin, and of Geoff Emerick and Ken Townshend's inventive ideas for pushing the sound of the equipment in Abbey Road studios, but until very late in the day the album was going to be recorded in the Stax studios in Memphis, with Steve Cropper producing -- whether George Martin would have been involved or not is something we don't even know. In 1965, the Rolling Stones had, as we've seen, started making records in the US, recording in LA and at the Chess studios in Chicago, and the Yardbirds had also been doing the same thing. Mick Jagger had become a convert to the idea of using American studios and working with American musicians, and he had constantly been telling Paul McCartney that the Beatles should do the same. Indeed, they'd put some feelers out in 1965 about the possibility of the group making an album with Holland, Dozier, and Holland in Detroit. Quite how this would have worked is hard to figure out -- Holland, Dozier, and Holland's skills were as songwriters, and in their work with a particular set of musicians -- so it's unsurprising that came to nothing. But recording at Stax was a different matter.  While Steve Cropper was a great songwriter in his own right, he was also adept at getting great sounds on covers of other people's material -- like on Otis Blue, the album he produced for Otis Redding in late 1965, which doesn't include a single Cropper original: [Excerpt: Otis Redding, "Satisfaction"] And the Beatles were very influenced by the records Stax were putting out, often namechecking Wilson Pickett in particular, and during the Rubber Soul sessions they had recorded a "Green Onions" soundalike track, imaginatively titled "12-Bar Original": [Excerpt: The Beatles, "12-Bar Original"] The idea of the group recording at Stax got far enough that they were actually booked in for two weeks starting the ninth of April, and there was even an offer from Elvis to let them stay at Graceland while they recorded, but then a couple of weeks earlier, the news leaked to the press, and Brian Epstein cancelled the booking. According to Cropper, Epstein talked about recording at the Atlantic studios in New York with him instead, but nothing went any further. It's hard to imagine what a Stax-based Beatles album would have been like, but even though it might have been a great album, it certainly wouldn't have been the Revolver we've come to know. Revolver is an unusual album in many ways, and one of the ways it's most distinct from the earlier Beatles albums is the dominance of keyboards. Both Lennon and McCartney had often written at the piano as well as the guitar -- McCartney more so than Lennon, but both had done so regularly -- but up to this point it had been normal for them to arrange the songs for guitars rather than keyboards, no matter how they'd started out. There had been the odd track where one of them, usually Lennon, would play a simple keyboard part, songs like "I'm Down" or "We Can Work it Out", but even those had been guitar records first and foremost. But on Revolver, that changed dramatically. There seems to have been a complex web of cause and effect here. Paul was becoming increasingly interested in moving his basslines away from simple walking basslines and root notes and the other staples of rock and roll basslines up to this point. As the sixties progressed, rock basslines were becoming ever more complex, and Tyler Mahan Coe has made a good case that this is largely down to innovations in production pioneered by Owen Bradley, and McCartney was certainly aware of Bradley's work -- he was a fan of Brenda Lee, who Bradley produced, for example. But the two influences that McCartney has mentioned most often in this regard are the busy, jazz-influenced, basslines that James Jamerson was playing at Motown: [Excerpt: The Four Tops, "It's the Same Old Song"] And the basslines that Brian Wilson was writing for various Wrecking Crew bassists to play for the Beach Boys: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)"] Just to be clear, McCartney didn't hear that particular track until partway through the recording of Revolver, when Bruce Johnston visited the UK and brought with him an advance copy of Pet Sounds, but Pet Sounds influenced the later part of Revolver's recording, and Wilson had already started his experiments in that direction with the group's 1965 work. It's much easier to write a song with this kind of bassline, one that's integral to the composition, on the piano than it is to write it on a guitar, as you can work out the bassline with your left hand while working out the chords and melody with your right, so the habit that McCartney had already developed of writing on the piano made this easier. But also, starting with the recording of "Paperback Writer", McCartney switched his style of working in the studio. Where up to this point it had been normal for him to play bass as part of the recording of the basic track, playing with the other Beatles, he now started to take advantage of multitracking to overdub his bass later, so he could spend extra time getting the bassline exactly right. McCartney lived closer to Abbey Road than the other three Beatles, and so could more easily get there early or stay late and tweak his parts. But if McCartney wasn't playing bass while the guitars and drums were being recorded, that meant he could play something else, and so increasingly he would play piano during the recording of the basic track. And that in turn would mean that there wouldn't always *be* a need for guitars on the track, because the harmonic support they would provide would be provided by the piano instead. This, as much as anything else, is the reason that Revolver sounds so radically different to any other Beatles album. Up to this point, with *very* rare exceptions like "Yesterday", every Beatles record, more or less, featured all four of the Beatles playing instruments. Now John and George weren't playing on "Good Day Sunshine" or "For No One", John wasn't playing on "Here, There, and Everywhere", "Eleanor Rigby" features no guitars or drums at all, and George's "Love You To" only features himself, plus a little tambourine from Ringo (Paul recorded a part for that one, but it doesn't seem to appear on the finished track). Of the three songwriting Beatles, the only one who at this point was consistently requiring the instrumental contributions of all the other band members was John, and even he did without Paul on "She Said, She Said", which by all accounts features either John or George on bass, after Paul had a rare bout of unprofessionalism and left the studio. Revolver is still an album made by a group -- and most of those tracks that don't feature John or George instrumentally still feature them vocally -- it's still a collaborative work in all the best ways. But it's no longer an album made by four people playing together in the same room at the same time. After starting work on "Tomorrow Never Knows", the next track they started work on was Paul's "Got to Get You Into My Life", but as it would turn out they would work on that song throughout most of the sessions for the album -- in a sign of how the group would increasingly work from this point on, Paul's song was subject to multiple re-recordings and tweakings in the studio, as he tinkered to try to make it perfect. The first recording to be completed for the album, though, was almost as much of a departure in its own way as "Tomorrow Never Knows" had been. George's song "Love You To" shows just how inspired he was by the music of Ravi Shankar, and how devoted he was to Indian music. While a few months earlier he had just about managed to pick out a simple melody on the sitar for "Norwegian Wood", by this point he was comfortable enough with Indian classical music that I've seen many, many sources claim that an outside session player is playing sitar on the track, though Anil Bhagwat, the tabla player on the track, always insisted that it was entirely Harrison's playing: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Love You To"] There is a *lot* of debate as to whether it's George playing on the track, and I feel a little uncomfortable making a definitive statement in either direction. On the one hand I find it hard to believe that Harrison got that good that quickly on an unfamiliar instrument, when we know he wasn't a naturally facile musician. All the stories we have about his work in the studio suggest that he had to work very hard on his guitar solos, and that he would frequently fluff them. As a technical guitarist, Harrison was only mediocre -- his value lay in his inventiveness, not in technical ability -- and he had been playing guitar for over a decade, but sitar only a few months. There's also some session documentation suggesting that an unknown sitar player was hired. On the other hand there's the testimony of Anil Bhagwat that Harrison played the part himself, and he has been very firm on the subject, saying "If you go on the Internet there are a lot of questions asked about "Love You To". They say 'It's not George playing the sitar'. I can tell you here and now -- 100 percent it was George on sitar throughout. There were no other musicians involved. It was just me and him." And several people who are more knowledgeable than myself about the instrument have suggested that the sitar part on the track is played the way that a rock guitarist would play rather than the way someone with more knowledge of Indian classical music would play -- there's a blues feeling to some of the bends that apparently no genuine Indian classical musician would naturally do. I would suggest that the best explanation is that there's a professional sitar player trying to replicate a part that Harrison had previously demonstrated, while Harrison was in turn trying his best to replicate the sound of Ravi Shankar's work. Certainly the instrumental section sounds far more fluent, and far more stylistically correct, than one would expect: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Love You To"] Where previous attempts at what got called "raga-rock" had taken a couple of surface features of Indian music -- some form of a drone, perhaps a modal scale -- and had generally used a guitar made to sound a little bit like a sitar, or had a sitar playing normal rock riffs, Harrison's song seems to be a genuine attempt to hybridise Indian ragas and rock music, combining the instrumentation, modes, and rhythmic complexity of someone like Ravi Shankar with lyrics that are seemingly inspired by Bob Dylan and a fairly conventional pop song structure (and a tiny bit of fuzz guitar). It's a record that could only be made by someone who properly understood both the Indian music he's emulating and the conventions of the Western pop song, and understood how those conventions could work together. Indeed, one thing I've rarely seen pointed out is how cleverly the album is sequenced, so that "Love You To" is followed by possibly the most conventional song on Revolver, "Here, There, and Everywhere", which was recorded towards the end of the sessions. Both songs share a distinctive feature not shared by the rest of the album, so the two songs can sound more of a pair than they otherwise would, retrospectively making "Love You To" seem more conventional than it is and "Here, There, and Everywhere" more unconventional -- both have as an introduction a separate piece of music that states some of the melodic themes of the rest of the song but isn't repeated later. In the case of "Love You To" it's the free-tempo bit at the beginning, characteristic of a lot of Indian music: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Love You To"] While in the case of "Here, There, and Everywhere" it's the part that mimics an older style of songwriting, a separate intro of the type that would have been called a verse when written by the Gershwins or Cole Porter, but of course in the intervening decades "verse" had come to mean something else, so we now no longer have a specific term for this kind of intro -- but as you can hear, it's doing very much the same thing as that "Love You To" intro: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Here, There, and Everywhere"] In the same day as the group completed "Love You To", overdubbing George's vocal and Ringo's tambourine, they also started work on a song that would show off a lot of the new techniques they had been working on in very different ways. Paul's "Paperback Writer" could indeed be seen as part of a loose trilogy with "Love You To" and "Tomorrow Never Knows", one song by each of the group's three songwriters exploring the idea of a song that's almost all on one chord. Both "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "Love You To" are based on a drone with occasional hints towards moving to one other chord. In the case of "Paperback Writer", the entire song stays on a single chord until the title -- it's on a G7 throughout until the first use of the word "writer", when it quickly goes to a C for two bars. I'm afraid I'm going to have to sing to show you how little the chords actually change, because the riff disguises this lack of movement somewhat, but the melody is also far more horizontal than most of McCartney's, so this shouldn't sound too painful, I hope: [demonstrates] This is essentially the exact same thing that both "Love You To" and "Tomorrow Never Knows" do, and all three have very similarly structured rising and falling modal melodies. There's also a bit of "Paperback Writer" that seems to tie directly into "Love You To", but also points to a possible very non-Indian inspiration for part of "Love You To". The Beach Boys' single "Sloop John B" was released in the UK a couple of days after the sessions for "Paperback Writer" and "Love You To", but it had been released in the US a month before, and the Beatles all got copies of every record in the American top thirty shipped to them. McCartney and Harrison have specifically pointed to it as an influence on "Paperback Writer". "Sloop John B" has a section where all the instruments drop out and we're left with just the group's vocal harmonies: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "Sloop John B"] And that seems to have been the inspiration behind the similar moment at a similar point in "Paperback Writer", which is used in place of a middle eight and also used for the song's intro: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Paperback Writer"] Which is very close to what Harrison does at the end of each verse of "Love You To", where the instruments drop out for him to sing a long melismatic syllable before coming back in: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Love You To"] Essentially, other than "Got to Get You Into My Life", which is an outlier and should not be counted, the first three songs attempted during the Revolver sessions are variations on a common theme, and it's a sign that no matter how different the results might  sound, the Beatles really were very much a group at this point, and were sharing ideas among themselves and developing those ideas in similar ways. "Paperback Writer" disguises what it's doing somewhat by having such a strong riff. Lennon referred to "Paperback Writer" as "son of 'Day Tripper'", and in terms of the Beatles' singles it's actually their third iteration of this riff idea, which they originally got from Bobby Parker's "Watch Your Step": [Excerpt: Bobby Parker, "Watch Your Step"] Which became the inspiration for "I Feel Fine": [Excerpt: The Beatles, "I Feel Fine"] Which they varied for "Day Tripper": [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Day Tripper"] And which then in turn got varied for "Paperback Writer": [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Paperback Writer"] As well as compositional ideas, there are sonic ideas shared between "Paperback Writer", "Tomorrow Never Knows", and "Love You To", and which would be shared by the rest of the tracks the Beatles recorded in the first half of 1966. Since Geoff Emerick had become the group's principal engineer, they'd started paying more attention to how to get a fuller sound, and so Emerick had miced the tabla on "Love You To" much more closely than anyone would normally mic an instrument from classical music, creating a deep, thudding sound, and similarly he had changed the way they recorded the drums on "Tomorrow Never Knows", again giving a much fuller sound. But the group also wanted the kind of big bass sounds they'd loved on records coming out of America -- sounds that no British studio was getting, largely because it was believed that if you cut too loud a bass sound into a record it would make the needle jump out of the groove. The new engineering team of Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott, though, thought that it was likely you could keep the needle in the groove if you had a smoother frequency response. You could do that if you used a microphone with a larger diaphragm to record the bass, but how could you do that? Inspiration finally struck -- loudspeakers are actually the same thing as microphones wired the other way round, so if you wired up a loudspeaker as if it were a microphone you could get a *really big* speaker, place it in front of the bass amp, and get a much stronger bass sound. The experiment wasn't a total success -- the sound they got had to be processed quite extensively to get rid of room noise, and then compressed in order to further prevent the needle-jumping issue, and so it's a muddier, less defined, tone than they would have liked, but one thing that can't be denied is that "Paperback Writer"'s bass sound is much, much, louder than on any previous Beatles record: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Paperback Writer"] Almost every track the group recorded during the Revolver sessions involved all sorts of studio innovations, though rarely anything as truly revolutionary as the artificial double-tracking they'd used on "Tomorrow Never Knows", and which also appeared on "Paperback Writer" -- indeed, as "Paperback Writer" was released several months before Revolver, it became the first record released to use the technique. I could easily devote a good ten minutes to every track on Revolver, and to "Paperback Writer"s B-side, "Rain", but this is already shaping up to be an extraordinarily long episode and there's a lot of material to get through, so I'll break my usual pattern of devoting a Patreon bonus episode to something relatively obscure, and this week's bonus will be on "Rain" itself. "Paperback Writer", though, deserved the attention here even though it was not one of the group's more successful singles -- it did go to number one, but it didn't hit number one in the UK charts straight away, being kept off the top by "Strangers in the Night" by Frank Sinatra for the first week: [Excerpt: Frank Sinatra, "Strangers in the Night"] Coincidentally, "Strangers in the Night" was co-written by Bert Kaempfert, the German musician who had produced the group's very first recording sessions with Tony Sheridan back in 1961. On the group's German tour in 1966 they met up with Kaempfert again, and John greeted him by singing the first couple of lines of the Sinatra record. The single was the lowest-selling Beatles single in the UK since "Love Me Do". In the US it only made number one for two non-consecutive weeks, with "Strangers in the Night" knocking it off for a week in between. Now, by literally any other band's standards, that's still a massive hit, and it was the Beatles' tenth UK number one in a row (or ninth, depending on which chart you use for "Please Please Me"), but it's a sign that the group were moving out of the first phase of total unequivocal dominance of the charts. It was a turning point in a lot of other ways as well. Up to this point, while the group had been experimenting with different lyrical subjects on album tracks, every single had lyrics about romantic relationships -- with the possible exception of "Help!", which was about Lennon's emotional state but written in such a way that it could be heard as a plea to a lover. But in the case of "Paperback Writer", McCartney was inspired by his Aunt Mill asking him "Why do you write songs about love all the time? Can you ever write about a horse or the summit conference or something interesting?" His response was to think "All right, Aunt Mill, I'll show you", and to come up with a lyric that was very much in the style of the social satires that bands like the Kinks were releasing at the time. People often miss the humour in the lyric for "Paperback Writer", but there's a huge amount of comedy in lyrics about someone writing to a publisher saying they'd written a book based on someone else's book, and one can only imagine the feeling of weary recognition in slush-pile readers throughout the world as they heard the enthusiastic "It's a thousand pages, give or take a few, I'll be writing more in a week or two. I can make it longer..." From this point on, the group wouldn't release a single that was unambiguously about a romantic relationship until "The Ballad of John and Yoko",  the last single released while the band were still together. "Paperback Writer" also saw the Beatles for the first time making a promotional film -- what we would now call a rock video -- rather than make personal appearances on TV shows. The film was directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who the group would work with again in 1969, and shows Paul with a chipped front tooth -- he'd been in an accident while riding mopeds with his friend Tara Browne a few months earlier, and hadn't yet got round to having the tooth capped. When he did, the change in his teeth was one of the many bits of evidence used by conspiracy theorists to prove that the real Paul McCartney was dead and replaced by a lookalike. It also marks a change in who the most prominent Beatle on the group's A-sides was. Up to this point, Paul had had one solo lead on an A-side -- "Can't Buy Me Love" -- and everything else had been either a song with multiple vocalists like "Day Tripper" or "Love Me Do", or a song with a clear John lead like "Ticket to Ride" or "I Feel Fine". In the rest of their career, counting "Paperback Writer", the group would release nine new singles that hadn't already been included on an album. Of those nine singles, one was a double A-side with one John song and one Paul song, two had John songs on the A-side, and the other six were Paul. Where up to this point John had been "lead Beatle", for the rest of the sixties, Paul would be the group's driving force. Oddly, Paul got rather defensive about the record when asked about it in interviews after it failed to go straight to the top, saying "It's not our best single by any means, but we're very satisfied with it". But especially in its original mono mix it actually packs a powerful punch: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Paperback Writer"] When the "Paperback Writer" single was released, an unusual image was used in the advertising -- a photo of the Beatles dressed in butchers' smocks, covered in blood, with chunks of meat and the dismembered body parts of baby dolls lying around on them. The image was meant as part of a triptych parodying religious art -- the photo on the left was to be an image showing the four Beatles connected to a woman by an umbilical cord made of sausages, the middle panel was meant to be this image, but with halos added over the Beatles' heads, and the panel on the right was George hammering a nail into John's head, symbolising both crucifixion and that the group were real, physical, people, not just images to be worshipped -- these weren't imaginary nails, and they weren't imaginary people. The photographer Robert Whittaker later said: “I did a photograph of the Beatles covered in raw meat, dolls and false teeth. Putting meat, dolls and false teeth with The Beatles is essentially part of the same thing, the breakdown of what is regarded as normal. The actual conception for what I still call “Somnambulant Adventure” was Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. He comes across people worshipping a golden calf. All over the world I'd watched people worshiping like idols, like gods, four Beatles. To me they were just stock standard normal people. But this emotion that fans poured on them made me wonder where Christianity was heading.” The image wasn't that controversial in the UK, when it was used to advertise "Paperback Writer", but in the US it was initially used for the cover of an album, Yesterday... And Today, which was made up of a few tracks that had been left off the US versions of the Rubber Soul and Help! albums, plus both sides of the "We Can Work It Out"/"Day Tripper" single, and three rough mixes of songs that had been recorded for Revolver -- "Doctor Robert", "And Your Bird Can Sing", and "I'm Only Sleeping", which was the song that sounded most different from the mixes that were finally released: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "I'm Only Sleeping (Yesterday... and Today mix)"] Those three songs were all Lennon songs, which had the unfortunate effect that when the US version of Revolver was brought out later in the year, only two of the songs on the album were by Lennon, with six by McCartney and three by Harrison. Some have suggested that this was the motivation for the use of the butcher image on the cover of Yesterday... And Today -- saying it was the Beatles' protest against Capitol "butchering" their albums -- but in truth it was just that Capitol's art director chose the cover because he liked the image. Alan Livingston, the president of Capitol was not so sure, and called Brian Epstein to ask if the group would be OK with them using a different image. Epstein checked with John Lennon, but Lennon liked the image and so Epstein told Livingston the group insisted on them using that cover. Even though for the album cover the bloodstains on the butchers' smocks were airbrushed out, after Capitol had pressed up a million copies of the mono version of the album and two hundred thousand copies of the stereo version, and they'd sent out sixty thousand promo copies, they discovered that no record shops would stock the album with that cover. It cost Capitol more than two hundred thousand dollars to recall the album and replace the cover with a new one -- though while many of the covers were destroyed, others had the new cover, with a more acceptable photo of the group, pasted over them, and people have later carefully steamed off the sticker to reveal the original. This would not be the last time in 1966 that something that was intended as a statement on religion and the way people viewed the Beatles would cause the group trouble in America. In the middle of the recording sessions for Revolver, the group also made what turned out to be their last ever UK live performance in front of a paying audience. The group had played the NME Poll-Winners' Party every year since 1963, and they were always shows that featured all the biggest acts in the country at the time -- the 1966 show featured, as well as the Beatles and a bunch of smaller acts, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Yardbirds, Roy Orbison, Cliff Richard and the Shadows, the Seekers, the Small Faces, the Walker Brothers, and Dusty Springfield. Unfortunately, while these events were always filmed for TV broadcast, the Beatles' performance on the first of May wasn't filmed. There are various stories about what happened, but the crux appears to be a disagreement between Andrew Oldham and Brian Epstein, sparked by John Lennon. When the Beatles got to the show, they were upset to discover that they had to wait around before going on stage -- normally, the awards would all be presented at the end, after all the performances, but the Rolling Stones had asked that the Beatles not follow them directly, so after the Stones finished their set, there would be a break for the awards to be given out, and then the Beatles would play their set, in front of an audience that had been bored by twenty-five minutes of awards ceremony, rather than one that had been excited by all the bands that came before them. John Lennon was annoyed, and insisted that the Beatles were going to go on straight after the Rolling Stones -- he seems to have taken this as some sort of power play by the Stones and to have got his hackles up about it. He told Epstein to deal with the people from the NME. But the NME people said that they had a contract with Andrew Oldham, and they weren't going to break it. Oldham refused to change the terms of the contract. Lennon said that he wasn't going to go on stage if they didn't directly follow the Stones. Maurice Kinn, the publisher of the NME, told Epstein that he wasn't going to break the contract with Oldham, and that if the Beatles didn't appear on stage, he would get Jimmy Savile, who was compering the show, to go out on stage and tell the ten thousand fans in the audience that the Beatles were backstage refusing to appear. He would then sue NEMS for breach of contract *and* NEMS would be liable for any damage caused by the rioting that was sure to happen. Lennon screamed a lot of abuse at Kinn, and told him the group would never play one of their events again, but the group did go on stage -- but because they hadn't yet signed the agreement to allow their performance to be filmed, they refused to allow it to be recorded. Apparently Andrew Oldham took all this as a sign that Epstein was starting to lose control of the group. Also during May 1966 there were visits from musicians from other countries, continuing the cultural exchange that was increasingly influencing the Beatles' art. Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys came over to promote the group's new LP, Pet Sounds, which had been largely the work of Brian Wilson, who had retired from touring to concentrate on working in the studio. Johnston played the record for John and Paul, who listened to it twice, all the way through, in silence, in Johnston's hotel room: [Excerpt: The Beach Boys, "God Only Knows"] According to Johnston, after they'd listened through the album twice, they went over to a piano and started whispering to each other, picking out chords. Certainly the influence of Pet Sounds is very noticeable on songs like "Here, There, and Everywhere", written and recorded a few weeks after this meeting: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "Here, There, and Everywhere"] That track, and the last track recorded for the album, "She Said She Said" were unusual in one very important respect -- they were recorded while the Beatles were no longer under contract to EMI Records. Their contract expired on the fifth of June, 1966, and they finished Revolver without it having been renewed -- it would be several months before their new contract was signed, and it's rather lucky for music lovers that Brian Epstein was the kind of manager who considered personal relationships and basic honour and decency more important than the legal niceties, unlike any other managers of the era, otherwise we would not have Revolver in the form we know it today. After the meeting with Johnston, but before the recording of those last couple of Revolver tracks, the Beatles also met up again with Bob Dylan, who was on a UK tour with a new, loud, band he was working with called The Hawks. While the Beatles and Dylan all admired each other, there was by this point a lot of wariness on both sides, especially between Lennon and Dylan, both of them very similar personality types and neither wanting to let their guard down around the other or appear unhip. There's a famous half-hour-long film sequence of Lennon and Dylan sharing a taxi, which is a fascinating, excruciating, example of two insecure but arrogant men both trying desperately to impress the other but also equally desperate not to let the other know that they want to impress them: [Excerpt: Dylan and Lennon taxi ride] The day that was filmed, Lennon and Harrison also went to see Dylan play at the Royal Albert Hall. This tour had been controversial, because Dylan's band were loud and raucous, and Dylan's fans in the UK still thought of him as a folk musician. At one gig, earlier on the tour, an audience member had famously yelled out "Judas!" -- (just on the tiny chance that any of my listeners don't know that, Judas was the disciple who betrayed Jesus to the authorities, leading to his crucifixion) -- and that show was for many years bootlegged as the "Royal Albert Hall" show, though in fact it was recorded at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. One of the *actual* Royal Albert Hall shows was released a few years ago -- the one the night before Lennon and Harrison saw Dylan: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Like a Rolling Stone", Royal Albert Hall 1966] The show Lennon and Harrison saw would be Dylan's last for many years. Shortly after returning to the US, Dylan was in a motorbike accident, the details of which are still mysterious, and which some fans claim was faked altogether. The accident caused him to cancel all the concert dates he had booked, and devote himself to working in the studio for several years just like Brian Wilson. And from even further afield than America, Ravi Shankar came over to Britain, to work with his friend the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, on a duet album, West Meets East, that was an example in the classical world of the same kind of international cross-fertilisation that was happening in the pop world: [Excerpt: Yehudi Menuhin and Ravi Shankar, "Prabhati (based on Raga Gunkali)"] While he was in the UK, Shankar also performed at the Royal Festival Hall, and George Harrison went to the show. He'd seen Shankar live the year before, but this time he met up with him afterwards, and later said "He was the first person that impressed me in a way that was beyond just being a famous celebrity. Ravi was my link to the Vedic world. Ravi plugged me into the whole of reality. Elvis impressed me when I was a kid, and impressed me when I met him, but you couldn't later on go round to him and say 'Elvis, what's happening with the universe?'" After completing recording and mixing the as-yet-unnamed album, which had been by far the longest recording process of their career, and which still nearly sixty years later regularly tops polls of the best album of all time, the Beatles took a well-earned break. For a whole two days, at which point they flew off to Germany to do a three-day tour, on their way to Japan, where they were booked to play five shows at the Budokan. Unfortunately for the group, while they had no idea of this when they were booked to do the shows, many in Japan saw the Budokan as sacred ground, and they were the first ever Western group to play there. This led to numerous death threats and loud protests from far-right activists offended at the Beatles defiling their religious and nationalistic sensibilities. As a result, the police were on high alert -- so high that there were three thousand police in the audience for the shows, in a venue which only held ten thousand audience members. That's according to Mark Lewisohn's Complete Beatles Chronicle, though I have to say that the rather blurry footage of the audience in the video of those shows doesn't seem to show anything like those numbers. But frankly I'll take Lewisohn's word over that footage, as he's not someone to put out incorrect information. The threats to the group also meant that they had to be kept in their hotel rooms at all times except when actually performing, though they did make attempts to get out. At the press conference for the Tokyo shows, the group were also asked publicly for the first time their views on the war in Vietnam, and John replied "Well, we think about it every day, and we don't agree with it and we think that it's wrong. That's how much interest we take. That's all we can do about it... and say that we don't like it". I say they were asked publicly for the first time, because George had been asked about it for a series of interviews Maureen Cleave had done with the group a couple of months earlier, as we'll see in a bit, but nobody was paying attention to those interviews. Brian Epstein was upset that the question had gone to John. He had hoped that the inevitable Vietnam question would go to Paul, who he thought might be a bit more tactful. The last thing he needed was John Lennon saying something that would upset the Americans before their tour there a few weeks later. Luckily, people in America seemed to have better things to do than pay attention to John Lennon's opinions. The support acts for the Japanese shows included  several of the biggest names in Japanese rock music -- or "group sounds" as the genre was called there, Japanese people having realised that trying to say the phrase "rock and roll" would open them up to ridicule given that it had both "r" and "l" sounds in the phrase. The man who had coined the term "group sounds", Jackey Yoshikawa, was there with his group the Blue Comets, as was Isao Bito, who did a rather good cover version of Cliff Richard's "Dynamite": [Excerpt: Isao Bito, "Dynamite"] Bito, the Blue Comets, and the other two support acts, Yuya Uchida and the Blue Jeans, all got together to perform a specially written song, "Welcome Beatles": [Excerpt: "Welcome Beatles" ] But while the Japanese audience were enthusiastic, they were much less vocal about their enthusiasm than the audiences the Beatles were used to playing for. The group were used, of course, to playing in front of hordes of screaming teenagers who could not hear a single note, but because of the fear that a far-right terrorist would assassinate one of the group members, the police had imposed very, very, strict rules on the audience. Nobody in the audience was allowed to get out of their seat for any reason, and the police would clamp down very firmly on anyone who was too demonstrative. Because of that, the group could actually hear themselves, and they sounded sloppy as hell, especially on the newer material. Not that there was much of that. The only song they did from the Revolver sessions was "Paperback Writer", the new single, and while they did do a couple of tracks from Rubber Soul, those were under-rehearsed. As John said at the start of this tour, "I can't play any of Rubber Soul, it's so unrehearsed. The only time I played any of the numbers on it was when I recorded it. I forget about songs. They're only valid for a certain time." That's certainly borne out by the sound of their performances of Rubber Soul material at the Budokan: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "If I Needed Someone (live at the Budokan)"] It was while they were in Japan as well that they finally came up with the title for their new album. They'd been thinking of all sorts of ideas, like Abracadabra and Magic Circle, and tossing names around with increasing desperation for several days -- at one point they seem to have just started riffing on other groups' albums, and seem to have apparently seriously thought about naming the record in parodic tribute to their favourite artists -- suggestions included The Beatles On Safari, after the Beach Boys' Surfin' Safari (and possibly with a nod to their recent Pet Sounds album cover with animals, too), The Freewheelin' Beatles, after Dylan's second album, and my favourite, Ringo's suggestion After Geography, for the Rolling Stones' Aftermath. But eventually Paul came up with Revolver -- like Rubber Soul, a pun, in this case because the record itself revolves when on a turntable. Then it was off to the Philippines, and if the group thought Japan had been stressful, they had no idea what was coming. The trouble started in the Philippines from the moment they stepped off the plane, when they were bundled into a car without Neil Aspinall or Brian Epstein, and without their luggage, which was sent to customs. This was a problem in itself -- the group had got used to essentially being treated like diplomats, and to having their baggage let through customs without being searched, and so they'd started freely carrying various illicit substances with them. This would obviously be a problem -- but as it turned out, this was just to get a "customs charge" paid by Brian Epstein. But during their initial press conference the group were worried, given the hostility they'd faced from officialdom, that they were going to be arrested during the conference itself. They were asked what they would tell the Rolling Stones, who were going to be visiting the Philippines shortly after, and Lennon just said "We'll warn them". They also asked "is there a war on in the Philippines? Why is everybody armed?" At this time, the Philippines had a new leader, Ferdinand Marcos -- who is not to be confused with his son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, also known as Bongbong Marcos, who just became President-Elect there last month. Marcos Sr was a dictatorial kleptocrat, one of the worst leaders of the latter half of the twentieth century, but that wasn't evident yet. He'd been elected only a few months earlier, and had presented himself as a Kennedy-like figure -- a young man who was also a war hero. He'd recently switched parties from the Liberal party to the right-wing Nacionalista Party, but wasn't yet being thought of as the monstrous dictator he later became. The person organising the Philippines shows had been ordered to get the Beatles to visit Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos at 11AM on the day of the show, but for some reason had instead put on their itinerary just the *suggestion* that the group should meet the Marcoses, and had put the time down as 3PM, and the Beatles chose to ignore that suggestion -- they'd refused to do that kind of government-official meet-and-greet ever since an incident in 1964 at the British Embassy in Washington where someone had cut off a bit of Ringo's hair. A military escort turned up at the group's hotel in the morning, to take them for their meeting. The group were all still in their rooms, and Brian Epstein was still eating breakfast and refused to disturb them, saying "Go back and tell the generals we're not coming." The group gave their performances as scheduled, but meanwhile there was outrage at the way the Beatles had refused to meet the Marcos family, who had brought hundreds of children -- friends of their own children, and relatives of top officials -- to a party to meet the group. Brian Epstein went on TV and tried to smooth things over, but the broadcast was interrupted by static and his message didn't get through to anyone. The next day, the group's security was taken away, as were the cars to take them to the airport. When they got to the airport, the escalators were turned off and the group were beaten up at the arrangement of the airport manager, who said in 1984 "I beat up the Beatles. I really thumped them. First I socked Epstein and he went down... then I socked Lennon and Ringo in the face. I was kicking them. They were pleading like frightened chickens. That's what happens when you insult the First Lady." Even on the plane there were further problems -- Brian Epstein and the group's road manager Mal Evans were both made to get off the plane to sort out supposed financial discrepancies, which led to them worrying that they were going to be arrested or worse -- Evans told the group to tell his wife he loved her as he left the plane. But eventually, they were able to leave, and after a brief layover in India -- which Ringo later said was the first time he felt he'd been somewhere truly foreign, as opposed to places like Germany or the USA which felt basically like home -- they got back to England: [Excerpt: "Ordinary passenger!"] When asked what they were going to do next, George replied “We're going to have a couple of weeks to recuperate before we go and get beaten up by the Americans,” The story of the "we're bigger than Jesus" controversy is one of the most widely misreported events in the lives of the Beatles, which is saying a great deal. One book that I've encountered, and one book only, Steve Turner's Beatles '66, tells the story of what actually happened, and even that book seems to miss some emphases. I've pieced what follows together from Turner's book and from an academic journal article I found which has some more detail. As far as I can tell, every single other book on the Beatles released up to this point bases their account of the story on an inaccurate press statement put out by Brian Epstein, not on the truth. Here's the story as it's generally told. John Lennon gave an interview to his friend, Maureen Cleave of the Evening Standard, during which he made some comments about how it was depressing that Christianity was losing relevance in the eyes of the public, and that the Beatles are more popular than Jesus, speaking casually because he was talking to a friend. That story was run in the Evening Standard more-or-less unnoticed, but then an American teen magazine picked up on the line about the Beatles being bigger than Jesus, reprinted chunks of the interview out of context and without the Beatles' knowledge or permission, as a way to stir up controversy, and there was an outcry, with people burning Beatles records and death threats from the Ku Klux Klan. That's... not exactly what happened. The first thing that you need to understand to know what happened is that Datebook wasn't a typical teen magazine. It *looked* just like a typical teen magazine, certainly, and much of its content was the kind of thing that you would get in Tiger Beat or any of the other magazines aimed at teenage girls -- the September 1966 issue was full of articles like "Life with the Walker Brothers... by their Road Manager", and interviews with the Dave Clark Five -- but it also had a long history of publishing material that was intended to make its readers think about social issues of the time, particularly Civil Rights. Arthur Unger, the magazine's editor and publisher, was a gay man in an interracial relationship, and while the subject of homosexuality was too taboo in the late fifties and sixties for him to have his magazine cover that, he did regularly include articles decrying segregation and calling for the girls reading the magazine to do their part on a personal level to stamp out racism. Datebook had regularly contained articles like one from 1963 talking about how segregation wasn't just a problem in the South, saying "If we are so ‘integrated' why must men in my own city of Philadelphia, the city of Brotherly Love, picket city hall because they are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job? And how come I am still unable to take my dark- complexioned friends to the same roller skating rink or swimming pool that I attend?” One of the writers for the magazine later said “We were much more than an entertainment magazine . . . . We tried to get kids involved in social issues . . . . It was a well-received magazine, recommended by libraries and schools, but during the Civil Rights period we did get pulled off a lot of stands in the South because of our views on integration” Art Unger, the editor and publisher, wasn't the only one pushing this liberal, integrationist, agenda. The managing editor at the time, Danny Fields, was another gay man who wanted to push the magazine even further than Unger, and who would later go on to manage the Stooges and the Ramones, being credited by some as being the single most important figure in punk rock's development, and being immortalised by the Ramones in their song "Danny Says": [Excerpt: The Ramones, "Danny Says"] So this was not a normal teen magazine, and that's certainly shown by the cover of the September 1966 issue, which as well as talking about the interviews with John Lennon and Paul McCartney inside, also advertised articles on Timothy Leary advising people to turn on, tune in, and drop out; an editorial about how interracial dating must be the next step after desegregation of schools, and a piece on "the ten adults you dig/hate the most" -- apparently the adult most teens dug in 1966 was Jackie Kennedy, the most hated was Barry Goldwater, and President Johnson, Billy Graham, and Martin Luther King appeared in the top ten on both lists. Now, in the early part of the year Maureen Cleave had done a whole series of articles on the Beatles -- double-page spreads on each band member, plus Brian Epstein, visiting them in their own homes (apart from Paul, who she met at a restaurant) and discussing their daily lives, their thoughts, and portraying them as rounded individuals. These articles are actually fascinating, because of something that everyone who met the Beatles in this period pointed out. When interviewed separately, all of them came across as thoughtful individuals, with their own opinions about all sorts of subjects, and their own tastes and senses of humour. But when two or more of them were together -- especially when John and Paul were interviewed together, but even in social situations, they would immediately revert to flip in-jokes and riffing on each other's statements, never revealing anything about themselves as individuals, but just going into Beatle mode -- simultaneously preserving the band's image, closing off outsiders, *and* making sure they didn't do or say anything that would get them mocked by the others. Cleave, as someone who actually took them all seriously, managed to get some very revealing information about all of them. In the article on Ringo, which is the most superficial -- one gets the impression that Cleave found him rather difficult to talk to when compared to the other, more verbally facile, band members -- she talked about how he had a lot of Wild West and military memorabilia, how he was a devoted family man and also devoted to his friends -- he had moved to the suburbs to be close to John and George, who already lived there. The most revealing quote about Ringo's personality was him saying "Of course that's the great thing about being married -- you have a house to sit in and company all the time. And you can still go to clubs, a bonus for being married. I love being a family man." While she looked at the other Beatles' tastes in literature in detail, she'd noted that the only books Ringo owned that weren't just for show were a few science fiction paperbacks, but that as he said "I'm not thick, it's just that I'm not educated. People can use words and I won't know what they mean. I say 'me' instead of 'my'." Ringo also didn't have a drum kit at home, saying he only played when he was on stage or in the studio, and that you couldn't practice on your own, you needed to play with other people. In the article on George, she talked about how he was learning the sitar,  and how he was thinking that it might be a good idea to go to India to study the sitar with Ravi Shankar for six months. She also talks about how during the interview, he played the guitar pretty much constantly, playing everything from songs from "Hello Dolly" to pieces by Bach to "the Trumpet Voluntary", by which she presumably means Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March": [Excerpt: Jeremiah Clarke, "Prince of Denmark's March"] George was also the most outspoken on the subjects of politics, religion, and society, linking the ongoing war in Vietnam with the UK's reverence for the Second World War, saying "I think about it every day and it's wrong. Anything to do with war is wrong. They're all wrapped up in their Nelsons and their Churchills and their Montys -- always talking about war heroes. Look at All Our Yesterdays [a show on ITV that showed twenty-five-year-old newsreels] -- how we killed a few more Huns here and there. Makes me sick. They're the sort who are leaning on their walking sticks and telling us a few years in the army would do us good." He also had very strong words to say about religion, saying "I think religion falls flat on its face. All this 'love thy neighbour' but none of them are doing it. How can anybody get into the position of being Pope and accept all the glory and the money and the Mercedes-Benz and that? I could never be Pope until I'd sold my rich gates and my posh hat. I couldn't sit there with all that money on me and believe I was religious. Why can't we bring all this out in the open? Why is there all this stuff about blasphemy? If Christianity's as good as they say it is, it should stand up to a bit of discussion." Harrison also comes across as a very private person, saying "People keep saying, ‘We made you what you are,' well, I made Mr. Hovis what he is and I don't go round crawling over his gates and smashing up the wall round his house." (Hovis is a British company that makes bread and wholegrain flour). But more than anything else he comes across as an instinctive anti-authoritarian, being angry at bullying teachers, Popes, and Prime Ministers. McCartney's profile has him as the most self-consciously arty -- he talks about the plays of Alfred Jarry and the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio: [Excerpt: Luciano Berio, "Momenti (for magnetic tape)"] Though he was very worried that he might be sounding a little too pretentious, saying “I don't want to sound like Jonathan Miller going on" --

united states christmas america tv jesus christ love music american new york time black canada world head chicago australia english europe babies bible internet uk washington france england japan olympic games americans mexico british new york times san francisco canadian french germany war dj africa society christianity masters european italy australian philadelphia inspiration german japanese loving ireland putting western alabama public north america spain south night songs detroit wife north trip greek bbc indian turkey talent horses fish tokyo jews union vietnam sweden ride rain britain idea animals muslims terror old testament melbourne mothers beatles martin luther king jr atlantic production world war ii bills dutch places fallout liverpool recording manchester philippines rolling stones cook shadows invitation personality capitol judas elvis village birmingham denmark rock and roll benefit aftermath pope austria holland destruction ward churches hammer prisoners evans tasks strangers mood stones ferrari ticket shortly depending prime minister bob dylan sorrow liberal newcastle djs big brother buddha parliament civil rights khan hawks cage musicians thirty pepper compare lp henderson john lennon clarke epstein invention bach shades look up turkish lsd frank sinatra paul mccartney cream high priests ten commandments satisfaction number one ballad carnival chess orchestras jamaican pink floyd communists hoops richards crawford readers newsweek hindu meek gallery first lady elect johnston rider safari yogi good morning wild west steady monitor makes sgt jimi hendrix motown g7 chester fringe beach boys west end digest blu ray leases autobiographies norwich itv lester rich man alice in wonderland mercedes benz eric clapton bumblebee hinduism umbrella anthology kinks mick jagger salvation army bad boy mount sinai tunisia come together ramones ravi viewers george harrison brotherly love rolls royce livingston billy graham indica bee gees blur tilt paul simon oddly eighth mccartney browne seekers ferdinand ringo starr nb unsurprisingly neanderthals kite pale ringo chuck berry yoko ono emi vedic dunbar monkees japanese americans ku klux klan docker keith richards beatle revolver abbey road turing brian wilson rsa graceland john coltrane reservation bohemian popes british isles stooges barrow god save merseyside alan turing open air sunnyside rupert murdoch smokey robinson otis redding orton royal albert hall musically leonard bernstein toe hard days concorde secret agents oldham southerners good vibrations roy orbison john cage byrds bangor isley brothers prime ministers unger abracadabra bible belt shankar detroit free press west germany roll up north wales evening standard nme beautiful people pacemakers ono timothy leary george martin peter sellers ian mckellen cole porter stax leaving home arimathea damon albarn blue jeans moody blues peter brown americanism yellow submarine wrecking crew all you need edwardian popular music cliff richard lonely hearts club band robert whittaker yardbirds dozier dusty springfield rochdale cleave leander she said pet sounds hello dolly marshall mcluhan glenn miller surfin sgt pepper escorts penny lane keith moon manchester university jackie kennedy bobby womack ravi shankar magical mystery tour sixty four rachmaninoff graham nash jimmy savile wilson pickett huns paramahansa yogananda ken kesey shea stadium manfred mann priory sunday telegraph marianne faithfull magic circle all together now procol harum barry goldwater jimi hendrix experience from me buy me love southern states maharishi maharishi mahesh yogi jonathan miller brenda lee richard jones rubber soul swami vivekananda momenti alexandrian holding company rso dudley moore eric burdon cogan eleanor rigby small faces raja yoga psychedelic experiences global village brian epstein monster magnet alan bennett kevin moore strawberry fields linda mccartney scaffold kinn michael nesmith leyton larry williams budokan mcluhan cilla black peter cook telstar all you need is love ferdinand marcos ebu richard lester in la steve cropper michael crawford