Episode 168 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “I Say a Little Prayer”, and the interaction of the sacred, political, and secular in Aretha Franklin's life and work. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a forty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "Abraham, Martin, and John" by Dion. 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 No Mixcloud this week, as there are too many songs by Aretha Franklin. Even splitting it into multiple parts would have required six or seven mixes. My main biographical source for Aretha Franklin is Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz, and this is where most of the quotes from musicians come from. Information on C.L. Franklin came from Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America by Nick Salvatore. Country Soul by Charles L Hughes is a great overview of the soul music made in Muscle Shoals, Memphis, and Nashville in the sixties. Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom is possibly less essential, but still definitely worth reading. Information about Martin Luther King came from Martin Luther King: A Religious Life by Paul Harvey. I also referred to Burt Bacharach's autobiography Anyone Who Had a Heart, Carole King's autobiography A Natural Woman, and Soul Serenade: King Curtis and his Immortal Saxophone by Timothy R. Hoover. For information about Amazing Grace I also used Aaron Cohen's 33 1/3 book on the album. The film of the concerts is also definitely worth watching. And the Aretha Now album is available in this five-album box set for a ludicrously cheap price. But it's actually worth getting this nineteen-CD set with her first sixteen Atlantic albums and a couple of bonus discs of demos and outtakes. There's barely a duff track in the whole nineteen discs. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick warning before I begin. This episode contains some moderate references to domestic abuse, death by cancer, racial violence, police violence, and political assassination. Anyone who might be upset by those subjects might want to check the transcript rather than listening to the episode. Also, as with the previous episode on Aretha Franklin, this episode presents something of a problem. Like many people in this narrative, Franklin's career was affected by personal troubles, which shaped many of her decisions. But where most of the subjects of the podcast have chosen to live their lives in public and share intimate details of every aspect of their personal lives, Franklin was an extremely private person, who chose to share only carefully sanitised versions of her life, and tried as far as possible to keep things to herself. This of course presents a dilemma for anyone who wants to tell her story -- because even though the information is out there in biographies, and even though she's dead, it's not right to disrespect someone's wish for a private life. I have therefore tried, wherever possible, to stay away from talk of her personal life except where it *absolutely* affects the work, or where other people involved have publicly shared their own stories, and even there I've tried to keep it to a minimum. This will occasionally lead to me saying less about some topics than other people might, even though the information is easily findable, because I don't think we have an absolute right to invade someone else's privacy for entertainment. When we left Aretha Franklin, she had just finally broken through into the mainstream after a decade of performing, with a version of Otis Redding's song "Respect" on which she had been backed by her sisters, Erma and Carolyn. "Respect", in Franklin's interpretation, had been turned from a rather chauvinist song about a man demanding respect from his woman into an anthem of feminism, of Black power, and of a new political awakening. For white people of a certain generation, the summer of 1967 was "the summer of love". For many Black people, it was rather different. There's a quote that goes around (I've seen it credited in reliable sources to both Ebony and Jet magazine, but not ever seen an issue cited, so I can't say for sure where it came from) saying that the summer of 67 was the summer of "'retha, Rap, and revolt", referring to the trifecta of Aretha Franklin, the Black power leader Jamil Abdullah al-Amin (who was at the time known as H. Rap Brown, a name he later disclaimed) and the rioting that broke out in several major cities, particularly in Detroit: [Excerpt: John Lee Hooker, "The Motor City is Burning"] The mid sixties were, in many ways, the high point not of Black rights in the US -- for the most part there has been a lot of progress in civil rights in the intervening decades, though not without inevitable setbacks and attacks from the far right, and as movements like the Black Lives Matter movement have shown there is still a long way to go -- but of *hope* for Black rights. The moral force of the arguments made by the civil rights movement were starting to cause real change to happen for Black people in the US for the first time since the Reconstruction nearly a century before. But those changes weren't happening fast enough, and as we heard in the episode on "I Was Made to Love Her", there was not only a growing unrest among Black people, but a recognition that it was actually possible for things to change. A combination of hope and frustration can be a powerful catalyst, and whether Franklin wanted it or not, she was at the centre of things, both because of her newfound prominence as a star with a hit single that couldn't be interpreted as anything other than a political statement and because of her intimate family connections to the struggle. Even the most racist of white people these days pays lip service to the memory of Dr Martin Luther King, and when they do they quote just a handful of sentences from one speech King made in 1963, as if that sums up the full theological and political philosophy of that most complex of men. And as we discussed the last time we looked at Aretha Franklin, King gave versions of that speech, the "I Have a Dream" speech, twice. The most famous version was at the March on Washington, but the first time was a few weeks earlier, at what was at the time the largest civil rights demonstration in American history, in Detroit. Aretha's family connection to that event is made clear by the very opening of King's speech: [Excerpt: Martin Luther King, "Original 'I Have a Dream' Speech"] So as summer 1967 got into swing, and white rock music was going to San Francisco to wear flowers in its hair, Aretha Franklin was at the centre of a very different kind of youth revolution. Franklin's second Atlantic album, Aretha Arrives, brought in some new personnel to the team that had recorded Aretha's first album for Atlantic. Along with the core Muscle Shoals players Jimmy Johnson, Spooner Oldham, Tommy Cogbill and Roger Hawkins, and a horn section led by King Curtis, Wexler and Dowd also brought in guitarist Joe South. South was a white session player from Georgia, who had had a few minor hits himself in the fifties -- he'd got his start recording a cover version of "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor", the Big Bopper's B-side to "Chantilly Lace": [Excerpt: Joe South, "The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor"] He'd also written a few songs that had been recorded by people like Gene Vincent, but he'd mostly become a session player. He'd become a favourite musician of Bob Johnston's, and so he'd played guitar on Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme albums: [Excerpt: Simon and Garfunkel, "I am a Rock"] and bass on Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, with Al Kooper particularly praising his playing on "Visions of Johanna": [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Visions of Johanna"] South would be the principal guitarist on this and Franklin's next album, before his own career took off in 1968 with "Games People Play": [Excerpt: Joe South, "Games People Play"] At this point, he had already written the other song he's best known for, "Hush", which later became a hit for Deep Purple: [Excerpt: Deep Purple, "Hush"] But he wasn't very well known, and was surprised to get the call for the Aretha Franklin session, especially because, as he put it "I was white and I was about to play behind the blackest genius since Ray Charles" But Jerry Wexler had told him that Franklin didn't care about the race of the musicians she played with, and South settled in as soon as Franklin smiled at him when he played a good guitar lick on her version of the blues standard "Going Down Slow": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Going Down Slow"] That was one of the few times Franklin smiled in those sessions though. Becoming an overnight success after years of trying and failing to make a name for herself had been a disorienting experience, and on top of that things weren't going well in her personal life. Her marriage to her manager Ted White was falling apart, and she was performing erratically thanks to the stress. In particular, at a gig in Georgia she had fallen off the stage and broken her arm. She soon returned to performing, but it meant she had problems with her right arm during the recording of the album, and didn't play as much piano as she would have previously -- on some of the faster songs she played only with her left hand. But the recording sessions had to go on, whether or not Aretha was physically capable of playing piano. As we discussed in the episode on Otis Redding, the owners of Atlantic Records were busily negotiating its sale to Warner Brothers in mid-1967. As Wexler said later “Everything in me said, Keep rolling, keep recording, keep the hits coming. She was red hot and I had no reason to believe that the streak wouldn't continue. I knew that it would be foolish—and even irresponsible—not to strike when the iron was hot. I also had personal motivation. A Wall Street financier had agreed to see what we could get for Atlantic Records. While Ahmet and Neshui had not agreed on a selling price, they had gone along with my plan to let the financier test our worth on the open market. I was always eager to pump out hits, but at this moment I was on overdrive. In this instance, I had a good partner in Ted White, who felt the same. He wanted as much product out there as possible." In truth, you can tell from Aretha Arrives that it's a record that was being thought of as "product" rather than one being made out of any kind of artistic impulse. It's a fine album -- in her ten-album run from I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You through Amazing Grace there's not a bad album and barely a bad track -- but there's a lack of focus. There are only two originals on the album, neither of them written by Franklin herself, and the rest is an incoherent set of songs that show the tension between Franklin and her producers at Atlantic. Several songs are the kind of standards that Franklin had recorded for her old label Columbia, things like "You Are My Sunshine", or her version of "That's Life", which had been a hit for Frank Sinatra the previous year: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "That's Life"] But mixed in with that are songs that are clearly the choice of Wexler. As we've discussed previously in episodes on Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett, at this point Atlantic had the idea that it was possible for soul artists to cross over into the white market by doing cover versions of white rock hits -- and indeed they'd had some success with that tactic. So while Franklin was suggesting Sinatra covers, Atlantic's hand is visible in the choices of songs like "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "96 Tears": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "96 Tears'] Of the two originals on the album, one, the hit single "Baby I Love You" was written by Ronnie Shannon, the Detroit songwriter who had previously written "I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Love You)": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Baby I Love You"] As with the previous album, and several other songs on this one, that had backing vocals by Aretha's sisters, Erma and Carolyn. But the other original on the album, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)", didn't, even though it was written by Carolyn: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)"] To explain why, let's take a little detour and look at the co-writer of the song this episode is about, though we're not going to get to that for a little while yet. We've not talked much about Burt Bacharach in this series so far, but he's one of those figures who has come up a few times in the periphery and will come up again, so here is as good a time as any to discuss him, and bring everyone up to speed about his career up to 1967. Bacharach was one of the more privileged figures in the sixties pop music field. His father, Bert Bacharach (pronounced the same as his son, but spelled with an e rather than a u) had been a famous newspaper columnist, and his parents had bought him a Steinway grand piano to practice on -- they pushed him to learn the piano even though as a kid he wasn't interested in finger exercises and Debussy. What he was interested in, though, was jazz, and as a teenager he would often go into Manhattan and use a fake ID to see people like Dizzy Gillespie, who he idolised, and in his autobiography he talks rapturously of seeing Gillespie playing his bent trumpet -- he once saw Gillespie standing on a street corner with a pet monkey on his shoulder, and went home and tried to persuade his parents to buy him a monkey too. In particular, he talks about seeing the Count Basie band with Sonny Payne on drums as a teenager: [Excerpt: Count Basie, "Kid From Red Bank"] He saw them at Birdland, the club owned by Morris Levy where they would regularly play, and said of the performance "they were just so incredibly exciting that all of a sudden, I got into music in a way I never had before. What I heard in those clubs really turned my head around— it was like a big breath of fresh air when somebody throws open a window. That was when I knew for the first time how much I loved music and wanted to be connected to it in some way." Of course, there's a rather major problem with this story, as there is so often with narratives that musicians tell about their early career. In this case, Birdland didn't open until 1949, when Bacharach was twenty-one and stationed in Germany for his military service, while Sonny Payne didn't join Basie's band until 1954, when Bacharach had been a professional musician for many years. Also Dizzy Gillespie's trumpet bell only got bent on January 6, 1953. But presumably while Bacharach was conflating several memories, he did have some experience in some New York jazz club that led him to want to become a musician. Certainly there were enough great jazz musicians playing the clubs in those days. He went to McGill University to study music for two years, then went to study with Darius Milhaud, a hugely respected modernist composer. Milhaud was also one of the most important music teachers of the time -- among others he'd taught Stockhausen and Xenakkis, and would go on to teach Philip Glass and Steve Reich. This suited Bacharach, who by this point was a big fan of Schoenberg and Webern, and was trying to write atonal, difficult music. But Milhaud had also taught Dave Brubeck, and when Bacharach rather shamefacedly presented him with a composition which had an actual tune, he told Bacharach "Never be ashamed of writing a tune you can whistle". He dropped out of university and, like most men of his generation, had to serve in the armed forces. When he got out of the army, he continued his musical studies, still trying to learn to be an avant-garde composer, this time with Bohuslav Martinů and later with Henry Cowell, the experimental composer we've heard about quite a bit in previous episodes: [Excerpt: Henry Cowell, "Aeolian Harp and Sinister Resonance"] He was still listening to a lot of avant garde music, and would continue doing so throughout the fifties, going to see people like John Cage. But he spent much of that time working in music that was very different from the avant-garde. He got a job as the band leader for the crooner Vic Damone: [Excerpt: Vic Damone. "Ebb Tide"] He also played for the vocal group the Ames Brothers. He decided while he was working with the Ames Brothers that he could write better material than they were getting from their publishers, and that it would be better to have a job where he didn't have to travel, so he got himself a job as a staff songwriter in the Brill Building. He wrote a string of flops and nearly hits, starting with "Keep Me In Mind" for Patti Page: [Excerpt: Patti Page, "Keep Me In Mind"] From early in his career he worked with the lyricist Hal David, and the two of them together wrote two big hits, "Magic Moments" for Perry Como: [Excerpt: Perry Como, "Magic Moments"] and "The Story of My Life" for Marty Robbins: [Excerpt: "The Story of My Life"] But at that point Bacharach was still also writing with other writers, notably Hal David's brother Mack, with whom he wrote the theme tune to the film The Blob, as performed by The Five Blobs: [Excerpt: The Five Blobs, "The Blob"] But Bacharach's songwriting career wasn't taking off, and he got himself a job as musical director for Marlene Dietrich -- a job he kept even after it did start to take off. Part of the problem was that he intuitively wrote music that didn't quite fit into standard structures -- there would be odd bars of unusual time signatures thrown in, unusual harmonies, and structural irregularities -- but then he'd take feedback from publishers and producers who would tell him the song could only be recorded if he straightened it out. He said later "The truth is that I ruined a lot of songs by not believing in myself enough to tell these guys they were wrong." He started writing songs for Scepter Records, usually with Hal David, but also with Bob Hilliard and Mack David, and started having R&B hits. One song he wrote with Mack David, "I'll Cherish You", had the lyrics rewritten by Luther Dixon to make them more harsh-sounding for a Shirelles single -- but the single was otherwise just Bacharach's demo with the vocals replaced, and you can even hear his voice briefly at the beginning: [Excerpt: The Shirelles, "Baby, It's You"] But he'd also started becoming interested in the production side of records more generally. He'd iced that some producers, when recording his songs, would change the sound for the worse -- he thought Gene McDaniels' version of "Tower of Strength", for example, was too fast. But on the other hand, other producers got a better sound than he'd heard in his head. He and Hilliard had written a song called "Please Stay", which they'd given to Leiber and Stoller to record with the Drifters, and he thought that their arrangement of the song was much better than the one he'd originally thought up: [Excerpt: The Drifters, "Please Stay"] He asked Leiber and Stoller if he could attend all their New York sessions and learn about record production from them. He started doing so, and eventually they started asking him to assist them on records. He and Hilliard wrote a song called "Mexican Divorce" for the Drifters, which Leiber and Stoller were going to produce, and as he put it "they were so busy running Redbird Records that they asked me to rehearse the background singers for them in my office." [Excerpt: The Drifters, "Mexican Divorce"] The backing singers who had been brought in to augment the Drifters on that record were a group of vocalists who had started out as members of a gospel group called the Drinkard singers: [Excerpt: The Drinkard Singers, "Singing in My Soul"] The Drinkard Singers had originally been a family group, whose members included Cissy Drinkard, who joined the group aged five (and who on her marriage would become known as Cissy Houston -- her daughter Whitney would later join the family business), her aunt Lee Warrick, and Warrick's adopted daughter Judy Clay. That group were discovered by the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and spent much of the fifties performing with gospel greats including Jackson herself, Clara Ward, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. But Houston was also the musical director of a group at her church, the Gospelaires, which featured Lee Warrick's two daughters Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick (for those who don't know, the Warwick sisters' birth name was Warrick, spelled with two rs. A printing error led to it being misspelled the same way as the British city on a record label, and from that point on Dionne at least pronounced the w in her misspelled name). And slowly, the Gospelaires rather than the Drinkard Singers became the focus, with a lineup of Houston, the Warwick sisters, the Warwick sisters' cousin Doris Troy, and Clay's sister Sylvia Shemwell. The real change in the group's fortunes came when, as we talked about a while back in the episode on "The Loco-Motion", the original lineup of the Cookies largely stopped working as session singers to become Ray Charles' Raelettes. As we discussed in that episode, a new lineup of Cookies formed in 1961, but it took a while for them to get started, and in the meantime the producers who had been relying on them for backing vocals were looking elsewhere, and they looked to the Gospelaires. "Mexican Divorce" was the first record to feature the group as backing vocalists -- though reports vary as to how many of them are on the record, with some saying it's only Troy and the Warwicks, others saying Houston was there, and yet others saying it was all five of them. Some of these discrepancies were because these singers were so good that many of them left to become solo singers in fairly short order. Troy was the first to do so, with her hit "Just One Look", on which the other Gospelaires sang backing vocals: [Excerpt: Doris Troy, "Just One Look"] But the next one to go solo was Dionne Warwick, and that was because she'd started working with Bacharach and Hal David as their principal demo singer. She started singing lead on their demos, and hoping that she'd get to release them on her own. One early one was "Make it Easy On Yourself", which was recorded by Jerry Butler, formerly of the Impressions. That record was produced by Bacharach, one of the first records he produced without outside supervision: [Excerpt: Jerry Butler, "Make it Easy On Yourself"] Warwick was very jealous that a song she'd sung the demo of had become a massive hit for someone else, and blamed Bacharach and David. The way she tells the story -- Bacharach always claimed this never happened, but as we've already seen he was himself not always the most reliable of narrators of his own life -- she got so angry she complained to them, and said "Don't make me over, man!" And so Bacharach and David wrote her this: [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Don't Make Me Over"] Incidentally, in the UK, the hit version of that was a cover by the Swinging Blue Jeans: [Excerpt: The Swinging Blue Jeans, "Don't Make Me Over"] who also had a huge hit with "You're No Good": [Excerpt: The Swinging Blue Jeans, "You're No Good"] And *that* was originally recorded by *Dee Dee* Warwick: [Excerpt: Dee Dee Warwick, "You're No Good"] Dee Dee also had a successful solo career, but Dionne's was the real success, making the names of herself, and of Bacharach and David. The team had more than twenty top forty hits together, before Bacharach and David had a falling out in 1971 and stopped working together, and Warwick sued both of them for breach of contract as a result. But prior to that they had hit after hit, with classic records like "Anyone Who Had a Heart": [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Anyone Who Had a Heart"] And "Walk On By": [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "Walk On By"] With Doris, Dionne, and Dee Dee all going solo, the group's membership was naturally in flux -- though the departed members would occasionally join their former bandmates for sessions, and the remaining members would sing backing vocals on their ex-members' records. By 1965 the group consisted of Cissy Houston, Sylvia Shemwell, the Warwick sisters' cousin Myrna Smith, and Estelle Brown. The group became *the* go-to singers for soul and R&B records made in New York. They were regularly hired by Leiber and Stoller to sing on their records, and they were also the particular favourites of Bert Berns. They sang backing vocals on almost every record he produced. It's them doing the gospel wails on "Cry Baby" by Garnet Mimms: [Excerpt: Garnet Mimms, "Cry Baby"] And they sang backing vocals on both versions of "If You Need Me" -- Wilson Pickett's original and Solomon Burke's more successful cover version, produced by Berns: [Excerpt: Solomon Burke, "If You Need Me"] They're on such Berns records as "Show Me Your Monkey", by Kenny Hamber: [Excerpt: Kenny Hamber, "Show Me Your Monkey"] And it was a Berns production that ended up getting them to be Aretha Franklin's backing group. The group were becoming such an important part of the records that Atlantic and BANG Records, in particular, were putting out, that Jerry Wexler said "it was only a matter of common decency to put them under contract as a featured group". He signed them to Atlantic and renamed them from the Gospelaires to The Sweet Inspirations. Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham wrote a song for the group which became their only hit under their own name: [Excerpt: The Sweet Inspirations, "Sweet Inspiration"] But to start with, they released a cover of Pops Staples' civil rights song "Why (Am I treated So Bad)": [Excerpt: The Sweet Inspirations, "Why (Am I Treated So Bad?)"] That hadn't charted, and meanwhile, they'd all kept doing session work. Cissy had joined Erma and Carolyn Franklin on the backing vocals for Aretha's "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You"] Shortly after that, the whole group recorded backing vocals for Erma's single "Piece of My Heart", co-written and produced by Berns: [Excerpt: Erma Franklin, "Piece of My Heart"] That became a top ten record on the R&B charts, but that caused problems. Aretha Franklin had a few character flaws, and one of these was an extreme level of jealousy for any other female singer who had any level of success and came up in the business after her. She could be incredibly graceful towards anyone who had been successful before her -- she once gave one of her Grammies away to Esther Phillips, who had been up for the same award and had lost to her -- but she was terribly insecure, and saw any contemporary as a threat. She'd spent her time at Columbia Records fuming (with some justification) that Barbra Streisand was being given a much bigger marketing budget than her, and she saw Diana Ross, Gladys Knight, and Dionne Warwick as rivals rather than friends. And that went doubly for her sisters, who she was convinced should be supporting her because of family loyalty. She had been infuriated at John Hammond when Columbia had signed Erma, thinking he'd gone behind her back to create competition for her. And now Erma was recording with Bert Berns. Bert Berns who had for years been a colleague of Jerry Wexler and the Ertegun brothers at Atlantic. Aretha was convinced that Wexler had put Berns up to signing Erma as some kind of power play. There was only one problem with this -- it simply wasn't true. As Wexler later explained “Bert and I had suffered a bad falling-out, even though I had enormous respect for him. After all, he was the guy who brought over guitarist Jimmy Page from England to play on our sessions. Bert, Ahmet, Nesuhi, and I had started a label together—Bang!—where Bert produced Van Morrison's first album. But Bert also had a penchant for trouble. He courted the wise guys. He wanted total control over every last aspect of our business dealings. Finally it was too much, and the Erteguns and I let him go. He sued us for breach of contract and suddenly we were enemies. I felt that he signed Erma, an excellent singer, not merely for her talent but as a way to get back at me. If I could make a hit with Aretha, he'd show me up by making an even bigger hit on Erma. Because there was always an undercurrent of rivalry between the sisters, this only added to the tension.” There were two things that resulted from this paranoia on Aretha's part. The first was that she and Wexler, who had been on first-name terms up to that point, temporarily went back to being "Mr. Wexler" and "Miss Franklin" to each other. And the second was that Aretha no longer wanted Carolyn and Erma to be her main backing vocalists, though they would continue to appear on her future records on occasion. From this point on, the Sweet Inspirations would be the main backing vocalists for Aretha in the studio throughout her golden era [xxcut line (and when the Sweet Inspirations themselves weren't on the record, often it would be former members of the group taking their place)]: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Ain't Nobody (Gonna Turn Me Around)"] The last day of sessions for Aretha Arrives was July the twenty-third, 1967. And as we heard in the episode on "I Was Made to Love Her", that was the day that the Detroit riots started. To recap briefly, that was four days of rioting started because of a history of racist policing, made worse by those same racist police overreacting to the initial protests. By the end of those four days, the National Guard, 82nd Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne from Clarksville were all called in to deal with the violence, which left forty-three dead (of whom thirty-three were Black and only one was a police officer), 1,189 people were injured, and over 7,200 arrested, almost all of them Black. Those days in July would be a turning point for almost every musician based in Detroit. In particular, the police had murdered three members of the soul group the Dramatics, in a massacre of which the author John Hersey, who had been asked by President Johnson to be part of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders but had decided that would compromise his impartiality and did an independent journalistic investigation, said "The episode contained all the mythic themes of racial strife in the United States: the arm of the law taking the law into its own hands; interracial sex; the subtle poison of racist thinking by “decent” men who deny they are racists; the societal limbo into which, ever since slavery, so many young black men have been driven by our country; ambiguous justice in the courts; and the devastation in both black and white human lives that follows in the wake of violence as surely as ruinous and indiscriminate flood after torrents" But these were also the events that radicalised the MC5 -- the group had been playing a gig as Tim Buckley's support act when the rioting started, and guitarist Wayne Kramer decided afterwards to get stoned and watch the fires burning down the city through a telescope -- which police mistook for a rifle, leading to the National Guard knocking down Kramer's door. The MC5 would later cover "The Motor City is Burning", John Lee Hooker's song about the events: [Excerpt: The MC5, "The Motor City is Burning"] It would also be a turning point for Motown, too, in ways we'll talk about in a few future episodes. And it was a political turning point too -- Michigan Governor George Romney, a liberal Republican (at a time when such people existed) had been the favourite for the Republican Presidential candidacy when he'd entered the race in December 1966, but as racial tensions ramped up in Detroit during the early months of 1967 he'd started trailing Richard Nixon, a man who was consciously stoking racists' fears. President Johnson, the incumbent Democrat, who was at that point still considering standing for re-election, made sure to make it clear to everyone during the riots that the decision to call in the National Guard had been made at the State level, by Romney, rather than at the Federal level. That wasn't the only thing that removed the possibility of a Romney presidency, but it was a big part of the collapse of his campaign, and the, as it turned out, irrevocable turn towards right-authoritarianism that the party took with Nixon's Southern Strategy. Of course, Aretha Franklin had little way of knowing what was to come and how the riots would change the city and the country over the following decades. What she was primarily concerned about was the safety of her father, and to a lesser extent that of her sister-in-law Earline who was staying with him. Aretha, Carolyn, and Erma all tried to keep in constant touch with their father while they were out of town, and Aretha even talked about hiring private detectives to travel to Detroit, find her father, and get him out of the city to safety. But as her brother Cecil pointed out, he was probably the single most loved man among Black people in Detroit, and was unlikely to be harmed by the rioters, while he was too famous for the police to kill with impunity. Reverend Franklin had been having a stressful time anyway -- he had recently been fined for tax evasion, an action he was convinced the IRS had taken because of his friendship with Dr King and his role in the civil rights movement -- and according to Cecil "Aretha begged Daddy to move out of the city entirely. She wanted him to find another congregation in California, where he was especially popular—or at least move out to the suburbs. But he wouldn't budge. He said that, more than ever, he was needed to point out the root causes of the riots—the economic inequality, the pervasive racism in civic institutions, the woefully inadequate schools in inner-city Detroit, and the wholesale destruction of our neighborhoods by urban renewal. Some ministers fled the city, but not our father. The horror of what happened only recommitted him. He would not abandon his political agenda." To make things worse, Aretha was worried about her father in other ways -- as her marriage to Ted White was starting to disintegrate, she was looking to her father for guidance, and actually wanted him to take over her management. Eventually, Ruth Bowen, her booking agent, persuaded her brother Cecil that this was a job he could do, and that she would teach him everything he needed to know about the music business. She started training him up while Aretha was still married to White, in the expectation that that marriage couldn't last. Jerry Wexler, who only a few months earlier had been seeing Ted White as an ally in getting "product" from Franklin, had now changed his tune -- partly because the sale of Atlantic had gone through in the meantime. He later said “Sometimes she'd call me at night, and, in that barely audible little-girl voice of hers, she'd tell me that she wasn't sure she could go on. She always spoke in generalities. She never mentioned her husband, never gave me specifics of who was doing what to whom. And of course I knew better than to ask. She just said that she was tired of dealing with so much. My heart went out to her. She was a woman who suffered silently. She held so much in. I'd tell her to take as much time off as she needed. We had a lot of songs in the can that we could release without new material. ‘Oh, no, Jerry,' she'd say. ‘I can't stop recording. I've written some new songs, Carolyn's written some new songs. We gotta get in there and cut 'em.' ‘Are you sure?' I'd ask. ‘Positive,' she'd say. I'd set up the dates and typically she wouldn't show up for the first or second sessions. Carolyn or Erma would call me to say, ‘Ree's under the weather.' That was tough because we'd have asked people like Joe South and Bobby Womack to play on the sessions. Then I'd reschedule in the hopes she'd show." That third album she recorded in 1967, Lady Soul, was possibly her greatest achievement. The opening track, and second single, "Chain of Fools", released in November, was written by Don Covay -- or at least it's credited as having been written by Covay. There's a gospel record that came out around the same time on a very small label based in Houston -- "Pains of Life" by Rev. E. Fair And The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio: [Excerpt: Rev. E. Fair And The Sensational Gladys Davis Trio, "Pains of Life"] I've seen various claims online that that record came out shortly *before* "Chain of Fools", but I can't find any definitive evidence one way or the other -- it was on such a small label that release dates aren't available anywhere. Given that the B-side, which I haven't been able to track down online, is called "Wait Until the Midnight Hour", my guess is that rather than this being a case of Don Covay stealing the melody from an obscure gospel record he'd have had little chance to hear, it's the gospel record rewriting a then-current hit to be about religion, but I thought it worth mentioning. The song was actually written by Covay after Jerry Wexler asked him to come up with some songs for Otis Redding, but Wexler, after hearing it, decided it was better suited to Franklin, who gave an astonishing performance: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Chain of Fools"] Arif Mardin, the arranger of the album, said of that track “I was listed as the arranger of ‘Chain of Fools,' but I can't take credit. Aretha walked into the studio with the chart fully formed inside her head. The arrangement is based around the harmony vocals provided by Carolyn and Erma. To add heft, the Sweet Inspirations joined in. The vision of the song is entirely Aretha's.” According to Wexler, that's not *quite* true -- according to him, Joe South came up with the guitar part that makes up the intro, and he also said that when he played what he thought was the finished track to Ellie Greenwich, she came up with another vocal line for the backing vocals, which she overdubbed. But the core of the record's sound is definitely pure Aretha -- and Carolyn Franklin said that there was a reason for that. As she said later “Aretha didn't write ‘Chain,' but she might as well have. It was her story. When we were in the studio putting on the backgrounds with Ree doing lead, I knew she was singing about Ted. Listen to the lyrics talking about how for five long years she thought he was her man. Then she found out she was nothing but a link in the chain. Then she sings that her father told her to come on home. Well, he did. She sings about how her doctor said to take it easy. Well, he did too. She was drinking so much we thought she was on the verge of a breakdown. The line that slew me, though, was the one that said how one of these mornings the chain is gonna break but until then she'll take all she can take. That summed it up. Ree knew damn well that this man had been doggin' her since Jump Street. But somehow she held on and pushed it to the breaking point." [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Chain of Fools"] That made number one on the R&B charts, and number two on the hot one hundred, kept from the top by "Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)" by John Fred and his Playboy Band -- a record that very few people would say has stood the test of time as well. The other most memorable track on the album was the one chosen as the first single, released in September. As Carole King told the story, she and Gerry Goffin were feeling like their career was in a slump. While they had had a huge run of hits in the early sixties through 1965, they had only had two new hits in 1966 -- "Goin' Back" for Dusty Springfield and "Don't Bring Me Down" for the Animals, and neither of those were anything like as massive as their previous hits. And up to that point in 1967, they'd only had one -- "Pleasant Valley Sunday" for the Monkees. They had managed to place several songs on Monkees albums and the TV show as well, so they weren't going to starve, but the rise of self-contained bands that were starting to dominate the charts, and Phil Spector's temporary retirement, meant there simply wasn't the opportunity for them to place material that there had been. They were also getting sick of travelling to the West Coast all the time, because as their children were growing slightly older they didn't want to disrupt their lives in New York, and were thinking of approaching some of the New York based labels and seeing if they needed songs. They were particularly considering Atlantic, because soul was more open to outside songwriters than other genres. As it happened, though, they didn't have to approach Atlantic, because Atlantic approached them. They were walking down Broadway when a limousine pulled up, and Jerry Wexler stuck his head out of the window. He'd come up with a good title that he wanted to use for a song for Aretha, would they be interested in writing a song called "Natural Woman"? They said of course they would, and Wexler drove off. They wrote the song that night, and King recorded a demo the next morning: [Excerpt: Carole King, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (demo)"] They gave Wexler a co-writing credit because he had suggested the title. King later wrote in her autobiography "Hearing Aretha's performance of “Natural Woman” for the first time, I experienced a rare speechless moment. To this day I can't convey how I felt in mere words. Anyone who had written a song in 1967 hoping it would be performed by a singer who could take it to the highest level of excellence, emotional connection, and public exposure would surely have wanted that singer to be Aretha Franklin." She went on to say "But a recording that moves people is never just about the artist and the songwriters. It's about people like Jerry and Ahmet, who matched the songwriters with a great title and a gifted artist; Arif Mardin, whose magnificent orchestral arrangement deserves the place it will forever occupy in popular music history; Tom Dowd, whose engineering skills captured the magic of this memorable musical moment for posterity; and the musicians in the rhythm section, the orchestral players, and the vocal contributions of the background singers—among them the unforgettable “Ah-oo!” after the first line of the verse. And the promotion and marketing people helped this song reach more people than it might have without them." And that's correct -- unlike "Chain of Fools", this time Franklin did let Arif Mardin do most of the arrangement work -- though she came up with the piano part that Spooner Oldham plays on the record. Mardin said that because of the song's hymn-like feel they wanted to go for a more traditional written arrangement. He said "She loved the song to the point where she said she wanted to concentrate on the vocal and vocal alone. I had written a string chart and horn chart to augment the chorus and hired Ralph Burns to conduct. After just a couple of takes, we had it. That's when Ralph turned to me with wonder in his eyes. Ralph was one of the most celebrated arrangers of the modern era. He had done ‘Early Autumn' for Woody Herman and Stan Getz, and ‘Georgia on My Mind' for Ray Charles. He'd worked with everyone. ‘This woman comes from another planet' was all Ralph said. ‘She's just here visiting.'” [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman"] By this point there was a well-functioning team making Franklin's records -- while the production credits would vary over the years, they were all essentially co-productions by the team of Franklin, Wexler, Mardin and Dowd, all collaborating and working together with a more-or-less unified purpose, and the backing was always by the same handful of session musicians and some combination of the Sweet Inspirations and Aretha's sisters. That didn't mean that occasional guests couldn't get involved -- as we discussed in the Cream episode, Eric Clapton played guitar on "Good to Me as I am to You": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Good to Me as I am to You"] Though that was one of the rare occasions on one of these records where something was overdubbed. Clapton apparently messed up the guitar part when playing behind Franklin, because he was too intimidated by playing with her, and came back the next day to redo his part without her in the studio. At this point, Aretha was at the height of her fame. Just before the final batch of album sessions began she appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, and she was making regular TV appearances, like one on the Mike Douglas Show where she duetted with Frankie Valli on "That's Life": [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin and Frankie Valli, "That's Life"] But also, as Wexler said “Her career was kicking into high gear. Contending and resolving both the professional and personal challenges were too much. She didn't think she could do both, and I didn't blame her. Few people could. So she let the personal slide and concentrated on the professional. " Her concert promoter Ruth Bowen said of this time "Her father and Dr. King were putting pressure on her to sing everywhere, and she felt obligated. The record company was also screaming for more product. And I had a mountain of offers on my desk that kept getting higher with every passing hour. They wanted her in Europe. They wanted her in Latin America. They wanted her in every major venue in the U.S. TV was calling. She was being asked to do guest appearances on every show from Carol Burnett to Andy Williams to the Hollywood Palace. She wanted to do them all and she wanted to do none of them. She wanted to do them all because she's an entertainer who burns with ambition. She wanted to do none of them because she was emotionally drained. She needed to go away and renew her strength. I told her that at least a dozen times. She said she would, but she didn't listen to me." The pressures from her father and Dr King are a recurring motif in interviews with people about this period. Franklin was always a very political person, and would throughout her life volunteer time and money to liberal political causes and to the Democratic Party, but this was the height of her activism -- the Civil Rights movement was trying to capitalise on the gains it had made in the previous couple of years, and celebrity fundraisers and performances at rallies were an important way to do that. And at this point there were few bigger celebrities in America than Aretha Franklin. At a concert in her home town of Detroit on February the sixteenth, 1968, the Mayor declared the day Aretha Franklin Day. At the same show, Billboard, Record World *and* Cash Box magazines all presented her with plaques for being Female Vocalist of the Year. And Dr. King travelled up to be at the show and congratulate her publicly for all her work with his organisation, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Backstage at that show, Dr. King talked to Aretha's father, Reverend Franklin, about what he believed would be the next big battle -- a strike in Memphis: [Excerpt, Martin Luther King, "Mountaintop Speech" -- "And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy—what is the other bread?—Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right."] The strike in question was the Memphis Sanitation Workers' strike which had started a few days before. The struggle for Black labour rights was an integral part of the civil rights movement, and while it's not told that way in the sanitised version of the story that's made it into popular culture, the movement led by King was as much about economic justice as social justice -- King was a democratic socialist, and believed that economic oppression was both an effect of and cause of other forms of racial oppression, and that the rights of Black workers needed to be fought for. In 1967 he had set up a new organisation, the Poor People's Campaign, which was set to march on Washington to demand a program that included full employment, a guaranteed income -- King was strongly influenced in his later years by the ideas of Henry George, the proponent of a universal basic income based on land value tax -- the annual building of half a million affordable homes, and an end to the war in Vietnam. This was King's main focus in early 1968, and he saw the sanitation workers' strike as a major part of this campaign. Memphis was one of the most oppressive cities in the country, and its largely Black workforce of sanitation workers had been trying for most of the 1960s to unionise, and strike-breakers had been called in to stop them, and many of them had been fired by their white supervisors with no notice. They were working in unsafe conditions, for utterly inadequate wages, and the city government were ardent segregationists. After two workers had died on the first of February from using unsafe equipment, the union demanded changes -- safer working conditions, better wages, and recognition of the union. The city council refused, and almost all the sanitation workers stayed home and stopped work. After a few days, the council relented and agreed to their terms, but the Mayor, Henry Loeb, an ardent white supremacist who had stood on a platform of opposing desegregation, and who had previously been the Public Works Commissioner who had put these unsafe conditions in place, refused to listen. As far as he was concerned, he was the only one who could recognise the union, and he wouldn't. The workers continued their strike, marching holding signs that simply read "I am a Man": [Excerpt: Stevie Wonder, "Blowing in the Wind"] The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP had been involved in organising support for the strikes from an early stage, and King visited Memphis many times. Much of the time he spent visiting there was spent negotiating with a group of more militant activists, who called themselves The Invaders and weren't completely convinced by King's nonviolent approach -- they believed that violence and rioting got more attention than non-violent protests. King explained to them that while he had been persuaded by Gandhi's writings of the moral case for nonviolent protest, he was also persuaded that it was pragmatically necessary -- asking the young men "how many guns do we have and how many guns do they have?", and pointing out as he often did that when it comes to violence a minority can't win against an armed majority. Rev Franklin went down to Memphis on the twenty-eighth of March to speak at a rally Dr. King was holding, but as it turned out the rally was cancelled -- the pre-rally march had got out of hand, with some people smashing windows, and Memphis police had, like the police in Detroit the previous year, violently overreacted, clubbing and gassing protestors and shooting and killing one unarmed teenage boy, Larry Payne. The day after Payne's funeral, Dr King was back in Memphis, though this time Rev Franklin was not with him. On April the third, he gave a speech which became known as the "Mountaintop Speech", in which he talked about the threats that had been made to his life: [Excerpt: Martin Luther King, "Mountaintop Speech": “And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."] The next day, Martin Luther King was shot dead. James Earl Ray, a white supremacist, pled guilty to the murder, and the evidence against him seems overwhelming from what I've read, but the King family have always claimed that the murder was part of a larger conspiracy and that Ray was not the gunman. Aretha was obviously distraught, and she attended the funeral, as did almost every other prominent Black public figure. James Baldwin wrote of the funeral: "In the pew directly before me sat Marlon Brando, Sammy Davis, Eartha Kitt—covered in black, looking like a lost, ten-year-old girl—and Sidney Poitier, in the same pew, or nearby. Marlon saw me, and nodded. The atmosphere was black, with a tension indescribable—as though something, perhaps the heavens, perhaps the earth, might crack. Everyone sat very still. The actual service sort of washed over me, in waves. It wasn't that it seemed unreal; it was the most real church service I've ever sat through in my life, or ever hope to sit through; but I have a childhood hangover thing about not weeping in public, and I was concentrating on holding myself together. I did not want to weep for Martin, tears seemed futile. But I may also have been afraid, and I could not have been the only one, that if I began to weep I would not be able to stop. There was more than enough to weep for, if one was to weep—so many of us, cut down, so soon. Medgar, Malcolm, Martin: and their widows, and their children. Reverend Ralph David Abernathy asked a certain sister to sing a song which Martin had loved—“Once more,” said Ralph David, “for Martin and for me,” and he sat down." Many articles and books on Aretha Franklin say that she sang at King's funeral. In fact she didn't, but there's a simple reason for the confusion. King's favourite song was the Thomas Dorsey gospel song "Take My Hand, Precious Lord", and indeed almost his last words were to ask a trumpet player, Ben Branch, if he would play the song at the rally he was going to be speaking at on the day of his death. At his request, Mahalia Jackson, his old friend, sang the song at his private funeral, which was not filmed, unlike the public part of the funeral that Baldwin described. Four months later, though, there was another public memorial for King, and Franklin did sing "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" at that service, in front of King's weeping widow and children, and that performance *was* filmed, and gets conflated in people's memories with Jackson's unfilmed earlier performance: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord (at Martin Luther King Memorial)"] Four years later, she would sing that at Mahalia Jackson's funeral. Through all this, Franklin had been working on her next album, Aretha Now, the sessions for which started more or less as soon as the sessions for Lady Soul had finished. The album was, in fact, bookended by deaths that affected Aretha. Just as King died at the end of the sessions, the beginning came around the time of the death of Otis Redding -- the sessions were cancelled for a day while Wexler travelled to Georgia for Redding's funeral, which Franklin was too devastated to attend, and Wexler would later say that the extra emotion in her performances on the album came from her emotional pain at Redding's death. The lead single on the album, "Think", was written by Franklin and -- according to the credits anyway -- her husband Ted White, and is very much in the same style as "Respect", and became another of her most-loved hits: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "Think"] But probably the song on Aretha Now that now resonates the most is one that Jerry Wexler tried to persuade her not to record, and was only released as a B-side. Indeed, "I Say a Little Prayer" was a song that had already once been a hit after being a reject. Hal David, unlike Burt Bacharach, was a fairly political person and inspired by the protest song movement, and had been starting to incorporate his concerns about the political situation and the Vietnam War into his lyrics -- though as with many such writers, he did it in much less specific ways than a Phil Ochs or a Bob Dylan. This had started with "What the World Needs Now is Love", a song Bacharach and David had written for Jackie DeShannon in 1965: [Excerpt: Jackie DeShannon, "What the "World Needs Now is Love"] But he'd become much more overtly political for "The Windows of the World", a song they wrote for Dionne Warwick. Warwick has often said it's her favourite of her singles, but it wasn't a big hit -- Bacharach blamed himself for that, saying "Dionne recorded it as a single and I really blew it. I wrote a bad arrangement and the tempo was too fast, and I really regret making it the way I did because it's a good song." [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "The Windows of the World"] For that album, Bacharach and David had written another track, "I Say a Little Prayer", which was not as explicitly political, but was intended by David to have an implicit anti-war message, much like other songs of the period like "Last Train to Clarksville". David had sons who were the right age to be drafted, and while it's never stated, "I Say a Little Prayer" was written from the perspective of a woman whose partner is away fighting in the war, but is still in her thoughts: [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "I Say a Little Prayer"] The recording of Dionne Warwick's version was marked by stress. Bacharach had a particular way of writing music to tell the musicians the kind of feel he wanted for the part -- he'd write nonsense words above the stave, and tell the musicians to play the parts as if they were singing those words. The trumpet player hired for the session, Ernie Royal, got into a row with Bacharach about this unorthodox way of communicating musical feeling, and the track ended up taking ten takes (as opposed to the normal three for a Bacharach session), with Royal being replaced half-way through the session. Bacharach was never happy with the track even after all the work it had taken, and he fought to keep it from being released at all, saying the track was taken at too fast a tempo. It eventually came out as an album track nearly eighteen months after it was recorded -- an eternity in 1960s musical timescales -- and DJs started playing it almost as soon as it came out. Scepter records rushed out a single, over Bacharach's objections, but as he later said "One thing I love about the record business is how wrong I was. Disc jockeys all across the country started playing the track, and the song went to number four on the charts and then became the biggest hit Hal and I had ever written for Dionne." [Excerpt: Dionne Warwick, "I Say a Little Prayer"] Oddly, the B-side for Warwick's single, "Theme From the Valley of the Dolls" did even better, reaching number two. Almost as soon as the song was released as a single, Franklin started playing around with the song backstage, and in April 1968, right around the time of Dr. King's death, she recorded a version. Much as Burt Bacharach had been against releasing Dionne Warwick's version, Jerry Wexler was against Aretha even recording the song, saying later “I advised Aretha not to record it. I opposed it for two reasons. First, to cover a song only twelve weeks after the original reached the top of the charts was not smart business. You revisit such a hit eight months to a year later. That's standard practice. But more than that, Bacharach's melody, though lovely, was peculiarly suited to a lithe instrument like Dionne Warwick's—a light voice without the dark corners or emotional depths that define Aretha. Also, Hal David's lyric was also somewhat girlish and lacked the gravitas that Aretha required. “Aretha usually listened to me in the studio, but not this time. She had written a vocal arrangement for the Sweet Inspirations that was undoubtedly strong. Cissy Houston, Dionne's cousin, told me that Aretha was on the right track—she was seeing this song in a new way and had come up with a new groove. Cissy was on Aretha's side. Tommy Dowd and Arif were on Aretha's side. So I had no choice but to cave." It's quite possible that Wexler's objections made Franklin more, rather than less, determined to record the song. She regarded Warwick as a hated rival, as she did almost every prominent female singer of her generation and younger ones, and would undoubtedly have taken the implication that there was something that Warwick was simply better at than her to heart. [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer"] Wexler realised as soon as he heard it in the studio that Franklin's version was great, and Bacharach agreed, telling Franklin's biographer David Ritz “As much as I like the original recording by Dionne, there's no doubt that Aretha's is a better record. She imbued the song with heavy soul and took it to a far deeper place. Hers is the definitive version.” -- which is surprising because Franklin's version simplifies some of Bacharach's more unusual chord voicings, something he often found extremely upsetting. Wexler still though thought there was no way the song would be a hit, and it's understandable that he thought that way. Not only had it only just been on the charts a few months earlier, but it was the kind of song that wouldn't normally be a hit at all, and certainly not in the kind of rhythmic soul music for which Franklin was known. Almost everything she ever recorded is in simple time signatures -- 4/4, waltz time, or 6/8 -- but this is a Bacharach song so it's staggeringly metrically irregular. Normally even with semi-complex things I'm usually good at figuring out how to break it down into bars, but here I actually had to purchase a copy of the sheet music in order to be sure I was right about what's going on. I'm going to count beats along with the record here so you can see what I mean. The verse has three bars of 4/4, one bar of 2/4, and three more bars of 4/4, all repeated: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer" with me counting bars over verse] While the chorus has a bar of 4/4, a bar of 3/4 but with a chord change half way through so it sounds like it's in two if you're paying attention to the harmonic changes, two bars of 4/4, another waltz-time bar sounding like it's in two, two bars of four, another bar of three sounding in two, a bar of four, then three more bars of four but the first of those is *written* as four but played as if it's in six-eight time (but you can keep the four/four pulse going if you're counting): [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer" with me counting bars over verse] I don't expect you to have necessarily followed that in great detail, but the point should be clear -- this was not some straightforward dance song. Incidentally, that bar played as if it's six/eight was something Aretha introduced to make the song even more irregular than how Bacharach wrote it. And on top of *that* of course the lyrics mixed the secular and the sacred, something that was still taboo in popular music at that time -- this is only a couple of years after Capitol records had been genuinely unsure about putting out the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows", and Franklin's gospel-inflected vocals made the religious connection even more obvious. But Franklin was insistent that the record go out as a single, and eventually it was released as the B-side to the far less impressive "The House That Jack Built". It became a double-sided hit, with the A-side making number two on the R&B chart and number seven on the Hot One Hundred, while "I Say a Little Prayer" made number three on the R&B chart and number ten overall. In the UK, "I Say a Little Prayer" made number four and became her biggest ever solo UK hit. It's now one of her most-remembered songs, while the A-side is largely forgotten: [Excerpt: Aretha Franklin, "I Say a Little Prayer"] For much of the
Scott sits with Ben Thatcher and Mike Kerr of UK power duo Royal Blood, who's newest album, Back to the Water Below, hit the #1 spot on the UK chart for the fourth time in their career… They get into their experiences exploring and eating in NYC, their humble beginnings in Brighton, and the band's early days that lead up to the recording of their debut album, which is 10 years old this year… Along the way they talk about meeting Jimmy Page, working with Josh Homme, and the journey leading up to the new album, including the process of writing and self-producing it in their own studio… They get into the meaning behind some of their highlight tracks and end with naming their top 5 best musical duos, top 5 Royal Blood songs, and top 5 riffs of all time... Tune in for a fun time and some laughs with UK powerhouse, Royal Blood.
In snowbound Tokamachi, Japan, teenaged Akio Sakurai took refuge in his room, escaping to another world with a pair of headphones and a pile of Led Zeppelin records. Moving to Tokyo, Akio worked as a kimono salesman by day, but by night became "Mr. Jimmy," adopting the guitar chops and persona of Jimmy Page. For 35 years, Akio recreated vintage Zeppelin concerts note-for-note in small Tokyo clubs, until the "real" Jimmy Page stopped by one night, and Akio's life changed forever. Inspired by Mr. Page's ovation, Akio quits his "salary man" job, leaving behind his family to move to Los Angeles and join "Led Zepagain." Soon cultures clash, and Akio's idyllic vision of America meets with reality. Here's the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSaVHb9_PaM
The Hook Rocks favorite luthier Mike Longacre of At Mike's Guitar Parlor in Hermosa Beach, Ca returns for another chapter in our discussion on legendary guitar players. In this episode we talk Jimmy Page and his style, presentation, & why he influenced a generation of guitar players. Please enjoy the episode! Mike Longacre http://mikesguitarparlor.com/ https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057257478344 https://www.instagram.com/atmikesguitar/ The Hook Rocks https://www.facebook.com/TheHookRocks/ https://www.instagram.com/thehookrocks/ https://twitter.com/TheHookRocks Pantheon Podcasts http://pantheonpodcasts.com/ https://www.facebook.com/PantheonPodcasts https://www.instagram.com/pantheonpods/ https://twitter.com/pantheonpods Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In snowbound Tokamachi, Japan, teenaged Akio Sakurai took refuge in his room, escaping to another world with a pair of headphones and a pile of Led Zeppelin records. Moving to Tokyo, Akio worked as a kimono salesman by day, but by night became "Mr. Jimmy," adopting the guitar chops and persona of Jimmy Page. For 30 years, Akio recreated vintage Zeppelin concerts note-for-note in small Tokyo clubs, until the real Jimmy Page stopped by one night and Akio's life changed forever. Inspired by Mr. Page's ovation, Akio quits his “salary man” job, leaving behind his family to move to Los Angeles and join “Led Zepagain.” Soon cultures clash, and Akio's idyllic vision of America is met with reality. Until Jason Bonham (son of legendary Led Zeppelin drummer, John Bonham) calls and invites Akio to audition, and later join his ‘Led Zeppelin Evening' tour. Director Peter Michael Dowd joins us for a lively conversation on the incredible level of dedication Akio has put into his craft, meticulously fine tuning precision of everything from the amps, frets, cables to the stitching on the “dragon” cape to faithfully replicate the Jimmy Page experience as well as my misspent youth back in 1972, for missing the chance to see the “greatest rock and roll band” at the zenith of their artistic prowess. For more go to: mrjimmymovie.com
We talk with Peter Michael Dowd, director-producer-editor of new Jimmy Page-inspired documentary MR. JIMMY, in theaters now! The KQ Morning Show - Originally aired on September 14, 2023. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
WATP's Karl Hamburger joins the show in-studio, Britney Spears nails her housekeeper, Stuttering John's musical prowess, a brand-new Bonerline, Tom Mazawey defends Mel Tucker, Jim's Picks, and Drew temporarily returns to public life. Karl Hamburger joins the show fresh off meeting Tom Mazawey at the Tigers game last night! Hunter Biden was indicted today on gun charges. The Telegraph wants Joe to step down. This town is going bonkers over the Lions and NFL ratings are up. Deion Sanders ranks his children. Britney Spears was banging her housekeeper until she found out he was a felon. Bill Maher crosses the picket line. Drew and Karl spar over cryptocurrency and it's promoters. Karl brings us a musical package of Stuttering John Melendez. Karl vs Jimmy Page. Call or text 209-66-Boner to be on the next Bonerline. Tom Mazawey joins the show to avoid answering whether or not he listens to this show, discuss his volleyball duties, his love for 1970's soccer, his hot takes on the Mel Tucker scandal, predict Bowling Green covering the spread, go over this weekend in the NFL and more. Jim's Picks: The Isotopes Edition. We'll see you at the live show! Visit Our Presenting Sponsor Hall Financial – Michigan's highest rated mortgage company If you'd like to help support the show… please consider subscribing to our YouTube Page, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (Drew and Mike Show, Marc Fellhauer, Trudi Daniels, Jim Bentley and BranDon).
Get a copy of "All I Need" by Selepri here: https://music.apple.com/us/album/all-...Music visionary Selepri Amachree has combined the talents of 80s legends George Lynch (Dokken), Simon Phillips (studio drummer for Tears for Fears, Judas Priest, Mike Rutherford, & The Who), and Tony Franklin (The Firm, Jimmy Page, & Kate Bush). This combined effort has resulted in a new release entitled "All I Need."Discover the inspiring story of Selepri and find out what drives him to spread a message of hope through his music. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
The Yardbirds have an unparalleled legacy in the hallowed halls of rock n roll as they were one of the original British Invasion groups that brought the blues to the forefront of the rock scene in the 60s. The Wolf & Action Jackson became enamoured with them as teens in the 80s as the 60s had a big cultural renaissance and new CD box sets like Eric Clapton's Crossroads (which we cover in-depth on UAWIL 33 & 34). While the band is best known for their 3 famous guitarists - Clapton, Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page - the entire band deserves credit as top notch musicians and performers and Paul Samwell-Smith, Chris Dreja, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty are all members of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame with their lead guitar members. We are so proud to welcome Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds to talk about his single Breath of the Wind which is available for digital download on September 15. Jim wrote the song for his late wife, Lizzie, and goes on to tell us about working mediums to help him see the end of life differently. We talk about playing with his band, how his lovely voice is a better fit for acoustic music than the raucous sounds he made with The Yardbirds, how he still enjoys playing live and some choice stories from the 1960s. It's a dream come true for 2 teenage rock fans who geeked out on The Yardbirds when they met 30+ years ago to interview this true gentleman and genuine rock legend. Visit JimMcCarty.com & buy Breath of the Wind wherever you purchase digital music Visit DemonMusicGroup.co.uk to learn more @demonmusicgroup Ugly American Werewolf in London Website Ugly American Werewolf in London Store - Get your Wolf merch! Visit RareVinyl.com and use the NEW code UGLY to save 10%! Twitter Threads Instagram YouTube LInkTree www.pantheonpodcasts.com Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Our latest podcast is up, a conversation between Chris and Shane O'Mara, Professor of Brain Science at Trinity.Shane, a prolific best-selling author, has a brilliant new book out - Talking Heads: The New Science of How Conversation Shapes Our Worlds And a terrific Substack: BrainPizza, well worth a sign-up.In today's pod:Who is coming for Ted Cruz's beer and why is he so angry about it?Why do we get so bent of shape by so little?Why did Jimmy Page & Robert Plant's post Led Zeppelin careers diverge so much?Reaching the top of the mountain and finding nothing there.Hyperbolic discounting: if we don't do some long-term thinking there won't be a long term.Techocrats Vs visionariesWe all want to be heard but why should anyone listenBeing poor really sucks - and is really bad for your brainWind farms are beautiful.A note of optimism Become a member at https://plus.acast.com/s/the-other-hand-with-jim.power-and-chris.johns. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
526 - Jimmy Page - Wanna Make Love: Chris, Nick, and Andy break down "Wanna Make Love" from the 1988 JImmy Page album Outrider.This show is part of the Spreaker Prime Network, if you are interested in advertising on this podcast, contact us at https://www.spreaker.com/show/4137237/advertisement
8 years in the making my guest Director, Peter Dowd follows a man around that is absolutely obsessed with Jimmy Page. The first time Akio Sakurai hears Led Zeppelin as a teenager, and then laid eyes on the band in The Song Remains the Same, the group's 1976 concert documentary, Sakurai has had one mission in life: to demonstrate his adoration of Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page. He is completely candid about this: "I want to be Jimmy Page," he remembers thinking. The film is an amazing Document of what it's like to dive way down a rabbit hole. Passion is in full effect here. Peter has made a fantastic film and if you are a Led Zeppelin freak like myself you are really going to enjoy this. Thanks for tuning in on this 3 day weekend and don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and on iTunes. Tour dates including Madison Square Garden tickets are here https://deandelray.com Patreon for all your Let There Be Talk bonus episodes https://www.patreon.com/DeanDelray
El año de1969 Led Zeppelin irrumpió en la escena del Rock a nivel mundial y cambió su historia para siempre. Este episodio cuenta la historia de la formación de la banda y la grabacióny creación de su álbum debut.
Come along as we discuss the strangest Heavy Metal band, whether or not Led Zeppelin worshiped the devil, and what Blink 182 has to do with flying saucers! Support the show on Patreon for early access, after hours, bonus episodes, and the chance to vote on upcoming topics. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=80108564 Find all of our other wonderful links on the linktree: https://linktr.ee/Alienconpod Mayhem: Mayhem is a pioneering and influential Norwegian black metal band known for their extreme and controversial music, as well as their tumultuous history. Formed in 1984 in Oslo, Norway, the band has played a pivotal role in shaping the black metal genre and its associated subculture. Mayhem's music is characterized by its aggressive, raw, and dark sound, often featuring dissonant guitar riffs, frenzied drumming, and visceral vocals. The band's early lineup included iconic figures like Øystein "Euronymous" Aarseth, who was not only the founder and guitarist but also a central figure in the early Norwegian black metal scene, and Per "Dead" Ohlin, known for his disturbing stage presence and tragic suicide in 1991. Dead's suicide deeply impacted the band and contributed to their notorious reputation. Mayhem's notoriety also stems from various incidents, including the infamous burning of historic Norwegian stave churches and the murder of Euronymous by former member Varg "Count Grishnackh" Vikernes in 1993. These events garnered international attention and added to the band's aura of darkness and controversy. Despite these tumultuous occurrences, Mayhem's music and legacy have endured. Albums like "De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas" (1994) are considered classics of the black metal genre, influencing countless bands that followed. The band's imagery often draws from occult and macabre themes, adding to their mystique. Throughout their career, Mayhem has undergone numerous lineup changes and musical evolutions, all while maintaining a connection to their black metal roots. Their impact on extreme metal and underground music culture remains significant, making them a cornerstone of the Norwegian black metal scene and a symbol of its uncompromising and controversial spirit. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin was a British rock band formed in 1968 that became one of the most influential and iconic bands in the history of rock music. The band consisted of four members: Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitar), John Paul Jones (bass/keyboard), and John Bonham (drums). Led Zeppelin is known for their innovative and powerful blend of blues, rock, folk, and psychedelia, which laid the groundwork for hard rock and heavy metal genres. There has been speculation and controversy surrounding Led Zeppelin's alleged involvement with the occult, particularly regarding guitarist Jimmy Page's interest in esoteric and mystical subjects. Page was known for his fascination with symbols, magic, and ancient mythology. He collected occult books, artworks, and artifacts, and he was also influenced by the teachings of famous occultist Aleister Crowley. Page purchased Crowley's former home, Boleskine House, and the band's record label, Swan Song Records, featured an image of an angel playing a trumpet from a design by Crowley. One of the most enduring aspects of the occult rumors is the alleged backward masking or "backmasking" in Led Zeppelin's music. Backmasking involves the insertion of hidden messages when a song is played in reverse. Some fans and critics claimed to have found messages related to the occult, Satanism, or even drug use when playing certain Led Zeppelin songs backward. The most famous example is the song "Stairway to Heaven," where a specific part of the lyrics is said to reveal hidden messages when reversed. However, the band members have consistently denied intentional involvement in such practices, attributing any perceived messages to coincidence or the imagination of listeners. It's important to note that while Led Zeppelin's members had an interest in mystical and symbolic subjects, and their imagery occasionally reflected these interests, the extent of any actual involvement with the occult is debatable. Much of the occult-related speculation surrounding the band is based on interpretations and theories that have been amplified over the years. Led Zeppelin's legacy primarily lies in their groundbreaking music and their impact on rock and roll. They released numerous iconic albums, including their self-titled debut, "Led Zeppelin II," "Led Zeppelin IV," and "Physical Graffiti," which featured hits like "Stairway to Heaven," "Whole Lotta Love," and "Black Dog." Their live performances were legendary for their energy and improvisation, contributing to their status as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Blink 182: Blink-182 is an American rock band that gained significant popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s. The band is known for their energetic pop-punk sound and catchy melodies. Blink-182 was formed in 1992 in Poway, California, and its original lineup consisted of Mark Hoppus (bass and vocals), Tom DeLonge (guitar and vocals), and Scott Raynor (drums). Travis Barker later replaced Raynor on drums. Tom DeLonge is one of the founding members of Blink-182 and played a crucial role in the band's success. He was known for his distinctive singing style and witty, often humorous, lyrics. DeLonge's guitar playing and vocal contributions helped shape the band's sound, which combined punk rock sensibilities with pop hooks. In addition to his work with Blink-182, Tom DeLonge developed an interest in various side projects and ventures. One of his notable endeavors outside of music was his fascination with UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) and extraterrestrial life. DeLonge's interest in UFOs eventually led him to launch the To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science (TTSA) in 2017. The TTSA is an organization that aims to explore and research various topics related to UFOs, advanced technology, and potential interactions with non-human intelligence. Through the TTSA, DeLonge has advocated for increased transparency and government disclosure of information regarding UFO sightings and encounters. He has stated that his interest in UFOs was inspired by personal experiences and a desire to uncover the truth behind these phenomena. It's important to note that the field of UFO research can be controversial and is often met with skepticism from the scientific community. Tom DeLonge's involvement with UFO research has brought attention to the topic and sparked discussions about the possibility of extraterrestrial life and advanced technologies beyond our current understanding. His efforts have also prompted conversations about the need for rigorous scientific investigation in this field.
Maurinho Berro d´Água, também conhecido como Maurinho Nastácia, banda da qual fez parte por muito tempo é o nosso entrevistado do podcast. Além de músico ele é dono de bar e uma figura absolutamente transparente no seu jeito de pensar e de ser. Se você gosta de rock´n Roll e admira o jeito franco de ser, este episódio é pra você. Ah, também porque ele conta o caso da vez que pediu um autógrafo pra ninguém mais ninguém menos do que Jimmy Page. Maurinho atualmente é proprietário do Chopperhead Garage um bar localizado no Prado em Belo Horizonte. Mais precisamente um lugar curioso, interessante para os amantes do rock e derivados – a casa tem noite country, já teve noites de Jazz e por aí vai. Além de bons casos de bastidores, a entrevista passa pela transição pessoal de Maurinho: durante muito tempo ele foi o cara que tocava no bar, hoje ele é a pessoa que manda abaixar o som. SIGA MAURINHO E A CASA NAS REDES Maurinho Berro d´água Instagram Spotify e plataformas de música, você pode ver o trabalho atual Maurinho e os Mauditos. Chopperhead Garage @chopperhead_garage
Is Lizzo a monster? What about Morrissey? What about Jimmy Page or David Bowie or Ryan Adams the guy in that local band who always hits on teenagers or the myriad other artists who have allegedly engaged in behavior that has harmed others? How do we interact with them and their art once the harm is revealed? How does art intersect with the artist's identities and experiences or our own? In today's episode, Hilary digs into the nuances of these questions (and *spoiler* there are more questions than answers!). Huge thanks to this episode's sponsors! EarthQuaker Devices- extra special effects pedals made by hand in Akron, OH! Stompbox Sonic- personalized pedal curation and sales in Somerville, MA! Holcomb Guitars- custom guitars and mobile guitar repair in RI/MA! EPISODE MENTIONS Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma by Claire Dederer We Will Not Cancel Us: And Other Dreams of Transformative Justice by adrienne maree brown MID-RIFF LINKS Website Instagram Facebook Newsletter Blog Gender and Music Gear Experiences Report Thanks for rating/reviewing on Apple Podcasts! Support Mid-Riff by shopping on Reverb! Check out more from Ruinous Media! Theme Music: "Hedonism" by Towanda Artwork by Julia Gualtieri
Really, do we need to say anything else? Ok, for good measure, we discuss the documentary "Mr Jimmy" about a man obsessed with emulating the Led Zeppelin guitar player. We also tell stories about our prospective soul mates in the way back and the moment we realized they were dummies. We also bond over elementary school spelling bee trauma and how it's made us slightly obsessed in adulthood
The Musical Legacy of John Lee Hooker (part 2 of 2)This section of the podcast includes a significant supplement to the broadcasted radio program21. Buddy Guy & Jeff Beck / Mustang Sally22. John Lee Hooker / Mustang Sally-GTO 23. Woody Guthrie / This Land is Your Land 24. John Lee Hooker / This Land is Nobody's Land25. Bonnie Raitt & John Lee Hooker / I'm in the Mood 26. Jimi Hendrix / Catfish Blues 27. Muddy Waters / Rollin' Stone28. Stevie Ray Vaughan / Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)29. The Rolling Stones w/John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton / Boogie Chillen30. Van Morrison / Baby, Please Don't Go (featuring Jimmy Page on Guitar) 31. Mick Taylor & Max Middleton / This is Hip32. Buddy Guy & John Lee Hooker / Motor City Burning33. John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat / Bottle Up and Go ONLINE ONLY EXTENDED SHOW... 34. Jim Morrison / Roadhouse Rap35. The Doors w/ John Lee Hooker / Roadhouse Blues36. Aerosmith/ Baby, Please Don't Go 37. The Rolling Stones / Money, That's What I Want38. John Lee Hooker / I Need Some Money39. Charlie Musselwhite / Hobo Blues 40. John Lee Hooker / Anybody See My Baby41. The Rolling Stones / Anybody See My Baby42. Hank Williams / I'm Never Gonna Get Out of This Life Alive43. Bob Dylan / It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bill Lee)44. John Lee Hooker / TB Sheets (Van Morrison)45. Bruce Springsteen / Boom, Boom46. Gary Moore / Memory Pain 47. Led Zeppelin / Whole Lotta Love In this live version of Whole Lotta Love, Zeppelin pays homage to many of the bands influences. For example, the song, Whole Lotta Love is based upon the Muddy Waters track, written by Willie Dixon, You Need Love. In the middle of the song, they'll will reference Hooker's track Boogie Chillen when Plant sings about "mama and papa talling, you gotta let that boy rock n roo," They reference Etta James, Just a Little Bit with the line, "I don't want much, I just want a little bit of your love," Wanda Jackson and thereby Elvis Presley when they break into, Let's Have a Party, Howlin' Wolf's, Going Down Slow, with the lines, Write my mother and tell her the shape I'm in,' and finally, Willie Dixon's Back Door Man. There may be other references in the song - if you find some, please let me know.
Episode one hundred and sixty-seven of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “The Weight" by the Band, the Basement Tapes, and the continuing controversy over Dylan going electric. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a half-hour bonus episode available, on "S.F. Sorrow is Born" by the Pretty Things. 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/ Also, a one-time request here -- Shawn Taylor, who runs the Facebook group for the podcast and is an old and dear friend of mine, has stage-three lung cancer. I will be hugely grateful to anyone who donates to the GoFundMe for her treatment. Errata At one point I say "when Robertson and Helm travelled to the Brill Building". I meant "when Hawkins and Helm". This is fixed in the transcript but not the recording. Resources There are three Mixcloud mixes this time. As there are so many songs by Bob Dylan and the Band excerpted, and Mixcloud won't allow more than four songs by the same artist in any mix, I've had to post the songs not in quite the same order in which they appear in the podcast. But the mixes are here — one, two, three. I've used these books for all the episodes involving Dylan: Dylan Goes Electric!: Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties by Elijah Wald, which is recommended, as all Wald's books are. Bob Dylan: All The Songs by Phillipe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon is a song-by-song look at every song Dylan ever wrote, as is Revolution in the Air, by Clinton Heylin. Heylin also wrote the most comprehensive and accurate biography of Dylan, Behind the Shades. I've also used Robert Shelton's No Direction Home, which is less accurate, but which is written by someone who knew Dylan. Chronicles Volume 1 by Bob Dylan is a partial, highly inaccurate, but thoroughly readable autobiography. Information on Tiny Tim comes from Eternal Troubadour: The Improbable Life of Tiny Tim by Justin Martell. Information on John Cage comes from The Roaring Silence by David Revill Information on Woodstock comes from Small Town Talk by Barney Hoskyns. For material on the Basement Tapes, I've used Million Dollar Bash by Sid Griffin. And for the Band, I've used This Wheel's on Fire by Levon Helm with Stephen Davis, Testimony by Robbie Robertson, The Band by Craig Harris and Levon by Sandra B Tooze. I've also referred to the documentaries No Direction Home and Once Were Brothers. The complete Basement Tapes can be found on this multi-disc box set, while this double-CD version has the best material from the sessions. All the surviving live recordings by Dylan and the Hawks from 1966 are on this box set. There are various deluxe versions of Music From Big Pink, but still the best way to get the original album is in this twofer CD with the Band's second album. Transcript Just a brief note before I start – literally while I was in the middle of recording this episode, it was announced that Robbie Robertson had died today, aged eighty. Obviously I've not had time to alter the rest of the episode – half of which had already been edited – with that in mind, though I don't believe I say anything disrespectful to his memory. My condolences to those who loved him – he was a huge talent and will be missed. There are people in the world who question the function of criticism. Those people argue that criticism is in many ways parasitic. If critics knew what they were talking about, so the argument goes, they would create themselves, rather than talk about other people's creation. It's a variant of the "those who can't, teach" cliche. And to an extent it's true. Certainly in the world of rock music, which we're talking about in this podcast, most critics are quite staggeringly ignorant of the things they're talking about. Most criticism is ephemeral, published in newspapers, magazines, blogs and podcasts, and forgotten as soon as it has been consumed -- and consumed is the word . But sometimes, just sometimes, a critic will have an effect on the world that is at least as important as that of any of the artists they criticise. One such critic was John Ruskin. Ruskin was one of the preeminent critics of visual art in the Victorian era, particularly specialising in painting and architecture, and he passionately advocated for a form of art that would be truthful, plain, and honest. To Ruskin's mind, many artists of the past, and of his time, drew and painted, not what they saw with their own eyes, but what other people expected them to paint. They replaced true observation of nature with the regurgitation of ever-more-mannered and formalised cliches. His attacks on many great artists were, in essence, the same critiques that are currently brought against AI art apps -- they're just recycling and plagiarising what other people had already done, not seeing with their own eyes and creating from their own vision. Ruskin was an artist himself, but never received much acclaim for his own work. Rather, he advocated for the works of others, like Turner and the pre-Raphaelite school -- the latter of whom were influenced by Ruskin, even as he admired them for seeing with their own vision rather than just repeating influences from others. But those weren't the only people Ruskin influenced. Because any critical project, properly understood, becomes about more than just the art -- as if art is just anything. Ruskin, for example, studied geology, because if you're going to talk about how people should paint landscapes and what those landscapes look like, you need to understand what landscapes really do look like, which means understanding their formation. He understood that art of the kind he wanted could only be produced by certain types of people, and so society had to be organised in a way to produce such people. Some types of societal organisation lead to some kinds of thinking and creation, and to properly, honestly, understand one branch of human thought means at least to attempt to understand all of them. Opinions about art have moral consequences, and morality has political and economic consequences. The inevitable endpoint of any theory of art is, ultimately, a theory of society. And Ruskin had a theory of society, and social organisation. Ruskin's views are too complex to summarise here, but they were a kind of anarcho-primitivist collectivism. He believed that wealth was evil, and that the classical liberal economics of people like Mill was fundamentally anti-human, that the division of labour alienated people from their work. In Ruskin's ideal world, people would gather in communities no bigger than villages, and work as craftspeople, working with nature rather than trying to bend nature to their will. They would be collectives, with none richer or poorer than any other, and working the land without modern technology. in the first half of the twentieth century, in particular, Ruskin's influence was *everywhere*. His writings on art inspired the Impressionist movement, but his political and economic ideas were the most influential, right across the political spectrum. Ruskin's ideas were closest to Christian socialism, and he did indeed inspire many socialist parties -- most of the founders of Britain's Labour Party were admirers of Ruskin and influenced by his ideas, particularly his opposition to the free market. But he inspired many other people -- Gandhi talked about the profound influence that Ruskin had on him, saying in his autobiography that he got three lessons from Ruskin's Unto This Last: "That 1) the good of the individual is contained in the good of all. 2) a lawyer's work has the same value as the barber's in as much as all have the same right of earning their livelihood from their work. 3) a life of labour, i.e., the life of the tiller of the soil and the handicraftsman is the life worth living. The first of these I knew. The second I had dimly realized. The third had never occurred to me. Unto This Last made it clear as daylight for me that the second and third were contained in the first. I arose with the dawn, ready to reduce these principles to practice" Gandhi translated and paraphrased Unto this Last into Gujurati and called the resulting book Sarvodaya (meaning "uplifting all" or "the welfare of all") which he later took as the name of his own political philosophy. But Ruskin also had a more pernicious influence -- it was said in 1930s Germany that he and his friend Thomas Carlyle were "the first National Socialists" -- there's no evidence I know of that Hitler ever read Ruskin, but a *lot* of Nazi rhetoric is implicit in Ruskin's writing, particularly in his opposition to progress (he even opposed the bicycle as being too much inhuman interference with nature), just as much as more admirable philosophies, and he was so widely read in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that there's barely a political movement anywhere that didn't bear his fingerprints. But of course, our focus here is on music. And Ruskin had an influence on that, too. We've talked in several episodes, most recently the one on the Velvet Underground, about John Cage's piece 4'33. What I didn't mention in any of the discussions of that piece -- because I was saving it for here -- is that that piece was premiered at a small concert hall in upstate New York. The hall, the Maverick Concert Hall, was owned and run by the Maverick arts and crafts collective -- a collective that were so called because they were the *second* Ruskinite arts colony in the area, having split off from the Byrdcliffe colony after a dispute between its three founders, all of whom were disciples of Ruskin, and all of whom disagreed violently about how to implement Ruskin's ideas of pacifist all-for-one and one-for-all community. These arts colonies, and others that grew up around them like the Arts Students League were the thriving centre of a Bohemian community -- close enough to New York that you could get there if you needed to, far enough away that you could live out your pastoral fantasies, and artists of all types flocked there -- Pete Seeger met his wife there, and his father-in-law had been one of the stonemasons who helped build the Maverick concert hall. Dozens of artists in all sorts of areas, from Aaron Copland to Edward G Robinson, spent time in these communities, as did Cage. Of course, while these arts and crafts communities had a reputation for Bohemianism and artistic extremism, even radical utopian artists have their limits, and legend has it that the premiere of 4'33 was met with horror and derision, and eventually led to one artist in the audience standing up and calling on the residents of the town around which these artistic colonies had agglomerated: “Good people of Woodstock, let's drive these people out of town.” [Excerpt: The Band, "The Weight"] Ronnie Hawkins was almost born to make music. We heard back in the episode on "Suzie Q" in 2019 about his family and their ties to music. Ronnie's uncle Del was, according to most of the sources on the family, a member of the Sons of the Pioneers -- though as I point out in that episode, his name isn't on any of the official lists of group members, but he might well have performed with them at some point in the early years of the group. And he was definitely a country music bass player, even if he *wasn't* in the most popular country and western group of the thirties and forties. And Del had had two sons, Jerry, who made some minor rockabilly records: [Excerpt: Jerry Hawkins, "Swing, Daddy, Swing"] And Del junior, who as we heard in the "Susie Q" episode became known as Dale Hawkins and made one of the most important rock records of the fifties: [Excerpt: Dale Hawkins, "Susie Q"] Ronnie Hawkins was around the same age as his cousins, and was in awe of his country-music star uncle. Hawkins later remembered that after his uncle moved to Califormia to become a star “He'd come home for a week or two, driving a brand new Cadillac and wearing brand new clothes and I knew that's what I wanted to be." Though he also remembered “He spent every penny he made on whiskey, and he was divorced because he was running around with all sorts of women. His wife left Arkansas and went to Louisiana.” Hawkins knew that he wanted to be a music star like his uncle, and he started performing at local fairs and other events from the age of eleven, including one performance where he substituted for Hank Williams -- Williams was so drunk that day he couldn't perform, and so his backing band asked volunteers from the audience to get up and sing with them, and Hawkins sang Burl Ives and minstrel-show songs with the band. He said later “Even back then I knew that every important white cat—Al Jolson, Stephen Foster—they all did it by copying blacks. Even Hank Williams learned all the stuff he had from those black cats in Alabama. Elvis Presley copied black music; that's all that Elvis did.” As well as being a performer from an early age, though, Hawkins was also an entrepreneur with an eye for how to make money. From the age of fourteen he started running liquor -- not moonshine, he would always point out, but something far safer. He lived only a few miles from the border between Missouri and Arkansas, and alcohol and tobacco were about half the price in Missouri that they were in Arkansas, so he'd drive across the border, load up on whisky and cigarettes, and drive back and sell them at a profit, which he then used to buy shares in several nightclubs, which he and his bands would perform in in later years. Like every man of his generation, Hawkins had to do six months in the Army, and it was there that he joined his first ever full-time band, the Blackhawks -- so called because his name was Hawkins, and the rest of the group were Black, though Hawkins was white. They got together when the other four members were performing at a club in the area where Hawkins was stationed, and he was so impressed with their music that he jumped on stage and started singing with them. He said later “It sounded like something between the blues and rockabilly. It sort of leaned in both directions at the same time, me being a hayseed and those guys playing a lot funkier." As he put it "I wanted to sound like Bobby ‘Blue' Bland but it came out sounding like Ernest Tubb.” Word got around about the Blackhawks, both that they were a great-sounding rock and roll band and that they were an integrated band at a time when that was extremely unpopular in the southern states, and when Hawkins was discharged from the Army he got a call from Sam Phillips at Sun Records. According to Hawkins a group of the regular Sun session musicians were planning on forming a band, and he was asked to front the band for a hundred dollars a week, but by the time he got there the band had fallen apart. This doesn't precisely line up with anything else I know about Sun, though it perhaps makes sense if Hawkins was being asked to front the band who had variously backed Billy Lee Riley and Jerry Lee Lewis after one of Riley's occasional threats to leave the label. More likely though, he told everyone he knew that he had a deal with Sun but Phillips was unimpressed with the demos he cut there, and Hawkins made up the story to stop himself losing face. One of the session players for Sun, though, Luke Paulman, who played in Conway Twitty's band among others, *was* impressed with Hawkins though, and suggested that they form a band together with Paulman's bass player brother George and piano-playing cousin Pop Jones. The Paulman brothers and Jones also came from Arkansas, but they specifically came from Helena, Arkansas, the town from which King Biscuit Time was broadcast. King Biscuit Time was the most important blues radio show in the US at that time -- a short lunchtime programme which featured live performances from a house band which varied over the years, but which in the 1940s had been led by Sonny Boy Williamson II, and featured Robert Jr. Lockwood, Robert Johnson's stepson, on guiitar: [Excerpt: Sonny Boy Williamson II "Eyesight to the Blind (King Biscuit Time)"] The band also included a drummer, "Peck" Curtis, and that drummer was the biggest inspiration for a young white man from the town named Levon Helm. Helm had first been inspired to make music after seeing Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys play live when Helm was eight, and he had soon taken up first the harmonica, then the guitar, then the drums, becoming excellent at all of them. Even as a child he knew that he didn't want to be a farmer like his family, and that music was, as he put it, "the only way to get off that stinking tractor and out of that one hundred and five degree heat.” Sonny Boy Williamson and the King Biscuit Boys would perform in the open air in Marvell, Arkansas, where Helm was growing up, on Saturdays, and Helm watched them regularly as a small child, and became particularly interested in the drumming. “As good as the band sounded,” he said later “it seemed that [Peck] was definitely having the most fun. I locked into the drums at that point. Later, I heard Jack Nance, Conway Twitty's drummer, and all the great drummers in Memphis—Jimmy Van Eaton, Al Jackson, and Willie Hall—the Chicago boys (Fred Belew and Clifton James) and the people at Sun Records and Vee-Jay, but most of my style was based on Peck and Sonny Boy—the Delta blues style with the shuffle. Through the years, I've quickened the pace to a more rock-and-roll meter and time frame, but it still bases itself back to Peck, Sonny Boy Williamson, and the King Biscuit Boys.” Helm had played with another band that George Paulman had played in, and he was invited to join the fledgling band Hawkins was putting together, called for the moment the Sun Records Quartet. The group played some of the clubs Hawkins had business connections in, but they had other plans -- Conway Twitty had recently played Toronto, and had told Luke Paulman about how desperate the Canadians were for American rock and roll music. Twitty's agent Harold Kudlets booked the group in to a Toronto club, Le Coq D'Or, and soon the group were alternating between residencies in clubs in the Deep South, where they were just another rockabilly band, albeit one of the better ones, and in Canada, where they became the most popular band in Ontario, and became the nucleus of an entire musical scene -- the same scene from which, a few years later, people like Neil Young would emerge. George Paulman didn't remain long in the group -- he was apparently getting drunk, and also he was a double-bass player, at a time when the electric bass was becoming the in thing. And this is the best place to mention this, but there are several discrepancies in the various accounts of which band members were in Hawkins' band at which times, and who played on what session. They all *broadly* follow the same lines, but none of them are fully reconcilable with each other, and nobody was paying enough attention to lineup shifts in a bar band between 1957 and 1964 to be absolutely certain who was right. I've tried to reconcile the various accounts as far as possible and make a coherent narrative, but some of the details of what follows may be wrong, though the broad strokes are correct. For much of their first period in Ontario, the group had no bass player at all, relying on Jones' piano to fill in the bass parts, and on their first recording, a version of "Bo Diddley", they actually got the club's manager to play bass with them: [Excerpt: Ronnie Hawkins, "Hey Bo Diddley"] That is claimed to be the first rock and roll record made in Canada, though as everyone who has listened to this podcast knows, there's no first anything. It wasn't released as by the Sun Records Quartet though -- the band had presumably realised that that name would make them much less attractive to other labels, and so by this point the Sun Records Quartet had become Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks. "Hey Bo Diddley" was released on a small Canadian label and didn't have any success, but the group carried on performing live, travelling back down to Arkansas for a while and getting a new bass player, Lefty Evans, who had been playing in the same pool of musicians as them, having been another Sun session player who had been in Conway Twitty's band, and had written Twitty's "Why Can't I Get Through to You": [Excerpt: Conway Twitty, "Why Can't I Get Through to You"] The band were now popular enough in Canada that they were starting to get heard of in America, and through Kudlets they got a contract with Joe Glaser, a Mafia-connected booking agent who booked them into gigs on the Jersey Shore. As Helm said “Ronnie Hawkins had molded us into the wildest, fiercest, speed-driven bar band in America," and the group were apparently getting larger audiences in New Jersey than Sammy Davis Jr was, even though they hadn't released any records in the US. Or at least, they hadn't released any records in their own name in the US. There's a record on End Records by Rockin' Ronald and the Rebels which is very strongly rumoured to have been the Hawks under another name, though Hawkins always denied that. Have a listen for yourself and see what you think: [Excerpt: Rockin' Ronald and the Rebels, "Kansas City"] End Records, the label that was on, was one of the many record labels set up by George Goldner and distributed by Morris Levy, and when the group did release a record in their home country under their own name, it was on Levy's Roulette Records. An audition for Levy had been set up by Glaser's booking company, and Levy decided that given that Elvis was in the Army, there was a vacancy to be filled and Ronnie Hawkins might just fit the bill. Hawkins signed a contract with Levy, and it doesn't sound like he had much choice in the matter. Helm asked him “How long did you have to sign for?” and Hawkins replied "Life with an option" That said, unlike almost every other artist who interacted with Levy, Hawkins never had a bad word to say about him, at least in public, saying later “I don't care what Morris was supposed to have done, he looked after me and he believed in me. I even lived with him in his million-dollar apartment on the Upper East Side." The first single the group recorded for Roulette, a remake of Chuck Berry's "Thirty Days" retitled "Forty Days", didn't chart, but the follow-up, a version of Young Jessie's "Mary Lou", made number twenty-six on the charts: [Excerpt: Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, "Mary Lou"] While that was a cover of a Young Jessie record, the songwriting credits read Hawkins and Magill -- Magill was a pseudonym used by Morris Levy. Levy hoped to make Ronnie Hawkins into a really big star, but hit a snag. This was just the point where the payola scandal had hit and record companies were under criminal investigation for bribing DJs to play their records. This was the main method of promotion that Levy used, and this was so well known that Levy was, for a time, under more scrutiny than anyone. He couldn't risk paying anyone off, and so Hawkins' records didn't get the expected airplay. The group went through some lineup changes, too, bringing in guitarist Fred Carter (with Luke Paulman moving to rhythm and soon leaving altogether) from Hawkins' cousin Dale's band, and bass player Jimmy Evans. Some sources say that Jones quit around this time, too, though others say he was in the band for a while longer, and they had two keyboards (the other keyboard being supplied by Stan Szelest. As well as recording Ronnie Hawkins singles, the new lineup of the group also recorded one single with Carter on lead vocals, "My Heart Cries": [Excerpt: Fred Carter, "My Heart Cries"] While the group were now playing more shows in the USA, they were still playing regularly in Canada, and they had developed a huge fanbase there. One of these was a teenage guitarist called Robbie Robertson, who had become fascinated with the band after playing a support slot for them, and had started hanging round, trying to ingratiate himself with the band in the hope of being allowed to join. As he was a teenager, Hawkins thought he might have his finger on the pulse of the youth market, and when Hawkins and Helm travelled to the Brill Building to hear new songs for consideration for their next album, they brought Robertson along to listen to them and give his opinion. Robertson himself ended up contributing two songs to the album, titled Mr. Dynamo. According to Hawkins "we had a little time after the session, so I thought, Well, I'm just gonna put 'em down and see what happens. And they were released. Robbie was the songwriter for words, and Levon was good for arranging, making things fit in and all that stuff. He knew what to do, but he didn't write anything." The two songs in question were "Someone Like You" and "Hey Boba Lou": [Excerpt: Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, "Hey Boba Lou"] While Robertson was the sole writer of the songs, they were credited to Robertson, Hawkins, and Magill -- Morris Levy. As Robertson told the story later, “It's funny, when those songs came out and I got a copy of the album, it had another name on there besides my name for some writer like Morris Levy. So, I said to Ronnie, “There was nobody there writing these songs when I wrote these songs. Who is Morris Levy?” Ronnie just kinda tapped me on the head and said, “There are certain things about this business that you just let go and you don't question.” That was one of my early music industry lessons right there" Robertson desperately wanted to join the Hawks, but initially it was Robertson's bandmate Scott Cushnie who became the first Canadian to join the Hawks. But then when they were in Arkansas, Jimmy Evans decided he wasn't going to go back to Canada. So Hawkins called Robbie Robertson up and made him an offer. Robertson had to come down to Arkansas and get a couple of quick bass lessons from Helm (who could play pretty much every instrument to an acceptable standard, and so was by this point acting as the group's musical director, working out arrangements and leading them in rehearsals). Then Hawkins and Helm had to be elsewhere for a few weeks. If, when they got back, Robertson was good enough on bass, he had the job. If not, he didn't. Robertson accepted, but he nearly didn't get the gig after all. The place Hawkins and Helm had to be was Britain, where they were going to be promoting their latest single on Boy Meets Girls, the Jack Good TV series with Marty Wilde, which featured guitarist Joe Brown in the backing band: [Excerpt: Joe Brown, “Savage”] This was the same series that Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent were regularly appearing on, and while they didn't appear on the episodes that Hawkins and Helm appeared on, they did appear on the episodes immediately before Hawkins and Helm's two appearances, and again a couple of weeks after, and were friendly with the musicians who did play with Hawkins and Helm, and apparently they all jammed together a few times. Hawkins was impressed enough with Joe Brown -- who at the time was considered the best guitarist on the British scene -- that he invited Brown to become a Hawk. Presumably if Brown had taken him up on the offer, he would have taken the spot that ended up being Robertson's, but Brown turned him down -- a decision he apparently later regretted. Robbie Robertson was now a Hawk, and he and Helm formed an immediate bond. As Helm much later put it, "It was me and Robbie against the world. Our mission, as we saw it, was to put together the best band in history". As rockabilly was by this point passe, Levy tried converting Hawkins into a folk artist, to see if he could get some of the Kingston Trio's audience. He recorded a protest song, "The Ballad of Caryl Chessman", protesting the then-forthcoming execution of Chessman (one of only a handful of people to be executed in the US in recent decades for non-lethal offences), and he made an album of folk tunes, The Folk Ballads of Ronnie Hawkins, which largely consisted of solo acoustic recordings, plus a handful of left-over Hawks recordings from a year or so earlier. That wasn't a success, but they also tried a follow-up, having Hawkins go country and do an album of Hank Williams songs, recorded in Nashville at Owen Bradley's Quonset hut. While many of the musicians on the album were Nashville A-Team players, Hawkins also insisted on having his own band members perform, much to the disgust of the producer, and so it's likely (not certain, because there seem to be various disagreements about what was recorded when) that that album features the first studio recordings with Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson playing together: [Excerpt: Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, "Your Cheatin' Heart"] Other sources claim that the only Hawk allowed to play on the album sessions was Helm, and that the rest of the musicians on the album were Harold Bradley and Hank Garland on guitar, Owen Bradley and Floyd Cramer on piano, Bob Moore on bass, and the Anita Kerr singers. I tend to trust Helm's recollection that the Hawks played at least some of the instruments though, because the source claiming that also seems to confuse the Hank Williams and Folk Ballads albums, and because I don't hear two pianos on the album. On the other hand, that *does* sound like Floyd Cramer on piano, and the tik-tok bass sound you'd get from having Harold Bradley play a baritone guitar while Bob Moore played a bass. So my best guess is that these sessions were like the Elvis sessions around the same time and with several of the same musicians, where Elvis' own backing musicians played rhythm parts but left the prominent instruments to the A-team players. Helm was singularly unimpressed with the experience of recording in Nashville. His strongest memory of the sessions was of another session going on in the same studio complex at the time -- Bobby "Blue" Bland was recording his classic single "Turn On Your Love Light", with the great drummer Jabo Starks on drums, and Helm was more interested in listening to that than he was in the music they were playing: [Excerpt: Bobby "Blue" Bland, "Turn On Your Love Light"] Incidentally, Helm talks about that recording being made "downstairs" from where the Hawks were recording, but also says that they were recording in Bradley's Quonset hut. Now, my understanding here *could* be very wrong -- I've been unable to find a plan or schematic anywhere -- but my understanding is that the Quonset hut was a single-level structure, not a multi-level structure. BUT the original recording facilities run by the Bradley brothers were in Owen Bradley's basement, before they moved into the larger Quonset hut facility in the back, so it's possible that Bland was recording that in the old basement studio. If so, that won't be the last recording made in a basement we hear this episode... Fred Carter decided during the Nashville sessions that he was going to leave the Hawks. As his son told the story: "Dad had discovered the session musicians there. He had no idea that you could play and make a living playing in studios and sleep in your own bed every night. By that point in his life, he'd already been gone from home and constantly on the road and in the service playing music for ten years so that appealed to him greatly. And Levon asked him, he said, “If you're gonna leave, Fred, I'd like you to get young Robbie over here up to speed on guitar”…[Robbie] got kind of aggravated with him—and Dad didn't say this with any malice—but by the end of that week, or whatever it was, Robbie made some kind of comment about “One day I'm gonna cut you.” And Dad said, “Well, if that's how you think about it, the lessons are over.” " (For those who don't know, a musician "cutting" another one is playing better than them, so much better that the worse musician has to concede defeat. For the remainder of Carter's notice in the Hawks, he played with his back to Robertson, refusing to look at him. Carter leaving the group caused some more shuffling of roles. For a while, Levon Helm -- who Hawkins always said was the best lead guitar player he ever worked with as well as the best drummer -- tried playing lead guitar while Robertson played rhythm and another member, Rebel Payne, played bass, but they couldn't find a drummer to replace Helm, who moved back onto the drums. Then they brought in Roy Buchanan, another guitarist who had been playing with Dale Hawkins, having started out playing with Johnny Otis' band. But Buchanan didn't fit with Hawkins' personality, and he quit after a few months, going off to record his own first solo record: [Excerpt: Roy Buchanan, "Mule Train Stomp"] Eventually they solved the lineup problem by having Robertson -- by this point an accomplished lead player --- move to lead guitar and bringing in a new rhythm player, another Canadian teenager named Rick Danko, who had originally been a lead player (and who also played mandolin and fiddle). Danko wasn't expected to stay on rhythm long though -- Rebel Payne was drinking a lot and missing being at home when he was out on the road, so Danko was brought in on the understanding that he was to learn Payne's bass parts and switch to bass when Payne quit. Helm and Robertson were unsure about Danko, and Robertson expressed that doubt, saying "He only knows four chords," to which Hawkins replied, "That's all right son. You can teach him four more the way we had to teach you." He proved himself by sheer hard work. As Hawkins put it “He practiced so much that his arms swoll up. He was hurting.” By the time Danko switched to bass, the group also had a baritone sax player, Jerry Penfound, which allowed the group to play more of the soul and R&B material that Helm and Robertson favoured, though Hawkins wasn't keen. This new lineup of the group (which also had Stan Szelest on piano) recorded Hawkins' next album. This one was produced by Henry Glover, the great record producer, songwriter, and trumpet player who had played with Lucky Millinder, produced Wynonie Harris, Hank Ballard, and Moon Mullican, and wrote "Drowning in My Own Tears", "The Peppermint Twist", and "California Sun". Glover was massively impressed with the band, especially Helm (with whom he would remain friends for the rest of his life) and set aside some studio time for them to cut some tracks without Hawkins, to be used as album filler, including a version of the Bobby "Blue" Bland song "Farther On Up the Road" with Helm on lead vocals: [Excerpt: Levon Helm and the Hawks, "Farther On Up the Road"] There were more changes on the way though. Stan Szelest was about to leave the band, and Jones had already left, so the group had no keyboard player. Hawkins had just the replacement for Szelest -- yet another Canadian teenager. This one was Richard Manuel, who played piano and sang in a band called The Rockin' Revols. Manuel was not the greatest piano player around -- he was an adequate player for simple rockabilly and R&B stuff, but hardly a virtuoso -- but he was an incredible singer, able to do a version of "Georgia on My Mind" which rivalled Ray Charles, and Hawkins had booked the Revols into his own small circuit of clubs around Arkanasas after being impressed with them on the same bill as the Hawks a couple of times. Hawkins wanted someone with a good voice because he was increasingly taking a back seat in performances. Hawkins was the bandleader and frontman, but he'd often given Helm a song or two to sing in the show, and as they were often playing for several hours a night, the more singers the band had the better. Soon, with Helm, Danko, and Manuel all in the group and able to take lead vocals, Hawkins would start missing entire shows, though he still got more money than any of his backing group. Hawkins was also a hard taskmaster, and wanted to have the best band around. He already had great musicians, but he wanted them to be *the best*. And all the musicians in his band were now much younger than him, with tons of natural talent, but untrained. What he needed was someone with proper training, someone who knew theory and technique. He'd been trying for a long time to get someone like that, but Garth Hudson had kept turning him down. Hudson was older than any of the Hawks, though younger than Hawkins, and he was a multi-instrumentalist who was far better than any other musician on the circuit, having trained in a conservatory and learned how to play Bach and Chopin before switching to rock and roll. He thought the Hawks were too loud sounding and played too hard for him, but Helm kept on at Hawkins to meet any demands Hudson had, and Hawkins eventually agreed to give Hudson a higher wage than any of the other band members, buy him a new Lowry organ, and give him an extra ten dollars a week to give the rest of the band music lessons. Hudson agreed, and the Hawks now had a lineup of Helm on drums, Robertson on guitar, Manuel on piano, Danko on bass, Hudson on organ and alto sax, and Penfound on baritone sax. But these new young musicians were beginning to wonder why they actually needed a frontman who didn't turn up to many of the gigs, kept most of the money, and fined them whenever they broke one of his increasingly stringent set of rules. Indeed, they wondered why they needed a frontman at all. They already had three singers -- and sometimes a fourth, a singer called Bruce Bruno who would sometimes sit in with them when Penfound was unable to make a gig. They went to see Harold Kudlets, who Hawkins had recently sacked as his manager, and asked him if he could get them gigs for the same amount of money as they'd been getting with Hawkins. Kudlets was astonished to find how little Hawkins had been paying them, and told them that would be no problem at all. They had no frontman any more -- and made it a rule in all their contracts that the word "sideman" would never be used -- but Helm had been the leader for contractual purposes, as the musical director and longest-serving member (Hawkins, as a non-playing singer, had never joined the Musicians' Union so couldn't be the leader on contracts). So the band that had been Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks became the Levon Helm Sextet briefly -- but Penfound soon quit, and they became Levon and the Hawks. The Hawks really started to find their identity as their own band in 1964. They were already far more interested in playing soul than Hawkins had been, but they were also starting to get into playing soul *jazz*, especially after seeing the Cannonball Adderley Sextet play live: [Excerpt: Cannonball Adderley, "This Here"] What the group admired about the Adderley group more than anything else was a sense of restraint. Helm was particularly impressed with their drummer, Louie Hayes, and said of him "I got to see some great musicians over the years, and you see somebody like that play and you can tell, y' know, that the thing not to do is to just get it down on the floor and stomp the hell out of it!" The other influence they had, and one which would shape their sound even more, was a negative one. The two biggest bands on the charts at the time were the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and as Helm described it in his autobiography, the Hawks thought both bands' harmonies were "a blend of pale, homogenised, voices". He said "We felt we were better than the Beatles and the Beach Boys. We considered them our rivals, even though they'd never heard of us", and they decided to make their own harmonies sound as different as possible as a result. Where those groups emphasised a vocal blend, the Hawks were going to emphasise the *difference* in their voices in their own harmonies. The group were playing prestigious venues like the Peppermint Lounge, and while playing there they met up with John Hammond Jr, who they'd met previously in Canada. As you might remember from the first episode on Bob Dylan, Hammond Jr was the son of the John Hammond who we've talked about in many episodes, and was a blues musician in his own right. He invited Helm, Robertson, and Hudson to join the musicians, including Michael Bloomfield, who were playing on his new album, So Many Roads: [Excerpt: John P. Hammond, "Who Do You Love?"] That album was one of the inspirations that led Bob Dylan to start making electric rock music and to hire Bloomfield as his guitarist, decisions that would have profound implications for the Hawks. The first single the Hawks recorded for themselves after leaving Hawkins was produced by Henry Glover, and both sides were written by Robbie Robertson. "uh Uh Uh" shows the influence of the R&B bands they were listening to. What it reminds me most of is the material Ike and Tina Turner were playing at the time, but at points I think I can also hear the influence of Curtis Mayfield and Steve Cropper, who were rapidly becoming Robertson's favourite songwriters: [Excerpt: The Canadian Squires, "Uh Uh Uh"] None of the band were happy with that record, though. They'd played in the studio the same way they played live, trying to get a strong bass presence, but it just sounded bottom-heavy to them when they heard the record on a jukebox. That record was released as by The Canadian Squires -- according to Robertson, that was a name that the label imposed on them for the record, while according to Helm it was an alternative name they used so they could get bookings in places they'd only recently played, which didn't want the same band to play too often. One wonders if there was any confusion with the band Neil Young played in a year or so before that single... Around this time, the group also met up with Helm's old musical inspiration Sonny Boy Williamson II, who was impressed enough with them that there was some talk of them being his backing band (and it was in this meeting that Williamson apparently told Robertson "those English boys want to play the blues so bad, and they play the blues *so bad*", speaking of the bands who'd backed him in the UK, like the Yardbirds and the Animals). But sadly, Williamson died in May 1965 before any of these plans had time to come to fruition. Every opportunity for the group seemed to be closing up, even as they knew they were as good as any band around them. They had an offer from Aaron Schroeder, who ran Musicor Records but was more importantly a songwriter and publisher who had written for Elvis Presley and published Gene Pitney. Schroeder wanted to sign the Hawks as a band and Robertson as a songwriter, but Henry Glover looked over the contracts for them, and told them "If you sign this you'd better be able to pay each other, because nobody else is going to be paying you". What happened next is the subject of some controversy, because as these things tend to go, several people became aware of the Hawks at the same time, but it's generally considered that nothing would have happened the same way were it not for Mary Martin. Martin is a pivotal figure in music business history -- among other things she discovered Leonard Cohen and Gordon Lightfoot, managed Van Morrison, and signed Emmylou Harris to Warner Brothers records -- but a somewhat unknown one who doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. Martin was from Toronto, but had moved to New York, where she was working in Albert Grossman's office, but she still had many connections to Canadian musicians and kept an eye out for them. The group had sent demo tapes to Grossman's offices, and Grossman had had no interest in them, but Martin was a fan and kept pushing the group on Grossman and his associates. One of those associates, of course, was Grossman's client Bob Dylan. As we heard in the episode on "Like a Rolling Stone", Dylan had started making records with electric backing, with musicians who included Mike Bloomfield, who had played with several of the Hawks on the Hammond album, and Al Kooper, who was a friend of the band. Martin gave Richard Manuel a copy of Dylan's new electric album Highway 61 Revisited, and he enjoyed it, though the rest of the group were less impressed: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Highway 61 Revisited"] Dylan had played the Newport Folk Festival with some of the same musicians as played on his records, but Bloomfield in particular was more interested in continuing to play with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band than continuing with Dylan long-term. Mary Martin kept telling Dylan about this Canadian band she knew who would be perfect for him, and various people associated with the Grossman organisation, including Hammond, have claimed to have been sent down to New Jersey where the Hawks were playing to check them out in their live setting. The group have also mentioned that someone who looked a lot like Dylan was seen at some of their shows. Eventually, Dylan phoned Helm up and made an offer. He didn't need a full band at the moment -- he had Harvey Brooks on bass and Al Kooper on keyboards -- but he did need a lead guitar player and drummer for a couple of gigs he'd already booked, one in Forest Hills, New York, and a bigger gig at the Hollywood Bowl. Helm, unfamiliar with Dylan's work, actually asked Howard Kudlets if Dylan was capable of filling the Hollywood Bowl. The musicians rehearsed together and got a set together for the shows. Robertson and Helm thought the band sounded terrible, but Dylan liked the sound they were getting a lot. The audience in Forest Hills agreed with the Hawks, rather than Dylan, or so it would appear. As we heard in the "Like a Rolling Stone" episode, Dylan's turn towards rock music was *hated* by the folk purists who saw him as some sort of traitor to the movement, a movement whose figurehead he had become without wanting to. There were fifteen thousand people in the audience, and they listened politely enough to the first set, which Dylan played acoustically, But before the second set -- his first ever full electric set, rather than the very abridged one at Newport -- he told the musicians “I don't know what it will be like out there It's going to be some kind of carnival and I want you to all know that up front. So go out there and keep playing no matter how weird it gets!” There's a terrible-quality audience recording of that show in circulation, and you can hear the crowd's reaction to the band and to the new material: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Ballad of a Thin Man" (live Forest Hills 1965, audience noise only)] The audience also threw things at the musicians, knocking Al Kooper off his organ stool at one point. While Robertson remembered the Hollywood Bowl show as being an equally bad reaction, Helm remembered the audience there as being much more friendly, and the better-quality recording of that show seems to side with Helm: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Maggie's Farm (live at the Hollywood Bowl 1965)"] After those two shows, Helm and Robertson went back to their regular gig. and in September they made another record. This one, again produced by Glover, was for Atlantic's Atco subsidiary, and was released as by Levon and the Hawks. Manuel took lead, and again both songs were written by Robertson: [Excerpt: Levon and the Hawks, "He Don't Love You (And He'll Break Your Heart)"] But again that record did nothing. Dylan was about to start his first full electric tour, and while Helm and Robertson had not thought the shows they'd played sounded particularly good, Dylan had, and he wanted the two of them to continue with him. But Robertson and, especially, Helm, were not interested in being someone's sidemen. They explained to Dylan that they already had a band -- Levon and the Hawks -- and he would take all of them or he would take none of them. Helm in particular had not been impressed with Dylan's music -- Helm was fundamentally an R&B fan, while Dylan's music was rooted in genres he had little time for -- but he was OK with doing it, so long as the entire band got to. As Mary Martin put it “I think that the wonderful and the splendid heart of the band, if you will, was Levon, and I think he really sort of said, ‘If it's just myself as drummer and Robbie…we're out. We don't want that. It's either us, the band, or nothing.' And you know what? Good for him.” Rather amazingly, Dylan agreed. When the band's residency in New Jersey finished, they headed back to Toronto to play some shows there, and Dylan flew up and rehearsed with them after each show. When the tour started, the billing was "Bob Dylan with Levon and the Hawks". That billing wasn't to last long. Dylan had been booked in for nine months of touring, and was also starting work on what would become widely considered the first double album in rock music history, Blonde on Blonde, and the original plan was that Levon and the Hawks would play with him throughout that time. The initial recording sessions for the album produced nothing suitable for release -- the closest was "I Wanna Be Your Lover", a semi-parody of the Beatles' "I Want to be Your Man": [Excerpt: Bob Dylan with Levon and the Hawks, "I Wanna Be Your Lover"] But shortly into the tour, Helm quit. The booing had continued, and had even got worse, and Helm simply wasn't in the business to be booed at every night. Also, his whole conception of music was that you dance to it, and nobody was dancing to any of this. Helm quit the band, only telling Robertson of his plans, and first went off to LA, where he met up with some musicians from Oklahoma who had enjoyed seeing the Hawks when they'd played that state and had since moved out West -- people like Leon Russell, J.J. Cale (not John Cale of the Velvet Underground, but the one who wrote "Cocaine" which Eric Clapton later had a hit with), and John Ware (who would later go on to join the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band). They started loosely jamming with each other, sometimes also involving a young singer named Linda Ronstadt, but Helm eventually decided to give up music and go and work on an oil rig in New Orleans. Levon and the Hawks were now just the Hawks. The rest of the group soldiered on, replacing Helm with session drummer Bobby Gregg (who had played on Dylan's previous couple of albums, and had previously played with Sun Ra), and played on the initial sessions for Blonde on Blonde. But of those sessions, Dylan said a few weeks later "Oh, I was really down. I mean, in ten recording sessions, man, we didn't get one song ... It was the band. But you see, I didn't know that. I didn't want to think that" One track from the sessions did get released -- the non-album single "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?"] There's some debate as to exactly who's playing drums on that -- Helm says in his autobiography that it's him, while the credits in the official CD releases tend to say it's Gregg. Either way, the track was an unexpected flop, not making the top forty in the US, though it made the top twenty in the UK. But the rest of the recordings with the now Helmless Hawks were less successful. Dylan was trying to get his new songs across, but this was a band who were used to playing raucous music for dancing, and so the attempts at more subtle songs didn't come off the way he wanted: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan and the Hawks, "Visions of Johanna (take 5, 11-30-1965)"] Only one track from those initial New York sessions made the album -- "One Of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)" -- but even that only featured Robertson and Danko of the Hawks, with the rest of the instruments being played by session players: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan (One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)"] The Hawks were a great live band, but great live bands are not necessarily the same thing as a great studio band. And that's especially the case with someone like Dylan. Dylan was someone who was used to recording entirely on his own, and to making records *quickly*. In total, for his fifteen studio albums up to 1974's Blood on the Tracks, Dylan spent a total of eighty-six days in the studio -- by comparison, the Beatles spent over a hundred days in the studio just on the Sgt Pepper album. It's not that the Hawks weren't a good band -- very far from it -- but that studio recording requires a different type of discipline, and that's doubly the case when you're playing with an idiosyncratic player like Dylan. The Hawks would remain Dylan's live backing band, but he wouldn't put out a studio recording with them backing him until 1974. Instead, Bob Johnston, the producer Dylan was working with, suggested a different plan. On his previous album, the Nashville session player Charlie McCoy had guested on "Desolation Row" and Dylan had found him easy to work with. Johnston lived in Nashville, and suggested that they could get the album completed more quickly and to Dylan's liking by using Nashville A-Team musicians. Dylan agreed to try it, and for the rest of the album he had Robertson on lead guitar and Al Kooper on keyboards, but every other musician was a Nashville session player, and they managed to get Dylan's songs recorded quickly and the way he heard them in his head: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine"] Though Dylan being Dylan he did try to introduce an element of randomness to the recordings by having the Nashville musicians swap their instruments around and play each other's parts on "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35", though the Nashville players were still competent enough that they managed to get a usable, if shambolic, track recorded that way in a single take: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35"] Dylan said later of the album "The closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the Blonde on Blonde album. It's that thin, that wild mercury sound. It's metallic and bright gold, with whatever that conjures up." The album was released in late June 1966, a week before Freak Out! by the Mothers of Invention, another double album, produced by Dylan's old producer Tom Wilson, and a few weeks after Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys. Dylan was at the forefront of a new progressive movement in rock music, a movement that was tying thoughtful, intelligent lyrics to studio experimentation and yet somehow managing to have commercial success. And a month after Blonde on Blonde came out, he stepped away from that position, and would never fully return to it. The first half of 1966 was taken up with near-constant touring, with Dylan backed by the Hawks and a succession of fill-in drummers -- first Bobby Gregg, then Sandy Konikoff, then Mickey Jones. This tour started in the US and Canada, with breaks for recording the album, and then moved on to Australia and Europe. The shows always followed the same pattern. First Dylan would perform an acoustic set, solo, with just an acoustic guitar and harmonica, which would generally go down well with the audience -- though sometimes they would get restless, prompting a certain amount of resistance from the performer: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Just Like a Woman (live Paris 1966)"] But the second half of each show was electric, and that was where the problems would arise. The Hawks were playing at the top of their game -- some truly stunning performances: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan and the Hawks, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (live in Liverpool 1966)"] But while the majority of the audience was happy to hear the music, there was a vocal portion that were utterly furious at the change in Dylan's musical style. Most notoriously, there was the performance at Manchester Free Trade Hall where this happened: [Excerpt: Bob Dylan, "Like a Rolling Stone (live Manchester 1966)"] That kind of aggression from the audience had the effect of pushing the band on to greater heights a lot of the time -- and a bootleg of that show, mislabelled as the Royal Albert Hall, became one of the most legendary bootlegs in rock music history. Jimmy Page would apparently buy a copy of the bootleg every time he saw one, thinking it was the best album ever made. But while Dylan and the Hawks played defiantly, that kind of audience reaction gets wearing. As Dylan later said, “Judas, the most hated name in human history, and for what—for playing an electric guitar. As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord, and delivering him up to be crucified; all those evil mothers can rot in hell.” And this wasn't the only stress Dylan, in particular, was under. D.A. Pennebaker was making a documentary of the tour -- a follow-up to his documentary of the 1965 tour, which had not yet come out. Dylan talked about the 1965 documentary, Don't Look Back, as being Pennebaker's film of Dylan, but this was going to be Dylan's film, with him directing the director. That footage shows Dylan as nervy and anxious, and covering for the anxiety with a veneer of flippancy. Some of Dylan's behaviour on both tours is unpleasant in ways that can't easily be justified (and which he has later publicly regretted), but there's also a seeming cruelty to some of his interactions with the press and public that actually reads more as frustration. Over and over again he's asked questions -- about being the voice of a generation or the leader of a protest movement -- which are simply based on incorrect premises. When someone asks you a question like this, there are only a few options you can take, none of them good. You can dissect the question, revealing the incorrect premises, and then answer a different question that isn't what they asked, which isn't really an option at all given the kind of rapid-fire situation Dylan was in. You can answer the question as asked, which ends up being dishonest. Or you can be flip and dismissive, which is the tactic Dylan chose. Dylan wasn't the only one -- this is basically what the Beatles did at press conferences. But where the Beatles were a gang and so came off as being fun, Dylan doing the same thing came off as arrogant and aggressive. One of the most famous artifacts of the whole tour is a long piece of footage recorded for the documentary, with Dylan and John Lennon riding in the back of a taxi, both clearly deeply uncomfortable, trying to be funny and impress the other, but neither actually wanting to be there: [Excerpt Dylan and Lennon conversation] 33) Part of the reason Dylan wanted to go home was that he had a whole new lifestyle. Up until 1964 he had been very much a city person, but as he had grown more famous, he'd found New York stifling. Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary had a cabin in Woodstock, where he'd grown up, and after Dylan had spent a month there in summer 1964, he'd fallen in love with the area. Albert Grossman had also bought a home there, on Yarrow's advice, and had given Dylan free run of the place, and Dylan had decided he wanted to move there permanently and bought his own home there. He had also married, to Sara Lowndes (whose name is, as far as I can tell, pronounced "Sarah" even though it's spelled "Sara"), and she had given birth to his first child (and he had adopted her child from her previous marriage). Very little is actually known about Sara, who unlike many other partners of rock stars at this point seemed positively to detest the limelight, and whose privacy Dylan has continued to respect even after the end of their marriage in the late seventies, but it's apparent that the two were very much in love, and that Dylan wanted to be back with his wife and kids, in the country, not going from one strange city to another being asked insipid questions and having abuse screamed at him. He was also tired of the pressure to produce work constantly. He'd signed a contract for a novel, called Tarantula, which he'd written a draft of but was unhappy with, and he'd put out two single albums and a double-album in a little over a year -- all of them considered among the greatest albums ever made. He could only keep up this rate of production and performance with a large intake of speed, and he was sometimes staying up for four days straight to do so. After the European leg of the tour, Dylan was meant to take some time to finish overdubs on Blonde on Blonde, edit the film of the tour for a TV special, with his friend Howard Alk, and proof the galleys for Tarantula, before going on a second world tour in the autumn. That world tour never happened. Dylan was in a motorcycle accident near his home, and had to take time out to recover. There has been a lot of discussion as to how serious the accident actually was, because Dylan's manager Albert Grossman was known to threaten to break contracts by claiming his performers were sick, and because Dylan essentially disappeared from public view for the next eighteen months. Every possible interpretation of the events has been put about by someone, from Dylan having been close to death, to the entire story being put up as a fake. As Dylan is someone who is far more protective of his privacy than most rock stars, it's doubtful we'll ever know the precise truth, but putting together the various accounts Dylan's injuries were bad but not life-threatening, but they acted as a wake-up call -- if he carried on living like he had been, how much longer could he continue? in his sort-of autobiography, Chronicles, Dylan described this period, saying "I had been in a motorcycle accident and I'd been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race. Having children changed my life and segregated me from just about everybody and everything that was going on. Outside of my family, nothing held any real interest for me and I was seeing everything through different glasses." All his forthcoming studio and tour dates were cancelled, and Dylan took the time out to recover, and to work on his film, Eat the Document. But it's clear that nobody was sure at first exactly how long Dylan's hiatus from touring was going to last. As it turned out, he wouldn't do another tour until the mid-seventies, and would barely even play any one-off gigs in the intervening time. But nobody knew that at the time, and so to be on the safe side the Hawks were being kept on a retainer. They'd always intended to work on their own music anyway -- they didn't just want to be anyone's backing band -- so they took this time to kick a few ideas around, but they were hamstrung by the fact that it was difficult to find rehearsal space in New York City, and they didn't have any gigs. Their main musical work in the few months between summer 1966 and spring 1967 was some recordings for the soundtrack of a film Peter Yarrow was making. You Are What You Eat is a bizarre hippie collage of a film, documenting the counterculture between 1966 when Yarrow started making it and 1968 when it came out. Carl Franzoni, one of the leaders of the LA freak movement that we've talked about in episodes on the Byrds, Love, and the Mothers of Invention, said of the film “If you ever see this movie you'll understand what ‘freaks' are. It'll let you see the L.A. freaks, the San Francisco freaks, and the New York freaks. It was like a documentary and it was about the makings of what freaks were about. And it had a philosophy, a very definite philosophy: that you are free-spirited, artistic." It's now most known for introducing the song "My Name is Jack" by John Simon, the film's music supervisor: [Excerpt: John Simon, "My Name is Jack"] That song would go on to be a top ten hit in the UK for Manfred Mann: [Excerpt: Manfred Mann, "My Name is Jack"] The Hawks contributed backing music for several songs for the film, in which they acted as backing band for another old Greenwich Village folkie who had been friends with Yarrow and Dylan but who was not yet the star he would soon become, Tiny Tim: [Excerpt: Tiny Tim, "Sonny Boy"] This was their first time playing together properly since the end of the European tour, and Sid Griffin has noted that these Tiny Tim sessions are the first time you can really hear the sound that the group would develop over the next year, and which would characterise them for their whole career. Robertson, Danko, and Manuel also did a session, not for the film with another of Grossman's discoveries, Carly Simon, playing a version of "Baby Let Me Follow You Down", a song they'd played a lot with Dylan on the tour that spring. That recording has never been released, and I've only managed to track down a brief clip of it from a BBC documentary, with Simon and an interviewer talking over most of the clip (so this won't be in the Mixcloud I put together of songs): [Excerpt: Carly Simon, "Baby Let Me Follow You Down"] That recording is notable though because as well as Robertson, Danko, and Manuel, and Dylan's regular studio keyboard players Al Kooper and Paul Griffin, it also features Levon Helm on drums, even though Helm had still not rejoined the band and was at the time mostly working in New Orleans. But his name's on the session log, so he must have m