American comedian, activist and social critic
Bill rambles with Mike Donovan about his early days in Boston, history books, and Lenny Bruce. Mike's new book 'The Stand-Up Comedy Book: A Collection of Thoughts, Stories, Biographies, Jokes and Journals of Stand-up' is available on Amazon and where books are sold. Thursday Afternoon Podcast: start - (45:59) Thursday Throwback: (46:33) - (01:49:47) (1-26-23) Bill rambles about the Patriots loss, the Bonzo Bash, and the world's poop. Anything Better NFL Preview: (01:50:03) - end Thursday Interlude: Kenyon Hopkins - Minnesota Fats
Jonathan Goldstein is an audio producer and the host of Heavyweight. “I wasn't taking myself very seriously, initially. I liked working with my friends and family because I think I was a little more comfortable with them. Then in the second season people were writing in with real problems, and they were looking at me as a kind of expert. It was terrifying to meet with these people and see the look of hopefulness in their eyes. ... I realized I need to step it up and even if I didn't feel like an expert—an expert in an invented field that doesn't really exist—that I'd really have to take that on with seriousness.” Show notes: @J_Goldstein Goldstein's Heavyweight archive 02:00 "Plan B" (Ira Glass • This American Life • Feb 2002) 10:00 Goldstein's This American Life archive 14:00 Lenny Bruce is Dead (Counterpoint Press • 2006) 16:00 "I Know What You Did This Summer" (Ira Glass • This American Life • Aug 2001) 17:00 "Other People's Problems" (Jonathan Goldstein • CBC • Sept 2020) 19:00Goldstein's Wiretap archive, selected and republished by the CBC 23:00 "What I Should've Said" (Ira Glass • This American Life • Jan 2004) 23:00 "Recordings for Someone" (Ira Glass • This American Life • Jan 2002) 26:00 "Buzz" (Jonathan Goldstein • Gimlet • Sept 2016) 31:00 "The Elliotts" (Jonathan Goldstein • Gimlet • Dec 2022) 33:00 "Justine" (Jonathan Goldstein • Gimlet • Oct 2021) 33:00 "Stephen" (Jonathan Goldstein • Gimlet • Oct 2021) 37:00 "Dr. Muller" (Jonathan Goldstein • Gimlet • Nov 2019) 43:00 "Another Roadside Attraction" (Jonathan Goldstein • Gimlet • Nov 2022) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
On this email episode Aries and Andy talk about cheese steaks, Godfrey, time commitment, Lenny Bruce, Kaleidoscope, Tears in a Bathtub, Waterfalls of Consciousness, rant, and the return of AB. Musical Guest: Tears in a Bathtub Social Media Instagram: @SpearsBergPod Twitter: @SpearsBergPod Facebook: SpearsBergPod Patreon: SpearsBergPod Youtube: SpearsBergPod Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices
Happy New Year, creative brothers and sisters! To help you ease out of holiday mode, we have a very special guest joining us for the first episode of the NOT REAL ART podcast in 2023. Today, host and founder Scott “Sourdough” Power sits down with Renaissance man Zack Norman. Zack is a true creative legend, working not only as an actor, director, producer, writer, and comedian but also as a musician, painter, art collector, and real estate developer. As a painter, he is known as Zack Zuker and began his art career in New York City in 1976. He has guest-starred in wildly popular series like The A-Team, Baywatch, and The Nanny, and has also been featured in several TV movies. As Howard Zuker, he has produced, presented, or financed more than forty movies, including Hearts and Minds, which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1975. You'll also gain some insight into Zack's fascinating life story, from his television debut at just 12 years old to the creation of his first painting at 36. As a teenager, Zack worked in nightclubs and developed a longstanding appreciation for comedy, citing Lenny Bruce as an inspiration. In college, he would pursue a career in acting, absorbing everything there was to know about the movie industry in the late '60s. When Zack's focus shifted to fine art in the '70, he crossed paths with Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Keith Haring, three artists who would wind up in Zack's impressive art collection. Zack also shares how art brings him enduring joy, helping him understand his emotions with greater depth. “This is the beginning,” he says. “I want to keep growing because, as a kid, I never looked at a piece of art, never saw it or thought about it, and now it's an integral part of my life.” Tune into today's episode for a joyful conversation with Zack Norman.In Today's EpisodeZack Norman discusses…How he discovered his passion for art at the age of 36Why Lenny Bruce inspired him to be a comedian and actorWhat he learned about working in the film industry as an actorThe story behind his many name changes over the yearsHis proudest moment as a producer and film financier: Oscar-winner, Hearts and MindsWhen crossed paths with and collected works from Basquiat and WarholHow to build an art collection that will bring you joyWhat makes art great, and the new dimension it's added to his lifeWhy he encourages everyone to make art an integral part of their livesFor more info, please visit: https://notrealart.com/zack-norman
In the 1950's and 60's, Lenny Bruce was a transformative figure in the world of comedy. He was hip, brash, unfiltered, and...obscene? His biting social commentary made some people uncomfortable, and many felt that the words he used violated certain laws which regulated speech which may have the tendency to corrupt or degrade morals.In this episode, Paul breaks down governmental intervention in the realm of free speech. He explains the progression of speech protections over the past several decades, and examines how the attempted regulation of speech has migrated from topic to topic based on the changing mores of society.The prosecution of Lenny Bruce in many ways draws eerie parallels to attempts to silence opponents today, and it was no less offensive. The idea that a person can be criminally prosecuted and potentially sentenced to jail for making jokes at a venue people have to pay to attend simply because the humor is graphic in nature, or discusses certain taboo topics, is unconscionable.In today's world, it seems evident that nobody should be arrested for profane comedy. But let's all keep in mind that those same feelings should extend to all other areas of speech as well, and that profanity doesn't lose its protection simply because we no longer find it funny. Enjoy!
Lenny Bruce had balls. Wow. He lived hard and fast and took American Christianity with him. Please Rate and Review. It means so much! Thank you. Check out our MERCH! We have a P.O. Box! Deconversion Therapy 188 Front St. STE 116-79 Franklin, TN 37064 Find us on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and our secret den on Facebook. Support us We do a monthly Zoom meeting with sponsors! And, finally, send us your true, funny stories for us to read on the podcast.
This episode looks at the 1984 debut novel by Bret Easton Ellis, and its 1987 film adaptation. ----more---- Hello, and welcome to The 80s Movies Podcast. I am your host, Edward Havens. Thank you for listening today. On this episode, we're going to talk about 80s author Bret Easton Ellis and his 1985 novel Less Than Zero, the literal polar opposite of last week's subjects, Jay McInerney and his 1984 novel Bright Lights, Big City. As I mentioned last week, McInerney was twenty-nine when he published Bright Lights, Big City. What I forgot to mention was that he was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, halfway between Boston and New York City, and he would a part of that elite East Coast community that befits the upper class child of a corporate executive. Bret Easton Ellis was born and raised in Los Angeles. His father was a property developer, and his parents would divorce when he was 18. He would attend high school at The Buckley School, a college prep school in nearby Sherman Oaks, whose other famous alumni include a who's who of modern pop culture history, including Paul Thomas Anderson, Tucker Carlson, Laura Dern, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Alyssa Milano, Matthew Perry, and Nicole Richie. So they both grew up fairly well off. And they both would attend tony colleges in New England. Ellis would attend Bennington College in Vermont, a private liberal arts college whose alumni include fellow writers Jonathan Lethem and Donna Tartt, who would both graduate from Bennington the same year as Ellis, 1986. While still attending The Buckley School, the then sixteen year old Ellis would start writing the book he would call Less Than Zero, after the Elvis Costello song. The story would follow a protagonist not unlike Bret Easton Ellis and his adventures through a high school not unlike Buckley. Unlike the final product, Ellis's first draft of Less Than Zero wore its heart on its sleeve, and was written in the third person. Ellis would do a couple of rewrites of the novel during his final years at Buckley and his first years at Bennington, until his creative writing professor, true crime novelist Joe McGinness, suggested to the young writer that he revert his story back to the first person, which Ellis was at first hesitant to do. But once he did start to rewrite the story as a traditional novel, everything seemed to click. Ellis would have his book finished by the end of the year, and McGinniss was so impressed with the final product that he would submit it to his own agent to send out to publishers. Bret Easton Ellis was only a second year student at the time. And because timing is everything in life, Less Than Zero was being submitted to publishers just as Bright Lights, Big City was tearing up the best seller charts, and the publisher Simon and Schuster would purchase the rights to the book for $5,000. When the book was published in June 1985, Ellis just finished his third year at Bennington. He was only twenty-one years and three months old. Oh… also… before the book was published, the film producer Marvin Worth, whose credits included Bob Fosse's 1974 doc-drama about Lenny Bruce starring Dustin Hoffman, 1979's musical drama The Rose, Bette Midler's breakthrough film as an actress, and the 1983 Dudley Moore comedy Unfaithfully Yours, would purchase the rights to make the novel into a movie, for $7,500. The film would be produced at Twentieth Century-Fox, under the supervision of the studio's then vice president of production, Scott Rudin. The book would become a success upon its release, with young readers gravitating towards Clay and his aimless, meandering tour of the rich and decadent young adults in Los Angeles circa Christmas 1984, bouncing through parties and conversations and sex and drugs and shopping malls. One of those readers who became obsessed with the book was a then-seventeen year old Los Angeles native who had just returned to the city after three years of high school in Northern California. Me. I read Less Than Zero easily three times that summer, enraptured not only with Ellis's minimalist prose but with Clay specifically. Although I was neither bisexual nor a user of drugs, Clay was the closest thing I had ever seen to myself in a book before. I had kept in touch with my school friends from junior high while I lived in Santa Cruz, and I found myself to have drifted far away from them during my time away from them. And then when I went back to Santa Cruz shortly after Christmas in 1985, I had a similar feeling of isolation from a number of my friends there, not six months after leaving high school. I also loved how Ellis threw in a number of then-current Los Angeles-specific references, including two mentions of KROQ DJ Richard Blade, who was the coolest guy in radio on the planet. And thanks to Sirius XM and its First Wave channel, I can still listen to Richard Blade almost daily, but now from wherever I might be in the world. But I digress. My bond with Less Than Zero only deepened the next time I read it in early 1986. One of the things I used to do as a young would-be screenwriter living in Los Angeles was to try and write adaptation of novels when I wasn't going to school, going to movies, or working as a file clerk at a law firm. But one book I couldn't adapt for the life of me was Less Than Zero. Sure, there was a story there, but its episodic nature made it difficult to create a coherent storyline. Fox felt the same way, so they would hire Michael Cristofer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, to do the first draft of the script. Cristofer had just finished writing the adaptation of John Updike's The Witches of Eastwick that Mad Max director George Miller was about to direct, and he would do a literal adaptation of Ellis's book, with all the drugs and sex and violence, except for a slight rehabilitation of the lead character's sexuality. Although it was still the 1980s, with one part of the nation dramatically shifting its perspective on many types of sexuality, it was still Ronald Reagan's 1980s America, and maybe it wasn't a good idea to have the lead character be openly bisexual in a major studio motion picture. Cristofer would complete his first draft of the script in just one month, and producer Marvin Worth really loved it. Problem was, the Fox executives hated it. In a November 18th, 1987, New York Times article about the adaptation, Worth would tell writer Allen Harmetz that he thought Cristofer's script was highly commercial, because “it had something gripping to say about the dilemma of a generation to whom nothing matters.” Which, as someone who had just turned twenty years old eight days after the movie's release and four days before this article came out, I absolutely disagree with. My generation cared about a great many things. We cared about human rights. We cared about ending apartheid. We cared about ending AIDS and what was happening politically and economically. Yeah, we also cared about puffy jean jackets and neon colored clothes and other non-sensical things to take our minds off all the other junk we were dealing with, but it would be typical of a forty something screenwriter and a fiftysomething producer to thing we didn't give a damn about anything. But again, I digress. Worth and the studio would agree on one thing. It wasn't really a drug film, but about young people being destroyed by the privilege of having everything you ever wanted available to you. But the studio would want the movie version of the book to be a bit more sanitized for mainstream consumption. Goodbye, Marvin Worth. Hello, Jon Avnet. In 1986, Jon Avnet was mostly a producer of low-budget films for television, with titles like Between Two Women and Calendar Girl Murders, but he had struck gold in 1983 with a lower-budgeted studio movie with a first-time director and a little known lead actor. That movie was Risky Business, and it made that little known lead actor, Tom Cruise, a bona-fide star. Avnet, wanting to make the move out of television and onto the big screen, would hire Harley Peyton, a former script reader for former Columbia Pictures and MGM/UA head David Begelman, who you might remember from several of our previous episodes, and six-time Oscar nominated producer/screenwriter Ernest Lehman. Peyton would spend weeks in Avnet's office, pouring over every page of the book, deciding what to keep, what to toss, and what to change. Two of the first things to go were the screening of a “snuff” film on the beach, and a scene where a twelve year old girl is tied to a bedpost and raped by one of the main characters. Julian would still hustle himself out to men for money to buy drugs, but Clay would a committed heterosexual. Casting on the film would see many of Hollywood's leading younger male actors looked at for Clay, including a twenty-three year old recent transplant from Oklahoma looking not only for his first leading role, but his first speaking role on screen. Brad Pitt. The producers would instead go with twenty-four year old Andrew McCarthy, an amiable-enough actor who had already made a name for himself with such films as St. Elmo's Fire and Pretty in Pink, and who would have another hit film in Mannequin between being cast as Clay and the start of production. For Blair, they would cast Jami Gertz, who had spent years on the cusp of stardom, between her co-starring role as Muffy Tepperman on the iconic 1982 CBS series Square Pegs, to movies such as Quicksilver and Crossroads that were expected to be bigger than they ended up being. The ace up her sleeve was the upcoming vampire horror/comedy film The Lost Boys, which Warner Brothers was so certain was going to be a huge hit, they would actually move it away from its original Spring 1987 release date to a prime mid-July release. The third point in the triangle, Julian, would see Robert Downey Jr. get cast. Today, it's hard to understand just how not famous Downey was at the time. He had been featured in movies like Weird Science and Tuff Turf, and spent a year as a Not Ready For Prime Time Player on what most people agree was the single worst season of Saturday Night Live, but his star was starting to rise. What the producers did not know, and Downey did not elaborate on, was that, like Julian, Downey was falling down a spiral of drug use, which would make his performance more method-like than anyone could have guessed. The Red Hot Chili Peppers, who were hot in the Los Angeles music scene but were still a couple years from the release of their breakout album, 1989's Mothers Milk, were cast to play a band in one of the party scenes, and additional cast members would include James Spader and Lisanne Falk, who would become semi-famous two years later as one of the Heathers. Impressed with a 1984 British historical drama called Another Country featuring Colin Firth, Cary Elwes and Rupert Everett, Avnet would hire that film's 35 year old director, Marek Kanievska, to make his American directing debut. But Kanievska would be in for a major culture shock when he learned just how different the American studio system was to the British production system. Shooting on the film was set to begin in Los Angeles on May 6th, 1987, and the film was already scheduled to open in theatres barely six months later. One major element that would help keep the movie moving along was cinematographer Ed Lachman. Lachman had been working as a cinematographer for nearly 15 years, and had shot movies like Jonathan Demme's Last Embrace, Susan Sideman's Desperately Seeking Susan, and David Byrne's True Stories. Lachman knew how to keep things on track for lower budgeted movies, and at only $8m, Less Than Zero was the second lowest budgeted film for Twentieth Century-Fox for the entire year. Not that having a lower budget was going to stop Kanievska and Lachman from trying make the best film they could. They would stage the film in the garish neon lighting the 80s would be best known for, with cool flairs like lighting a poolside discussion between Clay and Julian where the ripples of the water and the underwater lights create an effect on the characters' faces that highlight Julian's literal drowning in his problems. There's also one very awesome shot where Clay's convertible, parked in the middle of a street with its top down, as we see Clay and Blair making out while scores of motorcycles loudly pass by them on either side. And there's a Steadicam shot during the party scene featuring the Chili Peppers which is supposed to be out of this world, but it's likely we'll never see it. Once the film was finished shooting and Kanievska turned in his assembly cut, the studio was not happy with the film. It was edgier than they wanted, and they had a problem with the party scene with the Peppers. Specifically, that the band was jumping around on screen, extremely sweaty, without their shirts on. It also didn't help that Larry Gordon, the President of Fox who had approved the purchase of the book, had been let go before production on the film began, and his replacement, Alan Horn, who did give the final go-ahead on the film, had also been summarily dismissed. His replacement, Leonard Goldberg, really hated the material, thought it was distasteful, but Barry Diller, the chairman of the studio, was still a supporter of the project. During all this infighting, the director, Kanievska, had been released from the film. Before any test screenings. Test screenings had really become a part of the studio modus operandi in the 1980s, and Fox would often hold their test screenings on the Fox Studio Lot in Century City. There are several screenings rooms on the Fox lot, from the 53 seat William Fox Theatre, to the 476 seat Darryl Zanuck Theatre. Most of the Less Than Zero test screenings would be held in the 120 seat Little Theatre, so that audience reactions would be easier to gauge, and should they want to keep some of the audience over for a post-screening Q&A, it would be easier to recruit eight or ten audience members. That first test screening did not go over well. Even though the screening room was filled with young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and many of them were recruited from nearby malls like the Century City Mall and the Beverly Center based off a stated liking of Andrew McCarthy, they really didn't like Jami Hertz's character, and they really hated Robert Downey Jr's. Several of the harder scenes of drug use with their characters would be toned down, either through judicious editing, or new scenes were shot, such as when Blair is seen dumping her cocaine into a bathroom sink, which was filmed without a director by the cinematographer, Ed Lachman. They'd also shoot a flashback scene to the trio's high school graduation, meant to show them in happier times. The film would be completed three weeks before its November 6th release date, and Fox would book the film into 871 theatres., going up against no less than seven other new movies, including a Shelley Long comedy, Hello Again, the fourth entry in the Death Wish series, yet another Jon Cryer high school movie, Hiding Out, a weird Patrick Swayze sci-fi movie called Steel Dawn, a relatively tame fantasy romance film from Alan Rudolph called Made in Heaven, and a movie called Ruskies which starred a very young Joaquin Phoenix when he was still known as Leaf Phoenix, while also contending with movies like Fatal Attraction, Baby Boom and Dirty Dancing, which were all still doing very well two to four months in theatres. The reviews for the film were mostly bad. If there was any saving grace critically, it would be the praise heaped upon Downey for his raw performance as a drug addict, but of course, no one knew he actually was a drug addict at that time. The film would open in fourth place with $3.01m in ticket sales, less than half of what Fatal Attraction grossed that weekend, in its eighth week of release. And the following weeks' drops would be swift and merciless. Down 36% in its second week, another 41% in its third, and had one of the worst drops in its fourth week, the four day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when many movies were up in ticket sales. By early December, the film was mostly playing in dollar houses, and by the first of the year, Fox had already stopped tracking it, with slightly less than $12.4m in tickets sold. As of the writing of this episode, at the end of November 2022, you cannot find Less Than Zero streaming anywhere, although if you do want to see it online, it's not that hard to find. But it has been available for streaming in the past on sites like Amazon Prime and The Roku Channel, so hopefully it will find its way back to streaming in the future. Or you can find a copy of the 21 year old DVD on Amazon. Thank you for listening. We'll talk again real soon, when our final episode of 2022, Episode 96, on Michael Jackson's Thriller, is released. Remember to visit this episode's page on our website, The80sMoviePodcast.com, for extra materials about Less Than Zero the movie and the novel, and its author, Bret Easton Ellis. The 80s Movies Podcast has been researched, written, narrated and edited by Edward Havens for Idiosyncratic Entertainment. Thank you again. Good night.
“But it's satire!” says every Twitter lout, demagogue or disinformationist to justify their abuse, pile-ons or straight-up lies. But what IS satire? How does it work? What distinguishes it from bullying? Does it even have to be funny? Ian Dunt and Dorian Lynskey go in search of the truth of satire on a journey that takes in The Thick Of It, Basil Fawlty, Jonathan Swift, Succession, Lenny Bruce, trickster gods, Boris Johnson, Peter Cook and Beyond The Fringe, Spitting Image and more… all the way back to the origin 1.4 million years ago of laughter itself. Help Ian and Dorian develop Origin Story by backing us on Patreon. You'll get the show early and without ads, plus extra good stuff too. “Wait… this word that I've been using all of my life, nobody knows what it means?” – Dorian Lynskey “Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own” – Jonathan Swift “Satire tells you more about its era than any other literature.” – John R Clarke “Laughter is a response to frustration, just as tears are. And it solves nothing, as tears do.” – Kurt Vonnegut “Audiences like to think satire is doing something but mostly it's making them satisfied – rather than angry, which is what they should be.” – Tom Lehrer Picture: The Thick Of It, BBC Written and presented by Dorian Lynskey and Ian Dunt. Audio production and music by Jade Bailey. Logo art by Mischa Welsh. Group Editor: Andrew Harrison. Origin Story is a Podmasters production Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This week Ken welcomes actor, comedian, writer and professional "That Guy", Larry Hankin. Ken and Larry discuss COVID, flying, quitting the world, growing up in Long Island, Breaking Bad, Barry, going out on top, stand up, Lenny Bruce, opening for Woody Allen, opening for Miles Davis, forgetting what you've done, having a career by accident, Janet Jackson's What Have you Done for me Lately video, making short films, Escape from Alcatraz, Clint Eastwood protection, endearing yourself to others, taking the boat to Alcatraz, getting royalties from streaming after you turn 65, how cool checks from Disney were, opening for The Loving Spoonful, Second City, George Carlin, getting attacked by the audience, getting arrested for doing stand up, Richard Pryor, The Kingston Trio, being homeless in San Francisco, when being homeless is a full time job, being in The Committee, Patrick McGoohan's issues, functional alcoholics, Highway Patrol, Broderick Crawford, having cue cards, Brando, ear pieces, being dyslexic, how hard it is to memorize lines, Doctor Dracula, Al Adamson, being in dirty movies as comic relief, how one movie can be edited into five different movies, Ratboy, and Larry's writing and thereallarryhankin.com.
GUY TORRY is not only a fantastic actor but from movies like American History X, LIFE, The Animal, Pearl Harbor, RIDE, TRIPPIN', and many more, he's an innovative and hilarious stand-up comedian. Guy is currently on the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show. A native of St. Louis, Mo, and Torry followed in his brother's (Joe Torry) footsteps and stepped on stage, grabbed a mic, and began "Killing Them Laughing." Guy is a 27-year veteran whose comedy has crossed over to mainstream America. In 1995 Guy created the hottest and most crucial comedy night in comedy, Phat Comedy Tuesdays at the World Famous Comedy Store. He was recently featured on TV One's “UNSUNG HOLLYWOOD” His style is like a pot of Gumbo. It's a slice of Lenny Bruce, a pinch of Chris Rock, a dash of his brother and Martin Lawrence, a clove of Eddie Murphy and Richard Pryor, and stirred with some Kings of Comedy and George Carlin. It all comes together to tease your pallet with flavor and will have you sucking on the funny bone. Follow Guy Torry on all social media platforms at @guytorry Join the E-Club now for exclusive content just for subscribers: https://camillekauer.com/ #amazonprime #guytorry #lifemovie #guytorryinterview #comedy --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/camillekauer/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/camillekauer/support
The running joke in entertainment law is everyone wants to use the opening riff of the song back in Black, but there's legal issues that need to be handles for that to be allowed. The podcast Lawyer, Gordon Firemark joins us to educate people on the right to use content for their business. What you can say in entertainment is trickier from a legal perspective than the days of Lenny Bruce or George Carlin. Gordon helps us understand the landmines. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Critically-acclaimed actor Ronnie Marmo, with the blessings of Kitty Bruce (daughter of the late Lenny Bruce), along with the Lenny Bruce Foundation, present "I'm Not a Comedian… I'm Lenny Bruce," directed by Joe Mantegna.The one-person show chronicles the life and death of the most controversial comedian and undisputed legend of all time: Lenny Bruce. His personal pain, sharply funny social commentary and completely original, freestyle comedy left a lasting impact on today's poetry, politics, music, film – and of course – comedy. His unwavering commitment to, and passion for, free speech led to numerous obscenity charges and arrests. Bruce fought for freedom of speech all the way to the Supreme Court, and died of an accidental overdose in 1966 while out on appeal. Lauded by fans and former friends of Bruce, Marmo's crowd-shocking portrayal brings the notorious funnyman to life with all the electrifying, insightful and comedic brilliance as the one and only Lenny Bruce himself."I'm Not a Comedian ... I'm Lenny Bruce," will be performed at The Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, Massachusetts on October 14 and 15.
Look at the British press most days, and you'll find that the government and the royals are being skewered and made fun of. The Brits have a long tradition of publicly calling out their leaders for absurdity, stupidity or embarrassing behavior. In America, it seems that part of the population almost embraces this kind of behavior; that rather than calling it out, it votes for it. It celebrates it on talk radio and on Fox. Imagine an entire portion of the electorate for whom ignorance is bliss. What we do have, however, is a healthy tradition of satire but almost entirely on the left. Historically, from the likes of Will Rogers or H.L. Mencken or Ambrose Bierce and in more contemporary times, folks like Mort Sahl and Lenny Bruce and Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Al Franken and Andy Borowitz. Andy is an award-winning comedian, a New York Times bestselling author, a graduate of Harvard College, where he became president of The Harvard Lampoon, and in 1998, he began contributing humor to The New Yorker‘s Shouts & Murmurs and Talk of the Town column. And in 2001, he created The Borowitz Report, a satirical news column that's must reading for anyone that cares about the country. His newest book is Profiles in Ignorance: How America's Politicians Got Dumb and Dumber. My WhoWhatWhy conversation with Andy Borowitz::
Intro: Even our lungs need a sense of purpose. Let Me Run This By You: Boz is buying a house!Interview: We talk to actor and documentary filmmaker Cullen Douglas about AMDA, Florida School of the Arts, Southeastern Theatre Conference, Tyne Daly, character actors, Jason Priestly, Patricia Crotty, Our Town, Lenny Bruce, Dick Van Dyke, investigative journalism, reusing caskets, David Carr, Deadwood, playing Bilbo Baggins, being pen pals with Andrea McCardle, singing If I Were A Rich Man, The Pirates of Penzance, Bye Bye Birdie, Robert Sean Leonard, Billy Flanigan: The Happiest Man on Earth, Shonda Rhimes, Twin Peaks, Grey's Anatomy , Barry, Bill Hader, documentary filmmaking, The Humanitas Prize, Private Practice.FULL TRANSCRIPT (Unedited): 1 (8s):I'm Jen Bosworth Ruez.2 (10s):And I'm Gina Paci.1 (11s):We went to theater school together. We survived it, but we didn't quite understand it.2 (15s):20 years later, we're digging deep talking to our guests about their experiences and trying to make sense of1 (20s):It all. We survived theater school and you will too. Are we famous yet?3 (33s):TikTok and I started looking at the videos and I was like, Ooh, I don't know about this. I think I need to start wearing wake up. So thank you. You1 (43s):Look gorgeous. How are3 (43s):You doing?1 (44s):Yeah, hi. I'm finally, Many things are happening. Many things are happening. So I finally, even though I'm coughing still little, I finally feel like I am, I like kicked the pneumonia bronchitis situation and little mostly thank you. I, yeah, I, we went away and then to Ventura and I slash Ojai and I really rested and I really, there was one day I worked, but I really mostly rested and I just really was like, okay, I need actual ass downtime. And yeah.1 (1m 25s):And then I started to heal and I was also on praise God for antibiotics. And then the thing that really helped me really kick it was I hadn't exercised my lungs in a really long time at all because I was so sick that I just was like, Who wants to like walk or, and, and it was 107 degrees, so it's like, who wants to exercise in that? So my cousin, my sister came in town, I, that's like a big eyebrow raise for, to drop my niece off to college. And we went on a hike to Griffith, but like a sloping hike, not a crazy hike. And I was like, I don't think I'm gonna be able to do it.1 (2m 5s):And it actually helped my lungs to like feel like they were contributing to fucking something and me like Forgot I3 (2m 16s):Like a sense of purpose. Right,1 (2m 17s):Right. And also like to, yeah, to have a job. And they were like, like to be exercised and I was like, Oh, I forgot that. Like the lungs. And, and it's interesting in this whole covid situation, like the lungs need to work too. And I never understood in hospitals, cuz I spent quite a long time in them, why they have those breathing like tube things that you blow the ball and the ball floats up. You have to, I thought that was so dumb until I had bronchitis and pneumonia and I was like, Oh, they have to work. Like they have to be expanded. If you don't use them and work them, they get, it's not good when,3 (2m 58s):When my dad, you know, my dad had this really bad car accident when I was like nine years old and yeah, he rolled 40 times and he wasn't wearing a seatbelt, which saved his life because he was in a convertible. But of course the reason he got into the accident was because he was drinking anyway. He broke everything. Like he broke six ribs and he had one of, he had to spend one year lying on an egg crate mattress on the floor one year. And for the rest of his life, every time he sneezed or coughed it hurt his ribs. But he,1 (3m 34s):Oh, and he3 (3m 36s):Had one of of those things like you're talking about. And as a child I could not get it to the height that I was supposed to go. I shuder to think what it would be like right now. Yes. So you're, that was a good reminder to exercise our lungs. I make sure my breathing capacity is good1 (3m 54s):And, and, and even wait and, and it's like, I always literally thought, oh, you exercise to be skinny. That is the only, only reason no other, like, if you had asked me, I'd say, Oh, there's no other reason. What are you talking about? But now I'm like, oh, these parts of us need actual exercising. Literally lie. I just, it blew my mind.3 (4m 19s):I was lies1 (4m 21s):The lies.3 (4m 22s):It's endless. Yes.1 (4m 27s):Hey, let me run this by you. Oh, I think we're buying a house. What? This is the craziest Oh my not in, Yeah. Okay. This is what went down. So this is so crazy. Miles' job stuff has evened out in terms of like, there's just so much going on that I can't talk about, but which is makes for terrible radio, but podcasting. But anyway, the point is we're we're a little stable, so we went to Ventura and I was like, I fucking love this town. I love Ventura. It's an hour away. It's a weird like, think lost boys, right? Like Lost Boys. The movie is, is really Santa Cruzi, but like, that's what this town reminded of.1 (5m 9s):It's not, so it's Adventurer county, so it's like an hour northwest. It's on the beach. And I was like, I love this town. I I I love it here. There's so many brown folk. It's heavily, heavily you Latina. And it's like, so anyway, I was like, I love it, but I bet I can't afford it like anywhere in California. Well it turns out that Ventura is about 500,000 less on a house than la. So I was like, wait, what? So we saw this darling house that was, that is was small but like beautiful craftsman and you know, I'll just say I'll be totally transparent with $729,000, which is still a shit ton of money.1 (5m 49s):But I looked at the same exact property almost in, in, in Pasadena for 1.3 million for two bedroom, one bath. Yeah. Two bedroom, one bath got preapproved. I've never been preapproved for anything in my goddamn light. We got preapproved for a mortgage. I couldn't, Gina, I couldn't. But when we got the preapproval letter, like I literally, speaking of lies, I was like, okay, well just expect him to come back and say we can't do anything for you.3 (6m 17s):Yeah, right.1 (6m 19s):Just really know it's not gonna work. And he wrote back and was like, Here's what we can do on this house the mortgage wise and it's comparable. It's in the ballpark of what we're paying in rent. And I was like, I don't wanna be going into my middle aged and later years in no space.3 (6m 39s):It really takes a toll. It really takes a toll on your psyche in a way that you can't really account for until you go from no space to having space. And then you go, oh my gosh, there's these three specific muscles in my shoulders that have been tense for the entire time I've been living in a city, you know, decades in some1 (6m 56s):Cases. So it's a whole different, I could build a little studio, like all the things. So yeah. So I'm grateful. Never would occur to me, never would have occurred to me. Never.3 (7m 6s):Do you care to say anything about your sister's visit?1 (7m 10s):Well, you know what is yes. And what is so comforting to me again, you know, if you listen to this podcast you're like, Oh my god, Jen, shut up. But about the truth. Okay. The truth is the fucking truth of, and even, even if it changes from person to person, that person's truth is the truth. And my truth is, I feel, So she came and she stayed not with me because I just, that what we were outta town. And then she stayed in my house while we were gone, which was fine with her, with my niece for one night. And then I saw her one day and that was, that was fine. And then she stayed with my cousin and it was, let's just say it was very, the, for me, my experience was, oh, someone else besides me sees the challenges.1 (7m 60s):And that's what I will say about that. There is something about being witnessed and having someone else go. I see, I feel what you're talking about.3 (8m 11s):Yes. Oh, I, I relate very deeply to that because people who are good at1 (8m 19s):Image image management,3 (8m 22s):At image management, a term I like is apparent competent.1 (8m 26s):Oh yes. Oh yes. I love that. I've never heard that. Apparent, competent. That is it.3 (8m 30s):Yes. Many, many people in life are apparently competent because all of their energy and effort goes into projecting very much just that idea and to be at home with them is a completely different thing. And I'm not saying like, Oh, you should always be competent in all areas of life or that I'm competent in all areas of life. I'm just saying like, yeah, there, there are some, some forms of personality disorders and just like, not even that, but just interpersonal problems are so kind of covert. And they're so, because I feel like people say, I feel like people are always trying to look for like the most broad, you know, big actions to determine whether somebody is1 (9m 13s):Whatever, nurse, whatever. They haven't been hospitalized, they've never been in rehab, they still have a house. You're like,3 (9m 20s):What? It's the same kind of mentality that says if you're not like in the gutter with a, with a mad dog in a paper bag that you're not an alcoholic, you know, it completely ignores probably what 85% of alcoholic for, which is highly functioning Correct. People who don't miss work and Correct. You know, maybe even people in their lives would never, ever know that they had a drinking problem. So yeah. So that is validating. I'm happy that for you, that you had that experience and sometimes it takes like 20, 30 years to get that validation. But the truth always, I mean, you know, it's true. That's the thing. It comes to the surface eventually.1 (9m 56s):Well, and the other thing is, I now as where I used to be so afraid of the truth and I still am, look, I I don't like getting, we know this about me, my feedback is hard for me. I'm scared of all the things, but I used to run from the truth like nobody's business in my own ways. Now I sort of clinging to it as, wait a second, wait a second, what is the truth of the matter? Like what are the facts here? Because I feel like that is the only way for me to not get kaka go, go crazy. And it is comforting. I am comforted in knowing that. Like, it was interesting. So I also am taking a solo show, writing class, I'm writing a new solo show, my third one.1 (10m 41s):And I'm just started and I thought, let me take a class with the woman who I taught. I did the first one in oh four in LA with, anyway, but I was saying on Facebook, like I, I, I'm taking this class with Terry and she's magic and I'm so glad I'm doing it and da da da. And she was like, Hey, I have a question for you. Can I quote you? And I was like, Yes. Because in her, in her like, for a and I said, of course it's all true. Like I didn't have to worry that my quote was somehow dirty or misleading or like, not really what I felt like I've done that so much in my life in the past where I've been like, oh shit, I told them I loved them or I loved their stuff, or I loved and I feel inside totally incongruent with that kind of thing.1 (11m 30s):No, I was like, no, these are what, these are my words now. I try to, it doesn't always work, but I try to just be like, okay, like what is the truth? And if someone had to quote me, would I be okay? And I, and I am a lot of the time I was like, of course you can. It's what I, I'm thanking for asking, but also it's what I feel in my bones about that, that you, that you have a magic when it comes to solo show teaching. That's it, it that is the truth. That my,3 (11m 55s):That is so cool. It's cool that you're doing that and I'll, that it, that gave me a reminder I had wanted to say on this podcast because you know, we had Jeremy Owens on the podcast. Yes. And he recently put on his social that he, he was doing it kind of as a joke, but I think he's actually doing it now, which is doing another solo show. And I had messaged him to say, you know, I meant what I said when I told you that you should do this and that I would help you and that goes for anybody cuz I said, I've said that to a lot of people on this podcast. Like, if you need help, you know, if this conversation has reinspired in you, a desire to go and do this other creative thing, please, I'm not saying like, I'm gonna co-write it with you.3 (12m 37s):I'm saying like, let me know if there's something I can do, if I can read it or, or, or bounce it off of you so that that stands for any of our previous guests. But tell us more about what, what's it gonna be about, what are you gonna be talking about? Well,1 (12m 51s):I don't entirely know, but where I'm leading is, it was interesting in this, See the thing I forgot means is that I like writing exercises. I never do them on my own. I never do. So this, she does writing exercises and a meditation before and I really longed and craved that because I spend so much of my hustle these days. How can I bring in income? How can I advance my career in Hollywood? And that is really shuts down the play aspect of all things. And I'm not saying, you know, I'm not saying that you, that I I'm not saying it's bad. All I'm saying is it totally eliminates for me the create like the really raw fun play creativity.1 (13m 37s):Okay? So in this, in this class, I just took it like, I just took the class. I was like, I'll do it. It's a masterclass in solo work, I'll do it. I like her. She called me, I was on the freeway and I was like, I'll do it. So right now the working title is, and also a solo show more or less. And I don't know if that's gonna change, but it is. Like I, and, and then in the exercise we did, we had our first class Sunday, it was all about, I realized that this solo show needs to be for me more of a call to action that that we, the, and it really comes from something you said, which is, I'm paraphrasing, but it's like we are our only hope, which is the good news and the bad news.1 (14m 25s):So like you said, we are the problem, I am the problem. Which is great. And also the, you know, terrible. So that is sort of this solo show is more gonna be about, it's like more activism based, but in a like creative arts activism way and, and not just a funny antidotes about my wacky family. And I mean, I would argue we could argue that like that my last solo show did have that underneath. But I think there needs to be a more like call to action for artists and people like us to start doing the things in the arts world that are gonna like help save the planet. And I don't know what that means yet, but she was like, oh this is like more of an activism piece based on what you're like it has that component to it.1 (15m 11s):And I was like, yeah. And then she said, if there was a banner, we did these cool exercise, she said, there's a banner all over town, whatever town you're in advertising your show, what would it say? And what came to mind in the meditation was it would be a red banner and it would just say, and it would say hope. And then in parentheses it would say sort of, So what I realized is I'm obsessed with the parentheses, like that's where I live. So I live in the world of I love my life parentheses, it's a fucking nightmare. So I love that kind of thing in my writing. And so I was like, okay, I'm really gonna embrace that. So it's like, it's like that, that stuff, I don't know where it's gonna go. I don't know what it's gonna happen.3 (15m 52s):Well two things. One is you have actually thrown out quite a few excellent titles for show, for solo shows. You'll periodically be like, that's the title of my new book or that's the title of my next, my next solo show. Yeah. So you might have to give a little re-listen to some episodes. I wish I could tell you which1 (16m 11s):I will.3 (16m 12s):Okay. The other thing is something that just came up for me when you said about the parenthesis, which I know exactly what you're talking about. I was saying like, oh yeah, she wants to show the good, the bad and the ugly. Oh. And something that occurred to me was like this concept of underbelly. Like you're showing yes, your soft underbelly. We are, I mean when I think when a person is maturing into themselves, that's what, that's the goal is to get to first accepting your own soft underbelly and then also contending with it and then representing it to the world. Because the thing that I've been on recently is like I have done myself and nobody else any favors for the amount of time I've spent misrepresenting myself because my misrepresenting myself has all been based on the lie that I thought there is a person that you are supposed to be, and your job is to be that person and you know, instead of like figure out the person that you are.3 (17m 10s):So, you know, coming into your own power is, is is a lot what we spend, what I spent my thirties about, like coming into your own power and not say that I arrived at it, but that No,1 (17m 23s):But3 (17m 24s):You about that. And then I think my forties are more about coming into my own vulnerability and that both of those things are really two sides of the same coin. Your power and your vulnerability, right? Because you can't have any power unless you're being honest about, you know, what the situation is. Today we are talking to Colin Douglas. Colin Douglas is an actor, writer, director, and documentary filmmaker who has been on absolutely everything. Most recently you've seen him on Barry and I love that for you.3 (18m 4s):But he's been, I joke in the, in our interview that he's been an absolutely every television show ever made. And that's only a slight exaggeration. He's been on Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice and the 2017 revival of Twin Peaks Agents of Shield, Pure genius. He's just been on everything Deadwood. So he's very experienced, he's very wise and he's very warm. So I hope you enjoy our conversation with Colin Douglas.0 (18m 34s):Great.3 (18m 36s):So congratulations Colin Douglas, you survived theater school. You survived4 (18m 42s):Two3 (18m 42s):Theater schools as a matter of fact.4 (18m 45s):I did. I was a glut for punishment actually. Yes. I I couldn't get enough of it.3 (18m 50s):So it was a BFA and MFA both in acting?4 (18m 54s):No, you know what, it was a zero degree. I, I am still just kind of riding by the seat of my pants. I actually, when I attended amda, it was not a degree program yet. Now it is. But back in the day it was basically they just kind of said, okay, go audition. And then when I went to Florida School, the arts, it only had an AA degree and I literally am still to this day two credit shy of my degree because I had booked a job out of Sctc and it was gonna be starting and I was like, I'm not sitting around and getting my degree just so that I can go get a job.4 (19m 42s):So I went, I took the job and I never looked back.1 (19m 45s):I mean that is, here's, I was just talking to someone who went to the theater school last night, my friend Lindsay. And we were talking about how conservatory I wish, I wish that I had done things differently, but it is what it is. But what you are reminding me of just go and audition is like the most valuable piece of advice anyone could have given us, which we never got. Which was now you, the piece of paper that says you have a BFA is not for not, but it's also not, it doesn't directly correlate to getting jobs. Like, it just doesn't. So you, you got a job while you were in school and said, I'm going, you didn't even think about staying or how did that work in your brain?4 (20m 30s):Well it was, it was because I was literally just the two credit shy kind of thing. And actually the class was, it was sort of a lab where I, you know, I had to help strike sets, but I was so busy with doing shows that I never had time to go help out with strike. So it was one of those things, oh okay, I'll, I'll require, I'll get that when I can get it when I have the time. And I never did. And then the tour was starting before the fall session started and I was like, you know what? My only regret honestly was the fact that I felt like, and, and again, it's not, you know, if somebody were to ask me today, you know, should you go to theater school?4 (21m 16s):I would say yes, if that's what really where you wanna hone your craft if you wanna, you know, build your community, but don't, if you're gonna do something like that, go to a program that has an established alumni because that's where your connections are being made when you get out of school is that support network that you have at amda at the time, there really wasn't, you know, when I was there, the biggest sort of claim to fame at the time was Time Daily. She was a graduate of, of Amda. And so it was, it wasn't as if I could reach out to Time Daily all of a sudden.4 (21m 59s):And then Florida School, the arts was, and still is such a small arts school that there really wasn't anybody for me to reach out to. Had I gone to Northwestern, had I gone to Juilliard or Yale or, or or Tish, that I would've had a built-in network of working professionals on the outside. So that was my only regret in that, that if I had perhaps gone to a different theater school, maybe I would've had those connections. But I certainly got the education I felt I needed.3 (22m 34s):Well and also you got the connections while getting paid instead of having to pay, which is was just definitely preferable. And by and speak about, you know, work experience and getting connections. You have been on every television show that has ever existed and tons of films too. So was your experience that as soon as you started working, you were just off to the races? I mean, I'm not suggesting that it's easy because no life of an actor is easy, but have, has it been pretty consistent for you would you say for your career?4 (23m 10s):It's been consistently inconsistent in that,1 (23m 16s):Wait, I just have to say that has to be the name of your book. Okay. I, we were talking about earlier before you got on about titles of shows and books, your book could be consistently inconsistent. The Culin Douglas story, I'm just, I'm just putting it out there. Thank you. Please send me 10% check to my office.4 (23m 32s):Yeah, thanks. No, it really, it was one of those things that I, I had a very dear professor at Florida School of the the Arts, Patricia Kadi, she was the acting instructor there and I was doing all of the plays, I was in all of the productions there and I had kind of become the top dog in the school, so to speak. And she pulled me aside one day and she said, you know, the one thing you're gonna have to realize is you're probably not gonna start working professionally until you're in your thirties.4 (24m 13s):And I, and I didn't really understand what she was saying there. What she was basically commenting on was that I was a young character actor and I didn't look like Jason Priestly, I didn't look and yet I hadn't grown into my framer look either. So I was gonna be in this really sort of, where do we cast him? He's talented but we don't know where to put him. And so I did a lot of theater for a lot of years and then in my thirties is when I was able to transfer into television and film. So what, cause I finally had kind of caught up to my look.1 (24m 45s):Yeah. So what I appreciative aid about that is it sounds like she said it so she said it in a way that wasn't like being a jerk, right? Like my experience was feeling that way except having it told like there is something deficient in you so that you cannot be an ingenue cuz you're too fat, you're too this. So instead of, hey, go do some theater, do all the things and then you'll grow into your look, do not fret. This is like part of the technical side of the business of how a camera sees you and not about your talent. It would've been so much different. Instead it comes down to, I think a lot of people we've talked to from the DePauls, from the Northwestern say, nobody told me that in a way which was, I could make a plan about it.1 (25m 35s):It was always just, well you're never gonna be cast. So by, and instead of hey maybe you could do theater, maybe you could write, maybe you could do something else until Hollywood catches up to the character of you.4 (25m 50s):Exactly.1 (25m 51s):It good, Patricia. Good. Is Patricia still around?4 (25m 54s):She is. And she literally just announced today that she's retiring from teaching. Well1 (25m 60s):Patricia, you did good work and you she did fantastic. You made it so call in part of it sounds like she encouraged you cuz you started with that story of her encouraged you to know that maybe later it would be your time to be on every single television show ever written. But for the twenties and the, you know, you were gonna do some theater and, and get your training right man, and,4 (26m 23s):And I honestly, I didn't completely understand everything she was saying in that little sound bite because, you know, I was, I was sort of standing there saying, Patty, look at all these job offers. I just got out of CTCs, you know, I'm gonna be working like crazy. And she said, No, no, no, don't get me wrong that the work is going to be there. But as far as what you're seeing in your mind's eye of, you know, Helen Douglas tonight on The Tonight Show, that's not gonna happen until you can kind of get into that other stream as it were. How3 (27m 0s):So did that match up? I mean, was that a surprise to you or did that match up with what you already thought about yourself? I don't think any 17 year old, 18 year old necessarily thinks of themselves as a character actor. Although it may just be because it never gets put to you that that's an option when you're a teenager. You know, the option is like, as Bos mentioned, Ingenu or not Ingenu, but they never really say like, Well, but you, you know, you're gonna fit into this different mold. So how did that butt up against what you already thought about yourself?4 (27m 32s):It actually kind of lined up okay with me in, in a weird way because at Florida School, the arts in particular, they were so gracious in the fact that when they picked their seasons, they picked shows that it made sense for me to be the lead in, in that I, I'm giving you an example, we did a production of Our Town and I was the stage manager and, you know, as opposed to being cast as the one of the young, you know, lead ingenue kind of a things. And then we did Bye by Birdie and I was cast in the Dick Van Dyke role.4 (28m 12s):And so they did it in such a way that, you know, or when we did Barefoot in the Park, I was Victor Velasco the old man who lived upstairs. So I was already sort of being primed that I was this character actor and would be gonna be doing that kind of stuff. And then quite honestly, as that look started to emerge, I mean in college I had sort of a flock of seagulls kind of hairdo thing going on, you know, and then it quickly all went away. And I had been playing about 20 years older in film and television and in theater than I've actually always been, you know, I was playing guys in my, when I was in my, you know, thirties, I was playing guys in my fifties.4 (28m 59s):Now I'm in my fifties and I'm playing guys in my in1 (29m 1s):In seventies. And I think that calling, the thing that I'm noticing too is like maybe for men it's a little different too, right? Like there's something about being, like, there's just, and it's a societal thing where like women who are play, like, it's, it's a insult for women when they're like, Oh, we're sending you in for a 50 year old and you're 30. But, and I think maybe if you have a certain kind of ego for a man as well, and we all have egos, I mean, it says, but, and I, I love the fact that you didn't, it doesn't sound like anyway, and you can tell me if I'm wrong, you took it as an insult that they were, that you were going out for roles that were for like the Victor Velasco of the world. You were able to embrace it as you were working.1 (29m 43s):Like that's, so I say this all to say, because I remember in our last class with Jim Ooff, who people call hostile prof and he said to me, You know who you are. And I was like, dying to hear you are Michelle Pfeiffer. That was never gonna happen. But I was dying to hear, he was like, That's who you, he's like, you are the next. And I'm waiting and, and I'm waiting. He goes, Lenny Bruce. And I was like, what the actual fuck is going on? What are you telling me?3 (30m 13s):No idea. What a great compliment that was.1 (30m 15s):I was devastated, devastated. I wanted to quit. I was suicide. Like it was just, But anyway, so what I'm saying is you didn't take that and run with it in a way that was like, I am not Jason Priestly and therefore my life is over. You were able to work and, and embrace the roles. It sounds like4 (30m 34s):I was able to embrace the roles and, and I was getting, okay, you are a young dick fan dyke, you're a young, this kind of a guy. So I was able to kind of make that connection. I honestly were being completely honest here. I think, how do I put this, that it does not sound completely like an asshole. It1 (30m 54s):Doesn't matter. We always sound like assholes here. Go ahead.4 (30m 57s):But at Florida school, the arts, I was one of, I was one of the only straight men at school and therefore undated a lot. So I was not, the fact that I wasn't looking like the young hot stud,1 (31m 22s):You were still getting it4 (31m 23s):Right? I was still getting it. So that didn't it, had it not been like that situation, I think I probably would've started to hyperventilate thinking, well hold it, I'm in my twenties, why are they making me play these old men? And this is affecting, you know, cus group. But that wasn't the case. And so I, I had sort of a, a false sense of ego I guess a little bit. But it was supporting the work that I was doing.3 (31m 50s):Yeah, absolutely. So did you grow up always knowing that you wanted to be an actor? Did you think, did you try any other paths first? Or were you, were you dead set on this?4 (32m 2s):I was dead set when the story goes, that when I was four I asked Santa for a tuxedo to wear to the Emmys and Santa delivered gave me a, a white dinner jacket and spats and stuff like that. So I was, I was ready to go.1 (32m 18s):Oh my god, do you have that picture? Can you please send us that?4 (32m 22s):Oh no, we have moved so many times. When I was growing up, my dad, when I was growing up was an undercover investigative reporter. And so wherever he was basically undercover was where we were living. Wait1 (32m 36s):A minute, wait a minute. Wait a minute, wait. Okay. This is fantastic because I do a lot of crime writing and so does Gina writes and undercover crime reporter father now, right there is sort of burying the lead. What in the hell? He was an undercover, What does that even mean? An undercover, He's not a police officer, but he's an undercover reporter.4 (32m 57s):He was an undercover investigative reporter. Well, what that for a period of time, So I'll give you an ex, there was a senator at one time back in the early seventies who was receiving kickbacks from his employees or hiring people on the books. And those people weren't actually having jobs. And so they would then send him the money. He was getting all of the money.1 (33m 24s):Sure. Like Chicago was like living in Chicago all time.4 (33m 28s):So the, somebody tipped my father off that this was happening. And so he went undercover and, and worked as sort of like an aid and things like that. Or there was a time where he, he worked at a meat packing place or he worked at a funeral parlor that was selling caskets with fake bottoms. And so people would buy these incredibly expensive things and then they would drop them and then they'd open up the hatch and the body would just drop into a pine box and then they would reuse the, the casket.1 (34m 8s):So this is the single greatest thing I've ever heard in my life, and I'm gonna write a pilot about it immediately called Fake Bottom. And it's4 (34m 14s):Gonna see, I've already wrote that was, I actually wrote a spec pilot. That's how I landed my lid agent. Oh, it was because what ended up happening is my dad, much to my mom's chagrin, used me in two of his undercover stings when I was a kid. One time, there was a situation where firemen had been hired and they weren't actually properly trained. It was another one of those kind of kickback situations. So it was a training session and they, I was supposedly, it was a staged event where they were gonna try to test the skills of the firemen or whatever.4 (34m 55s):And so I was gonna, I I practiced with a real fireman being fireman carried up and down a ladder from a second story kind of a thing. But once the word was out that it was an internal sting, they put me into one of those crane baskets. And so I was sort of floating over midtown in, in the basket kind of a thing. And then another time actually, there was a talent agent who was running a kitty porn ring. And so I was sort of used to expose, so to speak, this this person that was actually trying to take advantage of, of kids and parents.3 (35m 38s):Oh my God. Well, two things occur to me about that. One is your family was already full of drama before you came along. I mean, anybody who wants to, right, who wants to do this investigative journalism, Like that's, that's a dramatic person. I love David Carr. I love that kind of personality of per, you know, the person who wants to like really get in there, investigate and just as an aside, like, I'm sorry for the families who paid for those coffins, but at the same time, you know, good, good on them because it's such a waste. So much, many people spent putting mahogany boxes into the ground to to, to, to decompose over time. Okay. So did your parents like that you wanted to be an actor or did they have a different idea for plan for you?4 (36m 19s):Oh, they, they were 100% supportive. The very, very much so from day one, I think, because it was my mom who really sort of stepped in and said, Hey, let's figure out how we can get this new kid who's always the new kid to find his people. And so she took me when I was 11 years old to a local community theater, children's community theater. And they were doing a production, a musical version of The Hobbit. And you know, the intention was that I was just gonna audition and be, you know, number 40 in the background kind of a thing.4 (37m 0s):Third,3 (37m 1s):Third habit from the left,4 (37m 3s):Third habit from the, And so they auditioned and I remember you had to sing a song and God, I have not told this story, you had to sing a song. And I decided to sing tomorrow from Annie because I was me madly, deeply in love with Andrea Ricardo. And we were actually pen pals. And so I went in there and I sang tomorrow and jump cut to that weekend. And my mom came in Saturday morning smiling as I was watching cartoons and she said, You've been cast in the lead as Bill Bos. And that was sort of like, okay, I I I found my people.3 (37m 47s):That's amazing. Please tell us more about your penal with,4 (37m 54s):So I, I just, I, you know, I I had gotten the album when it came out and I listened to it and I memorized it. And even then I was casting myself as either Rooster or Daddy Warbuck, you know. And so somehow I found her address and sent her, you know, a, a letter as we used to write, you know, before texting. And she wrote back and then I wrote back, and then the thing that was really exciting was 20,3 (38m 28s):Wait a minute, are you married to Annie?4 (38m 31s):No, I am not married to Annie. Okay. But 20 some odd years later I was doing a national tour and staying in a hotel in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Andrea was on tour doing a national tour and was staying in the same hotel, kind of bumped into one another and was like, you know, you don't know who I am, but this. And it ended up, it was wonderful because I went to see her show on my dark night and she and her family came to see me on, on the other night. So.1 (39m 7s):Beautiful. Okay, so here we go. Your family's on board and why didn't you just go and strike it out either in New York or anywhere? Why did you end up going to school? Were you like, I wanna learn more, or how did that transition into schooling go?4 (39m 24s):It did, I did wanna learn more. It, it really was because up at that point, the only influences as far as acting I was going was from, you know, the, either the community theater directors or the high school drama teacher who had, you know, aspirations for theater, but was really just doing it because he didn't wanna coach the football team. So I felt like I needed a stronger foundation for myself. And, but always it was sort of like I was going to the theater school because I didn't feel like, Oh, I don't wanna go to a school where I'm gonna have to learn all of these other things that I'm not gonna ever use.4 (40m 7s):Now I look back and go, you know, I wish I had done some of that other stuff because I did not create any kind of a fallback plan for me. It would, this is either gonna work or it's not gonna work and you're gonna be screwed. I1 (40m 21s):Mean, here's the thing, here's the thing. I don't know what you, you two think, but like, there is this two schools of, well there's probably a bajillion schools of thought, but one of them is like, if you have a fallback plan, you will fall back. The other one is not everyone is gonna be a Colin Douglas or a John C. Riley that's gonna work, work, work, work, work, work, work. So a fallback plan for some of us might have been like another avenue to get into the industry, right? But a fallback plan can also literally have people go and not live their dreams and become, you know, actuary scientists because they're afraid. So it's like, it's so individual, which is why I think theater school training is so tricky is because you're taking young individuals who don't know shit and some know what they wanna do, some don't, some are good, some are talented, but not, it's so individual.1 (41m 10s):So it's like when people ask me, should I go to theater school? I'm like, I fucking don't know who, I'm like, who are you and what do you wanna do on the planet? But nobody ever asked me that as a 17 year old. So here we are. Gina, you were gonna say something? Oh,3 (41m 23s):I was just going, if you remember your audition,4 (41m 30s):My audition into theater school. Okay. So I do, I remember my audition into anda a, and again, I already recognizing I was a character actor. I sang if I were a rich man from Fiddler on the Roof, you know, you know, a skinny ass, you know, kid from, you know, suburbia singing that song. And then I did a monologue from a play that I had done in high school. And which1 (42m 9s):One do you remember? Or No,4 (42m 10s):It's okay. It was it, yes. No, actually it was weird because I look back on it now kind of thinking how the soul sometimes prepares. I think sometimes it was a, from a show called Juvie, and I played a young gentleman who was mentally challenged and I got a lot of incredible feedback from, from the role because I had researched, I had, I had gone to the library and this is, there was a thing called Microfish when you would go to the library and you'd have to look up stories on kind of like a big machine. And I did all of these kind of things and research the roles, and I saw images of babies and young people with different kind of cognitive delays.4 (42m 60s):And so I did that. I got into Amda, whatever, again, sort of jumping forward in life. In 1996, my oldest son was born and he happened to be born with Down syndrome. And when I met him for the first time at the bassinet, I immediately went back to that Microfish machine in high school and remembered seeing babies and images of people with Down syndrome. And so I made that kind of connection. So it was sort of like, all right, this is where life was going as far as Florida School, the arts went, I actually didn't audition for that.4 (43m 43s):What had happened is I was at, and I broke my foot during one of the dance classes. They would bring in dance captains from various Broadway shows and teachers routines. And we were doing a routine from cats and I jumped off of a piling and I came down flat for,1 (44m 5s):Let me tell you something. This is what, this is just one of the many reasons I don't care for that musical is that also what are you having people jumping around for that? Aren't I just, anyway, I'm glad they brought, I'm sure it was a great experience in some ways, but like, I just don't care for, that was my first musical I saw. And I even as a kid, I was like, I don't buy this at all. I don't know what's going on here, but I don't like it. But anyway, so you busted your foot. Oh, and can I just say about microfiche? I'm sorry to be an asshole, but like, I could never figure out how to slow the fucking shit down and I never could see a goddamn story, so I gave up on the microphone, so you made it further than me. I was like, why is it going too fast? That was my, that's like, like, that's like so indicative of my life. But anyway, so okay, so you, you broke your foot and so what happened?1 (44m 49s):You had to, why did you4 (44m 50s):So I, I, I broke my foot, I went home to my parents' place who were now living in Florida and kind of rehabbed for a while. I then auditioned for a play for Pirates of Penza, excuse me, that was up, up performances up near St. Augustine, Florida. And I went up there and I was playing Samuel the the second pirate. And the gentleman who was playing the modern major general in the show was actually the dean and artistic director of Florida School of the Arts. And he said to me, If you'd like to come to school, we'll offer you a full scholarship and you can start at the, as soon as the show closes.4 (45m 38s):And so that's what I did. It was like, I just went straight to Flos Bureau Arts and I did not go back up to Amda after my footed here. Helen,1 (45m 45s):It's really interesting, like, and I was talking about, this was someone else yesterday about how one, obviously one thing leads to the next, Oh it was a showrunner actually, that was that I was listening to a lecture and she just said that what I've done is I have walked through doors that have opened to me without a lot of second guessing. I followed my heart in terms of who took interest in me and who opened doors for me. I walked through them. I didn't say no, but, or no, I just did it. And so it sounds like that's what you did. You were like, Oh, full ride, I'm in Florida now. You could have been like, No, no, no, I'm gonna go back to Amda because whatever.1 (46m 26s):But you were like, I'm gonna do this. And it sounds like it worked in your favor, but what was your experience like at Florida? Did you, I mean obviously we know you left early, but did you get stuff out of it? Did you love it? What was the deal?4 (46m 41s):I did love it in the sense that because it was such a small school and because where the school is located, it's in Plac of Florida, which is sort of geographically in the middle of sort of Jacksonville and Gainesville. And so on a Friday night there really wasn't any partying going on. It was all of us getting together and doing monologues for one another, you know, because there wasn't any place to really go. And then as far as the classes went, because it was such a small institution, so many of my classes were literally just myself and professor in their office.4 (47m 26s):And we would do, you know, that's how I learned dialects was literally just, you know, we were working on the Italian dialect or whatever and I would go in and the professor would speak to me in that Italian dialect and then I would have to answer him and that would be the entire class. And then the next week we would do the brooklynese. And so I had all of that and they were very, very gracious to me because when I came in as quote a freshman, I was taking all of the freshman courses, but then they also had me taking all of the second year acting courses as well, sort of accelerating me through the program and then allowing that by doing that I was able to be cast in all of their different productions.3 (48m 15s):So when you did school and enter the workforce, what surprised about sort of the business that maybe you weren't expecting or hadn't been prepared for? For in terms of your training or, you know, and it could have been a happy surprise or, or, or not such a happy surprise, but like what was some I always just feel like there's, people have their list of things. Oh, I never thought the one that people always bring up as coverage, I never thought, when I watched TV shows that they had to do the same thing 50 times.4 (48m 58s):I, I think for, for me, the biggest sort of, even though Patty Crotty, Patricia Crotty had said, you know, Hey, it's gonna be a while before you're gonna start to work. You know, although I did work immediately when I got outta school, it was, it was one of those things where I quickly realized that they really didn't care that I had played Albert and by by Birdie they didn't care that I was in all of the productions. It was basically, no, you've earned the right to stand in the back of a line and you're gonna have to, you know, get up at an ungodly hour, go to equity, sign in at 6:00 AM and then come back at two in the afternoon for your audition.4 (49m 47s):But by the time you come back, if you pick up backstage, you're gonna read that Robert Strong Leonard has already been offered the role that you're auditioning for at two o'clock. So those were sort of some of the realities of, oh, okay, this is not necessarily gonna be the projecting thing that's gonna get me into the room. It's just, it's gonna be more for me that, okay, I feel like I deserve to be here and I'm competent enough in my abilities. But I, I think that was as far as just working in general. But Gina, to answer the question as far as like the thing that I was most surprised by within the industry, I'm, I'm trying to think if there was anything that I really was sort of taken aback by,1 (50m 31s):Well I guess I can ask like, did you, what was your like, like in terms of getting an agent and all that, did anything there go like, Oh my gosh, I didn't understand that I would have to, How did your representation come about? Was that a surprise or did you just get an agent? Cause a lot of our listeners, some of them we talk, you know, we talk about like a showcase or, but you left early and just started working, so what was that transition like in terms of getting representation and going on, on auditions for film and TV or theater? And if you think of anything that surprises you along the way, just let us know. But sure,4 (51m 4s):I didn't have theatrical, I didn't have legit theater representation for a lot of years. I was literally very lucky in that, you know, just using relationships, you know, to help propel me into the next situation that one show would be closing and I would hear about the fact that they were looking for something else. Or I would go to the Southeastern Theater conference and audition and be able to pick up my next year or year and a half worth of work. And I was able to kind of keep it at that point. I finally did get an agent who was gonna cover me theatrically as well as, you know, commercially.4 (51m 46s):And I remember her telling me, she was basically saying the same thing that Patty Crotty had said is that, you know, you know, you're a good actor, I'll put you out there, but it's, it's probably gonna be a while before you're gonna book a commercial or any kind of television cuz you're just really hard to place. She was good to her words. She put me out there and a week later I booked a Budweiser commercial. So I was like, Oh, okay, I think I got this. I, I think the hardest lesson that I had to learn was that because it sometimes came easy, it felt like, like, oh, okay, this is what it was, is I would get say to that chunk of change.4 (52m 29s):And I, it took me a while to figure out that I had to make that chunk of change, stretch as far as I possibly could because I didn't know exactly when the next job was coming from and, and that it was hard when I met and fell in love with my wife who was coming. She had been a model, but she had also worked in the corporate world. And so she was very accustomed to, well no, you make this amount of money every month and this is what you can expect with your expenses. It was hard when we started to realize, oh no, CU just got a great windfall of money, but if you break it down and spread it out over a year, he's not making minimum wage.4 (53m 10s):So, you know, it was a really, that was a hard kind of thing to adjust with.3 (53m 15s):Yes. I mean that's, yes, that's a common story and that's something that they don't teach you about in theater school. They don't teach you money management and how you have to withhold taxes and all kinda stuff. Yeah. So that, that's that, that's, that's a whole education in and of itself. But you were also a writer and director. When did the writing and directing and producing come into your career?4 (53m 40s):The writing actually started in college in that we would have to have monologues for class and I had an affinity to writing the monologues and so I started writing monologues for my classmates for beer money or they would need an audition piece for something in particular. And so I would tailor it to sort of echo whatever play that they were auditioning for kind of a thing. And so it really just sort of came easy for me. And then whenever I was auditioning, my biggest thing was I don't wanna go in there with something that they have seen 3000 times.4 (54m 23s):And so I was like, Okay, you know what? I'm just gonna write my own thing. And it worked, it worked to a degree. And so that's where I sort of started to do it. And then personally after my oldest son Gabe was born, I had a lot of demons to be dealing with. I didn't understand why I had been chosen or whatever, or, or given a child with a disability and, and it took me kind of having to get outta my own way to realize that was the least interesting thing about him. And, but in doing so, I, I started to write in journals and then I ended up writing a one man play that I in turn tour the country with for a handful of years.4 (55m 11s):And it was that play that I then attracted some other attention and then got hired on to do some other writing in script doctoring or whatever. And then as I shared earlier, I wrote a spec script about that time of my life when we were kind of moving into hotels and things like that. And then that kind of just started to snowball. And then I was very fortunate back in 2010, I had the Humanitas Organization, Humanitas Prize. They tapped me as the first recipient of their New Voices fellowship program, which pairs you with showrunners to sort of mentor you in creating a television series.4 (56m 0s):And so I was shared with, paired with Shonda rhymes over at Shondaland and was able to develop a show, which was actually an adaptation of my one man play, about a family, you know, coming to terms and dealing with a child with a disability. But I had already actually had a relationship with Shawnda prior to that because I had gotten cast in an episode of Grey's Anatomy and she and her producing partner, Betsy Beers, put me up for an Emmy for that role. And then when I didn't get the nomination, Shawnda turned around and created a role for me over on private practice.1 (56m 46s):Okay. So you know, all these people, and I guess I'm mindful of time and I wanna know what the hell are you, are you doing now you have this documentary, What is your jam right this second? Colin Douglas. And if you could do anything, what would it be? And tell us about this documentary, because what I don't wanna happen is it's like 10 minutes go by and we haven't heard about the documentary and we haven't heard about like, what is your jam and your juice right this second.4 (57m 13s):Okay. So I, I made the documentary, I started working on it when we got locked out, you know, the world was hurting, the industry was shut down. I couldn't stand in front of a camera, I couldn't direct a bunch of actors in a narrative, but I knew I could still tell stories. And so I, at one point in my career, I detoured and I was an associate show director and a performer at Walt Disney World. I was there for about three years. And the level of talent in those theme parks is just incredible. You know, there are a lot of people who come outta theater schools and they get their job, you know, at Dollywood or at Bush Gardens or at Disney World or Disneyland, and they spend the summer there and then they go off and do whatever else with their life.4 (58m 5s):There are other individuals like the subject of my film, Billy Flanigan, who, he started right after theater school. He went to Boston Conservatory. He then opened up Epcot in 1982 as a kid at the Kingdom and has been working for 40 years straight as a performer out at Disney. When the Disney Park shut down because of the pandemic, Billy was without a stage for the first time in his 40 year career. So what he did is he took it upon himself to start doing singing and dancing telegrams for other performers who were out of work. And then he started to literally take it on the road because he's a cyclist and he started crisscrossing the entire country, delivering these sing in dancing telegrams called Planograms.4 (58m 55s):And my Facebook page was blowing up with, I got Planogrammed, I got Planogrammed and I, so I reached out to some old friends from Disney and I said, I've heard about this name Billy Flanigan for years. He's a, he's a legend. He was a legend 20 years ago when I was working, You know, can you put me in touch with him? And so I spoke with Billy. I reached out to my producing partner and I said, There's a documentary here, because Billy has just been so incredibly selfless. He's always a pay it forward kind of a guy. He's a performers performer, you know, even though he jokes about the fact that he'll get a nosebleed if he's not on center.4 (59m 36s):But it's one of those things where he just really is about making the other people on stage look good. So he's been the face of Disney. But then what ended up happening is he was so busy working and raising an entire family that a handful of years ago, Billy finally slowed down and realized that he had been living a different life than he perhaps should have been. And he came out and it really destroyed his family and, and brought things down. And so you had this guy who day in and day out was still having to give that Disney, you know, RAAs, but behind the scenes, as we all know, his performers, the show's gotta go on.4 (1h 0m 20s):And so his heart was breaking. And so I said to Billy, Look, if we tell your story, we're gonna have to tell all of it, because I feel like you sharing your humanity and your pain is gonna help other people out there within the L G B T community who are feeling bullied or feeling like they don't have their place. So if we can do this, this is, this is sort of our mandate. And he said yes. And his family said yes. And, and thankfully not as a direct link to the film, but I shared the final cut with Billy and his family, because obviously I had to have their final approval. And Billy called me and said, This film is helping heal my family now, because it had given them that creative distance that it was no longer them, it was these other people up on a screen talking about a period of their life.4 (1h 1m 13s):So right now, the film, it premieres digitally on October 7th, and then is available on D V D November 15th. And then after the first of the year, it'll be looking like landing on one of the major streamers.3 (1h 1m 29s):Oh, that's fantastic. I'm so excited to see it because I watched the trailer and that thing that you were describing about, you know, he's, he's, he's gotta always have a stage that comes through from the first frame. You see him, you think, Wow, this guy is like a consummate performer in a way that I could never imagine. I mean, yes, I, I love to be on stage. It's fantastic, but I, I don't have this thing where like, you know, I've gotta be performing every second. And that was really clear. And I didn't know, I didn't glean from the trailer that he was doing that for fun for other performers. I thought he was just starting his business with the singing telegram. So that is even more interesting. Okay, that's really cool.3 (1h 2m 9s):So after the first of the year, it'll come out on a streamer. And actually when you know which one it is, you'll let us know and we'll, we'll promote it on our socials. And I4 (1h 2m 17s):Wanted, but you can preorder now the DVD and the digital.1 (1h 2m 22s):Yeah. I didn't mean to like cut us off from Shonda land, but I really wanted to make sure that we talk about this documentary because I think that it is taking your career and your life in, it's like it's made it bigger and about other things other than, I mean, it's like there's a service component to documentary work that like, I think is not always there in other kinds of media. That documentary work is like at once, for me anyway, really personal, but also universal and also has a great capacity for healing. And so, or at least the truth, right? Like what is the truth?1 (1h 3m 2s):So that's why I wanted to make sure we covered that. But if there's other things you wanna say about your career and like what you're doing now and where you wanna go or anything else, I wanna give you the opportunity, but I wanted to make sure, So I didn't mean to cut off your Shonda land story because I know people are probably like, Oh my God, tell more about Sean Rhymes. But I wanted to talk about the, the Billy documentary.4 (1h 3m 24s):I appreciate that so much. No, I, I, you know, just to sort of bookend the, the documentary, I never felt like it was one of those things that I knew I could tell stories, but I didn't feel like I had any business telling the documentary. I don't necessarily even gravitate towards documentaries, but I just felt like, hold it. This truly is a story that that needs to be told and can maybe bring about a little bit of healing. And that's what I think good films and television do that you, we, we see ourselves mirrored back in many ways and we feel less alone.4 (1h 4m 5s):And so I felt like if I could do that with a narrative, maybe I can do it with a, a documentary. That's not to say that I wanna become a documentarian, because it's not that I wouldn't if the opportunity ever presented itself, but it's the same way in which, you know, writing a narrative feature, it's like, well, I've gotta be compelled to wanna tell this story kind of a thing. And this just happened to be the medium in which to tell it as opposed to making a, you know, a, a film about a guy named Billy who wants to start out being a performer.1 (1h 4m 40s):And I think that you've said a really good word that we talk about sometimes in other ways on this show and in my life I talk about is being compelled. So when someone is compelled to do something, I know that the art created from that feeling of being compelled is usually authentic, true necessary, and, and, and, and, and sometimes healing. So I love the word what doing projects that were compelled. So anything else that you're compelled to do right now?4 (1h 5m 14s):Work great, really, you know, I I, I really, I I still even after, you know, making this, this film, I, I am still very much an actor at heart and I love being on camera. I love the collaborative experience working with other actors. You know, I was very, very fortunate this past season to to work on Barry with Bill Hater and Bill, I guess if I, it was like, what's next? What's my next jam? I would love to be able to emulate what Bill is doing. You know, Bill is the lead. He's also writing, he's also directing all of the episodes.4 (1h 5m 58s):You know, I joked with him that he also ran craft services because it was literally doing all those things and just watching him effortlessly move from being Barry back to Bill, giving me a note and then giving a note to the DP and then stepping back into Barry was just a really wonderful thing. And it's like, you know what, if I can do that, and I have other friends and, and mentors like Tom Verica, Tom actually directed me in that first episode of Grey's Anatomy. And he and I have since become dear friends. He's now the executive producer and resident director on Bridger.4 (1h 6m 39s):He also was the resident director and producer on inventing Anna. And he and I have developed a narrative film that we're looking to produce as well. And, and, and so again, and yet, you know, Tom as sort of an aspiration or an inspiration for me. And he started out as an actor himself. And then, you know, he directed a lot of Grey's Anatomy and then the next thing you know, he's playing Vila, Viola Davis' husband on how to Get Away with Murder. And then he was also the lead producer on Scandal. So it's like, you know, not being defined by what this industry wants to put you in.4 (1h 7m 20s):I feel like I'm finally at the point in my career where Colin can direct a documentary and he could write something for somebody else and he could act. And, and again, you know, from day one when I, when I left Flow Arts early to go out and do the job, it's just because I wanna keep working. Yeah.3 (1h 7m 38s):And that's, that's, everybody says that. Everybody says, I just wish I could be working constantly. Cuz it's where it's where all the fun of, of the work is, you know, not auditioning and getting head shots and whatever. It's, it's, it's doing the work. By the way, Barry is how I came to ask you to be on this podcast, because I didn't watch it when it first came out. I, I kind of came to it late and of course binge the whole thing and it's fantastic. And, and I immediately went and looked up every single actor to see who went to theater school because I, I would love to have them all. What a fantastic show and what an interesting kind of nice little parallel somehow with your documentary and, and also your own story.3 (1h 8m 18s):There's a lot about actors like figuring out what they're doing on screen and, and kind of reconciling that with their offscreen life or, or even just with their career. Do I wanna be this type of actor? Do I wanna be this type of person? You know, Ha and Bill Hater has seamlessly gone, I mean, once upon a time you would not have really thought of a Saturday Night Live person making quite this kind of crossover. And the humor in that show about actors is so perfect. I've ne I've seen things that have come close to that, but I've never seen something that you're just dying laughing if you know anything about the acting profession, Right?3 (1h 8m 58s):Yeah. Or were you gonna say that?1 (1h 8m 59s):I was gonna say that. And also that like, his account, So I have suffered, you know, from panic attacks and anxiety disorder and his journey through that and with that has given me so much hope as a artist because he was one of the first people I knew, especially from snl, especially from comedy, to say, I was struggling with this and this is how I dealt with it. So it didn't totally destroy my life. And he could have chosen to be like, I'm having panic attacks on set at Saturday Live. I'm done, I'm done. But he worked through it and now is doing all of this. So it gives me a lot of hope. So if you talk to him, tell him there's a late, an anxious lady that really feels like I can, I can really reclaim myself as an artist and even maybe thrive through the anxiety.4 (1h 9m 50s):No, I, I, I so appreciate that, Jen. I really do. You know, I have dealt with panic attacks over the years, you know, again, being that new kid, I was kind of predisposed to, Oh my gosh, you know, and luckily I've never had it within my art. It's always been on the other side. But the way in which Bill has navigated all of that is really truly just, you know, motivating and inspiring on so many different levels. And I think the thing that I also recognize is the fact that Bill never had aspirations to be on snl. He wanted to be a filmmaker, you know, he was editing, he was doing all these types of things and he sort of fell in backwards to groundings and, and all that kind of stuff.4 (1h 10m 38s):And somebody saw him and said, Hey, let's do it. It's sort of like he had to kind of take that detour to be able to get back to doing the kind of things that he really wanted to be doing, you know, Which is great for me because I look at like, my time at Disney, okay? I never would've imagined that that brief time at Disney would've been able to fuel me in that it brought back into my life to allow me to direct a film about one of their performers 20 years later.1 (1h 11m 6s):It's a, your story. I'm so glad you came on because your story is a story about the, the consistent inconsistencies and the detours that aren't really detours. And for me, like just being like, I'm just knowing now going into into meetings, being a former therapist for felons. Like that is the thing that people are really interested in. And I
Get ready to meet one of my comedy heroes, but only if you can handle a LOT of profanity. George Carlin, following the path of his mentor, Lenny Bruce, kicked the doors of censorship down so people like myself could have careers in comedy, and not worry about being arrested for saying something "obscene." Today, we learn about the amazing, prolific, inspiring life of George Carlin - how a boy raised by a single mother in New York City grew up to become a radio DJ, then part of two man comedy team, then a solo nightclub act who first achieved success after some early struggles as a clean-cut, mainstream comic. He next decided to follow his counterculture leanings only to lose it all, rebuild into something better, nearly lose it all again, and then become the Carlin of legend. Carlin battled a crippling cocaine addiction, domestic problems at home, a business that wrote him off numerous times, battles with a government that tried to censor him over and over again, and much more to end up with fourteen HBO comedy specials and the designation of one of the best, if not THE best to ever do it - the father of modern standup. Myself and the rest of the comedy community owe him a huge debt of gratitude, and I'm excited to share his life with you here today, on another biographical episode, of Timesuck. Bad Magic Productions Monthly Patreon Donation: In honor of the passing of Jeff Burton from the Rizzuto Show aka the Rizz Show on 105.7 FM in St Louis, we are donating $16,640 to Jeff's charity of choice - Kids Rock Cancer. Through the proven healing power of music therapy, Kids Rock Cancer helps children combat feelings of anxiety, depression, uncertainty, and helplessness. To find out more, go to KidsRockCancer.org We also are donating $1850 to our scholarship fund! Watch the Suck on YouTube: https://youtu.be/lJkZj_F42uIMerch: https://www.badmagicmerch.comDiscord! https://discord.gg/tqzH89vWant to join the Cult of the Curious private Facebook Group? Go directly to Facebook and search for "Cult of the Curious" in order to locate whatever happens to be our most current page :)For all merch related questions/problems: email@example.com (copy and paste)Please rate and subscribe on iTunes and elsewhere and follow the suck on social media!! @timesuckpodcast on IG and http://www.facebook.com/timesuckpodcastWanna become a Space Lizard? Click here: https://www.patreon.com/timesuckpodcastSign up through Patreon and for $5 a month you get to listen to the Secret Suck, which will drop Thursdays at Noon, PST. You'll also get 20% off of all regular Timesuck merch PLUS access to exclusive Space Lizard merch. You get to vote on two Monday topics each month via the app. And you get the download link for my new comedy album, Feel the Heat. Check the Patreon posts to find out how to download the new album and take advantage of other benefits.
On this very special episode, Sarah finally gives in and welcomes comedian Rich Chassler to the show. It was the least Sarah could do since, you know, she and Rich did recently get engaged and all. On this episode, you will hear about how the two kept their relationship on the "down low" and how Rich popped the question. Also, get an excellent comedian to comedian chat about Lenny Bruce, comedy's relationship with jazz, and Rich's upcoming hour long standup special. Sit back with your favorite beverage, enjoy the show, and maybe lift your glass to toast the newly engaged couple while you're at it. Cheers!
President Kennedy speaks out on Cuba; two Negro churches are burned in Georgia; convicted spy Robert Soblen commits suicide; Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" is criticized; Lenny Bruce is banned in Sydney; Jimmy Piersall is arrested in Baltimore. Newscaster: Joe Rubenstein. Please subscribe to this podcast, and thanks for your support!
6 - News Rundown with Dawn 610 - Larry Krasner gets defensive at a press conference. Michael Irvin shoots down the notion that Colin Kaepernick should get the Cowboys QB job. 620 - Zeoli Army member was on Tucker Carlson last night after she was unlawfully raided by the FBI. This is just a scare tactic by the FBI. Did you know Aretha Franklin was tracked? 640 - Next Rich discusses the relationship between the FBI and comedian Lenny Bruce. Also discusses their political motivations. 7 - News and Weather 710 - Over 1300 employees have pledged to not go back to work. Scooby-Doo canceled? Velma can't call police in the new game Multiversus anymore. 730 - The Washington Post wants Fetterman to debate! Giving Henry a hard time over the Mystery Movie selections. 745 - What's on the Cutsheet? 8 - Mayor Kenney whines about gun control at a press conference as DA Larry Krasner gets testy with a reporter over homicide and crime. 810 - Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden returns to the show to discuss crime, policies, and how his officers perform despite liberal policies. 820 - News Rundown with Dawn 830 - The cover-up of the death of a fire K9. With questions on financial statements and work done on the county vehicle, how deep does this go? 840 - John Fetterman needs to debate more than once, says The Washington Post. 9 - News Rundown with Dawn. Rich is going to be the best angler Cape May has ever seen. 910 - Hate Chicken is back after a Chick-Fil-a replied to a comment with the phrase “your community” when talking to a customer on social media. 920 - Mystery Movie Winner. 930 - U.S. Inflation is still close to the four decade high despite a slight downward turn in August. 940 - BREAKING: Larry Krasner being held in contempt for refusing to cooperate with state committee. What's coming up on the Dawn Show? What's on the Cutsheet? 950 - Who won Twitter? And Final Thoughts by Rich
6 - News Rundown with Dawn 610 - Larry Krasner gets defensive at a press conference. Michael Irvin shoots down the notion that Colin Kaepernick should get the Cowboys QB job. 620 - Zeoli Army member was on Tucker Carlson last night after she was unlawfully raided by the FBI. This is just a scare tactic by the FBI. Did you know Aretha Franklin was tracked? 640 - Next Rich discusses the relationship between the FBI and comedian Lenny Bruce. Also discusses their political motivations.
Hollywood Spiritual Advisor - Beatrice Marot has been a spiritual advisor in Hollywood for the past twenty years. She specializes in helping people develop their natural talents based on their Astrological birth chart. She uses an Indian System of Astrology called "Jyotish" which means "The Science of Light." This system focuses more on one's Karma or life lessons and Dharma or life purpose. Beatrice is prolific in many arts of divination including channeling, dream interpretation, the Tarot, visualization, communication with the Spirit Realm and the source of all intuition - the "Goddess" within. The Goddess concept, a cornerstone of Marot's work, represents the feminine, receptive and creative principal within each of us and how to awaken the Goddess energy to bring greater joy, prosperity and healing into our lives. Celebrity clients include Robert De Niro, Robin Wright, Billy Zane, Michelle Rodriguez, Governor Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Her upcoming book, "Movie Stars, Mobsters, Merlin and Me" explains in detail her unusual connection with the other side and in particular the ongoing communication she has had since 1996 with many celebrated souls including John Belushi, Lenny Bruce, Elvis Presley, Tupac Shakur, John Lennon, John Houston, Sam Peckinpah and Producer Marvin Worth. Her reality is a life of having a foot in both worlds which she reveals in detail in her book that she calls . . . "Stories of Love written from Above." Her latest celebrity contacts are the late great Johnny Carson who came through with a message for Dick Clark that prompted the iconic music legend to call her and the most famous voice in the world . . . the man known as "The Voice of God" Don La Fontaine who has been making the rounds since March of 2010 using Beatrice's telepathic skills to touch the lives of both friends and strangers in a very dynamic way. - www.goddesscentral.comTo listen to all our XZBN shows, with our compliments go to: https://www.spreaker.com/user/xzoneradiotv*** AND NOW ***The ‘X' Zone TV Channel on SimulTV - www.simultv.comThe ‘X' Chronicles Newspaper - www.xchroniclesnewspaper.com
Episode 152 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “For What It's Worth”, and the short but eventful career of Buffalo Springfield. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a twenty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by Glen Campbell. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources As usual, there's a Mixcloud mix containing all the songs excerpted in the episode. This four-CD box set is the definitive collection of Buffalo Springfield's work, while if you want the mono version of the second album, the stereo version of the first, and the final album as released, but no demos or outtakes, you want this more recent box set. For What It's Worth: The Story of Buffalo Springfield by Richey Furay and John Einarson is obviously Furay's version of the story, but all the more interesting for that. For information on Steve Stills' early life I used Stephen Stills: Change Partners by David Roberts. Information on both Stills and Young comes from Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young by David Browne. Jimmy McDonough's Shakey is the definitive biography of Neil Young, while Young's Waging Heavy Peace is his autobiography. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript A quick note before we begin -- this episode deals with various disabilities. In particular, there are descriptions of epileptic seizures that come from non-medically-trained witnesses, many of whom took ableist attitudes towards the seizures. I don't know enough about epilepsy to know how accurate their descriptions and perceptions are, and I apologise if that means that by repeating some of their statements, I am inadvertently passing on myths about the condition. When I talk about this, I am talking about the after-the-fact recollections of musicians, none of them medically trained and many of them in altered states of consciousness, about events that had happened decades earlier. Please do not take anything said in a podcast about music history as being the last word on the causes or effects of epileptic seizures, rather than how those musicians remember them. Anyway, on with the show. One of the things you notice if you write about protest songs is that a lot of the time, the songs that people talk about as being important or impactful have aged very poorly. Even great songwriters like Bob Dylan or John Lennon, when writing material about the political events of the time, would write material they would later acknowledge was far from their best. Too often a song will be about a truly important event, and be powered by a real sense of outrage at injustice, but it will be overly specific, and then as soon as the immediate issue is no longer topical, the song is at best a curio. For example, the sentencing of the poet and rock band manager John Sinclair to ten years in prison for giving two joints to an undercover police officer was hugely controversial in the early seventies, but by the time John Lennon's song about it was released, Sinclair had been freed by the Supreme Court, and very, very few people would use the song as an example of why Lennon's songwriting still has lasting value: [Excerpt: John Lennon, "John Sinclair"] But there are exceptions, and those tend to be songs where rather than talking about specific headlines, the song is about the emotion that current events have caused. Ninety years on from its first success, for example, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" still has resonance, because there are still people who are put out of work through no fault of their own, and even those of us who are lucky enough to be financially comfortable have the fear that all too soon it may end, and we may end up like Al begging on the streets: [Excerpt: Rudy Vallee, "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"] And because of that emotional connection, sometimes the very best protest songs can take on new lives and new meanings, and connect with the way people feel about totally unrelated subjects. Take Buffalo Springfield's one hit. The actual subject of the song couldn't be any more trivial in the grand scheme of things -- a change in zoning regulations around the Sunset Strip that meant people under twenty-one couldn't go to the clubs after 10PM, and the subsequent reaction to that -- but because rather than talking about the specific incident, Steve Stills instead talked about the emotions that it called up, and just noted the fleeting images that he was left with, the song became adopted as an anthem by soldiers in Vietnam. Sometimes what a song says is nowhere near as important as how it says it. [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth"] Steve Stills seems almost to have been destined to be a musician, although the instrument he started on, the drums, was not the one for which he would become best known. According to Stills, though, he always had an aptitude for rhythm, to the extent that he learned to tapdance almost as soon as he had learned to walk. He started on drums aged eight or nine, after somebody gave him a set of drumsticks. After his parents got sick of him damaging the furniture by playing on every available surface, an actual drum kit followed, and that became his principal instrument, even after he learned to play the guitar at military school, as his roommate owned one. As a teenager, Stills developed an idiosyncratic taste in music, helped by the record collection of his friend Michael Garcia. He didn't particularly like most of the pop music of the time, but he was a big fan of pre-war country music, Motown, girl-group music -- he especially liked the Shirelles -- and Chess blues. He was also especially enamoured of the music of Jimmy Reed, a passion he would later share with his future bandmate Neil Young: [Excerpt: Jimmy Reed, "Baby, What You Want Me To Do?"] In his early teens, he became the drummer for a band called the Radars, and while he was drumming he studied their lead guitarist, Chuck Schwin. He said later "There was a whole little bunch of us who were into kind of a combination of all the blues guys and others including Chet Atkins, Dick Dale, and Hank Marvin: a very weird cross-section of far-out guitar players." Stills taught himself to play like those guitarists, and in particular he taught himself how to emulate Atkins' Travis-picking style, and became remarkably proficient at it. There exists a recording of him, aged sixteen, singing one of his own songs and playing finger-picked guitar, and while the song is not exactly the strongest thing I've ever heard lyrically, it's clearly the work of someone who is already a confident performer: [Excerpt: Stephen Stills, "Travellin'"] But the main reason he switched to becoming a guitarist wasn't because of his admiration for Chet Atkins or Hank Marvin, but because he started driving and discovered that if you have to load a drum kit into your car and then drive it to rehearsals and gigs you either end up bashing up your car or bashing up the drum kit. As this is not a problem with guitars, Stills decided that he'd move on from the Radars, and join a band named the Continentals as their rhythm guitarist, playing with lead guitarist Don Felder. Stills was only in the Continentals for a few months though, before being replaced by another guitarist, Bernie Leadon, and in general Stills' whole early life is one of being uprooted and moved around. His father had jobs in several different countries, and while for the majority of his time Stills was in the southern US, he also ended up spending time in Costa Rica -- and staying there as a teenager even as the rest of his family moved to El Salvador. Eventually, aged eighteen, he moved to New Orleans, where he formed a folk duo with a friend, Chris Sarns. The two had very different tastes in folk music -- Stills preferred Dylan-style singer-songwriters, while Sarns liked the clean sound of the Kingston Trio -- but they played together for several months before moving to Greenwich Village, where they performed together and separately. They were latecomers to the scene, which had already mostly ended, and many of the folk stars had already gone on to do bigger things. But Stills still saw plenty of great performers there -- Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk in the jazz clubs, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, and Richard Pryor in the comedy ones, and Simon and Garfunkel, Richie Havens, Fred Neil and Tim Hardin in the folk ones -- Stills said that other than Chet Atkins, Havens, Neil, and Hardin were the people most responsible for his guitar style. Stills was also, at this time, obsessed with Judy Collins' third album -- the album which had featured Roger McGuinn on banjo and arrangements, and which would soon provide several songs for the Byrds to cover: [Excerpt: Judy Collins, "Turn, Turn, Turn"] Judy Collins would soon become a very important figure in Stills' life, but for now she was just the singer on his favourite record. While the Greenwich Village folk scene was no longer quite what it had been a year or two earlier, it was still a great place for a young talented musician to perform. As well as working with Chris Sarns, Stills also formed a trio with his friend John Hopkins and a banjo player called Peter Tork who everyone said looked just like Stills. Tork soon headed out west to seek his fortune, and then Stills got headhunted to join the Au Go Go Singers. This was a group that was being set up in the same style as the New Christy Minstrels -- a nine-piece vocal and instrumental group that would do clean-sounding versions of currently-popular folk songs. The group were signed to Roulette Records, and recorded one album, They Call Us Au-Go-Go Singers, produced by Hugo and Luigi, the production duo we've previously seen working with everyone from the Tokens to the Isley Brothers. Much of the album is exactly the same kind of thing that a million New Christy Minstrels soundalikes were putting out -- and Stills, with his raspy voice, was clearly intended to be the Barry McGuire of this group -- but there was one exception -- a song called "High Flyin' Bird", on which Stills was able to show off the sound that would later make him famous, and which became so associated with him that even though it was written by Billy Edd Wheeler, the writer of "Jackson", even the biography of Stills I used in researching this episode credits "High Flyin' Bird" as being a Stills original: [Excerpt: The Au-Go-Go Singers, "High Flyin' Bird"] One of the other members of the Au-Go-Go Singers, Richie Furay, also got to sing a lead vocal on the album, on the Tom Paxton song "Where I'm Bound": [Excerpt: The Au-Go-Go Singers, "Where I'm Bound"] The Au-Go-Go Singers got a handful of dates around the folk scene, and Stills and Furay became friendly with another singer playing the same circuit, Gram Parsons. Parsons was one of the few people they knew who could see the value in current country music, and convinced both Stills and Furay to start paying more attention to what was coming out of Nashville and Bakersfield. But soon the Au-Go-Go Singers split up. Several venues where they might otherwise have been booked were apparently scared to book an act that was associated with Morris Levy, and also the market for big folk ensembles dried up more or less overnight when the Beatles hit the music scene. But several of the group -- including Stills but not Furay -- decided they were going to continue anyway, and formed a group called The Company, and they went on a tour of Canada. And one of the venues they played was the Fourth Dimension coffee house in Fort William, Ontario, and there their support act was a rock band called The Squires: [Excerpt: The Squires, "(I'm a Man And) I Can't Cry"] The lead guitarist of the Squires, Neil Young, had a lot in common with Stills, and they bonded instantly. Both men had parents who had split up when they were in their teens, and had a successful but rather absent father and an overbearing mother. And both had shown an interest in music even as babies. According to Young's mother, when he was still in nappies, he would pull himself up by the bars of his playpen and try to dance every time he heard "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie": [Excerpt: Pinetop Smith, "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie"] Young, though, had had one crucial experience which Stills had not had. At the age of six, he'd come down with polio, and become partially paralysed. He'd spent months in hospital before he regained his ability to walk, and the experience had also affected him in other ways. While he was recovering, he would draw pictures of trains -- other than music, his big interest, almost an obsession, was with electric train sets, and that obsession would remain with him throughout his life -- but for the first time he was drawing with his right hand rather than his left. He later said "The left-hand side got a little screwed. Feels different from the right. If I close my eyes, my left side, I really don't know where it is—but over the years I've discovered that almost one hundred percent for sure it's gonna be very close to my right side … probably to the left. That's why I started appearing to be ambidextrous, I think. Because polio affected my left side, and I think I was left-handed when I was born. What I have done is use the weak side as the dominant one because the strong side was injured." Both Young's father Scott Young -- a very famous Canadian writer and sports broadcaster, who was by all accounts as well known in Canada during his lifetime as his son -- and Scott's brother played ukulele, and they taught Neil how to play, and his first attempt at forming a group had been to get his friend Comrie Smith to get a pair of bongos and play along with him to Preston Epps' "Bongo Rock": [Excerpt: Preston Epps, "Bongo Rock"] Neil Young had liked all the usual rock and roll stars of the fifties -- though in his personal rankings, Elvis came a distant third behind Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis -- but his tastes ran more to the more darkly emotional. He loved "Maybe" by the Chantels, saying "Raw soul—you cannot miss it. That's the real thing. She was believin' every word she was singin'." [Excerpt: The Chantels, "Maybe"] What he liked more than anything was music that had a mainstream surface but seemed slightly off-kilter. He was a major fan of Roy Orbison, saying, "it's almost impossible to comprehend the depth of that soul. It's so deep and dark it just keeps on goin' down—but it's not black. It's blue, deep blue. He's just got it. The drama. There's something sad but proud about Roy's music", and he would say similar things about Del Shannon, saying "He struck me as the ultimate dark figure—behind some Bobby Rydell exterior, y'know? “Hats Off to Larry,” “Runaway,” “Swiss Maid”—very, very inventive. The stuff was weird. Totally unaffected." More surprisingly, perhaps, he was a particular fan of Bobby Darin, who he admired so much because Darin could change styles at the drop of a hat, going from novelty rock and roll like "Splish Splash" to crooning "Mack The Knife" to singing Tim Hardin songs like "If I Were a Carpenter", without any of them seeming any less authentic. As he put it later "He just changed. He's completely different. And he's really into it. Doesn't sound like he's not there. “Dream Lover,” “Mack the Knife,” “If I Were a Carpenter,” “Queen of the Hop,” “Splish Splash”—tell me about those records, Mr. Darin. Did you write those all the same day, or what happened? He just changed so much. Just kinda went from one place to another. So it's hard to tell who Bobby Darin really was." And one record which Young was hugely influenced by was Floyd Cramer's country instrumental, "Last Date": [Excerpt: Floyd Cramer, "Last Date"] Now, that was a very important record in country music, and if you want to know more about it I strongly recommend listening to the episode of Cocaine and Rhinestones on the Nashville A-Team, which has a long section on the track, but the crucial thing to know about that track is that it's one of the earliest examples of what is known as slip-note playing, where the piano player, before hitting the correct note, briefly hits the note a tone below it, creating a brief discord. Young absolutely loved that sound, and wanted to make a sound like that on the guitar. And then, when he and his mother moved to Winnipeg after his parents' divorce, he found someone who was doing just that. It was the guitarist in a group variously known as Chad Allan and the Reflections and Chad Allan and the Expressions. That group had relatives in the UK who would send them records, and so where most Canadian bands would do covers of American hits, Chad Allan and the Reflections would do covers of British hits, like their version of Geoff Goddard's "Tribute to Buddy Holly", a song that had originally been produced by Joe Meek: [Excerpt: Chad Allan and the Reflections, "Tribute to Buddy Holly"] That would later pay off for them in a big way, when they recorded a version of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' "Shakin' All Over", for which their record label tried to create an air of mystery by releasing it with no artist name, just "Guess Who?" on the label. It became a hit, the name stuck, and they became The Guess Who: [Excerpt: The Guess Who, "Shakin' All Over"] But at this point they, and their guitarist Randy Bachman, were just another group playing around Winnipeg. Bachman, though, was hugely impressive to Neil Young for a few reasons. The first was that he really did have a playing style that was a lot like the piano style of Floyd Cramer -- Young would later say "it was Randy Bachman who did it first. Randy was the first one I ever heard do things on the guitar that reminded me of Floyd. He'd do these pulls—“darrr darrrr,” this two-note thing goin' together—harmony, with one note pulling and the other note stayin' the same." Bachman also had built the first echo unit that Young heard a guitarist play in person. He'd discovered that by playing with the recording heads on a tape recorder owned by his mother, he could replicate the tape echo that Sam Phillips had used at Sun Studios -- and once he'd attached that to his amplifier, he realised how much the resulting sound sounded like his favourite guitarist, Hank Marvin of the Shadows, another favourite of Neil Young's: [Excerpt: The Shadows, "Man of Mystery"] Young soon started looking to Bachman as something of a mentor figure, and he would learn a lot of guitar techniques second hand from Bachman -- every time a famous musician came to the area, Bachman would go along and stand right at the front and watch the guitarist, and make note of the positions their fingers were in. Then Bachman would replicate those guitar parts with the Reflections, and Neil Young would stand in front of him and make notes of where *his* fingers were. Young joined a band on the local circuit called the Esquires, but soon either quit or was fired, depending on which version of the story you choose to believe. He then formed his own rival band, the Squires, with no "e", much to the disgust of his ex-bandmates. In July 1963, five months after they formed, the Squires released their first record, "Aurora" backed with "The Sultan", on a tiny local label. Both tracks were very obviously influenced by the Shadows: [Excerpt: The Squires, "Aurora"] The Squires were a mostly-instrumental band for the first year or so they were together, and then the Beatles hit North America, and suddenly people didn't want to hear surf instrumentals and Shadows covers any more, they only wanted to hear songs that sounded a bit like the Beatles. The Squires started to work up the appropriate repertoire -- two songs that have been mentioned as in their set at this point are the Beatles album track "It Won't Be Long", and "Money" which the Beatles had also covered -- but they didn't have a singer, being an instrumental group. They could get in a singer, of course, but that would mean splitting the money with another person. So instead, the guitarist, who had never had any intention of becoming a singer, was more or less volunteered for the role. Over the next eighteen months or so the group's repertoire moved from being largely instrumental to largely vocal, and the group also seem to have shuttled around a bit between two different cities -- Winnipeg and Fort William, staying in one for a while and then moving back to the other. They travelled between the two in Young's car, a Buick Roadmaster hearse. In Winnipeg, Young first met up with a singer named Joni Anderson, who was soon to get married to Chuck Mitchell and would become better known by her married name. The two struck up a friendship, though by all accounts never a particularly close one -- they were too similar in too many ways; as Mitchell later said “Neil and I have a lot in common: Canadian; Scorpios; polio in the same epidemic, struck the same parts of our body; and we both have a black sense of humor". They were both also idiosyncratic artists who never fit very well into boxes. In Fort William the Squires made a few more records, this time vocal tracks like "I'll Love You Forever": [Excerpt: The Squires, "I'll Love You Forever"] It was also in Fort William that Young first encountered two acts that would make a huge impression on him. One was a group called The Thorns, consisting of Tim Rose, Jake Holmes, and Rich Husson. The Thorns showed Young that there was interesting stuff being done on the fringes of the folk music scene. He later said "One of my favourites was “Oh Susannah”—they did this arrangement that was bizarre. It was in a minor key, which completely changed everything—and it was rock and roll. So that idea spawned arrangements of all these other songs for me. I did minor versions of them all. We got into it. That was a certain Squires stage that never got recorded. Wish there were tapes of those shows. We used to do all this stuff, a whole kinda music—folk-rock. We took famous old folk songs like “Clementine,” “She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain,” “Tom Dooley,” and we did them all in minor keys based on the Tim Rose arrangement of “Oh Susannah.” There are no recordings of the Thorns in existence that I know of, but presumably that arrangement that Young is talking about is the version that Rose also later did with the Big 3, which we've heard in a few other episodes: [Excerpt: The Big 3, "The Banjo Song"] The other big influence was, of course, Steve Stills, and the two men quickly found themselves influencing each other deeply. Stills realised that he could bring more rock and roll to his folk-music sound, saying that what amazed him was the way the Squires could go from "Cottonfields" (the Lead Belly song) to "Farmer John", the R&B song by Don and Dewey that was becoming a garage-rock staple. Young in turn was inspired to start thinking about maybe going more in the direction of folk music. The Squires even renamed themselves the High-Flying Birds, after the song that Stills had recorded with the Au Go Go Singers. After The Company's tour of Canada, Stills moved back to New York for a while. He now wanted to move in a folk-rock direction, and for a while he tried to persuade his friend John Sebastian to let him play bass in his new band, but when the Lovin' Spoonful decided against having him in the band, he decided to move West to San Francisco, where he'd heard there was a new music scene forming. He enjoyed a lot of the bands he saw there, and in particular he was impressed by the singer of a band called the Great Society: [Excerpt: The Great Society, "Somebody to Love"] He was much less impressed with the rest of her band, and seriously considered going up to her and asking if she wanted to work with some *real* musicians instead of the unimpressive ones she was working with, but didn't get his nerve up. We will, though, be hearing more about Grace Slick in future episodes. Instead, Stills decided to move south to LA, where many of the people he'd known in Greenwich Village were now based. Soon after he got there, he hooked up with two other musicians, a guitarist named Steve Young and a singer, guitarist, and pianist named Van Dyke Parks. Parks had a record contract at MGM -- he'd been signed by Tom Wilson, the same man who had turned Dylan electric, signed Simon and Garfunkel, and produced the first albums by the Mothers of Invention. With Wilson, Parks put out a couple of singles in 1966, "Come to the Sunshine": [Excerpt: The Van Dyke Parks, "Come to the Sunshine"] And "Number Nine", a reworking of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony: [Excerpt: The Van Dyke Parks, "Number Nine"]Parks, Stills, and Steve Young became The Van Dyke Parks Band, though they didn't play together for very long, with their most successful performance being as the support act for the Lovin' Spoonful for a show in Arizona. But they did have a lasting resonance -- when Van Dyke Parks finally got the chance to record his first solo album, he opened it with Steve Young singing the old folk song "Black Jack Davy", filtered to sound like an old tape: [Excerpt: Steve Young, "Black Jack Davy"] And then it goes into a song written for Parks by Randy Newman, but consisting of Newman's ideas about Parks' life and what he knew about him, including that he had been third guitar in the Van Dyke Parks Band: [Excerpt: Van Dyke Parks, "Vine Street"] Parks and Stills also wrote a few songs together, with one of their collaborations, "Hello, I've Returned", later being demoed by Stills for Buffalo Springfield: [Excerpt: Steve Stills, "Hello, I've Returned"] After the Van Dyke Parks Band fell apart, Parks went on to many things, including a brief stint on keyboards in the Mothers of Invention, and we'll be talking more about him next episode. Stills formed a duo called the Buffalo Fish, with his friend Ron Long. That soon became an occasional trio when Stills met up again with his old Greenwich Village friend Peter Tork, who joined the group on the piano. But then Stills auditioned for the Monkees and was turned down because he had bad teeth -- or at least that's how most people told the story. Stills has later claimed that while he turned up for the Monkees auditions, it wasn't to audition, it was to try to pitch them songs, which seems implausible on the face of it. According to Stills, he was offered the job and turned it down because he'd never wanted it. But whatever happened, Stills suggested they might want his friend Peter, who looked just like him apart from having better teeth, and Peter Tork got the job. But what Stills really wanted to do was to form a proper band. He'd had the itch to do it ever since seeing the Squires, and he decided he should ask Neil Young to join. There was only one problem -- when he phoned Young, the phone was answered by Young's mother, who told Stills that Neil had moved out to become a folk singer, and she didn't know where he was. But then Stills heard from his old friend Richie Furay. Furay was still in Greenwich Village, and had decided to write to Stills. He didn't know where Stills was, other than that he was in California somewhere, so he'd written to Stills' father in El Salvador. The letter had been returned, because the postage had been short by one cent, so Furay had resent it with the correct postage. Stills' father had then forwarded the letter to the place Stills had been staying in San Francisco, which had in turn forwarded it on to Stills in LA. Furay's letter mentioned this new folk singer who had been on the scene for a while and then disappeared again, Neil Young, who had said he knew Stills, and had been writing some great songs, one of which Furay had added to his own set. Stills got in touch with Furay and told him about this great band he was forming in LA, which he wanted Furay to join. Furay was in, and travelled from New York to LA, only to be told that at this point there were no other members of this great band, but they'd definitely find some soon. They got a publishing deal with Columbia/Screen Gems, which gave them enough money to not starve, but what they really needed was to find some other musicians. They did, when driving down Hollywood Boulevard on April the sixth, 1966. There, stuck in traffic going the other way, they saw a hearse... After Steve Stills had left Fort William, so had Neil Young. He hadn't initially intended to -- the High-Flying Birds still had a regular gig, but Young and some of his friends had gone away for a few days on a road trip in his hearse. But unfortunately the transmission on the hearse had died, and Young and his friends had been stranded. Many years later, he would write a eulogy to the hearse, which he and Stills would record together: [Excerpt: The Stills-Young Band, "Long May You Run"] Young and his friends had all hitch-hiked in different directions -- Young had ended up in Toronto, where his dad lived, and had stayed with his dad for a while. The rest of his band had eventually followed him there, but Young found the Toronto music scene not to his taste -- the folk and rock scenes there were very insular and didn't mingle with each other, and the group eventually split up. Young even took on a day job for a while, for the only time in his life, though he soon quit. Young started basically commuting between Toronto and New York, a distance of several hundred miles, going to Greenwich Village for a while before ending up back in Toronto, and ping-ponging between the two. In New York, he met up with Richie Furay, and also had a disastrous audition for Elektra Records as a solo artist. One of the songs he sang in the audition was "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing", the song which Furay liked so much he started performing it himself. Young doesn't normally explain his songs, but as this was one of the first he ever wrote, he talked about it in interviews in the early years, before he decided to be less voluble about his art. The song was apparently about the sense of youthful hope being crushed. The instigation for it was Young seeing his girlfriend with another man, but the central image, of Clancy not singing, came from Young's schooldays. The Clancy in question was someone Young liked as one of the other weird kids at school. He was disabled, like Young, though with MS rather than polio, and he would sing to himself in the hallways at school. Sadly, of course, the other kids would mock and bully him for that, and eventually he ended up stopping. Young said about it "After awhile, he got so self-conscious he couldn't do his thing any more. When someone who is as beautiful as that and as different as that is actually killed by his fellow man—you know what I mean—like taken and sorta chopped down—all the other things are nothing compared to this." [Excerpt: Neil Young, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing (Elektra demo)"] One thing I should say for anyone who listens to the Mixcloud for this episode, that song, which will be appearing in a couple of different versions, has one use of a term for Romani people that some (though not all) consider a slur. It's not in the excerpts I'll be using in this episode, but will be in the full versions on the Mixcloud. Sadly that word turns up time and again in songs of this era... When he wasn't in New York, Young was living in Toronto in a communal apartment owned by a folk singer named Vicki Taylor, where many of the Toronto folk scene would stay. Young started listening a lot to Taylor's Bert Jansch albums, which were his first real exposure to the British folk-baroque style of guitar fingerpicking, as opposed to the American Travis-picking style, and Young would soon start to incorporate that style into his own playing: [Excerpt: Bert Jansch, "Angie"] Another guitar influence on Young at this point was another of the temporary tenants of Taylor's flat, John Kay, who would later go on to be one of the founding members of Steppenwolf. Young credited Kay with having a funky rhythm guitar style that Young incorporated into his own. While he was in Toronto, he started getting occasional gigs in Detroit, which is "only" a couple of hundred miles away, set up by Joni and Chuck Mitchell, both of whom also sometimes stayed at Taylor's. And it was in Detroit that Neil Young became, albeit very briefly, a Motown artist. The Mynah Birds were a band in Toronto that had at one point included various future members of Steppenwolf, and they were unusual for the time in that they were a white band with a Black lead singer, Ricky Matthews. They also had a rich manager, John Craig Eaton, the heir to the Eaton's department store fortune, who basically gave them whatever money they wanted -- they used to go to his office and tell him they needed seven hundred dollars for lunch, and he'd hand it to them. They were looking for a new guitarist when Bruce Palmer, their bass player, bumped into Neil Young carrying an amp and asked if he was interested in joining. He was. The Mynah Birds quickly became one of the best bands in Toronto, and Young and Matthews became close, both as friends and as a performance team. People who saw them live would talk about things like a song called “Hideaway”, written by Young and Matthews, which had a spot in the middle where Young would start playing a harmonica solo, throw the harmonica up in the air mid-solo, Matthews would catch it, and he would then finish the solo. They got signed to Motown, who were at this point looking to branch out into the white guitar-group market, and they were put through the Motown star-making machine. They recorded an entire album, which remains unreleased, but they did release a single, "It's My Time": [Excerpt: The Mynah Birds, "It's My Time"] Or at least, they released a handful of promo copies. The single was pulled from release after Ricky Matthews got arrested. It turned out his birth name wasn't Ricky Matthews, but James Johnson, and that he wasn't from Toronto as he'd told everyone, but from Buffalo, New York. He'd fled to Canada after going AWOL from the Navy, not wanting to be sent to Vietnam, and he was arrested and jailed for desertion. After getting out of jail, he would start performing under yet another name, and as Rick James would have a string of hits in the seventies and eighties: [Excerpt: Rick James, "Super Freak"] Most of the rest of the group continued gigging as The Mynah Birds, but Young and Palmer had other plans. They sold the expensive equipment Eaton had bought the group, and Young bought a new hearse, which he named Mort 2 – Mort had been his first hearse. And according to one of the band's friends in Toronto, the crucial change in their lives came when Neil Young heard a song on a jukebox: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] Young apparently heard "California Dreamin'" and immediately said "Let's go to California and become rock stars". Now, Young later said of this anecdote that "That sounds like a Canadian story to me. That sounds too real to be true", and he may well be right. Certainly the actual wording of the story is likely incorrect -- people weren't talking about "rock stars" in 1966. Google's Ngram viewer has the first use of the phrase in print being in 1969, and the phrase didn't come into widespread usage until surprisingly late -- even granting that phrases enter slang before they make it to print, it still seems implausible. But even though the precise wording might not be correct, something along those lines definitely seems to have happened, albeit possibly less dramatically. Young's friend Comrie Smith independently said that Young told him “Well, Comrie, I can hear the Mamas and the Papas singing ‘All the leaves are brown, and the skies are gray …' I'm gonna go down to the States and really make it. I'm on my way. Today North Toronto, tomorrow the world!” Young and Palmer loaded up Mort 2 with a bunch of their friends and headed towards California. On the way, they fell out with most of the friends, who parted from them, and Young had an episode which in retrospect may have been his first epileptic seizure. They decided when they got to California that they were going to look for Steve Stills, as they'd heard he was in LA and neither of them knew anyone else in the state. But after several days of going round the Sunset Strip clubs asking if anyone knew Steve Stills, and sleeping in the hearse as they couldn't afford anywhere else, they were getting fed up and about to head off to San Francisco, as they'd heard there was a good music scene there, too. They were going to leave that day, and they were stuck in traffic on Sunset Boulevard, about to head off, when Stills and Furay came driving in the other direction. Furay happened to turn his head, to brush away a fly, and saw a hearse with Ontario license plates. He and Stills both remembered that Young drove a hearse, and so they assumed it must be him. They started honking at the hearse, then did a U-turn. They got Young's attention, and they all pulled into the parking lot at Ben Frank's, the Sunset Strip restaurant that attracted such a hip crowd the Monkees' producers had asked for "Ben Frank's types" in their audition advert. Young introduced Stills and Furay to Palmer, and now there *was* a group -- three singing, songwriting, guitarists and a bass player. Now all they needed was a drummer. There were two drummers seriously considered for the role. One of them, Billy Mundi, was technically the better player, but Young didn't like playing with him as much -- and Mundi also had a better offer, to join the Mothers of Invention as their second drummer -- before they'd recorded their first album, they'd had two drummers for a few months, but Denny Bruce, their second drummer, had become ill with glandular fever and they'd reverted to having Jimmy Carl Black play solo. Now they were looking for someone else, and Mundi took that role. The other drummer, who Young preferred anyway, was another Canadian, Dewey Martin. Martin was a couple of years older than the rest of the group, and by far the most experienced. He'd moved from Canada to Nashville in his teens, and according to Martin he had been taken under the wing of Hank Garland, the great session guitarist most famous for "Sugarfoot Rag": [Excerpt: Hank Garland, "Sugarfoot Rag"] We heard Garland playing with Elvis and others in some of the episodes around 1960, and by many reckonings he was the best session guitarist in Nashville, but in 1961 he had a car accident that left him comatose, and even though he recovered from the coma and lived another thirty-three years, he never returned to recording. According to Martin, though, Garland would still sometimes play jazz clubs around Nashville after the accident, and one day Martin walked into a club and saw him playing. The drummer he was playing with got up and took a break, taking his sticks with him, so Martin got up on stage and started playing, using two combs instead of sticks. Garland was impressed, and told Martin that Faron Young needed a drummer, and he could get him the gig. At the time Young was one of the biggest stars in country music. That year, 1961, he had three country top ten hits, including a number one with his version of Willie Nelson's "Hello Walls", produced by Ken Nelson: [Excerpt: Faron Young, "Hello Walls"] Martin joined Faron Young's band for a while, and also ended up playing short stints in the touring bands of various other Nashville-based country and rock stars, including Patsy Cline, Roy Orbison, and the Everly Brothers, before heading to LA for a while. Then Mel Taylor of the Ventures hooked him up with some musicians in the Pacific Northwest scene, and Martin started playing there under the name Sir Raleigh and the Coupons with various musicians. After a while he travelled back to LA where he got some members of the LA group Sons of Adam to become a permanent lineup of Coupons, and they recorded several singles with Martin singing lead, including the Tommy Boyce and Steve Venet song "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day", later recorded by the Monkees: [Excerpt: Sir Raleigh and the Coupons, "Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day"] He then played with the Standells, before joining the Modern Folk Quartet for a short while, as they were transitioning from their folk sound to a folk-rock style. He was only with them for a short while, and it's difficult to get precise details -- almost everyone involved with Buffalo Springfield has conflicting stories about their own careers with timelines that don't make sense, which is understandable given that people were talking about events decades later and memory plays tricks. "Fast" Eddie Hoh had joined the Modern Folk Quartet on drums in late 1965, at which point they became the Modern Folk Quintet, and nothing I've read about that group talks about Hoh ever actually leaving, but apparently Martin joined them in February 1966, which might mean he's on their single "Night-Time Girl", co-written by Al Kooper and produced and arranged by Jack Nitzsche: [Excerpt: The Modern Folk Quintet, "Night-Time Girl"] After that, Martin was taken on by the Dillards, a bluegrass band who are now possibly most famous for having popularised the Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith song "Duellin' Banjos", which they recorded on their first album and played on the Andy Griffith Show a few years before it was used in Deliverance: [Excerpt: The Dillards, "Duellin' Banjos"] The Dillards had decided to go in a country-rock direction -- and Doug Dillard would later join the Byrds and make records with Gene Clark -- but they were hesitant about it, and after a brief period with Martin in the band they decided to go back to their drummerless lineup. To soften the blow, they told him about another band that was looking for a drummer -- their manager, Jim Dickson, who was also the Byrds' manager, knew Stills and his bandmates. Dewey Martin was in the group. The group still needed a name though. They eventually took their name from a brand of steam roller, after seeing one on the streets when some roadwork was being done. Everyone involved disagrees as to who came up with the name. Steve Stills at one point said it was a group decision after Neil Young and the group's manager Frazier Mohawk stole the nameplate off the steamroller, and later Stills said that Richey Furay had suggested the name while they were walking down the street, Dewey Martin said it was his idea, Neil Young said that he, Steve Sills, and Van Dyke Parks had been walking down the street and either Young or Stills had seen the nameplate and suggested the name, and Van Dyke Parks says that *he* saw the nameplate and suggested it to Dewey Martin: [Excerpt: Steve Stills and Van Dyke Parks on the name] For what it's worth, I tend to believe Van Dyke Parks in most instances -- he's an honest man, and he seems to have a better memory of the sixties than many of his friends who led more chemically interesting lives. Whoever came up with it, the name worked -- as Stills later put it "We thought it was pretty apt, because Neil Young is from Manitoba which is buffalo country, and Richie Furay was from Springfield, Ohio -- and I'm the field!" It almost certainly also helped that the word "buffalo" had been in the name of Stills' previous group, Buffalo Fish. On the eleventh of April, 1966, Buffalo Springfield played their first gig, at the Troubadour, using equipment borrowed from the Dillards. Chris Hillman of the Byrds was in the audience and was impressed. He got the group a support slot on a show the Byrds and the Dillards were doing a few days later in San Bernardino. That show was compered by a Merseyside-born British DJ, John Ravenscroft, who had managed to become moderately successful in US radio by playing up his regional accent so he sounded more like the Beatles. He would soon return to the UK, and start broadcasting under the name John Peel. Hillman also got them a week-long slot at the Whisky A-Go-Go, and a bidding war started between record labels to sign the band. Dunhill offered five thousand dollars, Warners counted with ten thousand, and then Atlantic offered twelve thousand. Atlantic were *just* starting to get interested in signing white guitar groups -- Jerry Wexler never liked that kind of music, always preferring to stick with soul and R&B, but Ahmet Ertegun could see which way things were going. Atlantic had only ever signed two other white acts before -- Neil Young's old favourite Bobby Darin, who had since left the label, and Sonny and Cher. And Sonny and Cher's management and production team, Brian Stone and Charlie Greene, were also very interested in the group, who even before they had made a record had quickly become the hottest band on the circuit, even playing the Hollywood Bowl as the Rolling Stones' support act. Buffalo Springfield already had managers -- Frazier Mohawk and Richard Davis, the lighting man at the Troubadour (who was sometimes also referred to as Dickie Davis, but I'll use his full name so as not to cause unnecessary confusion in British people who remember the sports TV presenter of the same name), who Mohawk had enlisted to help him. But Stone and Greene weren't going to let a thing like that stop them. According to anonymous reports quoted without attribution in David Roberts' biography of Stills -- so take this with as many grains of salt as you want -- Stone and Greene took Mohawk for a ride around LA in a limo, just the three of them, a gun, and a used hotdog napkin. At the end of the ride, the hotdog napkin had Mohawk's scrawled signature, signing the group over to Stone and Greene. Davis stayed on, but was demoted to just doing their lights. The way things ended up, the group signed to Stone and Greene's production company, who then leased their masters to Atlantic's Atco subsidiary. A publishing company was also set up for the group's songs -- owned thirty-seven point five percent by Atlantic, thirty-seven point five percent by Stone and Greene, and the other twenty-five percent split six ways between the group and Davis, who they considered their sixth member. Almost immediately, Charlie Greene started playing Stills and Young off against each other, trying a divide-and-conquer strategy on the group. This was quite easy, as both men saw themselves as natural leaders, though Stills was regarded by everyone as the senior partner -- the back cover of their first album would contain the line "Steve is the leader but we all are". Stills and Young were the two stars of the group as far as the audience were concerned -- though most musicians who heard them play live say that the band's real strength was in its rhythm section, with people comparing Palmer's playing to that of James Jamerson. But Stills and Young would get into guitar battles on stage, one-upping each other, in ways that turned the tension between them in creative directions. Other clashes, though were more petty -- both men had very domineering mothers, who would actually call the group's management to complain about press coverage if their son was given less space than the other one. The group were also not sure about Young's voice -- to the extent that Stills was known to jokingly apologise to the audience before Young took a lead vocal -- and so while the song chosen as the group's first A-side was Young's "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing", Furay was chosen to sing it, rather than Young: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing"] On the group's first session, though, both Stills and Young realised that their producers didn't really have a clue -- the group had built up arrangements that had a complex interplay of instruments and vocals, but the producers insisted on cutting things very straightforwardly, with a basic backing track and then the vocals. They also thought that the song was too long so the group should play faster. Stills and Young quickly decided that they were going to have to start producing their own material, though Stone and Greene would remain the producers for the first album. There was another bone of contention though, because in the session the initial plan had been for Stills' song "Go and Say Goodbye" to be the A-side with Young's song as the B-side. It was flipped, and nobody seems quite sure why -- it's certainly the case that, whatever the merits of the two tracks as songs, Stills' song was the one that would have been more likely to become a hit. "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" was a flop, but it did get some local airplay. The next single, "Burned", was a Young song as well, and this time did have Young taking the lead, though in a song dominated by harmonies: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Burned"] Over the summer, though, something had happened that would affect everything for the group -- Neil Young had started to have epileptic seizures. At first these were undiagnosed episodes, but soon they became almost routine events, and they would often happen on stage, particularly at moments of great stress or excitement. Several other members of the group became convinced -- entirely wrongly -- that Young was faking these seizures in order to get women to pay attention to him. They thought that what he wanted was for women to comfort him and mop his brow, and that collapsing would get him that. The seizures became so common that Richard Davis, the group's lighting tech, learned to recognise the signs of a seizure before it happened. As soon as it looked like Young was about to collapse the lights would turn on, someone would get ready to carry him off stage, and Richie Furay would know to grab Young's guitar before he fell so that the guitar wouldn't get damaged. Because they weren't properly grounded and Furay had an electric guitar of his own, he'd get a shock every time. Young would later claim that during some of the seizures, he would hallucinate that he was another person, in another world, living another life that seemed to have its own continuity -- people in the other world would recognise him and talk to him as if he'd been away for a while -- and then when he recovered he would have to quickly rebuild his identity, as if temporarily amnesiac, and during those times he would find things like the concept of lying painful. The group's first album came out in December, and they were very, very, unhappy with it. They thought the material was great, but they also thought that the production was terrible. Stone and Greene's insistence that they record the backing tracks first and then overdub vocals, rather than singing live with the instruments, meant that the recordings, according to Stills and Young in particular, didn't capture the sound of the group's live performance, and sounded sterile. Stills and Young thought they'd fixed some of that in the mono mix, which they spent ten days on, but then Stone and Greene did the stereo mix without consulting the band, in less than two days, and the album was released at precisely the time that stereo was starting to overtake mono in the album market. I'm using the mono mixes in this podcast, but for decades the only versions available were the stereo ones, which Stills and Young both loathed. Ahmet Ertegun also apparently thought that the demo versions of the songs -- some of which were eventually released on a box set in 2001 -- were much better than the finished studio recordings. The album was not a success on release, but it did contain the first song any of the group had written to chart. Soon after its release, Van Dyke Parks' friend Lenny Waronker was producing a single by a group who had originally been led by Sly Stone and had been called Sly and the Mojo Men. By this time Stone was no longer involved in the group, and they were making music in a very different style from the music their former leader would later become known for. Parks was brought in to arrange a baroque-pop version of Stills' album track "Sit Down I Think I Love You" for the group, and it became their only top forty hit, reaching number thirty-six: [Excerpt: The Mojo Men, "Sit Down I Think I Love You"] It was shortly after the first Buffalo Springfield album was released, though, that Steve Stills wrote what would turn out to be *his* group's only top forty single. The song had its roots in both LA and San Francisco. The LA roots were more obvious -- the song was written about a specific experience Stills had had. He had been driving to Sunset Strip from Laurel Canyon on November the twelfth 1966, and he had seen a mass of young people and police in riot gear, and he had immediately turned round, partly because he didn't want to get involved in what looked to be a riot, and partly because he'd been inspired -- he had the idea for a lyric, which he pretty much finished in the car even before he got home: [Excerpt: The Buffalo Springfield, "For What it's Worth"] The riots he saw were what became known later as the Riot on Sunset Strip. This was a minor skirmish between the police and young people of LA -- there had been complaints that young people had been spilling out of the nightclubs on Sunset Strip into the street, causing traffic problems, and as a result the city council had introduced various heavy-handed restrictions, including a ten PM curfew for all young people in the area, removing the permits that many clubs had which allowed people under twenty-one to be present, forcing the Whisky A-Go-Go to change its name just to "the Whisk", and forcing a club named Pandora's Box, which was considered the epicentre of the problem, to close altogether. Flyers had been passed around calling for a "funeral" for Pandora's Box -- a peaceful gathering at which people could say goodbye to a favourite nightspot, and a thousand people had turned up. The police also turned up, and in the heavy-handed way common among law enforcement, they managed to provoke a peaceful party and turn it into a riot. This would not normally be an event that would be remembered even a year later, let alone nearly sixty years later, but Sunset Strip was the centre of the American rock music world in the period, and of the broader youth entertainment field. Among those arrested at the riot, for example, were Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda, neither of whom were huge stars at the time, but who were making cheap B-movies with Roger Corman for American International Pictures. Among the cheap exploitation films that American International Pictures made around this time was one based on the riots, though neither Nicholson, Fonda, or Corman were involved. Riot on Sunset Strip was released in cinemas only four months after the riots, and it had a theme song by Dewey Martin's old colleagues The Standells, which is now regarded as a classic of garage rock: [Excerpt: The Standells, "Riot on Sunset Strip"] The riots got referenced in a lot of other songs, as well. The Mothers of Invention's second album, Absolutely Free, contains the song "Plastic People" which includes this section: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Plastic People"] And the Monkees track "Daily Nightly", written by Michael Nesmith, was always claimed by Nesmith to be an impressionistic portrait of the riots, though the psychedelic lyrics sound to me more like they're talking about drug use and street-walking sex workers than anything to do with the riots: [Excerpt: The Monkees, "Daily Nightly"] But the song about the riots that would have the most lasting effect on popular culture was the one that Steve Stills wrote that night. Although how much he actually wrote, at least of the music, is somewhat open to question. Earlier that month, Buffalo Springfield had spent some time in San Francisco. They hadn't enjoyed the experience -- as an LA band, they were thought of as a bunch of Hollywood posers by most of the San Francisco scene, with the exception of one band, Moby Grape -- a band who, like them had three guitarist/singer/songwriters, and with whom they got on very well. Indeed, they got on rather better with Moby Grape than they were getting on with each other at this point, because Young and Stills would regularly get into arguments, and every time their argument seemed to be settling down, Dewey Martin would manage to say the wrong thing and get Stills riled up again -- Martin was doing a lot of speed at this point and unable to stop talking, even when it would have been politic to do so. There was even some talk while they were in San Francisco of the bands doing a trade -- Young and Pete Lewis of Moby Grape swapping places -- though that came to nothing. But Stills, according to both Richard Davis and Pete Lewis, had been truly impressed by two Moby Grape songs. One of them was a song called "On the Other Side", which Moby Grape never recorded, but which apparently had a chorus that went "Stop, can't you hear the music ringing in your ear, right before you go, telling you the way is clear," with the group all pausing after the word "Stop". The other was a song called "Murder in my Heart for the Judge": [Excerpt: Moby Grape, "Murder in my Heart for the Judge"] The song Stills wrote had a huge amount of melodic influence from that song, and quite a bit from “On the Other Side”, though he apparently didn't notice until after the record came out, at which point he apologised to Moby Grape. Stills wasn't massively impressed with the song he'd written, and went to Stone and Greene's office to play it for them, saying "I'll play it, for what it's worth". They liked the song and booked a studio to get the song recorded and rush-released, though according to Neil Young neither Stone nor Greene were actually present at the session, and the song was recorded on December the fifth, while some outbursts of rioting were still happening, and released on December the twenty-third. [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "For What it's Worth"] The song didn't have a title when they recorded it, or so Stills thought, but when he mentioned this to Greene and Stone afterwards, they said "Of course it does. You said, 'I'm going to play the song, 'For What It's Worth'" So that became the title, although Ahmet Ertegun didn't like the idea of releasing a single with a title that wasn't in the lyric, so the early pressings of the single had "Stop, Hey, What's That Sound?" in brackets after the title. The song became a big hit, and there's a story told by David Crosby that doesn't line up correctly, but which might shed some light on why. According to Crosby, "Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing" got its first airplay because Crosby had played members of Buffalo Springfield a tape he'd been given of the unreleased Beatles track "A Day in the Life", and they'd told their gangster manager-producers about it. Those manager-producers had then hired a sex worker to have sex with Crosby and steal the tape, which they'd then traded to a radio station in return for airplay. That timeline doesn't work, unless the sex worker involved was also a time traveller, because "A Day in the Life" wasn't even recorded until January 1967 while "Clancy" came out in August 1966, and there'd been two other singles released between then and January 1967. But it *might* be the case that that's what happened with "For What It's Worth", which was released in the last week of December 1966, and didn't really start to do well on the charts for a couple of months. Right after recording the song, the group went to play a residency in New York, of which Ahmet Ertegun said “When they performed there, man, there was no band I ever heard that had the electricity of that group. That was the most exciting group I've ever seen, bar none. It was just mind-boggling.” During that residency they were joined on stage at various points by Mitch Ryder, Odetta, and Otis Redding. While in New York, the group also recorded "Mr. Soul", a song that Young had originally written as a folk song about his experiences with epilepsy, the nature of the soul, and dealing with fame. However, he'd noticed a similarity to "Satisfaction" and decided to lean into it. The track as finally released was heavily overdubbed by Young a few months later, but after it was released he decided he preferred the original take, which by then only existed as a scratchy acetate, which got released on a box set in 2001: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Mr. Soul (original version)"] Everyone has a different story of how the session for that track went -- at least one version of the story has Otis Redding turning up for the session and saying he wanted to record the song himself, as his follow-up to his version of "Satisfaction", but Young being angry at the idea. According to other versions of the story, Greene and Stills got into a physical fight, with Greene having to be given some of the valium Young was taking for his epilepsy to calm him down. "For What it's Worth" was doing well enough on the charts that the album was recalled, and reissued with "For What It's Worth" replacing Stills' song "Baby Don't Scold", but soon disaster struck the band. Bruce Palmer was arrested on drugs charges, and was deported back to Canada just as the song started to rise through the charts. The group needed a new bass player, fast. For a lipsynch appearance on local TV they got Richard Davis to mime the part, and then they got in Ken Forssi, the bass player from Love, for a couple of gigs. They next brought in Ken Koblun, the bass player from the Squires, but he didn't fit in with the rest of the group. The next replacement was Jim Fielder. Fielder was a friend of the group, and knew the material -- he'd subbed for Palmer a few times in 1966 when Palmer had been locked up after less serious busts. And to give some idea of how small a scene the LA scene was, when Buffalo Springfield asked him to become their bass player, he was playing rhythm guitar for the Mothers of Invention, while Billy Mundi was on drums, and had played on their second, as yet unreleased, album, Absolutely Free: [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Call any Vegetable"] And before joining the Mothers, Fielder and Mundi had also played together with Van Dyke Parks, who had served his own short stint as a Mother of Invention already, backing Tim Buckley on Buckley's first album: [Excerpt: Tim Buckley, "Aren't You the Girl?"] And the arrangements on that album were by Jack Nitzsche, who would soon become a very close collaborator with Young. "For What it's Worth" kept rising up the charts. Even though it had been inspired by a very local issue, the lyrics were vague enough that people in other situations could apply it to themselves, and it soon became regarded as an anti-war protest anthem -- something Stills did nothing to discourage, as the band were all opposed to the war. The band were also starting to collaborate with other people. When Stills bought a new house, he couldn't move in to it for a while, and so Peter Tork invited him to stay at his house. The two got on so well that Tork invited Stills to produce the next Monkees album -- only to find that Michael Nesmith had already asked Chip Douglas to do it. The group started work on a new album, provisionally titled "Stampede", but sessions didn't get much further than Stills' song "Bluebird" before trouble arose between Young and Stills. The root of the argument seems to have been around the number of songs each got on the album. With Richie Furay also writing, Young was worried that given the others' attitudes to his songwriting, he might get as few as two songs on the album. And Young and Stills were arguing over which song should be the next single, with Young wanting "Mr. Soul" to be the A-side, while Stills wanted "Bluebird" -- Stills making the reasonable case that they'd released two Neil Young songs as singles and gone nowhere, and then they'd released one of Stills', and it had become a massive hit. "Bluebird" was eventually chosen as the A-side, with "Mr. Soul" as the B-side: [Excerpt: Buffalo Springfield, "Bluebird"] The "Bluebird" session was another fraught one. Fielder had not yet joined the band, and session player Bobby West subbed on bass. Neil Young had recently started hanging out with Jack Nitzsche, and the two were getting very close and working on music together. Young had impressed Nitzsche not just with his songwriting but with his arrogance -- he'd played Nitzsche his latest song, "Expecting to Fly", and Nitzsche had said halfway through "That's a great song", and Young had shushed him and told him to listen, not interrupt. Nitzsche, who had a monstrous ego himself and was also used to working with people like Phil Spector, the Rolling Stones and Sonny Bono, none of them known for a lack of faith in their own abilities, was impressed. Shortly after that, Stills had asked Nitzsch
We start season four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs with an extra-long look at "San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie, and at the Monterey Pop Festival, and the careers of the Mamas and the Papas and P.F. Sloan. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode. Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "Up, Up, and Away" by the 5th Dimension. Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt's irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/ Resources As usual, all the songs excerpted in the podcast can be heard in full at Mixcloud. Scott McKenzie's first album is available here. There are many compilations of the Mamas and the Papas' music, but sadly none that are in print in the UK have the original mono mixes. This set is about as good as you're going to find, though, for the stereo versions. Information on the Mamas and the Papas came from Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of The Mamas and the Papas by Matthew Greenwald, California Dreamin': The True Story Of The Mamas and Papas by Michelle Phillips, and Papa John by John Phillips and Jim Jerome. Information on P.F. Sloan came from PF - TRAVELLING BAREFOOT ON A ROCKY ROAD by Stephen McParland and What's Exactly the Matter With Me? by P.F. Sloan and S.E. Feinberg. The film of the Monterey Pop Festival is available on this Criterion Blu-Ray set. Sadly the CD of the performances seems to be deleted. Patreon This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them? Transcript Welcome to season four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs. It's good to be back. Before we start this episode, I just want to say one thing. I get a lot of credit at times for the way I don't shy away from dealing with the more unsavoury elements of the people being covered in my podcast -- particularly the more awful men. But as I said very early on, I only cover those aspects of their life when they're relevant to the music, because this is a music podcast and not a true crime podcast. But also I worry that in some cases this might mean I'm giving a false impression of some people. In the case of this episode, one of the central figures is John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Now, Phillips has posthumously been accused of some truly monstrous acts, the kind of thing that is truly unforgivable, and I believe those accusations. But those acts didn't take place during the time period covered by most of this episode, so I won't be covering them here -- but they're easily googlable if you want to know. I thought it best to get that out of the way at the start, so no-one's either anxiously waiting for the penny to drop or upset that I didn't acknowledge the elephant in the room. Separately, this episode will have some discussion of fatphobia and diet culture, and of a death that is at least in part attributable to those things. Those of you affected by that may want to skip this one or read the transcript. There are also some mentions of drug addiction and alcoholism. Anyway, on with the show. One of the things that causes problems with rock history is the tendency of people to have selective memories, and that's never more true than when it comes to the Summer of Love, summer of 1967. In the mythology that's built up around it, that was a golden time, the greatest time ever, a period of peace and love where everything was possible, and the world looked like it was going to just keep on getting better. But what that means, of course, is that the people remembering it that way do so because it was the best time of their lives. And what happens when the best time of your life is over in one summer? When you have one hit and never have a second, or when your band splits up after only eighteen months, and you have to cope with the reality that your best years are not only behind you, but they weren't even best years, but just best months? What stories would you tell about that time? Would you remember it as the eve of destruction, the last great moment before everything went to hell, or would you remember it as a golden summer, full of people with flowers in their hair? And would either really be true? [Excerpt: Scott McKenzie, "San Francisco"] Other than the city in which they worked, there are a few things that seem to characterise almost all the important figures on the LA music scene in the middle part of the 1960s. They almost all seem to be incredibly ambitious, as one might imagine. There seem to be a huge number of fantasists among them -- people who will not only choose the legend over reality when it suits them, but who will choose the legend over reality even when it doesn't suit them. And they almost all seem to have a story about being turned down in a rude and arrogant manner by Lou Adler, usually more or less the same story. To give an example, I'm going to read out a bit of Ray Manzarek's autobiography here. Now, Manzarek uses a few words that I can't use on this podcast and keep a clean rating, so I'm just going to do slight pauses when I get to them, but I'll leave the words in the transcript for those who aren't offended by them: "Sometimes Jim and Dorothy and I went alone. The three of us tried Dunhill Records. Lou Adler was the head man. He was shrewd and he was hip. He had the Mamas and the Papas and a big single with Barry McGuire's 'Eve of Destruction.' He was flush. We were ushered into his office. He looked cool. He was California casually disheveled and had the look of a stoner, but his eyes were as cold as a shark's. He took the twelve-inch acetate demo from me and we all sat down. He put the disc on his turntable and played each cut…for ten seconds. Ten seconds! You can't tell jack [shit] from ten seconds. At least listen to one of the songs all the way through. I wanted to rage at him. 'How dare you! We're the Doors! This is [fucking] Jim Morrison! He's going to be a [fucking] star! Can't you see that? Can't you see how [fucking] handsome he is? Can't you hear how groovy the music is? Don't you [fucking] get it? Listen to the words, man!' My brain was a boiling, lava-filled Jell-O mold of rage. I wanted to eviscerate that shark. The songs he so casually dismissed were 'Moonlight Drive,' 'Hello, I Love You,' 'Summer's Almost Gone,' 'End of the Night,' 'I Looked at You,' 'Go Insane.' He rejected the whole demo. Ten seconds on each song—maybe twenty seconds on 'Hello, I Love You' (I took that as an omen of potential airplay)—and we were dismissed out of hand. Just like that. He took the demo off the turntable and handed it back to me with an obsequious smile and said, 'Nothing here I can use.' We were shocked. We stood up, the three of us, and Jim, with a wry and knowing smile on his lips, cuttingly and coolly shot back at him, 'That's okay, man. We don't want to be *used*, anyway.'" Now, as you may have gathered from the episode on the Doors, Ray Manzarek was one of those print-the-legend types, and that's true of everyone who tells similar stories about Lou Alder. But... there are a *lot* of people who tell similar stories about Lou Adler. One of those was Phil Sloan. You can get an idea of Sloan's attitude to storytelling from a story he always used to tell. Shortly after he and his family moved to LA from New York, he got a job selling newspapers on a street corner on Hollywood Boulevard, just across from Schwab's Drug Store. One day James Dean drove up in his Porsche and made an unusual request. He wanted to buy every copy of the newspaper that Sloan had -- around a hundred and fifty copies in total. But he only wanted one article, something in the entertainment section. Sloan didn't remember what the article was, but he did remember that one of the headlines was on the final illness of Oliver Hardy, who died shortly afterwards, and thought it might have been something to do with that. Dean was going to just clip that article from every copy he bought, and then he was going to give all the newspapers back to Sloan to sell again, so Sloan ended up making a lot of extra money that day. There is one rather big problem with that story. Oliver Hardy died in August 1957, just after the Sloan family moved to LA. But James Dean died in September 1955, two years earlier. Sloan admitted that, and said he couldn't explain it, but he was insistent. He sold a hundred and fifty newspapers to James Dean two years after Dean's death. When not selling newspapers to dead celebrities, Sloan went to Fairfax High School, and developed an interest in music which was mostly oriented around the kind of white pop vocal groups that were popular at the time, groups like the Kingston Trio, the Four Lads, and the Four Aces. But the record that made Sloan decide he wanted to make music himself was "Just Goofed" by the Teen Queens: [Excerpt: The Teen Queens, "Just Goofed"] In 1959, when he was fourteen, he saw an advert for an open audition with Aladdin Records, a label he liked because of Thurston Harris. He went along to the audition, and was successful. His first single, released as by Flip Sloan -- Flip was a nickname, a corruption of "Philip" -- was produced by Bumps Blackwell and featured several of the musicians who played with Sam Cooke, plus Larry Knechtel on piano and Mike Deasey on guitar, but Aladdin shut down shortly after releasing it, and it may not even have had a general release, just promo copies. I've not been able to find a copy online anywhere. After that, he tried Arwin Records, the label that Jan and Arnie recorded for, which was owned by Marty Melcher (Doris Day's husband and Terry Melcher's stepfather). Melcher signed him, and put out a single, "She's My Girl", on Mart Records, a subsidiary of Arwin, on which Sloan was backed by a group of session players including Sandy Nelson and Bruce Johnston: [Excerpt: Philip Sloan, "She's My Girl"] That record didn't have any success, and Sloan was soon dropped by Mart Records. He went on to sign with Blue Bird Records, which was as far as can be ascertained essentially a scam organisation that would record demos for songwriters, but tell the performers that they were making a real record, so that they would record it for the royalties they would never get, rather than for a decent fee as a professional demo singer would get. But Steve Venet -- the brother of Nik Venet, and occasional songwriting collaborator with Tommy Boyce -- happened to come to Blue Bird one day, and hear one of Sloan's original songs. He thought Sloan would make a good songwriter, and took him to see Lou Adler at Columbia-Screen Gems music publishing. This was shortly after the merger between Columbia-Screen Gems and Aldon Music, and Adler was at this point the West Coast head of operations, subservient to Don Kirshner and Al Nevins, but largely left to do what he wanted. The way Sloan always told the story, Venet tried to get Adler to sign Sloan, but Adler said his songs stunk and had no commercial potential. But Sloan persisted in trying to get a contract there, and eventually Al Nevins happened to be in the office and overruled Adler, much to Adler's disgust. Sloan was signed to Columbia-Screen Gems as a songwriter, though he wasn't put on a salary like the Brill Building songwriters, just told that he could bring in songs and they would publish them. Shortly after this, Adler suggested to Sloan that he might want to form a writing team with another songwriter, Steve Barri, who had had a similar non-career non-trajectory, but was very slightly further ahead in his career, having done some work with Carol Connors, the former lead singer of the Teddy Bears. Barri had co-written a couple of flop singles for Connors, before the two of them had formed a vocal group, the Storytellers, with Connors' sister. The Storytellers had released a single, "When Two People (Are in Love)" , which was put out on a local independent label and which Adler had licensed to be released on Dimension Records, the label associated with Aldon Music: [Excerpt: The Storytellers "When Two People (Are in Love)"] That record didn't sell, but it was enough to get Barri into the Columbia-Screen Gems circle, and Adler set him and Sloan up as a songwriting team -- although the way Sloan told it, it wasn't so much a songwriting team as Sloan writing songs while Barri was also there. Sloan would later claim "it was mostly a collaboration of spirit, and it seemed that I was writing most of the music and the lyric, but it couldn't possibly have ever happened unless both of us were present at the same time". One suspects that Barri might have a different recollection of how it went... Sloan and Barri's first collaboration was a song that Sloan had half-written before they met, called "Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann", which was recorded by a West Coast Chubby Checker knockoff who went under the name Round Robin, and who had his own dance craze, the Slauson, which was much less successful than the Twist: [Excerpt: Round Robin, "Kick that Little Foot Sally Ann"] That track was produced and arranged by Jack Nitzsche, and Nitzsche asked Sloan to be one of the rhythm guitarists on the track, apparently liking Sloan's feel. Sloan would end up playing rhythm guitar or singing backing vocals on many of the records made of songs he and Barri wrote together. "Kick That Little Foot Sally Ann" only made number sixty-one nationally, but it was a regional hit, and it meant that Sloan and Barri soon became what Sloan later described as "the Goffin and King of the West Coast follow-ups." According to Sloan "We'd be given a list on Monday morning by Lou Adler with thirty names on it of the groups who needed follow-ups to their hit." They'd then write the songs to order, and they started to specialise in dance craze songs. For example, when the Swim looked like it might be the next big dance, they wrote "Swim Swim Swim", "She Only Wants to Swim", "Let's Swim Baby", "Big Boss Swimmer", "Swim Party" and "My Swimmin' Girl" (the last a collaboration with Jan Berry and Roger Christian). These songs were exactly as good as they needed to be, in order to provide album filler for mid-tier artists, and while Sloan and Barri weren't writing any massive hits, they were doing very well as mid-tier writers. According to Sloan's biographer Stephen McParland, there was a three-year period in the mid-sixties where at least one song written or co-written by Sloan was on the national charts at any given time. Most of these songs weren't for Columbia-Screen Gems though. In early 1964 Lou Adler had a falling out with Don Kirshner, and decided to start up his own company, Dunhill, which was equal parts production company, music publishers, and management -- doing for West Coast pop singers what Motown was doing for Detroit soul singers, and putting everything into one basket. Dunhill's early clients included Jan and Dean and the rockabilly singer Johnny Rivers, and Dunhill also signed Sloan and Barri as songwriters. Because of this connection, Sloan and Barri soon became an important part of Jan and Dean's hit-making process. The Matadors, the vocal group that had provided most of the backing vocals on the duo's hits, had started asking for more money than Jan Berry was willing to pay, and Jan and Dean couldn't do the vocals themselves -- as Bones Howe put it "As a singer, Dean is a wonderful graphic artist" -- and so Sloan and Barri stepped in, doing session vocals without payment in the hope that Jan and Dean would record a few of their songs. For example, on the big hit "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena", Dean Torrence is not present at all on the record -- Jan Berry sings the lead vocal, with Sloan doubling him for much of it, Sloan sings "Dean"'s falsetto, with the engineer Bones Howe helping out, and the rest of the backing vocals are sung by Sloan, Barri, and Howe: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena"] For these recordings, Sloan and Barri were known as The Fantastic Baggys, a name which came from the Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Oldham and Mick Jagger, when the two were visiting California. Oldham had been commenting on baggys, the kind of shorts worn by surfers, and had asked Jagger what he thought of The Baggys as a group name. Jagger had replied "Fantastic!" and so the Fantastic Baggys had been born. As part of this, Sloan and Barri moved hard into surf and hot-rod music from the dance songs they had been writing previously. The Fantastic Baggys recorded their own album, Tell 'Em I'm Surfin', as a quickie album suggested by Adler: [Excerpt: The Fantastic Baggys, "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'"] And under the name The Rally Packs they recorded a version of Jan and Dean's "Move Out Little Mustang" which featured Berry's girlfriend Jill Gibson doing a spoken section: [Excerpt: The Rally Packs, "Move Out Little Mustang"] They also wrote several album tracks for Jan and Dean, and wrote "Summer Means Fun" for Bruce and Terry -- Bruce Johnston, later of the Beach Boys, and Terry Melcher: [Excerpt: Bruce and Terry, "Summer Means Fun"] And they wrote the very surf-flavoured "Secret Agent Man" for fellow Dunhill artist Johnny Rivers: [Excerpt: Johnny Rivers, "Secret Agent Man"] But of course, when you're chasing trends, you're chasing trends, and soon the craze for twangy guitars and falsetto harmonies had ended, replaced by a craze for jangly twelve-string guitars and closer harmonies. According to Sloan, he was in at the very beginning of the folk-rock trend -- the way he told the story, he was involved in the mastering of the Byrds' version of "Mr. Tambourine Man". He later talked about Terry Melcher getting him to help out, saying "He had produced a record called 'Mr. Tambourine Man', and had sent it into the head office, and it had been rejected. He called me up and said 'I've got three more hours in the studio before I'm being kicked out of Columbia. Can you come over and help me with this new record?' I did. I went over there. It was under lock and key. There were two guards outside the door. Terry asked me something about 'Summer Means Fun'. "He said 'Do you remember the guitar that we worked on with that? How we put in that double reverb?' "And I said 'yes' "And he said 'What do you think if we did something like that with the Byrds?' "And I said 'That sounds good. Let's see what it sounds like.' So we patched into all the reverb centres in Columbia Music, and mastered the record in three hours." Whether Sloan really was there at the birth of folk rock, he and Barri jumped on the folk-rock craze just as they had the surf and hot-rod craze, and wrote a string of jangly hits including "You Baby" for the Turtles: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "You Baby"] and "I Found a Girl" for Jan and Dean: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "I Found a Girl"] That song was later included on Jan and Dean's Folk 'n' Roll album, which also included... a song I'm not even going to name, but long-time listeners will know the one I mean. It was also notable in that "I Found a Girl" was the first song on which Sloan was credited not as Phil Sloan, but as P.F. Sloan -- he didn't have a middle name beginning with F, but rather the F stood for his nickname "Flip". Sloan would later talk of Phil Sloan and P.F. Sloan as almost being two different people, with P.F. being a far more serious, intense, songwriter. Folk 'n' Roll also contained another Sloan song, this one credited solely to Sloan. And that song is the one for which he became best known. There are two very different stories about how "Eve of Destruction" came to be written. To tell Sloan's version, I'm going to read a few paragraphs from his autobiography: "By late 1964, I had already written ‘Eve Of Destruction,' ‘The Sins Of A Family,' ‘This Mornin',' ‘Ain't No Way I'm Gonna Change My Mind,' and ‘What's Exactly The Matter With Me?' They all arrived on one cataclysmic evening, and nearly at the same time, as I worked on the lyrics almost simultaneously. ‘Eve Of Destruction' came about from hearing a voice, perhaps an angel's. The voice instructed me to place five pieces of paper and spread them out on my bed. I obeyed the voice. The voice told me that the first song would be called ‘Eve Of Destruction,' so I wrote the title at the top of the page. For the next few hours, the voice came and went as I was writing the lyric, as if this spirit—or whatever it was—stood over me like a teacher: ‘No, no … not think of all the hate there is in Red Russia … Red China!' I didn't understand. I thought the Soviet Union was the mortal threat to America, but the voice went on to reveal to me the future of the world until 2024. I was told the Soviet Union would fall, and that Red China would continue to be communist far into the future, but that communism was not going to be allowed to take over this Divine Planet—therefore, think of all the hate there is in Red China. I argued and wrestled with the voice for hours, until I was exhausted but satisfied inside with my plea to God to either take me out of the world, as I could not live in such a hypocritical society, or to show me a way to make things better. When I was writing ‘Eve,' I was on my hands and knees, pleading for an answer." Lou Adler's story is that he gave Phil Sloan a copy of Bob Dylan's Bringing it All Back Home album and told him to write a bunch of songs that sounded like that, and Sloan came back a week later as instructed with ten Dylan knock-offs. Adler said "It was a natural feel for him. He's a great mimic." As one other data point, both Steve Barri and Bones Howe, the engineer who worked on most of the sessions we're looking at today, have often talked in interviews about "Eve of Destruction" as being a Sloan/Barri collaboration, as if to them it's common knowledge that it wasn't written alone, although Sloan's is the only name on the credits. The song was given to a new signing to Dunhill Records, Barry McGuire. McGuire was someone who had been part of the folk scene for years, He'd been playing folk clubs in LA while also acting in a TV show from 1961. When the TV show had finished, he'd formed a duo, Barry and Barry, with Barry Kane, and they performed much the same repertoire as all the other early-sixties folkies: [Excerpt: Barry and Barry, "If I Had a Hammer"] After recording their one album, both Barrys joined the New Christy Minstrels. We've talked about the Christys before, but they were -- and are to this day -- an ultra-commercial folk group, led by Randy Sparks, with a revolving membership of usually eight or nine singers which included several other people who've come up in this podcast, like Gene Clark and Jerry Yester. McGuire became one of the principal lead singers of the Christys, singing lead on their version of the novelty cowboy song "Three Wheels on My Wagon", which was later released as a single in the UK and became a perennial children's favourite (though it has a problematic attitude towards Native Americans): [Excerpt: The New Christy Minstrels, "Three Wheels on My Wagon"] And he also sang lead on their big hit "Green Green", which he co-wrote with Randy Sparks: [Excerpt: The New Christy Minstrels, "Green Green"] But by 1965 McGuire had left the New Christy Minstrels. As he said later "I'd sung 'Green Green' a thousand times and I didn't want to sing it again. This is January of 1965. I went back to LA to meet some producers, and I was broke. Nobody had the time of day for me. I was walking down street one time to see Dr. Strangelove and I walked by the music store, and I heard "Green Green" comin' out of the store, ya know, on Hollywood Boulevard. And I heard my voice, and I thought, 'I got four dollars in my pocket!' I couldn't believe it, my voice is comin' out on Hollywood Boulevard, and I'm broke. And right at that moment, a car pulls up, and the radio is playing 'Chim Chim Cherie" also by the Minstrels. So I got my voice comin' at me in stereo, standin' on the sidewalk there, and I'm broke, and I can't get anyone to sign me!" But McGuire had a lot of friends who he'd met on the folk scene, some of whom were now in the new folk-rock scene that was just starting to spring up. One of them was Roger McGuinn, who told him that his band, the Byrds, were just about to put out a new single, "Mr. Tambourine Man", and that they were about to start a residency at Ciro's on Sunset Strip. McGuinn invited McGuire to the opening night of that residency, where a lot of other people from the scene were there to see the new group. Bob Dylan was there, as was Phil Sloan, and the actor Jack Nicholson, who was still at the time a minor bit-part player in low-budget films made by people like American International Pictures (the cinematographer on many of Nicholson's early films was Floyd Crosby, David Crosby's father, which may be why he was there). Someone else who was there was Lou Adler, who according to McGuire recognised him instantly. According to Adler, he actually asked Terry Melcher who the long-haired dancer wearing furs was, because "he looked like the leader of a movement", and Melcher told him that he was the former lead singer of the New Christy Minstrels. Either way, Adler approached McGuire and asked if he was currently signed -- Dunhill Records was just starting up, and getting someone like McGuire, who had a proven ability to sing lead on hit records, would be a good start for the label. As McGuire didn't have a contract, he was signed to Dunhill, and he was given some of Sloan's new songs to pick from, and chose "What's Exactly the Matter With Me?" as his single: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "What's Exactly the Matter With Me?"] McGuire described what happened next: "It was like, a three-hour session. We did two songs, and then the third one wasn't turning out. We only had about a half hour left in the session, so I said 'Let's do this tune', and I pulled 'Eve of Destruction' out of my pocket, and it just had Phil's words scrawled on a piece of paper, all wrinkled up. Phil worked the chords out with the musicians, who were Hal Blaine on drums and Larry Knechtel on bass." There were actually more musicians than that at the session -- apparently both Knechtel and Joe Osborn were there, so I'm not entirely sure who's playing bass -- Knechtel was a keyboard player as well as a bass player, but I don't hear any keyboards on the track. And Tommy Tedesco was playing lead guitar, and Steve Barri added percussion, along with Sloan on rhythm guitar and harmonica. The chords were apparently scribbled down for the musicians on bits of greasy paper that had been used to wrap some takeaway chicken, and they got through the track in a single take. According to McGuire "I'm reading the words off this piece of wrinkled paper, and I'm singing 'My blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin'", that part that goes 'Ahhh you can't twist the truth', and the reason I'm going 'Ahhh' is because I lost my place on the page. People said 'Man, you really sounded frustrated when you were singing.' I was. I couldn't see the words!" [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction"] With a few overdubs -- the female backing singers in the chorus, and possibly the kettledrums, which I've seen differing claims about, with some saying that Hal Blaine played them during the basic track and others saying that Lou Adler suggested them as an overdub, the track was complete. McGuire wasn't happy with his vocal, and a session was scheduled for him to redo it, but then a record promoter working with Adler was DJing a birthday party for the head of programming at KFWB, the big top forty radio station in LA at the time, and he played a few acetates he'd picked up from Adler. Most went down OK with the crowd, but when he played "Eve of Destruction", the crowd went wild and insisted he play it three times in a row. The head of programming called Adler up and told him that "Eve of Destruction" was going to be put into rotation on the station from Monday, so he'd better get the record out. As McGuire was away for the weekend, Adler just released the track as it was, and what had been intended to be a B-side became Barry McGuire's first and only number one record: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "Eve of Destruction"] Sloan would later claim that that song was a major reason why the twenty-sixth amendment to the US Constitution was passed six years later, because the line "you're old enough to kill but not for votin'" shamed Congress into changing the constitution to allow eighteen-year-olds to vote. If so, that would make "Eve of Destruction" arguably the single most impactful rock record in history, though Sloan is the only person I've ever seen saying that As well as going to number one in McGuire's version, the song was also covered by the other artists who regularly performed Sloan and Barri songs, like the Turtles: [Excerpt: The Turtles, "Eve of Destruction"] And Jan and Dean, whose version on Folk & Roll used the same backing track as McGuire, but had a few lyrical changes to make it fit with Jan Berry's right-wing politics, most notably changing "Selma, Alabama" to "Watts, California", thus changing a reference to peaceful civil rights protestors being brutally attacked and murdered by white supremacist state troopers to a reference to what was seen, in the popular imaginary, as Black people rioting for no reason: [Excerpt: Jan and Dean, "Eve of Destruction"] According to Sloan, he worked on the Folk & Roll album as a favour to Berry, even though he thought Berry was being cynical and exploitative in making the record, but those changes caused a rift in their friendship. Sloan said in his autobiography "Where I was completely wrong was in helping him capitalize on something in which he didn't believe. Jan wanted the public to perceive him as a person who was deeply concerned and who embraced the values of the progressive politics of the day. But he wasn't that person. That's how I was being pulled. It was when he recorded my actual song ‘Eve Of Destruction' and changed a number of lines to reflect his own ideals that my principles demanded that I leave Folk City and never return." It's true that Sloan gave no more songs to Jan and Dean after that point -- but it's also true that the duo would record only one more album, the comedy concept album Jan and Dean Meet Batman, before Jan's accident. Incidentally, the reference to Selma, Alabama in the lyric might help people decide on which story about the writing of "Eve of Destruction" they think is more plausible. Remember that Lou Adler said that it was written after Adler gave Sloan a copy of Bringing it All Back Home and told him to write a bunch of knock-offs, while Sloan said it was written after a supernatural force gave him access to all the events that would happen in the world for the next sixty years. Sloan claimed the song was written in late 1964. Selma, Alabama, became national news in late February and early March 1965. Bringing it All Back Home was released in late March 1965. So either Adler was telling the truth, or Sloan really *was* given a supernatural insight into the events of the future. Now, as it turned out, while "Eve of Destruction" went to number one, that would be McGuire's only hit as a solo artist. His next couple of singles would reach the very low end of the Hot One Hundred, and that would be it -- he'd release several more albums, before appearing in the Broadway musical Hair, most famous for its nude scenes, and getting a small part in the cinematic masterpiece Werewolves on Wheels: [Excerpt: Werewolves on Wheels trailer] P.F. Sloan would later tell various stories about why McGuire never had another hit. Sometimes he would say that Dunhill Records had received death threats because of "Eve of Destruction" and so deliberately tried to bury McGuire's career, other times he would say that Lou Adler had told him that Billboard had said they were never going to put McGuire's records on the charts no matter how well they sold, because "Eve of Destruction" had just been too powerful and upset the advertisers. But of course at this time Dunhill were still trying for a follow-up to "Eve of Destruction", and they thought they might have one when Barry McGuire brought in a few friends of his to sing backing vocals on his second album. Now, we've covered some of the history of the Mamas and the Papas already, because they were intimately tied up with other groups like the Byrds and the Lovin' Spoonful, and with the folk scene that led to songs like "Hey Joe", so some of this will be more like a recap than a totally new story, but I'm going to recap those parts of the story anyway, so it's fresh in everyone's heads. John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, and Cass Elliot all grew up in Alexandria, Virginia, just a few miles south of Washington DC. Elliot was a few years younger than Phillips and McKenzie, and so as is the way with young men they never really noticed her, and as McKenzie later said "She lived like a quarter of a mile from me and I never met her until New York". While they didn't know who Elliot was, though, she was aware who they were, as Phillips and McKenzie sang together in a vocal group called The Smoothies. The Smoothies were a modern jazz harmony group, influenced by groups like the Modernaires, the Hi-Los, and the Four Freshmen. John Phillips later said "We were drawn to jazz, because we were sort of beatniks, really, rather than hippies, or whatever, flower children. So we used to sing modern harmonies, like Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. Dave Lambert did a lot of our arrangements for us as a matter of fact." Now, I've not seen any evidence other than Phillips' claim that Dave Lambert ever arranged for the Smoothies, but that does tell you a lot about the kind of music that they were doing. Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross were a vocalese trio whose main star was Annie Ross, who had a career worthy of an episode in itself -- she sang with Paul Whiteman, appeared in a Little Rascals film when she was seven, had an affair with Lenny Bruce, dubbed Britt Ekland's voice in The Wicker Man, played the villain's sister in Superman III, and much more. Vocalese, you'll remember, was a style of jazz vocal where a singer would take a jazz instrumental, often an improvised one, and add lyrics which they would sing, like Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross' version of "Cloudburst": [Excerpt: Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross, "Cloudburst"] Whether Dave Lambert ever really did arrange for the Smoothies or not, it's very clear that the trio had a huge influence on John Phillips' ideas about vocal arrangement, as you can hear on Mamas and Papas records like "Once Was a Time I Thought": [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "Once Was a Time I Thought"] While the Smoothies thought of themselves as a jazz group, when they signed to Decca they started out making the standard teen pop of the era, with songs like "Softly": [Excerpt, The Smoothies, "Softly"] When the folk boom started, Phillips realised that this was music that he could do easily, because the level of musicianship among the pop-folk musicians was so much lower than in the jazz world. The Smoothies made some recordings in the style of the Kingston Trio, like "Ride Ride Ride": [Excerpt: The Smoothies, "Ride Ride Ride"] Then when the Smoothies split, Phillips and McKenzie formed a trio with a banjo player, Dick Weissman, who they met through Izzy Young's Folklore Centre in Greenwich Village after Phillips asked Young to name some musicians who could make a folk record with him. Weissman was often considered the best banjo player on the scene, and was a friend of Pete Seeger's, to whom Seeger sometimes turned for banjo tips. The trio, who called themselves the Journeymen, quickly established themselves on the folk scene. Weissman later said "we had this interesting balance. John had all of this charisma -- they didn't know about the writing thing yet -- John had the personality, Scott had the voice, and I could play. If you think about it, all of those bands like the Kingston Trio, the Brothers Four, nobody could really *sing* and nobody could really *play*, relatively speaking." This is the take that most people seemed to have about John Phillips, in any band he was ever in. Nobody thought he was a particularly good singer or instrumentalist -- he could sing on key and play adequate rhythm guitar, but nobody would actually pay money to listen to him do those things. Mark Volman of the Turtles, for example, said of him "John wasn't the kind of guy who was going to be able to go up on stage and sing his songs as a singer-songwriter. He had to put himself in the context of a group." But he was charismatic, he had presence, and he also had a great musical mind. He would surround himself with the best players and best singers he could, and then he would organise and arrange them in ways that made the most of their talents. He would work out the arrangements, in a manner that was far more professional than the quick head arrangements that other folk groups used, and he instigated a level of professionalism in his groups that was not at all common on the scene. Phillips' friend Jim Mason talked about the first time he saw the Journeymen -- "They were warming up backstage, and John had all of them doing vocal exercises; one thing in particular that's pretty famous called 'Seiber Syllables' -- it's a series of vocal exercises where you enunciate different vowel and consonant sounds. It had the effect of clearing your head, and it's something that really good operetta singers do." The group were soon signed by Frank Werber, the manager of the Kingston Trio, who signed them as an insurance policy. Dave Guard, the Kingston Trio's banjo player, was increasingly having trouble with the other members, and Werber knew it was only a matter of time before he left the group. Werber wanted the Journeymen as a sort of farm team -- he had the idea that when Guard left, Phillips would join the Kingston Trio in his place as the third singer. Weissman would become the Trio's accompanist on banjo, and Scott McKenzie, who everyone agreed had a remarkable voice, would be spun off as a solo artist. But until that happened, they might as well make records by themselves. The Journeymen signed to MGM records, but were dropped before they recorded anything. They instead signed to Capitol, for whom they recorded their first album: [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "500 Miles"] After recording that album, the Journeymen moved out to California, with Phillips' wife and children. But soon Phillips' marriage was to collapse, as he met and fell in love with Michelle Gilliam. Gilliam was nine years younger than him -- he was twenty-six and she was seventeen -- and she had the kind of appearance which meant that in every interview with an older heterosexual man who knew her, that man will spend half the interview talking about how attractive he found her. Phillips soon left his wife and children, but before he did, the group had a turntable hit with "River Come Down", the B-side to "500 Miles": [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "River Come Down"] Around the same time, Dave Guard *did* leave the Kingston Trio, but the plan to split the Journeymen never happened. Instead Phillips' friend John Stewart replaced Guard -- and this soon became a new source of income for Phillips. Both Phillips and Stewart were aspiring songwriters, and they collaborated together on several songs for the Trio, including "Chilly Winds": [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, "Chilly Winds"] Phillips became particularly good at writing songs that sounded like they could be old traditional folk songs, sometimes taking odd lines from older songs to jump-start new ones, as in "Oh Miss Mary", which he and Stewart wrote after hearing someone sing the first line of a song she couldn't remember the rest of: [Excerpt: The Kingston Trio, "Oh Miss Mary"] Phillips and Stewart became so close that Phillips actually suggested to Stewart that he quit the Kingston Trio and replace Dick Weissman in the Journeymen. Stewart did quit the Trio -- but then the next day Phillips suggested that maybe it was a bad idea and he should stay where he was. Stewart went back to the Trio, claimed he had only pretended to quit because he wanted a pay-rise, and got his raise, so everyone ended up happy. The Journeymen moved back to New York with Michelle in place of Phillips' first wife (and Michelle's sister Russell also coming along, as she was dating Scott McKenzie) and on New Year's Eve 1962 John and Michelle married -- so from this point on I will refer to them by their first names, because they both had the surname Phillips. The group continued having success through 1963, including making appearances on "Hootenanny": [Excerpt: The Journeymen, "Stack O'Lee (live on Hootenanny)"] By the time of the Journeymen's third album, though, John and Scott McKenzie were on bad terms. Weissman said "They had been the closest of friends and now they were the worst of enemies. They talked through me like I was a medium. It got to the point where we'd be standing in the dressing room and John would say to me 'Tell Scott that his right sock doesn't match his left sock...' Things like that, when they were standing five feet away from each other." Eventually, the group split up. Weissman was always going to be able to find employment given his banjo ability, and he was about to get married and didn't need the hassle of dealing with the other two. McKenzie was planning on a solo career -- everyone was agreed that he had the vocal ability. But John was another matter. He needed to be in a group. And not only that, the Journeymen had bookings they needed to complete. He quickly pulled together a group he called the New Journeymen. The core of the lineup was himself, Michelle on vocals, and banjo player Marshall Brickman. Brickman had previously been a member of a folk group called the Tarriers, who had had a revolving lineup, and had played on most of their early-sixties recordings: [Excerpt: The Tarriers, "Quinto (My Little Pony)"] We've met the Tarriers before in the podcast -- they had been formed by Erik Darling, who later replaced Pete Seeger in the Weavers after Seeger's socialist principles wouldn't let him do advertising, and Alan Arkin, later to go on to be a film star, and had had hits with "Cindy, O Cindy", with lead vocals from Vince Martin, who would later go on to be a major performer in the Greenwich Village scene, and with "The Banana Boat Song". By the time Brickman had joined, though, Darling, Arkin, and Martin had all left the group to go on to bigger things, and while he played with them for several years, it was after their commercial peak. Brickman would, though, also go on to a surprising amount of success, but as a writer rather than a musician -- he had a successful collaboration with Woody Allen in the 1970s, co-writing four of Allen's most highly regarded films -- Sleeper, Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Manhattan Murder Mystery -- and with another collaborator he later co-wrote the books for the stage musicals Jersey Boys and The Addams Family. Both John and Michelle were decent singers, and both have their admirers as vocalists -- P.F. Sloan always said that Michelle was the best singer in the group they eventually formed, and that it was her voice that gave the group its sound -- but for the most part they were not considered as particularly astonishing lead vocalists. Certainly, neither had a voice that stood out the way that Scott McKenzie's had. They needed a strong lead singer, and they found one in Denny Doherty. Now, we covered Denny Doherty's early career in the episode on the Lovin' Spoonful, because he was intimately involved in the formation of that group, so I won't go into too much detail here, but I'll give a very abbreviated version of what I said there. Doherty was a Canadian performer who had been a member of the Halifax Three with Zal Yanovsky: [Excerpt: The Halifax Three, "When I First Came to This Land"] After the Halifax Three had split up, Doherty and Yanovsky had performed as a duo for a while, before joining up with Cass Elliot and her husband Jim Hendricks, who both had previously been in the Big Three with Tim Rose: [Excerpt: Cass Elliot and the Big 3, "The Banjo Song"] Elliot, Hendricks, Yanovsky, and Doherty had formed The Mugwumps, sometimes joined by John Sebastian, and had tried to go in more of a rock direction after seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. They recorded one album together before splitting up: [Excerpt: The Mugwumps, "Searchin'"] Part of the reason they split up was that interpersonal relationships within the group were put under some strain -- Elliot and Hendricks split up, though they would remain friends and remain married for several years even though they were living apart, and Elliot had an unrequited crush on Doherty. But since they'd split up, and Yanovsky and Sebastian had gone off to form the Lovin' Spoonful, that meant that Doherty was free, and he was regarded as possibly the best male lead vocalist on the circuit, so the group snapped him up. The only problem was that the Journeymen still had gigs booked that needed to be played, one of them was in just three days, and Doherty didn't know the repertoire. This was a problem with an easy solution for people in their twenties though -- they took a huge amount of amphetamines, and stayed awake for three days straight rehearsing. They made the gig, and Doherty was now the lead singer of the New Journeymen: [Excerpt: The New Journeymen, "The Last Thing on My Mind"] But the New Journeymen didn't last in that form for very long, because even before joining the group, Denny Doherty had been going in a more folk-rock direction with the Mugwumps. At the time, John Phillips thought rock and roll was kids' music, and he was far more interested in folk and jazz, but he was also very interested in making money, and he soon decided it was an idea to start listening to the Beatles. There's some dispute as to who first played the Beatles for John in early 1965 -- some claim it was Doherty, others claim it was Cass Elliot, but everyone agrees it was after Denny Doherty had introduced Phillips to something else -- he brought round some LSD for John and Michelle, and Michelle's sister Rusty, to try. And then he told them he'd invited round a friend. Michelle Phillips later remembered, "I remember saying to the guys "I don't know about you guys, but this drug does nothing for me." At that point there was a knock on the door, and as I opened the door and saw Cass, the acid hit me *over the head*. I saw her standing there in a pleated skirt, a pink Angora sweater with great big eyelashes on and her hair in a flip. And all of a sudden I thought 'This is really *quite* a drug!' It was an image I will have securely fixed in my brain for the rest of my life. I said 'Hi, I'm Michelle. We just took some LSD-25, do you wanna join us?' And she said 'Sure...'" Rusty Gilliam's description matches this -- "It was mind-boggling. She had on a white pleated skirt, false eyelashes. These were the kind of eyelashes that when you put them on you were supposed to trim them to an appropriate length, which she didn't, and when she blinked she looked like a cow, or those dolls you get when you're little and the eyes open and close. And we're on acid. Oh my God! It was a sight! And everything she was wearing were things that you weren't supposed to be wearing if you were heavy -- white pleated skirt, mohair sweater. You know, until she became famous, she suffered so much, and was poked fun at." This gets to an important point about Elliot, and one which sadly affected everything about her life. Elliot was *very* fat -- I've seen her weight listed at about three hundred pounds, and she was only five foot five tall -- and she also didn't have the kind of face that gets thought of as conventionally attractive. Her appearance would be cruelly mocked by pretty much everyone for the rest of her life, in ways that it's genuinely hurtful to read about, and which I will avoid discussing in detail in order to avoid hurting fat listeners. But the two *other* things that defined Elliot in the minds of those who knew her were her voice -- every single person who knew her talks about what a wonderful singer she was -- and her personality. I've read a lot of things about Cass Elliot, and I have never read a single negative word about her as a person, but have read many people going into raptures about what a charming, loving, friendly, understanding person she was. Michelle later said of her "From the time I left Los Angeles, I hadn't had a friend, a buddy. I was married, and John and I did not hang out with women, we just hung out with men, and especially not with women my age. John was nine years older than I was. And here was a fun-loving, intelligent woman. She captivated me. I was as close to in love with Cass as I could be to any woman in my life at that point. She also represented something to me: freedom. Everything she did was because she wanted to do it. She was completely independent and I admired her and was in awe of her. And later on, Cass would be the one to tell me not to let John run my life. And John hated her for that." Either Elliot had brought round Meet The Beatles, the Beatles' first Capitol album, for everyone to listen to, or Denny Doherty already had it, but either way Elliot and Doherty were by this time already Beatles fans. Michelle, being younger than the rest and not part of the folk scene until she met John, was much more interested in rock and roll than any of them, but because she'd been married to John for a couple of years and been part of his musical world she hadn't really encountered the Beatles music, though she had a vague memory that she might have heard a track or two on the radio. John was hesitant -- he didn't want to listen to any rock and roll, but eventually he was persuaded, and the record was put on while he was on his first acid trip: [Excerpt: The Beatles, "I Want to Hold Your Hand"] Within a month, John Phillips had written thirty songs that he thought of as inspired by the Beatles. The New Journeymen were going to go rock and roll. By this time Marshall Brickman was out of the band, and instead John, Michelle, and Denny recruited a new lead guitarist, Eric Hord. Denny started playing bass, with John on rhythm guitar, and a violinist friend of theirs, Peter Pilafian, knew a bit of drums and took on that role. The new lineup of the group used the Journeymen's credit card, which hadn't been stopped even though the Journeymen were no more, to go down to St. Thomas in the Caribbean, along with Michelle's sister, John's daughter Mackenzie (from whose name Scott McKenzie had taken his stage name, as he was born Philip Blondheim), a pet dog, and sundry band members' girlfriends. They stayed there for several months, living in tents on the beach, taking acid, and rehearsing. While they were there, Michelle and Denny started an affair which would have important ramifications for the group later. They got a gig playing at a club called Duffy's, whose address was on Creeque Alley, and soon after they started playing there Cass Elliot travelled down as well -- she was in love with Denny, and wanted to be around him. She wasn't in the group, but she got a job working at Duffy's as a waitress, and she would often sing harmony with the group while waiting at tables. Depending on who was telling the story, either she didn't want to be in the group because she didn't want her appearance to be compared to Michelle's, or John wouldn't *let* her be in the group because she was so fat. Later a story would be made up to cover for this, saying that she hadn't been in the group at first because she couldn't sing the highest notes that were needed, until she got hit on the head with a metal pipe and discovered that it had increased her range by three notes, but that seems to be a lie. One of the songs the New Journeymen were performing at this time was "Mr. Tambourine Man". They'd heard that their old friend Roger McGuinn had recorded it with his new band, but they hadn't yet heard his version, and they'd come up with their own arrangement: [Excerpt: The New Journeymen, "Mr. Tambourine Man"] Denny later said "We were doing three-part harmony on 'Mr Tambourine Man', but a lot slower... like a polka or something! And I tell John, 'No John, we gotta slow it down and give it a backbeat.' Finally we get the Byrds 45 down here, and we put it on and turn it up to ten, and John says 'Oh, like that?' Well, as you can tell, it had already been done. So John goes 'Oh, ah... that's it...' a light went on. So we started doing Beatles stuff. We dropped 'Mr Tambourine Man' after hearing the Byrds version, because there was no point." Eventually they had to leave the island -- they had completely run out of money, and were down to fifty dollars. The credit card had been cut up, and the governor of the island had a personal vendetta against them because they gave his son acid, and they were likely to get arrested if they didn't leave the island. Elliot and her then-partner had round-trip tickets, so they just left, but the rest of them were in trouble. By this point they were unwashed, they were homeless, and they'd spent their last money on stage costumes. They got to the airport, and John Phillips tried to write a cheque for eight air fares back to the mainland, which the person at the check-in desk just laughed at. So they took their last fifty dollars and went to a casino. There Michelle played craps, and she rolled seventeen straight passes, something which should be statistically impossible. She turned their fifty dollars into six thousand dollars, which they scooped up, took to the airport, and paid for their flights out in cash. The New Journeymen arrived back in New York, but quickly decided that they were going to try their luck in California. They rented a car, using Scott McKenzie's credit card, and drove out to LA. There they met up with Hoyt Axton, who you may remember as the son of Mae Axton, the writer of "Heartbreak Hotel", and as the performer who had inspired Michael Nesmith to go into folk music: [Excerpt: Hoyt Axton, "Greenback Dollar"] Axton knew the group, and fed them and put them up for a night, but they needed somewhere else to stay. They went to stay with one of Michelle's friends, but after one night their rented car was stolen, with all their possessions in it. They needed somewhere else to stay, so they went to ask Jim Hendricks if they could crash at his place -- and they were surprised to find that Cass Elliot was there already. Hendricks had another partner -- though he and Elliot wouldn't have their marriage annulled until 1968 and were still technically married -- but he'd happily invited her to stay with them. And now all her friends had turned up, he invited them to stay as well, taking apart the beds in his one-bedroom apartment so he could put down a load of mattresses in the space for everyone to sleep on. The next part becomes difficult, because pretty much everyone in the LA music scene of the sixties was a liar who liked to embellish their own roles in things, so it's quite difficult to unpick what actually happened. What seems to have happened though is that first this new rock-oriented version of the New Journeymen went to see Frank Werber, on the recommendation of John Stewart. Werber was the manager of the Kingston Trio, and had also managed the Journeymen. He, however, was not interested -- not because he didn't think they had talent, but because he had experience of working with John Phillips previously. When Phillips came into his office Werber picked up a tape that he'd been given of the group, and said "I have not had a chance to listen to this tape. I believe that you are a most talented individual, and that's why we took you on in the first place. But I also believe that you're also a drag to work with. A pain in the ass. So I'll tell you what, before whatever you have on here sways me, I'm gonna give it back to you and say that we're not interested." Meanwhile -- and this part of the story comes from Kim Fowley, who was never one to let the truth get in the way of him taking claim for everything, but parts of it at least are corroborated by other people -- Cass Elliot had called Fowley, and told him that her friends' new group sounded pretty good and he should sign them. Fowley was at that time working as a talent scout for a label, but according to him the label wouldn't give the group the money they wanted. So instead, Fowley got in touch with Nik Venet, who had just produced the Leaves' hit version of "Hey Joe" on Mira Records: [Excerpt: The Leaves, "Hey Joe"] Fowley suggested to Venet that Venet should sign the group to Mira Records, and Fowley would sign them to a publishing contract, and they could both get rich. The trio went to audition for Venet, and Elliot drove them over -- and Venet thought the group had a great look as a quartet. He wanted to sign them to a record contract, but only if Elliot was in the group as well. They agreed, he gave them a one hundred and fifty dollar advance, and told them to come back the next day to see his boss at Mira. But Barry McGuire was also hanging round with Elliot and Hendricks, and decided that he wanted to have Lou Adler hear the four of them. He thought they might be useful both as backing vocalists on his second album and as a source of new songs. He got them to go and see Lou Adler, and according to McGuire Phillips didn't want Elliot to go with them, but as Elliot was the one who was friends with McGuire, Phillips worried that they'd lose the chance with Adler if she didn't. Adler was amazed, and decided to sign the group right then and there -- both Bones Howe and P.F. Sloan claimed to have been there when the group auditioned for him and have said "if you won't sign them, I will", though exactly what Sloan would have signed them to I'm not sure. Adler paid them three thousand dollars in cash and told them not to bother with Nik Venet, so they just didn't turn up for the Mira Records audition the next day. Instead, they went into the studio with McGuire and cut backing vocals on about half of his new album: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire with the Mamas and the Papas, "Hide Your Love Away"] While the group were excellent vocalists, there were two main reasons that Adler wanted to sign them. The first was that he found Michelle Phillips extremely attractive, and the second is a song that John and Michelle had written which he thought might be very suitable for McGuire's album. Most people who knew John Phillips think of "California Dreamin'" as a solo composition, and he would later claim that he gave Michelle fifty percent just for transcribing his lyric, saying he got inspired in the middle of the night, woke her up, and got her to write the song down as he came up with it. But Michelle, who is a credited co-writer on the song, has been very insistent that she wrote the lyrics to the second verse, and that it's about her own real experiences, saying that she would often go into churches and light candles even though she was "at best an agnostic, and possibly an atheist" in her words, and this would annoy John, who had also been raised Catholic, but who had become aggressively opposed to expressions of religion, rather than still having nostalgia for the aesthetics of the church as Michelle did. They were out walking on a particularly cold winter's day in 1963, and Michelle wanted to go into St Patrick's Cathedral and John very much did not want to. A couple of nights later, John woke her up, having written the first verse of the song, starting "All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey/I went for a walk on a winter's day", and insisting she collaborate with him. She liked the song, and came up with the lines "Stopped into a church, I passed along the way/I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray/The preacher likes the cold, he knows I'm going to stay", which John would later apparently dislike, but which stayed in the song. Most sources I've seen for the recording of "California Dreamin'" say that the lineup of musicians was the standard set of players who had played on McGuire's other records, with the addition of John Phillips on twelve-string guitar -- P.F. Sloan on guitar and harmonica, Joe Osborn on bass, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, and Hal Blaine on drums, but for some reason Stephen McParland's book on Sloan has Bones Howe down as playing drums on the track while engineering -- a detail so weird, and from such a respectable researcher, that I have to wonder if it might be true. In his autobiography, Sloan claims to have rewritten the chord sequence to "California Dreamin'". He says "Barry Mann had unintentionally showed me a suspended chord back at Screen Gems. I was so impressed by this beautiful, simple chord that I called Brian Wilson and played it for him over the phone. The next thing I knew, Brian had written ‘Don't Worry Baby,' which had within it a number suspended chords. And then the chord heard 'round the world, two months later, was the opening suspended chord of ‘A Hard Day's Night.' I used these chords throughout ‘California Dreamin',' and more specifically as a bridge to get back and forth from the verse to the chorus." Now, nobody else corroborates this story, and both Brian Wilson and John Phillips had the kind of background in modern harmony that means they would have been very aware of suspended chords before either ever encountered Sloan, but I thought I should mention it. Rather more plausible is Sloan's other claim, that he came up with the intro to the song. According to Sloan, he was inspired by "Walk Don't Run" by the Ventures: [Excerpt: The Ventures, "Walk Don't Run"] And you can easily see how this: [plays "Walk Don't Run"] Can lead to this: [plays "California Dreamin'"] And I'm fairly certain that if that was the inspiration, it was Sloan who was the one who thought it up. John Phillips had been paying no attention to the world of surf music when "Walk Don't Run" had been a hit -- that had been at the point when he was very firmly in the folk world, while Sloan of course had been recording "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'", and it had been his job to know surf music intimately. So Sloan's intro became the start of what was intended to be Barry McGuire's next single: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "California Dreamin'"] Sloan also provided the harmonica solo on the track: [Excerpt: Barry McGuire, "California Dreamin'"] The Mamas and the Papas -- the new name that was now given to the former New Journeymen, now they were a quartet -- were also signed to Dunhill as an act on their own, and recorded their own first single, "Go Where You Wanna Go", a song apparently written by John about Michelle, in late 1963, after she had briefly left him to have an affair with Russ Titelman, the record producer and songwriter, before coming back to him: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "Go Where You Wanna Go"] But while that was put out, they quickly decided to scrap it and go with another song. The "Go Where You Wanna Go" single was pulled after only selling a handful of copies, though its commercial potential was later proved when in 1967 a new vocal group, the 5th Dimension, released a soundalike version as their second single. The track was produced by Lou Adler's client Johnny Rivers, and used the exact same musicians as the Mamas and the Papas version, with the exception of Phillips. It became their first hit, reaching number sixteen on the charts: [Excerpt: The 5th Dimension, "Go Where You Wanna Go"] The reason the Mamas and the Papas version of "Go Where You Wanna Go" was pulled was because everyone became convinced that their first single should instead be their own version of "California Dreamin'". This is the exact same track as McGuire's track, with just two changes. The first is that McGuire's lead vocal was replaced with Denny Doherty: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] Though if you listen to the stereo mix of the song and isolate the left channel, you can hear McGuire singing the lead on the first line, and occasional leakage from him elsewhere on the backing vocal track: [Excerpt: The Mamas and the Papas, "California Dreamin'"] The other change made was to replace Sloan's harmonica solo with an alto flute solo by Bud Shank, a jazz musician who we heard about in the episode on "Light My Fire", when he collaborated with Ravi Shankar on "Improvisations on the Theme From Pather Panchali": [Excerpt: Ravi Shankar, "Improvisation on the Theme From Pather Panchali"] Shank was working on another session in Western Studios, where they were recording the Mamas and Papas track, and Bones Howe approached him while he was packing his instrument and asked if he'd be interested in doing another session. Shank agreed, though the track caused problems for him. According to Shank "What had happened was that whe