A few years ago this week, I told the story here how two of my friends during my freshman year of college – 1971-72 – baffled me with a Christmas gift: A copy of Three Dog Night’s Naturally album. As I wrote in 2012:
I’d never paid much attention to Three Dog Night, and I doubted that I’d ever indicated to Dave or Wyoming Rick that I was looking for any of the group’s albums. I knew the group’s hit singles, of course, and had particularly liked “Eli’s Coming” and “Out in the Country.” I had one Three Dog Night LP, Captured Live at the Forum, and I suppose I might have dropped that 1969 album on the turntable when the two guys (and likely a few young women) had spent an evening hanging around in the basement rec room at my house.
Whatever their reasoning, I appreciated the gift, as the album turned out to be pretty good, one of the best in the (relatively) lengthy history of the group. The biggest hit from the record was “Joy to the World,” never one of my favorites, but the record also brought along “Liar” and “One Man Band,” which I liked pretty well. My favorite track on the record, however, was an album track: “Heavy Church,” written by Alan O’Day.
I also noted that some digging had told me that songwriter O’Day and soul/R&B singer Al Wilson had both recorded the song, and I wondered if I should toss some nickels in those directions.
Well, I did toss those nickels not too long after writing that, and the two records got here to the East Side, but the computer then living in the EITW studios was balky when it came to ripping records into mp3s, so only essential records made it out of the “to be ripped someday” pile. This autumn’s new computer is much more rip-friendly, and I took the two copies of “Heavy Church” in hand this week and gave them a listen.
Wilson’s came first. He released a promo of “Heavy Church” in 1972 on the Rocky Road label, with a stereo mix on one side and a slightly shorter mono mix on the other. From what I can see online, the record was never given a general release. I like the mono mix better than the stereo mix:
As for O’Day, who wrote the tune, he waited another year before getting around to his own version of the song. In 1973, O’Day put out a promo on the Viva label: “Heavy Church” b/w “The House On Sunrise Avenue.” As was the case with the Wilson version, I can find nothing that tells me that O’Day’s version of “Heavy Church” ever got a general release. Here’s the promo:
My call? Neither version of the tune comes close to the quality of the Three Dog Night take on the tune, but I’d go with Wilson’s mono mix over O’Day’s effort. (I did not make a video of Wilson’s stereo mix because, well, there’s only so much heavy church work a man can do.)
Anyway, whether they bring you pleasure, add context to your base of knowledge, or just plain help you pass some time, there are today’s Saturday Singles.
So we’ve sorted the tracks in the RealPlayer and found about 24,000 from the 1970s. Let’s go find six at random to think about this morning.
“In the corner of my eye, I saw you in Rudy’s. You were very high.” So starts “Black Cow” from Steely Dan’s 1977 album Aja, one of two Steely Dan albums I had before the 1990s (when I, as is well-known around here, went a little mad and bought more than 1,800 LPs over those ten years). My memory, aided by a look at the LP database, tells me that I won Aja for answering a trivia question on WJON while I lived in St. Cloud in late 1977, but there was a delay on the radio station’s part in getting the album, and then there was a delay on my part in getting to the station after I moved to Monticello. The delays didn’t bother me because Steely Dan wasn’t really in my sights at the time. I had Pretzel Logic on the shelves because of the presence of “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” (and I liked the rest of the album), but the work of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker wasn’t high on my list. Still, I wasn’t going to pass up a free album, so I took Aja home, and I liked it okay. But it’s probably not on my Top 200. So, “Drink your big black cow and get out of here.”
Canny marketers as well as classically trained musicians, the duo of Ferrante & Teicher rarely missed a trend in the 1960s and 1970s, and as the world hit the dance floor in the late 1970s, Ferrante & Teicher followed, providing us in 1979 with Classical Disco, one of the stranger albums of the duo’s nearly forty-year recording career. Covering pieces ranging from composers Rachmaninoff and Khachaturian to Grieg and Tchaikovsky, the album closes with a thumping version of Felix Mendelssohn’s famed “Wedding March” (cliché that it is). Given the move in recent years toward massively choreographed wedding processionals and recessionals (some staid, many not), I can see a couple and their friends putting together a disco processional to the beat of the Ferrante & Teicher track. If it were my wedding and up to me, I’d save it for the reception.
Head On was a late 1975 release from Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and its relative failure in the charts portended the end for the rockers from Canada. The group’s previous three albums of new music had all gone Top Ten in the Billboard 200, but Head On stalled at No. 23. A single from the album, “Take It Like A Man” (with a backing vocal from Little Richard) went to No. 33 in early 1976, but the band’s moment had passed. Fittingly, then, the track titled “It’s Over” is the one that pops up from Head On. It’s a decent enough track, not unlike most of the stuff in the group’s catalog, but its unsubtle pleasures didn’t offer listeners anything new as 1975 was turning into 1976.
As an object lesson that one can find almost anything online these days, we move next to “Tiffany Case” from John Barry’s soundtrack to the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. When the RealPlayer offered the track to me this morning, I winced, but not because of the music. (It’s a decent bit of quiet and pretty musical fill for the movie, nicely portraying the soft side of Ms. Case, played in the film by the lovely Jill St. John.) The wince was for an expected difficulty in finding the track at YouTube. (I’d already made and uploaded one video this morning.) But there it was, and a quick click on the #JohnBarry hashtag shows me that what appears to be the vast majority of Barry’s work is now officially available at YouTube. I will have to do some digging there soon.
Whenever I write anything about Bobby Womack, I always feel as if I don’t know enough about the man or his work to write anything substantial. Today is no different, even though I know more about him and have heard more of his stuff now, thanks to a little bit of concentrated effort in the past few months. Anyway, what we have this morning is “Natural Man” from Womack’s 1973 album Facts Of Life. It’s a gender-flipped version of the Gerry Goffin/Carole King song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” best known for the 1967 hit version by Aretha Franklin. It doesn’t seem to work, but then covering a classic is risky territory, and doing so with a gender-flip seems to make things all the more awkward. Womack’s delivery is fine, as usual. But it just feels, well, odd.
Speaking of covers of classic records, we close our expedition this morning with Ellie Greenwich taking on “Chapel Of Love” from her 1973 album Let It Be Written, Let It Be Sung. Greenwich, of course, wrote the song with Jeff Barry and Phil Spector, and the Dixie Cups had a massive hit with it in 1964, with the record sitting at No. 1 for three weeks. For her own album, Greenwich and co-producers Steve Tudanger and Steve Feldman take the song in an interesting direction, with bare-bones instrumentation and layered and entwined vocals, coupled with some ringing bells in the middle. It works for me.
Reality television has added another notch to its belt in our household: I’ve joined the Texas Gal in becoming a viewer of The Voice, the singing competition offered by NBC. She’s been a fan for some time, and as this season began, I joined her in the living room and found myself intrigued by some of the talent in the competition.
The structure of the competition – with head-to-head match-ups and so on – seems a little gimmicky sometimes, but one thing that does make it a better show than American Idol, which we’ve watched for years, is the opening round, in which hopeful contestants sing in blind auditions, with the chairs of the four judges facing away from them.
That means, of course, that the judges – Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton – can only assess a contestant by his or her voice in that first round. That’s an interesting twist, which I like.
Anyway, this season’s contest is underway, and I’ll likely follow it to the end. I have a few favorites among the contestants still alive in the competition. Among those eliminated, one of the intriguing entries was the duo of Jubal Lee Young and Amanda Preslar. Young is the son of country musician Steve Young, and for the blind audition, the duo performed the elder Young’s most famous song, “Seven Bridges Road.”
They advanced, landing a spot on Williams’ team, but were eliminated in the next round. The show’s profile of the two showed them with their families, including, of course, Steve Young. I was startled for an instant to see that he’s looking old and a bit frail, but then I realized that the man is in his seventies. (He’s seventy-three, to be precise.)
And as Young and Preslar sang the elder Young’s song during their blind audition, I thought, not for the first time, about what a great song it is. A couple of years ago, I found a quote from Steve Young about the song’s inspiration:
I lived in Montgomery, Alabama, in the early ’60s and had a group of friends there that showed me the road. It led out of town, and after you had crossed seven bridges you found yourself out in the country on a dirt road. Spanish moss hung in the trees and there were old farms with old fences and graveyards and churches and streams. A high bank dirt road with trees. It seemed like a Disney fantasy at times. People went there to park or get stoned or just to get away from it all. I thought my friends had made up the name “Seven Bridges Road.” I found out later that it had been called by that name for over a hundred years, that people had been struck by the beauty of the road for a long time.
I shared Young’s original version of the tune then, and this morning, I thought I’d dig into the files and see what covers I have. The obvious one, of course, is the Eagles’ cover of the tune from their 1980 live album (a version that essentially replicates Ian Matthews’ 1973 version from his Valley Hi album). I’ve also got covers by Rita Coolidge and by Tracy Nelson with Mother Earth, both from 1971. I may dig up more – and there seem to be plenty of covers out there – but here’s Matthews’ version:
In the east, a thin sliver of light – maybe bright, maybe muted through clouds – slides its way above the horizon. As it does, the music begins.
The tune is “Dawn” from a 1973 self-titled album by a group calling itself Glory. It was Glory’s first album, but that’s only a technicality: Since 1968, when two Cleveland groups more or less merged to form what All Music Guide calls an “acid rock combo,” the musicians in Glory had been calling themselves The Damnation Of Adam Blessing and had released three albums on the United Artists label. A dispute with the label brought about the name change.
The first album, a 1969 self-titled work, spent two weeks in the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 181. In 1970, a single titled “Back To The River” – from the album The Second Damnation – bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, peaking at No. 102.
Glory, a good if unspectacular album, was the last word from the group; it and the first two Adam Blessing albums, as well as an anthology, are available on CD.
The music continues as the hands of the clocks turn just a little. It’s not quite raining as we listen to “In A Misty Morning” by the late Gene Clark from his 1973 album, Roadmaster.
At the time, the album was actually released only in the Netherlands, according to Wikipedia, which notes that Clark’s label, A&M, was displeased with the slow pace of his work and created the album by combining eight of Clark’s new tracks with three tracks from other sessions (two tracks from sessions with the Byrds in 1970-71 and one track from sessions with the Flying Burrito Brothers). Whatever the source, Roadmaster is a decent listen.
Clark’s catalog is not easily listed, given his solo work and his work with Doug Dillard, with the Byrds and finally with McGuinn, Clark & Hillman. I’ve seen his 1974 album No Other mentioned as the best of his career, and it’s the only solo album to reach the Billboard 200, peaking at 144 in 1974.
Most of his work, including Roadmaster, seems to be available on CD; I didn’t take the time to do an album by album check.
By late morning, the mist is gone, and as the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, it’s time for a break. Our refreshment is “Red Wine At Noon” by Joy Of Cooking, found on the group’s 1971 self-titled debut.
The Berkeley-based group has been mentioned and featured here frequently enough that I’m not sure there’s a lot left to say. I’ll just note that I wish that the group’s unreleased fourth album, 1973’s Same Old Song And Dance, would somehow find a release. And I’ll add that not long ago, I got hold of a two-CD collection titled “back to your heart” that offers seventeen unreleased studio tracks – some of them polished, some less so – as well as a 1972 concert in Berkeley. If you like what I call “living room music,” it’s sweet stuff.
All three of Joy Of Cooking’s original albums spent some time in the Billboard 200: Joy Of Cooking (1971) went to No. 100, Closer To The Ground (1971) peaked at No. 136, and Castles (1972) got to No. 174. The group’s only charting single in Billboard was “Brownsville,” which went to No. 66 in 1971. All the original albums are available on CD, as is “back to your heart” and a collection titled American Originals, which includes a few tracks from the unreleased Same Old Song And Dance.
The day moves on, and some times of day and some times of year merge nicely for time spent outdoors. That’s evidently what the Stone Poneys thought in 1967 when they released “Autumn Afternoon” on Evergreen Vol. 2.
The Stone Poneys were, of course, Linda Ronstadt, Bobby Kimmel and Kenny Edwards, with Ronstadt handling almost all of the lead vocals on Evergreen Vol. 2, the group’s second album. If the stories at Wikipedia are accurate (and I think they are, given the notes), the group’s label, Capitol, saw Ronstadt as the marketable talent and Kimmel and Edwards as expendable. And the guys were pushed firmly to the side.
Evergreen Vol. 2 went to No. 100 in Billboard upon its release in 1967. The first album, re-released with the title The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt, went to No. 172 in 1975.
The Stone Poneys’ first two albums are available on a two-fer CD; also available on CD is Linda Ronstadt, Stone Poneys and Friends, Vol. III, a 1968 release that was, from what I read, more Ronstadt and very little Poneys.
After the sun goes down (and we could easily – and might someday – devote an entire slice of this kind of whimsy to “sundown” alone), and the shadows come from the streetlights and perhaps a full moon, it’s time to get a little slinky. Pat Benatar did it well on “Evening” from her 1991 exploration of jump blues and torch songs, True Love.
Benatar, of course, was a 1980s icon with eleven Top 40 hits from 1979 to 1984; six of her albums made the Top Fifteen during that time as well. True Love did not. It peaked at No. 37. Given my tastes, it’s not surprising that I like it better than the rest of Benatar’s catalog. Like all of her catalog, it’s easily available.
Just past 11:59 p.m., the clock turns over, a new day starts, and we hear “Midnight Wind” by John Stewart from his 1979 album Bombs Away Dream Babies. The album was fortified by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – both contributed backing vocals, and Buckingham added guitar and co-produced – and was the greatest success of Stewart’s long career, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard 200.
None of Stewart’s six earlier charting albums had gone higher than No. 126; his 1980 follow-up, Dream Babies Go Hollywood, went to No. 85, and Stewart’s moment was gone.
But the moment was a great one, with a sound evocative of its time: “Midnight Wind” went to No. 28 in the Hot 100; its predecessor, “Gold,” had reached No. 5. A third single from Bombs Away Dream Babies, “Lost Her In The Sun,” went to No. 34.
The album is seemingly out of print; copies are available on CD but at higher prices than I’m willing to pay. The same seems to hold true for most of Stewart’s catalog.
With only 365 days in a year (well, 366 in each Leap Year), and nearly 3,000 LPs on the crowded shelves here at the EITW studios, I expected that I would have, over the years, bought multiple records on every day of the year.
It ain’t so.
Casting about for an idea for a post, I thought I’d see how many LPs I’ve bought over the years on October 14. It turned out to be one. (I imagine that if I searched for each of the 365/366 days of the year, I might find a day of the year on which no record has ever come home; I’m not going to invest the time.)
On October 14, 1989, while I was living in Anoka, Minnesota, I found myself a copy of the Marshall Tucker Band’s self-titled 1973 debut. It was a Saturday, and my Saturday morning routine in those days was to stop at either the small grocery store near downtown Anoka that had a good meat department or the larger supermarket in the nearby suburb of Andover, with its better selection of other victuals and its lower prices.
Whichever one I went to on October 14, I stopped and bought a record somewhere in Anoka. The city had no record stores, so I must have stopped at a garage sale or a rummage sale as I made my way to or from the grocery store. Wherever I found it, the record came home to my apartment just off Brisbin Street (one of the nicest and most spacious places I’ve ever lived), and I likely put it on the turntable that day.
I can’t say that it’s one of my favorites, although I like it well enough. One of its tracks, “Can’t You See,” found a place in my Ultimate Jukebox five years ago. Other than that, all I can say is that when tracks from the album pop up, I enjoy them, especially the opening track, “Take The Highway.”
Two things come to mind as I head toward the end of this post: First, I need to make certain that I add both “Can’t You See” and “Take The Highway” as well as the band’s “Heard It In A Love Song” to my iPod playlist, and then I should note that the copy of The Marshall Tucker Band that’s currently on my shelves is not the one I bought twenty-six years ago today in Anoka. I replaced that one in 1997 with a better copy of the album that I picked up at Cheapo’s just up the street from my place in Minneapolis.
Neither of those matter, I guess, so here’s “Take The Highway,” the opening track to The Marshall Tucker Band, the only LP I’ve ever bought on October 14.
There’s a lot of stuff to dig into unknowingly when one is rummaging around in the Bubbling Under portion of the Billboard Hot 100 from September 1, 1973, forty-two years ago today. I recognize some of the titles – “Heartbeat – It’s A Love Beat” by the DeFranco Family and “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band are two (spanning a wide gulf in style, of course, and, as I perceive it, quality) – and I don’t recall anything about most of the twenty-two singles listed.
Titles intrigue me: “Old Betsy Goes Boing, Boing, Boing” by the Hummers, sitting at No. 104, turned out to be a novelty record about the serial challenges faced by a man and his auto. The Hummers, according to Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, were a studio group, and the record went no higher in two weeks of bubbling under. It’s the only listed single for the Hummers.
“Bondi Junction” by Peter Foldy, sitting at No. 113, turns out to be a feathery boy-meets-girl tune seasoned with just a hint of regret. Foldy was a Hungarian-born Canadian who was raised in Sydney, Australia, where the area known as Bondi Junction is home to – one assumes from the video – an amusement park. (The video, featuring an older Foldy, was evidently made to promote a hits package.) The record, which went to No. 14 in Canada, went no higher, and Foldy never showed up in the Billboard chart again.
And then there was the title listed in Billboard as “We’re Haldeman, Erlichman” by the Creep, bubbling under at No. 116. I went and found that one, too, and learned that the magazine had left out part of the title. The full title is “We’re Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell & Dean,” but I hadn’t needed the missing names to know that the record was a novelty poking fun at the President’s men as the walls around the Nixon White House began to crack during the Watergate scandal.
The Creep – an abbreviation for the Committee to Rip off Each and Every Politician, according to Whitburn – was another one-shot studio group. Its name, of course, was a take-off on Nixon’s own Committee to Re-Elect the President, which in 1972 had inevitably been called CReeP. The record bubbled under for two weeks at No. 116. I’d never heard it before.
In our tour of Texas music the other day, I missed some tunes that we could have included because I forgot about a variant spelling. In the days before, as I pondered the post and the city of San Antonio, I did check on the digital shelves for tunes that called the city “San Antone.” But as I wrote Tuesday, that spelling slipped my mind.
As it slipped, we lost our chances at hearing Emmylou Harris’ “I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose” from her 1977 album Luxury Liner, and we missed out on two versions of “Home In San Antone,” the first a vocal take by Redd Volkaert from 1998 and the second an instrumental version by the Quebe Sisters Band from 2003.
And we missed out, of course, on one of the classic country songs, “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone.” The song was written by Glenn Martin and David Kirby, and its most famous iteration is its first, the version recorded in February 1970 by Charlie Pride:
Pride’s version was No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard country chart and made it to No. 70 on the magazine’s Hot 100. (It was one of twenty-nine No. 1 hits for Pride on the country chart between 1969 and 1983.) And covers abound: Second Hand Songs lists twenty-eight of them, from Bake Turner’s version recorded in March 1970 to a version by Buddy Jewell that came out in June of this year (and there are likely others not listed there).
Two of those covers – along with Pride’s original – are on the digital shelves here: There’s a pretty basic country version by Nat Stuckey from his 1971 album Only A Woman Like You, and then there’s a 1973 take on the tune by Doug Sahm with some vocal help – according to both my ears and Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles – from Bob Dylan:
The track was released as a single on Atlantic and bubbled under the Hot 100 for three weeks, peaking at No. 115. It was also released on a 1973 album titled Doug Sahm and Band.
The two gardens have already offered us zucchini, yellow squash and lettuce, some banana peppers and one or two slicing cucumbers, and last evening, the Texas Gal spent about an hour in the near garden, pulling the first rounds of green and wax beans. The wax beans didn’t quite fill a bowl that I estimate at about five quarts, while the green beans topped their bowl by about a quart.
Then, as we ate dinner with the beans bagged and waiting in the refrigerator, we got a call: The half-bushel of small pickling cucumbers that the Texas Gal had ordered were available. So this morning as she headed off to the farmers’ market downtown, I pulled canning and pickling equipment and supplies from the fruit cellar and washed and cleaned those things that needed washing and cleaning.
As I write, the Texas Gal is washing and cutting green beans with the wax beans soon to follow. Some will be canned and some will be frozen and some few, I imagine, will end up on tonight’s dinner table, accompanying three ribeye steaks that are currently thawing and have a date with our new broiler pan this evening.
And tomorrow, the kitchen here will turn into the Thirteenth Avenue Pickling Plant, as the half-bushel of small cukes is processed into jars of kosher dills, polish dills and perhaps a few hot mustard dill pickles.
Beyond this weekend, we will see more green and wax beans, more zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers, many more peppers and many tomatoes, some cabbages and eggplants and a good supply of herbs. By the end of August, as the picking, canning and pickling season begins to draw to an ending, we’ll be well tired of all of it, the Texas Gal more than I, certainly. After all, she is the gardener and canner, and I am only the helper (and more comfortable helping in the kitchen than in the dirt).
But those are our roles, and for what must be the seventh year now, we shall see how our gardens grow.
And here’s a tune I’m certain I’ve shared here before, and probably in this context, but it’s been a few years, and it still works. That’s why Genya Ravan’s cover of Derek & The Dominos “Keep On Growing,” from her 1973 album, They Love Me, They Love Me Not, is today’s Saturday Single.
It’s Independence Day here in the U.S., a day that’s become the occasion for picnics, barbecues and fireworks, all taking place, maybe, without much thought about the day’s historical import. I imagine, though, there are still towns and cities where there might be a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, the document adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia 239 years ago today.
That document made the case for political freedom and, at least implicitly, the personal freedoms that followed. (It was, of course, all much more complex than that simple sentence seems to imply, but I’m not going to get into a political science lecture here. Just nod your head and follow along.)
And as I dug through the digital files this morning for a tune for Independence Day, I came across “On The Road To Freedom” by Alvin Lee and Mylon Lefevre. It was personal freedom and personal realization – things difficult to attain without political freedom at the base – that Lee was writing about and thinking about when the song became the title tune for their very good 1973 album:
I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of
I met a rich man on the road
He told me where to go
To get my hands upon some gold
But I still answered no
’Cause freedom waits for me ahead
Your gold will slow me down
I smiled as I walked on my way
And left him with a frown
I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of
I met an old man on the road
His eyes were clear and wise
Can you direct me on my way
To where the answer lies
I’m looking for the road to freedom
So I can be free
He said keep thinking as you walk
And one day you will see
I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to truth
Yonder can you see them
Wasting precious youth
I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of
I thought as I walked down the road
Of what the man had said
It seems to me that what he meant
Is freedom’s in your head
The road I walk along is time
It’s measured out in hours
And now I need not rush along
I stop to see the flowers
Stop to smell the flowers
And that link between political freedom and personal freedom and realization is what makes “On The Road To Freedom” a good choice for an Independence Day Saturday Single.
(Personnel on the track: Alvin Lee on vocals, bass, guitar and background vocals; Mylon Lefevre on background vocals and percussion; Steve Winwood on piano; Jim Capaldi on drums; Rebop on congas.)
I have no idea how Bill Wilson’s 1973 album, Ever Changing Minstrel, found its way onto the digital shelves here. Somewhere in my wanderings through blogworld, I came across it and thought it sounded interesting. Certainly, the tale of its origins, as told a few years ago by Rob Nichols at Indianapolis-based NUVO, is intriguing:
One night in February of 1973, Indiana folk rock legend Bill Wilson was a 25 year-old musician looking for a break. So he drove to Nashville and knocked on the kitchen door of producer Bob Johnston, the guy who had produced Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde albums, and Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prisonand “I Walk the Line” records.
What happened after that is murky, beautiful and puzzling.
According to the liner notes of Wilson’s debut album, Johnston answered the door to find Wilson standing there, saying “I’m Bill Wilson and I want to make a record.”
“Well, you came to the wrong house,” Johnson answered. “You can’t just show up and make a fucking record.”
“Will you listen to one song?” asked Wilson.
“One song,” said Johnston.
A Vietnam vet who hung around in the Austin scene, Wilson’s spark must have been evident to Johnston, because the producer let the singer in, allowed him to play 12 songs, and as legend has it – there are no official notes that confirm it – rounded up many of the guys who played on Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde to record Ever Changing Minstrel in one night.
The album was re-released on CD by Tompkins Square a couple of years ago, and that’s likely what I came across as I clicked my way through blogs one day. The album’s closing track, “Monday Morning Strangers,” popped up this morning as I looked for a Monday song, and I’m glad it did. The track, Nichols wrote, “pulls out a ‘sleepy sidewalk pushes on’ line . . . with the loneliness of Sunday replaced by a ‘whenever Monday morning rolls around.’ Added bonus: the track contains one of the juiciest Allman Brothers-like guitar solos unearthed in a long time.”
Wilson never knew his debut album – he recorded a few more after Ever Changing Minstrel – was re-released; he passed on, Nichols notes, in 1993.
So, here, as part of our occasional Monday Morning series, is Bill Wilson’s “Monday Morning Strangers.