Sometime last year – I think it was early spring – I got an email from a fellow I know as Harry. I think he’s on the West Coast, and he has some connection with the music business. He and I had exchanged emails about music several times, and I think he stops by the blog on occasion. In the email he sent last spring, he said he was working on a project, and he needed my help.
He said he needed a copy of Richie Havens’ 1974 album, Mixed Bag II, and his vinyl copy of the album was on the other side of the country. Now, Mixed Bag II was one of the albums released on Stormy Forest records, Haven’s own imprint, and it had never been released on CD. So sometime during the time this blog was at Blogger, I wrote about Mixed Bag II and shared a rip of the vinyl. Harry, in trying to find the album for his project, had found a reference to that post, but the post no longer existed. (Here’s a link to that post, now in my archives.)
That spurred Harry to get in touch with me. He asked if I could upload the album and send him a link, so he could get on with the project that required a copy of Mixed Bag II. I was happy to do so. For quite some time, I thought nothing of it until I got another email from Harry.
In this one, he explained that he and several others were working on a CD release of Mixed Bag II, a release that had been delayed for years because no one knew where the master tapes for the album had ended up. Harry said they’d been found in Europe, and the release of the CD was set for late summer. And Harry asked me how I wanted to be listed in the notes on the CD. Did I want to be “whiteray”? Did I want my real name used?
He added that I shouldn’t count on being listed – things happen during the course of putting a CD package together – but he would try his hardest to have it happen. And he asked me not to talk about the project before the CD came out. I told him that I’d talk to the Texas Gal but no one else, and I did pretty well with that promise. I think I mentioned the possibility of my being listed in the credits to one other person over the past eight months.
And there things sat for a long time. Harry had said the CD would likely come out at the end of August, so I checked the Stormy Forest website a few times in the autumn and saw no sign of the new CD. I heard nothing more from Harry, and I kind of forgot about the CD. And autumn came and went.
About a week before Christmas, I wondered if the CD had come out, so I went to Stormy Forest, and there it was, with a newly designed cover that echoes the LP cover without replicating it. On Christmas Day, the Texas Gal told me that the Mixed Bag II CD was one of my gifts from her, so I should go ahead and order it. And since then, I’ve been wondering if my name was somewhere in the credits.
The mailman came late yesterday, so I didn’t get the mail until this morning, when I ran a snow shovel past the mailbox. And there was an envelope from Stormy Forest. Once inside, I took care of a few small tasks, and then – trying my best to be calm – opened the package and the CD. I found the list of names under “Thank You.” Mine wasn’t among them.
Well, I thought, Harry said stuff happens. I know I helped. And I put the CD into the computer to rip it to mp3s and I sat back to read the liner notes. And midway through the second page, there I am, mentioned in Thane Tierney’s tale of how Mixed Bag II found its way to CD. (Most readers know, I’m sure, that when I walk out into the real world, I do so as Greg Erickson. To see my name, click on the image to enlarge it.) As I sit here at my computer, I’m trying to figure out how this makes me feel. And I’m reminded of a comment a reader left here the other day about one of the obscure tunes I pulled from the depths of a chart: “It scratched an itch I didn’t even know I had,” he said. And that’s kind of how I feel about this: I never realized it until now, but I guess I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have my name included – somehow, for some reason – on a record jacket or CD package. Now I know, and it’s pretty cool.
And the best thing about it is that I was able to help one of my favorite performers get one of his best albums out to a new generation of listeners. Thanks for letting me do my part, Harry.
Here’s a video of “The Indian Prayer,” the stunning last track on Mixed Bag II.
Tags: Richie Havens