What Was That Song?

While I was writing earlier this week about spending Sunday evening at a Peter Yarrow performance (and sing-along), one of the songs Yarrow offered was running through my head. But since I wasn’t sure what it was, I didn’t mention it in the post.

Nor did I mention one of the nicer things about the show. During a twenty-minute intermission, Yarrow took song requests from members of the audience. He said as the first half of the show ended that he wouldn’t be able to perform them all, but with only a few exceptions, the second half of the show would be all requests. (The exceptions he mentioned were “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “If I Had A Hammer” and “Blowin’ In The Wind,” and I thought, “Yeah, like no one would request any of those . . .”)

Anyway, as he left the stage, I talked with him briefly and made my request. A while back, while looking for a CD of Yarrow’s 1972 solo album, Peter, I came across the last track from the album, and “Tall Pine Trees” was, for a few days, playing pretty regularly in the Echoes In The Wind studios. He nodded and smiled and said he’d see what he could do.

Twenty minutes later, as the second half of the show began, Yarrow held up a sheet of typing paper covered with scrawled titles and began to share the list of requests. “Well, for the first time ever, someone requested ‘Tall Pine Trees’,” he said. “And someone mentioned ‘Too Much Of Nothing’, and that one almost never gets requested.” He shook his head in mock bafflement, and the audience laughed.

As I expected, he did not perform “Tall Pine Trees,” but midway through the second portion of the show, he looked at the list of requests and said, “Let’s do ‘Too Much Of Nothing’, but let’s combine it with something else.” And he took off into a song that I knew I’d heard but that I couldn’t place, and after that song’s chorus came up – “Line of least resistance, lead me on” – he (and his son) would toss in the chorus of “Too Much Of Nothing.” It was a great combination, but the source of that vaguely familiar first part of the medley puzzled me.

Still puzzled Tuesday morning after writing that day’s post, I began to dig, and I soon learned that Yarrow and folksinger Chris Chandler had recorded a track titled “Isn’t That So/Too Much Of Nothing/Whoop” for Chandler’s 1999 album, Collaborations. I listened to an excerpt of the track and nodded in recognition. I didn’t care for Chandler’s (I’m assuming) spoken wisecracks during the track, so I didn’t buy it. But now I had a title for that vaguely familiar song. So I searched my own collection, and I found “Isn’t That So” as the first track of Jesse Winchester’s 1972 album, Third Down, 110 To Go.

If I were a tech wizard, I’d combine that track with the choruses from Peter, Paul & Mary’s 1968 take on “Too Much Of Nothing” from their Late Again album. That’s not going to happen, but here’s “Too Much Of Nothing”

And finally, yesterday I found a listing at Amazon for a box set of Peter, Paul & Mary’s 1972 solo recordings – Peter, Paul & and Mary – but I’m not ready to shell out sixty bucks for a used copy. I imagine that sometime soon, I’ll buy the three albums as mp3 downloads (the price is much more reasonable). But until then, I do have the closer to Yarrow’s album, the Russian-influenced “Tall Pine Trees.”

Tags: , ,

One Response to “What Was That Song?”

  1. David Lenander says:

    I think that “Isn’t that So” was on Yarrow’s second LP, THAT’S ENOUGH FOR ME. I didn’t really *like* the album all that much (especially after the first one, PETER, which I love, and consider one of the best releases ever from P, P &/or M). But it’s certainly his most ambitious work, musically–in a different direction from the previous record–and it had a lot of virtues and artistic successes.

Leave a Reply