Posts Tagged ‘Fleetwoods’

An Answer & New Questions

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

When someone posts a comment here, I’m supposed to get an email. It works like that maybe half of the time. Sometimes a comment sits out there for a while before I notice. That’s why I fill the occasional idle moment here by going back through the blog’s archives, checking for comments on posts of months and years gone by.

I did that one evening about a year ago, and found a comment by a reader by the name of Irene Greulich. I’d written a couple of posts a year earlier than that – during the summer of 2015 – pondering what I’d been listening to during the summer of 1975 when Bruce Springsteen released Born To Run and I didn’t buy it.

The second of those posts found me telling the tale – more aptly re-telling the tale – of how I came to own Paul Williams’ 1971 album Just An Old Fashioned Love Song during that summer of 1975:

An evening in July, my bedroom windows open to gather what breeze there might be, me on my bed reading, and the radio playing softly, tuned to WCCO-FM. The disk jockey played a portion of an interview with Paul Williams, probably done while the singer was in the Twin Cities for a concert, and the interview segment closes with Williams talking about his song “Waking Up Alone.”

And after that, the deejay cues up Williams’ sorrowful “Waking Up Alone.” I’d never heard the record, and the sad story, the quiet arrangement and, yes, the saxophone solo called to me as I listened. I’ve learned since that “Waking Up Alone” was released as a single in early 1972 and got to No. 60 in the Billboard Hot 100, and as I’ve said many times before, it deserved better.

I found the album the next day, and it went into regular rotation on the rec room stereo on Kilian Boulevard. And many years later, “Waking Up Alone” was one of the 240 tracks I listed in my Ultimate Jukebox, noting that as heartfelt and sad as the lyrics are, the best part of the record is the “saxophone that comes in late . . . hanging around long enough to take a nice solo and then walk us home.”

I’ve wondered for years – probably not since 1975, but certainly since 1990, when I began amassing vast quantities of records and reference books – who played the saxophone on “Waking Up Alone.” The record jacket gives no clues; the CD insert might, but I don’t have it. (I note this morning that the CD is available in a standard release; for several years, when I looked for it, it was available only in a Japanese release and was quite pricey.)

I’d run through the names of L.A. session players, wondering, and finally came down to guessing that the sax solo came from either Tom Scott or Jim Horn. The question actually came up at a gathering of friends the other day, and two other music geeks and I decided that those two names were the most likely.

It turns out that I wasn’t the only one wondering. Irene Greulich – remember her? – came by the post about finding Williams’ record about a year after I wrote it, and left me a note:

Hello! I’ve been trying to find out who is the musician who plays the saxophone solo at the end of “Waking Up Alone”. If you have the album (CD?) and the musicians’ credits are listed in the liner notes, can you please tell me the sax player’s name? Truly a very beautiful and moving song – always been one of my favorites. Thank you!

I’m pretty sure I answered her, telling her that there was no information on the jacket or the sleeve and telling her, as well, that my best guess was either Tom Scott or Jim Horn.

And you know what? I was wrong. About a week ago, I got an email about a comment left at that post, a note from a Marcia Fisher. She wrote: “The sax solo at the end of ‘Waking Up Alone’ is Gene Cipriano (“Yo, Cip!”), famous guy, long history in music. This song was my first exposure to Paul Williams, sent me looking for more, and I’ve loved his work ever since.”

Cipriano’s was a name I hadn’t considered, but it certainly makes sense, though I’ve run across his work less than I have Scott’s or Horn’s. And a quick check at All-Music finds both Cipriano and Scott credited for tenor sax on the album. (Over time, I’ve found myself using All-Music as a source less and less frequently, as the site is slow and, to me, very clunky. So when the saxophone question came to mind I never checked there. Mea culpa.)

As it turns out, Marcias information was in error; as the comment below by Yah Shure indicates, Cipriano played oboe on “Waking Up Alone,” and Tom Scott played saxophone.

Anyway, thanks to Marcia Fisher for the note, which does leave me wondering what brought her to a post two years old. But then, there’s always another question to ask.

And that’s true of a track I found this week as I wandered around YouTube thinking of Williams’ song “Waking Up Alone.” I found a version of the tune credited to the Fleetwoods, the same group that hit No. 1 in 1959 with “Come Softly To Me” and “Mr. Blue.” At least, that’s what it says:

I’ve found this track listed online as one of two on a 2012 set titled Unreleased. The other track is “Stay With Me.” The vocalist, for what it may matter, does sound a lot like Gary Troxel, who was the male member of the Fleetwoods more than fifty years ago. But when was it recorded? I have a vague idea that it comes from the early 1970s, but nothing more than that.