I always enjoy your observations on the state of the music business and I felt compelled to write you about the Kennedy Center Honors piece. I was elated to hear your beautiful words about Brian and what his body of work has meant to the world as well as each and everyone of us on a personal level, and that’s really what it comes down to–the magnitude of how young and old have been touched by his music through the years collectively. No matter what a person might be going through in life, how can you hear "Don’t Worry Baby" and not feel an ocean of divine love and warmth surrounding you, healing you, and making everything all right.
It’s been my profound honor and pleasure to have recorded and toured the world with Brian for the last nine years and see first hand on a nightly basis what this man and his music means to people from all walks of life. It was an honor to have been included in a clip shown on the Kennedy Honors telecast (blonde female singer) and even a bigger honor to have Brian grace my solo record on a few songs (along with Styx’s Tommy Shaw).
I must correct you on one thing though. Brian has not checked out from us. He lives above us. I feel he is very much there with us but exists on a different plane of consciousness. I have witnessed him first hand feverishly dishing out parts to us, his band mates, on material new and old and it is a joy to behold and be a part of. He is perhaps the gentlest and sweetest soul I’ve encountered and I thought you knowing this would add to the joy and elation you’re feeling about Brian at present.
If you have not seen the "Smile" double DVD (documentary/live performance) I urge you to do so. This will only add to your reverence that you obviously and lovingly have for this special man.
Thanks for reading this–and thanks for the beautiful piece that you wrote!
Hey Bob the singer of Bend Me Shape Me was Gary Loizzo and he is the front of house engineer and does all the studio reacordings for Tommy Shaw and James Young and the Styx band who were part of one of the biggest tours in the amphithearters this last summer with Def Leppard/Styx /Foreigner averaged over 12,000 paid a night and average grosses of over $500K. Every so often Gary leaves the front of house board and comes on stage with Styx to do Bend Me Shape Me.
Alliance Artists Ltd.
Just subscribed to your blog and found your reference to the unavailability of Dancing in the Moonlight (5/27/07). We lost the master recording rights to all our music in the 70s after a record company bankruptcy and just got them back after a prolonged legal suit. For the first time DITM is now available on iTunes, etc. We also released King Harvest – The Lost Tapes in September 2007, which really should have been the first album. (Our first album was a mish mash of old tracks thrown together by the record company without our knowledge. It’s a long story involving two continents)
So we now find ourselves in the middle of this music delivery revolution trying to figure out what to do with our stuff. Obviously the CD market is dying, but the boomers are still buying them. So we’re considering putting The Lost Tapes out on CD. I’ve spent hundreds of hours building web pages on every music site I can find (We are "Track of the Week" and #17 on the charts with Take It Easy on garageband.com Groove Rock!) and I’ve done all the standard promos to oldies internet radio. Just started emailing all the oldies broadcast radio stations and college stations.
I’m amazed at all the young kids who have DITM as one of their favorites, but at this point, the more I read about the new music business, the more uncertain I get how to promote our music to them and the boomers. Way to much conflicting info for an old rock and roll guy to digest.
Any simple suggestions?
Really enjoyed the few posts I’ve read so far and looking forward to reading more.
Thanks a lot.
What a surprise to read your email about "Neon Rainbow". Someone phoned me about it just seconds after I got off a stage in Tulsa where I had just played that very song with Alex Chilton and the Box Tops. I’m the only non-original member out there with them- just a ringer they brought in from Nashville to play keys with them- but I’ve had the extreme pleasure of gigging with them for the last 6 or 7 years. It’s some of the finest music I’ve ever played- The Letter, with the half-step modulation that doesn’t kick in until the OUTRO! Who ever heard of such a thing! Unconventional arranging to say the least, but nevertheless it worked. And the great guitar solo played by Gary Talley that ends "Neon Rainbow", which also modulates even though the song is ending. Ideas like that would be laughed out of the studio in today’s focus-group atmosphere. Alex was just 16 when he recorded "The Letter". It was the first song they ever recorded, and became a massive hit. Nominated for song of the year at the ’67 Grammy’s, back when The Grammy’s mattered. But Alex kept growing, and did great work later on with Big Star, and still tours in Europe with them a few times a year. He’s one of a kind. Nice to see him get a little recognition.
Thanks for continual surprises….
"The Letter," "Neon Rainbow" and "Soul Deep" were all written by Wayne Carson Thompson, who also wrote (or co-wrote) the classic Gary Stewart country hit "She’s Actin’ Single (I’m Drinkin’ Doubles)." Johnny Paycheck’s "Slide Off Your Satin Sheets," and a tune called "Always On My Mind," 1982′s Song of the Year. The Box Tops had not only Chilton’s ridiculously soulful teenage voice (he was like the American Steve Winwood). but some of the best studio players in Memphis, and some really great songs (like Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham’s "Cry Like A Baby" and "I Met Her In Church").
This has got to be one of my favorite emails of yours because it hits close to home with me. I’m a 27 year old Memphian who is trying to start and independent record label and music publishing company with Ardent Music, LLC and my aunt used to go out with Alex Chilton when she worked in Ardent Studios back in the 70s. September Gurls, She’s a Mover, and O My Soul were songs partially written about or for her – or at least that’s what Chilton was feeding her. He would write the songs on napkins when they were out. The stories she tells are amazing because she was there in the mix when all this was going on and she talks about it as if it were nothing. But Chilton and his influence can be heard in so many different places and people have no clue…especially in Memphis. And I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know of Big Star and The Box Tops until somewhat recently. Once I started getting the albums I was blown away! John Fry, the owner and founder of Ardent Studios, told me my granddad overdubbed trumpet on some of the Cry Like a Baby album. He also did alot of overdubbing for Stax and even some for the notorious Chips Moman American Sound Elvis sessions…which he didn’t receive credit for. Hell, alot of the stuff he did for Stax just credits the Memphis Horns, which Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love’s management were smart enough to trademark. Anyways, I love your emails…especially this one. I’m going to give Neon Rainbows another listen!
Appreciated the words about Alex Chilton and the Box Tops. I’ve known Alex since 1979, when I called him up in Memphis and offered him $300 and round-trip ticket to Buffalo to come up and do a show with my band (we were big fans to say the least) backing him up. Playing September Gurls with him was the musical highlight of my life. I just spent two days with Alex interviewing him for a book about Big Star’s Radio City album I’m writing for the 33 1/3 Series (published by Continuum). Rock writers and fans love the supposed drama and tragedy surrounding Big Star. I can tell you that the real story is a group of really talented people whose pure love of music and extraordinary creativity was respected and nurtured rather than second-guessed and tampered with. Without John Fry, the founder of Ardent and an engineering genius, Big Star would never have soared so high. Listen closely to September Gurls – there is ONE guitar (a Stratocaster recorded live with the drums and bass – they used the second take) and ONE overdubbed mando-guitar. That’s it. (I’ve heard the master tapes and have a copy of the track sheet.) It sounds like a chiming symphony of overdubbed 12-strings. But it’s not. All the fancy high-tech pro-tools drum-machine digital studio gadgetry in the world can’t duplicate what Fry and the band (who handled the overdubs) put down. Which is why it still touches people it a big way.
Happy New Year,
I picked up a vinyl copy of no 1 record/radio city the day after xmas in a record shop in west london. I was out browsing the racks feeling a little blue after a really anticlimatic xmas experience.
My whole family is dead or divorced and as blase as I pretended to be about it this year it really hit home. A little retail therapy was in order.
About a year ago when I bought my first flat I decided to stop listening to digital music at home.
I realised I wasn’t listening to music properly at work on my computer or on my ipod. Great pieces of art had been reduced to crappy sounding overly compressed mp3′s that I flicked through rather than paying proper attention to.
A lot of music I’d loved growing up (I’m only 33 mind) also didn’t make sense anymore.
I really couldn’t work out why.
I used to love a lot of music that now just didn’t reach me in the same way.
I went out and bought a 120quid Pro-ject debut 3 turntable. They’re made and sound like a piece of kit that should cost 3 times the price. I bought a nice amp and some decent but not overly expensive wharfdale speakers and started rebuilding my music collection. It has been a revelation.
I fell in love with music all over again.
New bands I didn’t get (bright eyes,the national)suddenly made sense when I heard their music springing from warm plastic grooves in all their analogue glory. Old bands (dr john, the velvet underground, dinosaur jr)I seemed to have lost my love for suddenly came back to life for me in my front room. I was listening again, the music connected in an entirely different way.
I had owned all 3 big star record on cd/mp3/itunes for a few years but bar standout track like ‘El Goodo’ or ‘Watch The Sunrise’ I’d never REALLY been drawn in the way I had with say The Beach Boys or the Band’s records but on Vinyl…it was something else.
You can hear the richness of Chilton’s voice, the guitars are so bright and full of life. Its a fucking masterpiece.
In an alternate world Big Star would have been as big as The Beach Boys or you are right…at LEAST as big as Little Feat.
PS I’d rather you didn’t re-print any of this in your mailbag with my name on.
You don’t know me (unfortunately) and I am no music big wig: But here is one reason the dinosaur is dying……………….
Over the course of the holidays I had the title Josh Groban Noels on several lists for relatives. I regulary buy cds (the pricing structure in Canada is much more forgiving) at the rate of about 2-3 per week (typically these cost me between $8 and $10 as new releases are priced to move in week 1).
I went to the following retailers to acquire this cd:
Best Buy x2 locations
Future Shop x2 locations
Music World (currently going out of business)
and even a local independent store End Hits
Guess what? "NOT AVAILABLE"
I would have hoped that some additional resources were devoted to Josh and that his cd would be available somewhere for purchase. I tried, really I did. WIth no luck or course. So what did I do? Probably what most people do before wasting time, gas and mileage: I went online armed with the search term "josh groban sendspace", checked about 4 sites and grabbed both the album and artwork within about 10 minutes. With a high quality printer, a torrent site and google- I did myself what 3 major retailers could not do, give me the music I wanted. And I was willing to pay whatever they were asking……….
Merry Christmas WEA / Reprise!