It Don’t Matter To Me

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So I was driving down Sunset listening to Lou Simon’s program on Volume 106. I remember exactly where I was, at the Burlingame intersection, where the light is so short but it’s too often red. And a guy called in to talk about Harry Chapin’s “W.O.L.D.” And he keeps remarking how he only got it decades later, what the song was about. And I’m chuckling on the inside, feeling ever so superior, until this dude continues and says that the call letters stand for OLD! I never caught that, you can learn something every day, at least I can. And I can’t get over “W.O.L.D.,” I keep telling people about it. A song I heard incessantly on the radio I just didn’t fully understand.

So I was driving up La Cienega, to go to a pharmacy that turned out to now only give covid vaccines on Thursday, and this was Friday, and I’m both steaming ahead and slowing down. You know how they tell you to pick a lane and stay in it? I was in a rush, and in truth I kept changing lanes to my advantage.

And I was punching through the channels, it was early for me, before ten, and one of them was the Bridge, the SXM adult rock channel, the KNX-FM of today. Oops, you don’t know what I’m talking about. KNX was a soft rock station, way to the left of the dial, when there were five album rock stations on the FM band in Los Angeles. You could always find something to listen to. And that’s where I first heard Bruce Hornsby and the Range’s “The Way It Is,” and had to immediately buy the album to hear it upon demand.

So there’s nothing they’re going to play on the Bridge that will alienate you based on its loudness, its intensity. Then again, there are certain tracks I never have to hear again, like “Southern Cross.” As a matter of fact, this overplayed track was on the 1982 CSN album, ‘Daylight Again,” when in truth it all ended with the comeback album from 1977, a complete surprise. It wasn’t as good as the first two CSN(Y) albums, but little could be, to this day. But the LP started with “Shadow Captain,” and it had “Cathedral” and “Dark Star” and “I Give You Give Blind.” Of course it contained the hit, “Just A Song Before I Go,” but that’s another track I never need to hear again.

And it also contained “See the Changes.” This is the best song on “CSN.” It’s almost a sequel to “4 + 20” from “Déjà Vu”.”

“Ten years singing right out loud

I never looked, was anybody listening?

Then I fell out of a cloud

I hit the ground and noticed something missing”

We think stardom will solve everything. But this was ten years later, from “For What It’s Worth” to 1977. And, to quote that old song, “Where is the love?”

“Now I have someone

She has seen me changing”

Having someone is everything. You don’t want to be on the endless road and come home to an empty house. As for the groupies, the women on the road, they don’t really know you, and sex is secondary to a relationship.

“And it gets harder as you get older

And farther away as you get closer”

Little did Stephen Stills know. The older you get what is in the distance gets even further away, it’s so hard to keep striving for what you want, most people give up.

But Stephen Stills had credibility. David Gates and Bread had none.

Well, that’s not completely true. You see Bread was on Elektra. Which put out far fewer albums than its mainstream competitors. If it was on Elektra, it was worth paying attention to, there was a reason behind the signing, just like with Knopf and books. It may not ultimately deliver, but you know there was thought behind the signing, more than pure commerciality.

And I remember my friend Keith telling me about Bread. Back in ’69, when the initial album came out. When we had no idea who David Gates was, never mind the fact that he was nearly thirty. He’d heard the act on WBAI, the public radio station, that played Phil Ochs and left field acts like the Fugs, it was the thinking person’s FM station.

And then came “Make It With You.”


I was stunned they played it on AM radio, that it was a hit, after all the band was singing “make it with you,” which in the era of free love, of personal exploration, I could see as nothing other than a desire to have sex. That was what we all wanted to do, make it with another person.

And this was in the era when they still banned songs from the radio, for being salacious.

But “Make It With You” was a staple on the radio that summer, of 1970.

It was released in June. And records ran up the chart quickly, or they didn’t. And if they connected, their run at the top was relatively brief, that’s how fast the charts ran. You see if you had a hit, everybody soon knew it, and by time everybody was sick of it, there was something to replace it. It’s vastly different today, where it’s nearly impossible to get known. And even if you’re a radio #1 most people still don’t know you. With so much in the channel, everything moves slower, it’s like there’s molasses gumming up the works, and the end result is so much smaller.

But back in 1970, music ruled.

Let’s see, Eric Clapton’s solo debut had just been released, and Dave Mason’s “Alone Together.” Oh, “John Barleycorn Must Die” came out on July 1st. Funny how these albums have sustained, and so much recent stuff has already been forgotten. The first Clapton album, which was considered to be a commercial disappointment, a mild success…my favorites were “Easy Now” and “Let It Rain,” which both got radio airplay. But who knew “After Midnight” and “Blues Power” were forever?

But you were always exposed to AM radio. Because this was before the ubiquity of FM radio, before every car had it. Many cars had 8-track tape decks before FM radio. And a lot of the early auto FM radios had poor reception. Which is all to say you knew the AM hits, from driving in the car if nothing else.

Now I’m looking at the WABC charts, and “Make It With You” never made it to #1. It entered the chart at #22 the week of June 16, 1970. Moved up one spot the following week and was up to #13 the week of June 30, 1970. Then #8, #7, and the week of July 21st, it was #2. Number one? Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold.” Anathema to FM rock, it’s a classic we all now love, if we didn’t back then.

The following week, July 28th, “Make It With You” was still #2, but “(They Long to Be) Close to You” by the Carpenters was #1, this was the Downey duo’s first hit. The week of August 4th, “Make It With You” was #3, #2 was “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” right before Stevie Wonder went on his hejira and became iconic.

In reality, “Make It With You” had a longer run than almost any other song that summer of 1970, that’s how much of a feel good hit it was.

Next for the Carpenters was “We’ve Only Just Begun.” And our stomachs started to turn. This was not what we wanted to hear driving around. The Carpenters were an AM act, and now we knew Bread was too. Both focusing on hit singles, in an album era, they became pariahs.

However history has been rewritten and people say how much they love the Carpenters now. As for Bread? This hasn’t happened yet.


Now in truth, the Carpenters  ultimately infected me, I got it in the summer of ’73, with “Yesterday Once More.” I had a job that had me driving a good portion of the day and I yearned to hear MWAH…

And it was the same deal with Bread in 1972. I’d written the band off, but I loved the song “Diary.” I loved the concept of finding the diary under a tree, also the melodic turns, something completely absent from today’s rhythm-driven world. This is what songwriting is about.

And over time, I’ve come to like more Carpenters songs, and I enjoy Bread numbers too, but in truth only two ever resonated, “Make It With You” and “Diary,” until Friday.

“It don’t matter to me

If you really feel that

You need some time to be free”

This was years before the Sting song, we just wanted somebody to love, never mind setting them free.

But in truth I saw “It Don’t Matter to Me” as distancing, he’s letting her go. Okay, a bigger man than me. And in truth, with the bad auto radios of yore I didn’t catch much more of the lyrics, and it was so sappy at the end, I’m not sure I wanted to. But Friday?

“Time to go out searching for yourself

Hoping to find

Time to go and find”

This was the ethos of yore, we all wanted to find ourselves. I remember my mother saying “What if you find out you’re a jerk?” Nobody looks for themselves anymore, unless they’re already rich, have conquered the business world and feel empty inside. But forgoing the money…today everybody’s worried about falling on the wrong side of the economic fence, you’ve got to start early or the fear is you’ll always be behind.

“And it don’t matter to me

If you take up with someone who’s better than me

‘Cause your happiness is all I want

For you to find your peace of mind”

Who is this guy who’s so well adjusted? And thinking there’s someone better than he is? Where’s his self-confidence? Everybody thinks they’re the best their partner can find, at least guys do, and they protect what they’ve got to boot.

As for their happiness…

I mean ultimately I’m cool with them being happy, but really, you put me through the wringer, I gave you enough rope, and I’m hurting and you’re living large, it hurts much longer than people say, MUCH longer.

“Lotta people have an ego hang-up ’cause they want to be the only one”

Once you realize you’re together, you have that conversation…how many people have you slept with? It’s always hard to wrestle with, to digest and accept, if they’ve slept with anybody but you. But please, don’t let them have slept with more, many more than you. You wonder if you’re up to snuff, experienced enough, good enough. And they keep telling you you’re the one, but it’s hard to accept.

“How many came before it really doesn’t matter

Just as long as you’re the last”

This is absolutely true. Then again, I never caught these lines fifty years ago, or in the interim.

“Everybody moving on and trying to find out

What’s been missing in the past”

Now wait just a second! This is a complete twist. He’s not really letting her go, what he’s really telling her is he’s more experienced, she’ll see her fantasies are just that, and she’ll come running back.

This guy is actually being passive-aggressive. The music is so smooth, there’s no hint of anger, but truly this is an angry side. She left him, and it really matters to him!

‘Cause there’ll always be an empty room

Waiting for you”

Wait just a second, he’s not even reclaiming the space in his house, he’s essentially got a shrine to her.

“An open heart

Waiting for you”

This guy is still in love with her, he’s carrying the torch, if anything this song is about imposing guilt in her heart and mind. He’s playing mind games under the patina of niceness.

“Time is on my side

‘Cause it don’t matter to me”

This is so messed up. He’s convinced she’s coming back. And with that mind-set you never move on. He’s not setting her free to experiment and find someone better, she’s letting her out of the house to have bad experiences and realize he’s the best man for her. This is much more “Every Breath You Take” than “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.”

I had it completely backwards, completely wrong. He’s not an admirable guy, more evolved than me and the rest, he’s actually a mind game playing controlling man who can’t let go. Which unfortunately is too often the case. Men may put up a brave face, but women get over breakups much faster. They talk amongst their friends, they support each other, and move on. Men stew in their own juices. They always think they’ll come back, always.

So what I thought was a mindless saccharine ditty turns out to be anything but. This ain’t a groovy number to be played at weddings. It sounds so harmless, but in truth it’s anything but. The lyrics ultimately evidence the complete opposite viewpoint.

Proving once again that songs we thought were just airy concoctions have just as much meaning as the more raucous ones we hold close to our hearts.

Music… The gift that keeps on giving.

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