I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know

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I bought “Child Is Father To The Man” used, one of only two albums I ever purchased that had previously been played, the other being Bob Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding” a year later in college. I’d seen a note on the community bulletin board that someone was selling their records and I went up to their room in Starr Hall, where I wouldn’t live for three years, and purchased an LP that looked like the guy had ironed his skis over it. I was caught up in the college experience, you know, when everything is brand new, before you become jaded and ultimately can’t wait to graduate. That Dylan album, which I paid two bucks for, convinced me that from then on every album I ever bought would be brand new, because no one treated their records like I did, I dare you to find a fingerprint on a single one. That’s me, that’s OCD. People forget the downsides of vinyl, the scratches, the skips, the warps… CDs were a revelation. Files even better. And if you want to buy an old analog album on vinyl, go for it. But if you’re buying a digitally cut album on vinyl, you’re actually missing a bunch of the music, vinyl is inherently limited in response, and then there’s the issue of the angle of the needle as it crosses the record and I have all of my vinyl, I never sold it, but I must admit I’m scratching my head on this vinyl revolution, furthermore it’s not like most of the buyers have a playback system good enough to hear the nuances anyway.

“Child Is The Father To The Man” was delivered to me in Modern European History, an AP class so boring I don’t think I retained a single thing. And a boring teacher too. I’ve had very few good teachers in my educational experience, a great teacher can make the most boring material interesting, it’s a reason to take that course, but oftentimes school was just dull, that’s the last place I ever want to go back to, the classroom.

So, the copy of “Child Is Father To The Man” even had the original clear plastic inner sleeve, as opposed to the paper with mini-album pictures of most other labels, it was a step up, or was perceived to be.

And my copy was not perfect, but it’s not like it was played only at a gram or so on a great turntable. Yes, the key element of a stereo system is the speakers, but back then a record player/needle could ruin a record, which is why I popped for a Dual 1228, even though it was years before the rest of my system lived up to that quality, and by that time I’d upgraded to a Technics direct drive.

Now at this point in time, over fifty years later, my favorite track on “Child Is Father To The Man’ is the closer, the Gerry Goffin/Carole King song “So Much Love.” Kooper is testifying, with the organ in the background, and then the horns flourish and the number goes from subtle to in-your-face and you can’t help but pay attention, you’re along for the ride, and oh, what a ride it is.

But for a long time my favorite cut on the LP was the second side opener, “I Can’t Quit Her,” a direct message delivered directly. With melody and emotion. It’s a tour-de-force.

And then there are the covers. Harry Nilsson’s “Without Her,’ a year before Three Dog Night had a hit with “One,” back when no one was covering Harry, you could read about him in the press if you were dedicated, but his was not a household name. Although Gene Pitney covered “Just One Smile,” it wasn’t until 1972 and “Sail Away” that most people had any idea who Randy Newman was. And “Morning Glory” originally appeared on Tim Buckley’s second album the previous year. Buckley never broke through to mass appeal, his son is famous, but the father was the darling of the cognoscenti back then, at least for a while.

And then there were the other originals. Steve Katz wrote “Megan’s Gypsy Eyes,” and the rest were Kooper’s. And “Somethin’ Goin’ On” and “My Days Are Numbered” deserve their own analysis, but today I’m focusing on the first track after the “Overture,” “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know.”

This “Overture” was a year before the one opening the Who’s “Tommy,” and it was shorter, but it was a symphonic version of what you were going to hear and then…there’s this hysteric laughing, a chorus of “YEAH” and then…there’s a soulful, stinging guitar, underpinned by organ chords, locked into an R&B groove and then…

How many times have I listened to “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”? Zillions! But Thursday night I finally got it. All those years I thought it was blustery bragging, the guy’s in control, but he wants the woman to know that he does care about her, he really does, as he goes on the road and takes advantage of opportunities and forgets about her.

But that’s not what’s really happening at all. He’s the underdog. He’s the one who needs her. He’s coming from the bottom, not the top. He’s down on his knee, emoting with all his heart, trying to convince her to believe.

“If I ever leave you

You can say I told you so”

He realizes she’s doubtful. After all, he’s a musician. And not a rich one. She’s not totally in, she’s holding back a little bit of herself, to avoid the inevitable hurt down the road.

“And if I ever hurt you, baby

You know I hurt myself as well”

He’s not talking about kicking her to the curb, crawling from the wreckage into a brand new car, if he missteps he’s gonna suffer the consequences, be broken up just as much as she is.

“Is that any way for a man to carry on

You think he wants his little loved one gone”

The music changes, it’s a pre-chorus, there’s an additional level of heaviness. Does she really think he wants her gone? He’s not going to misbehave, that’s not how he’s going to carry on.

“I love you, baby

More than you’ll ever know

More than you’ll ever know”

More than you’ll ever know. There are no words. It’s something he feels deep inside. He’s more than committed, he’s connected, he not only wants her, HE NEEDS HER!

“I’m not trying to be any kind of man

I’m trying to be somebody

You can love, trust and understand”

Trust. You don’t often hear that on the hit parade. But that’s the essence of a relationship, along with commitment. He’s not average, he’s not run-of-the-mill, he’s one of a kind, and he wants her to know!

“I know that I can be, yeah

A part of you that no one else could see

I just gotta hear, hear you say it

It’s all right, yeah, yeah, yeah”

He’s begging her, shine her light back on him, tell him she got the message, that she feels the way he does. PLEASE!

“I’m only flesh and blood

But I could be anything that you demand

I could be president of General Motors, baby

Or just a tiny little grain of sand”

Al tells a great story about Donny Hathaway’s version of “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know.” He gets a copy of it and THEY CHANGED THE LYRICS! Al is incensed, he calls Jerry Wexler all heated-up, complaining, and when he can finally get a word in edgewise, Wexler says AL, A BLACK MAN COULD NEVER BE PRESIDENT OF GENERAL MOTORS!

That’s 1973, fifty years ago. We’ve since had a Black president, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

Al’s at her mercy. He’ll be whatever she wants. Just as long as she commits and stays true. He’s doing it all for her, not himself.

“When I wasn’t making too much money

You know where my paycheck went

You know I brought it home to baby

And I never spent one red cent”

He’s hers. Everything he owns is hers. He’s doing it all for his baby.

And the amazing thing about listening to these old records is they sound amazingly clean, but they were mixed completely differently. Instruments play in one ear only. Engineers and acts wanted to demonstrate stereo, which was really just coming into vogue, after the labels raised the price of mono albums to those of stereo and then eliminated mono completely.

So we’ve got the stinging guitar, with just a bit of distortion added in. Clean. And an angelic choir in the left ear. And the organ in the right and all the instruments breathe, there’s enough air around them that they can be heard. And then a string flourish in the right ear. And then Fred Lipsius is blowing his alto sax in the right ear, setting your mind adrift, to think and contemplate.

It’s a who’s who on the track. Randy Brecker was in the original incarnation of the group. Jerry Weiss too. They left with Kooper before the second album.

But it’s not only the players, it’s the backup singers too, Melba Moore and Valerie Simpson. John Simon arranged the strings. Stephen Stills is even credited as an engineer!

“I love you, I love you, I love you, baby

Well, all right

I told you so many times before

I love you, I love you, I love you

You know, I got to tell you one more time

I love you, I love you, I love you”

He’s bearing witness like James Brown. The track contains everything but the cape. He wants her to get it. He needs her to get it. She’s gonna get it, right?

You never know.

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