Monday, April 27, 2020

A 'What if' Album: Apple Scruffs • The Beatles 1970

By Doug McIntosh & Paul Hobbs
(two fans and a fanciful rewrite of 1970)

A 'What if' Album Series:
Apple Scruffs • The Beatles 1970 | All In • CSNY 1970

The Apple Scruffs were a loosely-knit group of hardcore Beatles fans who were known for congregating outside the Apple Corps building and at the gates of Abbey Road Studios in London during the waning days of Beatlemania, in the hope of seeing or interacting with one of the band members. The name was first coined by George Harrison, who also recorded the song "Apple Scruffs" as a tribute to them for his 1970 triple album All Things Must PassWikipedia 

I actually co-opted the idea for this What If blog series from my good friend Paul Hobbs. In high school, Paul started a fun tradition of putting together imaginary new Beatle albums after their breakup in April of 1970. Paul's process would be to create a cassette tape mix from the solo albums of the post-fab-four from that year or thereabouts. I would often go over to Paul's house and we would sit in his bedroom and listen to albums on his portable record player. Sometime in 1970, Paul invited me over and shared his new Beatle album mix tape with me and together we escaped into a Beatles-forever alternate universe.

Recently in our 2020 #stayathome phone conversations, we decided to go back fifty years and put our heads together to create what that followup album might have been from our perspective today. Without too much rancor (just kidding), we both came together with a side one of seven songs, and a side two of six songs for our 42 minute mythical vinyl album. 

First we needed some basic rules to follow.

A 'What If' Album - 1970 Fantasy-Band-Land Rules
  • Our album had to be a 12" vinyl LP (Long Playing) analog record with 23 minutes maximum play time per side. So back in the day, a typical album had 12 songs or 6 songs per side.
  • Songs picked for this 'What If' album would be from John, Paul, George, and Ringo's solo recordings, no later than 1970. 
  • Think of these solo album songs as 'demo tracks' recorded without all four Beatles participating to make a final definitive Beatle track.
    1969-1970 Beatle Discography
    Abbey Road was released September, 1969 and even though Let It Be was recorded earlier in January of 1969, it was released in May of 1970.

    1970 Solo Albums -
    Paul McCartney                         George Harrison                      John Lennon                              Ringo Starr - Single
    McCartney                                 All Things Must Pass               Lennon/Plastic Ono Band         It Don't Come Easy 
    April 17, 1970                           November 27, 1970                 December 11, 1970                   March & Oct. 1970
    and now for a little fantasy... Starting with our made up press release

    Hey ‘Scruffs’ Cheer Up Good News For Beatles Fans
    Actual 1970 Circus Magazine Cover
    Dan Lingman • August 14, 1970 • Circus Magazine

    In the aftermath of courtroom battles and breakup rumors, the Beatles have resurfaced at Abbey Road Studios where they’re putting the finishing touches on Apple Scruffs a new collection of Beatle songs tentatively slated for a fall release.

    “Apple Scruffs” comes from George’s affectionate term for the fans who gather outside the Apple offices day after day, hoping for some sort of connection with their heroes,” explains Neil Aspinall, head of Apple Corps. “With all the turmoil caused by the rumors of the Beatles imminent demise the fans have been very much on the Beatles’ minds. They seem genuinely reinvigorated and refocused. I was able to pop in on a session earlier in the week and the energy in the room was extraordinary! Everyone seems very excited.”

    With the prospect of a new Beatles album when it seemed like all was lost? That’s cause for excitement, not to mention a Beatles Christmas for all of us.

    and.... A 'What If' Album Fictional Narrative

    Apple Scruffs • Release Date: October 9, 1970
    It is spring 1970, Let It Be is topping the charts and the lads after a few rough patches on a winding road have gotten back to full-form with the critically acclaimed, Abbey Road. George continues to press John and Paul in getting more of his songs on Beatle albums as he now has a war chest of songs ready to go. In a recent interview George was asked about being a songwriter and he said, "the only reason I started to write songs was because I thought, well, if they can write them, I can write them."

    Ringo is now a movie star with the release of The Magic Christian and thinks his song, It Don't Come Easy will be a single at some point.

    A 'What If' Album Cover

    The band has all agreed that the Phil Spector experiment of producing Let It Be is behind them as he has returned to America, and his gun collection. George Martin is back to steer the magical ship as Producer and 5th Beatle, full speed ahead Mr. Parker, full speed ahead.

    Also, in a stunning reversal, The Beatles have fired manager, Allen Klein and he has been replaced by The Bee Gees, Cream, and Eric Clapton's manager, Robert Stigwood.

    John and Paul are becoming more open to the new dynamics in the band as they begin a new decade together. The Lennon/McCartney team continues to balance their collaborative and solo songwriting craft as both seek greater autonomy in their professional and personal lives. John likes to call himself, "a happily married fellow" these days, and Paul has traded in his London highlife for a sheep farm in Scotland. Can these two find peace and happiness at home? Enough so, that keeps them both coming back to work together, and with George and Ringo? Time will tell, but for now they have a miraculous follow up and journey past Abbey Road's The End.

    A "What If" Back Album Cover

    Ladies and Gentlemen
    The Beatles • Apple Scruffs (1970)


    Monday, April 20, 2020

    1960 or Thereabouts: Celebrating 60 Years

    Cathy's Clown, Released in April, 1960 by The Everly Brothers goes to #1 for 5 weeks on the Billboard Top 100
    In 1960 -
    The Beatles, 1960
    • The Beatles make their debut under this name in Hamburg, Germany, beginning a 48-night residency at the Indra club. The band at the time comprises John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stu Sutcliffe on bass and Pete Best on drums.
    • In Greensboro, North Carolina, four black students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth's lunch counter. Although they are refused service, they are allowed to stay at the counter. The event triggers many similar non-violent protests throughout the Southern United States, and six months later, the original four protesters are served lunch at the same counter.
    • Elvis Presley returns home from Germany to the United States, after being away on military duty for 2 years.
    • Several Soviet surface-to-air missiles shoot down an American Lockheed U-2 spy plane. Its pilot, Francis Gary Powers of the Central Intelligence Agency, is captured.
    • The Flintstones, My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, Route 66, and The Bugs Bunny Show aired their first season.
    • Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev pounds his shoe on a table at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, his way of protesting the discussion of the Soviet Union's policies toward Eastern Europe.
    • For the first time, Mary Martin's Peter Pan is presented as a stand-alone 2-hour special on NBC, instead of as part of an anthology series. This version, rather than being presented live, is shown on videotape, enabling NBC to repeat it as often as they wish without having to restage it. Although nearly all of the adult actors repeat their original Broadway roles, all of the original children have, ironically, outgrown their roles and are replaced by new actors.
    • 1960 United States presidential election: In a close race, Democratic U. S. Senator John F. Kennedy is elected over Republican U. S. Vice President Richard Nixon, to become (at 43) the second youngest man to serve as President of the United States, and the youngest man elected to this position.
    • 14-year-old Neil Young forms his first band in Junior High, The Jades in Winnipeg, Canada. Source: Various Wikipedia articles

    Fern McIntosh, Sunday School Teacher
    (in front of the window) Grace Baptist Church, 1959
    In 1960, I was five years old and at that time probably didn't know any of the songs on the playlist this week as my primary exposure to music was pretty much a Baptist church gathering, starting with...
    Jesus loves me this I know
    For the Bible tells me so
    Little ones to Him belong
    They are weak but He is strong

    I do remember a firecracker redhead kid who moved to Santa Maria in 1960 named Billy DeVoe who routinely disrupted my Sunday school class pretty much from kindergarten through high school. I am thankful that a strong Jesus did in fact bring us together as we remain best friends some sixty years down the road.

    Doug & Bill - The College Years
    However since our college years, we have both come to doubt the fantastical stories and religious fervor that attracted a good number of adult odd-balls and goof-balls from our town to congregate. As adults ourselves, we would never socially mix with such a fearful and loathing group of people lead by Franklin Graham-like ministers, including a string of creepy youth/music ministers who probably turned a good number of our peers around to end up playing for the agnostic team. My disruptive friend was in fact the only 'normal' thing I took from that place. By the way, who in their right mind would sit in those extremely hard pews for hours at a time, listening to a guy who believes three guys are thrown into a large fiery furnace and are just walking around inside the furnaceI believe in miracles/ where you from/ you sexy thing...

    My other thoughts about 1960 or thereabouts take me back to 300 West Sunset in Santa Maria, CA. Specifically, the time my dad started digging a six foot hole and trench from inside of our house in the hallway heater closet, to underneath the middle of the living room. Now before you make the leap that my dad was bat-shit crazy, let me provide a little context. 

    Steve and Stephanie
    with their brother
    (dad was the barber too
    for the boys haircuts)
    In talking with my mother and younger (twin) brother and sister this past week, we think it probably was more around 1962 because I would have been seven and the twins around five. This also is the timing of the Cuban Missile Crisis as one of our neighbors down the street had actually dug and built a bomb shelter underneath their front yard. Okay, now THAT DAD was bat-shit crazy, but my dad was just a Baptist.

    In the early 60's, my dad climbed telephones poles for General Telephone Company and my mom was a housewife. They didn't have a lot of money when they bought the Sunset house for $13,500 in 1956, and later discovered the hot water leak underneath their concrete slab somewhere between 1960-62. I wish my dad were here to tell us the exact timeline, but he's eternally on a back nine foursome with the father, son and the holy ghost...

    Buddy McIntosh
    Anyway, my mom tells me the living room floor kept getting warmer and warmer and the hot water in the sinks and bathrooms were down to a trickle. There definitely was a hot water leak, and my dad without means to pay an expensive plumbing bill much less hire a lawyer, became a plumber. My dad could do anything, he could be a mechanic, carpenter or any general fix-it man depending on the breakdown. So my dad enlists my uncle's Skeet and Leslie, and they take out the heater and start digging this huge hole in our hallway and piling a mountain of dirt on a large army tarp in the backyard (thanks Steve for that specific dirt memory).

    So what do you think the neighborhood was thinking, as my mom recalls, "word spread quickly."
    "Bud's gone crazy! He's building a bomb shelter underneath his house!" 

    Here's my outstanding memory of that event in time- I'm standing in the hallway looking down at my dad in the hole (with his head below ground level) and he's smiling up to me. The black and white TV is on in the living room with Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese calling a baseball game, sponsored by Falstaff Beer. I love how Diz would turn to Pee Wee and call him, "podnuh."

    The Playlist this week was a fun task of mixing 1960 pop, folk, R&B, country, jazz and new TV show themes all together in 60 songs. Some of these songs you'll recognize as 70's hits made famous as covers from these 1960 originals. Enjoy and stay well my friends.

    Note - The Theme for Bonanza actually started as a TV show in 1959. Also in 1959, The Dave Brubeck Quartet's Take 5I just couldn't let those two not be part of this collection of songs. 

    Wikipedia References - 

      Monday, April 13, 2020

      The John Prine Smile


      A young man from a small town
      With a very large imagination...

      On the evening of April 7th, I knew I would be writing a John Prine blog post on the Monday following his passing. In reading the outpouring of love from his fans, journalists and artists in the music business, what could I say that already hasn't been said about one of the greatest singer-songwriters of his generation. Now John Prine's generation- being born in 1946 is a hallowed sweet spot in time, right after World War II where a mighty legion of singer-songwriters grew of age in the 1960's - 70's to carry folk into country and rock 'n' roll, and then back-to-the-future with Americana.

      John Prine's 1971 self-titled first album, John Prine is a masterpiece of songwriting and I was thinking about that album this past week and thought, "did he ever write a bad song?" Then, I thought about doing a comprehensive playlist, and that would be something like 150+ songs. Or, how about doing what many of the news outlets were doing, something like a "John Prine Essentials" list that would include songs like Sam Stone, Hello in There, Angel From Montgomery, Paradiseand the epic Lake Marie.

      Then I started thinking about the #hashtag James Taylor has been using in several of his recent social media posts- #SongsOfComfort based on Yo Yo Ma's call for finding songs to help people at home during this pandemic.

      That is when it hit me, how about just playing some of the fun and goofy songs where John's writing is the invention of a fun puzzle, an engaging mind-game within himself... the John Prine smile. Songs like, It's A Big Ol' Goofy World and Linda Goes to Mars, where even after the first, second and countless listens, the writer's expression is received... in your smile.

      So here's a few of my favorite John Prine smiles that are worthy of the tag #FunSongs, #SongsOfComfort, or songs that simply define #CreativeWriting. Please take time to read the lyrics before playing each video as John's words are a collective bond that have touched so many of us deep to our core.

      It's A Big Old Goofy World

      Up in the morning
      Work like a dog
      Is better than sitting
      Like a bump on a log
      Mind all your manners
      Be quiet as a mouse
      Some day you'll own a home
      That's as big as a house

      I know a fella
      He eats like a horse
      Knocks his old balls
      Round the old golf course
      You oughta see his wife
      She's a cute little dish
      She smokes like a chimney
      And drinks like a fish

      There's a big old goofy man
      Dancing with a big old goofy girl
      Ooh baby
      It's a big old goofy world

      Now Elvis had a woman
      With a head like a rock
      I wished I had a woman
      That made my knees knock
      She'd sing like an angel
      And eat like a bird
      And if I wrote a song
      She'd know ever single word

      Kiss a little baby
      Give the world a smile
      If you take an inch
      Give 'em back a mile
      Cause if you lie like a rug
      And you don't give a damn
      You're never gonna be
      As happy as a clam

      So I'm sitting in a hotel
      Trying to write a song
      My head is just as empty
      As the day is long
      Why it's clear as a bell
      I should have gone to school
      I'd be wise as an owl
      Stead of stubborn as a mule. 


      In Spite Of Ourselves
      (feat. Iris DeMent)

      She don't like her eggs all runny
      She thinks crossin' her legs is funny
      She looks down her nose at money
      She gets it on like the Easter Bunny
      She's my baby I'm her honey
      I'm never gonna let her go

      He ain't got laid in a month of Sundays
      I caught him once and he was sniffin' my undies
      He ain't too sharp but he gets things done
      Drinks his beer like it's oxygen
      He's my baby
      And I'm his honey
      Never gonna let him go

      In spite of ourselves
      We'll end up a'sittin' on a rainbow
      Against all odds
      Honey, we're the big door prize
      We're gonna spite our noses
      Right off of our faces
      There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
      Dancin' in our eyes.

      She thinks all my jokes are corny
      Convict movies make her horny
      She likes ketchup on her scrambled eggs
      Swears like a sailor when shaves her legs
      She takes a lickin'
      And keeps on tickin'
      I'm never gonna let her go.

      He's got more balls than a big brass monkey
      He's a whacked out weirdo and a lovebug junkie
      Sly as a fox and crazy as a loon
      Payday comes and he's howlin' at the moon
      He's my baby I don't mean maybe
      Never gonna let him go

      In spite of ourselves
      We'll end up a sittin' on a rainbow
      Against all odds
      Honey, we're the big door prize
      We're gonna spite our noses
      Right off of our faces
      There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
      Dancin' in our eyes.
      There won't be nothin' but big old hearts
      Dancin' in our eyes.

      In spite of ourselves


      Jesus, The Missing Years

      Jesus... the missing years

      It was raining. It was cold
      West Bethlehem was no place for a twelve year old
      So he packed his bags and he headed out
      To find out what the world's about
      He went to France. He went to Spain
      He found love. He found pain.
      He found stores so he started to shop
      But he had no money so he got in trouble with a cop
      Kids in trouble with the cops
      From Israel didn't have no home
      So he cut his hair and moved to Rome
      It was there he met his Irish bride
      And they rented a flat on the lower east side of Rome...
      Italy that is
      Music publishers, book binders, Bible belters, Money Changers,
      Spoon Benders and lots of pretty Italian chicks.

      Charley bought some popcorn
      Billy bought a car
      Someone almost bought the farm
      But they didn't go that far
      Things shut down at midnight
      At least around here they do
      Cause we all reside down the block
      Inside at....23 Skidoo.

      Wine was flowing so were beers
      So Jesus found his missing years
      So He went to a dance and said "This don't move me"
      He hiked up his pants and he went to a movie
      On his thirteenth birthday he saw "Rebel without a Cause"
      He went straight on home and invented Santa Claus
      Who gave him a gift and he responded in kind
      He gave the gift of love and went out of his mind
      You see him and the wife wasn't getting along
      So he took out his guitar and he wrote a song
      Called "The Dove of Love Fell Off the Perch"
      But he couldn't get divorced in the Catholic Church
      At least not back then anyhow
      Jesus was a good guy he didn't need this shit
      So he took a pill with a bag of peanuts and
      A Coca-Cola and he swallowed it.
      He discovered the Beatles
      And he recorded with the Stones
      Once He even opened up a three-way package
      In Southern California for old George Jones


      The years went by like sweet little days
      With babies crying pork chops and beaujolais
      When he woke up he was seventeen
      The world was angry. The world was mean.
      Why the man down the street and the kid on the stoop
      All agreed that life stank. All the world smelled like poop
      Baby poop that is..the worst kind
      So he grew his hair long and threw away his comb
      And headed back to Jerusalem to find Mom, Dad and home
      But when he got there the cupboard was bare
      Except for an old black man with a fishing rod
      He said "Whatcha gonna be when you grow up?"
      Jesus said "God"
      Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into?
      I'm a human corkscrew and all my wine is blood
      They're gonna kill me Mama. They don't like me Bud.
      So Jesus went to Heaven and he went there awful quick
      All them people killed him and he wasn't even sick
      So come and gather around me my contemporary peers
      And I'll tell you all the story of
      Jesus...The Missing Years


      We all reside down the block
      Inside at... 23 Skidoo.


      That's The Way That The World Goes 'Round

      I know a guy that's got a lot to lose.
      He's a pretty nice fellow but he's kind of confused.
      He's got muscles in his head that ain't never been used.
      Thinks he own half of this town.

      Starts drinking heavy, gets a big red nose.
      Beats his old lady with a rubber hose,
      Then he takes her out to dinner and buys her new clothes.
      That's the way that the world goes 'round.

      That's the way that the world goes 'round.
      You're up one day and the next you're down.
      It's half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown.
      That's the way that the world goes 'round.

      I was sitting in the bathtub counting my toes,
      When the radiator broke, water all froze.
      I got stuck in the ice without my clothes,
      Naked as the eyes of a clown.

      I was crying ice cubes hoping I'd croak,
      When the sun come through the window, the ice all broke.
      I stood up and laughed thought it was a joke
      That's the way that the world goes 'round.


      Fish and Whistle Lyric Video


      Grandpa Was A Carpenter

      Grandpa wore his suit to dinner
      Nearly every day
      No particular reason
      He just dressed that way
      Brown necktie and a matching vest
      And both his wingtip shoes
      He built a closet on our back porch
      And put a penny in a burned out fuse.

      Grandpa was a carpenter
      He built houses stores and banks
      Chain smoked Camel cigarettes
      And hammered nails in planks
      He was level on the level
      And shaved even every door
      And voted for Eisenhower
      'Cause Lincoln won the war.

      Well, he used to sing me
      "Blood on the Saddle"
      And rock me on his knee
      And let me listen to radio
      Before we got TV
      Well, he'd drive to church on Sunday
      And take me with him too!
      Stained glass in every window
      Hearing aids in every pew.


      Now my grandma was a teacher
      Went to school in Bowling Green
      Traded in a milking cow
      For a Singer sewing machine
      She called her husband "Mister"
      And walked real tall and pride
      And used to buy me comic books
      After grandpa died.



      Way Back Then

      Night is falling
      We're doing the things we do
      You are acting just like me
      I'm acting just like you
      Do you remember
      When you were my friend?
      That's the way I'd like things
      Just like way back then

      Baby's sleeping
      Brother is on the run
      I am out undoing
      All the good I've done
      If you loved me
      Tell you what I would do
      Wrap the world in silver foil
      Bring it home to you.

      Lately I feel
      That I can't pretend
      I may never ever see
      The likes of you again
      I take a walk, I come back home
      Then I sit a spell
      Watch the ponies dance around
      The empty wishing well.

      Night has fallen
      I've said the things I did
      The only baby sleeping
      Is when I was a kid
      Do you remember
      When you were my friend?
      That's the way I'd like things
      Just like way back then.


      Linda Goes To Mars

      I just found out yesterday that Linda goes to Mars
      Every time I sit and look at pictures of used cars
      She'll turn on her radio and sit down in her chair
      And look at me across the room, as if I wasn't there

      Oh My stars! My Linda's gone to Mars
      Well I wish she wouldn't leave me here alone
      Oh My stars! My Linda's gone to Mars
      Well, I wonder if she'd bring me something home.

      Something, somewhere, somehow took my Linda by the hand
      And secretly decoded our sacred wedding band
      For when the moon shines down up on our happy, humble home
      Her inner space gets tortured by some outer space unknown.


      Now I ain't seen no saucers 'cept the ones upon the shelf
      And if I ever seen one I'd keep it to myself
      For if there's life out there somewhere beyond this life on earth
      Then Linda must have gone out there and got her money's worth.


      Yeah, I wonder if she'd bring me something home.


      Crazy As A Loon

      Back before I was a movie star
      Straight off of the farm
      I had a picture of another man's wife
      Tattooed on my arm
      With a pack of Camel cigarettes
      In the sleeve of my tee shirt
      I'm headin' out to Hollywood
      Just to have my feelings hurt

      That town will make you crazy
      Just give it a little time
      You'll be walking 'round in circles
      Down at Hollywood and Vine
      You'll be waitin' on a phone call
      At the wrong end of a broom
      Yes, that town'll make you crazy
      Crazy as a loon

      So, I headed down to Nashville
      To become a country star
      Every night you'd find me hangin'
      At every honky-tonk and bar
      Pretty soon I met a woman
      Pretty soon she done me wrong
      Pretty soon my life got sadder
      Than any country song

      That town will make you crazy
      Just give it a little time
      You'll be walking 'round in circles
      Lookin' for that country rhyme
      You'll be waitin' on a phone call
      At the wrong end of a broom
      Yea, that town'll make you crazy
      Crazy as a loon

      So, I gathered up my savvy
      Bought myself a business suit
      I headed up to New York City
      Where a man can make some loot
      I got hired Monday morning
      Downsized that afternoon
      Overcome with grief that evening
      Now I'm crazy as a loon

      So I'm up here in the north woods
      Just staring at a lake
      Wondering just exactly how much
      They think a man can take
      I eat fish to pass the time away
      'Neath this blue Canadian moon
      This old world has made me crazy
      Crazy as a loon
      Lord, this world will make you crazy
      Crazy as a loon


      Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore

      While digesting Reader's Digest
      In the back of a dirty book store,
      A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
      Fell out on the floor.
      Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
      Slapped it on my window shield,
      And if I could see old Betsy Ross
      I'd tell her how good I feel.

      But your flag decal won't get you
      Into Heaven any more.
      They're already overcrowded
      From your dirty little war.
      Now Jesus don't like killin'
      No matter what the reason's for,
      And your flag decal won't get you
      Into Heaven any more.

      Well, I went to the bank this morning
      And the cashier he said to me,
      "If you join the Christmas club
      We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
      Well, I didn't mess around a bit
      I took him up on what he said.
      And I stuck them stickers all over my car
      And one on my wife's forehead.


      Well, I got my window shield so filled
      With flags I couldn't see.
      So, I ran the car upside a curb
      And right into a tree.
      By the time they got a doctor down
      I was already dead.
      And I'll never understand why the man
      Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

      "But your flag decal won't get you
      Into Heaven any more.
      We're already overcrowded
      From your dirty little war.
      Now Jesus don't like killin'
      No matter what the reason's for,
      And your flag decal won't get you
      Into Heaven any more."


      The Bottomless Lake

      Here's the story of a man and his family
      And a big trip that they took
      Well, I heard all about in a restaurant
      And I read it in a history book
      They rented a car at the Erie Canal
      But the car didn't have no brake
      Said Ma to Pa "My God this car"
      "Is gonna fall into the Bottomless Lake"

      Well, Mama turned to Daddy with a pale face
      Said "I've done something horribly wrong"
      "Well, the waters still runnin' in the bathtub"
      And I think I left the kitchen light on"
      Then I heard a crash the car when splash
      And the compass rolled around and around
      Oh, for Heaven's Sake! We fell in a lake
      And I think we're all gonna drown

      We are falling down
      Down to the bottom of a hole in the ground
      Smoke 'em if you got 'em
      I'm so scared I can hardly breathe
      I may never see my sweetheart again

      There was plenty of food in the backseat
      And the windows were rolled up tight
      So we all nibbled on a chicken leg
      Told stories 'way thru' the night
      Well, Pa told one that he told before
      And the baby got a bellyache
      Said Ma to Pa "My God this car"
      "Falling down a Bottomless Lake"


      Poppa played the music on the radio
      Mama rocked the baby to sleep
      He said he would've taken the other road
      But he didn't think the lake was that deep
      Well, if the ferry been there at the end of the pier
      We'd be half way to Uncle Jake's
      Instead of looking at fish out the window I wish
      We'd hit the bottom of the Bottomless Lake
      'Stead of looking at fish out the window I wish
      We'd hit the bottom of the Bottomless Lake

      So if you're ever goin' on a big trip
      Ya better be careful out there
      Start everything on you good foot
      And wear clean underwear
      Take along a Bible in the backseat
      Read of David and Solomon
      For if you make a mistake in the Bottomless Lake
      You may never see your sweetheart again
      If you should make a mistake in the Bottomless Lake
      You may never see your sweetheart again
      If you should make a mistake in the Bottomless Lake
      You may never see your sweetheart again



      All the snow has turned to water
      Christmas days have come and gone
      Broken toys and faded colors
      Are all that's left to linger on
      I hate graveyards and old pawn shops
      For they always bring me tears
      I can't forgive the way they rob me
      Of my childhood souvenirs

      Memories they can't be boughten
      They can't be won at carnivals for free
      Well it took me years
      To get those souvenirs
      And I don't know how they slipped away from me

      Broken hearts and dirty windows
      Make life difficult to see
      That's why last night and this mornin'
      Always look the same to me

      I hate reading old love letters
      For they always bring me tears
      I can't forgive the way they rob me
      Of my sweetheart's souvenirs


      John, you're in good company


      and a last one, that maybe captures this moment...

      Well, maybe one more.

      For further reading, I recommend-
      A couple great articles written this past week, and one almost 50 years ago about John Prine.
      The ebook, John Prine: In Spite of Himself by Eddie Huffman (2015). Here is the Kindle version for $13.99 that I just started reading yesterday and can't put down. Or, you can download an audio version from Audible (free with trial). (Again, thanks to Ken Forman for this recommendation.)

      And, if you're inclined to want to take a deep dive that compares John Prine to the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain, read the 2005 Master of Arts thesis by Michael J. Ruwe,  It's a Big Old Goofy World View: John Prine as a Modern-Day Mark Twain (free pdf download).

      Wishing you all the best, stay well my friends.

      Monday, April 06, 2020

      Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, and now Peter and Jeremy

      Photo of James Taylor & Peter Asher at the
      Sweet Baby James photo shoot by Henry Diltz
      Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog called,  Sweet Baby James and 50 Years Down the Road

      While writing that blog, I had also began to read a book by James Taylor's original manager and the producer of Sweet Baby James, Peter Asher.

      Thanks to Paul Hobbs 
      for the book loan

      The book is titled, The Beatles from A to Zed and is simply a wonderful journey through the alphabet with everything Beatles, plus more interesting sidebar stories including: Peter's direct experiences with the Beatles, his days in Peter and Gordon, and life in the music business. If you're a Beatle fan, this is a must and a very fun read indeed. The book got me interested in Peter Asher and I began to look into his life and professional career as a musician and record producer.

      Some early facts about Peter Asher and his one degree of separation-
      • Peter's father was a doctor and his mother was a professional musician and Oboe teacher, who once taught a young lad named, George Martin (the future producer of The Beatles).
      • Peter went to the prestigious Westminster School in London where he met his future band mate, Gordon Waller whose father was also a doctor.
      • Peter was a child actor along with sister Jane Asher, a life-long actress. 
      • At seventeen, Jane had an opportunity to interview the Beatles in April, 1963 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and began a five-year relationship with Paul McCartney. In December 1963, McCartney took up residence at Asher's family Wimpole Street town house and stayed there until the couple moved into McCartney's own home located in St John's Wood in 1966. McCartney wrote several Beatles songs inspired by her, including "And I Love Her", "You Won't See Me", "I'm Looking Through You", "We Can Work It Out", and "Here, There and Everywhere." Wikipedia
      • At the Asher's Wimpole St. home, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in the front basement room, while McCartney wrote the tune to "Yesterday" in a box room at the top of the house. Wikipedia
      • Paul McCartney and Jane Asher
      • For two years, Peter's and Paul's bedrooms were right next to each other at the top of the house, and Peter as a young musician himself had constant direct access to one of the greatest singer-songwriter's of all-time. I guess I could go on about Jane's and Paul's access... what were her parents thinking?
      Anyway, John and Paul were constantly writing new songs and always revisiting and even workshopping older songs they wrote before the Beatles formed in 1960. One such song, A World Without Love was written by Paul when he was sixteen but John could never get past the first line, Please lock me away without cracking up with laughter.

      Peter Asher and Gordon Waller
      As John rejected A World Without Love as a Beatles song, an astute Peter Asher asked Paul if he could have the "orphan" song for his newly signed band, Peter and Gordon. Peter even persisted Paul to write the bridge of the still uncompleted song. Paul finished the song and gave it to Peter and Gordon who took it to their first recording sessions for EMI Records. Least to say, the rest is history as the song went all the way to #1 on the UK and American Billboard Charts in 1964 and launched Peter and Gordon as a worldwide duo.

      This past week, I thought the A World Without Love lyrics quite appropriate for our #StayatHome times even though they were written by a young Paul McCartney about waiting for a true love to finally show herself.

      Please lock me away
      And don't allow the day
      Here inside where I hide
      With my loneliness

      I don't care what they say I won't stay
      In a world without love

      Now another thing that struck me when viewing the color video of A World Without Love is that Peter Asher is the spitting image model of Mike Myers' Austin Powers character. I am of course not the first to make this observation, but I want you to play the song here and pay attention as the camera zooms in on Peter at the 0:27 - 0:37 mark. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about- Peter's expression with mop top, Buddy Holly glasses and teeth... Yeah Baby!

      Peter's close relationship with Paul McCartney proved invaluable as Peter and Gordon recorded several songs written by McCartney but credited to Lennon–McCartney. Those hits included "A World Without Love" (US & UK #1), "Nobody I Know" (US #12; UK #10), "I Don't Want To See You Again" (US #16, but not a hit in the UK), and "Woman." With "Woman", McCartney used the pseudonym Bernard Webb to see whether he could have a hit song without his name attached. First pressings of the US Capitol single listed the composer as "A. Smith". The song reached #14 in the US and #28 on the UK Singles Chart in 1966. Wikipedia

      Phil and Don Everly
      As duo groups in the 1960's started popping up such as Simon and Garfunkel, Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, not to mention such bands as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Hollies, and Bee Gees- all getting their harmonic inspiration from the well of The Everly Brothers. For Peter and Gordon, it's very interesting to hear two very different singing voices come together to make their harmony work so well. Needless to say, without the Everly Brothers, the evolution of harmony in the early to mid-sixties for singing duo's and bands just wouldn't have been the same.

      Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde
      Chad and Jeremy is another interesting duo from England as they too rode the British Invasion to America with a number of hits from 1962 - 1968.

      The duo had a string of hits in the US, including "Willow Weep for Me", "Before and After", and their biggest hit, "A Summer Song". Wikipedia

      For Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy, the 60's wave ended as both groups disbanded in 1968. For Peter Asher, his life changed in 1968 as he briefly worked as the A&R (Artists & Repertoire) Director for Apple Records where he signed James Taylor to his first record contract and then moved to the United States to manage and produce James and later, Linda Ronstadt. Peter went on to produce many acts, and in 1995-2002 was Senior Vice-President for Sony Music Entertainment.

      Peter and Gordon, 2005
      But what attracted me to write this article and playlist this week was Peter Asher's reunion with Gordon Waller in 2005, first playing benefits, Beatlefest, and then doing clubs together. Sadly, this ended in 2009 when Gordon Waller died of a heart attack at 64 years old.
      Chad and Jeremy, 2005

      As for Chad and Jeremy, Chad Stuart continued to work in the music industry while Jeremy Clyde became a film and stage actor. In the early 1980s, the duo reunited to record a new album and perform concerts, including a multi-band British Invasion nostalgia tour. After another long period of separation, in the early 2000s Chad & Jeremy began performing again and developed a semi-regular schedule of touring for many years. Wikipedia

      Peter and Jeremy, 2020
      Incidentally, both Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy often played venues together as all were life-long friends.

      In 2018, Chad Stuart retired from performing and low and behold, Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde started performing together as, Peter and Jeremy. That kind of takes us full circle as I would like to present a mix playlist of Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, and Peter and Jeremy this week in both older and more recent videos. Make sure to watch the last two videos with a bit of fun commentary by Peter and Jeremy. Enjoy my friends!

      Note- I also want to give a big shoutout to jarichards99youtube (subscribe here) who does a fantastic job of taking old music videos and creating a Digitally ReProcessed ReCut Video and STEREO ReMix.HiQ Hybrid = Live Video Performance PLUS Studio Quality Sound.