I started working in radio while I was in high school. One of the deejays at the station took me under his wing, showed me the ropes, and gave me a lot of good advice. I remember when he said, “Get out while you can. You’re still young. Trust me, you don’t want to work in radio.” But I did, more than anything, at least until the consultants showed up. Another bit of advice he gave me was about putting together song sets. He said the first thing you do before cueing a record is listen to the end of the song, so you know what to play after it. See if it fades or ends cold or with drums or horns or whatever. You won’t get a jaw-dropping segue every time, but you will get a set that adheres. And every now and then you’ll sit two perfect songs next to one another and someone listening will hear your voice through the music you play and the way you play it and they’ll smile and think, ‘that sounded good.’ And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl just goes to show what sound advice that was.
It’s mostly singer-songwriters. It’s mostly songs you’re familiar with. Songs with words that glow with the gold of sunshine. Songs played on a harp unstrung. And we’ll hear their voices come through the music, and we’ll hold them near as if they were our own. Songs about life and death, longing and loneliness, lost love and hope. We’ll hear Andy Pratt and Neil Young, Randy Newman and James Taylor, The Grateful Dead and Elton John. But we’ll open with a song from one of the best albums in the Deep Tracks library. It came out in 1971. Not a bad track on the record. The tunes are deceptively simple. And the lyrics? “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes. And Jesus Christ died for nothing, I suppose. Here’s a little story from John Prine.
|John Prine||Sam Stone|
|James Taylor||Sweet Baby James|
|Jimmy Buffett||Come Monday|
|Randy Newman||He Gives Us All His Love|
|Neil Young||Journey Through the Past|
|Elton John||This Song Has No Title|
|Andy Pratt||Avenging Annie|
That’s Andy Pratt wrapping up an eight song set that was All Hand Mixed, but not all Vinyl. We had to play the last one off cd, despite the fact that I have three vinyl copies of that album. And believe it or not something’s wrong with all of them, so that was digital. Everything before that, however, was vinyl. Including one of the more obscure tracks from Goodbye Yellowbrick Road, a two record set with seventeen tracks, four of which became hit singles, which might explain why it sold the first 20 million copies. But I think the reason it ended up selling over 30 million is that the rest of the songs are so good. We heard the only solo performance on the entire record, a track called, “This Song Has No Title.” Just words and a tune.
Before Sir Elton, Neil Young with “Journey Through the Past” from a great album called Time Fades Away, a record that came out a year after Harvest but which is a much darker affair. The album was never officially released on CD and the vinyl went quickly out of print. I saw one copy on a used record site, selling for $450. And if you’re interested in that, drop me a note. I bet I can undercut that price just a little. The other guy on piano in the set was Randy Newman, the master of writing with unreliable narrators, as evidenced by the one we heard, “He Gives Us All His Love.” At the top, John Prine with a narrator telling it like it was in his classic Viet Nam War era tale, “Sam Stone.” We also heard James Taylor with the title track to Sweet Baby James, “Ripple” from the Dead’s American Beauty, and Jimmy Buffet’s first hit single. Well from that brown L.A. haze that envelopes the Way Back Studios I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. If you’re looking for the set lists or associated ephemera, feel free to drop by my website and poke around, maybe send an email, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be back with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl next time and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.