Unless you’re driving or doing surgery, close your eyes and picture your favorite rock and roll band, any group you want. Got it? Okay, now, if you’re from one generation, you probably pictured Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard wailing on a piano. If you’re from a later generation, you’re more likely to have imagined a band fronted by a guitarist standing in the spotlight: Hendrix in front of The Experience, Townsend with his sweeping windmill, or Clapton bending another blue note. Sure, it might have started on the piano, but it didn’t take long for the guitar to become the iconic instrument of rock and roll. And don’t just take my word for it. Think of all those guitar sculptures outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the massive guitar signage outside so many Hard Rock Cafes, or the old video game, Guitar Hero. You’ll notice it’s not piano hero or drum or bass hero. And no matter what generation you’re from, it’s a safe bet that when you think of rock and roll bands, you don’t picture the front man playing a woodwind.
So you may find yourself wondering why today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is about just that. An instrument more likely to be featured in classical, jazz, or, dare I say it, New Age music. We’re talking about the flute. The first person who comes to mind when you talk about the flute in a rock ‘n’ roll context, is probably Ian Anderson, standing flamingo-like as he fronts Jethro Tull. And if there’s any question about whether the flute can rock, I believe they’ve already provided the answer. And if that’s not enough, how about Duane Allman playing with a flautist? We’ve got that too with Herbie Mann’s great cover of the Ray Charles classic “What’d I say?” We’ll also hear from Chicago, Jim Horn, The Marshall Tucker Band, and others. In fact, even in my spotty little record collection, I found so many flutey-tunes I couldn’t fit ‘em all in one set. So maybe this is just the first of many. There’s an old joke that goes: What’s worse than a flute? Two flutes. Well, from the Way Back Studios, here are seven flutes to undermine that punch line.
|Marshall Tucker Band
|Heard It in a Love Song
|Going Up the Country
|What’d I Say?
|It Better End Soon (2nd Movement)
From Chicago II, that’s the 2nd Movement of “It Better End Soon” with Walter Parazaider on the flute. Before that, we heard jazz flautist Herbie Mann from his album Push Push, featuring Duane Allman on guitar as they covered the Ray Charles composition “What’d I say?” Another cover in that set was Jethro Tull’s “Bouree” based on Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Bouree in E Minor.” In the middle of the set, six years before teaming up with Dan Fogelberg for the Twin Sons album, we heard Tim Weisberg from his 1972 album Hurtwood Edge, a track called “Tibetan Silver.” Following that we heard an excerpt from the composition “Carnival” from Ballinjack.
And at the top of the set, the only country rock band I can think of whose sound was really defined by the use of a flute, the Marshall Tucker Band featuring Jerry Eubanks on the woodwind. We “Heard it in a Love Song.” After that, one of the most prolific session players in Los Angeles, Mr. Jim Horn from his solo LP, Through the Eyes of a Horn. We heard his version of “Going up the Country” and I think, though I can’t prove it, that he’s the one who played the flute on the original Canned Heat version. The flute, by the way, has been around since roughly 36,000 BC. Archeologists have found them made from swan bones, mammoth tusks, and the femurs of bears, which just goes to show how important music was even to cavemen; you really have to love it if you’re going to go so far as to get the femur out of a bear just to have some tunes.
But here in the Way Back Studios, we’re willing to do whatever it takes. And, just so you know, if you’re looking for the set lists or the show commentaries they’re posted at billfitzhugh.com along with all the naughty photos and the truth behind all the rumors. I’m Bill Fitzhugh, thanks for listening. I’ll be back sooner or later with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.