The other day somebody asked me what I do here in the Deep Tracks. I said I see my job as being like a curator at a museum. The music library here is so vast that we can’t possibly hang all the art on the limited wall space. So my job is to pick and choose among the pieces and arrange them, essentially creating musical exhibits. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is a fine example. It consists of seven songs, six of which have similar structures. By weird coincidence those six songs have the pronoun I or You in their title. They all open quietly with acoustic guitars or gentle vocals. Then the drums kick in, changing the tempo through the middle of the song, then they slow back down at the end and close just as quietly as they started. However, like so many of our plans here in the Way Back Studios, that wasn’t what I’d planned to do. No, the original idea was to create a set revolving around choirs. I was listening to Donovan’s Cosmic Wheels one night, an album featuring a couple of my favorite Donovan tracks, including the very funny “Intergalactic Laxative.”
But the track that got me started on this is called “I Like You.” It features a classical string arrangement and a children’s choir. That immediately brought to mind the Stones use of the London Bach Choir in “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and the Islington Green School Choir in Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall (part two).” But the Floyd didn’t work out and I couldn’t find any other choir parts that would. So, keeping the two choirs that I had, I wandered off in a different direction where I ended up stuck in Traffic with the Beatles and the Moody Blues. But before we get to those choral voices, we’ll see how two different songwriters tackled the subject of being alone and isolated. One takes the defensive and defiant approach while the other simply longs to make a connection with another human being. So, just trying to find someone to confide in, here’s Steve Forbert.
|Steve Forbert||Tonight I Feel So Far Away From Home|
|Simon & Garfunkle||I Am a Rock|
|Donovan||I Like You (part 1)|
|Moody Blues||Don’t You Feel Small?|
|Beatles||Love You To|
|Donovan||I Like You (part 2)|
|Rolling Stones||You Can’t Always Get What You Want|
Lifting a good song to greatness, those are the soaring voices of the London Bach Choir. And, just so you know, that lonely little French horn part at the top of the track was played by none other than Al Kooper. Before the London Bach Choir, we heard an unnamed children’s choir singing with Donovan on the song, “I Like You.” That’s from his album Cosmic Wheels which he recorded at Morgan Studios in London at the same time Alice Cooper was there recording his next album. Now I can’t think of two less similar artists. The father of heavy metal death shock rock and the quintessential hippie folkster. So it might surprise you to know that during these sessions, Cooper invited Donovan to sing on his album. It might surprise you even further that he accepted. So next time you hear Billion Dollar Babies, listen for Donovan trading lyrics with Alice Cooper. In between the two parts of the Donovan track, we had a little psychedelic pop jelly donut with Traffic, half the Beatles, and The Moody Blues asking the question from A Question of Balance, “Don’t You Feel Small?” From Revolver we heard “Love You To” featuring Ringo on tambourine and George Harrison on sitar; neither John nor Paul play on the track.
From there we segued over to Dave Mason playing sitar on Traffic’s “Paper Sun” before returning to the second part of “I Like You.” At the top of the set, exploring the consequences of loneliness, we heard Steve Forbert’s “Tonight I Feel So Far Away From Home” followed by Simon and Garfunkle’s ode to isolationism: “I Am A Rock.” Gazing from my window to the streets below where it’s true that you can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes you’ll find your way to the Way Back Studios. By the way, if you’re looking for the set lists or the show commentaries, you can find them at billfitzhugh.com along with the answers to many of life’s simpler questions. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for tuning in. I’ll be back another time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you can join us, right here in the Deep Tracks.