It’s been suggested that everyone on earth is, on average, approximately six steps away from any other person on earth. The idea has been around for decades, sometimes referred to as the Human Web, but it was popularized in John Guare’s play, Six Degrees of Separation. Now the problem with the theory, when strictly interpreted, comes when you consider some of the isolated tribes still lurking in the jungles of South America. So maybe it’s not universally true, but a narrower version of the theory appears to be. They say that everyone in Hollywood is five or fewer steps away from having been in a movie, television show, or a commercial with Kevin Bacon. I mean, consider this: the play was made into a film starring Will Smith who was also in “Men In Black” with Vincent D’Onofrio who was in “The Player” with Tim Robbins who was in “Mystic River” with, that’s right, Kevin Bacon.
That’s all good and well, but what’s it got to do with today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl? Well, the music business works much the same way. A lot of what goes on happens simply because of the proximity, interrelations, and associations of musicians. A guitar player who knows this singer who can hook you up with a sax guy you won’t believe, that sort of thing. Fortuitous hook-ups, arranged mergers, and right-place-at-the-right-time combinations of producers and players have led to some of the great records in the Deep Tracks library and today’s set stands as exhibit A in that argument. So if it really is a small world after all, you just have to ask yourself whether it’s small enough to connect Rita Coolidge to Lynyrd Skynyrd in five steps. Well, the good money says there’s probably more than one way to do it, but in this set we manage by using two Englishmen, a guy out of Seattle, and one New Yorker. What’s interesting is that instead of the artists you’re about to hear, we could just as easily have played Bob Dylan, The Isley Brothers, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Kris Kristopherson. They all connect somehow. Feel free to figure it out as we go along. From her debut album on A&M records, with Stephen Stills on guitar, here’s Rita Coolidge.
|Rita Coolidge||Second Story Window|
|Joe Cocker||Girl From The North Country|
|Dave Mason||To Be Free|
|Jimi Hendrix||Still Raining, Still Dreaming|
|Al Kooper||Albert’s Shuffle|
|Lynyrd Skynyrd||Simple Man|
In case you joined us somewhere in the middle of that set and found yourself wondering, what’s this all about, well, I’ll tell you. That was a Six Degrees of Separation set. And for those of you who joined us at the top, the question is: Did you figure it out? Six Degrees separating Lynyrd Skynyrd, Al Kooper, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Mason, Joe Cocker, and Rita Coolidge. Here’s the solution to the puzzle: Lynyrd Skynyrd was discovered by Al Kooper who heard them playing at club in Atlanta. Al went on to produce Skynyrd’s first three albums. Before “Simple Man” we heard Kooper doing “Albert’s Shuffle” from his album Al’s Big Deal. As it turns out, Al Kooper played with Jimi Hendrix on Electric Ladyland as did Dave Mason.
In the middle of this set we heard Jimi’s “Still Raining, Still Dreaming” from Electrick Ladyland. Before that we heard “To Be Free” from Dave Mason’s album Headkeeper. Now Dave wrote “Feelin’ Allright” which was a big hit for Joe Cocker who made a career out of covering other people’s songs. This time we heard Joe covering Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country.” And we started the set with one of Joe Cocker’s favorite back-up singers, Rita Coolidge doing a song called “Second Story Window” which featured Steve Stills on guitar. Now, “Second Story Window” was written by Marc Benno who was in the Asylum Choir with Leon Russell who played with Joe Cocker on lots of records many of which, like Mad Dogs and Englishmen, featured Rita Coolidge as a backup singer. Oh, and by the way, Rita also did vocals on several Dave Mason albums, including Headkeeper. And speaking of The Delta Lady, let’s check to see what her Bacon number is. Rita Coolidge was in the film “A Star is Born” with Sally Kirkland. Sally Kirkland was in “JFK” with Kevin Bacon. So Rita’s got a Bacon Number of just two. And here’s another way to make the link. Kevin Bacon and brother Michael have a band they call the Bacon Brothers and they deliver some high quality Americana rock if you’re interested.
Anyway, back to Rita for just a second, she was discovered by Marty Lacker, a personal aide and friend of Elvis Presley. A guy named Rob Galbraith played percussion on Elvis’s album I Believe. And, as it turns out, Rob Galbraith also produced a couple of albums by … the Bacon Brothers. It’s a small world after all here in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back next time with a fresh batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl and I hope you’ll join us right here in the Deep Tracks.