Every now and then we put a set together that, upon further examination, we discover has unforeseen connections, songs we didn’t realize had the same guitarist or songwriter or producer, something like that. And today’s batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl is one of those. It’s actually two short sets attached loosely by guitar strings. The surprising connection goes like this: Way back in the day, I used to do a segue from an obscure Michael Franks song called “When Blackbirds Fly” into “Deep Down Inside” by an obscure artist named Cheryl Dilcher. The segue was based on a similar guitar line in the two songs. Flash forward a few decades and we’re out here trying to expand that into a longer set with our friend and frequent Way Back Studio contributor, D. Victor Hawkins. When he heard the guitar line, he immediately grabbed The Monkees’ album Headquarters, told me to play a song called “You Told Me.” And sure enough, I can hear that guitar line in there.
Now here’s the surprising connection: Headquarters was produced by a guy named Jeff Barry. His name struck me because a couple of weeks ago we did a set with Bobby Bloom’s “Montego Bay,” which it turns out Jeff Barry co-wrote and produced. So I’m sitting here looking at the Cheryl Dilcher album, released on A&M records in 1973, and who do you think produced it? Sure enough, Jeff Barry. What’re the odds? Anyway, we took the Michael Franks, Cheryl Dilcher, and The Monkees and inserted them in the middle of the Buckingham Nicks track “Frozen Love.”
But before we get there, we’ll do something completely different. Two David Crosby compositions that are all about the vocal arrangements. But first, a group that formed in Toronto in 1984. I’ve taken two parts from their song “Tell Me Your Dream” and of course I’ve played them out of order for maximum effect. We start with a beautiful piano part before going into some stunning harmonies, with guest vocalist Sarah McLachlan. One of the prettiest things you’ll ever hear. Here’s Blue Rodeo.
|Blue Rodeo||Tell Me Your Dream (part 2)|
|Blue Rodeo||Tell Me Your Dream (part 1)|
|Crosby & Nash||Critical Mass|
|Buckingham Nicks||Frozen Love (part 1)|
|Michael Franks||When Blackbirds Fly|
|Cheryl Dilcher||Deep Down Inside|
|The Monkees||You Told Me|
|Buckingham Nicks||Frozen Love (part 2)|
I dare say that without the display on your radio, you’d have been hard pressed to name all four of the artists in the second half of that set. We ended with Buckingham Nicks, the easiest of the bunch, from their one and only album. Before that, The Monkees from their album Headquarters, the first record that really featured performances by the group members instead of session players. That was Peter Tork picking the banjo on Mike Nesmith’s “You Told Me.” Before that, singer-songwriter-guitarist Cheryl Dilcher who recorded a couple of albums for A&M in the early 70’s but somehow never caught on. We heard “Deep Down Inside” from her album Butterfly. And we heard Michael Franks from his first album, a folky, singer-songwriter thing called “When Blackbirds Fly” featuring Wendy Waldman on dulcimer. Franks went on to have a successful career with a series of pop jazz vocal records for Warner Brothers, but that first one came out on the Brut label, distributed by Buddah Records. Deep labels for Deep Tracks.
It was only after putting the set together that I discovered the Cheryl Dilcher and the Monkees were both produced by Hall of Fame songwriter Jeff Barry, whose co-writing credits include a bunch of girl group hits like “Da Do Run Run” and “Be My Baby” among others. At the top of the set we wandered a little outside the Deep Tracks library to find a vocal harmony to lead us into the Crosby-Nash vocalizations of “Critical Mass” and “Orleans.” The group Blue Rodeo started us off with two excerpts from a track called “Tell Me Your Dream.” That comes from a great album called Five Days in July, came out in 1994. Well, that’s all the time we’ve got today, thanks for joining us in the Way Back Studios. I’m Bill Fitzhugh and I’ll be back eventually with another batch of All Hand Mixed Vinyl, right here in the Deep Tracks.