Friday, September 28, 2007

How To End Up Wearing A Dress On Stage In A Concert Film With Frank Zappa

this one is more serendipitous.
to begin with your first road manager
has to kill himself
(see Anecdote # 37 blog from August 15.)
then, he has to be replaced by a road manager
of a different stripe: the "Road Mangler"
which is the title Phil Kaufman goes by.

Phil is an extraordinary person with a colorful past.
friends with Charlie Manson, before the massacre.
friends with the legendary Gram Parsons.
at Gram's insistence Phil agreed
to burn Gram's body out in the desert
if he were to die.
they made a pact.

a few years later
Gram Parsons died,
Phil stole his body,
drove it into the desert,
and promptly burned it.

you meet Phil after his prison tenure
and find him to be one hilarious fellow.
dressed in his best Harley garb,
he has (at that time) a knack for staying
completely smashed on booze
and yet doing his job very thoroughly.

one morning at breakfast with Phil
the waitress asks for his order.
he replies, "I'll have a Turkey Club."
the waitress says,
"I'm sorry sir, we're only serving breakfast,
no sandwiches until lunch."

"it's a type of whiskey, dear", he informs her.

next, you have to be fortunate enough
to take part in one of frank's annual rituals:
the Halloween concert in New York City
at the ancient Palladium Theatre.

since it is halloween
Phil will look after the costuming
for willing band members.
and since you are already in a costume of sorts
(a paratroopers jumpsuit bought
at an Army/Navy store on Melrose Ave.)
you're happy to oblige.

as it happens the entire concert is being filmed
to be released as a live concert film called baby snakes.
so when Phil shows up late in the afternoon
with your costume you try to put on a brave face.
the costume he's chosen is a WAC uniform
(a female military outfit from the 40's)
which matches your paratrooper jumpsuit
and just so happens to fit you perfectly.

at some point during the evening's concert
you find yourself offstage
changing into the WAC uniform.
the film crew surrounds you as you don
the now-infamous $500,000 Jimi Hendrix strat
and step back onto the busy stage
in front of 2,000 people
and a host of lights and cameras.

it's at this precise moment you realize:
you're wearing a dress.

How To End Up Imitating Bob Dylan In Concert With Frank Zappa

it's quite a simple path, in fact.
first, you audition for frank.
okay...strike the word simple.
you rehearse for 3 months with frank.
on friday nights you go home with frank
to work on next week's material.
if you're lucky he may show you
one of his upcoming new songs.

frank does not play guitar
and sing at the same time.
he either plays or sings, but not both.
you discover why.
when frank plays and sings
he sounds like an injured folk artist.
so, as frank sings his new upcoming
injured folk song called flakes,
you begin to follow him and sing along
but you do so in a bob dylan voice.

likely frank will crack up and say, "that's it! that's in the show."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Consulting The Popcorn Ceiling

the state of being lost in thought is called "reverie".

while it is true my career has produced extraordinary moments and fortunate events, it is equally true to say I've spent a great deal of time in reverie induced by the popcorn ceiling. in fact, I consider myself a student of the popcorn ceiling.

what is the popcorn ceiling?

in most hotels around the world and especially here in the United States builders use a technique for covering the ceiling by means of a spray which causes a bumpy erratic texture known as "popcorn" which is nearly always a creamy white in color and actually looks more like small curd cottage cheese than popcorn. why it isn't called the small curd cottage cheese ceiling is self-evident.

very often while on tour I find a small segment of my day, usually half an hour, with nothing to do. more correctly not enough time to do really anything. it's at this junction of my day I lay down on my fresh hotel bed, or more correctly a bed which smells "fresh" but is in fact saturated in microbes from perhaps a thousand other human beings. anyway, at this point 9 times out of 10 I'm staring at the popcorn ceiling. I conservatively estimate if I were somehow magically given back the time I've spent engaged in the study of the popcorn ceiling I would live a year and a half longer.

before showtime I strongly dislike being at the venue any longer than I have to be to do a proper sound check. I don't mind staying around after the show for as long as needed but between the sound check and the show I want to be anywhere but the venue. ideally consulting the popcorn ceiling. it helps clear my mind for the performance.

my dream concert would go like this: I would have a half an hour consultation with the popcorn ceiling, then take a quick shower, dry my hair (or should I say "hairs") get dressed, and walk straight onto the stage to launch into the show.

over 30 years, millions of miles, and countless hotel rooms I've grown to appreciate my time with the popcorn ceiling.

the cogitation produced by it can be curious:
"shouldn't it be called No Labor Day?"

or thought-provoking:
"if fish could scream, would I still eat them?"

"gee, I wish they wouldn't play that stupid patriotic rock music during the fireworks. it ruins the whole experience. I love the sound of the rocket coming out of the shoot, the crisp crackling of the artifacts, the whistling spiraling ones: why does that pleasure have to be diluted with a simulcast of John Mellencamp bleating 'This is our country'. is it a truck commercial or a fourth of july celebration?"

"the bible says adam and eve were the first human beings in the world and eve gave birth to two sons, cain and abel: so where did the rest of us come from?"

or deeply philosophical:
"if you can't have your cake and eat it too, what's the point of having cake?"

there are some issues I may never solve:
"how DO they get those little m's on the m&m's without cracking the ever-so-thin candy shell?"

still, I often return to my most profound reflection:

"why Cleveland?"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Big Blue Sun (Remix)

big blue sun (remix)
volume 4 number 6

to write at the piano is such a departure from writing on the guitar. whereas on the guitar I know what I'm doing and have developed areas I can rely on, on the piano I'm nearly lost. on guitar there are things I have to stop myself from doing; on piano I'm actually more free by not knowing what to do. when I write on piano I do so by visualization, literally saying to myself, "now if I move the middle finger down one note I get this, but if I move the bass note up two notes at the same time it's this..."
because of the logic of the keyboard's layout and my lack of formal training, I approach piano from an architectural point of view. shapes and patterns of movement. consequently if I went over to Howard the piano right now to play big blue sun it would take a few minutes to figure out the physical logic of why the notes change the way they do. then I could play the song again.

fully half of the songs for inner revolution are love songs fueled by the intensely powerful romance martha and I had in the early 90's. if we had a dollar for every time we heard "get a room" back then we could have retired. it was a wonderful time of "walking on air", that amazing sensation of finding true love, where nothing else mattered. I remember working out the phase "a strand of stars sparkle in the night" while talking on the phone with her one night. martha was in florida getting her master's degree; I was in the cottage on the lake.

as with most of my piano songs I played big blue sun a hundred times over before recording it. that's the way I teach my fingers to remember, by rote and repetition. in krimson we call it "getting it in the body". it's the same method I use for writing a guitar part in one time signature and singing in another. I get the guitar part "in the body" so it becomes almost automatic allowing me to concentrate on the singing.

for the string quartet in big blue sun I worked with my friend Al Jewer (who helped design and build the Refrigerator (see the duck funk symphony blog from february 19) to play the string parts. we brought in four local school teachers (including Al's wife Alison) to play the parts.

so how does a "self-taught non-reader" write parts for a string section?
I'll reveal my method with next week's download.

piano and vocals: adrian
violin: alison jewer
violin: jean dickinson
viola: lizbeth getman
cello: martha pickart
string arrangement: al jewer and adrian
engineer: rich denhart
assistant: dan harjung
recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.
on September 3, 1991
length: 2:54

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why Cleveland?

the time came for our day in court.
even though no one was going to jail, I was nervous.
a large courtroom full of old wooden chairs
and the smell of musty books.
"all rise for the honorary judge such and such."

he was an old man with white hair and glasses.
he fiddled with his glasses all the time
but rarely put them on.
he seemed distracted and stared vacantly
at the papers in front of him.

ron's attorney began with a lengthy explanation
about the studio, the microphone, and ron's role
as executive producer on several of my records.
twenty minutes of explanation which seemed like eternity.
talking about AKG C-24 microphones and studio gear
while the judge fiddled with his glasses
and looked at the paperwork in front of him.
at the end of all the explaining the judge slowly asked,
"now I see mention here of an item called, ummm...
let's see...A K G
which has a C, a dash, and a two four after it.
now what does that signify?"

"well, your honor", the attorney patiently noted,
"that is the item in question which Mr. Belew is being sued over."
I knew it was going to be a long day.

ron gave his testimony first. his case rested on
the idea that I had attended his Christmas party,
which was true, and that sometime during the party
he told me all the details of his deal with rich and dan.
that may be true, but if so I didn't remember a word of it.
I didn't want to know the details and I don't know them to this day.

what he should have done legally was to file public notice
that the studio items were covered by a lien
and therefore not for sale or trade.
but he did not do that and I did not know that.
what I had was a legally signed and dated agreement
between rich and dan and myself making a trade for the

as part of the proceedings after each testimony the judge
was allowed to cross-examine the witness.
in ron's case the poor old guy seemed confounded
by the term "executive producer".
in his creaky voice he slowly grilled ron:

judge: "now I know when they make movies
the producer is the one who puts up the money.
is that correct?"

ron: "yes, your honor."

judge: "now when you make records what does the director do?"

ron: "well, there is no director when you make records.
that's done by the producer."

judge: "and who was the producer on these records?"

ron: "adrian belew was the producer, your honor."

judge: "so, he put up the money."

ron: "no sir, I put up the money."

and on it went like a marx brothers routine.
the judge clearly had no idea what this was all about.

next came my turn on the stand.
"I solemnly swear..."
ron's attorney went right into the alleged Christmas party
trying to misguide me into saying I knew all about the lien.
but I didn't.
after a dozen questions or so the attorney sat down.
now it was time for the judge's cross-examination.
I was still nervous as he quietly fiddled with his glasses.
all of a sudden he blurted out,
"why Cleveland?"
I said, "I'm sorry your honor, I don't understand the question."
he said, "isn't the King supposed to be from Memphis?"
I still wasn't getting his train of thought.
"Elvis was from Memphis, wasn't he?" he asked,
"he made his records there, sir," I replied.
"so why did they put that Hall Of Fame in Cleveland?"

" I really don't know, your honor."

three months after the trial we received a written judgement.
full of legalese, I read it and had no idea what it meant.
martha read it and said, "we won the microphone."

you'd look nice in a new lawsuit...

at the end of the Sound and Vision tour I settled into a cozy cottage on Lake Delevan (see birds blog from march 19) and began contemplating the next solo record to be made: inner revolution. it was 1991, new technologies were being born. digital recording, hitherto reserved for only the major "money" studios was now becoming available to the pedestrian. my engineer/sidekick rich denhart suggested I take the leap and buy something called Sound Designer. it costs $5,000.00 for the package, a hefty amount to be sure but a fraction of what I spent at Royal Recorders each time I made a record.
I was hesitant at first. I loved being in the big impressive studio. but rich convinced me even if I only made demos of my songs it would be worth the savings in time and studio costs. he was right. we set up the slight beginnings of what would become my studio in the open room of my rented cottage on the lake.

Royal Recorders was owned by a millionaire diamond dealer. his name was Ron. I liked ron and for several years he was my financial backer. eventually his flaky temperament made him an unstable partner. following the Bowie Sound and Vision Tour I paid him back every penny he had invested in me, with interest, and ended my dealings with ron.

Royal had a plethora of vintage microphones and one in particular I used for all my recordings there, especially to record my vocals. from mr. music head on it has been my vocal mic for all my records. it's called an AKG C-24. I loved that mic, it made my voice sound just right.

shortly after making inner revolution in 1992 my teammates rich and dan made a deal with ron to buy the studio from him! it's hard to imagine two recording engineers being able to afford the astronomical costs of owning and running a major studio (thousands of dollars a month) but it was their dream and they went for it. I thought it was a big mistake. I determined from the start to have nothing to do with their deal with ron. I didn't want to know.

rich and dan went about the task of taking over the studio (now re-named Music Head Studio with my blessing). by then I had moved to a place on Lake Geneva and had begun working with a new intern engineer noah evens. rich and dan approached me about buying my Sound Designer computer set up. they wanted to use it to generate extra studio income by putting it in a side room as an editing facility. in return they offered to trade me the AKG C-24 mic I loved so much. at the time both items were equal in value. we agreed, signed paperwork, and made the trade.

in 1994 martha and I moved to Mt. Juliet. we installed my now-enlarged studio into the bottom of our house. meanwhile Music Head Studio had faltered and rich and dan were being sued by ron for $600,000. I felt so bad for them. just before we moved ron asked me and martha to have lunch. then he dropped the bomb that he wanted his microphone back and would sue me if I did not comply. we begged him not to sue me, after all we were friends.
he insisted that I knew the microphone was not supposed to be traded according to his agreement with rich and dan. I knew nothing of the sort. I had never asked, nor wanted to know such details about their deal. as far as I was concerned it was a legal trade.

ron persisted and a few months later, sure enough we received a summons to court. since we now lived in Tennessee this meant we had to spend one day driving back to Wisconsin, then meet with an attorney, spend the next day in court, then spend a day to drive back. a 3-day affair. apart from the time spent, the cost to us would be $2500. my first lawsuit.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pretty Pink Rose (instrumental remix)

pretty pink rose (instrumental remix)
volume 3 number 23

david's idea of doing one of his new songs as a "duet"
was of course a very exciting prospect.
he had made a demo version of the song in L.A.
with the back-up band of another famous singer,
and that's as much as I can say.
david 's office sent a cassette of the demo.
excitedly I opened it and played it.
"oh gawd", it was awful!

imagine how I felt.
here I was on the verge of touring for a year with david bowie and thinking we might produce a duet of perhaps a "hit" song of david's only to be confronted with something which sounded lifeless, limp, and plodding. I didn't know quite what to do. but as I listened to the version again and again I realized underneath what was clearly a poor recording effort there was indeed another classic bowie song. soon I couldn't stop singing it. what a great chorus.

the problem was of course in the rendering. first, the rhythm was all wrong. it perplexed me for a while until I remembered something from the very early beatles records. often the rhythm paul and ringo would create sounded as though one of them was playing straight 4/4 while the other was playing closer to a shuffle feel. this gives the rhythm a unique "pulling" sensation that seems almost like half-time but isn't. using my old 1955 Ludwig drum kit and the growling sampled bass sound, this is the way I approached the tempo and feel of my version.

second, I felt it needed an intro of some kind so I concocted a way of playing the chorus melody and then bursting forth into the "rock" song.

there was one part of the demo I adored. it was a line being played under the chorus vocal. on the demo it was a keyboard sound, but I preferred the sound of a double-tracked guitar.

the way the melody sat through the verses allowed for a "call and answer" approach which I rarely get to utilize. the singer sings, the guitar answers; the singer sings again and the guitar answers. this has been the bread and butter of blues guitar players forever, but it's often applied in rock songs as well. (think led zeppelin or early jeff beck/rod stewart)

it takes a certain kind of guitar style to make that work. something melodic yet at times flashy. fortunately, I found a new "trick" while working on pretty pink rose. I was using stratocasters equipped with Kahler tremelos at the time (pictured below). I discovered you could adjust the tip of the Kahler tremelo arm downward facing the strings and then play the strings using the tip itself. like "tapping" only using the tip of the tremelo arm instead of your right hand fingers. it was the perfect bit of "flash" I was looking for. and it just happened! I had never seen it done before (or since).

the final step was to present my version to david and hope he liked it, which he did, and then to add our memorable vocal session. later that year while on tour it was decided we should do a video which was filmed in one day in an abandoned railway station in Germany. somehow fitting.

the version presented here is the instrumental remix which allows a more clear listening to the track beneath the vocals. it begins with another atypical humorous ad-lib by Mr. B. that's as they say, priceless.

voice: david bowie
bass, drums, guitars: adrian

engineer: rich denhart

assistant: dan harjung

recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.
on November 11, 1989
david's voice was recorded at Right Track Recording
in New York City, NY. on January 15, 1990
length: 4:12

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Making Of Young Lions (part three)

throughout the making of young lions I continued to prepare for the upcoming bowie tour in my role as "music director" by arranging the material. david had given me a list of 35 songs from throughout his career, a kind of "greatest hits" list. they varied in style and content from orchestral pieces like space oddity to modern soul music like young americans. the band for the tour was to be my trio plus a turkish bassist david had chosen, Erdal Kizilcay. the instrumentation needed to portray such a varied catalog was far beyond the abilities of a 4-piece band, so I worked with keyboardist Rick Fox to do as much "sampling" as possible.*
most mornings before going into the studio to continue the making of young lions rick and I would talk through bowie songs over the phone (rick lived in cincinnati). I kept what I felt were the signature components of each song and filled in the arrangements as best I could with the attitude of a 4-piece rock band. still, this required more and more "sampling" from rick. we kept ordering more Roland samplers.

at last in early January, 1990 the Sound and Vision World Tour rehearsals began in New York City during which time I completed the young lions record and handed it over to Atlantic Records. in retrospect it has five of my personal favorites: I am what I am, young lions, phone call from the moon, gunman, and men in helicopters.

for the first and only time in my solo career out of necessity I allowed the artwork to be done without my input. usually I am completely involved in the artwork. it has become yet another output for creativity and personal expression. the artwork for young lions was done by the in-house art department of Atlantic. I supplied a photo of myself at age 5 (on my way to sunday school) and left the rest to them.

I am happy with young lions even though some of the material would have been different under less time constraints. in general, I'm not an artist who looks back at a record and wishes I had done something else. in fact, it was a great experience to see what magic could be pulled out of the hat on such short notice.

*during the bowie concerts rick fox sometimes had little to do except to start a sampler and let it play. the band was nearly hidden in the very back of the large 60-foot metal stage. once while playing in a stadium in front of about 30,000 people I looked back at rick. he had started the sampler and evidently had no keyboard parts to play. so there he sat, casually eating a sandwich!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Making Of Young Lions (part two)

young lions was solo record #5. the tracks were born so quickly most of them had no names, so we developed a rather ungainly titling system. I am what I am being the first new song recorded was called A5-1. small world was A5-2 and so on. there were 3 tracks based on the drumming of Van Kampen (see hawaiian cowboys from may 21) these were titled A5VK-1, 2, and 3. A5VK3 became the song young lions. A5VK1 became hawaiian cowboys. confusing, isn't it!

our recording sessions began at 11:00 each weekday leaving the weekends free for rich and dan. at nights I would study what we had done, trying to write the lyrics or perhaps completing musical thoughts or writing new pieces. then each day I would advance the recording process by adding things. a great day was a day in which I arrived with new words in hand.
mixing the record was done as we went thanks to "total recall", the computer system which allows you to recall past changes. my tracks sheets show we concentrated almost entirely on
mixing and re-mixing December 8 through January 4 while I continued finishing lyrics.

I am what I am
was recorded on October 17 with the prophet omega's voice added on the 20th. this was the first complete song.
small world was recorded the next day October 21, but would be the last song completed due to a lack of lyrics.
men in helicopters
* was recorded October 26. I labored a long time over those words but was rewarded with perhaps my best effort at an "ecological anthem".
lookin' for a U.F.O
was recorded October 31 the same day as happy guy (which never received words and was left off the record).
was recorded November 3.
young lions
was recorded November 11. for the rest of November into early December the process became one of finishing lyrics, singing the songs, and mixing them. by early December it was clear I would have to resort to "cover" material.
heartbeat was recorded on December 4.
neptune pool
was recorded on December 19.
hawaiian cowboys was recorded on January 1, 1990.
pretty pink rose
was recorded on January 8, 1990.
shoe salesman
was recorded on January 9, 1990.

*men in helicopters was the one song I thought might actually be a radio "hit". I had a very strong concept for the video (something you had to have in the 80's) and with our success the previous year with oh daddy there was reason to be believe we had a shot. ultimately Atlantic Records deemed pretty pink rose to be our first release and video, which was only natural considering the Bowie tour. Atlantic spent all the money they intended to spend on the video and promotion for pretty pink rose which faltered after only a few weeks. they never saw fit to release a second song.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Gunman (instrumental remix)

gunman (instrumental remix)
volume 3 number 20

on the evening of January 15, 1990, following a long day of rehearsal with the Sound and Vision Band for David Bowie's imminent world tour I sat on a couch in a studio in a New York City recording studio called Right Track. david and I just had completed all the vocals and harmonies for pretty pink rose, one of david's songs now earmarked for my new solo record young lions. the thrill of singing on mic with david still resonated through my psyche but at that moment I was watching another mesmerising development. david had decided to help my lyric crunch by adding his words and voice to one of my unfinished tracks.

I watched in amazement as he repeated "play it back once more, please" and in one half hour wrote the words to a song he titled gunman. he wrote them on a yellow legal pad while quietly sipping a beer. 30 minutes! that would be a world record for me.

after david had sung all the words 3 times through, we were satisfied. I asked if he would "speak" in some parts of the song. this seemed to an odd request, but he gamely went out to the microphone. at the beginning of this "speaking" take you hear david pondering what style voice to use. through the talkback mic (which only he could hear) I asked him to use his "english" voice. then I added that I thought his british speaking voice was one of the best. that's when he says, "oh gawd!". he then launches into half-hearted melodramatics. one of the nicest things about david: his self-deprecating humor.

the rest of this take has the music only. I tuned the floor tom tom up a bit and played steady eighth notes on it to which we added delay in time with the tempo. when the song ends you can hear the delay taper off. the bass sound is the same growling one I had been using for small world, I am what I am, etc. the guitars are the tricky stuff. the guitar synth of the time was the GR-50. it had the wonderful capability of playing a different sound on each string. so I added a harmony note to each string but a different note from string to string. in this way I could make up very unusual chords and patterns for the rhythm guitars. for the soloing guitars...who knows!

voice: david bowie
bass, drums, guitars: adrian

engineer: rich denhart

assistant: dan harjung

recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.
on November 3, 1989
david's voice was recorded at Right Track Recording
in New York City, NY. on January 15, 1990
length: 4:12

Thursday, September 6, 2007


imagine standing in front of a microphone wearing headphones
while to your left stands david bowie, also wearing headphones.
imagine he sings a line and looks at you,
then you sing a line.

that was pretty pink rose.

The Making Of Young Lions (part one)

following hard on the heels of mr. music head
I put together a touring band with long time friends
Mike Hodges on drums and Rick Fox on keyboards.
Rick also sang and played keyboard bass,
as well as triggering the necessary samples
required for the material from mr. music head.

one memorable sunny day on tour rick and mike and I were having a sleepy poolside chat by our hotel* pool.
it was a day off in San Diego. the next night we were playing a club there called the Bacchanal. someone from the hotel came by to tell me to expect a call in my room in a few minutes. so I went to my room, the phone rang, and it was David Bowie. what a surprise! hadn't seen or heard from david in years. after congratulating me on my recent video success (oh daddy) he got right down to the point: would I like to join him as his guitarist and "music director" for a long tour around the world? as we talked I told him about the touring I was currently doing. he suggested I should bring my band along as well. (what a thrill it was to go back to the pool to tell that to rick and mike!) it all sounded fabulous (and it was) but there were a few small bumps to work out. like what was I supposed to do about the new solo record Atlantic Records was expecting from me?

recording a new solo record is not a problem. once I know what I want I'm fast.
writing and developing the new material for a record is another thing entirely.
especially the words.
it can be a very long process.
lyrics have always been the hardest part of writing songs for me.
I'm very particular about what I say and how I say it.
the words have to fit every little nuance for me to be satisfied.
different words have different tonal qualities, you have to try
many ways of saying something to find that magic alliteration
or the proper stress at the perfect time.
the emphasis for each syllable has to be in just the right places
to match the music.
I sing my ideas over and over a hundred times to a tape of the music.
that's why it takes so long.

of course sometimes you get very lucky and a song just appears
full blown like lone rhino did or man in the moon did.
john lennon used to liken it to being a reciever of a transmission
from somewhere unknown.
but those are the rare ones.
most of the time it's work to pull a song out of yourself.

it was the end of September when the music head tour ended.
rehearsals for david's tour began in january.
considering mixing the record, I had about 10 weeks
to write, develop, and record what would become young lions.
I worked at a crazy pace: recording in the day, writing at night**.

in the end I simply ran out of time.

songs like happy guy
or hawaiian cowboys never did get finished.
I resorted to using two cover songs:
not alone anymore recorded the year before on december 27, 1988
and a cover of one of my own songs heartbeat.
I re-wrote the words to phone call from the moon
which had been recorded july 6, 1988 and originally was intended
for mr. music head.
one thing which threw me: I recorded two songs which didn't
seem right for the record:
shoe salesman and neptune pool.

then david came to the rescue.
why not do a duet with him?
one of his songs, something I wouldn't have to write.
and pretty pink rose was born.

*the band America was staying at the same hotel. I think it was Gerry but it might have been Dewey who came out to the pool and talked with us for a while. ironically America was playing the Bacchanal that night. we were invited to the show and asked to join them onstage for their encore of horse with no name. which we did later that evening. I couldn't help but remember my struggling days in the Holiday Inn band, showing Barry and Dave (our guitarists) the correct chords to horse with no name.

**at the same time, as "music director" I had to work out arrangements and parts for 35 of david's songs he planned on doing. that in itself could have taken 10 weeks, his material was so varied.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Small World (instrumental remix)

small world (instrumental remix)
volume 3 number 18

on October 21, 1989, five days after recording I am what I am
I began another new track in the same manner
as last week's download.
same team, same studio, same drums,
bass sound, guitar set up, mics, etc.
every song is a precious commodity.
I had especially high hopes for this track
but was ultimately disappointed in the result.
why? the writing, recording,and development
of the new material for young lions
was shoe-horned into a small
time slot out of necessity.
I simply ran out of time to develop
the lyrics I wanted and at the last minute
I had to write something, anything
to fill out the record's final piece small world.

bass, drums, guitars: adrian
engineer: rich denhart

assistant: dan harjung

recorded at Royal Recorders in Lake Geneva, Wis.
on October 21, 1989
this re-mix was done on october 25, 1989
length: 3:46

Sunday, September 2, 2007

the Prophet Omega

one of the most enigmatic fringe figures in Nashville’s musical history has to be the prophet omega. he was a radio evangelist who broadcast from his own apartment, “Apt. Q258 at 488 Lamont Drive,” a place he called the “Peaceway Temple”. I first found out about him through my friend Al Kooper* who gave me 45 minutes worth of the Prophet's sermons and ad-lib commercials for the Shipp Moving Company and J&B Boutique.
I loved every word of it. the sound of his voice!
no one knows for certain when the broadcasts were made, most people estimate the 70's. if I could travel back in time, I would be in the front row of apartment Q258.
as the mr. music head tour of 1989 began I brought the Prophet tape with me. each morning when Rick Fox, Mike Hodges and I would start up our rent-a-van for the next city, we would put on the Prophet. eventually I knew every word and could do a pretty good imitation.
little did we know the same was happening in tour buses all around the U.S. supposedly the Rolling Stones were fans, as well as Bob Dylan, and Melissa Etheridge. in fact the Prophet Omega tape was the smash hit of the rock band tour bus circuit!

In their 2000 documentary Friends Seen and Unseen, Demetria Kalodimos and Kathy Conkwright unmasked the Prophet as the late Omega Townsend, a former carny who became a fixture on the “prophet circuit” offering advice, readings and lucky numbers to the spiritually curious. by the end of their film he has fittingly become an ice cream vendor, spreading joy through the neighborhood from the window of an ice cream truck. the most poignant moment of the film for me was when demetria and kathy played my song I am what I am for his 20-something son and daughter. they cried at hearing his voice again. happy tears I think.

I have used snippets of the Prophet's voice in 3 songs now: I am what I am from young lions, I know what I know and that is all I know and I know it from coming attractions, and troubles from side three.
the trick has been the timing of each phrase, which needs to fall rhythmically just as a singer's phrases would. it's never been a problem though since the Prophet is very close in delivery to a bluesman or even a James Brown-type soul singer. of the many singers I've worked with, no one's voice intrigues and beguiles me quite like the Prophet Omega's.

amen, ain't that right about it!

*any self-proclaimed music lover should know Al's contributions to the music of Bob Dylan, (organ on like a rolling stone) the Stones (french horn on you can't always get what you want), the bands he started Blues Project and Blood Sweat, and Tears, his studio work with Hendrix, Cream, The Who, B.B. King, Ray Charles, George Harrison, etc. his discovery and production of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and so many other historic musical moments. Al is a dear friend, a gifted musician, ranconteur, musicologist, and one funny guy. this year he was given the Les Paul Award.