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WTSCF Ep. 23 A Conversation with Michael Nesmith on The Prison
December 29, 2019 04:18 PM PST
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Episode 23 of WTSCF has been a long time coming, basically due to life getting a bit derailed. But I hope you'll agree that it was worth the wait. What we have here is not your average interview with Michael Nesmith. This is sort of grad-level Nez. Spirituality. Metaphysics. Creativity. Psychedelics. Turning away from the darkness of that era.  Not a word about The Monkees. No MTV. No Country Rock Pioneer. No Liquid Paper. Have you noticed that most bios and interviews with Nez seem to gloss over The Prison (1974) and his life at the time? As a long time fan of Nez, The Prison for a long time was this mysterious work that I kept trying and failing to get into. Eventually I realized I wasn’t hearing the original work-I was hearing the touched up version Nez released in the 90’s. A few years ago I finally heard the 1974 original, and it all came together. Plus, I sensed a psychedelic infliuence which turned out to be accurate. In this podcast, my long-winded intro is followed by Nez onstage in 1975 telling the plot of The Prison, and finally, the main course: my conversation, recorded in April 2019. Stuff gets very deep, very spiritual, puzzling, funny and always fascinating. Enjoy. 

Ep. 22 Reason to Believe
June 21, 2018 05:50 AM PDT
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New episode! Note to self: think twice before doing another one with 25+ cover versions. That was a haul.

"Reason to Believe" is a thoughtful and mature Tim Hardin song from 1966 in which the singer is fully aware that he's choosing to carry on a relationship with someone who deals in dishonesty and disrespect. The song's timeless theme struck a chord with many artists (and countless listeners) upon its release, and it was covered by about a dozen artists in 1967 alone. This episode features over 25 versions of this song (spanning from 1966 to 2017) so most aren't played in their entirety. I feel compelled to include some post-production footnotes, as I had a few thoughts once it was too late to include them in the episode. So here are a few things I wished I'd touched on:

1. A mention of Artie Butler and how his string arrangement on the Hardin original was an important component on many subsequent versions; and the many cool ways it was adapted and expanded upon.

2. How the electric piano on the Ian and Sylvia version seems to have influenced a few other versions, including the Carpenters'.

3. How some alternately sing "still I'd LOVE to find a reason to believe".

4. How I mentioned the fusion of Eastern European violin and country fiddle in relation to both Rod Stewart's version and in relation to Camper Van Beethoven's music, but not in relation to each other.

5. How Hal Blaine's drumming on the Scott McKenzie version is magnificent as always.

6. How I can actually see why Doug Dillard wasn't into The Dillards' new direction on Wheatstraw Suite. The fluffy woodwinds on their version of Reason to Believe are a little corny and while Doug obviously didn't object to pop, he wanted to keep things real in his own projects.


Ep. 21 The Long Black Veil
December 29, 2017 05:42 AM PST
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Conceived of (successfully) as an "instant folk song" in the age of instant mashed potatoes and instant coffee, "Long Black Veil" is a tale of murder and infidelity, yes, but is it also a tale of (I hate to say it) "bros before hoes" taken to its senseless, meaningless extreme? The narrator of this song, singing from The Great Beyond, may have wanted to go down a hero by admitting to a crime he didn't commit (murder) so he wouldn't have to admit to a crime he did commit (sleeping with best friend's wife). But I can't help but see him as a selfish coward who's done nothing but add to the burden of those still living. Life goes on without him, and that means 1) there's still a murderer at large and the townsfolk have no idea 2) he died while his best friend was still in belief of his lies 3) neither his mistress' nor his best friend's life is going to get any easier now that he's gone. Not in the short term anyway. Great song though! I'm a bit rusty after some time off, so forgive me any production errors.

Ep. 20 Michael Nesmith's The Grand Ennui: An Exploration of its meaning and its musical evolution through seven "iterations" 1971-2013.
April 13, 2017 10:59 AM PDT
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This episode had quite an evolution of its own. It began as a written piece intended for the forum on Nesmith's Videoranch website during my brief, experimental stint working for the site. Once the experiment was abandoned and I was back writing for myself, I decided to turn this into a podcast. In retrospect I should have cut much of the armchair psychoanalysis contained in the first 15-20 minutes, and if you agree, you can always skip to the musical analysis. I'll just say in my defense that I wrote that part while in a very analytical mindset influenced by the vibe of the stuff being written, by myself and others, on the Videoranch forum. Add to that it being the dark days of New England winter as well as my mother living out her final weeks. Things were heavy and I was reflecting that mindset. But as I got more into the podcast, I remembered "entertainment value!" and lightened up. So if you find yourself zoning out at the beginning, I encourage you to utilize the fast-forward until it sounds like things are getting fun. Because they do get fun! And as I say, please go to my Facebook page or my Blogger site and let me know which version is your fave!

Ep 19 - An Alternate History of The Monkees 1967-1969
December 02, 2016 02:31 PM PST
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Truth is at least as strange as fiction. Fact intertwines with my flights of fancy in this episode. At its core is an analysis of the fifth album The Monkees SHOULD have released. I was asked to contribute something to the excellent blog, Monkees Live Almanac back in May of this year to help celebrate the band's 50th anniversary. I thought about it intermittently for two months, wrote it sporadically over the course of the next two months and recorded/produced it in fits and starts over the last two months. And here it is. You do not have to be a fan of the band to dig this one. Enjoy.

Ep. 18 A Conversation with Andrew Sandoval Pt. 2 of 2
August 03, 2016 09:15 AM PDT
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My conversation with Andrew Sandoval continues and concludes in this episode. More stories, revelations and insights into the life and career of one of the hardest working people in the music industry. I admittedly turn into a bit of a chatty fanboy in this half but pull myself together and stick with my planned questions. Enjoy.

Ep. 17 A Conversation with Andrew Sandoval Part 1 of 2
July 27, 2016 08:46 AM PDT
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Veering away from the regular format, this is part one of a two part interview with producer/engineer/historian/author/singer-songwriter Andrew Sandoval. In 1990, at the age of 17 he wrote the liner notes for and sequenced The Monkees' Missing Links 2 album for Rhino Records. Since then he's produced countless reissues and rarities collections (Big Star, The Kinks, Bee Gees, Turtles, Beach Boys....), was nominated for a Grammy in 2010, has authored two books and countless liner notes and has been Tour Producer for The Monkees since 2011. The Monkees are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year and Andrew has been a huge part of making it a year to remember for Monkees fans, with the critically acclaimed (!!!!) new album, Good Times! as well as a Blu Ray box set of every Monkees episode, plus their film Head and tons of recently unearthed rare stuff. Our chat took place at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom (New Hampshire) on the afternoon of July 16, 2016.

Ep. 16 Let's Spend the Night Together
March 25, 2016 11:09 AM PDT
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A belated tribute to David Bowie as well as my final podcast before an official hiatus. Not many notable cover versions of this song, but Bowie covered it and that's all that matters. I may have overcompensated for the small amount of cover versions with too much yapping, but hey, I haven't talked to you in a long time and won't be talking to you for a few months. So enjoy. We can have fun just _______ around, can't we?

Ep. 15 The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game
October 07, 2015 08:15 PM PDT
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Ever pursue a love interest only to find that he or she has been simultaneously pursuing you? Yeah, rarely do things work out so conveniently, but it can happen; and that's what Smokey Robinson chose to write about in his 1966 composition, "The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game". It's a little pocket masterpiece, both lyrically and musically, and the spectrum of artists who have covered it is quite wide indeed. More quality than quantity. Enjoy.

Ep .14 Morning Dew
May 03, 2015 03:25 PM PDT
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A barely-known Canadian folk singer wrote this cautionary post-apocalyptic song (her first song) in 1962. In 1967 a somewhat obscure folk rocker rearranged it, wrote an additional verse and sneakily claimed co-authorship-an injustice that often goes unnoticed in the history books. Cruelly, most covers are based on this arrangement. The same year, the leader of a not-yet legendary band more radically rearranged it on his band's debut album, and added a key final line, but knew enough to claim no credit. This episode sorts out the song's meaning, its origins, its various paths and twists and turns and the many cover versions that range from folk to disco to industrial/goth.

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