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Ep. 26 - The Beach Boys and The Grateful Dead Part 3: Honest. Not Perfect.
Explicit
January 15, 2021 09:00 AM PST
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In Part Three (of three) of this miniseries on The Beach Beach Boys and The Grateful Dead, we finally reach our destination in space and time--the Fillmore East on April 27, 1971. This is a two hour episode, and in it, I compare and contrast the career arcs of each band leading up to the gig. In 1970, The Beach Boys released a single, "Add Some Music To Your Day", which only reached #64 on the US pop chart. This was embarrassing for them because it reaffirmed how unpopular they'd become. In 1970, The Grateful Dead released a single, "Truckin'", which only reached #64 on the US pop chart. This was embarrassing for them because #64 was perilously close to the Top 40--which was a place they had no intention of getting cozy with. Still, despite the two bands' contrasting ideas of success, there was a great admiration between them as well as shared influences. I read from several accounts of this concert, from books and articles, and note the wide contrast between descriptions. The subtitle of this episode, "Honest. Not Perfect.", comes from a snatch of Brian Wilson studio chatter in early 1967. He's instructing his brother Carl on how to sing a certain part and says that "it doesn't have to be perfect, just kind of honest", and I took that phrase and unpacked it. Threw stuff everywhere. In fact I made quite a philosophical/psychological/psychedelicized mess all over the place and hope you can deal with it. The reward is the concert. Dennis and Billy having a blast despite very different drumming styles. Carl and Jerry trading a solo. Bobby, Al and Carl singing together. The Fillmore Dead audience cheering wildly for The Beach Boys (drowning out the one or two hecklers). I hope you enjoy this episode and thanks for listening. 

Ep. 25 - The Beach Boys and the Grateful Dead Pt.2: R(h)onda, 1974 and Pregaming for the FillmoreEast
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November 18, 2020 09:48 AM PST
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So it looks like there’s going to be a Part 3 to this madness, since we haven’t arrived at the Fillmore East yet. My apologetic tone is facetious, of course, because this has been nothing but fun for me. I hope my self-indulgence is slightly more entertaining/enlightening than annoying? Anyway, this episode takes a look at the evolution of the song “Help Me, Rhonda” through all its changes between 1965-80, from its spelling to its instrumental and vocal arrangement to the lyrics to who sings lead which year. I use its evolution as a metaphor for the changes in pop music, its artists and its fans during that time period. Then we take a brief look at the bill the two featured bands were on together on June 8, 1974 (didn’t play with each other though). Finally, as a “pregaming” exercise for the Fillmore East show, we take a look at some other versions of the songs the two bands played together. Both bands sure loved The Coasters! An oddly paced, oddly weighted episode, but imagine that we hit traffic on the way to the Fillmore East and took a strange alternate route.

Ep. 24 - The Beach Boys and The Grateful Dead Part 1 or Are You Kind? I Know They Must Be Kind
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October 31, 2020 05:27 PM PDT
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Initially, this was supposed to be a straight forward episode in which I'd examine what occured on April 27, 1971 at the Fillmore East, and what led up to it. This was the night that Jerry Garcia invited "another famous California band" up onstage and out came...The Beach Boys! A seemingly unlikely combination of bands, their off-the-cuff mini set sounded a lot more listenable than the vast majority of "come on up and jam" type situations I've heard, either live or on tape. Why? Well, that's what I wanted to explore, and, like Brian Wilson adding parts to SMiLE only to find it kept needed redefinition, I kept adding elements to my script until I realized that I needed to make this a two parter and that part 1 wouldn't even get to the Fillmore East. The theme of this episode is like a Beach Boys song in that it seeks to find all the harmonious relationships between elements of the two bands (and, thus, perhaps, fans of one that think they don't like the other). But the structure of this episode is a bit like certain Grateful Dead songs, which start and end with strength and purpose, but a little meandering happens in the middle while trying to figure out which road leads to the destination. This is sort of a love letter to both bands (mostly concentrating on 1966-73, my favorite eras of each), and during this terrible year, they've each been of great comfort. This episode includes lots of musical montages, discussions of music, LSD, Charles Lloyd, Phil Spector, Yo La Tengo and...well, just listen. And short answer as to why The Beach Boys and Grateful Dead would sound ok playing together without any rehearsal is, they're both bands that know how to listen.  

Ep. 23 A Conversation with Michael Nesmith on The Prison
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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
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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.

Enjoy!

Ep. 21 The Long Black Veil
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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.
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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
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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
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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
Explicit
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.

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