A Bit Like You And Me Radio

June 06, 2014

The Gentle Soul - Flying Thing (1968)

If you haven’t seen our previous post featuring The Gentle Soul, you may want to check that out first. There’s a good, little biography about the group, including the famous names they worked with and why they had to split up. The best part, though, is that it features an interview conducted with half of The Gentle Soul, Pamela Polland.

You’ll notice near the beginning of that post that there was a song The Gentle Soul recorded, which had been written by a fourteen year old Jackson Browne. The song heard below in this post is that song. “Flying Thing” was one of the three songs Jackson Browne had written by the age of fourteen. He wrote the music and lyrics, but the arrangements were done by The Gentle Soul (Pamela Polland and Rick Stanley). It wasn’t released on The Gentle Soul’s only album (probably because it wasn’t written by them, as claimed by Pamela Polland herself), but it was released on one of the two singles the band put out. Unfortunately, like with their rest of their music, the single wasn’t promoted and it made little impact on the charts.



A Special Edition post with Rick Stanley of The Gentle Soul!

After a little over a year of correspondence, I’m proud to announce that The Gentle Soul’s Rick Stanley has supplied numerous stories to share with A Bit Like You And Me. Rick was kind enough to share a bunch of excerpts from an upcoming autobiography he’s writing, titled My Song of Life. There was a very large quantity of material, so I’ve taken the liberty of chopping it down to the very best parts.
Excerpts from My Song of Life by Rick Stanley

[...]Not long after my audition with Stephen [Stills, to try out for Buffalo Springfield], Terry [Melcher] contacted Pamela [Polland] and was raving about the two of us. He wanted to get us in the studio as soon as possible to make a demo for the Columbia Record exec.’s who make the decisions about signing new acts.

What happened next is a bit hazy in my fading memory-pictures, but I think some time passed before Terry had time to get us into the studio. Pamela had already started to recruit other musicians to back us up; and, I somehow ended up in the Valley, staying in a rented house with two of the potential band members: Riley “Wyldflower” Cummings and a drummer from Riley’s sort of Beatle-esque group. They had toured the southwest and one of the groupies latched on to them in Tulsa, by offering the money she received from an insurance claim for her broken leg, so that the drummer could buy a new set of drums. Riley wrote his own songs in the vein of the early Beatles- like “Love Me Do” and “Twist and Shout”- which didn’t interest me at all. It had been done and couldn’t possibly attract a record company or get us on the radio.

Riley was six-foot five-inches tall with wild, light-brown, curly hair and almost always stoned. He was a likable Irish-American, son of a car dealership owner in the valley, and played decent rhythm guitar in the typical pop band genre. But Pam and I were really acoustic folk musicians and I couldn’t understand why she wanted a pop guitar player who couldn’t really sing well enough to add a harmony. I think she just liked him. And so, she would come over and we would practice her songs and a few others in preparation for the Columbia demo with Terry. Meanwhile, we were trying to come up with a name for our group, which is probably more fun than practicing.

The original group with Riley “Wyldflower” Cummings and Sandy Konikoff [before The Gentle Soul was finalized as a duo]


One night, Riley had “scored” a kilo of grass with the groupie’s money and proceeded to lie back on his bed and blow pot smoke into the face of his cat, who just lay there on his chest, looking up at him and throwing cat-kisses with his eyes. Riley said, “He’s such a gentle soul,” and, I jumped on this and said, “That’s the name for our group! ‘The Gentle Soul’!” And so it was! I felt like Riley must have thought that marijuana was a universal balm for all creatures great and small, and that it couldn’t possibly do any harm. The next day, the cat was acting like he’d eaten fifty pounds of cat nip- running, flipping, and jumping in a spastic frenzy- seeing something in la la land and lunging for it, only to flop upside down on his back. He got up and bashed headlong into the patio window and lay there unconscious for a while. I guess the poor thing managed to get out of the house and we never saw it again.

Soon, we all moved in to an old house on Venice Beach that Pam and the groupie managed to lease. Each of us had our own room and I rigged up some bamboo curtains on the walls all around my little abode, and slept on an old mattress with a new cotton cover that I found in a thrift store. Pam still had her own place, but would come over to practice. The groupie and the drummer had the choice room downstairs, and Riley and I had our little rooms upstairs. I was beginning to feel like this wasn’t going anywhere. The drummer didn’t know how to drum and Riley’s main focus was getting high. Anyway, nature doesn’t allow a vacuum to persist, and thus brought a stranger to the house. He arrived when the drummer was away for some reason and proceeded to seduce the groupie without much effort. After four days of being serviced by the stranger, her previous lover returned: the inadequate drummer. The groupie pretended that nothing had happened with the stranger, and offered the attic as her new lover’s bedroom.

The attic was where we practiced, and this didn’t suit lover-boy at all. He never spoke a word to any of us; only the groupie was privy to his profound thoughts. He would just sit and stew when we were up there, making all kinds of bored and inconvenienced expressions, with his little poet’s pad in full view and his pencil sticking out from behind one ear. I didn’t like this asshole’s attitude at all. He didn’t contribute anything for rent, expected to be fed, and all for the price of having sex with the groupie when the drummer wasn’t around. You may be a bit surprised to know who this guy was. It was Jim Morrison- you know, The Doors.

The whole thing finally came to a head when the drummer discovered Jim and his true love going at it in his own bed. He flew into a rage, but ended up begging the groupie to stay with him. It was clear that she finally understood why he wanted her: the bloody drums and the rest of her insurance money to live on, of course! So, that day, he packed up his drums and left the house. Jim didn’t hang around much longer either[...]

Thanks,
Rick Stanley

There is a lot more to tell about Rick's unusual life; check out My Song of Life by Rick Stanley when it comes out. If you want to know when it’s released, just send your email to nr.stan[at]gmail[dot]com.

How hilarious is that? Even though Rick didn't seem to appreciate Jim Morrison's antics, I have to say it sounds pretty amusing all these years later! And it's definitely fun to know that The Gentle Soul's name was helpfully inspired by a cat. A big 'thank you' to Rick Stanley for sharing such interesting excerpts from his forthcoming book, My Song of Life! Be sure to check out the book when it's released, as it contains other stories involving Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Levon Helm, and many, many more!

And now that you've enjoyed this exclusive story, why not check out what other exclusive stories we've received?



album art

The Gentle Soul - Flying Thing (1968)

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Lyrics:

She’s a flying thing that sings
With her eyes like smoky rings
And the sun can feel her presence in the sky

And I think I’m gonna stay
‘cause there’s nothin’ in our way
And she says that she can teach me how to fly
(Teach me how to fly)

If I could love her more than I have ever loved before
Then tomorrow I’ll be standing at her door

And when I hear her voice
I have no other choice
But to bend back my head and search the sky

Her hair is spun so fine
Roses fell like laughing wine
And she says that she can teach me how to fly
(Teach me how to fly)

If I could give her all the things she’s never had before
Then tomorrow I’ll be standing at her door

To see her walking by is to see a windy sky
And the clouds reflecting in her eyes

And the softness of her skin
Makes me wonder where I’ve been
And she says that she can teach me how to fly
(Teach me how to fly)

If she could love me more than she has ever loved before
Then tomorrow I’ll be standing at her door

She’s a flying thing that sings
With her eyes like smoky rings
And she says that she can teach me how to fly
(Teach me how to fly)
And she says that she can teach me how to fly
(Teach me how to fly)
And she says that she can teach me how to fly
(Teach me how to fly…)

3 comments:

  1. Cool info. I was in contact with Pam Polland via e-mail for a while; she is a total sweetheart! While I like the album a lot, "Our National Anthem" is a stone cold masterpiece that should have been a huge hit had Columbia gotten behind it; "Song for Three" is also exquisite, but definitely an "album track" more than a hit single. I still love both sides a lot and play them frequently, and I am thrilled that a stereo version is now available. As the record says, "It's right for me." Thank you for your interviews!

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    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed them, Paul. Pamela Polland is incredibly sweet, isn't she?

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  2. this song with a different more pop less gentle arrangement would've been perfect for herman's hermits or peter noone

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