A Bit Like You And Me Radio

October 21, 2015

Bert Sommer - Jennifer (1968)

Today’s featured artist, Bert William Sommer (born February 7, 1949), was a friend of The Left Banke’s Michael Brown and was chosen to be one of the new lead singers of Brown’s Left Banke (along with Michael McKean) when the group divided and competed with one another. Although the effort was unsuccessful and short-lived, it provided Sommer with connections that aided in advancing his career.

Sommer also made a connection with Leslie West (later of Mountain), which led to him writing five songs (“And When It’s Over,” “Things Are Going My Way,” among others) for West’s band The Vagrants in their mutual hometown of Long Island, New York.

It was these connections and experiences which led to Sommer getting his first record deal with Capitol Records; and, nearly simultaneously, being cast as the character Woof in the original West Coast production of Hair. It was also his giant afro which was used in the original playbill promoting the play.

Photo credit.

Perhaps most notable is the fact that Sommer played at Woodstock. While making his first album for Capitol, titled The Road to Travel, he befriended Capitol’s Vice President of Rock Music, producer Artie Kornfield. Kornfield was a co-creator of the Woodstock festival and reserved a slot for Sommer to perform. Sommer was the third act to perform on the opening day, after Richie Havens and Sweetwater, and sang ten songs over the span of an hour. When recalling the standing ovation he received after performing Simon & Garfunkel’s “America,” Sommer famously quipped, “Yeah, I got the standing ovation… on their way to the bathrooms!”

The song below is the second track on Sommer’s debut album, The Road to Travel, released in 1968. It was also the lead song performed by Sommer during his set at Woodstock. The music and lyrics were written by Sommer himself, and the track was produced by Artie Kornfield.

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Bert Sommer - Jennifer (1968)

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Lyrics:

Jennifer’s heaven, for Jenny I’d stay
Skin shining white as a dove
Lying beside her, I melted away
Into her river of love

Whoa, I’m lost in a maze
Counting the ways that she smiles
Time is slipping away
Lost in the arms of her love
So gentle and wild

Jennifer’s something you handle with care
Fragile as crystals of glass
Jennifer’s lips are as soft as the air
Kissing her here in the grass

Whoa, I’m lost in a maze
Counting the ways that she smiles
Time is slipping away
Lost in the arms of her love
So gentle and wild

Jennifer’s heaven, for Jenny I’d stay
Skin shining white as a dove
Lying beside her, I melted away
Into her river of love
Into her river of love
Into her river of love

October 14, 2015

Dantalian's Chariot - Coffee Song (1968)

As mentioned previously, Zoot Money was a vocalist and keyboardist who attempted to make a name for himself in the world of jazz, soul, and R&B since 1961 with his backing band the Big Roll Band. Not reaching the success he aimed for, Zoot decided to split the group up in 1967 and try a more psychedelic approach, with some of the same members, since his previously preferred styles were falling out of fashion.

Together with Andy Summers (later of The Police), Zoot Money assembled this band, Dantalian’s Chariot. The name of the band was suggested by the band’s publicist, Jim Ramble, who was inspired from by The Lesser Key of Solomon, a medieval book about witchcraft, with Dantalion being a powerful Great Duke from hell.

The band released their first single, “Madman Running Through the Fields,” with the idea of creating a full-length album to encompass it after its release. Unfortunately, before the album could be finished, their label decided to drop them, not approving of their new psychedelic sound. Soon after, in April 1968, the group disbanded.

It wasn’t until 1996 that the unfinished album saw the light of day, when it was released by Wooden Hill. Although the album couldn’t be released exactly as it may have been in 1967/1968, the effort was made to have the album keep its originally intended psychedelic nature. The song below, written by Ray Smith and Tony Colton, was one of the lost tracks, buried for nearly thirty years.

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Dantalian's Chariot - Coffee Song (1968)

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Lyrics:

There’s a full-time reservation
Made in the bar at the railroad station
And there’s a story, a kind of fable
On a card at the corner table

On it is a message, been there sometime
It starts off “The coffee tasted so fine”
It says, “One day this may find you
These few words may just remind you
We sat here together just to pass time
And you said how the coffee tasted so fine”

It goes on to say, “I love you
If you should find this, I must hear from you”
It gives a number, but the name has faded away
All that is left are just the words, “Maybe someday”

Well that’s the story and the fable
Never leave alone from a corner table

October 07, 2015

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (1969)

According to singer/songwriter Judy Collins, she first met Stephen Stills at a party in 1967. She thought Stephen was “possibly the most attractive man” she had ever seen. And although the two became romantically linked for the next two years, it was clear to Stephen that breaking up was imminent when Judy had fallen in love with Stacy Keach, her co-star in a stage musical.

The deteriorating relationship led a devastated Stills to pen multiple songs about Collins, who was known for her piercing blue eyes; and the song heard below is a weaving of four of those pieces of work. The “Suite” in the title was a pun, half indicating that the song was a musical suite or, a collection of songs in the classical sense, and half referencing the meaning of its homophone, implying “sweet” Judy Blue Eyes.

Although the song didn’t convince Collins to remain with Stills, she admits that it did make her feel more regretful about her decision to leave him. And when the song climbed to number twenty-one in the United States, it certainly made it that much more difficult for her to avoid hearing it.

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Crosby, Stills & Nash - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (1969)

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Lyrics:

It's getting to the point where I'm no fun anymore
(I am sorry)
Sometimes it hurts so badly I must cry out loud
(I am lonely)
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Remember what we've said and done and felt about each other
(Oh, babe, have mercy)
Don't let the past remind us of what we are not now
(I am not dreaming)
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Tearing yourself away from me now, you are free
And I am crying
This does not mean I don't love you; I do; that's forever
Yes, and for always
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

Something inside is telling me that I've got your secret
(Are you still listening?)
Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart
(And I love you)
I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are
You make it hard

(And you make it) hard
(And you make it) hard
(And you make it) hard

Friday evening
Sunday in the afternoon
What have you got to lose?

Tuesday morning
Please be gone, I'm tired of you
What have you got to lose?

Can I tell it like it is?
(Help me, I'm sufferin')
Listen to me, baby
It's my heart that's a’sufferin'; it's a’dyin'
(Help me I'm dyin')
And that's what I have to lose (lose)

I've got an answer
I'm going to fly away
What have I got to lose?

Will you come see me
Thursdays and Saturdays?
(Hey, hey, hey)
What have you got to lose?

Chestnut-brown canary
Ruby-throated sparrow
Sing a song; don't be long
Thrill me to the marrow

Voices of the angels
Ring around the moonlight
Asking me, said she’s so free
How can you catch the sparrow?

Lacy lilting lyric
Losing love, lamenting
Change my life, make it right
Be my lady

¡Que linda! Me acuerdo a CubaHow pretty! She reminds me of Cuba
La reina de la Mar CaribeThe queen of the Caribbean Sea
Quiero sólo visitarle allíI only want to visit her there
¡Y que triste que no puedo vaya!And how sad that I can't go
O Va! O Va!Oh, go! Oh, go!

October 02, 2015

Simon & Garfunkel - America (1968)

In 1964, Paul Simon was living in London, England with his then-girlfriend Kathy Chitty. His debut album with Art Garfunkel, Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. had recently been finished recording and was now in the stage of being mixed and having the artwork created/picked out. Simon’s producer, Tom Wilson, informed him that he wanted Paul to come back to the United States to assist with the work. Not wanting to leave his girlfriend behind, Simon suggested he and Kathy go together, where they could spend five days touring the country before he got back to work. The resulting road trip became the inspiration for the song heard below.

It was in 1966 when Simon eventually wrote the song; and, according to a former disc jockey from Saginaw, Michigan, Bob Dyer, Simon wrote the song while he was in town- in Saginaw- to perform in a concert series.

The finished song was first released in 1968 on Simon & Garfunkel’s third album, titled Bookends. That version of the song begins with a segue from the previous track; so the version heard below- the single- was chosen for being featured here instead, as the intro is cleaner. The single version heard below and released in 1972 reached #92 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #25 in the UK. It features Hal Blaine and Larry Knechtel from The Wrecking Crew on drums and bass, respectively.

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Simon & Garfunkel - America (1968)

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Lyrics:

Let us be lovers
We’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag

So we bought a pack of cigarettes
And Mrs. Wagner’s Pies
And walked off to look for America

“Kathy,” I said, as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
“Michigan seems like a dream to me now”
It took me four days to hitch-hike from Saginaw
I’ve come to look for America”

Laughing on the bus
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said, “Be careful, his bowtie is really a camera”

“Toss me a cigarette; I think there’s one in my raincoat”
“We smoked the last one an hour ago”

So I looked at the scenery
She read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field

“Kathy, I’m lost,” I said, though I knew she was sleeping
“I’m empty and aching and I don’t know why”

Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come to look for America

All come to look for America
All come to look for America

September 29, 2015

Ultimate Spinach - Visions of Your Reality (1968)

This band was a notable act from the Boston, Massachusetts area which briefly attempted to combat the “San Francisco sound” alongside other bands, such as Beacon Street Union and Orpheus, through their mutual, fledgling producer, Alan Lorber, and his promotion of the “Bosstown Sound.” Formed from the remnants of a band known as Underground Cinema, this band was led by their primary songwriter, lead vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Ian Bruce-Douglas.

The song heard below was featured on the band’s second album, Behold & See, which was released in 1968, the same year as the release of their first album, which had been self-titled. Although the group’s first album achieved moderate success (#34 on the Billboard 200), their second album did not fare as well, peaking at #198. Bruce-Douglas would later lament that much of the band’s lack of success was due to producer Alan Lorber, who he believed was more interested in making a profit than artistic creativity or integrity. Bruce-Douglas left the band sometime after their second album, forcing Lorber to assemble a new line-up to create their contractually-obligated, third album, Ultimate Spinach III. That album, though, lacking the songwriting, singing, and musical talents of Bruce-Douglas, failed, and the group disbanded soon after.

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Ultimate Spinach - Visions of Your Reality (1968)

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Lyrics:

I don’t want to be a rusty suit of armor
Or a tumbled-out, forgotten castle in your mind
I just want to be a twisted willow
So I can leave your shallow thinking far behind

I can feel the darkness in your shadows
And the melting of ice behind your troubled eyes
And the discoloration of all the words you’re saying
As you’re hunted without mercy by your lies

I’ve flown so high, I’ll never return
And I’ve been to the bottom of the dregs of your troubled soul
And I’ve basked in the sun of your revelations
But, I guess you and I, we have different goals

So, go and slay your dragons in blind amusement
And topple imagination with a song
And the moon- it plays little mind games
So you’ll wonder where all the stars have gone

Listen to me

You have spoken to be about nothing
And you’ve shown me fantasies in a crystal ball
And you’ve promised me the world for my asking
Don’t you know that, to me, it means nothing at all?

Because, I know you’d leave me a burnt out matchbox of forgotten roses
Inside a get-well card I had to address by myself
But that’s not what I need from another stranger
So, I guess I better do things without your help

So, I guess I better do things without your help
So, I guess I better do things without your help