September 28, 2012

The Lovin' Spoonful - Night Owl Blues (1965)

In 1964, the short-lived group known as The Mugwumps split up. From the group, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty would go on to form The Mamas & The Papas while Zal Yanovsky paired up with fellow folk-fan John Sebastian and two rock-types, Steve Boone and Joe Butler, from Long Island, to form this group. They would go on to put out such classic hits as “Do You Believe In Magic,” “Daydream,” “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?,” “Summer in the City,” and more in the short span of only four years. Members of the Grateful Dead also credit this band for inspiring them to “go electric” and move away from the pure-folk they were playing on the West Coast. In 1967, Zal parted ways with the group to pursue a solo career; and, by 1968, Sebastian had left with solo aspirations, as well. By 1969, the group decided to go out without fading out and they called it quits. This is definitely one of those iconic groups that cannot be summed up in this small space.

This song comes from the group’s 1965 debut album, Do You Believe in Magic. It’s the only track on the album to feature all four members as writers of the song. It was released on the Kama Sutra label and featured the classic songs “Do You Believe In Magic” and “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?”. For more on today’s featured song, read the exclusive story below from John Sebastian himself!

A Special Edition post with John Sebastian from The Lovin' Spoonful!

Number nine! Today's exclusive story comes from a man who founded The Lovin' Spoonful, performed at Woodstock, appears on "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors, and had a successful solo career. None other than the songwriting genius himself, John Sebastian. Here's John's account regarding "Night Owl Blues," which you can also hear below.
A Bit Like You And Me and readers,

The Spoonful were always looking for things they could do that didn't sound like The Wrecking Crew, who seemed to be making everybody else’s records. “Jug Band Music” was one answer, but I had been playing harp for a long time, Zal sounded great in a blues format, and so we started to play Muddy-style blues.

The simple form we came up with begun with an intro like “Fathead” Newman’s intro to Ray Charles' "(Night Time Is) The Right Time." It became the B-side to Magic, partially so we could show off that we had more than one trick in our bag.

Years later, I ran into “Fathead” Newman picking up take-out at a local establishment. I had to ask, “Sir, did you play the intro to ‘(Night Time Is) The Right Time’?”

“Yeah, I did.”

“Well, I gotta thank you, ‘cause it became the intro to a tune we did called ‘Night Owl Blues’.”

And that's the story of “Night Owl Blues”…except for one detail. Ever wonder why it starts to fade in the middle of Zally’s second break? It's because Steve Boone stopped playing a few seconds later and no overdubs were attempted.

All the best,

John Sebastian
It's great to receive a first-hand account about this song from The Lovin' Spoonful's main man. A huge 'thank you' goes to John Sebastian for taking the time to share his memories with A Bit Like You And Me and his many fans. What a day!

To visit John's site, which includes merchandise and tour dates, click here.
To hear "(Night Time Is) The Right Time" by Ray Charles, check out this YouTube video posted by someone.

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

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The Lovin' Spoonful - Night Owl Blues (1965)

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