October 04, 2012

The Aerovons - With Her (1969)

This is day four of our week-long special! In case you've missed what's been going on, Tom Hartman of The Aerovons has been kind enough to share with us five exclusive stories surrounding his time as a musician in the late '60s.

As with most of The Aerovons' songs, this track was recorded in 1969 and released over thirty years later in 2003. It was the album's fourth track.

A Special Edition post with Tom Hartman from The Aerovons!
Part 4 of 5

It should be noted that today's story takes place last, chronologically. For the correct order, you'd only need to switch the place of today's story with tomorrow's. The reason for putting this one before tomorrow's is that I feel tomorrow's story is the most entertaining and should be saved for last. And, since each story is independent of the others, it really shouldn't make a difference as far as storytelling goes. So once again, here's Tom:
The Day I Met John Lennon
...so to speak.

Well, in the course of having a band throughout your teens there are many fond memories. It's hard to know where to start. But a somewhat humorous one, I think, might be “The Day I Met John Lennon,”...so to speak.

While recording our album, The Aerovons were fortunate enough to see The Beatles almost daily, as they were busy recording Abbey Road while we were doing our record. So, it was quite common to see them walking down the hallways of EMI Studios (as it was then called), though we never really got used to it. When reading things like this account, you have to remember that just a few short years prior, I was sitting in front of my television “that” Sunday night like everyone else, watching in awe at them on The Ed Sullivan Show.

We were blessed, as I mentioned, to meet them at the studios (and Paul at a local nightclub), but had never really spoken or met John. Lennon was always accompanied by Yoko, who even waited outside the men's room at the studio for him, so none of us ever felt comfortable just walking up and saying hello. This made what happened one day at the studio all the more intense and memorable for me.

While recording in Studio 2, my guitar cable suddenly started shorting out. I went up the long stairs to the control room, told everyone I'd be back in a minute, and went to retrieve another one (if I could find one) from our gear. Our gear was kept in the same place as where The Beatles’ stored their equipment, and old unused room just down the hall. My drummer Mike was already out in the hall for reasons I can't remember, possibly because he was taking a break and waiting for me to finish the guitar part which had been interrupted by the shorting cable. When I saw him, I said, “Need to get another cable,” and started walking toward the room. Suddenly Mike, ever the joker and instigator, said, “Hey, go ask Lennon for one. He's right down the hall,” and pointed.

I turned to look and, sure enough, there was John Lennon, about fifty feet down the corridor, standing with Yoko Ono. For some reason, instead of saying, “Yeah, right,” I decided to play along. “Okay, good idea!” I said, or some words to that effect, and began to walk down the hall toward John. Now there was no way I was going to really ask John Lennon for anything. I was simply going to fake my drummer out and walk right by him and keep going. Something, however, about approaching a live Beatle causes your sensory system to act in funny ways. The closer I got, the heavier my legs became. I continued to walk, but could almost feel myself slowing down, as in one of those dreams where you try to move, but your legs feel heavy.

I was now close enough to see that Yoko was leaning against the wall of the hallway while John leaned with one arm over her, speaking softly. A few more steps and I'd be by them and my prank complete. I tried to keep my eyes straight ahead, but just as I was within a few feet of them, I heard John say, “Just a minute, just a minute,” quickly and softly, almost under his breath, to Yoko. That made me look over toward him and the next thing you know he was looking straight into my eyes. Houston, we have a problem, here.

John Lennon is looking at me. I'm looking at him. My legs have stopped moving. There is nothing left to do but speak.

Try to imagine my half of the conversation being said at a nervous pace and in a shaky voice. I started, “Uh, hi John- excuse me- um- we're recording in Studio 2 and I just broke a guitar cord and we keep our equipment in the same room as you do and so I was wondering if there was any way we might be able to borrow a guitar cord from you?” It really was that much of a run on, spoken sentence! I felt like a total idiot.

“Ah, yeah, well, do you know Mal or Kevin?” (Mal being Mal Evans, of course. And Kevin Harrington, a production runabout seen in the background of the rooftop “Let It Be” sequence.) I did know Mal and he had been very nice to my band and me. Kevin I had met and he had not been very friendly.

“Oh, yeah, sure I know them.”

“Okay. Go tell 'em I said it was alright.”

Somewhat dumbfound, I replied, “Oh, thanks John! Thanks a lot; I really appreciate it!” He nodded and turned back toward Yoko.

I sped back down the hall toward Mike, who had a look on his face like, “What are you doing?!”, simply told him, “He said it was okay,” and we both started laughing.

So that was my only conversation with John Lennon, but I sure won't forget it. He could have said, “Can't you see I'm trying to have a private conversation?” etc. But instead, he was kind enough to (probably) tell I was a nervous young kid and instead chose to be kind.

In the movie Help!, there’s a scene where two older women watch The Beatles arrive at their houses. One says to the other, “So natural. Just the way they was before they was.” And that's really how they were: down to earth and even downright kind.

Tom Hartman
Tom has lead an extremely lucky life when it comes to meeting some of rock history's most legendary musicians. There's only one story left, but it's my favorite! Come back tomorrow to see the final installment from Tom Hartman of The Aerovons!

Update: Continue with Part 5 of 5.

album art

The Aerovons - With Her (1969)

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I could leave my mark in time
I could touch her hand in mine
I’m not alone
This I could show
With her

There’d be time to spend with her
And a hand to lend in her
I’d have to show
Someone I’d know
Was mine

We wouldn’t need to speak with words
A smile would mean enough with her

I’d have to show
Someone I’d know was mine

We wouldn’t need to speak with words
A smile would mean enough with her

I could leave my mark in time
If a thought of love crosses her mind

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