John Einarson (johneinarson) Tue 26 Apr 05 13:10
Because of the ongoing legal battle over Gene's estate following his death (he left no will and his estate was contested by his former girlfriend), little Gene Clark music was reissued from 1991 until 1999 when the estate was settled (his sons control the estate and thus Gene's music). Much more of it has come out since but for a long time Gene was in serious danger of being forgotten by the CD-buying public due to lack of product.
from JAMES DUSEWICZ (tnf) Tue 26 Apr 05 14:35
James Duseqwicz writes: John, thanks! Glad to be here. I am as absorbed in MR. TAMBOURINE MAN as I was with your other fine bio of the Buffalo Springfield: FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH. Do you know whether there are any plans in the works to release domestically the other Gene Clark solo albums(such as 'Two Sides To Every Story') Stateside? And by the way, hello David Gans! I've been a Grateful Dead fan for a number of years. Sincerely, jimd firstname.lastname@example.org James Dusewicz
David Gans (tnf) Tue 26 Apr 05 14:35
John Einarson (johneinarson) Tue 26 Apr 05 16:13
Hi James. Glad to hear you're enjoying the book. Response to it has been wonderful. To answer your question, I have heard of no plans to release "Two Sides To Every Story" at this point, Gene's magnificent overlooked 1977 album that deserves reissuing. I did hear that the Firebyrd album might be released again, although it's been flogged many times under different guises.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Tue 26 Apr 05 18:07
Great answers, John, thanks! If you don't mind, I'd like to drift a little into Springfield territory. I'd be very curious to hear your opinions on the contributions of the Springfield to what became known as country-rock vs. the Byrds', and what you think has not yet been appreciated enough about the Springfield's legacy.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Tue 26 Apr 05 19:00
If you go right back to the Springfield's debut single in July 1966, the B side is Stephen Stills' countrified shitkicker "Go And Say Goodbye" so you've got to give that band credit right from the get-go for integrating country with rock a full two years before the Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo album. It's pure country rock that song. Rick Cunha of country/folk rockers Hearts & Flowers, who often shared billings with the Springfield back in 1966, remarked to me, When it comes to integrating country influences in rock, for my thinking the Byrds were close, but the Springfield were even closer because in their live shows they did some country-style picking. It didnt always get to the albums, but they could play it. Stills and Young could pick it and Furay could sing it. The Springfield would take those country influences much further in 1967 with Richie Furays bluegrass flavoured A Childs Claim To Fame and bring in pedal steel guitar for Kind Woman the following year. They werent afraid to openly champion their appreciation for country music. Richie and Jimmy Messina would, of course, go on to form Poco, one of the most exciting country rock bands of the latter 60s. The Byrds were integrating country influences as well, covering Porter Wagoners hit A Satisfied Mind on their second album in late 1965 but werent yet writing their own country rock like the Springfield quite yet. It would take until their 1967 Younger Than Yesterday album for the group to create their own unique country rock, led by bass player Chris Hillman, no stranger to country and bluegrass music himself, with Time Between and The Girl With No Name. Chris claims thats when country rock really began but the Springfield were already there, too. The Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo album is often cited as ground zero for the evolution of country rock except that its not really rock. Its pure country done as if the band is dealing with an historical artifact that cant be tampered with. Theyre a little too reverential and respectful in their approach, something Hillman now admits. We were trying to do a traditional country album. I think we were sort of playing at it. We were trying to imitate country, but not very well. Its not groundbreaking on a musical level; on another level, though, it is. Its the first time a hugely popular pop/rock group had taken on country on an album from start to finish as opposed to dabbling in a few tracks or flavours. In that sense its daring. On a musical level it plays it pretty safe. The Springfield, and later their direct descendent Poco, took more chances musically by creating a wholly new and original sound drawing on country and rock, innovative not imitative. As for the Springfields legacy I think the box set released four or five years ago went a long way toward garnering the band due recognition as monster innovators and superb songwriters (how many bands in 1966 boasted three distinctive singer/songwriters other than the Beatles?). In 1966 their debut album was all original material, all of it strong with no filler. Not many bands could boast that, not even the Byrds. During the Eagles Hell Freezes Over reunion tour a few years back, at a concert in Denver, Glenn Frey pointed Richie Furay out in the audience and said We wouldnt be here if it wasnt for you and he meant the Buffalo Springfield influence. That whole Asylum records/southern California/denim clad singer/songwriter/laidback country sound of the mid 70s owes its very existence to the Buffalo Springfield. In seminal California music its the 3 Bs: Beach Boys, Byrds and Buffalo Springfield (and three of the Springfield were Canadians. Ha!).
from JAMES DUSEWICZ (tnf) Tue 26 Apr 05 19:04
James Dusewicz: John, once again. I've probably overstayed my welcome and bugged you way too much. If I have, I apologize. I've always considered Gene Clark, Richie Furay, and Marty Balin the 'Mid-Western Romantics' of the 60's through current rock 'n' roll era. While Richie and Marty seem to have had enough sense to take care of themselves, Gene did not. But what I'm curious about is your opinion on all three of mid-western origin. Do you see any similarities and differences? If so, what are they? jimd email@example.com James Dusewicz
John Einarson (johneinarson) Tue 26 Apr 05 19:33
I don't know enough about Marty to state an opinion but Gene and Richie were very different in terms of character and upbringing. Few similarities in my view. Sorry about that. Two talented singer/songwriters, though, and visionaries in terms of breaking new musical ground and singing from the heart. That they had in common. Interesting to note that apparently Dewey Martin approached Gene (they met when Dewey was in the Dillards touring with the Byrds) to join the embryonic Buffalo Springfield in the spring of 1966. Wonder what kind of band that would have been? Gene declined the offer. He and Dewey would remain friends and drinking buddies.
from LUCY D. HAKEMACK (tnf) Tue 26 Apr 05 20:46
Lucy D. Hakemack writes: I read in a 2004 interview with Tom Petty that Petty loved the Byrds. He stated in a Rolling Stone interview that the Heartbreakers were a cross between the Byrds and the Rolling Stones and that he had been a close friend of Roger McGuinn for over 25 years. My question: did Tom not have a relationship with Gene especially since Gene was the composer of Whole Lot Better? Was it just Mcguinn that Petty turned to for help in recording that great song? What's the deal with Petty?
John Einarson (johneinarson) Wed 27 Apr 05 05:45
Tom and Gene did not know each other well. During the brief time McGuinn, Clark & Hillman were together in the latter 70s Tom would hang out backstage a few times at gigs but his connection was to McGuinn, not Gene, and that would continue. Tom also joined the 3 Byrds - McGuinn, Crosby and Hillman - onstage at one of their "staking claim to the Byrds name" concerts in the late 80s. But when it came to selecting a Byrds song to cover, Tom knew who to choose from: Gene Clark. His cover of "I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better" was well done but close associates to Gene at the time maintain that the money the song earned for Gene only hastened his demise because he couldn't handle it.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Wed 27 Apr 05 06:13
An amusing aside re: Tom Petty and Roger McGuinn. According to McGuinn, Clark & Hillman road manager Al Hirsch: Tom Petty was a real groupie. I cant tell you how many dressing rooms I threw him out of. He was sending me music for years and I thought it was really good. I played some of it for Roger and Roger thought it was him. He actually said to me, When did I record that? I was trying to get Roger to record some Petty stuff because no one was recording his stuff at the time and Roger wasnt writing shit. I thought it would be a perfect match.
Dave Zimmer (waterbrother) Wed 27 Apr 05 06:26
Excellent discussion so far, John. As I've told you previously, Mr. Tambourine Man is such a moving, enjoyable biography because it covers so many different aspects of Gene's life and music from a wide variety of perspectives from a broad spectrum of voices from every phase of his life and career. Through to the last page, the reader gets a complete picture of the man and his legacy. I had the good fortune to be able to interview Gene in the early '80s at his home in Sherman Oaks. When Jim Dickson set it up and gave me Gene's phone number, he warned me that Gene might be a little *jumpy* and reticent to get into parts of his past. As it turned out, that was exactly the opposite of how he was when we talked -- primarily about the Byrds and his feelings about Crosby and CSN. He was warm and gracious throughout our mid-afternoon conversation. In rereading parts of your book this week, I was struck by the number of anecdotes you drew out of people that demonstrated what a decent and caring guy Gene was. Despite his periods of excess and self-destruction, he seemed to have a genuine capacity for kindness. I'm curious if you have a favorite anecdote or two from your book that you feel best captured this side of Gene's character.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Wed 27 Apr 05 07:05
Hey Dave, wonderful to have you onboard! For those one or two people who don't know, Dave Zimmer is an acknowledged authority on CSN and CSNY having penned a few books and numerous articles on the group. Whenever I need to know about CSN or Y I contact Dave. One of the goals I kept in mind while writing Mr. Tambourine Man (the book, not the song) was to balance Gene's excesses with his basic goodness, integrity and honesty as a human being as well as his immense gift as a songwriter so that the book does not wallow in some of his darker side for its own sake. To avoid Gene's excesses and pitfalls would not have served the voracity of the story but to emphasize them for their own sake would not have served Gene's legacy. I think the book offers a sympathetic and compassion portrait of a man who battled several demons but despite these obstacles managed to create a remarkable body of work that has stood the test of time. Gene was a remarkable human being. There are some wonderful human interest anecdotes in the book such as Gene defending Crosby and McGuinn from some rednecks who were attempting to beat a few longhairs, his Byrds-era humour on the tour bus regarding the lighting of firecrackers, or the time during the Firebyrds tour of Canada when they came upon a car crash and Gene went to comfort one of the victims, staying with her for several hours then calling the hospital the following day to check on her. Also, the time Gene helped out a friend on a bad acid trip in Laurel Canyon, staying up all night to see her through it. Mike Hardwick remembers Gene helping him load his equipment and being struck by the fact that here was a Byrd, a legend, just being one of the guys sharing responsibilities like everyone else. Some funny incidents, too, like Gene signing "John Lennon" on a petition at the Whisky to keep the Sons of Adam performing or the Harold Buttwad story. Those who knew Gene well got to see the lighter side of him, the broad grin and infectious cackle, that most never witnessed. It's too bad he rarely showed that side in public.
Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Wed 27 Apr 05 07:45
Which of Clark's work/s do you find better standing the test of time? Another question is, you mention that the Springfield had 3 Canadian members, Stills as well seemed to be touring Canada back then. What kind of folk / rock scene was going on up there that nurtured these creative spirits? Also did any of the Canadian Anglo-folk scene there borrow any cues from the Franco-folk scene? Lastly sounds like Clark might of done better in some sort of Brill building environment, I mean just as a songwriter.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Wed 27 Apr 05 08:25
So great to see you here, Dave Z.!
John Einarson (johneinarson) Wed 27 Apr 05 10:09
Hi Darrell, thanks for your questions (sorry for the slight delay but work got in the way - school would be so much more fun for teachers if there were no students!). The folk music scene in Canada in the early 60s was thriving. It was not only alive in enclaves like Toronto's Yorkville Village, a mini-Greenwich Village scene of coffeehouses and flophouses, but also right across Canada and on TV and radio with several folk music shows. Every city and town seemed to have a coffeehouse or folk venue of one sort or another so you could cross the country as a folk artist and find kindred spirits and a warm place to play. The singer/songwriter tradition that was and remains so strong coming out of Canada is rooted in that vibrant folk music community that existed in the early 60s. Neil, Joni, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, Murray McLauchlan, Ian & Sylvia, John Kay, Bruce Cockburn all got their start on that circuit. Folk music in Canada wasnt based around the American folk music themes of civil rights, protest, human injustice, and Mississippi prison songs that whole Alan Lomax catalog - but was derived more from country & western music (always big up here with the likes of Wilf Carter and Hank Snow) and songs about this great land and its gorgeous scenery (as Lightfoot said, "this verdant country"). So when Stephen Stills travelled across Canada with his folk ensemble The Company in the spring of 1965 he played the Fourth Dimension circuit of coffeehouses where he met Neil Young at the 4D in Thunder Bay (Fort William back then). Neil was already doing a form of folk rock and Stills was suitably impressed. By the way, Neil had met Joni Mitchell a few months earlier at Winnipegs 4D coffeehouse. The French Canadian music community has always been an entity exclusive of itself. Folk music did exist in Quebec but not to the same extent that it did in Anglophone Canada. There wasnt much cross-over other than Leonard Cohen and he really wasnt writing or performing in French. The language barrier has always isolated French music and as Daniel Lavoie, one of Quebecs most beloved and successful singer/songwriters (born in Manitoba, though) once told me, If you didnt speak French it just sounded like silly music because it was so lyric-driven. Im not sure that the Brill Building environment would have suited Gene Clark. While he was a skilled craftsman of song, he didnt necessarily hone it as a craft. It was more a gift that would suddenly come to him, so sitting in an office from 9 to 5 forcing oneself to produce songs may not have suited him (although, as your point assumes, at least he could avoid the stress of public performance). As Mike Wickie Hardwick (from Genes early 80s ensemble the Firebyrds) once noted: I had come out of Austin and at that time in Austin there was quite a singer-songwriter scene going on, kind of a country-rock thing. So by being around Jerry Jeff, I was around Guy Clark, B.W. Stevenson, Townes Van Zandt, Billy Jo Shaver, guys like that, regularly. But Gene was on a whole other level. And it wasnt because he was a Byrd or was hooked up with the Burritos and that whole scene or Doug Dillard. He just found the way, and he was doing it. His songwriting was amazing. He would write songs real fast. He wrote a song or at least finished a song while we were driving in the van going to a gig in Texas. The song was called Gypsy Rider, which has turned out to be one of his classic songs. I was used to seeing guys working on bits and pieces and taking a while to put it together. But it just came out of him; it just flowed. I watched how those other guys wrote, I was around them doing demos, but I had never seen anything like Gene. And tell me where those melody lines came from? Completely original. And the way he phrased and put the words together? This was from a guy who had an incredible gift. I dont remember him really reading anything. We might have a newspaper in the van but I dont remember Gene reading. Yet he was a man of words. Where did it come from? It was a gift. Duke Bardwell worked with Gene in the Silverados in the mid 70s and had this to say about Gene's gift: We had to haul our asses down to Phoenix and it was that particular trip through the night where the moon was shining off of all these buttes and rock structures. Words started coming from him that were almost surreal. It was like he was tapping into a part of songwriting and poetry that I never even suspected, certainly in my own creativity. I would be driving and Gene would be ranting. It would be out of the blue. He would come out with these words and verses and it was like, I dont know what he means, but it sounds so good! It was so amazing. To this day I would have to say that I will never forget watching genius and insanity go hand in hand like they did with Gene Clark.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Wed 27 Apr 05 10:40
Totally fascinating stuff, John. I never knew about Stills' "The Company" tour. Another obscure bit of trivia -- Joni actually met Graham Nash in Canada too, when he was on tour with the Hollies. They became, as most people know, quite the item when Joni migrated to Laurel Canyon somewhat later, yielding songs like "Willy," "Blue," and "A Case of You" (from Joni) and "Our House" (from Graham).
John Einarson (johneinarson) Wed 27 Apr 05 11:38
The Company were the reminants of Stills and Richie Furay's larger folk ensemble the Au Go Go Singers based in New York. After the Au Go Go Singers folded Stills put together The Company, a quintet from the remaining members, and headed out on a folk tour across Canada. His plan was to get all the way to Vancouver then going AWOL from the group and head southward to California. Unfortunately one of the members of The Company took sick in Regina (at the 4D there) and the group headed back to New York. There Stills briefly tried out for the embryonic Lovin' Spoonful on bass, then attempted to organize his own shortlived folk rock group with Gram Parsons before heading out to California in the summer of 1965.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Wed 27 Apr 05 11:42
Back to your question of which of Gene's songs have stood the test of time, Darrell, I would have to say quite a few of them but if push comes to shove I would suggest Gypsy Rider, In A Misty Morning, Full Circle Song, I'll Feel A Whole Lot Better, Train Leaves Here This Morning, Something's Wrong, From A Silver Phial, The True One, Kansas City Southern, Silent Crusade, Past Addresses, Del Gato.......
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Wed 27 Apr 05 11:47
Up in post #66 you name Gordon Lightfoot in your list of Canada's seminal '60s folk singers who toured the circuit, and I appreciate that. Perhaps I've just not listened to or read enough opinions (a strong possibility), but it has long seemed to me that Lightfoot has never really got his due from the rock-critic crowd for the great songwriter that he is. I've wondered sometimes if the commercial success of a couple-three Lightfoot songs got in the way of appreciation for his larger body of work. (I've also wondered why nobody seems to have covered "Sundown" in the dark bluesy way the song cries for.) Thanks for the opportunity to say that. Okay, back to Gene.
Peter Meuleners (pjm) Wed 27 Apr 05 11:58
John, my impression of Hillman is that he is an accomplished artist who was very capable of dealing in the politics of a band. My impression of Gene is that he was genius who had great difficulty dealing with the grind of day-to-day band dynamics. It seems from your comments that Hillman's attitude about Gene has changed over the years. Can you talk about the relationship between Gene and Chris Hillman? (I just want to note that, for me, this is the most interesting Inkwell discussion I have ever read. I want to thank John for being so available and forthcoming and Steve for asking great questions.)
John Einarson (johneinarson) Wed 27 Apr 05 12:17
Hi Peter. I'm glad you're enjoying the dialogue. It's been fun for me. Chris and Gene were very close in the Byrds days (although Michael Clarke and Gene were closer, like brothers). Of all the Byrds, Chris stuck with Gene through thick and thin (even when Gene left him at the altar a few times) and played on just about every album he did. But as Chris matured not only as a performer but as a person (he was 19 when he joined the Byrds) he developed into a very professional, no nonsense (in a good way) band leader. Some of that was borne from having to take the reins from Gram Parsons in the Burritos as well as observing Stephen Stills as leader in Manassas. Chris has always acknowledged Stills as a mentor. Chris Hillman today is the ultimate professional. You are correct in your assessment of Chris as someone capable of dealing with band politics and individuals in a group and pulling everyone together. I recall what ex-Burrito Brother Rick Roberts once said about Chris: I couldnt have asked for a better role model than Chris Hillman. Chris was an elegant businessman, very directed, very devoted, sometimes a little bit too stern about things but he had class about everything he did. He was absolutely the leader of the band. Hes like an older brother to me, a mentor, and Ive turned to him for advice many times over the years. Gene, on the other hand, had difficulty as a band leader and in taking command of a situation. He just couldn't force his will on others or achieve of level of authority. More often his bands were chaotic and dominated by other more forceful personalities within the group and, as a result, his groups often suffered. As Joel Larson once said of working with Gene in a band, Gene wasnt sure what he wanted. He had trouble getting his ideas across. We would rehearse every day and he would try the same song we had been doing for a week, only now we would redo it. He expected everything to happen as he had imagined it. He had sat down and imagined a whole new thing and he would say Heres how its gonna sound without really explaining what he wanted us to do. He had some idea in his mind of what he wanted it to sound like but he was terrible on showing it to us. I think McGuinn put together the musical sound of the Byrds, not Gene. That's accurate. Gene was a creative genius who couldn't deal with the mundane or the day-to-day well. McGuinn may not have had Gene's talent as a creative songwriter but he could pull a sound together from the 5 Byrds. I think Chris has mellowed a bit in regards to Gene. The death of someone close can cause anyone to re-evaluate their actions or conduct. That's only natural. Chris has put his relationship with Gene in perspective and understands better now (even since reading my book which he found a revelation) why Gene was the way he was and did the things he did.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Wed 27 Apr 05 12:21
Steve, getting back to your point about Lightfoot (I actually wrote a longer reply but somewhere in the ether of the Internet it never made it to the Well), yes I agree he has never received his due recognition for his songwriting talent. I'm a dedicated Lightfoot fan so you're preaching to the converted on this. He is Canada's poet laurette and a national treasure (I can still get goosebupms every time I hear "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" or "Early Morning Rain"). Incidentally, Gene Clark recorded Lightfoot's "If You Could Read My Mind" on his 1984 Firebyrd album and did a credible version. He was a Lightfoot fan.
Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Thu 28 Apr 05 00:41
It seems sad he just did not dump the entire band idea and persist with what he could with his solo guitar, and a few select well placed musicians to accompany him. Dusted off my copy of Echos the other day and for all of the arrangements on Echos his solo guitar songs [some on the bonus tracks] sound fine enough, and in a way seem less ephemeral. I've got 'No Other' on order maybe I'll change my mind after hearing that. Still though after seeing one of Gene's gigs in Malibu, must of been around 1988 or so...he had Clark on drums and too many other musicians [WTF were those other guys] on stage trying to deliver a big sound, it left the impression he was either not in his right mind/body or was being pushed overboard.
John Einarson (johneinarson) Thu 28 Apr 05 05:46
Those who were fortunate to see Gene live just as an acoustic solo artist maintain that was the best live Gene Clark (various tapes in circulation attest to this), unfettered by accompanying musicians and band arrangements allowing the strength of the songs and his voice to stand alone. Probably more stressful for Gene, though, as all attention would be on him alone. Ex-Dillard & Clark member David Jacvkson once commented, Gene never felt all that comfortable just playing regular music with regular players. But I heard that much later on he was playing a little coffeehouse by himself and would completely delight in sitting around playing songs with anybody. That was a part of Gene I never saw. He never seemed comfortable in front of an audience when I knew him. He seemed to always be trying to get to that place in his personality from which emanated the poetry. And thats not always that comfortable with an audience. They want to be entertained first or be allowed to arrive at that place. And he would never allow them the time to get there, he just started there. At the time that was okay I guess but today it wouldnt work at all."
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