When This Old World Starts Getting Me Down (On The Death Of Gerry Goffin)

The sad passing of Gerry Goffin, the great American lyricist, at the age of 75 cannot go without some tribute being paid. In the 1960s, with his wife, Carole King, he created a breathtaking string of enduring songs which had a major influence on the development of modern pop music. He wrote 50 Top 40 hits, songs that came to you when you were a child & have stuck around all your life. As a very young boy I was charmed by the Crickets version of “Don’t Ever Change”, it was a little different from the rest, it was sweeter & it was modern. I will not list all the great songs, you can find them here. If I make the claim that Goffin was writing the soundtrack to our lives then I offer as evidence “Up On The Roof” (The Drifters), “Goin’ Back” (Dusty/The Byrds) & “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (Aretha). You know this one but not , perhaps, this demo. It is an absolute beauty which you should keep close for those times you need a little uplift. RIP Gerry Goffin, a very talented man.

Goffin & King were based in New York, part of the production line for hit songs based in 1619 Broadway (the Brill Building) & 1650 Broadway (Aldon Music). Before the British arrived to rescue popular music from teen idol schlock it was the girl group sound which provided the innovation & inspiration that made pop music Pop Art.  Goffin & King did their bit with “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles & “One Fine Day”, the Chiffons. They also, encouraged by those Myrmidons of Melodrama, the Shangri-Las, helped to push the envelope of the genre. “He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss) was recorded by the Crystals for Phil Spector. It is an ominous, morally ambiguous song which still stirs the listener 50 years after it was written. The Cookies’ “Don’t Say Nothin’ (Bad About My Baby)” has more charm but is still an odd song which takes us off the beaten track.

Any road up, I am looking through the Y-tube (catch it while it’s free !) for some of those great girl groups &, I know, beefing about what is absent rather than grinning about all the good stuff inside my computer when this unexpected gem turns up.

Blooming Nora ! The Chiffons “Nobody Knows What’s Goin’ On Inside My Mind But Me”…in colour ! 1965, more psychological than psychedelic. The girls were a big deal, “He’ So Fine”, “One Fine Day” & “Sweet Talking Guy” are all part of the girl group pantheon. This track though is a whole different brick in the wall of sound. Stephen Friedland had been a member of New York doo-woppists the Tokens before writing & producing under the unlikely pseudonym Brute Force. There are connections with Goffin & King who wrote a Tokens’ 45, a single solo LP & interest from the lead guitarist of the Beatles. Me, I’ll stick with this sweeping street symphony with its “whoa, whoa, whoa”s, it’s “no, no, no”s & “they say we’re too young but what do they know ?”. Terrific.

Here in the UK the Queen of Sixties Pop, Dusty Springfield, was making such a good job of her covers of Goffin & King songs that by 1965 she was getting the first option on new songs. “Goin’ Back” is  a perfectly structured song, the lyric a wistful reflection on a loss of innocence. Dusty does the right thing by such a fine song. She says here that “Some Of Your Lovin’ ” (1965) is her favourite of the songs she had recorded, it was her first original version of the duo’s. I love Dusty & try to squeeze her stuff into as many of these things as I can. This is here on merit not just my own preference & she sings & looks just great.

OK. I am going to get back on to that list of Gerry Goffin hits. He wrote Taj Mahal’s “Take A Giant Step” & I did not know that.  These songs are part of my musical DNA. “Catch me if you can…”

 

Taking Care Of Business (Jerry Ragovoy)

It took Jerry Ragovoy 10 years to find a place where his talents as a songwriter, arranger & record producer were appreciated & put to proper use. In 1963 Ragovoy, initially an R&B guy, was working in Philadelphia for Chancellor Records, a label struggling to replace anodyne fading teen idols with novelty dance records.After contacting Bert Berns, a dynamic freelance producer working in New York. he helped Berns finish “Cry Baby”, a song which sold a million copies when recorded by Garnet Mimms & the Enchanters.The following year another of Ragovoy’s songs, “Time Is On My Side”, gave the Rolling Stones their first US Top 10 success. A man’s reputation can be secured by such a double whammy. New York gave Jerry his ticket to ride. As you know, if you can make it there…

Jerry was set to work with Garnet Mimms & the partnership recorded a string of emotional soul-gospel ballads which kept the singer around the R&B charts until 1966. Garnet was a  proper talent. In this fantastic clip he is introduced by Otis Redding to sing “I’ll Take Good Care of You”, a Berns-Ragovoy tune that crossed over to the Top 30…this is pure soul satisfaction, enchanting.

For the rest of the decade Jerry spent a lot of time in a recording studio making a lot of music. His trademark was a slow fuse balladry, solid songs with lush imaginative orchestration. He brought gospel Uptown but he liked his vocalists to be impassioned rather than overwrought. For some time it was his records that defined New York soul music. He was hooked up with the right guy. Bert Berns was a real Record Man whose street smarts got songs written, recorded, released & knew that the music business was as much about the business as the…you get me. He got deals made where he got paid. Bert replaced the legendary Leiber & Stoller as staff producer at Atlantic Records before making a mark running Bang, an Atlantic subsidiary. That first hit, “Cry Baby”, was credited to Bert Russell (Berns) & Neville Meade (Ragovoy). Sometimes, when big money is being made fast, it is better to cover your tracks.

Jerry made his own move in 1965 when he took over Warner Brothers’ East Coast operations releasing tracks on the Loma label. He recorded with Mimms, now solo, his old backing group the Enchanters, Lorraine Ellison. With  Howard Tate the partnership created a run of bright, bluesy R&B hits. Ragevoy’s artists benefitted from his arranging talents & the use of the best of the New York session players including Richard Tee, Eric Gale & Chuck Rainey. On one fortuitous occasion a Frank Sinatra no-show left a full orchestra at a loose end. Our man put them on to “Stay With Me” by Lorraine Ellison for a one take, all guns blazing, instant classic. It is not my favourite of his productions, epic Spectoresque ballads may have been the current thing but…I’m being too critical. It’s the histrionics of less talented singers that have clouded my view of this great record.

There was some great work for Loma. Check for the 3 singles by Carl Hall. Listening to “You Don’t Know Nothing About Love” is a great way to spend 3 minutes & 15 seconds. Deep Soul that doesn’t quite let it all hang out & is probably the better for it. In 1967 he produced a Top 20 hit for South African singer Miriam Makeba. “Pata Pata”, sung in the Xhosa language, was originally recorded by Makeba 10 years earlier. The writing credit was now Makeba/Ragovoy, so it went in the music industry.

Dusty Springfield, the Queen of British Pop, was sent to New York to record with the master. It was an idea before its time. “What’s It Gonna Be” was released as a single by Phillips but not before smearing the song in some incongruous orchestral additions. When Dusty signed for Atlantic she was back in a US studio, smashing it with “Dusty In Memphis”. Most of her LPs had included a song by Jerry & this cover of a Garnet Mimms song from 1965’s “Ev’rything’s Coming Up Dusty” is the best example I have seen of just why this woman was a cut above.

One of Ragovoy’s songs, “Piece Of My Heart” failed to hit with Erma Franklin, Aretha’s sister, then became a stand-out track for Big Brother & the Holding Company. When singer, Janis Joplin, left for a solo career her music moved from hard rock to blues-soul. Janis’ individual voice provided the blues, the soul came from the 5 Jerry Ragovoy’s songs she recorded. 3 are on “Pearl”, the posthumous LP, 4 on the “Greatest Hits” which sold 7 million copies. The Ragovoy Music Corporation received some serious royalty cheques in the early 1970s as poor Janis’ small body of work was re-hashed & re-released.

In 1969 the CEO of RMC  built his own studio, the Hit Factory, in New York. There were 2 more facilities opened the next year. Me & Karl Marx guess that when the ownership of the means of production is in the hands of the producers then things are both hunky & dory. Jerry Ragovoy was his own boss now, he stepped away from that day-to-day recording process & took some time to enjoy his new circumstances. He kept his hand in, working with the Staple Singers, Bonnie Raitt & Dionne Warwick.His reputation was made by the durability of his work in the 1960s. Anyone with any interest in soul music could not avoid his name on so many great records. It was 30 years later that an opportunity arose for closure on some unfinished business.

Ragevoy & Howard Tate were a fine partnership. The singer’s ability to handle emotion & wit brought the best out of the arranger. The 1966 LP “Get It While You Can” is as good a soul collection as there was at the time. The pair worked together in 1972 when Jerry’s songs were less sharp though the Dylan & The Band covers were interesting. Tate never found his audience, struggled with personal tragedy before drifting out of music into addiction & homelessness. After his recovery he was preaching around Philadelphia then found in 2001 by a DJ. Howard’s legend had grown &, wonderfully, his agile voice was intact. In 2003 Jerry Ragevoy joined with his old favourite for the LP “Rediscovered”.

This new version of “Get It While You Can” is so, so great. Not even the Reverend Green’s pipes were in this shape at 64 years old. Howard is doing what he was born to do & it’s a beautiful thing. Behind him, unseen until the end, is the veteran producer/songwriter, now 72. That piano progression strips the song to a solid foundation. The little push before the last chorus is all you need, a horn section would be cool, the song stands up without it. Jerry Ragovoy, who passed away in 2011, as did Howard Tate, was a great American songwriter.

I’m Not In Love With T-T-T-Twiggy (Ready Steady Go !)

In 1959 the Royal Cinema, you know it, on Gilliatt St, near my Nana’s, stopped showing films because everyone was at home watching TV. I think it was that year that my family rented our first set. I wonder what we pointed our furniture at before that. The Royal became the Star Bingo Club, a new thing allowed by an Act of Parliament which liberalised gambling. There were lots of new things at the beginning of the decade… a Labour Government, the Twist, bouffant hairdos (well, ding dong !). Philip Larkin knew the score…

” Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
And the Beatles’ first LP”. (Annus Mirabilis)

Yeah Man ! The Mersey Beatles, they certainly felt like a big new sexy noise for a big new post-war baby boom teenage bulge. That’s why a queue sinuated around the Star Bingo Club on a Saturday afternoon waiting for the “Teen Beat” music session to start. Live bands, records & soft drinks for the under 18’s. All down the line the juveniles, delinquent or otherwise, were chatting about the previous night’s TV programme which brought the best of the new British Beat to a living room near you.

“Ready Steady Go !” began in August 1963. The Stones first single “Come On” was still in the Top 30, the Beatles released “She Loves You”. The commercial & creative surge in British music had not been well served by the 2 TV channels (really !). Groups were shoe-horned awkwardly into light entertainment shows between the  juggler & the mother-in-law jokes. The BBC’s flagship music show played records at a “Juke Box Jury” of 4 know-nothings who decided “hit” or “miss” &…erm…that’s all. RSG surrounded the music with its young, fashionable audience, capturing some of the excitement & informality that a TV studio/schedule still often deflates. This stuff caught on. The Fab Four appeared in October (Paul judged a miming contest !) & the show got its highest audience when they took over the show in March 1964. This clip has received a sound upgrade but “You Can’t Do That” is so good it should be heard at its best. John’s finest Arthur Alexander style songwriting , George’s shiny new Rickenbacker 360 Deluxe 12-string…a B-side as well.

I missed all of this. The vagaries of regional scheduling meant that, in my provincial backwater, the early Friday evening show did not come around until after 10.30 & that was…after my bedtime…hours after! These new bands from that London, the Yardbirds, Manfred Mann, the Kinks, playing the Thames Delta Blues, I would not get to see them until they made the charts. The BBC opted for quantity over quality with a new music show based on sales. The discourse on the concourse about “5-4-3-2-1”, the theme tune, or about that group who smash their instruments (the what ? The Who !)  sounded so exciting, proof that the real fun only started when the kids were asleep. Something was happening in 1964, the RSG crew had a handle on what it was. The young production staff ditched the lip-synch & ran with a new national early evening slot which meant that I could finally see the thing.

The first young Modernist magpies about town favoured Italian fashion, New World rhythms, French cigarettes & philosophy. By 1964 Mod was more about dressing sharp, looking good on the dancefloor & while knocking over the local chemist looking for the pharmaceutical amphetamine or giving a rocker a kicking on a Bank Holiday, your getaway scooter waiting. The symbols of the next big youth movement were in place…you’ve seen “Quadrophenia”. “Ready Steady Go !” made the move from Mersey Beat to Mod giving impetus to its spread out of London up the new motorway system to the rest of the UK. I know, those original Mods viewed this dilution & subsequent commercialisation as the end of it all but, in the mid-60s, provincial British youth were better dressed, with better haircuts, than they had ever been.

RSG’s dance lessons & fashion tips were stiff & lame but there was just so much exciting new music around & whoever was booking the turns or picking the sounds was making plenty of good decisions. In March/April 1965 a roster of Tamla Motown artists had toured the UK to sparse audiences. RSG, prompted by producer & fan Vickie Wickham, filmed an hour long special “The Sound of Motown” featuring Martha & the Vandellas, the Miracles, 14 year old Stevie Wonder, the Temptations &, Motown’s only UK Top 20 act, the Supremes. Wickham’s best friend Dusty Springfield hosted the show. Dusty had been in a faux-folk trio, recorded overdramatic Euro-pop ballads but she had a heart full of soul & she was sheer class. The show was a blast of energy, a blur of hand clapping, foot stomping, funky butt Detroit Soul. We were able to match some faces to some tunes. Tamla Motown was here to stay.

This wonderful clip, Dusty getting some help on “Wishin’ & Hopin'”, her Bacharach & David US Top 10 hit, from Martha Reeves & the Vandellas is what live music TV can be & rarely is. Dusty & Martha seem to have been left to work it out for themselves & are liking what they have done. The gospel boost to finish makes for a unique performance by the Righteous Sisters.

The groups at “Teen Beat” was the first live music I saw. I think that I was a little underwhelmed at first, it was hardly the Swinging Blue Jeans was it ? Now I remember them as good bands from around the North of England who were ahead of those Top 20 fans. The reference point was the first LP by the Rolling Stones, released in April 64 (May in the US as “England’s Newest Hit Makers”). They all played approximate versions of “I Just Want To Make Love To You”, “You Can’t Judge A Book By Its Cover” & surprisingly the soul-jazz groove of Phil Upchurch’s “You Can’t Sit Down”. Y’know if you saw a young bar band playing these songs tonight you would be impressed with their good taste. That was then, 1966 was Now ! & every group was expected to play some new songs.

“Knock On Wood”, “Hold On I’m Coming”, “Mr Pitiful”, this was the new canon. Motown was perhaps a touch too much what with the harmonies & the choreography…at the same time. The music made at Stax Records  was raw, even more basic when there was no horn section, just 4 young energetic kids could fill the dance floor with  these tunes. In September 1966 RSG handed over the show to the label’s figurehead Otis Redding. It was a case of light the blue touch paper & retire to a safe distance as Otis, backed by the Bar-Kays, made a compelling case to be considered as the most exciting act in music. Blue-eyed soul Brits, Chris Farlowe & the great Eric Burdon were invited along & joined in this clip of the closing “Shake”, Sam Cooke’s soul stormer. Eric never looked happier & rightly so. Years later I carried a video tape of this show around, ready to share the greatest 30 minutes of music TV ever. When Stax brought their tour to the UK there were full houses everywhere because people wanted a bit of what they had seen on RSG.

Then, in December 1966, the plug was pulled. Mod probably was past its sell-by-date, the Beat Boom was over but British music was as vibrant in 1967 as it had ever been. The commercial TV network were having none of it, having cancelled the other music show “Thank Your Lucky Stars” in June. Just 2 weeks before RSG ended the UK TV debut of Jimi Hendrix tore up the rule book & knocked us sideways. I had seen the Byrds, the Lovin’ Spoonful, for the first time on the show, I was going to have to dig a bit deeper to see the Doors or Jefferson Airplane because ITV would be not be helping. I would too, no longer get my weekly fix of Cathy McGowan, the Mod Dolly Bird next door who so successfully replaced the stiff DJs for hire with a naturalness, an enthusiasm & well, take a look, we were all a little in love with Cathy.

You Can’t Mix Love With Money ‘Cause If You Do It’s Gonna Hurt Somebody (Arthur Alexander)

Last weekend, the 9th of June, marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Arthur Alexander a singer/composer from Alabama of such significance that I am prepared to suspend the First Law of loosehandlebars &…just this one time… use the “U” word. Arthur Alexander is  underrated & here is the proof, the whole proof & nothing but the…you get me ! So Randy Newman, a strong contender in a very strong field for a place on the Great American Songwriter podium, brings along Mark Knopfler off of Dire Straits to play with the world class house band on NBC’s “Sunday Night”. He has, even in these pre Disney/Pixar years, a stack of his own quality songs but chooses to perform a song by, in his words, “a great songwriter” Arthur Alexander. In 1962 teenager Randy was still trying to figure out how to write a pop song. “You Better Move On” is of a standard to which he aspired. It is a lovely, precise, assertive bit of work. The song was the first hit to be recorded at a converted tobacco warehouse in Muscle Shoals where Rick Hall was establishing FAME studios. Arthur had a deal with Dot Records of Nashville who did not really know what they had.  The B-side to  the Mann/Weil written follow up, “Soldier Of Love” was evidently the superior track. In 1962 the generation of young British musicians, inspired by pick up an instrument by that first rock & roll explosion, were leaving school &  ready to make their own noise. They, like Randy Newman in L.A., were listening to Arthur too. 4 of these listeners were the Beatles. They performed 3 songs Alexander recorded, another, “Anna (Go To Him)”, made it on to the debut LP. The songs suited John Lennon’s emphatic vocals & the logical, simple pop/country/soul/rock structure (Arthur really did have it going on !) was a big influence on his songwriting. I’m giving up “All I’ve Got To Do” & “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl”, you know of others. In 1963, down in that London, the Rolling Stones were recording an EP of 4 songs for their label (the one that had turned down the Fab 4) which thought an LP would be a little previous. 3 of the tracks were well-known up-tempo rockers. It was “You Better Move On” (see above)  showing a more restrained, soulful Stones, which got played on the radio. “Every Day I Have To Cry Some”, written by Alexander was given to Steve Alaimo, a teen idol/TV presenter who made better records than his jaunty interpretation of a plaintive song. Arthur did not get to record his song until 1975 & it’s a little busier than it would have been 10 years earlier. The quality of his voice still shines though. Back at the cultural centre of the planet in 1964 the song was claimed by a class act. What a great clip. A video capsule of Swinging London in 1964, good music, everyone looking sharp, smiling & they are only sharing the dancefloor with a Beatle ! “Ready Steady Go” was must-see TV not just because it featured the best music around but it captured that notion that post-war Britain had changed & that there would be no going back. Dusty Springfield had a season ticket to R.S.G. interviewing the Mop Tops on their 1st appearance & here she is performing a track from her “I Only Want To Be With You” EP. The singer did her share of overly dramatic ballads, be-wigged & mascara masked on creaky variety shows like the other women singers. On R.S.G. she could relax & show her excellent taste in the soul music that she rode shotgun for in the UK. She was too old to be a Mod but she was still a face. Dusty’s smoky voice was a special talent suited to both ballads & belters. For me, when she was giving it that soul shimmy, singing a Motown or an Arthur Alexander song she looked to be a happy & attractive young woman. There has been a lot written about Dusty since her passing about the insecurities she suffered over her looks, her sexuality & most other things. It’s a wonder she ever left the house. I was not even a teenager when this clip was filmed, I could neither locate Lesbia on a map nor had I even met a lesbian. I did know that Dusty was the Queen of British music with too much about her to take the cabaret/Eurovision route on offer to female artists in the music business. I was right, she never did. One of the fables embroidered into Rock’s Rich Tapestry is the saga involving Phil Spector, Ike & Tina Turner & “River Deep Mountain High”. The Tycoon of Teen pays Ike to stay away from the studio then makes Tina sing till she’s hoarse to create his Wall of Sound masterpiece. This tower of force is ignored by the American record buying public, the master producer retreats to his mansion to lick his wounds. I saw it in a movie so it must be true. “River” is now accepted as a classic but so is the follow-up 45, the Spector produced, Holland-Dozier-Holland written, “A Love Like Yours (Don’t come Knocking Everyday)”, it’s just that this cymbals-in an-echo-chamber gem complicates the story. There are 4 other tracks from the Spector/Turner partnership. The commercial failure of “River” discouraged  both Phil & Ike from completing the planned LP. One of those 4 is this Wrecking Crew symphonic take on “Every Day I Have To Cry”. I’m not personally convinced of the merits of Arthur Alexander on steroids. I love Spector’s productions & understand how he felt the song was strong enough to bear a little extra weight. It is the clarity & restraint of his songs which is so effective, the strength is implied …mmm, attractive. So, the 2 biggest groups in the world, Dusty…Bob Dylan covered Arthur’s debut single later. Heavy friends but he was driving a bus in the 1980s. There were a couple of later records & the collected work of Arthur Alexander is a deep soul delight. His legacy though is more than a nice set of hits. His natural ability with melody & emotion pointed the way forward for the Beatles, the Stones & others who preferred their pop music to include some integrity. He really was that good.

That girl could sing (No. 2)

This madly over-choreographed clip, clearly an influence on the “Austin Powers” movies, stars the shiny red Aston Martin, Austin Healey and Jaguar E Type Mk 1 (and I know nothing about cars). Centre stage is the most internationally successful of the British female singers of the 1960s. New York, Paris, London, Petula Clark was there. A massive worldwide smash in 1964, “Downtown”, was parlayed by “Pet” and writer-producer Tony Hatch into 15 consecutive Top 40 singles in the U.S.A. Pet’s sounds (sorry !) were upbeat, clearly enunciated, big chorus kind of things. She was in her early 30s, married with children. She had been in the business since she was 9 years old and could sell a song with the confidence of the experienced trouper she was.

Petula  enjoyed British hits in 1960-61 as a young English rose Julie Andrews type. She married a French guy and lived in France where she raised her family. She was able to avoid the Year Zero of the Beatles arrival where everyone in the business of show was suddenly so over. On her return with “Downtown” she was grown up with a chic Gallic elegance that was lacking in both the leftovers from the 1950s cabaret scene or the new younger would-be dolly birds. Petula was never really cool. It was Jane Birkin, with “La Chanson de Slogan” (1966) who defined the entente cordiale of Swinging London and Parisian chic. Petula’s songs were for drunkenly singing on the way home from the pub. “Don’t Sleep In The Subway DARLING !!” that was a good one. Looking back at them now they still have a charm and appeal.

Here is the queen of the 60s scene. There were other contenders but Dusty Springfield was the class of the field. All of these girls, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, Lulu, were quickly assimilated into the mainstream of the TV variety show. Any artistic development was subordinate to sticking to a hit formula and pretty soon they were all dressed up with nowhere to go but workingmen’s club cabaret. Dusty was bigger than these three, her records were better and so was her TV show. She still met resistance to moving away from the blonde beehived, heavily made up, evening gown balladeer the public expected.

Dusty sang these, often overwrought , ballads peerlessly. Her interpretations of  “Wishin’ and Hopin’ ” and “Goin’ Back” are smooth accomplishments which set the standard for these classic songs. There was, however another side to Dusty which her hit 45s did not always reflect. She was the best white soul singer of her generation. I always thought that she looked more comfortable, even happier, when she performed those great 60s soul songs. I chose this clip of “Nowhere To Run” over something more obvious because I think that she looks and sings amazingly. She also throws some great shapes. I loved Dusty when she got her groove on.

In 1968 she signed with Atlantic Records in the US. She recorded with Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin. The Sweet Inspirations and the Memphis Cats provided musical assistance. The resultant “Dusty In Memphis” LP is her crowning glory. A record for the ages and maybe only a few years too late. I cannot do better than to quote a review from Rolling Stone… “Most white female singers in today’s music are still searching for music they can call their own. Dusty is not searching—she just shows up, and she, and we, are better for it.”…We liked and still like some of those 60s pop girls, we loved and still love Dusty Springfield.

Now this, to use the vernacular, was a game changer for the 15 year old me in 1968. I was well versed in pop’s rich tapestry. Music was getting serious but I was still a sucker for 180 seconds of pure pop distraction (I still am). Then I hear the most innovative and challenging song ever made by a British female singer. I check it out and discover that the said singer is the most beautiful young woman I have ever seen ! Well…roll over Diana Rigg and tell Julie Christie the news. It was love at first sight. Julie Driscoll seemed to be the first hippie chick I’d seen who was not styled by Vogue or some other glossy rubbish. I am sure in that London the streets were full of such women. In my small provincial front room she was an exotic bird of paradise.

With Brian Auger and the Trinity she recorded some of the best new songs of the time. “This Wheel’s On Fire” was one of Dylan’s Basement Tapes which did the rounds during his hiatus. It was a hit and I imagined a long and beautiful musical friendship. By 1971 she had left the rock scene for more experimental vocals with her (lucky) husband, jazz pianist Keith Tippett.

In 1969 my friend Butch and I would sit in his bedroom with nothing stronger than a can of cider and a blue light bulb for atmosphere. We would listen to “Electric Ladyland” and the Driscoll/Auger double LP “Streetnoise”. Praise Jah that we discovered drugs and had to leave the house to buy them. We just may still be sat in that room saying that “Indian Rope Man” is the best song ever, that Julie is the best dancer ever and the best looking woman on the planet. Come to think of it I have had worse decades…I wonder what Butch is up to now.