Memories Of the Future-
First, the title, I like sci-fi books and films, like The Day the earth stood still, Blade Runner, or Alien. Memories Of The Future seemed like something William Gibson or Phillip K. Dick might write.
I never did write any sci fi lyrics that weren’t embarrassing, but the songs I’d been recording, and thinking about, the bands I played in, my favorite takeaways from them, even the music I loved and listened to that are “my style” all figure in this, my third CD. It wasn’t about me, but what I was a part of.
1. So- I started with the Quicksilver Messenger Service song I liked best, Dino Valenti’s ( Jesse Orris Farrow)”What About Me?” My favorite song from the from my first paid gig, 1971, Bill Graham’s Fillmore West, headlining the Closing week. A film and triple LP, wow. Did a little Southwest Tour, then a gig in Fresno, then back to school, but I was forever changed, I was a musician!, though I thought I was going to be an artisan, studying art, making jewelry, carving wood, doing abalone inlay in Ebony pipes. I couldn’t continue feeling sick from smelling the hydrochloric acid from the silver work, and carving and inlay dinged up my fingers
2. Next is “Bitter Wind,” a 1968 song by Bob Mosley, bass and lead vocals for Moby Grape, my favorite band back in public high school in Mission San Jose, Then I was expelled, I moved in Boulder Creek to attend the Experimental Pacific High School, just 16, I hitchhiked everywhere not having a liscense, and a ’59 Chevy pulled over, it was Jerry Miller, the great lead guitarist (Eric Clapton once called the best in the world, I shared that opinion, and still do!) He gave me a ride home, and later met all the members, Peter Lewis was a neighbor, Don Stevenson came to peters and jammed ( 2 of them, Skip Spence, and Bob Mosley werent around yet), met them in 1970, when they did a Reunion at the Burl theatre in Boulder Creek, with opening act The Doobie Brothers, who I thought were great, I thought they’d sound good with me. Around then, Jerry had a killer quartet called the Rhythm Dukes, with Bill Champlin singing, and B3, Fuzzy John Oxendine, drums, John Barrett, bass; They did a gig at the Brookdale Lodge, I was listening hiding behind the stage. Bill got up from the hammond, picked up his guitar, with arrogant youth I jumped up and sat at the organ, Bill looked over and said “High Heel Sneakers, in G”, later in tune he gave me a solo, I did my best Jimmy Smith impression, he raised eyebrow, smiled. In 1983, I started playing with Patrick Simmons, later with Tommy Johnston, and Michael McDonald by 1988 I was playing with the “Reunion”, as they had broken up in ’81. Mike McDonald was doing a solo career, and I became keyboard player, and a songwriter contributor, our common love of soul, blues, rock, jazz and Moby Grape were a natural fit.
3. Next is “Take Me To the Highway” a song Id written in ’78, first recorded with help of Tiran Porter, ex Doobie bassist on all their big hits, we had a band with Vocalist Richard Bryant ( later sang harmonies on a Doobies tour and “Brotherhood”, the second Capitol LP/CD) who sings this reprise of the original version of the song. I always wanted to hear cello and violins on it, and did on this version. Slowed it down, and added congas, and used the great harmonies that the Doobs used.
4. Then one more cover, “Love Will Live Forever”, by Airtight, written by the Late Michael Been, who I played with from ’76 till ’78. I Loved the song, but Michael never did it after I left, over “creative differences”. We were a rock band compared to The Band, or Steely Dan, I always loved this tune, and heard horns, gospel vocals, a Stevie Wonder Vibe. Michael was talking to a Vietnam vet once about parachuting in to battle, what was it like? he said “Love Will live Forever”!
5. ”Love You Can take It With You”, with my Musicscool student, James Durbin, singing it as a Musicscool (my “School of rock”) school project for James who was my first Scholarship recipient in 2010, I couldnt use it as American Idol had a contract on him, till 2018. The pride of Santa Cruz, he had 30,000,000 fans voting for him, in 2010. He though he should sing it again, but the vocal, he said he couldnt beat, so he was 18 then, now is 30, Married has 3 kids! James sings 4 tunes on this album, I feel very fortunate. A friend- the late Robert Edwards, a vocal coach to many stars, said he has one of most extraordinary voices he’d ever heard, in range and power and beauty. Extra long vocal chords and a natural amazing voice that can express so many styles.
If it was a LP, that would be side 1, “where Im comin’ from”
“Side 2” would be ( someday maybe I can do Vinyl, that would be lovely, as so much is of that era.
6. is “Worthy Of Your Love”, which was born out of a jam with Steve Marriott, another of the indisputedly finest singers in Rock. While rehearsing, in ’79 the band took a break, I started noodling on a Reggae B3 riff, he was playing the guitar riff to his Humble Pie hit “Halleluyah, I just Love Her So” by Ray Charles.
Then I put some Motown style changes to it. Steve passed away in the 90s and we never got to work on it, so for this CD, I contacted him in the ether, and my imagination, and wrote these words. The sax player on he track, Jim Hannibal, who does a blistering tenor solo on “Imaginary world”, who was in that band, said it’s just like something he would have done, so Im proud. It’s Reggae, Motown, Hard Rock, and has two drum parts, a shuffle, and half time. Last I saw him Humble Pie came to town and played the Catalyst, Steve called asked me to come Jam. We had an awesome jam on the classic blues “5 long Years”, we did a organ/ les paul duel, ala “Voodoo Child” that was sonic rapiers clashing, interpting each oter, mimic’ing, gloriousstuff! Ive got a dvd somewhere Ill get to youtube once I figure it out. Backstage, fans came back and said “Is Dale gonna be in Humble Pie, now?” he said “Dales a chief, not an indian! ” which smarted, at first, but later kicked my butt into more daring experimentation, not following “orders”, listening to “My Own Drummer”. Thank you, you bastard, I needed that.
7. “Imaginary World” was a tune that merged while thinking of the Beatles’ White Album, that we performed live, with strings and horns. as Trumpet and symphony were my first music groups, I loved that orchestral sound. My Co writer in the 70s of “Take Me To The Highway”, Tom Fedele co wrote these lyrics, and title. Hes another sci Fi fan, has “a way with words”!
8. “Shine” is another tune I had started lyrics to, but the words didnt feel right, I asked Bill Champlin about Pat Craig, who had written lyrics to many great Sons songs. I sent him the instrumental track, he emailed right back” I have the words. The song is called “Shine” ”. a love song from the heart.
9. “Broken Spell” was intended for 2012’s “What If…?” CD but didnt feel right, yet. I loved buddy William Russ, Jr., now tearing it up in Germany, his vocal was perfect. Started it with great Doobies Drummer Chet McCracken (R.I.P.), had a bit of the “Africa”- Jeff Porcaro beat, I added Jim Greiner’s Shekere for added vibe, then parts by Trey Sabatelli, David Tucker, a lot of my favorite traps guys, and congas from Gary Kehoe, a real “drum section”.
The song’s delay in completion only made the lyrics more potent, in light of the Jan 6th insurrection, Covid 19, the rise of conspiracy theories, and distrust in traditions and institutions… and, well, everything in this going- on- 9 billion people world. When “Bitter Wind” was written, there was maybe 2 billion.
I’d just got a George Benson archtop jazz guitar, and in homage to my mentor Jerry Miller, I cranked up the amp, and played bluesy, and argued with my Hammond self for a solo section dialogue. The high action and big strings damaged my hand for a couple of months, but now I warm up, and know when to quit.
10. Last, and most ambitious is “Never Had A Dream”, which began while teaching guitar at Musicscool, I got tired of “Smoke On The Water” and “Whole Lotta Love”, but he kids wanted it, so Id do my best. It left me jonesing for some unusual, “wrong” chord changes, and this popped out. The lyrics are a true story that is almost Carlos Castenada.
Connie, my mate, and I were walking on the beach in Aptos, passed all the houses, no one around. We sat on a driftwood log, and dug the crashing of waves, echoing off the cliffs. A shadow fell over us in the blue sky, we looked up, saw a huge kite. It stayed there for about 10 minutes, we looked around, no people, kite strings.
I look closer, saw feathers on the tips of the 6’ kite. Thought it was a “Hawk Kite”/. But then, it flapped its wings, once, it was a huge red tailed hawk, and one whoosh and he was at the cliff, he had been motionless, riding a thermal. Top of the cliff, he called for his mate, they went of calling and hunting something for dinner.
We felt that as Native American folklore mentions animal magic, and “Hawk” is a “Messenger”. The Message?
“Sometimes you hover, motionless, patient. Sometimes you work really hard and Flap with all youve got to get what you want, as the energy is stored up”.
I started out with drums from Pete Thompson, a wonderful drummer who had played with Robin Trower, and Robert Plant, sent gtr track to him in Texas.
I hadnt written the lyrics yet, but he wanted to see them, all i could do was tell the story above. He said “Oh, I got it, mate, waves crashing on the sand, echoing off the cliffs in the ocean breeze of California”, he recorded UK style with reverb, and EQ, and had a flair. Then I added more drums, as is my non minimalist fashion, with killer player from Metal gods “Y and T”, Mike Vanderhule, who Id recorded with before.
Adding 6 cello tracks from Barry Phillips, and 14 violin tracks from Stuart Wilson, my electric sitar, and gtr Ebows; longtime cohort Endre Tarczy conjured up a great bass part that reminded me of “Lawrence of Arabia”, all very satisfying and perfect. Cant believe it was all recorded on a laptop, and some emailed- in home studio drums!
It been a gas, and got me through the covidized no gigs or teaching, a cardiac event, and many other chaotic things that added to the gumbo! Musicscool became a recording studio, and I was given a Yamaha conservatory grand piano from an estate- the will specifying to agent “ sell the house, give the $ to kids, give the piano to a music school”. I was the first one in the book, haha!
What If…? The story behind the album from 2012:
The theme is a fantasy of what may have been, had a certain popular british band (who last performed in San Francisco in 1966) got together after the tour with some of their idols, soul artists and writers, psychedelic rock, Motown, Stax. the great late 60s musical explosion.
When it came time to make a new record my imagination cooked up what you could call a work of “audio historical fiction.” But really it’s just a continuation of all the music I loved as a teenager in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s.
“At the end of that decade, a summit meeting occurs, involving many great San Francisco and British rock acts, along with Motown, Stax, and New Orleans rhythm and blues and soul artists. After the ‘Summer Of Love’ in 1967 (if you’d actually been there you’d say the love really happened in1966) and Altamont 1969, music in this dimension got a little more separated between white and black, Eastern and Western. Locally, San Francisco, Marin, the South Bay, Oakland grew walls between them. Everything got polarized. The early 60’s promise of connectedness in fact got disconnected. So let’s re-connect: the British Invasion and Psychedelic rock and soul like Sly And The Family Stone make a lovely combination.
“What if…” there were no agents, no managers, no record company suits controlling (more like throttling) the musical alliances? I could imagine Hendrix, Beatles and The Memphis Horns cutting a track together with some Indian musicians. Smokey Robinson writing with John Lennon about the “we are more popular than Jesus” controversy? That would be interesting…”
There are precedents to the fantasy in (this) reality, too. The Beatles used Billy Preston ( who’d played with Ray Charles, Aretha Frankin), on the “Let It Be” album and later on “Abbey Road” (standout tracks She’s So Heavy, Get Back, Come Together). The Fabs also wisely tapped into playing with contemporaries like Eric Clapton and Nicky Hopkins doing great but un-credited solos on tracks like While My Guitar Gently Weeps, and Revolution (the single). Hendrix would often be on tour, get paid, book a studio and then invite whoever was in town—Steve Winwood, Buddy Miles, Jack Cassidy, Brian Jones—to just jam, have fun, and make records while they were at it. I loved the communal, light-on-the-ego approach to all of this as it serves the music rather than exploiting it.
Before Revolver few people know that The Beatles had actually had booked Stax Studios in Memphis ( Home Of Otis Redding, Booker T and the MGs and Motown (then, Hitsville USA) in Detroit to do such an album themselves, in 1966. They asking for Booker T And The MGs to be present for the Memphis sessions, and they even asked Holland Dozier Holland to write songs for them for the Detroit portion. The Beatles loved American soul music, from Ray Charles to Sam Cooke to Smokey Robinson to Wilson Pickett- and they wanted to drink from the same well.
The aforementioned John Lennon “more popular than Jesus” misunderstanding threw a cosmic wrench in all these US recording plans, prompting southern state Beatle LP burnings, death threats from the KKK, condemnation from churches and others. Not a good time to record in the nation’s hot spots. Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis in 1968. Detroit had riots. Booker T and the MG’s—the Stax house band who backed Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding—did their own version of “Abbey Road” themselves later, calling it ‘McElmore Avenue,’ the name of the street the Stax studio was on. A handful of Psychedelic groups like Traffic, Moby Grape, Vanilla Fudge, Sons Of Champlin, Procol Harum and The Rascals were very competent soul and rock players with deep blues roots, they were on the same path, never quite reached the level of pop success as others like Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, or the Motown label as a whole, but made some amazing records.
When the lyrics started coming to me for these songs that seemed to fit this “movie”, they took on a new form: beyond trippy 60s lyrics ( which I loved, one pill makes you smaller… ) which had already been done so well, what if these artists were concerned about the problems of the future, like global warming, racism, corporate corruption, big brother mindlessness? I remember things like Spirit’s Fresh Garbage , “It’s Natures Way”, or Jimi’s “1983, a merman I shall be”, “2525” by Zager and Evans, if that could be considered psychedelic- were examples of that line of thinking.
The 60s were generally sort of naive, innocent, but awkward about politics and the environment. The ‘freedom’ thing was there; the ‘get high’ was there, but not a lot of ‘save the planet’- yet. That came more from the soul acts—Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Me (The Ecology)/What’s Goin On, Sly’ Stone’s Everyday People and Stand really stood out. As well as Bob Dylan, of course, but that’s another movie. What’s in a name? Retro Psychedelic Rock Funk Gospel Soul Swampy American Roots music with Cosmic Consciousness Considered doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. Trip? Maybe. I saw an opportunity to continue exploring that cave.
I just let the ideas flow and let the songs write themselves and had a lot of fun. Most lyrics were written in the wee hours during bouts with insomnia when I was worried about our fates. It was both good therapy and I like nonsense/ common sense of stuff written when you aren’t quite all there. Once I turned on the tap it didn’t stop: 71 new tunes popped up, fully formed as if they were just waiting patiently to be realized. Not having the time or resources to make six albums like this I narrowed it down to twelve tunes plus a cover of the one Beatles song I sing with the White Album Ensemble, Harrison’s lament for Los Angeles, Blue Jay Way, for the CD’s final lucky 13.
I started the project by sending a few bare guitar tracks to my former bandmate in the Doobie Brothers: Chet McCracken for drum overdubs in LA back in 2009. When I heard what he sent back, I knew it was going to work. Chet’s grooves never failed to make me smile even though two of those songs never got completed and will grace the next CD. I called in as many favors as possible, asking for and getting extraordinary performances… on a laptop in a room somewhere. Then there were the lucky breaks, like doing a gig with Jerry Martini, Sly’s sax player for 40 years in the Family Stone. Next afternoon we had breakfast and played some tunes while he was still in town and he wanted to play on the stuff, along with Mic Gillette, the amazing trumpeter from the original Tower of Power and my old high school buddy. Heaven’s Horn Section for this LP. He met John Lennon in Italy, and said Sly loved listening to Sgt Pepper’s. It’s always a teen dream come true to play with Jerry Miller of Moby Grape.. When he came to Santa Cruz 2012 for a gig I got him in for a couple of guitar solos and backing vocals. Sweet!
I’m gifted with access through friends of a musical talent pool to tap into that includes people known for their work with Moby Grape, Sons Of Champlin, The Doobie Brothers, Ravi Shankar, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jefferson Starship, Maria Muldaur, Todd Rundgren, The Tubes, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and more. Kalen Ockerman (MEAR ONE) again contributes his art in “Surrender” his piece on the back cover. The front cover is a collage of a Mandala by Vicki Boyle, Kalen’s mother (RIP), with a picture of me playing at the Monterey Blues Festival by Marilyn Stringer. My partner, Connie Troupe, who is a talented artist and singer helped me with graphics, CD packaging design and harmonies. It’s all ‘interrelated’ on many levels. My cousin, Shannon said at Thanksgiving dinner once that “We are free (these days), free to fall in line.” I took that line and ran with it for a Moby Grape-flavored, rockin protest song Free To Fall in Line. Thanks, Shannon Ockerman! The drums are by Fuzzy John Oxindine, who’d played and recorded with Moby Grape, and the high vocal is by Omar Spence, son of Skip, who founded and wrote much of the Grape. Omar is now singing the “John ” parts in the WAE.
Going to the Fillmore, Avalon, Golden Gate Park, or The Polo Fields at Stanford often as I could turned me into a rabid and lifelong fan of most of the music coming out in late 1960s and early 1970s. Seeing Hendrix, Butterfield, Ravi Shankar and all the great acts of the day was a blessed musical training. This was a time when Santana, Sons of Champlin and Elvin Bishop would play regularly at my High School’s dances.For the past ten years I’ve been playing in the White Album Ensemble, who cover Beatles music that they never performed live between 1966 and 1970. I thought a version of Blue Jay Way (a number I sing with WAE when we perform Magical Mystery Tour) would be appropriate- but with the James Brown “Funky Drummer” beat (drummer David Tucker wisely advised me not to try the even funkier “Cold Sweat” beat- a bridge too far. )
Barry Phillips’ cello and dilrhuba complete the circle. Barry was featured playing on Concert for George on cello and works with the WAE often- but I first heard his name on a PBS radio interview, he was talking about playing with Ravi Shankar and of his love for Blue Jay Way. I called Barry- and we’ve worked together ever since; a prime example of some of the emerging coincidences surrounding this little fantasy project. His sound greatly enhances the integrity—sonically and geographically—along with the amazing Carnatic (southern Indian style) vocals of the lovely KResmi of India, now Maryland, on Standing in the Light. I emailed an MP3 to her, she liked it, she went into a studio, sang on the track and emailed it back, wow! Barry also added to the string section of Love, You Can Take It With You and on the more Motown-like track What If…. Not being able to afford a symphony, I’d have Barry lay down a few cello tracks, then I’d put down a bunch of Ebow guitars doing the same notes on various Gibsons and Fenders and amps. An Ebow was first used on 1969’s Ramble On, by Led Zeppelin, a magnetic force field that vibrates guitar stings making it sound violin- like, thus “electric bow”. Though it is an illusion, it is all real instruments, I avoided synthesizers on this record, sticking with Hammond Organ, Clavinet, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, acoustic piano, trumpet, mandolin, many acoustic and electric guitars. got and modified an electric sitar extensively. These things are fun but not so good as a musical instrument.
The song “Really Want To Thank You” describes ultimately what this is about: a teenage dream, revisited, with grown up 2012 problems to deal with. I honestly feel the same way now, it was real. I hope you enjoy it! This is organic homemade artisan farmers market music. It is ripe with influences, but made from scratch. I could not have made it without the help of my friends and family, on both sides of the curtain. Peace—Dale O 12/12/1