So thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I just got to sing and play with the freaking Byrds
The back story: As you may or may not know, I am in the process of putting together a final Floor Models
record -- specifically, either an album or an EP that will be a tribute to The Byrds (titled In-Flyte Entertainment
, courtesy of friend of PowerPop and moi Tommy Perkins
. Thanks. Tommy!). This is going to feature a lot of my musician friends -- some of whom you will be familiar with -- but the core group of players is going to be the surviving Flo Mos before we shuffle off this mortal coil, which could be any minute now. Heh.
In any case, I've been kicking this idea around since last year, and at the time I was conceptualizing it, I was hobnobbing with our late great drummer and dear friend (or, as I used to refer to him, my musical director for the last 50 years) Glen Robert Allen
. My idea was that we'd restrict the Byrds songs being covered to those they had done between their debut LP in 1965 and their final album involving David Crosby
in 1967, i.e. just their folk-rock and psychedelic stuff, before they went country-rock. The music that had principally influenced the Flo Mos.
Glen, however, being the brilliant guy he was, said to me "Uh, Steve -- that's great, but if you don't include "Tulsa County," the gorgeous country song from the Ballad of Easy Rider
LP, then you're a mongrel idiot." I was not immediately convinced, but I do in fact love that song and on reflection -- not even considering Glen's health issues at the time -- I ultimately agreed with him.
Bottom line: A few weeks ago -- the intertubes being the wondrous things they are -- I found an instrumental track of the Byrds recording of said song, sans lead vocal and with a barely audible bass. And then last Thursday I went into the studio and put a new vocal and bass part on it.
Which is to say I finally got to collaborate with my favorite band of all time.
The track isn't done -- ultimately we're gonna replace all the original instrumentation, including adding an electric 12-string to it, which should make it sound less country-rock and more 1966. But in any case, this rough version is now the favorite thing I've ever done artistically in my entire life. I think it really sounds like an authentic Byrds outtake I just happened to sneak onto when they weren't paying attention.
I should add that I barely recognize my voice, which is a good thing. I'm well aware that I've never been a particularly good singer; basically, I can negotiate a sort of snotty sounding nasal Jewish suburban punk Lou Reed
kind of thing at best. But here, I think, I've done better; to my ears, the vocalist on this genuinely sounds like his heart has been broken.
I'll keep you up to date on the progress of the track and the album itself as things develop. And god bless you, Glen.
[cross-posted at Floor Your Love]