This is an LP I produced myself back in 1964. All original songs. John Sebastian plays guitar and harmonica on it. It may have been his first paying music gig. I first met him when he was a young man apprenticed to a guitar maker. He talked me into letting him redo my guitar, free of charge, under the supervision of his employer. I went for it and never regretted it. When he delivered the rebuilt instrument to me and I was strumming it to see how it was, John took a harmonica out and played along with me. He was already a great harp player, as his father was before him, and I think I talked him into going professional with his harp. He did so, and I don’t think he ever regretted it either.

Side A of the LP has five cuts. Folksinger’s Heaven, Dog’s Life, Denver Colorado, Rose Anne, and The Unpleasantness at the Nook. I play banjo only on the third and fifth.

Side B. This is the political side of the album.

1. Together Free, about the loneliness of complete individual freedom.

2. Slow and Easy, an allegorical tale of a black man looking for freedom in Washington, D.C.

3. Cuba Song, a musical amusement sketching the history of the Cuban Revolution. Written during the missile crisis between Kennedy and Krushchev.

4. Leadbelly’s Children. As the years go by I get more and more comfortable with this song.

5. Live and Let Live. Says it all.

6. Song of the Cuckoo, or Coo Coo, as I spelled it then. The only song I ever made any real money off of.

For better or for worse, this Album is my contribution to the Civil Rights movement in the sixties.


1. Folksinger’s Heaven

I don't like metamusic;  songs about songs, singers, or musicians.  It is an irrational peeve of mine. But the only way to lick 'em is to join 'em.

 

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2. Dog’s Life This really happened.

 

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3. Denver, Colorado In l958 I was a nonessential frill in the Broadway production of THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN.  There was a very long scene change between the first and second scene of the first act which was filled in by a bit of nonsense in front of the curtain of Molly meeting a bear on the way to Denver. The bear costume was way too hot for the actor, the scene was pretty stupid, and no one was happy with it ever.  I figured it was much better for Molly to meet a banjo player who sang her this song--after all, it was a musical.  Merideth Wilson. who wrote the show, loved the idea but wouldn't go for it because it wasn't his song. I toyed with the idea of letting him have all the credit as long as I got the money, but decided not to.

 

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4. Rose Anne Rose Anne Pasini was the very shy fourteen year old sister of Marylu Paturel who, with Bernard, her husband. owned the Cafe Espresso in Woodstock, New York where Bob Dylan hung out his first summer in Woodstock. I had just gotten turned on by the Beatles and wrote a few songs I thought were Rock and Roll. I thought she would get a kick out of me writing a song about her.

 

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5. Unpleasantness at the Nook Before the Nook became the Cafe Espresso in Woodstock, New York, it was owned by Jim Hamilton and Franklin Drake.  The events and words in this song all happened as sung. The "people outside" who were "starting to stare." was Teddy Seacrest, Holly Cantines concubine.  (Holly and Teddy played in the WOODCHUCK HOLLOW BRASS AND WOODWIND CHOIR to be heard from below in the miscellaneous section.) I am happy to say that all the people in this song ended up loving the song, though it took a few years for that to happen.

 

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6. Together Free Another peeve of mine, just as irrational as the first, is about "open road" songs by people who hitchhiked home from camp once in their life.  Woody Guthrie did it very well and has not been matched yet. 

 

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7. Slow and Easy This is not the best song I ever wrote.  But it encompasses an idea that I have never heard put into song, or story for that matter. It is the idea that the races of mankind are slowly mixing together.  It is an inexorable combining of the human genome that will never unravel.  It is a one way street.  In time, if we last as a life form "we'll all be brown."

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8. Cuba Song A musical amusement I wrote during the Cuban Missile crisis.

 

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9. Leadbelly’s Children I had a very commercially minded manager once, Joe Csida, who suggested I write a song about folksingers being the children (Symbolically speaking) of Leadbelly, who, like their symbolic daddy, wanted to save the world.  If Joe had known better he would have suggested Seeger or Guthrie.  But it was an interesting challenge which I may or may not have met.  You be the judge.  

 

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10. Live and Let Live Being alive and aware in the sixties would be helpful to understand this song.

 

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11. Song of the Cuckoo Joe Csida, my aforementioned manager ran Davidson County Music, a publishing house owned by Eddy Arnold, that famous country and Western singer. So Joe got Eddy to record my SONG OF THE CUCKOO.   This was the big time for me.  I thought my career was made. It was issued on a 45rpm single on the other side of which was MOLLY, a song about a Viet Nam vet who arrives at his woman's door blind from the battle, a complete C&W tear-jerker. Molly was the big hit.  I made more money from sales of that record than I ever made from any single thing in my life. Maybe five thousand dollars all told.  But no air play to speak of.  I could have lived with this without complaint except for the following.  In the song, as you heard if you have already played it, is a direct reference to sexual intercourse.  Eddy Arnold, Joe Csida, or some other idiot changed that line to a direct reference to MARRIAGE. This without my knowledge or consent, which I never would have given.  It is my firm belief,  never to be proven, that SONG OF THE CUCKOO would have been ten times the hit of MOLLY had it contained the original line. It was the sixties, after all.  O, well!

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