EDITOR’S PICK
JULY 20, 2010 7:02AM

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Without resorting to research, I tried to remember ‘60s love songs I hadn’t heard in years due to their falling off the radar. Half of these I used to sing, the others remain stuck in my heart.

1. “A Woman is a Prism (And Not Made of Stone)” (Eric Andersen) This old folkie might be the first man on the planet with the courage to let a note of vulnerability into his voice. He was also a fine songwriter. He’s best known for the Blues Project cover of his “Violets of Dawn,” and “Thirsty Boots,” one of the enduring civil rights anthems. This love song can still slay any guy who’s had the fortune, then misfortune to fall for a certain kind of woman. “And speaking through her skin she does, the language of the leaves.” “She’s patient like a snowflake that’s falling to the sun”

2. “Young Girl Sunday Blues” (Jefferson Airplane) The last of the truly great Marty Balin songs, delivered as only he can, as though his life depends on it, with a tenor that drips desire and heartache on every note. Though it’s the only love song on “After Bathing at Baxter’s,” an otherwise overtly psychedelic album, the surprise modulation leading into Jorma’s fierce solo reminds us that these guys are desperately in search of more than true love. And so do these lines:

“The days are made of waterfall colors, couldn’t that make you stay.”

“Today is made up of yesterday, and tomorrow”

3. “How Can We Hang On to a Dream” (Tim Hardin) and 4. “It’ll Never Happen Again” (Tim Hardin)  Two? By who? If there’s anyone who can pack more pathos into a sung  note than Marty it’s this guy.  He’s best known for “Reason to Believe,” and if you only know Rod Stewart’s hit version, you owe yourself Tim’s. These two songs are completely lost. He was a tortured soul, in such emotional pain that after his first album his genius quickly dissipated in a haze of booze and heroin. Though he outlived Janis and Jimi by ten years, it’s a miracle he lived even as long as he did. For a moment on his first album he transformed his anguish into some of the sweetest, saddest songs ever written. And he sang them like he meant serious business. When his voice cracks it’s by no accident. It’s him tearing a hole in his heart and letting the sorrow pour out. If that’s the medicine you need, there’s no stronger stuff to be found, and unlike booze or heroin it won’t kill you. I hope.

5. Sunlight (The Youngbloods) Now for an up one. Jesse Colin Young’s tenor is as sunny as this song, with only a hint of the shadows he’s unafraid to explore in his lyrics - “When you wake up screamin’, scared about what you’re dreamin’.” This is just a setup to let him drive home the potency of his love in internal rhymes that echo in the repeating sequence of the melody, an incantation to ensure that this love’s forever:

“You know she is there, she can share
You're aware she cares about you”

And speaking of poetry, the last verse:

“In the mornin' wake up laughing with the day
She will smile and ask you with her eyes to stay
Like the sunshine warms the sand
She will touch you with her hands now
Touchin' makes you understand
That's the way she feels about you”

6. “Night in the City” (Joni Mitchell) It’s from her first album, sometimes overlooked because it’s so overtly folky. But this song’s got a little rhythm section and her overdubbing herself in a round on the chorus. I don’t know that any musician has ever captured youthful innocence like Joni did on this one. It sounds like a demo for the better known masterpiece “Chelsea Morning.” (which in a recent listen revealed evidence of the effects of certain innocence-eroding chemicals).

7. “Andmoreagain” (Love) This is from the great album “Love Forever Changes,” which time has in no way diminished.  In fact, the youtubes of Arthur Lee's concert re-creation of it in 2004 with a live orchestra make his recent death from leukemia all the more poignant.  Unlike anyone else who survived the 60’s music scene as long as he did, he still had it.  The lyrics are curious. The melody, the strings, his gentle, sweet singing of the word “Andmoreagain” make it sound like a girl’s name and the song sounds like a love song to her. But unwrap the lyrics from the music and you’ve got this:

And I'm wrapped in my armor
But my things are material
And I'm lost in confusion
'Cause my things are material
And if you'll see Andmoreagain
Then you might be Andmoreagain
For you just wish and you are here

Which suggests that the song shares the same pun as the group’s name: it’s about romantic Love, but on another level that mysterious, much broader entity that married Peace in that far away time.  Whatever it is, it works.

8. “Yes It Is” (The Beatles) A little tough considering any Beatles song “lost,” but if you could, this would be it. It was the b-side of “Ticket to Ride,” and didn’t show up on an album until Beatles 6.  Its memory haunted me for years until I found it on youtube. It’s a Lennon song, one he was deeply embarrassed by. Indeed, the lyrical concept is a little lame, and there are a few clunkers in the vocal harmonies, rare for the Beatles. But that’s because Lennon had twisted in about as much dissonance as you’ll find in a pop song, and with purpose: the song is a cry of unalloyed anguish. Even when his voice rises to its famous 5th gear on the chorus, “Yes it is, yes it is, yes it is!” in a crescendo of hope, he lands softly on a completely defeated, “Yeah.” (The song should be perhaps titled “No It Isn’t.”) This song is a fitting memorial to the talents of both John and George: George’s guitar part taught me to use the volume control to fade in notes.

9. 8:05 (Moby Grape) This ballad’s a gem by this underrated group. These lyrics, elegant in their simplicity, are just a teaser to get you to listen to their three part harmony, perfect in both tonal and emotional pitch.

Please change your mind, before my sunshine is gone
Do you think you could try?
Do you think you could try?
Do you think you could try?

See it through
Until I can prove it to you
Don't fill my world with rain
You know your tears
Would only bring pain in my heart

Eight-oh-five.
I guess you're leaving, goodbye...

10. Colors (Donovan)  OK, I’ll contradict myself on more, more, more. Sometimes simple is best, especially when it comes to love songs. In the last verse, this one gently pulls the same trick as Arthur Lee above, stepping not away from, but beyond erotic love, to something wider:

Freedom is a word I rarely use,
Without thinking, m-hmm,
Without thinking, oh yeah.
Of the time, of the time,
When I've been loved.

And while you’re at it, you might give a listen to the better known “Catch the Wind.” Very nice.

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Comments

Did you see this one? http://open.salon.com/blog/luminousmuse/2010/06/28/bach_and_the_bea...

I was curious about what stories you might have heard about Bach's last music.
Nice list of obscure tunes that have completely disappeared. I don't remember any of them.
Blast! Now I KNOW I'm going to have to spend time tracking these down and doing some downloading. Sigh. Oh well, it's a good job I've still got ITunes credit from that gift card I got for Christmas.

This is going to be fun...
all terrific numbers and yes people must catch Catch The Wind r.
love that moby grape tune. good call.
Great collection but geez, this time I have too say I'm a little young to know some of this. 

I'm a little more familiar with Ian Anderson than Eric Andersen. 

Of course I know Joni and Love and Donovan but I can explore some more of this more obscure stuff now. Thanks for the mentorship, Luminous
I was a big fan of Moby Grape and Love and Yes It Is--8th grade sweetheart song.

You may want to revise to indicate who you mean by "he" in the Love paragraph--I assume you mean Arthur Lee, but you didn't say so.

r
I think, for the most part, they deserve their fate.
Sigh. Jesse Colin Young. My art school buddy took a shower with him. Wonder what he's been up to? Eric Andersen and Tim Hardin also. Love all these guys.
I remember many but not all of these. I was a big Moby Grape fan in the 60's. Their first album was great but their second album was a bust! I have Young Girl Sunday Blues on my current iPod playlist.

Rated.
Thank you all, and I hope you enjoy these if you can find them! And thank you Con, it's now fixed. When will I learn to proofread? Apparently never. Maybe it's genetic.
Thanks for reminding us***
Hey Luminous, where ya been? I'm old enough to remember these songs but don't. Ah well. One of the joys of getting old is that you get to discover things - again.
One of my favorites from that era was I Go Crazy by Paul Davis. It had the somewhat dubious distinction of being the song longest on the Billboard charts without ever reaching number one.
What a great list, and I'll be heading over to iTunes soon!

I've posted about my "love" for Forever Changes, and I'm familiar with the Beatles and Donovan cuts, and I have a Tim Hardin collection I haven't played in ages. I'll be searching for the others.
This is going to make me search out some of my long lost music. Thanks. What a great compendium.
Ooooooh . . . "Yes It Is" . . . nearly perfect. I thought I was the only one who thought so.
I knew Tim Hardin.

Tim's most famous song was "If I Were a Carpenter."

There's a scene in Paul Simon's film "One-Trick Pony" in which he and the member o his band argue over whether Tim is alive or dead. They decide that he's dead -- but at the time Tim was still alive. He found the scene hilarious.

I saw Tim's last public perfomrance at the Whiskey. He was a special guest star for Nico. Being fellow junkies and musicians they were fast friends. Nico gave him an enthusiastic intro, but the kids assembled there had no idea who he was. Tim sang like an angel, as always, but his appearance wasdistressing. He was overweight with matted hair, making him look like a Teddy Bear with half the stuffing pulled out.

Not long afterwards he died of an overdose. It was listed as an accident but many of us who knew him strongly suspect it was a "hot shot" administered by a vengeful dealer.

The cops of course couldn't care less. Just one less junkie to them.
David, thank you for this story about Tim. According to Wikipedia, he got into heroin in Vietnam in 1959! Talk about some weird karma. And I think like Jerry Garcia, part of the dope was self-medicating for stage fright. A tragic loss in any case.
I still listen to "Yes It Is" a couple of times a year. Lennon may have just spun it off, but it's a near-perfect 2:30 pop song. I've found this song has many devoted fans, and glad to find another one.

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