Sunday, October 14, 2018

Horse Head Dig and Flip: "Strip" by Thomas Perry (2010)

"Strip"...by Thomas Perry (2010)
344 pages


NO SPOILERS:
This Thomas Perry novel was just a late summer toss read.  Nothing deep.  A story to chew on while waiting for the leaves of autumn to begin changing their clothes.  Just a quick in-and-out.

The story revolves around an aging mob boss who learns his strip clubs are getting robbed and the new guy in town he mistakenly fingers for the job. A guy who just wants to eat his sandwich in peace. A guy you shouldn't poke with a stick.

There are a few other characters thrown into the mix, each of variable shades of badness and stupid, and to be honest, I found these misfits a lot more interesting.  However, Perry does write some pretty good parlay betwixt them all and throws in a good twist or two to twerk the story along.

But at the end of the day, it was really hard to find someone to toss my keys to and drive.  Plus, the story took a couple of louies where I would've preferred the writer feint in another direction. But that one, my friends, is on me.

So what does this all mean?  It means I wasn't too much concerned about who came out on top.  Still, the pages turn fast and though "Strip" didn't quite hit the proverbial sweet spot, it was entertaining enough that I didn't regret it.

"Rip Off" -  T. Rex / "Electric Warrior" (1971)


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Monday, October 1, 2018

Interview -- Michael Berryman (Horror Film and Television Actor)

"We did a kind of 
Simon & Garfunkel thing for a couple of years."
~ Michael Berryman ~


Names can be hard to remember, but a face one never forgets.  Michael Berryman gives good face.  And he knows it.

He has appeared in over 100 films and television ranging from cult horror frights and Oscar-winning dramas to even adding a touch of strange to Eminem videos.  Michael Berryman is one of a handful of actors that always give the audience a delight simply by letting the camera catch his beautifully different, wonderfully unique features.

For over 40 years, Michael Berryman has been thrilling audiences on the screen with his evil, insane ways. So synonymous has he become with the horror genre, that Berryman is often asked to cameo simply tongue-in-cheek!  It works either way.  Audiences love him.
As I said, Michael Berryman gives good face.  Go get you some.


Michael Berryman Interview -- October 2018
Michael Berryman

Casey Chambers:  Early in your career, you found yourself cast in the hugely successful film, "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest." (1975)  As a young actor just starting out in the business, what were some of the things you learned while making that film?

Michael Berryman:  When I went to work for George Pal, I did my first movie, "Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze." (1975)  George gave me a guarantee on my contract for two days.  That was important because that allowed me to join the Screen Actors Guild.  When you're working on a union project, day one you're allowed to work without being a member of the union.  But on day two, you have to join the union.

So, George was kind enough to understand that and that's how I got into the Screen Actors Guild.  I didn't really think there would be any more work for me after that, but George Pal had a casting director who was casting for "...Cuckoo's Nest."  I was planning to homestead in Alaska, so I did not have an agent yet.  But I went to Culver Studios and met the casting director and saw Michael Douglas and his brother Joel.  And I said, 'Yeah, I'm on board with this!'

I found an agent, a dear friend of mine who was a Disney contract player...Anthony Caruso.  He actually was on a "Star Trek" episode. ("A Piece Of The Action")  It was the one where they visit an earthlike planet that had been receiving old television programs and was living the gangster life.  He was the one who wanted the "fancy heaters." (laughs)

Anyway, I wound up flying to Salem, Oregon and we had two weeks of rehearsals at the Oregon State Hospital.  Six days a week.  It was the actual hospital.  We'd spend about an hour of each day with real patients to get the gist of what it was like to be in there.  And we went over the blocking with the cameras for all the major scenes and there was a lot of rehearsals.

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (neat deleted scenes - 1975)


It was absolutely monumental.  It had such a profound effect on me.  I had no speaking lines, but I got to learn a lot about making films.  I asked our director Milos (Forman), 'What do I need to know to be an asset to this production?'  He actually placed me in front of a Panavision camera and he said...while puffing on his pipe which he always had (laughs)...he said, 'I want you to look at the lens.'  So I'm standing in front of the lens and he says, 'I want you to have a love affair with the glass.'  And I never forgot that.

A couple of days later, the cinematographer handed me a book on cinematography.  And every chance I had, I'd ask questions.  I'd look through the cameras and learn what the dials do, and all various other things.  It helped me tremendously down the line.  Understanding how the camera works and how a film actor should understand what it is they're trying to capture.  Between close-ups, wide shots, panning, etc.  I was pretty young, and here I was with Jack Nicholson and Michael Douglas and all these other people who had been doing this for a long time.  I learned a lot.  I was there for 127 days.

Ellis (Michael Berryman)
Late night hospital party.

Casey Chambers:  Were you familiar with Ken Kesey's novel at the time?

Michael Berryman:  Oh yes, and I have read the book numerous times.  Actually, before I left for Oregon, I attended a theatrical performance at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California.  Chief Bromden was being portrayed by Woody Strode.  And William Devane was playing McMurphy.

Casey Chambers:  Oh, how cool.

Michael Berryman:  Yeah, and the stage production was very interesting, too, because they kept the story in Ken Kesey's vision.  The room would be very dark and they would project on the back screen behind the actors, the hallucinations that the Chief would have...with a voiceover commentary.  I heard from Michael that his father, Kirk Douglas, had been trying for years to get the film made, but nobody wanted to do a film that dealt with mental illness.

Another problem was Kesey's screenplay being like, 300 pages long.  It was not structured in a manner where you could shoot the script for a movie.  And he was also very upset that the movie was going to be shot through Jack Nicholson's character and not from the perspective of the big Chief.  So they eventually, I guess, bought him out and bought the rights to make the film.

Casey Chambers:  The casting was perfect. The movie went on to win five major Oscars.  And you got to share in a tasty slice of film history pie.  How cool is that!
And then right after that, you scored another coup by starring in the Wes Craven cult classic..."The Hills Have Eyes." (1977)  And even 40 years later, the movie still has bite.  When did you first hook up with Wes Craven?  That was the first movie you made with him, right?


Michael Berryman:  Yes, it was.  I received a phone call from my agent to meet with Peter Locke, Barry Caan, and Wes Craven.  And at that meeting, we talked about the story and got a good rundown on what the film would be about and where we would be filming.  I had spent a lot of time east of Los Angeles near a mountain called Big Bear in the San Bernadino Mountains.  I lived there for a long time and used to go down to the high desert and go four-wheeling and camping with my brothers and friends.  I did that for years.  So I was very familiar with the Vacaville area where we filmed "The Hills..."  I was looking for work.  Any kind of work. So I figured, 'okay, let's do this.' 

We didn't have a big budget.  I think we had a little mini Winnebago, and then we had a trailer and a station wagon.  And everybody drove their own cars out to the hotel.  Then we'd all just drive out to the middle of nowhere and start rolling film.  I think we were filming in Super 16.

Casey Chambers:  Completely different environment, no doubt.

Michael Berryman:  Oh yeah.  Well, it was funny. The 'Hill family'...which was me, Mars, Ruby, and Jimmy Whitworth...we were kind of enjoying the rough and tumble grittiness of it all.  But then the 'Whitebread family' as I called them (laughs)...which was Suze Lanier and Dee Wallace and Bobby and the rest...they were all L.A. people.  They did a lot of television.  They hadn't done a lot of features that I can recall and so there really did become two different camps so to speak.

And so when they would complain and moan about how they were getting all dirty and whatever, we would mess with them.  Somewhat in character. (laughs)  It was interesting to watch the transformation which was part of the theme of Wes' writing.  That in the right circumstances, the quote "civilized person" can become savage and revert to survival mode.  It was a pretty valid concept.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) - Trailer


I'm just about done with my autobiography.  I still have to find a publisher, but I was recalling some of the funny moments in "The Hills Have Eyes."  There's a scene when the dog bites my ankle and I'm hopping on one foot. (laughs)  If you look in the sand, you can actually see a line where someone took a stick to mark where I was supposed to fall.  And the camera was set to catch me at the end of my fall on that spot. You can actually see it. (laughs)  Another really funny part for me was when Mars gets hit in the head with that prop rock. (laughs)  It just makes me laugh.  It's such a good hit to the head. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  "Hey, that wasn't a prop rock!  Who switched the rocks?" (laughs)

Michael Berryman:  (laughs) There's just certain things like that that are just kind of fun.  Another one of my favorite scenes is when Grandpa Fred is talking to Big Bob and he goes, 'so I took a tire iron and split his face wide open.'  And Big Bob goes, 'Well, how bad was it?'  Well, that scene just makes me laugh and I told Wes...I said, 'You might want to change that.  It sets it up for a laugh instead of being terrifying.'  And Wes says, 'Well, wait a minute.  What happens next?'  And I go, 'Oh yeah!  Yeah, that kind of sets you up for the smash through the window.'  And it really is a great pullback when he gets attacked by Papa Jupiter.  And they overcrank the film so it plays very dreamy.  There's almost no blood and guts.  But it's a terrifying movie.  It really holds up.

Casey Chambers:  "The Hills Have Eyes" is a lot of fun.  Now you've also appeared in numerous TV shows.  So I'm gonna cherrypick one that I especially enjoyed while I was growing up.  You were surprisingly in a couple of my favorite episodes of "Highway To Heaven."

Michael Berryman:  Yes, I played the devil in two Halloween episodes of "Highway To Heaven."  Michael (Landon) had actually said to me, 'Hey Michael, you obviously had skull surgery.  You look a little different.'  I had met some other actors that had worked with Michael.  And he did hire people with disabilities.  He was one of the first that I'm aware of in the television industry to do that.  Which is high marks.  And he asked me to work on a "Highway To Heaven" episode. ("The Devil and Jonathan Smith" S2/E5 - 1985)

Scenes from "The Devil & Jonathan Smith" (Music courtesy of Breaking Benjamin)



So I had studied, studied, studied.  I knew everybody's lines.  And I'm doing this scene with Anthony Zerbe and Michael Landon and Victor French.  And in my head, I'm saying to myself, 'okay Michael's going to say this.  You say that.  And then Victor will say this.  Zerbe will say that.'  And I'm timing my delivery.  Waiting my turn.  And then my mind went blank. (laughs)  And Michael waited about five seconds, and he could tell that, y'know ...oops!  And he goes, 'Cut!'  And the second he said 'cut,' the script lady had this big script book in front of my face with a ruler underneath my first line.  And when she presented it to me, she said the prefatory line.  The line before my first speak.  And I go, 'Oh yeah, that's it.'  She looked at me and I go, 'I'm good.'  Michael looked at me and says, 'We good?'  I said, 'I'm good.'  Michael says, 'Okay.  Going again.  Action!'  And bingo!  I nailed it.  Michael says, 'Okay, moving on.'  And we all moved on to the next take.

But while I'm walking across the room to set up for the next shot, Michael came over and put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Don't worry about it.  We all forget our lines once in a while.  You're doing great work.  I only hire the best people.  And that's why I hired you.'  But what he really meant was...don't let it happen again.  Then he reflected about how most of the people in his crew were people who had worked with him on "Bonanza" and "Little House On The Prairie."  So he knew what he was doing and was everything you would expect him to be and more.  Later on, he came over and had lunch with me.  He said, 'Remember what I said earlier?'  I said, 'Sure, Michael.'  And he says, 'Well, by the way, you're really doing a great job.  I'm really glad you're on board.'  And then later, he asked me back to do another episode. ("I Was A Middle Aged Werewolf" S4/E5 - 1987)


Michael Berryman with 
Michael Landon and Anthony Zerbe

Now, I'll go back in time a little bit to when he actually made a movie of the week. ("The Loneliest Runner" - 1976)  It portrayed his childhood, which was pretty darn...some people would say embarrassing or very revealing.  He was a bedwetter.  And he was a long distance runner.  That was his way to cope with his embarrassment or whatever issues that he had in his head.  When you're a long distance runner...and I ran cross-country in high school and college...you get these endorphins.  And when you're running, your mind and your body eventually come together and you kind of find a tranquil space.  So that was pretty interesting to me.

But Michael became a long distance runner so he could run from school to his home before the school bus arrived and remove the sheets that his mother would hang out in front of the house to let the whole neighborhood know that she was upset.  Instead of just drying them in the dryer, she would do that to embarrass him.  That's actually a true story.  So we shared a lot.  And that's kind of my trip around the block in regards to Michael Landon.  Miss you brother.  God bless you.  What a wonderful, wonderful guy.

Casey Chambers:  I'm a Landon fan, too.  And that's a great story.  We talk a lot about music here at The College Crowd Digs Me.  What kind of music trips your flip?  Any favorite bands or songwriters?

Michael Berryman:  Oh absolutely.  See, I graduated from high school in 1966.  I was at The Troubador which is a very famous club in Los Angeles, and I had a friend that played really great guitar.  A Martin guitar.  Well I couldn't play instruments too well, my fingers are kind of messed up, but I could sing well and I write good lyrics.  We did a kind of Simon & Garfunkel thing for a couple of years.  Just local.  Never went anywhere.  But...we went to a lot of great concerts.

So one afternoon, I caught wind that Joni Mitchell was doing the soundcheck at The Troubador.  So we hopped on the blue bus...the Santa Monica bus...and went up Santa Monica Boulevard.

Casey Chambers:  Alright!  Blue bus. Yellow taxi, I'm there! (laughs)

Michael Berryman:  Yeah! (laughs)  And we caught her doing the soundcheck.  Of course, we knew every one of her songs.  We got to talk to her.  She was super nice.  I think she's one of the goddesses of the "Ladies of the Canyon," so to speak.

"Ladies of the Canyon" - Joni Mitchell / "Ladies of the Canyon" (1970)


Okay, I'll just go through the list.  Joni Mitchell.  Crosby Stills and Nash.  Graham Nash, who is still playing by the way and some of his new albums are just remarkable.  Buffy Saint-Marie.  The Byrds.  Eric Burdon and The Animals.  Stephen Stills is just tremendous.  I also like Judy Collins.  Oh gosh, there's just so many.  The Hollies.  So many artists from the '60s and '70s...they would join other bands, so there was such a mix and match of musicians. Buffalo Springfield.  All of the music was tremendous.  Wonderful, wonderful music.

And I like Sting, too.  Aaron Neville.  Queen Latifah.  Yeah, I'm pretty eclectic.  But the bottom line is...I really appreciate good music that takes me someplace.  Oh, I like The Moody Blues. (laughs)  There's so many.  John Mayall and The Blues Breakers are tremendous.  And I  have to mention one of the best guitarists ever...Stevie Ray Vaughn, of course.

Casey Chambers:   Good stuff.  Makes me want to pull a record from the crate right now.  Thanks for sharing a few of the artists that turn you on.  And thanks for sharing a little piece from your wonderfully eclectic career, as well.  You always make movies and television better, Mr. Berryman.  Thanks again for taking a timeout to speak with me today.  We'll be looking for your autobiography. Please let us know when it drops.

Michael Berryman:  My pleasure.  Thank you.  And I want to throw a nice shout out to all your readers.  And remember next time somebody cuts you off, instead of flipping them off, just realize that...'eh, maybe they're having a bad day.'  But, I'll leave you with something my grandmother taught me years ago.  "It's good to be lazy.   Because it takes 27 muscles to frown and it only takes three to smile."  So have a great day, and have a good life.

Good stuff.


Here's a nice one to add to your collection.
Wes Craven's..."The Hills Have Eyes" on Blu-ray in a textured sleeve w/ 40-page booklet, fold-out poster, 6 postcards, loaded w/ bonus features.  A really nice package from Arrow Video.

Casey Chambers
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Monday, September 17, 2018

Horse Head Dig and Flip: "The Martian" by Andy Weir (2014)

"The Martian"...by Andy Weir (2014)
369 pages

NO SPOILERS:
I knew I would get around to reading this book eventually,  so I've avoided the movie and trailers as best I could.  (I love movies, but hey, I'm a book man. 'Whadyagonnado?')

Anyway, about "The Martian."  Come to find out, maybe a Bunsen burner chemistry class or two...or three might pay off in spades.  Add a solid math background to help work the numbers out and a talent for “thinking outside the box" and you just might get back to Earth in time to watch the next season of "Game of Thrones." 

Now let's be honest.  With all of the above in your wheelhouse and an unlimited supply of Ramen Noodle Soup, you'd still find yourself doing a whole lot of finger-crossing.  And we're right there with him the whole time.  Astronaut Mark Watney.

When a mission goes unexpectedly bad for the Mars expedition team, Watney finds himself alone, mistakenly left behind for dead.  To survive, he must figure out a way to keep himself alive for as long as it might take for a rescue team to make a return trip to get him.  Here's the real drain-suck.  They don't know he's alive.

Andy Weir has chosen to let his protagonist narrate the story in a journal-like style allowing the reader to really get inside his head.  The way his mind works. The way his emotions roller-coaster.  His daily and weekly rehash of plans and complaints and snafus and sense of humor.  And we quickly learn that our boy..."is wicked smart."
But not in that pissy, obnoxious way.

Had the author gone that direction, I would've bailed 50 pages in.  No, our lone survivor is, more or less, just a regular guy who'd probably owe somebody $20 bucks on the Chiefs/Steelers game...but you know he's good for it.  That and he just happens to be a freakin' astronaut.

"The Martian" is a very enjoyable and unique read. Even the pieces of technical mumbo-jumbo begin to make sense. (And there is a little bit, but not in that shitty acronym-crazy Tom Clancy way.  So have no fear.)  This novel is doable.  By the way, you'll probably think about this book the next time you order a baked potato.

"Major Tom (Coming Home)" - Peter Schilling / "Error in the System" (1983)


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Friday, September 14, 2018

Horse Head Has An Idea...

HERE'S AN IDEA

"Evil Roy Slade" (1972)...is a made-for-television comedy Western filled with silly one-liners and sight gags that predates "Blazing Saddles" by two years. And though not nearly as good, "Evil Roy Slade" has still become somewhat of a campy cult classic.

John Astin plays the main character, Slade..."Sneaking, Lying, Arrogant, Dirty and Evil"...abandoned at birth and raised by vultures. And he valiantly tries to change his “evil” ways when he falls for a pretty customer while robbing a bank.

"Evil Roy Slade" (1972)


Evil Roy mugs the camera more than Gomez from "The Addams Family." But that's okay.  There are plenty of other comedy actors cracking-wise and mostly giving Astin a good run for his mugging money.  There is also a young Larry Hankin as one of Slade's henchmen who simply makes every scene better just being in it.  (See Larry Hankin interview)

For rock fans, the birth of what would later become the classic Loggins & Messina's, “Angry Eyes” can be heard around the 10-minute mark. Jim Messina was asked to contribute a short guitar lick in a scene that hinted at trouble ahead.  It's definitely brief, but I love learning RnR history minutiae like this.  Cool as fark!  (See Jim Messina interview)

"Angry Eyes" - Loggins and Messina / self-titled (1972)


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Horse Head Vinyl...Dig and Spin: "Taj Mahal" - Taj Mahal (1968)

Taj Mahal  -----  "Taj Mahal" (1968)
Electric blues, Chicago blues
Debut album. 
On Columbia (early 70s Rei)
8 tracks

Horse Head Vinyl..."Dig and Spin"

Let's face it.  Performing on the infamous "Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus" (1968) didn't hurt none.  And brought some fiery "oomph" to plenty of new ears once the show was finally released.  That's where I first got on the train.

So when I finally stumbled upon Taj Mahal's self-titled debut album earlier this spring, I was reminded of that show and threw down my money.

I'm well aware expectations can throw a listener a nasty curve sometimes, but that was not the case here. Taj Mahal hit that comfortable sweet spot and has become one of my go-to albums when I need a blues-rock fix.

"Taj Mahal" - Taj Mahal (back cover)

Taj sings with joy while working the harp and making his guitar slide on ice. And I'm becoming a bigger fan of Jessie Edwin Davis all the time. He provides lead guitar work. Ry Cooder is everywhere and that's always a good thing. This album feels like they took their shoes off.  Very, very comfortable. Glad I jumped.

Columbia label

FOR CHERRY PICKERS:
"Leaving Trunk"...tasty harmonica and guitar, sure...but man those vocals. Just killer!
"Diving Duck Blues"...Familiar poppin' blues.
"EZ Rider"..."You know, I ain't good-looking, but don't let that deceive you."  Great line and song.

TRACKLIST
A1. "Leaving Trunk" - 4:51
A2. "Statesboro Blues" - 2:59
A3. "Checkin' Up on My Baby" - 4:55
A4. "Everybody's Got to Change Sometime" - 2:57
A5. "EZ Rider" - 3:04
B1. "Dust My Broom" - 2:39
B2. "Diving Duck Blues" - 2:42
B3. "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues" - 8:52

"Leaving Trunk" - Taj Mahal / Self-titled (1968)


PERSONNEL:

  • Taj Mahal - vocals, guitar, harp, slide, arranger
  • Jessie Edwin Davis - lead guitar
  • Ryland P. Cooder - rhythm guitar, mandolin
  • Bill Boatman - rhythm guitar
  • James Thomas - bass
  • Gary Gilmore - bass
  • Sanford Konikoff - drums
  • Charles Blackwell - drums
(btw...my copy is the one that has colorful birds and butterflies scattered about.  I believe original copies have Taj in the front yard jammin' all by his lonesome.)

Rescued from garageman - $15.

Good stuff.


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Friday, August 31, 2018

Horse Head Dig and Flip: "I Robot" by Isaac Asimov (1950)

"I, Robot"... by Isaac Asimov (1950)
192 pages

NO SPOILERS:
"I, Robot" is a wickedly smart and entertaining collection of stories that revolve around Asimov's famously clever, "Three Laws of Robotics." (Google it.)
And though it is not a complete novel...(I always assumed it was)...the shorter stories are so tightly woven around that robot premise...it makes very little difference.

The scope of Asimov's robotic worlds are infinite and I found myself smiling and nodding my head with respect while turning pages.  For a story written nearly 70 years ago...the prophetic importance will still give you chills.

I may be late to the party, but I'll certainly help the host clean up.  This is a most enjoyable read.
Pick up Isaac Asimov's, "I Robot" and be surprised!

"The Voice" - Alan Parsons Project / "I Robot" (1977)


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Horse Head Has An Idea...

HERE'S AN IDEA

"Rituals" (1977) has often been compared to the classic film, “Deliverance”...and while there are a few similarities..."Deliverance," this one ain't.  Still, it's a fun watch.

A group of guys take a vacation together for a little male-bonding adventure.  This time...getting dropped off in the middle of the boonies for a 5-day camping trip.  As you would expect, there are arguments, injuries, treacherous rapids and, of course, someone in the woods trying to scare them...or worse.

"Rituals" (1977)


It's strange to see a young Hal Holbrook flexing his chops in this film, 'cause my eyes keep flashing...'Mark Twain in the membrane.'  But once I shook that image from my head, it was all good.  “Rituals” has almost become the red-headed stepchild in the ‘predator-in-the-woods’ cash cow genre.  But it's still a pretty good movie to take for a ride.

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Interview -- Jim Messina (Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Loggins & Messina)



"Well, I bet you wish you could cut me down
with those angry eyes."
~ Loggins and Messina ~




In 1967, at the young age of 19 kissing 20, Jim Messina found himself recording and touring with one of rock music's early supergroups...Buffalo Springfield.  After the band's third and final album, Messina joined up with one of the early pioneers of country-rock, the fantastic and sorely under-appreciated ...Poco.  And then finally, in 1971 as most fans are very familiar with, Jim Messina, along with good friend Kenny Loggins, formed one of the most successful rock duos of the 70's known simply as...Loggins and Messina.

Jim Messina's music has always been readily accepted by hippies and squares, geeks and freaks.  Jammers and poppers.  Rockers and yachters.  He's one of the Ferris Buellers of rock and roll.
Jim Messina is a righteous dude.  Go get you some.

Jim Messina Interview  --  August 2018
 Jim Messina

Casey Chambers:  I'd like to start off with your song..."Angry Eyes."  A brilliant gem.  A great jam.  My favorite.  How did that song come together for you guys?

Jim Messina:  Well that song interestingly enough began when I was working on a movie score with a friend of mine, Murray MacLeod...and Stuart Margolin.  It was for a movie called, "Evil Roy Slade." (1972)  It was a comedy western.  And it was before the Mel Brooks thing, but very similar.  And there was a scene in the movie where the bad guys were coming into town and we needed something that was just gonna feel ominous.  And angry.  So I had this guitar lick.  I said, 'Well, how about this one?'  And they went, 'Oh yeah, that's perfect!'  So we recorded a few pieces for the movie.

And then later, I was working on that lick and modifying it a bit for what I thought would be better for a song.  And I had the song almost finished.  I remember, in those days my attorney said, 'Ya know, you're always best to have your partners work with you on stuff.  That it keeps everybody working together and focused, and when you make money, we all make money.'  I said,  'Well, that sounds great.'  So, I brought Kenny (Loggins) in on the project and asked if he'd help me finish writing the song.  And he did.  And it did eventually end up becoming a Loggins and Messina song.  But that lick started out as a music cue for a movie. (laughs)

Rolling Stone Magazine (Feb. 1975)

Casey Chambers:  I'm gonna have to seek that movie out.  Sounds right up my creeque alley.  What kind of a guitar did you use for that song?

Jim Messina:  Well, the original guitar on that song was a Telecaster.  I still own it.  It was really a basket case.  Rick Kuna had bought these two guitars in pieces and he put one together that he liked and he had pieces left over and said he'd sell the rest to me for $150.  So I sort of had to Frankenstein mine from the bunch. (laughs)

And it ended up having what is called a microphonic pickup.  A microphonic pickup is when it starts to get on the verge of wanting to feedback.  And that in-between time that you're hearing is called microphonic.  In those days microphonics were created, at least in a guitar pickup, when you had copper wire and you coated it with something.

"Angry Eyes" (live)  -  Loggins and Messina / (2009)


In those days, they used lacquer to coat the wire.  What most people did is...they'd put their guitar in the trunk of their car, and the sun would bake it.  And as the temperature rises, the lacquer begins to melt.  And the layers between the actual copper and the lacquer begin to thin.  And as it thins, it allows the magnetism to creep out.  The ultimate aspect of that is...it becomes microphonic.  And the effect of it...is a very mid-rangey sound that almost becomes poppy.  And of course, the way I played it, it overemphasized what that microphonic did.  It gave it a sound.  And just about everybody who heard that song made comments about the great guitar sound.  Who knew, right? (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  You know there's gotta be some old-time roadie taking credit somewhere telling his great grandkids about the time he accidentally fell asleep in the car with the instruments baking in the hot sun, right? (laughs)  When you guys hit the studio to record "Angry Eyes", did you already know that you wanted to have an extended instrumental break in the middle of it?

Jim Messina:  Yes.  When I was working with (Buffalo) Springfield and Poco...and especially with Poco...I did an arrangement in Poco for a song called "El Tonto de Nadie Regresa" which was an instrumental tag onto "Nobody's Fool."  It was 27 minutes long when it first was done.  And I went into the studio with one of the engineers and we cut that down to 17 minutes.  So I cut 10 minutes out of it.

But doing instrumentals and jams was something that was always fun for me.  When I started out playing when I was 12 and 13 and thru high school, I was an instrumental player.  I did all The Ventures songs and, y'know, The Torpes.  So it was natural for me to want to do something like that.  And that was part of what I was able to bring to both Poco and Loggins and Messina. The instrumental aspect of arrangements.

"Nobody's Fool - El Tonto de Nadie, Regresa"  -  Poco / "Poco" (1970)


Casey Chambers:  "El Tonto..." is a Poco gem.  I remember being on the east side of Wichita town driving back to the west and that song came up and took me all the way home.  Just killer.  FM stations love playing Loggins and Messina jams, too, like the original unedited version of "Angry Eyes."  That's how I heard that song for the first time.

Jim Messina:  Absolutely.  Yeah, absolutely.

Casey Chambers:  How important was FM radio back in the early '70s for Loggins and Messina?

Jim Messina:  Well, I think it was the only way that we were able to become as successful as we did.  Because if you remember, if you go back to that same time and look at the charts and really look at it...what was considered a quote-unquote hit was really what the record companies were putting promotional dollars into getting played.  So those of us getting played on the FM, it was because most of the DJ people there were real music lovers.  They were the modern day musicologists of rock and roll.

I mean, they were playing all styles of music at the same time, on the same radio station, at any given hour.  You could hear Otis Redding.  You could hear Buffalo Springfield.  Hell, you could hear probably the "Okie From Muskogee" being played. (laughs)  It was beautiful because they were just playing whatever sounded really...nice and different.  But I think FM radio, it really helped artists, especially like myself or Crosby Stills and Nash to really become highlighted.  A lot of the ones who really made it on FM were mostly performing artists.  That was the big thing.  They weren't the typical go-and-cut-track acts.

"Your Mama Don't Dance" - Loggins and Messina / "Loggins and Messina" (1972)


Casey Chambers:   Your good time rocker, "Your Mama Don't Dance" was your highest charter and a song that still captures that line-in-the-sand between teenagers and parents to this day.  A metaphor for a lot of things, I suppose...and it's a smiler.  What do you remember about writing that song?

Jim Messina:  I know, that's weird, isn't it? (laughs)  Well, we were starting to get some attention, Kenny and I.  We had just finished, I think, a Troubadour engagement.  And it'd come off really well.  And, at that time, my focus was really on trying to get Kenny up and going as an artist and give him what he needed to launch his career.  And giving him my best experiences on being well received as a performing artist.  And one of the things I felt we needed was a closer for the evening that would get people up on their feet and get them moving.  Put some energy into them.

So, I had this idea for a song called, "Your Mama Don't Dance."  And again this was a song I had brought to Kenny to help me with.  It was kind of born out of my own experiences growing up in a very strict household.  My stepfather was from Arkansas and he was not much of a mover or a groover. (laughs)  And my mom...my mama...she loved music.  She loved Elvis Presley and Ricky Nelson.  She loved race music.  My stepfather was more of an Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Johnny Cash kind of guy.  There was not a whole lot of connection or understanding with me wanting to do music other than from my mom.

So just the line, "Your mama don't dance and your daddy don't rock and roll..." came from me thinking about how my mother wasn't really doing what she loves to do.  She couldn't do that.  My stepfather was not into rock and roll.  He thought The Beatles were just...weird. (laughs)  Screaming, long-haired idiots, right? (laughs)  So I grew up having to put up with that.  And it was a fun lyric to come up with.  I had no intention of it ever having any kind of social significance whatsoever other than my own experience of a kinda funky household.

"Your Mama Don't Dance" - Poison / "Open Up and Say... Ahh!" (1988)


But over time it's just...it's unbelievable how it's affected not only our generation but other generations.  When Poison recorded that song, they sold 4 million copies of that record.  So it's hard to know when something is going to have the effect that it does on a given audience.  It's just not predictable.  You just don't know if you squeeze that goose whether you're gonna get a golden egg or something else. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  You mentioned your mom being an Elvis fan, were you aware that Elvis sang a couple of lines from that song on one of his famous live albums?
("Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis" - 1974)

Jim Messina:  Oh yeah, I heard that!  I was so pleased.  That was such...'cause I was a big Elvis fan.  I loved Scotty Moore.  His guitar playing.  And of course James Burton.  I got to know James when I was working in a studio in like...1966, I guess.  I was at Universal Audio.  And I met Roger Miller.  And I met Dorsey Burnette.  The old rockabilly guys.  And of course, James Burton and Joe Osborn were all friends of theirs out of Shreveport, Louisiana.  So when James Burton started playing guitar for Elvis Presley, I was just so pleased.  Yeah, good moments.

Casey Chambers:  After that song climbed the charts, how much pressure was there to follow it up?

Jim Messina:  Well, there was some pressure.  But it also sparked some inspiration I think, at least on my part, to see if we could take it another step.  That was why I wrote, "My Music."  That was the followup.  Or what I would call...the record company wanting another, "Your Mama Don't Dance."  It was sort of in that same groove.  But "My Music" was more of an inspirational statement rather than a critical statement.

"My Music" - Loggins and Messina / "Full Sail" (1973)
(intro by Keith Moon on "In Concert")


Casey Chambers:  Not too shab-shab.  Good stuff!  I picked up the Jim Croce bio, "I Got A Name" last year and I was surprised to learn he toured with you guys.  And that the sold-out shows you guys did together at Carnegie Hall was one of the most exciting times of his life.

Jim Messina: Oh, absolutely!  Jim was great.

Casey Chambers:  Did you get to know him pretty well?

Jim Messina:  I got to know Jim at soundchecks and 'how ya doings?'  And from watching him play.  Kind of interacting with him.  I didn't get to know Jim well.  You know his passing occurred on our tour.   He was starting to become really, really successful and the agents and people were getting him work everywhere and he was taking whatever he could.  And regrettably, he needed to make an engagement and the only way to do it was to get out that night in bad weather.  That's usually what gets us, y'know?  Extending the bar too far and taking risks that really shouldn't be taken.  It was just really a sad thing.  I think he would have gone beyond the success that he had as a musician.

I think he would have also made a great...like a David Letterman y' know.  That kind of talent.  I think Jim had it.   And I believe almost every song he wrote became popular. (laughs)  To watch him sing some of those tunes that we later heard on the radio was just cool.  Jim's songs had so much character to them.  And I don't know if this is a good comparison, but Chuck Berry, to me, was one of the great rock and roll lyricists of all time.  His lyrics just create picture after picture after image after image.  As does Jim Croce's.

Casey Chambers:  I think that's very cool your paths crossed.  Switching gears, you were pretty young when you began working with Buffalo Springfield.  How did you get involved and what was it like during your time with them?

"Buffalo Springfield Again" (1967)

Jim Messina:  Well, I was first working at Sunset Sound Recorders as a recording engineer.  I was the second engineer that Tutti Camarata had hired.  Bruce Botnick was the first engineer that was working in Studio One.  They built a second studio and Tutti hired me to work that particular room.  And they (Buffalo Springfield) had come in to do some work.

Actually, there's a precursor.  David Crosby had booked time in the studio with our studio manager.  Her name was Gypsy.  She told me one day, 'Listen, I've got an act coming in here tomorrow.  David Crosby's coming in and wants to cut some demos with a new artist.  Would you be willing to do that?'  It was a morning gig.

And I said, 'Well, I guess so if I don't get out too late.'  Because sometimes I worked until two or three in the morning.  So I came in the next morning to set up and this guy by the name of David Crosby came in who, quite honestly, I thought was Bing Crosby's son. (laughs)  I didn't get the connection.  I was working as a studio engineer.  I'm not watching hit records, I'm watching hours fly by and microphones and tape machines.

So anyway, David comes in and brings this gal and I set up the mics and record the songs and I thought she was really, really, really good.  What was weird is she wanted to turn the lights down and put on this lava lamp.  But then I couldn't see anything.  But I'm listening to this music and I'm going, 'Oh wow!  This woman is really great.'  And she's pretty, too. (laughs)  So at the end of the session, I asked David who do you want me to write down here as producer and he goes, 'Well, you can put me down.'  And I asked, 'What's the name of the artist?'  And he says, 'Joni Mitchell.'  I said, 'How do you spell that?' (laughs)  And he wrote it down for me.

"Last Time Around" (1968)

And at that particular time, David, I think, might have been sitting in on bass or guitar or something because at times he would do that when Neil (Young) would quit...and said to the others in Buffalo Springfield'Hey, I just worked with this young engineer and I think you guys might really enjoy working with him.'  They had tried somebody else, but they didn't like him.  And so Gypsy asked me to work with the Springfield and that was really the beginning of my relationship with them.

I started out with them as an engineer...engineering them on their 2nd album, "Buffalo Springfield Again." (1967)  Putting pieces together from stuff that they had done at Columbia Records.

And while I was working on that, their bass player got busted and sent to Canada.  And there was an audition for a bass player and I raised my hand so I could come.  And so I sat in a theatre with 10 or 12 other people while they auditioned and I was the last one to audition for the position of bass player.  And I got that job.

"Carefree Country Day" - Buffalo Springfield / "Last Time Around" (1968)


Casey Chambers:  That's very cool.  Note to self: I need to work on my resume. (laughs)

Jim Messina:  Yeah. (laughs)  And then Ahmet Ertegun called me one night asking if I would be interested in producing the band.   And would I consider it?  And yeah, I would.  So I took that position on as their engineer/producer and then played bass with them on the road until the group broke up.  And I guess to answer your question...I liked it.

I thought it was a great band.  I thought that "we" as a band were really stepping up.  But I think Neil...and Neil had had those feelings even before, it's just...Neil always just wanted to do his own thing.  I think it was hard working with so much creativity.  I mean, Stephen (Stills) was, and still is a phenomenal guitar player and just a phenomenal songwriter and singer.  It's such a different style and vocal epiglottal from anybody at that time.  The only person who even came close was Dave Mason.  And Neil has never been a great singer.  Neither have I.  But he has a quality and he emotionally affects people in a very, very positive way which is one of the reasons why he's so dearly loved.  Willie Nelson doesn't have a great voice either but for the same reasons, he's a great songwriter and delivers his songs in a very unique way and I think this is part of what makes a person a great artist.  The consistency and tonality in their work.

Casey Chambers:  I would also add that longevity is part of greatness, as well.  And here you are still performing and making good music.

Jim Messina:  Thank you.

Casey Chambers:  Are there any upcoming shows or projects in the works that you can clue us in on?

Jim Messina:  Yeah, I'm doing a lot of dates all throughout the summer and into the next year.  And I'm going to be doing some shows with Poco as a double bill. I have the dates on my website and Facebook.

Casey Chambers:  I'll leave a link for everyone to check out.

"Watching The River Run" - Jim Messina (1997)

Jim Messina:  And another thing that has been really interesting and fun for me...I produced this product called the All Access Card.  It's a nice 8GB USB flash drive that looks a whole lot like an American Express card on a lanyard.  It holds several digital folders, one of which contains the complete..."Jim Messina in Concert" album...in nice 24-48 bit audio quality. It's very portable. It's over an hour and a half of music and it sounds fantastic.

This album is also really special because guest Rusty Young is sitting in on songs we did together with Buffalo Springfield and in Poco...as well as a couple of Loggins and Messina songs that I wrote and performed right after I left Poco.  It gives the audience a bit of an idea of what the songs might've sounded like had I stayed with Poco. So it's a really fun record.

Also on the All Access Card, I included the original encore performance from the live show that I was never able to release on the original vinyl.  It has the encore performance from that show in audio, but also includes a nice digital video of the same encore.  It's about a 17-minute performance of "You Need A Man" and "Your Mama Don't Dance" and it looks and sounds fantastic.
All of the song lyrics are included on it, too.  And there's plenty of photographs from the concert as well as the front, back, and inside cover of the vinyl album.

Casey Chambers:  Yeah, I love it when the lyrics are included and other goodies.  That's great!

Jim Messina:  Yeah, and for the hardcore gearsluts, (laughs) I added the original setlist with all the guitar tunings I used, so they can see how everything was edited down to the final record.  So there's a lot of fun stuff.
And on the back of the card, it has your name and a place for a signature.  And people who buy it, when they come to a show, can use that to get to the head of the line for a meet and greet.  So it's called the Jim Messina All Access Card and they're available on my website.

Casey Chambers:  I'm there!  Good stuff.  Again, I'll add a link.  Jim, I really appreciate you taking time out to hang with me this morning.  It's been a lot of fun.  Thank you very much.

Jim Messina:  You bet.  And my pleasure.  Thank you.

"Watching The River Run" - Jim Messina feat. Crystal Bernard / "Watching The River Run" (1997)


Jim Messina Official Website
Jim Messina Facebook

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Horse Head Dig and Flip: "Saga of the Swamp Thing - Vol. 1"

Graphic Novel Find
"Saga of the Swamp Thing - Vol. 1"

(Last fall, I stumbled upon a good-sized box filled with a variety of graphic novels at an estate sale. No official count yet, as I'm just pulling from the box when I find time to read one.  Afterward, I'll post the book and go from there.)

"Saga of the Swamp Thing - Vol. 1"
by Alan Moore  (Stephen R. Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch - Illustrator)
1982 on VERTIGO
173 pages
(includes issues #20-27 of the series)

No Spoilers:
When I first think of Swamp Thing...I think of Adrienne Barbeau's breasts.  And then the strange creature from the rather cartoonish 1982 movie of the same name.  But mostly breasts.

But now this...this story reads deep.

The title character suffers an accident from one of his experiments...and it changes him into human vegetation.  A broad-shaped "thinking man" plant that still keeps human boundaries of consciousness.  It's a bit of a rather moving, botanical mind-flip.

"Saga of the Swamp Thing" (inside)

The artwork is kind of old-school cool, but it does have a couple of forgivable outta place panels that just didn't work for me.  But hey, that's just me.

Swamp Thing is a wholly original character. A beautifully sad "hero" that's hard to wrap your mind around...but you want to try.  Look, the Swamp Thing will either hit your feels...or leave you yawning.  There's very little middle ground here.

For me, I found myself leaning toward the former.
Sure, I still like A.B.'s breasts better...but this hit me right, too.

"Swamp Music" - Lynyrd Skynyrd / "Second Helping" (1974)


Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Interview -- Freedy Johnston (Singer-Songwriter)


"Evie's tears,
are never gonna dry."
~ Freedy Johnston ~



I wouldn't necessarily call "This Perfect World" (1994) an underrated album.  After all, the critics loved it.  The fans loved it.  But if ever an album was under-appreciated and worth revisiting..."This Perfect World"...would fall under that heading.

Filled with catchy songs that are clever in the telling, Freedy never gives anything away too easily.  And though he sings of life-moments that shy away from sunlight, Freedy floats his words over ear-friendly melodies that leave the head spinning long after the songs are over.

"This Perfect World," after 25 years, has aged extremely well and is a wonderful lesson in song-crafting.  And finally, for the first time, is now available on vinyl.
Go get you some.

Freedy Johnston Interview -- May 2018
Freedy Johnston

Casey Chambers:  The 25th anniversary of your album..."This Perfect World" (1994) is approaching and exciting things are afoot, right?

Freedy Johnston:  Well, we are reissuing it on vinyl for the first time.  On my little label, Singing Magnet.  We started a Kickstarter Campaign for the 25th anniversary to try to make that happen and we're about 80% of the way to reaching our goal.  So it's looking like I'm finally gonna be able to put out "This Perfect World" on vinyl.  We recorded it on analog tape, but it was only released on CD and cassette.

Casey Chambers:  So where have the master tapes been all this time?

Freedy Johnston:  They've been at WEA...that's the Warner music warehouse in L.A.  I think that's where all the Elektra and Atlantic and Warner tapes are kept.  And here is the story of the tapes.

All the music exists in tape form there...but it also has been archived throughout the years into a high bit rate digital format.  A 96 case digital format. So, it is essentially usable to master onto vinyl.  But we wanted the tapes. And they told us, 'Hey, we can give you a very high-resolution digital copy to make your vinyl, but we don't release the tapes out to anyone.'

And our mastering guy, Scott Hull told them, 'No, that's not gonna work.'  And the only reason we were able to get those analog tapes is that Scott Hull has such pull.  He is such an esteemed masterer.  He told them, 'Send me the analog tapes and I will make the record from them.'  And they did.   Ordinarily, the magnetic format is just too fragile to ship basically to anybody other than the person who originally worked on the record.  But they delivered those tapes to Peekskill, New York where they now reside for the next couple of weeks.

And the packaging for the record is being put together by a really good graphic artist who works with Aimee Mann.  And that's what's happening.  I hope I made sense on this early Saturday morning telling that story. (laughs)

"This Perfect World" (1994)

Casey Chambers:  How strange is it to physically hold the tapes of those recordings you made 25 years ago?

Freedy Johnston:  It was strange.  Back in the day, I was there for the recording and the mixing, of course, so I'd seen the tapes.  I might have picked up the empty tape box and read the contents if that, but I would never have touched them.  John Siket was our engineer and, y'know, it was his stuff.  I'm not gonna touch his stuff. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  No handsies. (laughs)

Freedy Johnston:  If you saw the video I made, the process of cutting the acetate, or lacquer...I call it the lacquer...is fascinating.  I had never been to a vinyl mastering lab.  I was just stilled by the process.  Even though I had gone on that day trip, I hadn't really absorbed all the information...until after I watched the video with me in it.

The vinyl cutting is controlled by an analog computer.  This big refrigerator size thing right next to the lathe.  As the signal increases, it increases the distance between the grooves and decreases the depth. And it was just...I didn't know that.  That's why your grooves get lighter and darker as the signal gets louder.

"This Perfect World" - Freedy Johnston / "This Perfect World" (1994)


Casey Chambers:  That's interesting.  I spin records all the time and wondered about that.  Good stuff.

Freedy Johnston:  Yeah, it really was.

Casey Chambers:  I know you shy away from this a bit, but shortly after you released, "This Perfect World"... Rolling Stone awarded you the 1995 Songwriter Of The Year.  I realize these things are all subjective, but it's still a pretty awesome feather.  Your thoughts?

Freedy Johnston:  Oh, that was a long time ago.  It was really nice.  It's hard to remember what my reaction was.  I frankly don't think I understood.  I don't think it sank in at all.  I certainly know that I didn't understand the import of it.  I know that much.  I know this now...25 years later.

When I started my career, I lived in Wichita, Kansas where you live...for a while.  But I'm from Kinsley.  So I got the hell out of Kansas...like everyone does if your at that age.  Y'know, you don't have to, but...whatever. (laughs)  And I had never been in any bands at all.  I had a day job.  When I got my record deal, I had done maybe like...10 gigs.  And so, I didn't really know a lot, frankly.  I knew about songwriting.  But that's different from being on stage and being a professional in the public eye and around people.

I was meeting musicians who were already veterans when I put my record out at 30.  I met guys in Austin who, when I had put my record out and was barely able to tune my guitar, had already been in several bands and were thinking about retiring.  I was at a different place.  I was a different guy then.  I had different motivations.

So when I got this record deal, it was like, 'Oh my God.'  And I will say this now.  Not to cast aspersions on anyone.  But the most important thing I needed right then was a manager.  I mean, anybody knows that.  It was great to have the record deal, but...

And I was given the highest accolade in the freaking land, and I didn't even really know it.  It was like, 'Hey, you got Songwriter of the Year.'  "Oh cool."  'No, you got Songwriter...Of...The...Year!'  "Oh, really?"  It was almost like that.

If it had been my friend in Austin, it would've been more like...'Oh man, I freaking did it.  I did it!'  I mean, I'm not making judgment good or bad.  That's just the way it went.  I'm like everybody...I know all that stuff...now. (laughs)  I noticed, I never really answered your question...but it's by way of that.  I guess it's an answer.

"Bad Reputation" - Freedy Johnston / "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (1994)


Casey Chambers:  Hindsight doesn't wear glasses, does it?  So, when "This Perfect World" came out, you began making appearances on all the big talk shows.

Freedy Johnston:  Well there again, in retrospect, I guess it's better to be honest and admit I didn't really know what was going on.  I was on TV and I was just trying to take it all in stride.  I think maybe I was in shock. (laughs)  I was like...a stunned fish or something, y'know?  I didn't know what to do.  It's still out there.  I see it now as such an incredible honor.  A piece of recognition.

But look, I started making music and being a singer-songwriter here in New York.  And there were, of course, lots of people who had been doing what I was doing for awhile.  Or were doing it at the same time.  So I come along...this guy from Kansas.  Here I am...less than three years later on Conan and the Letterman show.  And these people I was playing with are like, 'What the hell happened?  Where did he...?'  Y'know what I mean?  That's kind of how it was.

It wasn't, 'Wow, that guy's been working in the trenches forever and look at him...he finally got on TV.'  That is the element that I think needs to be pointed out.  That maybe is not known.  Because I think if I was asking the question you're asking, I'm wanting to know what the real story was.  Well, that's the real story. 'Look how hilarious this kid is.  This kid doesn't even know how to act.'   I'll tell you about the weirdest thing.

Casey Chambers:  What's that?

"Two Lovers Stop" - Freedy Johnston / "This Perfect World" (1994)


Freedy Johnston:  I was on the road with Sheryl Crow.  She had just won all these Grammys, and it was the biggest opening gig in the nation.  I was told this.  I was given this cherry.  This golden ring.  Whatever you wanna call it.  Six weeks opening for Sheryl Crow.  And I realize that now.  It was fantastic.  She was beautiful.  And I was kind of a dick. (laughs)  It was like, 'Freedy, you gotta calm down.  You gotta be happy.'  And it took me awhile.  I had to be told, 'Be happy. 'Cause you're being given this great thing.'  I had to be told to be happy.  That's an example of how weird it was.

But during that tour, this famous journalist guy said, 'Hey, let's go up to the White House.  My friend Nicki, who runs the travel office is a fan of yours.  And we're going to have lunch at the White House.'  So after the gig the next morning, I say to the guys...'Uh yeah, I have to go over to The White House...for lunch...and then I'll meet you guys after that.' (laughs)  It was just too funny.  So we go over there.  I don't have a tie on, but I did have my Leatherman multi-tool with me. (laughs)  They kept the Leatherman, of course, at the little white kiosk there.

And Bill Clinton is President, by the way.  So, I go in.  I meet Nicki who ran the travel office and she's really sweet.  The West Wing.  And I'm like, 'What am I doing here?'  And she's kinda like...and you can tell they do this just to stun you...just walking around looking at this and this.  She did all of those things.

Then we go to lunch.  We go down to this little bitty submarine canteen...a little four or five table place where everybody eats.  Like a buffet.  Chelsea Clinton was sitting there and so forth.  Her assistant comes in and says, 'Hey Nicki, we're meeting in the Roosevelt room.  There's a party.'  It was her goddamn birthday.  They were giving her a surprise party.  And I had to go.

So we all got up from our lunch.  We left our 'soup of the day' there.  And I walked into the Roosevelt room and everybody in that room was there.  The whole government was there.  They were punking me.  They were both big fans and they brought me into their environment. (laughs)  And the look on their faces.  Everybody in there...every man had a tie and suit on.  Even security.  Even the waiters.  And I'm standing there in my regular clothes...like this rock shirt.   And they're taking me around to The President...and Janet Reno.  And the Vice-President.  And they were all having their cake and stuff.  That was my day at the White House.

"Dolores" - Freedy Johnston / "This Perfect World" (1994)


Casey Chambers:  I just finished watching "The West Wing" a few months ago and I'm imagining that whole scene going down. (laughs)

Freedy Johnston:  I remember giving Bill Clinton a signed copy of "This Perfect World" while I was there.

Casey Chambers:  No kidding!

Freedy Johnston:  I had some with me, yeah. (laughs)  Well, they told me to bring some along, so I was that smart.  One thing I'd heard about Bill Clinton...he had the ability to walk up to you, shake your hand, look you in the eye, and make you believe that he was so glad to see you.  That he totally understood you and only wanted to talk to you.  And that's really how it was.  He had that kind of mojo.  Anyway, that's my one story from like...one of the guys waiting their turn at Floyd's Barber Shop. (laughs)

Casey Chambers:  You don't ever want to lose that one.  Good stuff.  You're writing songs and banging strings in Wichita one minute.  Handing out CDs to the President the next.  That's a mind-blow.

Freedy Johnston:  I just want to say this...all of these things come out of Wichita for me.  Because I met my friend Jake Euker and my friend Bradley Jordan who are from Wichita and Goddard...while I was in Lawrence, KS.  They were kind of my introduction into music.  And Wichita's...The Embarrassment.  They were my first favorite band. And still where I mostly learned to play guitar...from Bill Goffrier.  I was the guy that went away.  But it all started with those guys.  Their influence.  And it amazes me honestly.  I know what it means.

"Evie's Tears" - Freedy Johnston / "This Perfect World" (1994)


Casey Chambers: To bring this full circle, "This Perfect World" is finally being made available on vinyl.  Much anticipated and long overdue.  Fans can jump on right now by visiting your Kickstarter Campaign.

Freedy Johnston:  Yeah.  It's a very simple campaign.  We're trying to raise, frankly, just enough to get it done.  As many copies as we sell on this campaign will be signed, numbered and delivered for $40.  I think we're going to sell, who knows, maybe 300 copies?  I would like to sell more.  And they can buy the LP with a T-shirt for $70.  Really, really simple.

Casey Chambers:  Oh yeah, Kickstarter is very easy to navigate.  Super easy.  This has been a real honor speaking with you this morning and I can't wait to finally get my hands on a copy.  Thanks so much, Freedy.

Freedy Johnston:  Thank you, Casey.  I appreciate it.

Freedy Johnston Official Website

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers
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