"Goodbye And Hello" and "Happy Sad"
Last month I enjoyed a delightful telephone conversation with Jerry Yester.
As many of you know, Jerry produced both the ?Goodbye And Hello? and the
?Happy Sad? albums for Tim Buckley. Jerry is also an accomplished arranger,
guitarist and singer. He has either produced or arranged albums for The New
Christy Minstrels, The Association, Tim Buckley, The Turtles, Tom Waits, Judy
Henske (his first wife of twenty years and the mother of his first daughter), and
The Lovin? Spoonful, just to name a handful of many. He was also a member of
The Inn Group, The Christy Minstrels, The Easy Riders, The Modern Folk
Quartet, and of course he?s a member of, and still tours with, The Lovin?
Spoonful. He certainly knows what it?s like to be on both sides of the control
booth in the studio, and he?s performed on many a stage throughout his lengthy
career. What follows is the transcript from that conversation. It?s divided into
PART ONE?HOW IT ALL STARTED FOR JERRY YESTER
PART TWO?FRIENDS THAT HE?S MADE AND THE EVENTS THAT
LED TO "GOODBYE AND HELLO?
PART THREE?ANECDOTES ABOUT TIM AND LARRY DURING THE
?GOODBYE AND HELLO? DAYS
PART FOUR??HAPPY SAD??THE ARTIST/AUDIENCE
RELATIONSHIP?AND THE CONCLUSION
Each part follows the previous one as a separate message.
I know you?ll enjoy learning of Jerry?s roots and his many experiences, as well
as the production aspects that went into the making of Tim?s two most
Jack: Thank you Jerry for participating in our forum. Would you please tell us all
about yourself and the events that eventually led to your collaborating with Tim
Jerry: I was born in Birmingham Alabama, but the family left Birmingham when
I was 6 months old and moved to Burbank California. When I was 17 and just
out of high school, my parents moved up to Joshua Tree California and my
brother Jim and I stayed in Burbank living in a small house that our parents
rented for us before they left. Between then and the time that my brother went
into the army we started singing together. I actually started playing guitar when I
was 15, and I was playing music in a rock and roll band called Tom Driscoll and
the Tomcats, doing Junior High dances, and Women?s Clubs. In my senior year
at Notre Dame High School in 1960 , I sang a Kingston Trio song with a couple
of friends at the Spring Musical. The Kingston Trio was real popular at the time.
In 1961, a guy who was a year behind me at Notre Dame called and asked if I
could get back together with those guys to sing for a dance at Corvallis, a girls
high school in Van Nuys, that coming Saturday night. I said I hadn?t seen those
guys since graduation, but my brother and I could do it. Jim and I had been
singing Kingston Trio songs around the house for a while, and I was sure we
could pull it off. He said okay and when my brother got home that day I said:
"Guess what. We're playing at Corvallis high Saturday night" . My brother
couldn't believe what he was hearing because it was such short notice and he
became extremely nervous. I said don't worry, it'll be all right. So, between
Monday and Friday night he learned to play the guitar well enough to meet the
challenge. We come from a real musical family and Jim played Boogie Woogie
piano and he had heard me play guitar, so he only needed to learn 3 chords. It
wasn't tough. He had a natural ability for it. We did six songs that night and then
Jim kind of got bitten by the bug. The next thing I knew, Jim went to the Garret
Coffee House in West Hollywood and asked the owner Terea Lea, if we could
play there. She said okay but if you're not any good I'm gonna yank you off. She
liked us a lot and afterwards she told us to go down to the Unicorn and talk to
Mutt Cohen. She said that he could probably help us out. So, we went down
there and auditioned and he became our manager and we started working there
on a regular basis.
Jack: I didn't know that Mutt was a manager. I knew he was a lawyer, and I
thought of Herbie as the only manager in the family.
Jerry: I think this was before Mutt passed the Bar. He was managing the club
and he was managing acts. Herbie hadn't really started yet, because he was off as
a mercenary soldier at that time . He was fighting for Che Guevara or one of his
friends. Anyway, Herbie came back eventually, but not until Jim had left for the
army. My brother and I sang together for about a year before the army and when
he left, I started doing a solo and eventually ended up forming a trio with John
Forsha and Karol Dugan calling ourselves the Inn Group. We got a lot of work
and then we became part of the original New Christy Minstrels, which was
actually a collection of groups. Randy Sparks went around to these different little
duos, trios, and quartets and put them all together into this big group. We did an
audition for Columbia and got a contract to do the first album. It was recorded in
two three-hour sessions and it was a beautiful album. It was absolutely
wonderful. Since the Christy?s were not supposed to go out and perform, the Inn
Group went out on it?s first road trip. We were working in Oklahoma City,
Denver, and Salt Lake City when Randy called and said that the Christy?s were
doing the Andy Williams show and we had to get back there. We said: "wait a
minute, we've got contracts for these gigs, and you said the Christy Minstrels
weren?t going to perform live." Then Randy said: "Well we are now". So, we
said he?d have to replace us, and he did. Of course, the Inn Group broke up
about six months after that.
Next I did an album with a group called the Easy Riders. They had a hit with "All
Day, All Night, Marianne". I replaced Larry Ramos in that group and he left the
Easy Riders for a slot in the New Christy Minstrels. The Easy Riders made the
album, but never performed live.
From there I went on working as a solo when in June of ?62 I met Judy Henske.
I had already fallen in love with her from just looking at an album cover of Dave
Guard's Whiskey Hill Singers when the Inn Group was in Oklahoma. John
Forsha bought the album and he showed it to me and I said "?I'm gonna marry
that girl". And John said: ?yeah right?. It was a couple a years after, when I did
marry her. We went to Palm Springs that first night we met and stayed together
for the next nine years.
I then joined the Modern Folk Quartet who had come over from Hawaii.
Audiences were really starting to love their music, and everybody was sure that
they were going to take the country by storm, when one of the guys in the group
went nuts. He just flipped out and hacked his landlady's mantle piece in half with
a Samurai sword. So, Herbie kicked him out of the group. This guy was a
good-sized Hawaiian beach boy and he came back to the Unicorn one night by
himself to "take care of Herbie". When he was taking off his leather jacket,
Herbie grabbed the jacket around his shoulders, preceded to beat the shit out of
the guy and kicked him out into the street. He was committed and escaped from
Camarillo Mental Hospital about six times, and after the last time, he went back
to Hawaii to live on the beach. I took his place in the MFQ.
A very short time after that we made an appearance in the movie called "Palm
Springs Weekend". It plays all the time on AMC. We did an album for Warner
Brothers and then kind of started off on the road. We moved to NYC where we
played Greenwich Village clubs and college concerts, and also made another
album. We lived in the Village and we were in New York when the British
Invasion happened. When we were taking our second album cover picture, three
kids walked by and asked us if we were the Beatles. We said: ?who?? And then
Henry Diltz said: ?wait a minute, I read about those guys in Newsweek. They're
from England, They've got long hair and getting really popular?. We started
hearing more and more about them, and in February of ?64, we were doing
concerts with Judy on the East Coast, and driving in the snow when we stopped
and rented a motel room just to watch the Ed Sullivan show because the Beatles
were on. And they changed our lives. We stopped getting haircuts and the MFQ
slowly started playing rock and roll. It was like a tad pole losing its? legs and
losing its? tail. Over the course of the next year and a half we turned into a rock
band. During that time, I also met John Sebastian, Zal Yanovsky, and all these
other folkies who were getting into rock and roll. That was at the time that the
Spoonful started and I played piano on their first single, "Do You Believe In
Magic". Erik Jacobsen, their producer, also asked me to help them out with some
of the vocals because of my experience with MFQ.
The Association, the group that my brother Jim was a part of, was also
influenced by MFQ and they asked me to produce their second album called
"Renaissance". I told them that I really appreciated them hiring me even though I
thought they were crazy. They were coming off a number one record and I had
never produced anything. As their producer, I thought that they should do
everything themselves...play their own instruments and sing all their own parts.
Unlike the Monkees, who were very big at the time and kind of had the playing
done for them. The record company wanted the Associations? album to be like
that, and I kind of persuaded them to let the boys play. That album produced
two moderately successful singles entitled ?Pandora?s Golden Heebie-Jeebies,
and "No Fair At All".
Jack: Did you have any other friends living in and around Greenwich Village or
L.A. who were involved in the music scene back in the mid-sixties?
Jerry: Sure. There was Barry McGuire and Roger McGuinn in the Village and in
L.A. there was Erik Jacobsen, The Clancy Brothers whenever they were in
town, Stuart Scharf who was playing with Leon Bibb, Felix Pappalardi, Cass
Elliott, Denny Doherty? a lot of people . John Sebastian and I sang on a couple
of Eric Jacobsen's things when he was first trying to get a hit as a producer.
Sebastian and I did one with Felix Pappalardi and Henry Diltz called "Lady
Godiva" which was a surf record. Everybody in the Village at that time was kind
of into surf music because Felix discovered "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys.
We loved it because it was like rock and roll mixed with Bach. I don't think that
Brian was really that aware of Bach, but he had it in his musical genes. It became
a big thing to make a rock and roll record with a madrigal somewhere in the
song. Everyone loved that idea and "Lady Godiva" was written in that vein.
Then, Sebastian did a solo record, and Jesse Colin Young and I played on it.
There was a lot of stuff like that happening in the Village. Everybody was into
folk and then slowly into folk/rock.
The MFQ moved to California and we started working out there. The Byrds
were getting together and my brother Jim and I already knew David Crosby from
our folk days at the Unicorn. Everybody seemed to know everybody because
there was a great camaraderie back then. There was this incredible thing going on
with musicians on every coast. Everybody was in the same game, kind of like
being in the same family. The MFQ worked as a rock band in '65 and '66, and
then we broke up.
I wanted to be an arranger and I was also a big fan of Jack Nitsche's and when
we moved to California I became a real good friend of Jack's .The MFQ had a
little bit of a successful single called "Nighttime Girl" which Jack Nitsche
produced for us.
Jack: For what it's worth, my favorite songs that were arranged by Jack Nitsche
are: "Expecting To Fly" by the Buffalo Springfield; "A Man Needs A Maid" and
"There's A World" which appeared on Neil Young's Harvest album; and "String
Quartet From Whiskey Boot Hill", "The Old Laughing Lady" and "I've Loved
Her So Long" from Neil Young's first solo album. I've always loved his work. As
a matter of fact, "Elusive Butterfly" by Bob Lind was oft times used as a theme
song for the Scott Muni afternoon radio show here in New York when WNEW
FM ruled the airwaves. I always thought that the string arrangement on the Tim
Buckley ?Wings? composition was a little reminiscent of ?Elusive Butterfly?.
Jerry: Jack Nitsche was one of the most popular arrangers in the sixties and
seventies. Aside from "Elusive Butterfly", Jack worked alone (the "Lonely
Surfer"); with Phil Spector (all of the band and orchestral arrangements on the
Ronnettes' album; a lot of the Righteous Brothers; Bobby Soxx and the Blue
Jeans); Jackie DeShannon (with whom he co-wrote "Needles And Pins"); he also
produced a ton of other songs. Now he?s a prodigious Movie scorer. He did ?the
Exorcist?, ?Starman? and lots of others. In the mid-sixties, Judy and I hung out
with him a lot. We stayed at his house, and we often rented movies, I mean real
16-millimeter movies. We had some good times.
The MFQ actually signed with Phil Spector when we moved back to L.A. He
only produced one record for us and Brian Wilson was at the session. It was
called "This Could Be the Night". It's still played every week and it has for the
last twenty years as the theme to the Rodney Binganheimer Show in L.A. It was
an experience working with Phil. I was a big fan of his also. Brian Wilson is
quoted as saying that "This Could Be The Night" is his favorite record. He later
recorded it himself on his last solo album.
Henry and I ended up playing on a lot of other sessions for Phil, because he
loved Henry's electric banjo. He said it was a great sound. We played on
Ronnettes' recordings and we played on the Righteous Brothers' single "Ebb
Tide". You can't really hear us, we're just part of the background. He basically
wanted Henry, but I went along as Henry's interpreter, so I could tell Henry what
chords to play. I was able to describe them to him because I was a banjo player
too. I played electric 12 string and so we became a small unit in Phil Spector's
bands for a little while. And speaking of ?Elusive Butterfly?, we played on that
Jack: And then along came Buckley ?
Jerry: I met Tim in either late '65 or early '66 over at Herbie's house and he was
the shyest kid you ever want to meet. He was wearing like a white shirt and a
string tie and Jim Fielder was playing stand-up bass and wearing a blue suit, with
his hair combed with Brylcream in it like it was Prom Night. Judy and I were
over there for dinner and Fred Neil was there. It had to be the first time that Tim
met Fred Neil. Fred was like a huge influence on Tim. He was Tim's idol. Well
anyway, Tim sang three or four songs for us and Herbie wanted to know what
we thought. "Very good", we said. "Very good"!
Jack: How did you come to produce "Goodbye And Hello"?
Jerry: "Goodbye And Hello" is one of my favorite albums that I've ever done or
that I've ever owned. Six or eight months after first meeting Tim at Herbie's
house and after Tim's first album, I was back in New York finishing up the last
two things that I would produce for the Association when Herbie called. He said:
"Tim's in town, I want you to talk to him". I was staying at Eric Jacobsen's
house while he was out of town and Tim came over and we talked. Tim said:
"You know, I'm not really a big fan of the Association". And I said: "Well, you
don't have to be. It doesn't have anything to do with what you do." I told him
that when I got back to California we could talk again and when we did, we
decided to work together.
Jack: Had you ever heard his first album before that?
Jerry: I was given a copy of it and I listened to it and I thought it was okay. I
liked Tim. So Tim, Herbie, and Jac Holzman got together and decided that he
should do a rock and roll single. Larry Beckett and Buckley kind of said okay,
we're gonna sell-out and write us a hit. So, they wrote these two songs called
"Lady Give Me Your Key" and "Once Upon A Time". We recorded it with Jim
Fielder on bass and Eddie Hoh on drums. A real hot band but playing these
lighter-weight songs. John Forsha played an incredibly hot lead guitar on both
those tracks. When Jac Holzman heard them, he wanted to meet with us and so
we met at my house. It was Tim, Larry Beckett, Herbie, Jac and myself. So,
Holzman said: "These are good recordings Tim, but I don't really feel this is your
strong stuff. So, let's forget about these and let's start on the album".
We started recording basic tracks at Whitney Studios in Glendale because they
were cheap there (about 15 bucks an hour) for a good studio. We then went to
Western Studio 3, which is where Pet Sounds was done and most of the Mamas
& The Papas' stuff was done. It was like the most popular little studio in town.
We lucked into a nice big fat piece of time that was open. We did 95% of it
there. Western is now called Oceanway. There's a lot of good karma there. It has
every ancient state of the art piece of gear that you could ever want to use in that
place. I remember working down the hall with the Association when the Beach
Boys were recording Pet Sounds and Brian Wilson was standing by the doorway
listening to the playbacks and I was hearing "Wouldn't It Be Nice", wondering
what he was doing with the tympanis and all that other stuff. Those were neat
Well anyway, all but a couple of basic tracks were done with Tim singing.
Generally, Tim worked with the drummer right there and he would just sing.
Some of the stuff he did in just one or two takes, and some it took like 21 or 22
takes. Always going flat out, never compromising his performance on any of the
22 takes. That was on "I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain" and it was Tim
who wanted to do it. I'd say: "That's pretty good, Tim" and he'd say "No, not
there yet." Then he'd do another one. Balls out every time, you know. When he
was happy with it, we'd go with it.
Jack: On the album credits you are described as the Recording Director, but you
were actually the producer were you not?
Jerry: Jac Holzman wanted to change the term "Producer" to "Recording
Director". He thought it made more sense because the producer of an album is
like the director of a movie. It was the same kind of function. He wanted to
change the term for the whole industry starting with that album. It caught on like
a fart in a spacesuit. That was the only album on which that term was used.
Jack: You were responsible for the album in total, weren?t you? Jac Holzman
just oversaw the project?
Jerry: Actually, Jac tried to stop part of it. It's that famous story during the actual
recording of the song "Goodbye And Hello". I hired a fourteen piece orchestra
and it was my first three section orchestra so I was really excited about it. It was
Tim and Larry's idea. They wanted an orchestra on that song. Right before we
began to do the first take, someone came in and said: "You've got a call from
New York in the office". It was Jac and he says: "So, you've hired 14 musicians
and you didn't tell me". I said: "Jeez Jac, it's part of the album. I didn't think I
Jac says; "You've got to check everything with me. If I could, I'd cancel that
session." I said: "Well, it's a little late now Jac, They're all sitting in there now
just waiting for the downbeat". He just huffed and slammed the phone down. So,
I went back to the studio and we did "Goodbye And Hello" and the last part of
"Morning Glory" which has the orchestra on it.
Anyway, Holzman was there for the mix and he says: "This is the greatest thing
I've ever heard".
Jack: Was that all the apology you got?
Jerry: No mention at all that he almost canceled the thing. But, Jac and I had that
kind of a relationship.
Jack: Were there any new recording innovations or techniques born with that
Jerry: I'm sure there were, but I can't think of any off hand right now except
maybe that it was the first time that a kalimba was used. It was that strange
instrument that Dave guard played on "Hallucinations". It was the first recording
that I ever did with Dave Guard on it. He was my hero. Don Randi played that
Elizabethanly altered piano on "Knight Errant".
Jack: On the liner notes it says that you played the organ, piano, and harmonium
on the album. On which songs did you play?
Jerry: On "Pleasant Street" I played the pipe organ. We took the tape over to
Whitney and we over-dubbed it there. The harmonium was played on "Knight
Errant", and I played the piano on "Morning Glory".
Jack: I always thought that "Pleasant Street" was a song about heroin. A couple
of people in our forum thought it was about LSD. What do you think it was
Jerry: I know what it was about . It was about heroin. They told me it was. You
wouldn?t know what to call a song about LSD. "Pleasant Street" or "Horror
Street"?it was up for grabs
Jack: Was that you playing harmonica on "Once I Was"?
Jerry: No, that was Henry Diltz.
Jack: I don't think he got any credit for that on the liner notes.
Jerry: Well, he should have.
Jack: I apologize for not doing my homework, but I can't say that I'm familiar
with the work of the Modern Folk Quartet. I didn't even know that Henry was a
musician. I've always loved his album cover photography and I enjoy the photos
on his web site called "Henry's Gallery", but I wasn't aware that he was a
Jerry: Oh yeah. If you ever get a chance to see the movie "Palm Springs
Weekend" (which is one of those Connie Stevens/Troy Donohue/Robert Conrad
/Warner Brothers' movies in the early sixties), you can see the MFQ playing a
song in a night club in the desert in Palm Springs. We were all acting our way out
of wet paper bags, doing this real angry version of the "Ox Driver Song", with
Henry Diltz in the biggest paper bag doing the lead vocal. The movie plays quite
often on the AMC cable station.
We were all there when Henry bought his first camera. The whole group bought
cameras that day in a second-hand store in East Lansing Michigan. I've got this
great picture of Henry trying to figure out his first camera. It's a classic shot.
Jack: Any other contributions from you on ?Goodbye And Hello??
Jerry: Well yes. Not too many people know that the choir voices on "Morning
Glory" were done by Tim and me. It?s four part, with us singing each part
unison to make it sound more like a choir.
Jack: How personal was this whole experience for you. Did you take it home
with you every night ? Was it something that you were really into ?
Jerry: Absolutely. To this day anything that I do is part of my life at the time. I
don't know how to work any other way. A lot of times I wish I could do 6 or 8
hours a day or 10 or whatever and say "that's it", and not have it be a part of my
life. But, it is. Tim's album was definitely a part of my life, and I was into it like I
was a part of the group. Sometimes after a session we would drive down to the
Canyon Store after a session and just sit in the parking lot and drink a few beers
and talk about the sessions, and other music and stuff.
There was a lot of humor in everything we did. Beckett and Buckley themselves
were just so comical. They were such a rag tag pair . I always mention them
together because they really were a team. Even though Beckett didn't write all
the lyrics on "Goodbye And Hello", they talked about the direction of them as if
he did. All of the decisions on that album, as far as the sequencing of the songs
and everything, was done by the two of them. Beckett and Buckley decided who
would play on what song. Except where John Forsha was concerned. That was
usually my idea. I really like the way that John plays. Tim and Lar were a team.
Inseparable. They looked like a couple of the ?Eastside Kids?. They drove this
?37 Chevy that weighed 19 tons and they were just a riot. It was a delightful
humor. They weren't a joke by any means. It was just whimsical and coupled
with Tim's talent and his magnificent voice, it was a terrific experience. After the
sessions, we would sometimes go out to the Topanga Corral, or we'd hang out,
have dinner at our house and Judy would cook. She was real tight with them too.
She loved Tim and she loved Beckett, because she was a writer as well. She
loved Beckett's poetry. He's incredibly gifted. Beckett's stuff is gonna be around
in 200 years. I'm convinced of it. He's one of the great American poets. There's
no doubt about it in my mind.
So, when that album was done, it was like the end of an era. A very small one,
but a little piece of time that was absolutely wonderful. I expected it to continue.
But the next time I saw Tim, he was like another person.
Jack: In what respect was Tim like another person ?
Jerry: Well, on ?Goodbye And Hello?, Tim was partners with Beckett. On
?Happy Sad?, Tim was more like a member of the band and not the leader. He
was open to a lot of suggestions from the others. I don?t know, maybe because
they were older or something. I only know what I saw during the ?Happy Sad?
sessions. In my opinion, Tim for some reason needed their approval.
Jack: I read somewhere that one of you guys said that Tim?s band was putting
you & Zal down because you had worked with Pat Boone.
Jerry: We were right in the middle of working with Pat Boone when we did
Jack: A lot of people believe that Tim's band took him in a direction that was
great for the "Happy Sad" album and of course the songs on "Blue Afternoon"
were beautiful. But, taking him into that avant-garde jazz arena wasn't really in
Tim's best interest.
Jerry: Tim was like an American Irish tenor. He had this beautiful voice, and to
tell him that he can't sing the same thing twice is like telling Isaac Stern that he
can't play Prokofiev's first violin concerto again with the same notes. You
CAN?T play the same thing twice. YES! YOU CAN play the same thing twice,
if only to see if you can top the last time you did it. You know, you sing the
same notes again to see if you can do it better. Not everybody is Charlie Parker
for Christ sake, or needs to be, or wants to be.
Jack: Lee Underwood has said that Tim called ?Happy Sad?: "Lee's album".
Would you agree with that assessment?
Jerry: Sure, why not?
Jack: What other projects and career moves were going on in your life at the
same time that you were producing "Goodbye And Hello" and "Happy Sad"?
Jerry: I went right from producing "Renaissance" for the Association to working
for Tim Buckley. So, "Goodbye And Hello" was my second production. A week
after "Goodbye and Hello" was finished and I didn't even have a copy of it yet,
John Sebastian called me and asked me to join the Spoonful. I said: "I'm gonna
have to think about that John". I called him back 5 minutes later and said: "Sure
I'll do it". I replaced Zal Yanovsky who was leaving the group. Two days later,
on the night of Zally's last gig at Forest Hills, I drove John and his wife out to
Long Island and we started doing the Spoonful. That lasted for a year to the day,
really from like June 10th til June 10th the next year. During that year Zally and I
became producing partners by producing his album, a really wonderful piece
called "Alive And Well In Argentina". I hear it's being re-released. I'd like to see
that happen. It's a great album. I then co-produced, with the rest of the group,
the last Lovin' Spoonful album. It was being produced by Joe Wizzert, and I
wished that he would have finished it. Anyway, I got back to L.A. at the end of
the summer of '68 and started producing Judy?s and my album "Farewell
Aldebaran". Pat Boone owned the studio that we were working in and Pat's
manager and his studio manager heard what Zally and I were doing and really
liked it, and asked us to produce Pat. And, in the middle of that, Herbie called
and said that Tim's gotta do another album. I said: " well.., I'm right in the middle
of doing our album (which was on Herbie's label) and we're doing Boone's
album..." And Herbie says: "Buckley's got a band, they know all the tunes, and
all you have to do is record it." And I say: "Yeah, Okay, but Zally's gotta be
there because we're partners." And he said: "I've got no problem with that".
Jack; Did anything interesting happen during the ?Happy Sad? sessions?
Jerry: There was this one time during the sessions when Bruce Botnick fucked
up on the recording of "Love From Room 109". The take was almost 11 minutes
in length and it was superb. There was only one problem. Bruce forgot to switch
on the dolby during the recording, and there was a lot of hiss. Tim went ballistic,
and he was in a rage. He was angry with Bruce and angry with me because I let
it happen, I guess. And all I could say was: "Man, I?m afraid that's the way it is,
so you either do another take or use this as it is." I said there?s one other
possibility. We can mask the hiss with some kind of atmosphere. Something in
the same frequency range. The song is about Coast Highway, so maybe surf.
Tim was living at the beach, so we had Bear, his road manager go to Tim?s
house, and hang two mics on the bottom of the place as the surf washed under it.
It sounded great, and covered the hiss. It actually turned out real nice. I've
always been a fan of atmosphere in an album or in a song. It's really effective
sometimes. It worked perfectly for that one.
Jack: As far as performing during a concert, do you feel that the artist owes the
audience anything at all?
Jerry: I don't think that the artist owes the audience anything. If an artist wants
any kind of success then there's just a certain amount of respect that you have to
give an audience. If you don't give a shit about the audience and all you care
about is the inward meaning of your art then you can do it and go merrily on
your way. Chances are though, that no one will know the difference. If you want
to make a living as an artist then I don't think there's anything wrong with that. If
you want to be able to share something that you feel with somebody else, then
you need to be aware of how it's going to get through to them. Of course, an
audience must respect the artist for what he's doing as well. Audiences tend to
want people to stay exactly the same. In other words they want to go to a
performance and hear an album. Not ready for anything new. I can see it from
both the standpoint of an artist and as an audient. I'll give you an example of me
as an audient. We did a gig with Pat Benatar, and she sang my two favorite
songs of hers and they were nothing like the way she recorded them. She had
sung them so many times that she never wanted to sing them again. Well then I
say, don't sing them. If you're going to bastardize them that much then don't sing
them. Don't friggin' do it. It's like you're giving me a song that had a melody, so
why don't you sing the melody? As an audient, that's what I want to hear. I love
that melody, why aren't you singing it? Be like Isaac Stern then and perform it
better than you've ever done it before. But, sing the friggin' melody, or just don't
sing the song. So, that's me as an audient.
Now me as a performer with the Spoonful for the last nine years, some songs are
sung exactly the same while some have changes but performed as well as
possible. It's kind of a mixture. It's a deep question. It also depends on what the
artist is trying to get. If the artist is there to try to make a living, then it's not the
same as like just playing and people show up, and if you don't like it then you
can just leave the room. You're there because you've made a contract with the
people putting on the concert. If you don't want to do it, then don't sign the
Jack: What are you up to these days?
Jerry: I?m working with the Spoonful and producing albums for other artists in
my home recording studio. Right now, I'm working on an album by an Irishman
who lives in Chicago, named Gavin Coyle. I'm also finishing up an album by a
band from New York called the No Neck Blues Band. Larry Beckett and I have
written forty-five or forty-seven songs together over the years and I want to do
an album of some of those songs when I have some time.
The Spoonful does fifty to sixty gigs a year. The band includes Joe Butler, Steve
Boone and myself. We play mostly the old stuff and we've got a girl named Lena
Beckett and a guy named Mike Arturi playing with us. Lena is my daughter. My
wife Marlene and I gave her the middle name Beckett. She likes to use it as her
Jack: You guys have great admiration for Larry I see.
Jerry: We're great pals. He's been one of my closest friends for the last 30 years.
My wife loves Larry a lot and we're really good friends, and so we just chose
that for Lena's middle name. Lena's amazing. An incredible writer and artist.
Jack: Does she do any Spoonful lead vocals?
Jerry: She does from time to time but she also sings one of her own songs in the
show. Her time in the group started when she heard Steve and I talking on the
phone about our keyboard player and the fact that we had to replace him. Lena
said that she wanted to audition for the job. I said: "Yeah right, you're still in high
school and the last thing I want you to do is go on the road for God sakes." But
then I softened up and said: "Well listen, we'll give you the same shot we?d give
anybody else. I'll give you a tape and you put your parts on it and I'll submit it to
the band and we'll see what we think." And she just blew the other keyboard
player away. Plus, she plays guitar and sings, which he didn't. I'm very proud of
Jack: What it's like to hang out with a poet like Larry Beckett?
Jerry: Lar is one of the best people I know, and I enjoy his company immensely.
We laugh a lot together about the same things and "no", he doesn't talk in rhyme.
Jack: Any last thoughts about Tim and his legacy?
Jerry: I only wish that he were still with us. I would have loved to see him
broaden his legacy. Finish it, so to speak.
Jack: When was the last time you saw Tim?
Jerry: Actually, I never saw him again after the ?Happy Sad? sessions. I did talk
to him on the phone about two months before he died. He sounded like the same
ol? rattlesnake I use to drink beers with back at the Canyon Store parking lot in
1967. He wanted to work together again. I don't know what direction he wanted
to go in, but I thought that it would have been terrific and I told him so.
Obviously, we never got that opportunity.
Jack: Thank you Jerry on behalf of all our forum members. We?ll be looking
forward to hearing some of those songs you?ve been writing with Larry Beckett.
Good luck to you, your daughter Lena, and your current band. We certainly
appreciate your giving us your time and the wonderful insights you?ve shared