Monday, September 17, 2007

The Truth May Be Betrayal, Lies and Treason

You realize that we live in a completely Puritanical, sexually paranoid, post-AIDS-crisis world when you consider that sensitive songwriters once approached the idea of what was basically anonymous sex as a potentially sweet and romantic subject. Strangers in the night. Etc. Take "The French Girl," a song penned by Ian Tyson, of Ian and Sylvia, and issued as a previously unreleased bonus track on the Sundazed edition of Gene Clark’s 1967 solo debut, which he made just after he left the Byrds. Django West awakened me to the glories of Gene Clark in a post a while back about the excellent song "So You Say You Lost Your Baby". Not only is this anonymous sex, but the exchange seems possibly to have been accomplished without actual "verbal" communication. ("She laughed each time I asked her name/... Her friends down at the French cafĂ© has no English words for me.") Words fail you in the end. I learned, from Googling the lyrics to this song, that Dylan and the Dead evidently rehearsed this tune, but never actually performed it live. I wonder if it might have been the rehearsal that Dylan alludes to in Chronicles, that almost drove him to walk out on the whole thing. But just check the poetry or the lyrics and the way the melody unfurls in unusual ways, climbing, counter-intuitive.

Listen to the little bells, the insistent "la-la-la" backing vocals, the shakers, the declamatory bass line, tambourine at the chorus, the baroque piano, (is there harpsichord back there, too?). It’s like the folk wall of sound (arranged by Curt Boettcher, who went on to work with the Association and the Beach Boys, among others), which is fitting, since members of the wrecking crew were on these sessions.

I think this whole record is pretty amazing. But just to give you a sense, check out the completely Dylan-esque poetry to the lyrics on "Echoes" and "So You Lost Your Baby." There’s a lot of elaborate orchestration on "Echoes," which is like some sort of Jimmy Webb peyote mini blowout (arranged by Leon Russell). Django West already pointed out all the marvels on "So You Lost Your Baby" – moon trolls, and whatnot. But here’s the previously unreleased acoustic demo, as devastating as the full-on production, listen for those patented self-harmonizing vocals; he’s like the ghostly half of the brother duo with himself.

"The French Girl" – Gene Clark

"So You Say You Lost Your Baby" - Gene Clark

"Echoes" - Gene Clark

1 comment:

Django West said...

Love that demo version! Added bonus: I actually met a French girl last night (which is rare for me). Gene Clark = invisible glue of the universe?