Shortly after “Huge” passed on, a friend gave me a CD of the last songs we wrote and recorded together, one of which won a certificate of achievement in the Billboard Song Contest. The CD never left my car player, and, in fact, it’s still there, because my car burned up last April. I managed to save the CD player with discs intact, but I hadn’t gotten around to taking it apart yet to remove the discs, so, when another friend gave me a new copy, I was very happy to relive it again. As I drove around listening over and over, I realized that the anniversary of his death was upon us, and started thinking about the way we wrote and recorded those songs. Most of the songs we wrote together started with lyrics that I wrote, which Huge then wrote music for. For these last few, we changed the way we worked.
The initial spark came from my friend for these songs. He had the germ of the idea, and then we adopted the method Mick Jagger and Keith Richard used when they wrote together. Huge played the riff over and over, while grunting and making primordial noises in the back of his throat. I stood with pen and paper and translated these sounds into English, just like Mick used to do with Keith. For every record I ever made, my operating slogan was always, “If it’s good enough for The Stones, it’s good enough for us”, which is why every track we ever recorded was done live in the studio, with everyone playing in the same room at the same time.
The Stones’ method worked for us. We came up with the best material and recordings we had ever done! The new disc has now been in my new car player for a few weeks. I’ve listened to it about a hundred times or more, and certain realizations and memories have surfaced that have come to mean a lot to me.
The first thing I found interesting, is how the words, most of which I wrote, now seem to be Eugene’s words that are speaking to me from beyond this world. It’s amazing to me that lyrics I wrote fifteen years ago, are now what I believe Huge would be saying to me today, if he could speak, and maybe he is! They are just perfectly applicable to the changes that have occurred in my life in the past 7 years, as advice from The Huge! It’s funny how that stuff works. Things turn around and become something other than what they started out as.
The other thing that I began remembering, as I listened, was our method for recording drums and guitars, which was, I was in charge of his guitar sound, and he was in charge of my drum sound! We would never tell each other what to play, but more like suggest a tone, a style, or a feel, for the other to latch onto. I might tell him to make it sound like Keith, or he might tell me to play on my floor tom instead of the ride cymbal, and then we would both do it! And then in the mixdown, he would do my drums, and I would do his guitar, of course, with help from the other, but essentially, we were in charge of each other’s sound!
Remembering this was very touching to me, because it reminded me of how much we trusted each other musically, enough to control the other’s sound, and never have to worry about it. It’s just a cool way to work, that we didn’t plan. It just evolved and turned out that way naturally, and now the lyrics have done the same thing, in a sense.
I never get tired of listening to these songs, and hearing to them now is a great way to honor and remember my friend, which I will probably keep doing all month and beyond, as a way to commemorate his life!
I’d like to end my remembrance of Eugene with a little story. When The Stones, (both of our favorite band for many years), were on The Voodoo Lounge Tour, I had kind of gone off The Stones, who weren’t really making the most vital music of their careers at that point. I was going to skip the whole tour, but the day before the last show at Giants Stadium, somebody gave me two tenth row tickets, so, of course, I went.
It was threatening to rain that night, so, since it was an outdoor show, I brought a small umbrella with me, and it did rain, torrentially! However, I was able to keep dry with my bumbershoot. I didn’t know, at the time, whether the music was really hot that night, or it was just so much fun watching The Stones get totally drenched, while I stayed dry as a bone, but they sounded awesome!
Now Huge had already seen the show, and he told me it sucked, and we argued about this for months, until I read an interview with Keith Richards, where he talked about the tour, saying that the entire tour was horrible, except, for one night in New York, when it rained!!! Stop! You’re both right!
RIP Huge. I’ll see you on the other side.
Now for this week’s live music picks.
Wednesday, October 24 – BUDDY GUY, now an elder statesman of The Blues, and at the peak of his career, stops by BB King’s in Manhattan. This is gonna be great, and I wish I could be there, but I probably won’t be able to make it, and as I write this, I am remembering that it was Huge who turned me back onto Buddy Guy at the same time we recorded the previously mentioned songs, just as Buddy was coming out with some of the best material he had ever done!
Also tonight, Americana darlings, THE OLD 97’S are at The Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, with Old 97s’ front man, RHETT MILLER, as the opening act. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, open for myself!
Thursday, October 25 – The only games in town tonight are, if you’re in the city, new Hudson Valley resident, JESSY CAROLINA AND THE HOT MESS at The Radegast Hall and Biergarten in Brooklyn. And if you’re up around Woodstock, you gotta go see MOONALICE at The Bearsville Theater in Woodstock. As I mentioned last week, these guys stream every show live and create a poster in the San Francisco style for every show they do. They also tour with Big Steve Parish, who was Jerry Garcia’s main guy for 27 years, and should have some cool stories to tell. And the musicians, Pete Sears, Barry Sless, and John Molo, are the cream of the crop of San Francisco musicians, veterans of Jefferson Starship, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Grateful Dead, Bruce Hornsby and The Range, Hot Tuna, David Nelson Band, John Fogerty, and many others. I guess we’re going to have to make this the Pick of the Week! There may be others.
Friday, October 26 – Tonight we’ve got TREY ANASTASIO at The Beacon Theater, former Grateful Dead vocalist, DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX, at The Iridium, THE JACK GRACE BAND at The Rodeo Bar, and the former Jerry Garcia Band, now known as JGB, starting a two day run at The Brooklyn Bowl, but the main event tonight is SOCIAL DISTORTION, one of my top two bands working today, at Roseland Ballroom, which is my second Pick of the Week. All of tonight’s shows are in the city.
Saturday, October 27 – JGB finishes their turn at The Brooklyn Bowl, the inimitable and always creative GRACE JONES is at Roseland, THE GENIUS OF JOHN COLTRANE at Jazz at Lincoln Center, all in the city, and up in the Hudson Valley, former (and hopefully future) Phil and Friends guitarist, JACKIE GREENE is at Club Helsinki in Hudson, and THE WOODSTOCK INVITATIONAL LUTHIER’S SHOWCASE kicks off a two day weekend at The Bearsville Theater.
Sunday, October 28 – MOONALICE brings their show to The Brooklyn Bowl, BLUE OYSTER CULT to Best Buy Theater in Times Square, and SOCIAL DISTORTION venture upstate to The Chance, and we’ll make this one a Pick of the Week too.
Not much going on Monday and Tuesday. I guess everybody will be working on their costumes for Halloween.
And on Halloween, which falls on a Wednesday this year, your choices are JACKIE GREENE at Music Hall of Williamsburg, Alt-Country rockers, RECKLESS KELLY, at the Bowery Ballroom, and CONNOR KENNEDY BAND at The Bearsville Theater, performing the music of The Allman Brothers Band. Should be a good party!
Wrapping up the week are DOCTOR JOHN with THE BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA at The Palace Theater in Albany, and former Talking Heads’ members, Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth, with their band, TOM TOM CLUB, at The Brooklyn Bowl. These guys are good, so let’s end the week by making this the third Pick of the Week!
I hope you’re enjoying these lovely Autumn days we’ve been experiencing. Have a great week!