The Ongoing Saga
Born in the Bronx in July 6th 1944. Too early to be a baby boomer and too late for the 4th of July.
Dog Tag days in the post WWII 50s at P.S.94, with Nuclear Bomb Drills part of our daily lives. Perhaps that is why I have spent so much of my life ducking under desks...
The Friedman family loved all kinds of music. We always sang in the car, perhaps to avoid speaking.
I danced up and down Gun Hill Road. My fantasy...a Broadway producer would discover me and haul me away from the family secret:
we sang to avoid my fatherís anger
crossing the George Washington Bridge
up the New Jersey Turnpike
down El Camino Real,
always the same songs
only the scenery changed. . .
So, I suppose my musical bent started as an escape from reality (which became increasingly easy to accomplish in the culture of the decade to come)...
I thank my dear departed sister for introducing me to bohemia, music, literature and scepticism.
Jack Kerouac for showing me a way out, Alpert, Leary (and let's not forget Alan Watts), for showing me a way through.
Numerous Shamen and Chemical Masterminds for the tools of psychic exploration...
Meta Barthol for showing me how to finger pick while waiting to board a plane in the San Francisco Airport. Ginger Schuster for many enlightening trips and loosenings up while exploring the wilds from Panhandle Park to Palm Springs to Venice and on... Judy Wyluda for being a good friend when I most need one (and loving my lyrics) and Steve Mann for teaching me how to play from the heart and helping me to believe I can.
Most recently I must shower appreciation upon guitarist Kit Alderson who gave my songs back to me with patience and kindness. It would have taken me years to remember how to play them without his amazing ear.
Although I do not remember the sixties in any particular chronological order, I do recall my feet rarely touched the ground. I was in Hollywood and San Francisco and Big Sur and all points in between (I even spent some time in Denver).
I thank the fine friends visited along the way who sheltered me and enriched my life. You are always in my mind.
I started playing at Hoot nights at the Troubador when I was sixteen, hanging out with Steve Mann and Hoyt Axton and doing some serious underage drinking at Barney's Beanery and pot smoking at the Fifth Estate.
After Bob Dylan's first album was released and LSD was discovered by all, I headed down the road. My first paying gig was at the Green Spider Coffee House in Denver. It was the time of the great Hippy Migration and I sang for my supper up and down the coast of California. One summer I lived in North Beach sharing a room with good friend and brilliant guitarist Steve Mann, playing alternate weekends at the Coffee Gallery and The Coffee and Confusion. Tromping down Broadway in my short madras dress and high green boots...
Later that year I returned to San Francisco and lived with members of the Jefferson Airlplane in Haight Ashbury...sang with Country Joe and the Fish at the Avalon Ballroom and learned the pleasures of Southern Comfort from Janice Joplin while hunting for hot smokey links in the Fillmore District and purple acid from Owsley.
In Hollywood, about 1964, I became friends with Van Dyke Parks who, among other things, was the first one to say that if I wanted to be a professional all I had to do was make the commitment...always had a pot of soup on the stove...was the most fun to trip with...got me to Warner Brothers...was there helping me at every turn as I tried to make my way through the maze that is the record business.
One truly life changing effect Van Dyke had on me was to introduce me to the Association. Again they were kind enough to let me stay in the spare bedroom of their group house on Melrose Ave. The house was near Vermont Avenue within earshot of the Watts riots. In the midst of all that chaos we had great times together and there was always lots of music being played and strange potions, herbal and otherwise, being consumed.
The next years were spent in recording studios and bouncing from one relationship to another. I have miles of recording tape from that period...some good...and some that I hope to keep buried in the vault forever.
In 1967, thanks to his kindness, I was living in a spare room in David Crosby's home in Beverly Glenn Canyon. It was while living there that I wrote the song Windy. The Association recorded it and my life changed forever. The success of that simple tune gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted.
Windy the original sheet music:
Before Windy, I recorded a song of Tandyn Almer's, a friend who had written the Association's hit "Along Comes Mary". It was an extravaganza entitled "Little Girl Lost and Found." Anyone familiar with this recording will remember it as sung by "The Garden Club"...listen closely...I am all but one of the voices of the..."Garden Club". LGL&F was a local hit in Los Angeles so for a brief time I had the pleasure of hearing both a song that I had written and one I was singing, coming out of the radio.
The rock band Petrus was formed, with Peter Kaukonen, to cover Tandyn's Song and I headed North to Half Moon Bay to spend a year in the hills overlooking the sea and practicing to be a rock and roll singer in the basement.
Down to Mexico and up to fantastic house over looking the city on Wonderland Ave in Laurel Canyon, where I spent many a lost weekend getting high on Nitrous Oxide purchased in large tanks from a downtown supplier. There was the night when Ken Keasy accidentally dropped the tank on Ginger's head...not to worry a couple of stitches later and we were back up the canyon eating Greenblatt's delivered deli and going right back at it.
Then I moved East to an old house surrounded by nothing but desert in Palms Springs, where I spent a year living with an extraordinary young man and artist, Alan Wayne, then back West to Venice where we set up housekeeping for several years. During that time I recorded with Steven Schuster, a fine sax and flute player as well as arranger, who honed his arranging skills on some of my songs in Hollywood, up at Mickey Hart's Ranch and various studios in the San Fernando Valley.
On the way I had recorded for A&M Records, solo and with Petrus and then my album "Constant Companion" produced by Joe Wissert and a single, "Glittering Dancer" produced by Van Dyke Parks for Warner Brothers Reprise. I also wrote and sang the songs in the C movie classic Peace Killers and sang at the Big Sur Folk Festival...brought on stage by Joni Mitchell to whom I will always be grateful for that one validating performance. (They really liked me...)
The Stationary Side Trip
In about 1972 I started a company with my friend Alana Coghlan. We named it "The Writing High Stationary Moving Company" and our one product was a portable stationary kit that was a 5x7 cigarette rolling paper box that held laid bond stationary (laid bond looks like cigarette paper) and had a compartment in the back for envelopes. We copied the graphics from the Easy Wider Rolling Paper folks and called the product "The Easy Writer Portable Stationary Kit"...It came in both white and wheat...no kidding. Our slogan..."whether you are rolling up the highway or rolling up your next high Easy Writer rolls right along with you"...
I am the traveler in the ad.
We did very well with the product all over the country especially college campus shops and head shops...advertised in High Times...had handicapped people assembling the kits (those that we didn't assemble ourselves) and even got a terrific salesman, Craig Mandel (where are you today?)... to travel around the country pushing it at trade shows.
It might have gone on forever but the Easy Writer Rolling Paper people in New York threw an injunction at us and we had to close down....oh well...on to the next I say...
There are countless reels of tape from the old Sony reel to reel, demos from days when I worked for Since Music in the early sixties and more from sessions here and there along the way. The best of these have now been released by my friends at Water Music.
I am married to my fine man, Jeffrey Carlisle, for 28 years now. We have two amazing, beautiful, brilliant, talented and compassionate daughters, Sandy and Lisabeth.
As for my education... I was side tracked for a few years. It took over forty to get my bachelors degree... UCLA class of 2003. Magna Cum Laude with Honors both departmental and collegiate. (The sin of pride runs rampant). At UCLA I met an unusually fine group of young writers. Among them, Amaranth Borsuk an amazing poet, who allowed me to officiate at her wedding and pushed me to take up music again, and Brandon Wyant who also writes fabulous poetry and makes me laugh and laugh while cooking and sipping a fine Cabernet.
I cannot thank my husband Jeffrey Carlisle enough for always encouraging anything I want to do and always listening to poems and songs in the works over and over again with patience and a smile. And my amazing daughters...who do the same with a little less enthusiasm.
I must also give my heart felt gratitude to Brad Bouse, husband of Amaranth, who founded this site and has enabled me to putter around with it...lots of fun.
Now last but definately not least the folks at Water Music. Much gratitude to Pat Thomas who has to put up with my occasional obsessions and Nat Russell who put together the booklets for both my CDs and wrote nice things about me while organizing and helping select the tracks fort CD II. It was Nat who found my old album at a second hand store and coincidentally liked my music enough to be instrumental in rereleasing it on the Water Label. Since that time he has consitently kept my spirits up when they are flagging...created amazing posters and generally been a very good friend. Also Filippo Salvadori the head honcho at Runt Ditribution who has assured me that he has my bakc!!! (and I am truly grateful for that)...
Again big thanks and hugs to you all and a special one to Devendra Banhart who has "brought me out of obscurity" (quoted from the LA Times Calendar Section July 22nd 2006) and into his shining light.
My songs have been discovered by a new generation which gives me no end of pleasure. I have refound my joy in music and it is my hope that you will enjoy my efforts.
I AM LOOKING FOR:
Arlene Venditto (Sims) ?
Rexford Andrew Ramsey III
Allen Finney (Hurrah...he has been found in Sweden!!!)
If you know them or their whereabouts tell them an old old friend would love to see them...thanks.