The Beatles had many peaks in their career, but their August 15, 1965 concert at Shea Stadium may be the high point. It was certainly their ultimate live performance and the pinnacle of Beatlemania. On this episode, I’m joined by author Laurie Jacobson; her new book, “Top Of The Mountain“, tells the story of that record-breaking concert. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the events leading up to the performance, including the tale of the man who made it all happen, Sid Bernstein.

More on Laurie’s book here:

And check out our other Beatles episodes:
The Beatles – “Rain”
Special Edition: The Beatles “Get Back” Documentary
The Beatles – “Hey Jude” (with special guest James Campion)

Welcome, welcome. Glad to have you here. This is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast network, and I’m your host, Brad Page.

Back in February 1964– 59 years ago– the Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and literally changed everything about rock music overnight. That’s when the Beatles conquered America, where it all started here. But if you want to look at where Beatlemania peaked, at least in terms of their first phase, it would have to be 18 months later, on August 15, 1965, when the Beatles played before a sellout crowd at Shea Stadium in New York at the time. The largest concert in history, and still one of the most important chapters in the story of rock.

Laurie Jacobson is an author, and her new book tells the behind-the-scenes story of The Beatles at Shea Stadium. The book is called “Top of the Mountain”. And it’s not only a detailed look at the concert itself, it’s the incredible story of how the concert came to be in the first place, as well as the story of the people who put the show together and the fans who were there. And it’s also full of some terrific photographs taken at the show; many of them have never been seen before.

You guys know that I’m a big Beatles fan, so I asked Laurie to come on the podcast and talk about the night the Beatles took over Shea Stadium and her new book, “Top of the Mountain”.

BRAD: Laurie Jacobson, welcome to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. Usually on this show, we focus on one song, but today we’re going to do something a little different. Because I read your book, and it is such a great story, I really wanted to talk to you about it.0

So your book is called “Top of the Mountain”, and it tells the story of the Beatles legendary concert at Shea Stadium in August 1965. So, first, let’s get some facts and figures out of the way. This was the Beatles second US tour. It was actually the opening night of the show, the first show of that tour on August 15 at Shea Stadium in New York. And they played in front of 55,000 people. Is that right?

LAURIE: 56,000

BRAD: 56,000 — which was not only the Beatles biggest concert, but it was the biggest concert audience ever at that time. It was a record they held until 1973, when Led Zeppelin broke the record with a 56 plus thousand attendance at a show in Tampa, FL. But this is a really significant event. I believe no band had ever played at a stadium before this show, is that true?

LAURIE: Not a stadium of this size. And even The Beatles had played couple of smaller stadiums, but not a huge baseball stadium like this.

BRAD: Right. Nothing approaching 56,000 seats. No one had ever done that before.

LAURIE: No one. Not Elvis. Not Sinatra. Nobody had ever played in front of this many people. Nobody had ever received the paycheck The Beatles received for that night. And 56,000 rock and roll fans had never laid eyes on one another before in such large numbers.

BRAD: Yeah. So let’s introduce the cast of characters. Of course, we all know who the four Beatles are, but there was also Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager, right? Talk about Brian Epstein.

LAURIE: Brian Epstein was, you know, a very cultured, refined young man. His parents were in the furniture business in… my dad was in the furniture business also, and they, of course, had a stereo department, and they began selling records. And Brian did the exact same thing. It’s just a natural for your stereo department. And one day, somebody came in and asked for a record by The Beatles, and Brian had never heard of them before, but he decided to check them out because they were playing just down the street at The Cavern. So he was really… and here is Brian, in his suit & tie and very buttoned up. And The Cavern is this basement former fruit cellar with no windows, and hot, sweaty kids on lunch break coming to hear The Beatles. And he was really impressed. And he had the foresight to recognize that these guys could go places with a little help from him.

BRAD: Yeah.

LAURIE: And then he hoped and prayed that America would call. He tried and tried, with no success, little to no success, about getting them on the air in America. And suddenly one day, his prayers were answered when another cast member, Sid Bernstein, called Brian.

BRAD: Yeah. And probably the single most important person in this story is Sid Bernstein. So tell us, who was Sid Bernstein?

LAURIE: Sid Bernstein was a New York concert promoter. He booked pretty concerts with people like Judy Garland and Tony Bennett, people like that. And he believed in keeping himself sharp. So, he was taking a class, and the class assignment was to read newspapers from other countries. Well, Sid could only read English, so that limited him to the British newspapers. And of course, he goes right to the entertainment section, since that’s his field. And he keeps seeing these little blurbs about a group called The Beatles playing small cities in and around the UK. And the word “pandemonium” is always associated with their concerts. So of course, this immediately catches his eye. And then he follows them weekly. And this word “pandemonium”, who are these guys? He starts making some calls, he finds out that Brian represents them, and he, Sid, is like, “I got to have these guys here, I got to book them”. And he found Brian’s phone number and basically got Brian’s mom on the phone and said, can Brian come out to play? Brian was so thrilled that America was finally calling, and Sid had this great idea to book The Beatles at Carnegie Hall, where no rock and roll group had ever been booked. And I think the only reason Carnegie Hall said yes was because they didn’t know they were a rock and roll group, right?

So Sid set the concert several months out, and he said, “Believe me, by the time the concert rolls around, they’ll be on the air here, I can promise you that.”

So in the interim, Ed Sullivan is passing through Heathrow Airport with his wife, and comes in contact with thousands of girls screaming for the arrival of The Beatles. And of course, he says, “What’s going on?” Finds out, discovers that Sid has already booked them at Carnegie Hall and calls Sid Bernstein, who he knew very well, and asked if he could ride Sid’s coattails. Basically, “Can I have them on my show three or four days before they appear at Carnegie Hall?” Well, Sid thought this was great. That guarantees his show to be a sellout.

BRAD: And I think this is really important, because the familiar narrative is, like you said, Ed Sullivan just happens to see all of the pandemonium, like you said, around The Beatles, and books them for his show. But Sid was there first. Sid had booked them for Carnegie Hall long before they were ever booked on The Ed Sullivan Show, long before they ever got any radio play in the States. I mean, he was really the first guy in the States to really see the potential at the time when Capitol Records in the States couldn’t care less about The Beatles, they were actively ignoring The Beatles. But here’s Sid, who’s really the first guy to step up and to have the vision of what their success could be in the States, before Ed, before Capitol, before Murray the K, before any of that.

LAURIE: Absolutely.

BRAD: So he books them at Carnegie Hall for February 12, 1964. He books it 11 months before the show again, before the Beatles were making any waves anywhere in the States, but the show ends up selling out in 40 minutes. Because, of course, by the time we get towards The Ed Sullivan Show, they’ve had a few hits in the States and of course they are massive on The Ed Sullivan Show. But then through the rest of 1964, Sid kind of has a rough time, right?

LAURIE: Well, yes and no. On the one hand, because of this success, he becomes the conduit for the British Invasion. He’s the number everyone has now. The Stones, the Animals. Jerry and the Pacemakers, The Dave Clark Five, Herman’s Hermits. Everybody is calling Sid to come to America, and he actually starts booking the television show “Hullabaloo”, and he is bringing all these groups over to America, and he’s doing really great, but he made a big mistake: He booked The Animals for a five-night run in New York, thinking they would be as popular as The Beatles. And, hey, nobody was as popular as The Beatles. So the first two nights were a big success, and the last three nights of that five-night run, he lost his shirt and now he’s in some financial hot water.

BRAD: He needs a big score.

LAURIE: Yeah, he’s just had a baby. His wife is kind of upset with this turn of events, and, yeah, he needs the big score. So he thinks to himself, “who’s the most popular group in the world? The Beatles. And hey, I have a great relationship with Brian Epstein, so what’s the biggest venue I could possibly book them in?”

He thinks Madison Square Garden… No, not big enough. And he settles on Shea Stadium, which was only a year… Brian was really fussy, and Shea was brand spanking new, still had the sparkle on it, and he thought, yes, he’ll approve of this. So he calls Brian with the idea, and Brian immediately says, No. 56,000 seats. Are you crazy? We will never be able to sell that.

BRAD: No one ever had, no band, no pop artist ever had.

LAURIE: Right, correct. And at this point, there were still a lot of naysayers about The Beatles. It’s a fad, it will never last. It’ll be over by the end of the year.

BRAD: Right.

LAURIE: So he didn’t want to lay The Beatles open to a stadium that was only half filled, where all these people could say, you see, just as we said.

BRAD: And I think wisely, he was just trying to protect his boys. Right. He didn’t want to book them into a half full arena for the embarrassment and the bad press. It’s not an irrational thing for Brian to be hesitant to do it. But then Sid offers them an incredible deal.

LAURIE: Yeah. And Brian’s formula had been to play smaller places and have a line outside the door.

BRAD: Right.

LAURIE: That’s the look he was going for. So, yes, when tickets ranged from like $4.50 to $6.50, Sid says to Brian, I will pay you $10 for every empty seat in the stadium.

BRAD: Right? He not only guarantees them $100,000, which is a huge paycheck at the time, but he also says, for every empty seat, I’ll give you $10. I can’t think of another deal like that at the time, Sid was really taking a big risk there.

LAURIE: Yes, but Sid believed, and he was the only one who believed. Not even Brian believed that this could happen.


LAURIE: So Brian says, that’s a deal I can’t turn down, but here’s my stipulation: I want 50% of the $100,000 in three months. And until I get that, you cannot advertise the concert.

BRAD: Right? No advertising, no publicity. But somehow, I want you to sell half the tickets to this show.

LAURIE: Sid is like, uh, how can I possibly raise $50 grand without advertising, right? And Brian says, well, I didn’t say you couldn’t talk about it.

BRADE: So this is really a fascinating part of the story, of how Sid begins to sell these tickets. Walk us through that, because it’s just so great.

LAURIE: And, Brad, this is actually my favorite part of the story.

BRAD: I believe it. It’s so good.

LAURIE: I just love this. So… Sid’s really depressed, right? He’s like…

BRAD: And his wife is none too happy.

LAURIE: She’s ready to go home to mom. “Are you crazy? What have you done Sid?” And Sid, by the way, he was a very large man, very heavy, and he knew the best entertainment and the best restaurants in New York. So I just see him walking down the street, eating a slice of pizza here, a hot pretzel there, thinking, “Woe is me. What’s going to happen?” And he takes his son in his stroller to Washington Square Park. And, you know, Sid was known by this time amongst all the kids for bringing all the great British groups over. He was pretty much the Pied Piper of Rock And Roll. So, wherever he went and kids saw him, they ran up to him to find out the latest news. And when they asked, “What’s going on, Mr. Bernstein?” He said, “Well, I’m bringing the Beatles to Shea Stadium in August.” Well, I mean, the girls begin screaming. One of them faints. They’re throwing money at him. And he realizes, “Okay, maybe this could be something.” He runs to the post office, he rents a PO Box, he runs back to the park. He tells the girls how much the tickets are and the PO Box address. And every day, he goes to the park, and he tells teenagers this story and gives them the address. And after three weeks, he finally works up enough courage to go to the PO Box. He forgets his key! He’s so nervous, because this is it, if there’s nothing in that PO Box, he’s a dead man.

BRAD: Right.

LAURIE: They open the box for him and when the post office workers find out who’s there, they all come running out of the back to see who is the man behind this box. And he’s like, “What’s going on?” They drag out bags and bags of mail. He had to get his car to bring it all home.

And inside those envelopes, he had rubles, he had yen, he had money from behind the Iron Curtain. So, at a time when there was only long-distance phone calls and letter writing, these kids in Washington Square Park spread the news about the concert around the world.

BRAD: It’s amazing. It’s like a scene from a movie, that you probably wouldn’t believe it if it was in a movie, but you can picture Sid and his wife at their kitchen table just opening these, letter after letter, pulling out money for tickets.

LAURIE: I mean, coins fell.

BRAD: Yeah. And then they came up with a way to go through all these bags and bags of mail. He actually hires some local neighborhood girls or something to help him process all of these letters, right?

LAURIE: Yes. They had a babysitter who was in nursing school, and he asked her if she had six or seven friends who might want to work for them every night until they went through all of these envelopes. And over a three-week period of time, they managed to go through more than 50,000 envelopes.

BRAD: I think you said in the book that it takes them three months to process it, and they end up with over 3000 envelopes that they don’t even open, because by that time, they’ve sold all the tickets, the show sells out and he ends up with $304,000. Is that right?

LAURIE: Yes. So when he meets Brian in January of ‘65, Brian is expecting $50,000 and he is able to give him the full $100,000.

BRAD: Right? Yeah. Brian’s looking, probably questioning whether he’s even going to get his $50,000. And Sid ends up handing him the complete $100,000 check. What a great story.

LAURIE: Really. It’s a wonderful story, and it’s so wonderfully innocent and so speaks to the time. So, now Sid has the hottest show in town that nobody knows, right?

BRAD: Yeah. Because he still can’t talk about. So he’s they start to prep for the show and then his expenses start to rack up for the staging and all of that kind of stuff. And then I believe the mayor of New York tells him he has to cancel the show. What was that all about?

LAURIE: You know, he had to jump through a lot of hoops with the city, I bet, to make this happen. He had rented the stadium on his name alone. That’s how well known he was in New York. He picked the date and the stadium said, we’ll hold it for you until the money comes in. But the mayor wasn’t so sure. They were very fearful, first of all, of security. What were they going to do if 10,000 fans decided to rush the stage?

BRAD: Right.

LAURIE: How were we going to get the Beatles in and out of the stadium without them being injured? What’s going to happen to traffic that day in New York? I mean, they had a million questions.

BRAD: And again, nothing like this had ever been done before, a rock show on this scale. But New York was pretty well aware of what Beatlemania looked like, because, of course, they had already been through the chaos around the Ed Sullivan performance. So they had a taste of it. They could see what could potentially happen. So you can understand the concern.

LAURIE: Oh, sure. And they had seen the thousands of kids around the Plaza in ‘64 when The Beatles stayed there and had done their ‘64 tour. So they knew that it could be absolute chaos out there.

BRAD: So in the days before the show, just kind of, as we lead up to the events of the show, The Beatles fly from Heathrow Airport to New York City; they stay at the Warwick Hotel. That must have been another chaotic scene.

LAURIE: Oh, yes. I mean, thousands, I can’t even imagine, but thousands of kids on the street, mostly girls. The hotel was full of girls that somehow sneaked in or had their parents rent a room there, or they disguised themselves as maids. And there were kids on top of the elevator, where they could have been crushed.

BRAD: The day before the show, the Beatles played on Ed Sullivan. They played, I think, like a six-song set. And then the day of the show, it’s a hot and humid day, right, like an 87-degree humid day in New York?

LAURIE: Yes. Sweltering summer day. And The Beatles had been partying pretty good, too. Bob Dylan was in town, and some of their other friends, The Ronettes, were coming by to see them, and there was a lot of smoking pot and playing records, and they couldn’t go out unless it was in secret.

BRAD: Right. So they were making the best of their quarantine.

LAURIE: And this was their life then, on the road. I mean, literally wasn’t safe for them to leave the room. Not much of an, you know, at a time when people’s security now is massive. They basically had three guys and Brian watching out for them. So the day of the concert comes around, and they’ve already decided that they are going to have to fly The Beatles in a helicopter over to Shea Stadium. And George was really not fond of flying.

BRAD: Yeah. George was a notorious bad flyer.

LAURIE: Yes. And the helicopter made him virtually weep with fear. The pilot of the helicopter said, “Well, you guys have been trapped in your room, you haven’t even been able to see any of New York. Let me show you the Empire State Building. Let me show you the Chrysler Building.” And he’s zooming through, up above, and George is literally white knuckling, crying, “get me down out of here, please.” All of this was filmed for the documentary. They had, um, a cameraman on the helicopter with them. So all of this was caught on film.

And of course, they could not land in the stadium, because they were afraid that kids would rush the helicopter and there could be terrible damage there. So they landed across the street, really across the way, where the New York World’s Fair was held. As well thought out as this was, they suddenly realized, if we drive The Beatles over in a limo, that limo is going to be mobbed. Kids will jump on it and God knows what will happen. So now, how are we going to get them into the stadium? And one security guy is looking around, and he sees a Wells Fargo armored truck; no windows, sitting unused, and won’t be needed for the next couple of hours. So he talks to the driver and commandeers this armored truck, finds four Wells Fargo badges in the front seat. He gives one to each of The Beetles, and he loads them up in the back of the truck. Poor George also is claustrophobic. George, now, who is green from the helicopter, is now being forced into the back of this truck, and they are safely driven into Shea Stadium.

BRAD: Now, before we talk about the show, I think one of the interesting side stories is that Sid was also, I believe, he was managing the Rascals, right? The band The Rascals. The Rascals didn’t play at the show, but he had a bunch of promotion for them going on, right? He was really trying to get their name in front of the audience.

LAURIE: Oh, Sid was really the ultimate old school promoter, actually. The Beatles did a press conference in a ballroom at the Warwick, and Sid had plants in the audience asking The Beatles, “Have you heard the Rascals yet? What do you think of them?” They never heard of them. But Sid just was getting that name out there. So, when kids coming into the stadium were looking into the dugout where they knew The Beatles would make their entrance, they saw some guys with long hair and they mistook them for The Beatles, and went running down there. Well, it was The Rascals. And yes, Sid had buttons and photos and all kinds of stuff that they were signing and handing out. And he also took the opportunity to flash “The Rascals are coming, The Rascals are coming” on a small welcoming screen in the stadium.

BRAD: Which I think Brian wasn’t too crazy about.

LAURIE: Yes. Brian quashed that immediately. I interviewed Felix Cavallari of The Rascals on his experience there that day. And he said Brian just very quietly said, “If that is not removed in the next 10 seconds, Sid, we shall be leaving.” And so Sid immediately had that taken down. “No one rides on the coattails of The Beatles” is what Brian said. He was always watching out for his boys.

BRAD: Right. That’s just a great story, though. And, typical for the shows of the day, this was kind of like a review show, where The Beatles weren’t the only ones that performed. There was a handful of opening acts. Why don’t you talk a little bit about some of the folks who opened the show for The Beatles? And could you imagine– 56,000 people are there, and not one of them is wanting to see you.

LAURIE: That’s exactly right. The first group was the fantastic sax player King Curtis. And um, he played behind a group called Discotheque Dancers, who demonstrated the hot dances of the day. And actually, one of the ladies, I found three of the five ladies from that group.

BRAD: Yeah. You actually interview them in your book.

LAURIE: Oh, yeah. And one of them said, “Well, my dad went with me that night, and he took 80 color slides that evening and we looked at them once and they’ve been in a drawer ever since. Would you like to have them?” Um, yeah!

BRAD: So you’ve got some great photographs in the book, and I imagine a lot of this stuff has never been really publicly seen before. You have those photographs. You also spoke to a number of, at the time, young folks who attended the show, and you’ve got some photographs from some of those people. Tell us a little bit about some of the other people in the book who contributed some of these great photographs.

LAURIE: You know, it sounds like I’m making it up to say at this late date, I have hundreds of photos that people have never seen, but I actually do. One guy, Mark Weinstein, was 17 years old, and he was bound and determined to get on the field. He sneaked into the bowels of Shea Stadium. He began trying every door he came to; they were all locked. And finally, one doorknob turns in his hands, he opens it, and the room is full of cops. And he thought “Oy vey”. He said to me, “I thought, Oy vey, if I run, I’m done.” So, he just thought really fast, walked in, faked a British accent, told them he was a friend of George Harrison’s and he was supposed to take photos that night, but had gotten separated from the group, and they led him right out onto the field. He took 60 photos from the edge of the stage, all of which are in the book, and one of which is the cover of the book.

BRAD: And that is a great shot of George and John.

LAURIE: I love that shot too. It was the last shot of the night, and there was another gentleman, who had to be coerced to even go to the concert, and he didn’t even know who The Beatles were. He decided he was also going to try and get into the stadium. And the door that was unlocked and opened to him led right into their dressing room. I mean, he opened the door, and there they were.

BRAD: It’s incredible.

LAURIE: With just like ten other people. So he walked in and just started taking photos. And he also got onto the field and took more photos. So, I have several photos that George Orsino took and, let’s see… Carly Simon’s brother Peter was there, and he was, I believe, 18. And he took some wonderful photos of the fans. So yeah, just, they covered it.  Like, Marvin Gaye was there. He was introduced to the audience. He didn’t perform, but my friend dawn from the Discotheque Dancers, she had danced, backing up Marvin Gaye. So when her father saw Marvin Gaye, he took his picture. That’s the only picture that exists of Marvin Gaye at Shea Stadium.

BRAD: It’s great.

LAURIE: And he’s holding his own little movie. Oh, I wonder what happened to that.

BRAD: The photographs in the book are just, I mean, they’re great. Between the photographs of the crowd and the band, it really does a great job of just capturing the energy and the excitement of that night.

LAURIE: Oh, the girls running across the field, and The Beatles pointing to the runners and encouraging them, and the police running after them. Just kids, scaling the walls to get in, and what kills me is the security that Sid had to arrange, and that Brian insisted on. And here are these people literally just walking in, walking into their dressing room, walking out onto the know again today. It could have been a terrible situation.

BRAD: Right.

LAURIE: But there was nothing but love and joy out there.

BRAD: Yeah. Sid does get Ed Sullivan to agree to introduce them at the show. And Sullivan makes kind of a side agreement with Brian Epstein to film the show, and Sid gets cut out of that whole thing, which is a shame.

LAURIE: Yes. And you know, Sid could have chosen to introduce The Beatles. Sid could have taken that moment for himself, but that’s not who Sid was. And he realized that the country’s association with Ed and The Beatles was where it was at, and so he graciously invited Sullivan to introduce them. Sullivan couldn’t say yes fast enough.

BRAD: So, after all the buildup, The Beatles play a short 30-minute set, which was standard for the day. They play twelve songs:

Twist and Shout
She’s A Woman
I Feel Fine
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Ticket To Ride
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby – which is Georgia’s showcase
Can’t Buy Me Love
Baby’s In Black, which I think is a really interesting choice
Act Naturally – that’s Ringo’s moment
A Hard Day’s Night
I’m Down

But, I mean, that’s a tight little set there. This was before the two-hour concerts, the marathon Bruce Springsteen concerts that we get these days. You got 30 minutes of The Beatles, and they were out of there. I believe that’s the same set they played all on the rest of the tour.

What are some of your favorite moments of that set? I’m sure you’re pretty familiar with the film by now, having written the book and everything. What jumps out to you when you think about that set?

LAURIE: Well, I love “Twist and Shout”, and that’s a great opener, especially after the crowd had been waiting so long. There were several other opening acts I didn’t mention and lots of radio personalities in between. I mean, it just was, you know, the crowds got there at six, I think the stadium opened at six, and the show started at seven, and The Beatles didn’t go on ‘till nine. So “Twist And Shout” is a great opener.

BRAD: “Help!” had just opened a few weeks before. They had filmed in the interim between when Sid books the show and they actually perform the show, they film the movie “Help!” and, of course, record that track & the album during that time. So that was pretty current material for them.

LAURIE: And, you know, they reprised “Hard Day’s Night”, of course, because that was still so uppermost in fan’s minds.

BRAD: No “She Loves You”, No “I Want To Hold Your Hand”…

LAURIE: Yeah, they were moving away from that, trying to play their more current stuff, and as a matter of fact, “I’m Down”, this was the first time they had played that.

BRAD: That was just a B side.

LAURIE: It’s the only song John’s on the organ, which was, um, almost uncomfortable for him. He said, I didn’t know what to do without my guitar. There I am, standing behind this organ, which was something so new for him.

BRAD: Yeah. But probably every Beatles fan is fairly familiar with that footage, probably seen it. But it’s not only the final moment of the show– it really is, to me, that’s the greatest moment of the show. And John is just having a blast pounding away at that electric piano or whatever and it’s one of McCartney’s great vocals on that song. He really gets his best Little Richard voice out for that. But it’s such a great moment. The footage of them playing “I’m Down” at Shea Stadium is just so great.

LAURIE: You know, they were a little bit afraid to go out there. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were also there, and they were in the dressing room with the Beatles. And Mick had gotten a little beat up on his way into the dressing room, some tough guys from Brooklyn were like, “You think you’re so great,” bam, bam, and they’re hitting him. And The Beatles were like, uh oh, what’s exactly going to happen out there? And Cousin Brucey assured them that they were going to be met with nothing but love. And from the moment they step out there– that’s my favorite moment of the documentary, they start looking around, they just can’t even believe what they’re seeing, right? It’s stunning, this number of people. And by the time they’re through with their set and they’re into “I’m Down”, and they know nobody can hear them, John has started to introduce songs, just speaking gobbledygook.

He knows nobody can hear them and it doesn’t matter what they say. And now he’s on this electric piano, and he knows nobody can hear that either. And you’re right, he’s pounding it, he’s playing it with his elbow. Ringo looks over and thinks, well, he’s just lost it. And George is trying desperately to stay serious and finally, he just can’t. He just can’t stay serious anymore, John has completely cracked him up, and he makes his way over to John. And that is the shot that Mark Weinstein caught.

BRAD: The cover of the book, and the photo is in the book as well. It’s just a great shot of John and George grinning ear to ear. You know, it’s the last song of the set. They know they’ve pulled it off, what a release that must have been. But I can imagine the terror stepping on the stage the beginning of that set. And then everything they went through to get to that emotional moment at the end of it.

Speaker C: Truly, if The Beatles remember only one concert, this is the concert they remember. You know, there was just nothing like it ever. And yes, that release must have been just, I mean, they did it. They really did. That’s where the title of the book comes from. Several years later, John was out one evening with Sid Bernstein and they were reminiscing about that night, and he said to Sid, “I saw the top of the mountain on that glorious night.”

BRAD: That’s great. So, when all is said and done, concert’s over, everybody goes home. When Sid tallies it all up, he ends up making a total of $3,000 for the show.

LAURIE: Incredible. I know. I don’t know where it all went. And Felix Cavalieri said Sid was a wonderful, honest, kind, generous, savvy man, but not all managers have both the business sense and the financial sense. Sid knew what he was doing promotion-wise. He recognized great talent when he heard it, but he wasn’t that great with the money end of it.

BRAD: But as you said, this assured him a place in history. I remember in the 80’s, going to my first Beatle conventions, Sid was a frequent speaker at those. And this was 20 years after the show. And people still loved to come and hear him tell his story as of the show. And I imagine he did that right up until the day he passed.

LAURIE: Yes, he lived to be 95 years old and was so proud, so proud of this great achievement, as well he should be, because frankly, this concert changed the world.

BRAD: Yeah, well, let’s talk a little bit about how this show changed history– where it fits and the impact it had.

LAURIE: Well, clearly, this was the future. And technology woke up the next morning and said, we flunked. Nobody could see them. Nobody could hear them. And this is all we’re going to see from this day forward, so we better get on board. And four years later, there was Woodstock. So they got on board in a big strapping hurry.

BRAD: Yeah. People forget that at this time, what they were using for a PA system was basically the same setup that they used for the announcers of the ball games, which were nowhere near adequate in terms of just pure volume and sound quality. That stuff sounds atrocious. There wasn’t all the big PA systems and monitors and all that stuff you have now, none of that stuff existed back.

LAURIE: Right. And no diamond screen to see them. You know, we didn’t even mention also at this concert were teenagers like Meryl Streep and Joe Walsh and Steve Van Zant, and Whoopi Goldberg was nine, she was there. Two future Beatle wives. And Meryl Streep was way up in the nosebleed seats with her little “I Love Paul” sign. And she said, “I had a better view of New Jersey than I did of The Beatles”. Everybody was just so happy to share the space with these guys they loved so much. But clearly, later on, people want to see them.

BRAD: Sure.

LAURIE: Technology got the big wake-up call. Madison Avenue saw 56,000 young people together and realized, we’re only selling these kids acne medicine. There is potential here for a lot more money. So, boom. The boomers immediately get on the map. So everything raced to catch up with this new young generation that was changing the world.

BRAD: Just an amazing time for music. And music was driving the culture in a way that it never had before.

LAURIE: Yes. People literally went from maybe ten friends gathered around your parents’ hi-fi to crowds of this size. Many of the opening act people, as well as the fans in the audience that I interviewed, said how empowering it was to be in the presence of 56,000 people who felt the same way that you felt. That was a life changing event for many of the people there. It was really amazing to talk to them and the fans I spoke to that were there, and literally, from Meryl Streep on down to just your basic fan, they still had the amazing enthusiasm that they had that night. They never lost it. It was still the most incredible event that any of them had ever attended.

BRAD: That’s great. Well, the book is called “Top of the Mountain”. It’s Sid Bernstein’s story, which is a fascinating story; t’s the story of dozens of people who attended the show and played their little part in the show by taking photographs or just being witnesses to the event; and, of course, it’s The Beatles story of what was, at the time, the biggest concert in rock history, and still stands as, I think, one of the most significant concerts ever.

Laurie, I really love the book. It was just a great, fun read. Thank you for coming on and talking about it, because it’s been a blast talking to you about the book and the concert.

LAURIE: Thanks, Brad. I so appreciate that, I really do.

BRAD: Sure. What do you got coming up next? Anything on the agenda for you?

LAURIE: This was my 6th book, and I primarily am a Hollywood historian, and I have written lots and lots about the history of Hollywood scandals and mysteries and all kinds of aspects of Hollywood history. And I think that my next book is something I’ve been preparing for for a very long time, which is a history of the Sunset Strip.

BRAD: That should be great.

LAURIE: So there will be lots of music there.

BRAD: Yeah, a lot of stories to tell there, that’s for sure. Well, Laurie Jacobson, thank you so much for doing the show with me. I really appreciate it. Good luck with the book and the books in the future. And thanks for the conversation.

LAURIE: I had a ball. Thanks, Brad.

BRAD: Thank you, Laurie.

And as always, thanks to all of you for listening. Go pick up a copy of Laurie’s book. You’ll love it. I’ll be back in a couple weeks with a new episode. Until then, you can listen to all of our previous shows, including more episodes on the Beatles, on our website– is the place you’ll find them.

I always appreciate your reviews and your feedback. And if you want to support the show, the best thing you can do is to tell a friend about it, because your word-of-mouth recommendations, they’re the best advertising we could get.

Thanks again for listening to this show and all of the other shows on the Pantheon Podcast Network. I’ll see you next time right here on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast.

When Christine McVie passed away on Nov. 30, 2022, the tributes poured in from around the world.  Deservedly so.  We pay our respects to the legendary Christine Perfect the way we do best– by taking an in-depth look at one of her biggest hits from the classic “Rumours” album, along with an overview of Fleetwood Mac’s tortured history.

Also in this episode, I recommend the “Fakewood Mac” episode of the Rock And/Or Roll Podcast— my favorite podcast.  I highly recommend you check out this episode:

“You Make Loving Fun” (Christine McVie)  Copyright 1976 Fleetwood Mac Music, USA – BMG Music Publishing Limited

— Remember to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.


Welcome to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’m Brad Page, your host here on the Pantheon Network, where each episode, I pick one of my favorite songs and we listen to it together, listening for all the little moments, those special touches that make it a great song. No musical skill or knowledge is required. All you need is a love of music and you’ll fit right in here.

At the time of this recording, it’s been a little over a month since the passing of Christine McVie from Fleetwood Mac. There have been plenty of tributes to Christine; she deserves every one of them. And we’re going to pay tribute in the way that we do best– by doing some serious listening to one of her classic songs. This is “You Make Loving Fun” by Fleetwood Mac.


The history of Fleetwood Mac is about as convoluted as a band history can get, and we don’t have time to go over every detail, but the history is important. So, some kind of overview is warranted, centering around Christine.

So, let’s start in 1968, where one of the hot new guitarists on the scene, Peter Green, left John Myall’s Bluesbreakers and started a new band, eventually taking the Bluesbreakers drummer and bass player, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie with him. He named this new band Fleetwood Mac, after the drummer and bassist, and soon they were joined by a second guitarist, Jeremy Spencer. Together, they recorded some of the seminal works of the British blues bands.


In 1968, they recorded their second album called “Mr. Wonderful”. There were a few guest musicians on this album, including a young keyboard player named Christine Perfect.


Christine Perfect was born in Birmingham, England in 1943. Her father, Cyril Perfect, was a violinist in the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Her mother, Beatrice, was a psychic. Christine started making music young, playing along to Everly Brothers records. And after graduating from art college, she joined the band Chicken Shack. Chicken Shack was signed to the same record label as Fleetwood Mac, Blue Horizon. Christine recorded two albums with Chicken Shack, and they had one hit in the UK with “I’d Rather Go Blind” featuring Christine on lead vocal.


Christine left Chicken Shack in 1969 and released her first solo album in 1970. Here’s a track from the Christine Perfect album.


Christine and Fleetwood Mac’s bass player John McVie had been seeing each other, and by this time, had gotten married. They spent the first year or so of their marriage away from each other, as each of them were on the road with different bands.

Back in the Fleetwood Mac camp, a third guitar player had joined Fleetwood Mac. His name was Danny Kirwan. The interplay between Kirwan and Peter Green was really something special, but it didn’t last. By 1970, Peter Green had left Fleetwood Mac; mental illness had taken its toll, and Peter Green would never really recover.

If you’d like to learn more about Peter Green and explore this era of Fleetwood Mac further, go back and listen to episode 67 of this podcast, where we dig into the legendary track “The Green Manalishi”.

So, Peter Green had left and Fleetwood Mac was without their star player, but Mick Fleetwood held the band together. They retreated to Southern England and recorded their fourth album, “Kiln House”. Christine once again made a guest appearance on this album, though she’s uncredited. She even drew the cover art for this album. But after the release of the album, she officially joined Fleetwood Mac as a full time member. Here’s a song from “Kiln House”, It’s a Danny Kirwan song called “Station Man”, with Christine on electric piano.


The chaos continued, though, when Jeremy Spencer quit the band. He left and joined a religious cult and never came back. Once again, the band was forced to reinvent itself.

They recruited a new guitarist-vocalist-songwriter named Bob Welsh. They recorded and released their next album, “Future Games”, in 1971. “Future Games” was the first album to feature both Bob Welch and Christine as a full-time credited band member. Christine wrote two of the songs on “Future Games”. Here’s one of them, this one’s called “Morning Rain”.


“Bare Trees” was released in 1972. This one featured the song “Sentimental Lady”, which Bob Welch would later rerecord and release as a solo hit. It also includes the song “Spare Me a Little of Your Love”, which features a great vocal by Christine.


Things still wouldn’t settle down for Fleetwood Mac. Christine and John McVie’s marriage was on the rocks, and now Danny Kirwan was showing signs of self-destructive behavior. One night, Kirwan refused to go on stage and instead heckled the band from the audience. Mick Fleetwood had no choice but to fire him. Another key member of the band gone.

Kirwan would spend the remainder of his life wrestling with addiction, homelessness, and mental illness.

Two new members were brought into the band: vocalist Dave Walker from Savoy Brown, and guitarist Bob Weston. This lineup released the album “Penguin” in 1973. But this lineup didn’t last long, either. Dave Walker was out after only one album. Here’s one of Christine’s songs from the “Penguin” album. This one’s called “Remember Me”.


Now back down to a five piece, they released their next album, “Mystery To Me”, in October 1973. This album includes the song “Hypnotized”.


Things seem to be going OK for the band when they set out on a US. tour, but when Mick Fleetwood found out that Bob Weston was having an affair with his wife, Mick had enough. He fired Bob Weston, and told the rest of the band he needed to take a break and just couldn’t finish the tour. And thus began one of the most bizarre events in rock history.

While the band was on a break and scattered around the world, Fleetwood Mac’s manager put together his own version of the band– with no actual Fleetwood Mac members, just a bunch of nobodies, and sent them out on the road as Fleetwood Mac. It’s really a story you’ve got to hear. My podcasting friend Brian Cramp did an excellent episode on his podcast about this whole fiasco. You should really listen to that show; it’s episode number 308 of the “Rock And/Or Roll” podcast. That episode’s called “Fakewood Mac”. Check it out. I’ll put a link in the show notes.

So, by the beginning of 1974, things were as bad as they would ever get for Fleetwood Mac. Their record company was about to give up on them, they were being sued by their manager, and that whole “Fakewood Mac” tour just ruined their reputation. The band relocated to Los Angeles and went back into the studio as a four piece. Bob Welsh, Christine McVie, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. And they recorded the album “Heroes Are Hard To Find”, their 9th album, released in September 1974. Christine wrote four songs on “Heroes Are Hard To Find”, including the title cut and this one, called “Prove Your Love”.


By the end of 1974, Bob Welsh had left the band. Fleetwood Mac had lost five guitar players and one singer in the last four years.

Meanwhile, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks were kicking around Los Angeles after leaving the San Francisco band Fritz and embarking on a career as a duo. They were working with producer Keith Olsen at Sound City Studio in Van Nuys. Olsen got them a record deal and they released their first album, “Buckingham Nicks”, in 1974. But the album received little promotion. It didn’t sell, and Buckingham Nicks were unceremoniously dropped by their record label.

Mick Fleetwood was still keeping Fleetwood Mac alive and was looking for a studio to start their next record. A friend suggested Sound City, so Mick went to check it out. He met with Keith Olson at the studio, and Keith, as an example of the studio’s capabilities, he played the Buckingham Nicks album for Fleetwood. And Mick Fleetwood was impressed with what he heard.

Eventually, Buckingham and Nicks were asked to join Fleetwood Mac, and after some soul searching, they decided to give it a shot. And that is the short story of how the version of Fleetwood Mac we all know and love got together. The longer story– and there is a longer story– well, that you can read all about that yourself.

So, in January 1975, the new lineup of Fleetwood Mac went into Sound City studios to record their first album together, which they simply named “Fleetwood Mac”. It took a while, but the album eventually made it to number one by September 1976, after 58 weeks of climbing the charts.


You would think that things ought to be great for the band, but things were rough on a personal level. John and Christine had already split up; Lindsay and Stevie were calling it quits, and Mick was getting a divorce. By the time they headed back into the studio to make their next record, it was an emotional minefield. And all of that turmoil is famously reflected in the songs.

The album that would become “Rumours” took over six months to complete. It was recorded at a number of studios, including the Sausalito Record Plant, Wally Heider in LA, and Sound City in Van Nuys; the album was mixed at Sound City and at the LA Record Plant.

Much has been said about Lindsay Buckingham’s obsessions with getting everything perfect, but Christine McVie was just as dedicated. Recording engineer Chris Morris said Christine spent every minute of every day there, she was one of the hardest working women he’d ever worked with.

“Rumours” is chock-full of great songs and big hits. We’re going to take a deep dive into “You Make Loving Fun”. It’s easy to think of this song as a slight pop song, compared to some of the more adventurous tracks on the album, like “The Chain” or “Gold Dust Woman”. But “You Make Loving Fun” is an extremely well-crafted song. 3 minutes and 34 seconds of crafty songwriting, tight performances and recording perfection.

It was written by Christine McVie, produced by the band, along with Ken Caillat and Richard Dashutt, and with Lindsay Buckingham contributing a lot to the arrangement. So, let’s get into it.

Mick Fleetwood counts the song in with three hits on his hi-hat and then a drum hit on the four, and we’re off.

Christine McVie is playing two keyboard parts here. There’s a Fender Rhodes electric piano, it’s panned a little bit to the right, and a Honer clavinet, more or less in the middle. This clavinet is probably the most prominent element of the song. It’s what gives the song its groove. And that clavinet is fed through a wah-wah pedal, which was actually manipulated by Mick Fleetwood. He was laying on the floor, rocking it back and forth while Christine played the part. Listen to the way she weaves those two keyboard parts together.


You can also hear some simple percussion parts there that are a little less obvious in the final mix. Let’s pick it back up at the top.

Lindsay Buckingham is playing some short little guitar licks that he’s going to continue to throw in throughout the song. There’s also another guitar part deeper in the mix. We’ll listen to that a little later. Let’s move on to the first verse.


Fleetwood Mac fans know the story behind this song: Christine and John’s marriage was over. John had his girlfriends, and Christine was going out with Curry Grant– who just happened to be the band’s lighting director– and she wrote this song for him. Think about the emotions swirling around Christine and John and Curry while this song was being recorded. And that’s just one of the complex relationships around this band. This whole album is infused with that. Let’s listen to Christine’s vocal track.


I’ve always liked this part right here. I mentioned Lindsay Buckingham’s other guitar part earlier. Here’s a little bit of what he’s doing in the background. It’s very simple, but it has to be because the keyboard parts are so full. There’s no room for a busy guitar part. The song just doesn’t need it. And part of Lindsay’s genius, like all great guitar players, is to know what to play and what not to play. And even when not to play at all. You barely notice this part is even there but it’s all part of the big picture.

So let’s listen to this verse again, this time without the vocal so we can hear just the instrumental track.

That brings us to the bridge, which I think is pretty magical. The verses have kind of a funky feel to them, especially with that clavinet. But the bridge drops in with this really dreamy feel, like a headrush. It’s that “head in the clouds” blissful feeling, which is a great match for the lyrics.


Those layered backing vocals really make that dreamy feel. Let’s listen to the vocal tracks.


Mick Fleetwood is playing kind of an interesting pattern on his tom drums here. Again, it’s another simple part, but it’s where he places the fills. That’s not exactly where I would expect them.


And that leads us into a guitar solo by Lindsay Buckingham. Just one verse, one bridge and then a solo. There’s no second verse or chorus here. Just right into the solo. Not a typical arrangement, but this is a great guitar solo. Sounds like he’s doubled the guitar parts and panned one to each side. There’s some echo on the parts as well.


The end of the solo takes us back to the bridge. Now notice that we’re what, halfway through the song, and we still haven’t heard the chorus yet.


Now, we’ve already taken a look at the vocal parts and the drum track during the bridge. So this time, let’s hear Lindsay’s guitar parts. I really love what he’s doing here. See how he changes up the part for the second half of the bridge:


One more thing that I want to listen to before we move on is John McVie’s bass part on the bridge. McVie is not a flashy or busy player. He’s just a rock solid in the groove player. But I like this part.


For this last verse, let’s listen to how the bass and the drums are locked in together for a simple, driving rhythm that almost has a disco feel to it. This was 1977 after all.


Lindsay plays some tasty little guitar parts during this verse. Let’s go back and just hear his guitar there. It’s after this last verse that we finally get to the chorus. The chorus doesn’t appear until the very end of the song. It’s very unusual for a pop song.

The chorus starts on the same chord as the bridge, but simplifies it, cycling through a simple I-V-IV chord progression. Those are chord changes you’ve heard in a million songs. But it’s what Fleetwood Mac adds to it, and layers on top, that makes this special.


Let’s listen to Lindsay’s guitar again, because what he’s playing here is more like guitar orchestration rather than soloing.


Now let’s go back and hear how that fits in with all the other parts in the final mix.


Let’s check out those great layered vocal parts here, too.


Let’s check out those last few guitar licks Lindsay gets in at the end.


We’ll go back and wrap it up with that final fade out.


“You Make Loving Fun” by Fleetwood Mac.

Christine McVie didn’t have the immediate eye-catching and marketable image the way that Stevie Nicks did. And she wasn’t perceived as the genius, a Brian Wilso- like visionary, as Lindsay Buckingham was. I think she was often overshadowed in the press, by the fans, and on stage by the other two. And her role in the band wasn’t always an easy one.

But she was an essential songwriter in the band. She wrote some of their biggest hits. “Don’t Stop”, “Songbird”, “Over My Head”, “Say You Love Me”, “Think About Me”, “Hold Me”. She wrote those songs. She was a critical part of the Fleetwood Mac magic. And as far as I’m concerned, the band was never as good when she wasn’t in it.

A lot of musicians have been lost over the last few years. One of the things I try to do on this show is to remind people of who they were, and just do my small part to keep their memory alive. Losing Christine was a big loss, but one thing I think we can all safely say is that Fleetwood Mac is in no danger of being forgotten anytime soon. Right now, they’re still hugely popular and they’ve been rediscovered by a whole new audience. That’s a testament to the lasting beauty and power of their music. And Christine is a big, big part of that. This songbird is gone, but the music lives on.

I used a number of resources to put this episode together. I wanted to mention a couple of them. The “Rumours” episode of the “Classic Albums” TV show, which is absolutely worth watching; and the book “Never Break the Chain” by Kath Carroll, which is a good history of Fleetwood Mac in general. And it really goes deep on the making of both the “Fleetwood Mac” and the “Rumours” albums. I really recommend both the show and that book. Check them out.

Thanks for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. New episodes are released on the 1st and the 15th of every month, so we’ll be back soon with another new show. Until then, you can catch up on all of our previous shows on our website, You can also hear us on virtually every podcast service: Google, Apple, Amazon, Stitcher, Spotify you name it, we’re there.

You can post reviews or comments on Facebook or on Podchaser or wherever you listen to the show. And if you’d like to support the show, the best thing you can do is to tell a friend about it, because word of mouth is the most valuable thing for any podcast.

On behalf of everyone here on the Pantheon Podcast Network, I thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode on Fleetwood Mac and “You Make Loving Fun”.

Let’s kick off our first episode of 2023 with a look back 50 years to 1973. I’m joined on this episode by Andrew Grant Jackson, author of 1973: Rock At The Crossroads for a discussion of the music and history of the year that was 1973.

Andrew Grant Jackson is the author of 1973: Rock at the Crossroads, 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music, Still the Greatest: The Essential Songs of the Beatles’ Solo Careers, Where’s Ringo? and Where’s Elvis? He’s written for Rolling Stone, Slate, Yahoo!, PopMatters, and Please Kill Me. He directed and co-wrote the feature film The Discontents starring Perry King and Amy Madigan. He lives in Los Angeles.

Jackson’s websites:

— This show is part of the Pantheon podcast network — THE place for music junkies, geeks, nerds, diehards and fans!


Hello, everybody. This is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, and welcome to our first show of 2023. I thought this would be a good opportunity to take a look back 50 years ago, to the year 1973, and see what was happening in music, and in the broader American cultural landscape, 50 years ago.

Some of you may remember a while back, I did an episode on the year 1965. That show was inspired by a book written by Andrew Grant Jackson on 1965. Well, Andrew also wrote a book about 1973. It’s called “1973 – Rock At The Crossroads”. And so I thought, if I’m going to do a show about 1973, I should invite Andrew to join me. So here’s my conversation with Andrew about the music that made history 50 years ago – in 1973.

BRAD: Andrew Grant Jackson. welcome to the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. Thanks so much for coming on the show to talk about 1973. We’re heading into 2023, so it’s a perfect time to look back 50 years ago. You literally wrote the book on 1973. It’s called “1973 – Rock At The Crossroads”. So I couldn’t have anyone better on the show, I think, to talk about 50 years ago, this year. So, let’s get right into it first. Why do you think 1973 was such a crucial year in rock history?

ANDREW: I like to think of it as the year that rock peaked and then began to die, but then was reborn, because on the one hand, it was the last blockbuster year where all these 60’s giants released classics at the same time. And then you had these veterans, who had been kind of toiling on the outskirts for a decade, who suddenly shot to the front. And then you had this amazing crop of these new superstars who released their debut album at the same time.

It was the year that radio programmers figured out how to synthesize AM Top 40 with FM progressive rock. And they created “album-oriented rock”. And then it began this period where, even though there’s obviously so much great classic rock, it started pushing anybody out who wasn’t arena rock or yacht rock or disco for a time. And so the seeds were planted there for stagnation. But then underneath the radar, there were all these new movements that started to percolate that would eventually rise up and rejuvenate popular music. So, it was just a chaotic, fascinating year on so many fronts to take a look at.

BRAD: Yeah. So let’s start talking about some of these records that came out in 1973.

ANDREW: We had the former Beatles, “Band On The Run” came out. And the Stones, they did “Goats Head Soup”, which at the time was dismissed as the beginning of their decline from like the peak, but I think it’s a very unique album in their canon, and I think it’s still a great album.

BRAD: Yeah, “Goats Head Soup” is one of my favorite Stones records. I think that’s a great record and a really underappreciated album.


ANDREW: And Dylan, he did “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” that year. And Zeppelin did “Houses of the Holy”, The Who did “Quadrophenia”, Marvin Gaye “Let’s Get It On”, Stevie Wonder “Innervisions”. James Brown had a bunch of great stuff. Even Elvis, you know, he had his peak in terms of audience with the “Aloha from Hawaii” special. So, yeah, all those guys were still cranking on all cylinders there.

BRAD: The who released “Quadrophenia”, as you mentioned. Pete Townsend has, I think, more than once said that in his opinion, “Quadrophenia”, is the last great who album. I love a lot of the stuff that came after that, but I think it’s their peak record in many ways.


Speaker E: Yeah, he was like looking back at ten years earlier, like the mod thing. It was like there was a lot of nostalgia going on that year, like “Happy Days” and “American Graffiti” and everything. And he was looking back at their early days, and definitely their last ambitious concept album after that, right?

BRAD: Yeah, “Quadrophenia” was their last real concept piece after that. You have “Who By Numbers” and “Who Are You”, “Face Dances”, “It’s Hard”, but none of those, they’re not a concept or a story or a rock opera or anything like that. But yeah, “Quadrophenia”, I mean, that alone makes 1973 worthwhile.

But yeah, on the soul and R&B front, you’ve got Marvin Gaye; Stevie Wonder is in his imperial period here, where he just can do no wrong, he’s putting out classic album after classic album and this is right in the midst of that.


BRAD: What did James Brown put out in 1973?

ANDREW: Yeah, James Brown had a really interesting year, because he got a lot of blowback because he had supported Nixon, the year before in the elections

BRAD: Right.

ANDREW: Because, you know, you always wanted to get closer to power that could make legislative change. But also he had all these radio stations and tax issues going on, so, who knows, maybe that was his prime motivation, hoping to get some help with some of his issues, but for a while, people were protesting against him. But he had a lot of great stuff, like, he was doing all these soundtracks like “Black Caesar” and “Slaughter’s Big Ripoff”, “The Payback”, he did that one that year.


BRASD: And then we had some other artists that really hit their peak at this time, probably nobody bigger than Pink Floyd with “Dark Side of the Moon”. I mean, is there any more classic album than “Dark Side of the Moon”?  That came out in ’73.

ANDREW: Yeah. And then it was on the charts for I forget, like 500 weeks or something like that.


ANDREW: You know, a lot of people thought especially, “Brain Damage”, on that song, he was writing about Sid Barrett, their former member who became an acid casualty. But I guess he was actually– Roger Waters– was writing about himself; he had some moments himself where he thought he had some flashes of mental illness,. and it kind of freaked him out. That’s probably, if you had to pick, of the albums, I guess that would probably be the one that everybody would pick.

BRAD: It’s certainly the one that’s had the most long-term impact.

ANDREW: Right.

BRAD: And then Elton John is kind of in his imperial phase, too.


BRAD: He puts out “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” in 1973.


ANDREW: That year, that was when Reggae really started being embraced by the English guys. And a lot of people, like the Stones and Cat Stevens, went down to Jamaica to record and Elton John tried it, but they recorded maybe the first take or the roots of “Saturday Night’s All Right For Fighting”, but they were so freaked out, like, the recording studio was kind of guarded with guns and barbed wire and it had been pretty brutal. Unfortunately, the women who were in the Stones camp had been assaulted, sexually assaulted there. So, Elton John was kind of like, tried at Jamaica, but then he left and they went back to their favorite place in France.


BRAD: You mentioned reggae. This is the year of Bob Marley and the Wailers too, right?

ANDREW: Yeah, he had, two great albums that year, “Catch A Fire” and “Burning”. And “Burning” had “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Get Up, Stand Up” on it.


ANDREW: It’s so interesting, this is just one thing I love about ‘73 was, in that year, he played a bunch of shows at Max’s Kansas City, which the hippest of the hip clubs & bars in New York.

BRAD: Right.

ANDREW: And he was like opening for Springsteen, or then Springsteen would open for him, and then Billy Joel was like opening for Waylon Jennings, you know, just so bizarre how all these titans who seem so distinct to us now, they were just overlapping with each other, coming up back then.

BRAD: Yeah, well, talking about Springsteen and Billy Joel, they’re just a few of the artists that put out their first records in 1973. So, let’s kind of take a look at that list: Springsteen releases “Greetings From Asbury Park”.

ANDREW: And then later the same year, he comes out with “The Wild, The Innocent & The East Street Shuffle”. He was really cooking, too.

BRAD: And this is not unique to 1973, but it’s an amazing thing that, throughout the 60’s and the 70’s, the rate at which artists were churning out records– 2 a year is not unusual, it’s the norm. Name almost any band in throughout the 60’s and 70’s and they’ve come out with at least two records a year. And a lot of these records have gone on to be classics, and just amazes me that anyone’s lucky to have one classic record in their catalog, you know– and these bands are doing, they’re coming out with two records a year of brilliance. It’s just amazing to me. And on top of that, they’re touring, so it’s not like they have a lot of luxury and time to make these records. But somehow, they’re able to just produce, year after year, great records, multiple records per year. It just amazes me. And now, artists go three, four years between records.


BRAD: Queen released their first album in 1973.


ANDREW: Aerosmith and the New York Dolls and Lynyrd Skynyrd. You know, those were, along with Springsteen and Billy Joel, there’s like six of the biggest debuts in one year.

BRAD: Yeah, I mean, you have a record like the first New York Dolls album, which didn’t really sell that much, but incredibly influential record.


BRAD: Like you said, Lynyrd Skynyrd puts out their first album. So, it’s really kind of the start of southern rock in a lot of ways.

ANDREW: Yeah, the Marshall Tucker Band came out that year and then, ZZ Top, with “LaGrange” came out, and the Alman Brothers had “Rambling Man” that year, too.

BRAD: Yeah. So it was definitely a high point for the Southern Rock sound. You’ve also got some, I think, overlooked records, like, well, I mentioned the New York Dolls record, it’s commercially overlooked. But Lou Reed released “Berlin”, which is my favorite Lou Reed record… I think, was not a successful record at the time, but in retrospect, I think it’s…

ANDREW: Yeah, it’s funny with that album, because it has this reputation as being the most depressing album of all time, because he had broken up with his wife,


ANDREW: But that year he had had probably his commercial peak, because Bowie produced his previous album, “Transformer”, which had “Walk On the Wild Side”, which that tune got pretty high up on the charts.

BRAD: In ‘73, talking about Bowie, Bowie had quite a year. He released “Aladdin Sane”.


ANDREW: After he released “Ziggy Stardust’ the previous year, then they toured the US, where, it was funny, they didn’t really make a big splash, except they started really coming through, and Glam was strangely big in Rust Belt towns like Detroit and Cleveland. So on “Aladdin Sane” he has “Panic In Detroit”, it’s a great tune, which was inspired by a lot of the stories you heard from like the MC5 and the Stooges.


ANDREW: In the UK, it was like it was Bowie-mania then, but he, at the peak of it, after his run of shows in July, he announced that the Spiders From Mars were breaking up. But they did one last covers album. He did another, like you’re talking about, artists do like two albums a year; he did “Pinups”, which was like a collection of his favorite cover songs and stuff.


BRAD: 1973 was a big year for women in rock– and I’m talking about rock, not pop. Fanny was a rock band, a full-on great rock and roll band that just never got their due.


BRAD: Susie Quattro was making records, Linda Ronstadt was breaking through. So you had some pretty significant female artists working in 1973 and releasing important records then as well.

ANDREW: And in one of my favorite albums of that year, Joni Mitchell recorded “Court And Spark” all through ’73, but it didn’t come out until January 1, ‘74. But it was like an amazing year for just women’s rights; you had Roe versus Wade then…

BRAD: Interesting, here we are, 50 years later, and that’s never been as hot a topic since then as it is today.


BRAD: You had bands like Grand Funk Railroad, which are kind of a, I don’t know, that wouldn’t say they’re forgotten, but they released “We’re an American Band”, which was their biggest record. They were a huge band in the early ‘70’s.

ANDREW: Which Rundgren, Todd Rundgren produced that one, right?

BRAD: Yeah, that’s another record that Todd worked on.

ANDREW: They were kind of the band, like, that Detroit had all these guys like the MC5 that were just a little too raw and punk or protopunk. But they were the ones that kind of, I mean, they were legitimate, they were real just guys from Flint, Michigan. They weren’t phony or whatever, but they just, for some reason, were a little less edgy and were able to play Shea Stadium, you know?

BRAD: Right. They were selling Beatles level tickets. They were huge. People forget how big Grand Funk Railroad was at the time.


BRAD: Let’s talk a little bit about the change in radio, which you mentioned up top. But that really is an important aspect of what was going on in the 70’s and really changed the whole business, the way music was marketed and everything becomes much more siloed by the end of the decade.

ANDREW: Yeah, at the time there was AM Top 40, which was actually very eclectic. They would play everybody from Beatles to Motown to like, Frank Sinatra and “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree”, and then you had progressive FM where the DJs would play these 20-minute tracks, whatever they want. But a lot of the songs that seemed too long to be singles started compelling people to buy albums, like “Stairway to Heaven”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. And these people started thinking about, well why don’t we combine playing the long, hard rock stuff that’s popular, but with formatted things where we tell the DJ what to play, and so… because there was a guy named Ron Jacobs, who was like a program director in, I think, Southern California, who they started sending people to supermarkets to do this demographic research on what albums did these young white kids want to hear? Because the advertisers wanted the young white kids, because, I guess, they blew the most money, whatever, right?

So, they really started trying to format everything to match that demographic. And there was a guy named Mike Harrison who started writing this column called “Album Oriented Rock” and this radio and records trade magazine. And so it really started coalescing into these tight playlists that the disc jockeys were told what to do, instead of having freedom to do whatever. But that format was very profitable and it kind of took off. But what was interesting was, like in 73, they had 27 number one hits on Billboard, and ten of them were by black artists. But by the end of the decade, the first years of the 80’s, they’d only had, like, two by black artists or three. Like, one year was just Lionel Richie and “Ebony and Ivory”. So, anybody who didn’t fit those demographics that the advertisers wanted to sell to the young white kids just kind of got closed out by the end of the decade.

BRAD: Yeah, that just got less and less and less as time went on, and things became way more formatted and segregated and you just didn’t mix. And so the Motown stuff just didn’t get played next to the rock acts anymore, which I think ultimately was just detrimental to the music in general.

ANDREW: Yeah, one thing that really started picking up steam in ‘73 was disco.

BRAD: Right.

ANDREW: But in Manhattan, a lot of the clubs that would become the famous discos opened, and then, a lot of the singles that would become huge the following year, like “The Sound of Philadelphia” and “Rock the Boat” and “Rock Your Baby” and “Love’s Theme”, those all were released this year. For a while, disco was very much from the street and just responding to what the people loved in the clubs, and where all the races were mixing, and sexualities and all that. But then when it became huge, then that got like formatted by the end of the decade, ‘till they killed it, just they rode it to the ground.


BRAD: At the same time as you have disco making its first big moves, you also have the early seeds of punk. We already talked about New York Dolls, but a lot of that started around the same time, too, the first seeds of what would become punk. And you talk about that in the book.

ANDREW: Yeah, there are a lot of interesting things with punk, but just the New York Dolls aspect of it; the thing I love is that, in New York at that time, you had to play covers, you had to be a cover band, or else there was only a couple of places to play, like Max’s Kansas City, and then CBGB’s opened up at the end of ‘73, and there was this place in Queens called Coventry, which what I just love is that the New York Dolls were playing there, and the guys watching them were the guys from The Ramones and the guys from Kiss.

BRAD: Right.

ANDREW: So it was interesting, the two kind of paths that the New York Dolls kind of birthed.  You know, what was interesting about punk, too, that I love: punk and heavy metal, Like those concepts that, now that we look at music through were both really kind of pounded home through these rock journalists. Because journalists like Dave Marsh and Lester Bangs had been talking about punk in reference to these guys from the 60’s like The Seeds that maybe had one classic garage-band hit and then kind of never really broke through. And then Lenny Kaye, who became Patty Smith’s guitarist, was commissioned by Electra Records to do a compilation of all those kind of classic songs.

BRAD: Yeah, the “Nuggets” compilation album, which we’ve actually featured on this show recently. One of my favorite records. But I love that early protopunk garage rock psychedelic stuff. It’s great.

ANDREW: Yeah, it’s really interesting that Lester Banks in particular was really using the term punk, all the time. He had so many citations of that word in, like, ‘72, ‘73, ‘74. And then with heavy metal, there was a journalist called Mike Saunders who kind of seemed like he was noticing that Lester Bangs was really pounding this term punk into everybody’s head, and so he started pounding this term heavy metal, which William Burroughs used it in one of his books, and then it was “Born To Be Wild”, the song by Steppenwolf. But he just started referring to Sabbath and Zeppelin and everybody as heavy metal. So, it’s kind of like these journalists, it’s interesting seeing them form that year, because they would include bands that you wouldn’t think of any of those genres when they were using them, those days. But gradually those concepts started taking hold.

BRAD: Yeah. When these guys first talk about it, it’s fairly loose– you could describe Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad as heavy metal.

ANDREW: Right.

Speaker D: But of course, then that gets sort of corporatized, and then gets sliced even further to the point where you’ve got “death metal” and “black metal” and “hair metal”, and we slice the pie thinner and thinner, which is a pet peeve of mine; I hate it when we do that because I think it’s limiting.

ANDREW: Yeah, it’s weird because, on the one hand, when you’re a kid in the record store, some of those labels are helpfu,l because you go to the heavy metal section or the punk section. And then when you tune into radio stations, just a heavy metal radio station or whatever, but it just calcifies, I guess, and, like you say, starts segregating and getting too dogmatic or something.

BRAD: Right, right. Some of the other cultural things or things going on in the culture outside of the music, but, of course, affecting the music: You’ve got the end of the Vietnam War.

ANDREW: Yeah, Vietnam ended. The last Vietnam soldier came home, or left Vietnam, on March 29. And there’s that famous picture of, uh, the “burst of joy” photo of that lieutenant coming home and his little kids are running toward him on the runway. And, it’s funny, there were a lot of, kind of deep cuts going on that were still referencing Vietnam, like “Search and Destroy” on the Stooges album.


ANDREW: New York Dolls had the song “Vietnamese Baby” and Funkadelic had this tune “March to the Witch’s Castle” about soldiers coming home and becoming junkies.


ANDREW: “Back to the world”, Curtis Mayfield had it. So there was a lot of reflection of Vietnam going on in the culture. And then before Nixon could really benefit from that, I guess, Watergate really took off.

BRAD: Yeah, yeah, I mean, that’s another big political event. I’m not aware of that many songs about Watergate, but I think it just sort of put the exclamation point at the end of a lot of people’s feelings about politics and the government and whatnot.

ANDREW: It’s funny, too, that year, speaking of having hearings and all that stuff, tying it in today with the hearings about January 6 and Trump and all that; that year was like a formative year for Trump, because the Department of Justice brought a suit against him and his father, Fred Trump, because they were one of the biggest developers and landlords in New York, and they were not letting African Americans be in their apartments. And so the Department of Justice brought this huge suit against them, which landed on the front page of The New York Times and was kind of like a bellwether case. And Donald Trump actually went out and he found Roy Cohn, who was McCarthy’s right hand man. Cohn gave him a lot of his techniques that Trump would perfect, like never admit anything, just double down. If someone attacks you, attack them back. And they never admitted to the racism or discrimination, but they eventually settled, but they never admitted to it or whatever.

BRAD: The gay liberation movement kind of starts around this time, too.

ANDREW: Well, you had both the political events and then you had the musical events that kind of encouraged people fighting for gay rights. But that year, in December, the American Psychiatric Association finally voted to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which today that sounds absurd. And then Lance Loud was kind of the first out for personality on the, it was like the first reality show, right?

BRAD: The Loud family. I forget the name of the show.

ANDREW: The American family.

BRAD: That’s right. American family.

ANDREW: And Rocky Horror started performing in London that year. So it was definitely a great year for all those elements. And then Glam Rock in general was peaking with, we had Sweet with “Ballroom Blitz”. And T-Rex was really, he had “20th Century Boy” going. And Roxy Music. That was a big year for Roxy Music, because Eno left the band that year.


BRAD: An interesting thing that was going on in the wider political or economic conditions that directly affected the music business was the oil crisis. Because, of course, it takes oil to make plastics to press records, and that had a big impact.

ANDREW: Yeah, the vinyl shortage really, I think, kicked off in ‘74 because OPEC happened. I mean, oil embargo happened in ’73, but really took hold. And I guess the albums became a lot thinner and breakable more and they uh, put the industry into a recession at 74.

Speaker D: I remember specifically, I think it was RCA Records, but I remember there was one of the record labels that came up with a new name for their records, like “Flexi Something”, and you’d take the records out of the sleeve and they would practically flop over, they were so thin, and they were so prone to getting warped, to becoming warped, because they were pressing them as thin as they could possibly press them to save money. But it produced a lot of pretty poor records.

ANDREW: And the other big influence with the oil crisis was it kind of sparked the moment that incoming inequality started to expand again. Because since World War II, middle class workers and the corporate managers and CEOs, their incomes were coming closer together. I think they called it the “great compression”. And middle-class workers had this kind of stunning rise in their standard of living. But then ‘73 was the year that, when you compare average hourly earnings, when you factor in inflation, it peaked that year and it started going down. And so that was really a pivotal year where, for middle class people; we kind of started going backwards a little bit.

And there was another movement we didn’t really touch on too much yet, but Country really had a lot of interesting effects, in kind of these three movements, where you had like the “outlaw country” movement. Then you had “country rock” and then you had “southern rock”. I guess we touched on them a little bit.

BRAD: Well, yeah, we didn’t really talk about Country, but kind of the center of Country music was always held pretty tight in Nashville, but this is where you start to see what they call the “Bakersville Sound”, coming out of California, and Southern Rock, Country Rock. But yeah, talk a little bit about some of that.

ANDREW: Well, it’s interesting. I don’t know how much Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, who were like the main “outlaw country” guys, Kris Kristofferson. But Kristofferson was kind of in his own world, where he was partly influenced by Dylan and he was working in Nashville and Country, but he kind of went to his own rules and had a lot of rock influence. And Willie Nelson and Waylon liked that; they really started putting up a fight to do things their way, and just have their touring bands play on their actual albums, and then produce it how they wanted and write what they wanted. And they really finally broke through and took control, and they started releasing the outlaw country classic albums.


ANDREW: And Country rock, you’re talking about the western Bakersfield the thing, you had the folk music guys in LA, who were very influenced by the Bakersfield sound’ and so you had like the Eagles and it was funny– they too, had their own struggles, because Glen Frey and Don Henley, they started writing stuff that was mellow, like “Tequila Sunrise” and “Desperado” that year. But Glenn Frey had come from Detroit, where he had been sort of in Bob Seeger’s scene, and he wanted to bring more of his rock stuff to it. But, ironically, their producer, Glyn Johns, produced them and he, of course, was like the rock producer extraordinaire of like, The Who and Zeppelin and the Beatles. But he told them, “you guys can’t rock– trust me, I’ve been with Zeppelin and The Who. You guys can’t rock.” And he was trying to keep them in that mellow zone. So they finally broke with him. And even Linda Rodstadt, she was very close with the Eagles, and she, actually Neil Young brought her on tour with him to open for him. And it was kind of a baptism of fire for her, because all these kind of rock guys would throw stuff at her, but she just had to yell back at them. And she wanted to be a bit more rocky, too, but they kept trying to pigeonhole her. It’s always these label people, who are very concerned with pigeonholing people into the demographic they think can sell, and so they get uptight about them trying to go outside their lines and stuff.

BRAD: There was also the continued rise of the singer-songwriter movement. Acts coming out of Laurel Canyon and whatnot, right?

ANDREW: And kind of centered down the road from Laurel Canyon on Santa Monica Boulevard at the Troubadour Club, there were so many people working there that year that were great. You had Tom Waits, who kind of positioned himself as like the anti- smooth, slick, country rock troubadour person. And Billy Joel. I don’t know if it was his debut album, but the “Piano Man” album, it was about his whole trek, because he used to be in a two-man band with another guy, but then he fell in love with the guy’s wife, and then she went with Billy and became his wife for most of the 70’s. He did this album, “Piano Man”, which was almost, I wouldn’t call it a concept album, but has so many great forgotten Billy Joel songs. And it’s about his trip across the west to Los Angeles, where then he was playing the Troubadour and then the Piano Bar there. And Jim Croce was one of my favorites, he had, I think, two albums that year, and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” was like the second-biggest hit of the year. And then he had, of course, the plane crash on September 20.

Bob Seeger, he did all these great albums that didn’t ever really break through until he had “Night Moves” a couple of years later.


ANDREW: You know, Zeppelin just had a big year with “Houses of the Holy”. It didn’t have the monumental anthem like “Stairway to Heaven” on it, you know, sometimes people don’t put it up there with Zeppelin’s greatest stuff.

BRAD: No, but it’s got “The Rain Song”, which is an amazing piece of music; it’s got “No Quarter”, which is one of their best songs; “Song Remains The Same”, which is a Zeppelin classic… I mean, it’s a weird sounding record, the production on that has always seemed weird to me, but yeah, it’s a stone cold classic. No doubt.


ANDREW: The other great thing that was amazing– this is another thing where you can argue that it was ‘73, but Neil Young recorded “Tonight’s The Night”, even though it wasn’t released for a couple of years later. And that was pretty much done live in the studio, super raw. That’s considered one of his best albums.

BRAD: Yeah. And it is raw, both recording wise and just emotionally. It’s very raw.

ANDREW: Yeah. Two of his, I think, like a band member from Crazy Horse and a Roadie had both OD’d.

BRAD: Yeah, right. Both victims of drug addiction and overdose. Yeah, recorded in ’73, didn’t come out ‘till ‘74. But I’ll allow it.


BRAD: We talked about the beginnings of disco, the beginnings of punk; another thing that was gestating at this time was the earliest sounds of hip-hop.

ANDREW: Right, yeah. There was a guy in the Bronx, this DJ Cool Herc, he made his debut in August as a DJ at a party that was in the rec room of the apartment he lived at in the Bronx, on Sedwick Avenue. His family was from Jamaica. And in Jamaica, they had this tradition where the DJs would get these big trucks and these big sound systems, and they would blast the music out, like thousands of people would pay to come listen to the DJs play, and they would start doing their own “toasting”, they called it, on top of them, where they would do their little raps over the instrumental versions. And so, all that was kind of in the back of DJ Cool Herc’s mind. And they started his first show at his sister’s plate, or at his sister’s party in the apartment. But then, I think it was the following year, that he started doing block parties where they would plug in stuff into the lamp posts in the parks, and they would start playing and they would start using a lot of the instrumental disco tracks and the funk tracks that were big in this year. And they would focus in on the beats. And eventually, that was the genre that would take over from Rock as the best-selling genre. I mean, it’s still strong in the indie level, but on a cultural mega level, it’s definitely receded.

BRAD: For better or worse, Rock does not have the stature, I guess, or the commercial appeal that it did back when we were youngsters. But if I was to put the best spin on it, I would say that’s really where Rock is best– when it’s got some rebellion to it, when it’s on the outside looking in, rather than being the “in thing”, at least for the integrity of the music, for whatever that’s worth. But no, you don’t get hit rock records today. The day of rock topping the charts is over, but I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing for the music.

Speaker E: I did a book on the year 1965…

Speaker D: I read that book and that inspired me to do an episode of my show on 1965. So that, and your book was a source material for that. So, of course, when came time to do 1973, you were the go-to guy. Um, that book is great.

ANDREW: Thank you. And then my publishers actually came to me with the idea for ‘73. And when I looked at ‘73, I was kind of stunned with just the quality of so much music. Just like how it explodes out in every direction. It’s just a very amorphous year, but I think that’s what makes it fascinating because it’s almost hard to wrap your brain around that year. It’s just such a crazy year.

BRAD: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, any year that brought you “Dark Side of the Moon”, “Houses of the Holy”, “Quadrophenia”, “Let’s Get It On”, “Band on the Run”; that saw the first elements of punk and disco and hip-hop and reggae… It’s absolutely a significant year for rock, and more than just rock.

ANDREW: And you even have techno, like, Kraftwork was this year– they ditched the live drums and they just started focusing on drum machines. Yeah, that’s even starting up this year.

BRAD: Yeah. Incredible.

ANDREW: Crazy.

BRAD: Yeah. Well, Andrew Grant Jackson, thank you so much for coming on the show. I love the “1965” book, I love “1973 – Rock at the Crossroads”. I highly recommend both of those books to anyone listening to the show. Check them out, they’re fascinating reads. And I thank you for coming on the show and doing this with me. Thank you so much, Andrew.

ANDREW: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

BRAD: Thanks a lot.

And thank you for listening to my conversation with Andrew Grant Jackson. And there’s even more music from 1973 that we didn’t touch on. If you’d like to dig deeper into 1973, a great place to start is Andrew’s Facebook page for the book. It’s at There’s even a link there to a playlist of songs from 1973 that you can listen to. And of course, there’s the book itself, which I highly recommend. It’s called “1973 – Rock at the crossroads”. And Andrew is also the author of the fantastic book on 1965, that book is called “1965 – The Most Revolutionary Year In Music”, as well as a few other books. I’ll put some links in the show notes for all of his books.

I will be back in about two weeks with another new episode. You can catch up on all of our previous shows on our website, Please leave a review or send us feedback.

And if you’d like to support the show, the best thing you can do is to tell a friend about us because your personal recommendations are worth more than any advertising.

I’ll meet you back here next time on the “I’m in Love With That Song” podcast.

Join me and my special guest Mike Wagner to celebrate the holidays with his song “Christmas With You”, as performed by Sheila Swift. It’s time for some end-of-year thank-you’s as well. Happy Holidays!

“Christmas With You” (Michael Wagner & Sheila Swift) Copyright 2018

The “Paisley Underground” scene birthed a lot of great bands in the ’80’s, but few went on to be as commercially successful as the Bangles. That success came with a price, as they were pulled away from the British Invasion and Power Pop sound that inspired them. But their first full-length album, All Over The Place, is one of the best records of the era. Before they were swayed by Prince or walked like Egyptians, they were one of the most promising successors to the sound of 60’s jangle pop.

“Tell Me” (Suzanna Hoffs/Vicki Peterson) Copyright 1984 Illegal Songs Inc/Banglophile Music


What is it about songs that capture your imagination or make a lasting impact on you? How is it that a song can somehow capture an entire experience, or express a complex idea much better than mere words? I don’t know that we’ll ever be able to answer those questions here, but we do try to understand what it takes to put a great song together; the performances, the arrangements, the production, and just maybe get a little insight into those bigger questions. This is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. I’m your host, Brad Page, and today’s song is “Tell Me” by The Bangles.


To some people, The Bangles were just that other girl band from LA. But to me, they were one of the best bands to come out of LA in the 1980’s, boy or girl. They came together in 1981 after Susannah Hoffs and the Peterson sisters, Vicki and Debbie, met through the Musicians Wanted classified ads in the weekly Recycler newspaper. They bonded immediately over their love for The Beatles and 60’s rock in general.

They first gigged around LA as The Colors before changing their name to The Bangs. With their jangly guitars and those rich harmony vocals, they fit right into the growing scene in LA rooted in the sounds of 60’s garage bands and the British Invasion, what would later be known as the “Paisley Underground” sound. They recorded their first single in 1981 called “Getting Out of Hand”.


That single caught the ear of Miles Copeland, who signed them to his Faulty Products label, which was eventually folded into IRS Records.  With Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson, both on guitars and vocals, Debbie Peterson on drums and vocals and Annette Zelenskis on bass, the band set about recording a five song EP in 1982. Just as they were about to release the EP, they discovered there was another band called The Bangs, so at the last minute, they changed their name to The Bangles.

Shortly after the EP was released, Annette left to start her own project, Blood On The Saddle. She was replaced by the former Susan Thomas, who, using the stage name Mickey Steele, was a founding member of The Runaways. When she joined The Bangles, she changed her name yet again to Michael Steele.

In 1984, they released their first full length album, called “All Over the Place” on Columbia Records. For my money, this is one of the best albums of the entire 1980’s. Every song is a gem, and each song shows a different side of the band. I could have picked any song on this album to feature, it’s that good. But on this episode, we’re going to listen to one of the most rockin’ songs on the album.

“Tell Me” was written by Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson. It features Susanna on rhythm guitar, Vicki on lead guitar, Debbie Peterson on drums and Michael Steele on bass. Both Susanna and Vicky handled the lead vocals together with Debbie on backing vocals. The album was produced by David Khan.

“Tell Me” was one of the earliest songs Susanna and Vicki wrote together dating back to 1982. And you can hear its roots in that garage band sound of their early club days in the best possible way. It may sound like a simple garage rock tune, but there’s some nice work here.

The song kicks off with a classic jangly guitar intro. Then a snare drum fill launches the riff. Vicki is playing the riff on electric, and it sounds like Susanna’s playing rhythm on an acoustic guitar. Here’s just the guitars.

Now, let’s let that play through to the first verse, and notice how the guitar riff drops out to make room for the vocal. Straight away, you can hear how well Susanna and Vicki’s voices blend together. Debbie’s voice adds to the harmony here. The second verse comes right on the heels of the first.

Vicki s playing a crunchy guitar part that slides between two chords. Simple but effective.

Here’s the chorus.

This is a great example of how the Bangles arranged their vocal harmonies.

Then Michael Steele gets a moment to shine with a cool bass part.

Here’s a guitar playing a single chord over the top. It’s a very clean tone with a tremolo effect that gives it a real shimmering sound. Then Vicki gets in a short surf guitar influenced solo.

Notice how the drums just never let up. Debbie is pounding them through the whole track. Listen to the bass during the chorus, too. It’s another great part.

And on the third verse, they break between the lines for Michael to take the lead.

“Tell Me” by The Bangles.

Short and sweet, all of two minutes and 15 seconds. Sometimes that’s all you need to make your point. In just over two minutes, you got a taste of everything this band has to offer; the blended vocals and harmonies, the garage punk energy melodic guitar riffing, and then each band member gets to show their stuff.

I think The Bangles were a league above the other bands they got lumped in with, both vocally and as musicians. They got forced into a much too slick commercial box during the 1980s, and by ‘89, they split. But they came back in 2003 with an album that was a return to form—“Doll Revolution”, and they followed that up with “Sweethearts of the Sun” in 2011. Both albums are worth checking out.

Though Michael Steele would leave the band again, their original bass player, Annette Zelenskis, returned for their most recent incarnation. The Bangles never made a bad album, but I still think this one, “All Over The Place”, is the one to beat.

Thank you for joining me on the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. New episodes of this show are released on the 1st and the 15th of every month, so we’ll be back soon. Until then, you can catch up on all our previous episodes on our website,

Let us know what’s on your mind. You can find us on Facebook; just search for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast.

We are happy to be part of the Pantheon Podcast Network, so be sure to check out some of the other great shows that are part of the Pantheon family. That’s it for this episode. I will see you soon… For now, I leave you with “Tell Me” by the Bangles.

At the time they released their 2nd album in 1978, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers were a struggling band hoping to break through. They had plenty to prove, and there was still a punky edge to their sound– clearly evident on the first single from the album, “I Need To Know”. At a tight two-minute-and-twenty-six-seconds, there’s no fat on this track– just a great song, a taste of the brilliant music to come.

“I Need To Know” (Tom Petty) Copyright 1977 Almo Music Corp (ASCAP)

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This is the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, and I’m your host, Brad Page. Each episode here on the Pantheon Podcast Network, we take a song and explore it together, listening to all the elements, the arrangements, the performance and the production that makes it a great song. Musical experience or knowledge is not necessary here, we don’t get into things like music theory. We’re just going to put our ears to work and see or hear what we discover.

All the way back in episode number two of this show, our second episode ever, we listened to Tom Petty and a song from his third album called “Even the Losers”, one of my all-time favorite songs. It’s been over a hundred episodes since then, so I think it’s time we revisit Tom Petty. On this edition of the podcast, we’re taking a deep dive into a song from his second album. This is a song called “I Need To Know”.


Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers worked their way up through the ranks, starting out in Gainesville, FL, eventually landing in Los Angeles with a record deal with Shelter Records. They released their first album in November 1976, and though the album featured the single “Breakdown”, which would become one of Petty’s most iconic songs, at that time, neither the single or the album got much attention at all. Here in 1976, this was a band still struggling to make it, even though they had a record out.

However, things were looking a little brighter over in the UK. They were getting some airplay there, and so the band headed to England for a tour as the opening act for Nils Lofgren. They appeared on Top of the Pops and the old Grey Whistle Test TV shows. Not bad for their first time out. But when they got back to America, they were still nobodies here.

ABC Records, which distributed Shelter, had pretty much given up on the album in the States. It had been out for eight months and it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere. They only sold 12,000 copies. But one of ABC’s promotion guys, a guy by the name of John Scott, heard the record and liked it, and figured he could do something with it. He had no budget and not much support from the label, but he believed in this record, in this band and he worked his ass off.

Slowly but surely, “Breakdown” was added to radio playlists across the country.  A year and a half after it was first released– a lifetime ago in the pop music world—“Breakdown” hit the top 40.


Then, the band were thinking about their next album. There’s a cliché, that also happens to be true: that an artist has their whole life to write their first album, and then six months to come up with their second.

Many bands burn through all their best material on their first album, then are immediately thrown out on the road to tour to promote that album, and then sent back into the studio to record their second album.

Not much time to write a bunch of good songs for that record, but for the Heartbreakers, luckily, magically, the songs for the second album came together pretty fast. There were a couple of tunes the band had found time to develop while they were on the road. “I Need To Know” was one of them.

“I Need To Know” was written by Tom Petty. It was released as the first single from the second album, called “You’re Gonna Get It”. The album was produced by Denny Cordell, Noah Shark and Tom Petty, and features Tom Petty on guitar and lead vocals, Stan Lynch on drums, Ron Blair on bass, Benmont Tench on keyboards, and Mike Campbell on lead guitar.

The song begins powerfully with all the instruments coming in at once. There are two guitar parts, I assume one’s played by Tom Petty and one by Mike Campbell. One is panned left, the other panned right.

That is just a great rock and roll guitar tone. Love it. The piano played by Benmont Tench is more or less panned straight up the middle. It’s lower in the mix, but he’s really rocking out here on this intro.

If you’re more familiar with Petty’s later material and that sort of sardonic, laid-back vocal style of his, it’s easy to forget just how in-your-face and punky his vocals used to be. Let’s listen to those vocals.

You can hear there’s some echo on his vocal there. One of my favorite elements of the arrangement of the song is next on the chorus, where the backing vocals repeat the title. After he sings the line, they are reinforcing his feelings and backing him up. It adds to the intensity of the song, increasing that sense of anxiety.

Let’s hear the chorus with the whole band.

Here’s the second verse, and let’s listen into the bass and drums this time around.

There’s a great scream coming up here that leads into the guitar solo. Let’s hear that scream.

And here’s the guitar solo by Mike Campbell. Let’s go back to the chorus one more time, with just the vocals and the keyboards. Because Benmont Tench is playing a really great part. Along with the piano, he’s also overdubbed an organ.

Now also if you listen closely to the last chorus, you can hear they’ve overdubbed a guitar playing these spiky little guitar stabs. They’re very low in the mix at first.

Those guitar stabs are a little more prominent this time.

“I Need To Know” by Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

“You’re Gonna Get It’, the second album from The Heartbreakers is kind of an overlooked album, coming after their debut album, which also had one of their biggest hits, “Breakdown”, and right before the “Damn The Torpedoes” album, arguably their masterpiece. It’s easy for this record to kind of get lost, but I think it’s a great album.

And we may never have gotten this record, or the great music that followed, if it weren’t for the behind-the-scenes people like John Scott, that promotions guy, who wouldn’t give up on this little rock and roll band.

Nobody makes it on their own. Every artist has people out of the limelight that put their heart and soul into supporting that artist. So, here’s a toast to people like John Scott, the people that no one ever hears about, but without them, we wouldn’t have gotten many of the great songs that we love. And of course, let’s pay tribute to Tom Petty himself, who died too early in 2017. He left behind a legacy of great songs, but I know he still had a lot more great music left in him. It was a huge loss.

Well, thanks as always, for being a part of this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. Share with us some of your favorite Tom Petty songs or memories. Post them on our Facebook page, or on Podchaser, or wherever it is that you listen to the show.

You can find our previous show on Tom Petty, along with a hundred other episodes on our website,, as well as on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon– anywhere you can find podcasts, you’ll find our show.  And don’t forget to follow the show so that you never miss any of our new episodes.

We are but one of many shows in the Pantheon family of podcasts, where you’ll find a wide range of podcasts on musi,c from Bob Dylan to hip hop to heavy metal.

Thanks for listening to this show on Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers “I Need To Know”

It’s time for another episode in our “Albums That Made Us” series: this time, I’m joined by Craig Smith from the Pods & Sods Network to discuss a much-maligned album that happens to hold a special place in his heart– the soundtrack to the “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” movie. This was how Craig discovered The Beatles. We also discuss “Wings Over America“, which was my entry point into Beatles fandom.

— This show is one of many great podcasts on the Pantheon Podcasts network. Check ’em all out!

Norman Whitfield turned The Temptations from a typical Motown vocal group into Psychedelic Soul pioneers. Their collaboration reached its zenith with “Papa Was A Rolling Stone“, a dark, atmospheric, orchestral showcase for both the Temptations and Whitfield’s genius. This would be the last #1 hit for The Temptations, and they would stop working with Norman Whitfield soon after. But they left behind this monumental masterpiece.

“Papa Was A Rolling Stone” (Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong) Copyright 1972 Stone Diamond Music Corp.

If you enjoyed this episode, here’s a previous episode that featured another classic Temptations song:

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You have managed to find your way to the “I’m In Love With That Song Podcast, one of the many shows on the Pantheon Podcast Network dedicated to bringing you the best music-related podcasts. I’m your host Brad Page, and each episode of this show, I pick one of my favorite songs and we attempt to discover what makes it a great song. Musical knowledge or experience is not a prerequisite here, we don’t get technical. This show is for anybody who loves music.

On this edition, we’re taking a look at one of the most epic songs to ever hit Number One, and probably the most unconventional track that Motown ever released. This is the Temptations with “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”.

Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield were one of Motown’s most successful songwriting teams. Whitfield was also their most adventurous producer. He was the man credited with creating the sound of “psychedelic soul”. Whitfield and Strong wrote “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” sometime in 1971. Whitfield had composed the music and recorded a basic track, and gave the tape to Strong with the suggestion that he come up with some lyrics that were fun. But as Strong listened to the tape over and over, he heard it differently. In particular, he thought that the bass part sounded like someone struggling to make sense out of confusion. He started to think about kids he knew who had been abandoned by their fathers. When they asked their mother what happened to their dad, what would they say? So Strong ran with that idea, finished up the lyrics and presented them to Whitfield, who liked them.

So they completed the song and then set about recording it with a band called The Undisputed Truth. It was this version that was released as a single in early 1972.


That’s actually a pretty cool production, but it wasn’t a hit. Whitfield still believed in the song though, and he convinced Barry Gordy to let him have another crack at it. So Whitfield completely reworked the song and went back into the studio with Motown’s legendary Funk brothers and rerecorded it. They turned it into an epic twelve-minute instrumental, a track full of atmosphere. Whitfield brought in Paul Riser to arrange the strings. Riser thought the track was full of mystery and suspense, and he treated his arrangement like he was scoring a movie. The soundtrack to “Shaft” had come out a year before, and Reiser was definitely inspired by that.

Now here’s where the Temptations come in. By 1971, The Temptations had gone through some major changes. Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks had left, leaving Otis Williams, Dennis Edwards and Melvin Franklin to carry on with two new members, Richard Street and Damon Harris.

The Temptations had had quite a few hits with Norman Whitfield producing, including two number ones. One of them, “I Can’t Get Next To You”, we covered here back in episode number 45.

But the Temptations were growing tired of Whitfield’s experimentations, which made the guys feel more like bit-players on their own records. They wanted to return to the romantic numbers like “My Girl” that they used to do. So, when Whitfield brought them into the studio and played them the twelve-minute track to “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”, they said, “No way, we are not doing that”. They argued for about 20 minutes when the group’s leader, Otis Williams, finally said, “Okay, we’ll give it a try”.

So let’s get into the track. Now, usually my preference is to go with the album version rather than the single, but this time we’re going to go with the single. The album version, at twelve minutes long, is a bit much for this podcast, and considering that the single itself is seven minutes, that gives us plenty to work with.

Here’s how the track begins. Just bass and hi-hat. Let’s hear just the bass, because that’s really the heart of the song.

The next thing you hear are the strings arranged by Paul Reiser. They add some real drama to the song. You can hear how Reiser was orchestrating this like a soundtrack to a movie, rather than just a pop song.

Here come the guitars, played by Paul Warren and Wah-Wah Watson. The two guitar parts play off each other and all the other instruments throughout the whole song. They’re always doing something interesting.

Added here, a trumpet played by Maurice Davis. Davis had already finished recording his part and was on his way out when Norman Whitfield called him back into the studio. He wanted to try recording it with a heavy echo on it. So, Davis re-recorded his whole part using the echo, which adds another layer of spookiness to the song.

Hand claps on the off beats. Notice how the hand claps stop there? The wah-wah guitar flutters and then the harp comes back in. All these parts flowing in and out. The wah-wah guitar drops out, the strings build and then drop out, too.

We are 1 minute and 55 seconds into the song, and here is where the vocals finally come in. On the album version, it’s almost four minutes before the vocals come in. You can see why The Temptations felt like they were being sidelined, but that intro really sets a mood, doesn’t it?

We’ll take a look at the vocals in a minute, but first, let’s just listen to what those guitars are doing in the background.

The Motown guitar players were usually relegated to just playing rhythm, but here they get to stretch out a bit.

Now the vocals. The first voice we hear is Dennis Edwards. Edwards and Whitfield clashed from the start about this song. Edwards kept trying to put more into his vocal performance, but Whitfield kept telling him to hold back, to tone it down. Edwards did not like to be restrained, but Whitfield wanted it dialed way down. That was making Edwards pretty mad. But Whitfield got the take he wanted.

Edwards was also upset because he was taking the lyrics a little personally. This verse about the 3rd of September being the day that Daddy died hit a little close to home. Now, the legend has it that Edward’s own father died on September 3, but that’s not actually true. His dad died on October 3. Still, it was close enough for Edwards to be concerned about it. And Whitfield had to convince him that it wasn’t personal. Barrett Strong had only written the lyrics that way because he liked the way it sounded–the date was purely a coincidence.

Let’s hear more of the guitars behind this verse.

Here come those hand claps again.

Maurice Davis’s trumpet, saturated with echo, appears again. The strings are going to take over for a few measures. Let’s hear what they’re doing. Reiser used nine violins, four violas, three cellos, and that harp for the string section.

In classic Temptations fashion, the lead vocals are shared by different singers. This works particularly well on this song, because it sounds like multiple children telling their stories. It’s not just the story of one boy, it’s the voices of all those kids who were let down by their fathers.

This next verse features Richard Street, who replaced Paul Williams in 1971, as well as Melvin Franklin, whose deep bass voice was the foundation for so many great Temptations songs.

I love that part.

Let’s zero in on Richard street’s vocals.

Wah-wah Watson is getting in some licks behind this verse. Let’s hear some of that.

And here’s the second chorus.

I like that guitar lick there. The final verse features Damon Harris, who replaced Eddie Kendricks when he quit in ‘71. Harris was the youngest member of the band, and while Kendrick’s falsetto was one of the Temptation’s trademarks, Damon sounds great here.

Damon gets the last word.

Let’s listen a little more to that backing track.

“Papa Was a Rolling Stone”. During their career, The Temptations had four number one hits on the top 100: “My Girl”, “I Can’t Get Next To You”, “Just My Imagination” and “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”. Three of those four were written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and produced by Whitfield.

That was a magic combination, but it didn’t last. Within a few years, Whitfield and The Temptations would stop working together, and Whitfield would leave Motown. “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” would be the last number one hit for The Temptations, but it was their crowning achievement.

Thanks for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. New episodes are released on the 1st and the 15th of every month, so we’ll be back soon with another show. You can find all of our previous shows on our website,, as well as on Spotify, Apple, Podcasts, Google, Amazon, wherever you can find podcasts. And if you’re looking for more music podcasts, check out the other great shows on the Pantheon Network.

Drop us a line on Facebook, Podchaser, or send email to

Don’t forget to support the artists you love by buying their music. And thanks for joining me for this episode on “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by The Temptations.

Perhaps the most influential compilation album of all time, the original Nuggets album was lovingly assembled by guitarist/author Lenny Kaye in 1972. Collecting some of the greatest psychedelic garage rock onto one collection was no small feat, but the album went on to inspire tons of musicians in the US and the UK. On this episode, we honor the 50th anniversary of this landmark collection with a look back at some of the best tracks by these long-gone, and mostly forgotten, bands.

— And remember to follow this show, so you never miss an episode.


We’re back with another edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast network. I’m your host, Brad Page, and if you’re a music lover like me, I’m sure you’ve had this experience before: You hear about a record, maybe someone tells you that you should check it out, or you just keep seeing it referenced in articles or interviews. So you take a chance on it, and it opens up a whole new world of music for you. Well, today on the show, we’re going to take a look at an album that did that for me in a big way. This episode we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the compilation album known as ““Nuggets””, and we’ll be listening to some of the great psychedelic proto-punk garage rock songs from the late ‘60’s.


Lenny Kaye is probably most known for playing guitar in the Patti Smith Group – he played on her first four critically acclaimed albums. He was also a record producer, but before all that, he was a writer and a music journalist. Lenny loved the psychedelic garage rock of the 1960’s, and in 1972, he compiled 27 of the best garage rock singles onto a double album called ““Nuggets””.

The original ““Nuggets”” album was released by Electra Records 50 years ago this month, in October 1972. ““Nuggets”” would go on to become hugely influential, inspiring generations of bands. In the 1980’s, Rhino Records revived the “Nuggets” brand and not only reissued the original “Nuggets” album, they created a whole series of “Nuggets” albums, eventually releasing about 15 albums worth of this stuff. And that’s when I first discovered these records.

In 1998, Rhino collected the best of those songs into a CD box set of over 100 tracks. And we’re going to be listening to a selection of tracks from that box set. Some of these songs are on the original “Nuggets” album, but all of them can be found on that “Nuggets” box set, which I highly recommend.

All of these songs represent a time when kids all across the country, inspired by the Beatles and the Stones and dozens of other bands, went out and bought their own guitars and drums, taught themselves how to play and started bands in their basements or garages, hence the term “garage rock”.

The sound of these records is rough. The performance is even rougher. Any particular skill at your instrument, including vocals, was, uh, a plus, but not required. This was music created in the passion of the moment. It’s about inspiration, not technical skill. As Bill Inglett put it in his liner notes to the box set, “Attitude ruled over aptitude”. Or to paraphrase Lenny Kaye, this is the sound of teenagers yearning to play in a band.

And even though this music was a product of the social norms breaking down at the time free love, psychedelic drugs and all of that, there’s also a certain innocence or naivete to this music that I find charming, as odds that sounds.

So, here’s a baker’s dozen of great tracks from “Nuggets”, starting with Count Five – “Psychotic Reaction”. Originally a surf rock band from San Jose, CA, they were captured by the British Invasion and changed their name to Count Five. They wore vampire-inspired capes on stage. After being rejected by the major record companies, they signed to a small Los Angeles label called Double Shot Records and released “Psychotic Reaction” in June 1966. Singer and guitarist Sean Byrne came up with the song one day in health education class. It became a big part of their live shows with the “rave up” section in the middle, no doubt inspired by The Yardbirds, giving their lead guitarist named Mouse a chance to let loose on his fuzz-tone guitar. The song actually made it to number five on the Billboard Hot 100.


That’s “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five.

Next up, Michael and the Messengers, “Romeo and Juliet”. The Messengers were originally a high school band from Winona, Minnesota. The bass player reformed the band in college and they released a version of “In the Midnight Hour” on Chicago’s USA Records label. That was enough of a regional hit that the Messengers got picked up by Motown Records, which left the tiny USA label without their hit band. So USA put together their own version of the Messengers. It was actually a band from Leminster, Massachusetts– not far from where I went to high school– called the Del Mars, that USA renamed Michael and The Messengers and recorded this version of “Romeo and Juliet”. Despite the fact that there was nobody named Michael in the band, that didn’t stop them from having a minor hit with this single in 1967.


Michael and the Messengers with “Romeo and Juliet”

Tthis next track is by The Sparkles. It’s called “No Friend of Mine”. The Sparkles were a band from Texas, and their single “No Friend Of Mine” is a perfect specimen of garage rock. Nasty fuzz guitar? Check. That buzzing organ sound? Check. A lead vocal that’s somewhere between spoken word and screaming frustration? Check. it’s a textbook example.


“No Friend Of Mine” by The Sparkles

Let’s check out another track. This one is by the Gollywogs. It’s called “Fight Fire”. Now, a band called the Blue Velvets came out of El Cerrito, CA as far back as 1959. But when they signed to Fantasy Records in 1964, the label changed their name to The Gollywogs. They hated that name. They released a handful of singles, including “Fight Fire” in 1966. A year later, the band would change their name again– this time to Credence Clearwater Revival. That’s right. This is CCR before they were CCR. Let’s have a listen to “Fight Fire”.


The Gollywogs with “Fight Fire”.

Next up is The Rationals with “I Need You”. The Rationals formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan around 1963, signed to a local label and released a bunch of singles that did well in Michigan, but not so much elsewhere. Their version of the Kinks song, “I Need You” released in 1968, one-ups Dave Davies with an even gnarlier guitar sound.


The Rationals and their version of “I Need You”.

Now let’s hear a song by the Sonics called “Psycho”. This is the earliest song of this bunch, released way back in January 1965. But it’s as intense and wild as anything on this list. The Sonics started in Tacoma, WA, and in November ‘64 had a regional hit with a song called “The Witch”, which became the biggest selling local single in the Northwest’s history. They released their first album in 1965 called “Here Are the Sonics”. And it is a seminal piece of garage rock history. Recorded on a two-track recorder with only one microphone for the drums, this album features all their best songs, including this track, “Psycho”. By 1968, the band had split up, but they managed to influence Nirvana, the White Stripes, and are often referred to as the first punk band.


“Psycho” by the Sonics.

Things start to get psychedelic on our next song. It’s The Balloon Farm with “A Question Of Temperature”. Before The Balloon Farm formed, two of the members played in a band called Adam, where every member changed their first name to Adam. Their first and only single was a song called “Eve”. Of course.

When that band split, those two guys formed a new band, and named it The Balloon Farm after a club in New York with the same name. “A Question of Temperature” was their only hit, released in October 1967. Reached 37 on the Billboard chart. But it has everything you want in a psychedelic pop song: A pulsating beat, breathy vocals, fuzz-tone guitar and trippy sound effects. It’s a classic in my book.


“A Question of Temperature” by The Balloon Farm.  One of the members of The Balloon Farm was a guy named Mike Appel, who would later go on to manage Bruce Springsteen. But that’s a story for another podcast.

Next is the DelVettes with “Last Time Around”. The DelVettes were a Chicago band that recorded a handful of singles for the Dunwich label. They released “Last Time Around” in May 1966. It features a killer riff on bass and fuzzed out guitar, with a nice chorus. And it’s another tune that shows the influence of The Yardbirds, with its rave -p style solo right in the middle.


“Last Time Around” by The DelVettes.

Now here’s a song by The Elastic Band called “Spaz”. Straight out of Belmont, CA, came the Elastic Band. Get it? Elastic Band. I can’t tell you anything about this group, except that they released two singles. And this one, “Spaz”, managed to get released by ATCO Records, a legit major label, in 1967. And I don’t know what to say about this song. Just listen to this:


“Spaz” by The Elastic Band.

Now, if there’s any song in this episode that you recognize, it’ll be this one: The Strawberry Alarm Clock with “Incense and Peppermints”. This song actually hit number one on the Billboard charts in 1967, and it’s a lot poppier than most of the tracks we’ve been listening to, but no less psychedelic, with its fuzz-tone guitar and vintage 60’s organ sound.

The band was from Glendale, CA, and originally known as The Sixpence, but changed their name after the song was first released. There’s actually a pretty convoluted history to this song. It started out as an instrumental by band members Mark Weitz and Ed King and initially released as a B-side to a single by The Sixpence. Apparently, most of the band members didn’t like the lyrics, so the lead vocal ended up being sung by a guy who wasn’t even in the band. He was a friend who was just hanging out at the recording session. Weitz and King never got songwriting credits. The credits went to John Carter, who wrote the lyrics, and his partner Tim Gilbert, who actually had nothing to do with the song. Guitarist Ed King would later join the original lineup of Lynyrd Skynyrd– About as far away as you could get from the sound of the Strawberry Alarm Clock.


“Incense And Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Next: Love – “7 and 7 Is”.  If the Strawberry Alarm Clock was the most commercially successful of this bunch of songs, the band Love was the most influential. An interracial band at a time when that was rare in rock, fronted by Arthur Lee, singer songwriter, guitarist, keyboard player. Lee had a distinct vision, not like anybody else. Love came from LA, but had a sound miles away from the sunny “California Dreaming” sound. Love was the first rock band signed to Electra Records, and released their first album in early 1966. By the summer, they released a brand new single, “7 and 7 Is”. The song explodes with a pent-up teenage frustration, never lets up on the intensity until a bomb literally goes off at the end. This song has been covered countless times, by everyone from Alice Cooper to Billy Bragg to Rush. Here’s the original:


“7 And 7 Is” by Love.

And here’s The Blues Magoos with “We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet”. The Blues Magoos arose from the Bronx in New York, playing around Greenwich Village under various names, before they changed their name to the Blues Magoos in 1966. They released their first album, “Psychedelic Lollipop” in November ‘66, which featured their single, “We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet”, one of the most infectious bits of garage rock you’re ever going to find. It actually reached number five on the Billboard charts, featuring a driving bass line, a pseudo sitar-sounding guitar riff, and the sound of the vox continental organ, such a key element to so many garage rock tunes.


“We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet” by the Blues Magoos.

And one last tune: The Remains with “Don’t Look Back”.  The Remains were a Boston band formed in 1964 at Boston University by Barry Tashian, who would eventually end up in Emmy Lou Harris’s band. But at this time, he was freshly back from a trip to Europe, where he was inspired by bands like The Kinks to start his own group back home. They built a following in and around Boston and signed with Epic Records. They appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and even scored the opening slot on the Beatles final US tour in 1966. But they never broke into the big time. Too bad, too, because they had the chops and the talent to do it, but it just never came together for them. “Don’t Look Back” was their final single, released in August 1966. Should have been a hit.


“Don’t Look Back” by The Remains.

It’s funny… when the original “Nuggets” album came out in 1972, most of these songs were five, six years old at the most, but they were already considered artifacts of another time. Here we are, 50 years later– a lifetime ago. But if you look out there somewhere, you’ll still find bands being inspired by these songs from the first psychedelic era.

These days, that DIY spirit, “I want to do that too”, has moved out of the garage and into the bedroom, with digital technology. Things have shifted to software; towards beats and samples, and away from guitars and amplifiers, which I admit, bums me out. But that’s okay. It’s not like anyone’s confiscating all the guitars.  And the spirit of “Nuggets” is still there. That idea that passion is more important than technical chops, that anyone can make music if they put enough heart and soul into it. And there’s nothing more rock and roll than that.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. You can find all of our previous shows on our website,, as well as on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon… we are everywhere podcasts can be found.

Leave comments or reviews on Podchaser or wherever you listen to the show. And don’t forget to check out the other great shows on the Pantheon network.

We’ll see you again in two weeks with another new episode. Until then, here’s one more nugget– The Knickerbockers with “Lies”.


“See Emily Play” was only Pink Floyd’s 2nd single, but it was a watershed moment in psychedelic rock history. Though Syd Barrett’s body of work was relatively small, he left behind a huge legacy that’s still influencing people today. This song is one of the highlights of his short and tragic career.

“See Emily Play” (Syd Barrett) Copyright 1967 Westminster Music Limited


It’s time to hop on your bike and pedal into interstellar overdrive, because on this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast, we are swinging by for a visit with Sid Barrett and Pink Floyd.

I’m your host, Brad Page, and you’re joining me here on the Pantheon Podcast Network, where each show, I pick a favorite song and we explore it together, listening to all the elements that make it a great song. If you’ve been listening to this show, or any of the podcasts on the Pantheon Network, then you know we’ve been on board with Nick Mason and his “Saucer Full of Secrets” tour this year. Nick is, of course, the drummer for Pink Floyd; he’s played on every Pink Floyd album. In fact, he’s the only member of Pink Floyd who’s played on every single Pink Floyd album. There’s a trivia question for you. With his “Saucer Full of Secrets” project, he performs all the early Pink Floyd material. These are the songs that the other guys just don’t play, in particular the Sid Barrett-era stuff. So these concerts, they’re really something special. I just got back from seeing two shows on this tour in Boston, MA, and Providence, Rhode Island, and it was great. It inspired me to dig into one of the songs he’s playing on this tour, one of the earliest Pink Floyd recordings and one of Sid Barrett’s classics– a song called “See Emily Play”.


Nick Mason was born on January 20, 1944 in Birmingham, England, though his family moved to London when he was pretty young. When he was twelve years old, he would spend all night listening to “Rockin’ to Dreamland” on the radio and fell in love with rock and roll. He picked up the drums, and while a student at Regent Street Polytechnic, he met two other budding musicians: Roger Waters and Richard Wright.

Richard Wright was born July 28, 1943. He learned piano and trumpet, and taught himself how to play guitar, and studied at the Eric Gilder School of Music in London. But then he switched to architecture, and that’s how he ended up at the Regent Street School.

George Roger Waters was born September 6, 1943. His father was killed in World War II when Roger was only five years old; his mother moved the family to Cambridge, where he became friends with a young lad named Sid Barrett.

Roger Keith Sid Barrett was born in Cambridge on January 6, 1946. His father, Dr. Barrett, worked at the university and was also a musician, and he encouraged all five of his children to play, but Dr. Barrett died from cancer when Sid was about 15. Around that time, Sid started playing guitar and formed his first band.

Roger Waters, Richard Wright and Nick Mason began playing together and formed a band called Tea Set. They moved into a house owned by Mike Leonard, and they were joined by another resident of that house, a guitar player named Bob Close. Shortly after that, Sid Barrett would join the band.

So now the band known as Tea Set included Sid Barrett on guitars and vocals, Bob Close on guitar, Rick Wright on keyboards, Roger Waters on bass and Nick Mason on drums. Tea Set recorded a few demos, including a cover of the Slim Harpo song “I’m a King Bee”:


That’s Sid singing the lead vocals on both of those tracks. By the middle of 1965, Bob Close had left, and the remaining four– Barrett, Waters, Wright and Mason– renamed themselves the Pink Floyd Sound. Sid came up with the band name by combining the names of two blues musicians, Pink Anderson and Floyd Counsel.

The Pink Floyd Sound began playing these events known as “Happenings” in 1966. It was at one of these Happenings that they caught the attention of Peter Jenner. Amongst many things, Jenner had set up a small record company called DNA Productions. One of their productions was a band called AMM, who were avant-garde pioneers. They released an album in 1966 called AMM Music, one of the earliest experimental rock albums.


You can imagine how those sounds would influence a band like Pink Floyd.

Peter Jenner was knocked out by what Pink Floyd was doing, and along with his friend, Andrew King, they signed on as Pink Floyd’s first managers. Jenner and King started getting them bigger and better gigs, including at the legendary UFO or UFO Club, which Pink Floyd played for the first time on December 23, 1966. This is where they began working with a psychedelic light show.

At the UFO Club, they met a producer named Joe Boyd who wanted to sign them to Electra Records. But Electra wasn’t interested. But Joe Boyd did end up producing Pink Floyd’s first single, Arnold Lane.


In February 1967, Pink Floyd finally signed a contract with EMI.  “Arnold Lane” could have been a big hit, but it was banned by the BBC because of its lyrics about a cross-dressing underwear thief.

The next single, “See Emily Play”, would fare a little better. Recorded in May 1967 and released as a single in June, “See Emily Play” was written by Sid Barrett, and features Sid on guitar and lead vocals, Richard Wright on keyboards, Roger Waters on bass and Nick Mason on drums. It was produced by Norman Smith.

Norman was a house producer and engineer at EMI. With a pretty impressive resume including work with the Beatles, he was the perfect choice to capture Pink Floyd’s psychedelic visions on tape.

The song opens with Rick Wright’s Farfisa organ, Roger Waters playing alternating notes an octave apart on his bass, and some trippy sound effects, most likely created by Sid messing around with his Binson Echorec on his guitar sound. Back in the day, the way you created an echo sound on stage or in the studio was to use a mechanical device like a tape loop, or in the case of the Binson Echorec, a magnetic drum. Binson was an Italian company that pioneered the magnetic drum recorder for producing echoes. The Echorec had a record head and four playback heads arranged around a rotating drum. Every echo device– the EchoPlex, the Fender Dimension Four, the Watkins Copycat, Roland Space Echo and the Binson Echorec– Each has a unique sound. The Binson Echorec became an essential element in the Pink Floyd sound. Sid Barrett, Rick Wright and Roger Waters would all use it, as would David Gilmour when he joined the band later that year.

Let’s go back and listen to just Sid’s guitar sound with that Binson Echorec. Rick plays a short organ solo while Roger plays a prominent bass riff pretty forward in the mix.


The intro has been hanging around an A chord, but once the verse begins, it’s going to shift down to a G, which changes the mood a little bit.


So, who is Emily? The character in the song could have been inspired by Emily Young, daughter of Lord Kennet, who was a frequent guest at the UFO club, and she would become a famous sculptor. It could be Anna Murray, a friend of Sid’s, or probably most likely just a product of Sid’s imagination.

Let’s listen to the vocals which are doubled with some backing vocals, probably overdubbed by Sid and Rick.


That brings us to the chorus. It’s a pretty short verse. Notice the little piano fills in the chorus. They have a quick echo effect on them. Once again, that’s the Binson Echorec.


The last line of that chorus is “free games for May, see Emily play”. Earlier that same month, May 1967, Pink Floyd played a special concert in London called “Games for May”. It was billed as “Space Age Relaxation for the climax of spring”. Sid wrote a song especially for the occasion, which he called “Games for May”. That song would quickly evolve into “See Emily Play”. Let’s listen to the vocals for this chorus.


At the end of the chorus, there’s a sound like a rocket or an engine taking off that was created by Sid using a metal slide, or maybe his Zippo lighter, and sliding it up the guitar strings. With plenty of that echo, of course.

Then there’s a short section where the track speeds up for a few bars. So for that part, Rick Wright’s piano, along with a little bit of guitar and drums, were recorded at half speed, so that when the tape was played back at normal speed, the part was twice as fast. So let’s slow that down to get an idea of what that might have sounded like originally:


And here’s how it sounds again after it was speeded up and edited back into the song:


The more subtle but interesting thing is the way Nick Mason’s drum beat shifts between regular time and double time throughout the whole song. Let’s hear his drums during that verse.


And that verse leads us to the second chorus. So let’s let that play through.


Let’s go back and listen to the backing tracks for this chorus. Listen specifically for the sharp, staccato chords that Sid is playing on his guitar, and to that piano with the echo effect. That chorus ends with a blast of fuzz-tone guitar. And then we’re into the solo section. Rick Wright takes the lead on keyboards, but Sid is doing some fun stuff in the background on his guitar.


Let’s see if we can hear more of Sid’s guitar at the end there. Again, he’s using some kind of a metal slide, probably his Zippo lighter, high up the strings with that Binson echo to create those chirping sounds.

That brings us to the final verse. Sounds to me like there might be some timpani drums overdubbed at the beginning of the verse. Let’s listen to that verse.


I’d like to hear those vocals at the end again. Here’s the last chorus.


And let’s go back and listen to those harmony vocals.


And rather than a big finale at the end, the song fades out on a two-note phrase played on the bass by Roger Waters, leaving the song somewhat unresolved at the end.

“See Emily Play” by Pink Floyd.

The song was released as a single on June 16, 1967 in the UK; I don’t think it was released in the US. Pink Floyd’s first album, “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, was released two months later. This song is not on the UK version of the album, but the record company did stick it on the American version for the US market. The song has also been included on numerous compilation albums, and it’s on the deluxe 3-CD reissue of “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, which I highly recommend. And that’s the version that I used here, which is in mono, by the way. With all those psychedelic effects, you don’t even notice that it’s not in stereo.

I got to thank Nick Mason for working with Pantheon on the tour. I know all of the podcasts that participated were really grateful for the opportunity to go and see the shows, and to talk to Nick and the guys in the band.

We’ll be back in two weeks with another new episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song podcast. I’m especially looking forward to the next episode, as it’s a fun one and a great follow-on from this episode.

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Thanks for listening to this episode on Pink Floyd and “See Emily Play”.


Before you move on, I just wanted to make a couple of recommendations: If you enjoyed this episode, you should check out a few of our other shows. We’ve done multiple episodes on the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and The Who. We’ve discussed songs by Todd Rungren, Yes, Aerosmith, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin and Queen. We’ve done deep dives into songs by Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Stevie Wonder. And of course, we’ve discussed John Lennon, George Harrison and a few McCartney songs. So there’s plenty of other shows for you– I hope you give them a listen. Thank you for being a part of the “I’m in Love With That Song” podcast.