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ohcarrots

oh, carrots.

Currently reading

Practical Demonkeeping
Christopher Moore
Sunset Song (Canongate Classic)
Lewis Grassic Gibbon
The Histories: The Landmark Herodotus
Herodotus, Andrea L. Purvis, Robert B. Strassler
40-Day Journey with Julian of Norwich
Lisa E. Dahill
Eric Carmen: Marathon Man - Bernie Hogya, Ken Sharp -The last three times I've been in a bar in Cleveland, I've heard The Choir's "It's Cold Outside". Never fails to thrill me.

-There's this video on Youtube where Wally Bryson explains some of the sounds he was trying to get out of guitars during his Raspberries days, including emulating keyboard instruments. I wish the interview were much longer.

-Amazon recommended this book to me the other day, and I figured it might be the closest thing we ever get to the story of the 60s music scene in Cleveland and Raspberries in general.

I am a huge Raspberries fan (this is probably how I got the recommend in the first place), but most of the stuff Carmen did post Raspberries is iffy to me. He's really talented but too schmaltzy for my tastes (and I have an alarmingly high schmaltz capacity). And he has made a lot of questionable fashion decisions. I still found that part of the book interesting enough since the pace is steady.

I wasn't sure I could handle a book about Eric Carmen, the man, but it's really a book about how the music was made. It's not about groupies or scandals or teasing one's hair enough to increase one's height by six inches. If you aren't interested in the technical side of music, you might be quite bored. This is actually my preference in rock memoirs, so I enjoyed it quite a bit.

The early part of the book is full of stories of Carmen (often with Bryson) fiddling with sounds and equipment and mashing up all sorts of popular songs to create something new but familiar at the same time.
-In the Cyrus Erie days as teenagers “Eric and Wally figured out how to play ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ by using a mini Farfisa organ to compensate for the string parts,” explains Marty Murphy. “After that, they figured out how to play ‘Nights In White Satin.’ It was killer. There are people to this day that can’t believe that they did it with the instrumentation that they had on stage.
“The mini Farfisa organ had twenty keys at most and a couple of stops. It sat atop the Wurlitzer electric piano and we used it on songs like ‘My Way of Giving’ by the Small Faces. For ‘Nights In White Satin,’ Eric used an Echoplex, which had several feet of recording tape in it. It would record what you played, and then after a specified interval, play it back as part of a tape loop. That’s how they did it. They used an Echoplex with a tape delay and delayed it just enough to flesh out the interval of the notes when they played the organ so it sounded like a string section. It sounded so amazing that nobody believed that a Farfisa organ was producing the strings, so Don Ladanyi made a box that had a bunch of switches and lights on it. When they got to the solo on ‘Nights In White Satin,’ Eric would flick these buttons causing all of the lights to flash on and off. Then he’d launch into the solo. It looked impressive but the only thing the box did was to flash its lights on and off. Other musicians who came to see the band were particularly happy that Eric seemed to need a special effect to create that sound. It was more credible than that small Farfisa organ.”


-On recording "Don't Want to Say Goodbye"“My idea was to see if we could cross-fade my piano into Wally’s acoustic guitar-through-a-Lesley organ speaker to get to the ‘second movement.’ From there it was supposed to take off into sounding a bit more like The Who backing McCartney who’s still at the piano. “
At the chorus, the Beach Boys were supposed to come in singing and then at the very end I wanted Jim to completely let loose like Keith Moon on ‘My Generation,’ while the Beach Boys harmonies continued, Wally slashed out the chords on his 12-string and I attempted to emulate Brian Wilson. No wonder my band thought I was crazy!”


A few other things that stuck with me:
-Carmen got his signature “hah!” off Steve Marriot of The Small Faces.
-Raspberries once opened for Badfinger.
-I said, ‘How about Wally Bryson?’ But Jim and Eric thought he would be too difficult to control. Obviously they took him on anyway. Thank goodness. He required two haircuts to meet the standards of the new look.
-Dave Smalley's reward for a tour in Vietnam was a spot waiting for him in Raspberries. Pretty sweet.
-Bruce Springsteen was strongly influenced by their sound.

My only complaint is that it's not perfectly linear. It's basically an oral history so sometimes it jumps around a bit within a few years back and forth, as one often does while talking. Also sometimes I had no idea who was talking. In those instances I assumed it was Carmen. It isn't impossible to follow or anything like that but knocks off a star for sure.