Friday, January 29, 2010

Genius Of jesse Barish

he Genius of Jesse Barish - Interview by Craig Fenton PDF Print E-mail
Written by Craig Fenton
Sunday, 06 September 2009 18:06

The Genius of Jesse Barish - Interview by Craig Fenton
The Genius of Jesse Barish - Interview by Craig Fenton
The Genius of Jesse Barish - Interview by Craig Fenton

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Jesse Barish- Wrote the songs Count On Me, Hearts, and Atlanta Lady (To name a few), and Marty Balin and Jesse appear on some of each others recordings. This interview was first published in Craig Fenton's book Take Me To A Circus Tent

"Hearts" performed by Jesse Barish on YouTube

This was recorded by the woman known as "SongTruth", she did her own version of Jesse Barish's composition which has over 43,000 spins on YouTube. Songtruth Singing Hearts She lives in the same city as Jesse and taped his version (above) on July 6, 2009.

Remember to click on the photos, album covers or Craig's book covers to find tons and tons of Jefferson Airplane / Jefferson Starship / Jesse Barish products and rarities in itself.

We have published the material with permission of the author.

Copyright (C)2009 Craig Fenton, all rights reserved

image Craig: “It is great to be able to speak with you about the songs you have written for the Jefferson Starship and Marty, as well as your own recordings.”

Jesse Barish: “Craig thanks for including me in the book. It is nice to talk about the songs.”

Craig: “You played with David LaFlamme (He would be part of a band It’s A Beautiful Day and one of their songs White Bird is considered one of the finest ever written) before you recording your first album. What was the name of the group?”

Jesse Barish: “I was in the original configuration of a band called the Orkustra (The spelling is correct) with David. I played the flute in that band. I am a flute-player as well as a singer and songwriter and acoustic guitarist . After that I got a gig playing with John Phillips (Mamas & The Papas). He was promoting his record John, The Wolf King Of L.A. This was his first solo album. I was in a band called Trees. We were four male singers and songwriters. One of the guys in Trees knew John. He goes over his house to see if he would produce us. John instead offered to let us be his back up band, soon after I got signed by Shelter Records.”

Craig: “What prevented the Orkustra from making it as a band?” (Thank you to Quicksilver Messenger Service historian Mike Somavilla for the proper spelling of the Orkustra).

Jesse Barish: “It’s hard to say. I left them after a few rehearsals that we had in a garage in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco. They played a bunch of gigs and then they broke up. It’s a shame they didn’t go the distance. They had an upright bass, a cello, and an amplified oboe. It was a unique concept. They had the guitar and violin too. David is a great violin-player, a great musician, and a character.”

Craig: “Any interesting stories when you played with another character John Phillips?”
Jesse Barish: “We go out on the road with John. There is a gig in New York. I think the club was called the Main Point. That may have been a club outside of Philadelphia. John thought the music was too loud for him. He fires two of the guitarists and the drummer. It was neat. John was a great guy. We played the Big Sur, California Folk Festival. That was excellent. Craig, before John passed away in 2001 (3/18/01) we were writing some songs together.”

Craig: ‘It is a shame that he is one of many of the great performers from the 1960’s we have lost. After the tour with John Phillips you were able to record in 1972 an album Jesse, Wolff, And Whings. How did the project come together?”
imageJesse Barish: “I was on the lot of A & M Records. I ran into Denny Cordell (Legendary producer that passed away in 1995. He produced the Moody Blues, Joe Cocker, and Leon Russell to name a few). I was excited because I had a few songs I wanted Joe Cocker to hear. Denny had produced the great record by Procol Harum, Whiter Shade Of Pale. I was real brave in those days; I would go up to anybody with my songs. He was really nice and instantly put me together with Joe Cocker. A few days later I got to play Joe Cocker a bunch of songs. Nothing happened with the songs I played for Joe. In the course of that I had made a demo. One day out of the blue Denny calls me. Denny told me he really liked the demo and wanted to sign me to a contract. I wasn’t looking to get signed. Shelter Records was a really cool label back then. Leon Russell and J.J. Cale (Wrote After Midnight and Cocaine. He is a well respected musician that has recorded many albums over the years) were two of the artists. Denny ended up signing me.”
Craig: “Did Joe Cocker tell you that your songs are good, but the style isn’t a fit for what he is doing?”

Jesse Barish: “He wasn’t receptive. He had just come off the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour with Leon Russell. The last thing he wanted was to hear from another singer songwriter. It wasn’t the right time and I didn’t have the right songs for him.”

Craig: “In 1972 you saw the release of Jesse, Wolff, And Whings. Did you get to play any live dates to promote the record?”

Jesse Barish: “We did gigs. In fact we got to go out with what they called Shelter Tours. That would be us and other Shelter Records artists. We played with blues legend Freddie King and with J.J. Cale. I also got to open shows for Leon Russell and Ike & Tina Turner. It was an odd record. It wasn’t a great record.”

Craig: “Shelter Records did see potential, they had the famous session pianist Larry Knechtel (A member of the band Bread, he also has done numerous sessions. He played one of the most famous piano parts in rock and roll history on Simon & Garfunkel’s song Bridge Over Troubled Water) help out with the record.”

Jesse Barish: “For some reason we ended up doing the record by ourselves. The record was done at Leon Russell’s house. Every time that Denny scheduled somebody to be with us, he got sick or they got sick. For the most part the band and an engineer did the record by ourselves. We did a million takes and didn’t have guidance. Working with Larry was great. I remember the session. Leon had one of the first home studios. Larry

Jesse Barish : Wheel Keep Turning

showed up and that was a high point. As for the record it is disjointed and not a good representation of my work. I don’t think anybody would think this was a good record. (Jesse laughs). It was a formative chapter in my life. The band ended up moving to Marin County, California. The band had lived in Hollywood, California but the gigs were in the vicinity of San Francisco. We got to open shows for John Cipollina’s band Copperhead. We were the Monday night band at a club called The Keystone Berkeley. We played the Lions Share in San Anselmo, California. Then it turned into a duo with me and Bill Wolff. I then decided around 1974 I wanted to go solo. I ended up in Mill Valley, California.”

Craig: “Was this about the time you got introduced to Marty Balin?”

Jesse Barish: “That is right. Somebody told me that I should meet Marty. I was a huge Airplane fan. There are three albums I loved from the Airplane; they were Surrealistic Pillow, After Bathing At Baxter’s, and Crown Of Creation. They are to me soundtracks to the sixties. Marty and I had a connection. We became good friends. Marty helped me in so many ways. Marty helped me to put a demo together of a few songs I wanted to get a record deal with. It now becomes 1976. There is a good story with the Jefferson Starship album Spitfire. There was a guy named Thunderhawk. He was an Indian friend of Paul Kantner. Thunderhawk had written something on a piece of paper that said “St. Charles sings.” That was all he wrote. Paul had a piece of music in his head. He wanted to call it St. Charles. Paul gives it to Marty to write the lyrics. I guess that Craig Chaquico and Paul had done most of the music. Marty couldn’t make anything out of it. Joey Covington had tried as well. Marty asked that I give it a try. I take the song home and I wrote the lyrics that night. I came back to Marty the next day. I sang it to Marty and he told me that was it! Marty changed a couple of things. The Jefferson Starship also did another song of mine on the record called Love Lovely Love. That was my introduction into that world.”

jesse barish : cherry roadCraig: “Did a musician introduce you to Marty?”

Jesse Barish: “It was a friend of mine Kevin Curran. He was a flute-player and he played the guitar. He has passed away. I met him in a second hand store. He had a flute in his hand. For many years Kevin did sound at The Roxy, Los Angeles.”

Craig: “From the time you met Marty until the Spitfire record were you playing with a band?”

Jesse Barish: “I was kind of hanging out. I would work on songs, I didn’t do any solo gigs. You could say I was out of the loop. I never networked the way other songwriters did. Meeting Marty was a very organic thing.”
Craig: “Did Marty have a songwriting formula and advice to go with it?”

Jesse Barish: “Marty didn’t talk about a formula. He encouraged me to do my thing.”

Craig: “When the Jefferson Starship took the two songs for Spitfire, what did you feel inside?”

Jesse Barish: “It was unbelievable to me. Here is a guy that I admired all these years (Marty) and his band is taking two of my songs. As important my friend wanted two songs from me.”

Craig: “You didn’t stop there. On the Jefferson Starship album Earth you contributed three songs.”

Jesse Barish: “Marty took me into Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco. I believe I did three songs. My version of Count On Me was one of those three tunes. I thought the demo was really good. I entered Count On Me in the American Song Festival. I got to be a quarter-finalist. I don’t know if that was a big deal.”

Craig: “Jesse, it was a big deal. The readers may be interested to know that you were competing with several thousand people.”

Jesse Barish: “I don’t remember if Paul had heard the song. The Jefferson Starship wanted to do Count On Me. I had a small band at the time. The musicians were very supportive of me, but some didn’t like the idea of giving the song to somebody else. I had to decide if I save it for myself, there is no guarantee I get a hit. If I give it to the Jefferson Starship there is a real good chance they will have a hit. RCA Records is offering me a deal for the self-titled album I did. Marty had walked me into RCA and they signed me. I started to work on the record. It was nice. They didn’t restrict me. I had a great feeling for Count On Me. I had to let it go and let them record it. They did a great version of it.”

Craig: “Did the song come to you quickly?”

Jesse Barish: “It was very fast. I had it done in thirty minutes. There are songs I can finish that fast. It isn’t always the case.”

Craig: “For the record you recorded your own version of Count On Me. What was it like working with Marty on the record?”

Jesse Barish: “It was one of the high points of my life. The record (Jesse’s self-titled fro m1978) wasn’t rock and roll. It had a bunch of love songs. It was a very creative thing. There was something special in the air. As it turned out it didn’t fly.”

Craig: “You also got two more songs on the Earth album, Crazy Feelin’ and All Nite Long. What do you remember about those two tracks?”

Jesse Barish: “This was funny. Somebody had to mention to me that I wrote All Nite Long. I didn’t recall that. Marty loved Crazy Feelin’.”

Jesse Barish : Farther Sun
Craig: “Did you offer the band more then the three songs?”

Jesse Barish: “There was a period of time I would go to Marty’s house everyday. I would play him the songs I wrote. He would tell me if they were worth taking to a Jefferson Starship rehearsal.”

Craig: “If somebody wants to record your song, do you care how they record it? Are you able to cut the attachment to the arrangement you had in mind?”

Jesse Barish: “I like the people to stick to the melody as much as possible, at least for one verse and one chorus. I understand they want their own sound for the song.”

Craig: “Have you ever seen the fantastic video for Count On Me? It was from the terrific U.K. television program the Old Grey Whistle Test. The band is sitting around the floor of a hotel room and playing the song.”

Jesse Barish: “Really? Do you have a copy of that?”

Craig: “I sure do. You can have it in three days.”

Jesse Barish: “Can it be a VCR thing? I would be thrilled to see that.”

Craig: “I am happy to make sure you get a copy. Jesse, since you want a video of it, can I interest you in the eight track tape of Red Octopus?”

Jesse Barish: “Hey man, I’m VCR ready. I don’t go much for the new stuff. I haven’t had a computer in four months.”

Craig: “Marty did two excellent songs of yours, Hearts and Atlanta Lady. He forgot that he had a hit with Atlanta Lady. When we talked he started to sing some of the song. Atlanta Lady made it to number twenty-seven on the charts.”

Jesse Barish: “You are really informed Craig about the music.”

Craig: “That is because I am a fan of his and of yours. If you ask me a science question I would get it wrong even if you gave me the answer.” (As I did throughout every exam).

Jesse Barish: “On the self-titled Marty record from 1981, I had three songs. The two you talked about and Music Is The Light. Recently we had that come up. Marty called me and wanted to know if I had the chord changes for the song. I haven’t remembered them yet. I sent Marty a song today called Love Is. I hope he likes it. I thought it came out great.”

Craig: “Can you tell when you send Marty a song how he will normally react?”

Jesse Barish: “I can’t. It is a crapshoot. Some he really loves and others he thinks are okay.”

Craig: “What are the memories of writing Hearts and Atlanta Lady?”

Jesse Barish: “Hearts has a great story in a way. I was at a friend’s house and having a hard time emotionally. I am in Los Angeles. By the way one of the guys from Jesse, Wolff & Whings was Kevin Kelley. Kevin was the drummer on the Byrds album Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. I’m at Kevin’s house. I usually write the music first. I had a parking stub in my pocket. The type you get when you leave your car in a garage. I pull out the stub and wrote “Is everything alright.” I was able to write a verse and a chorus on the parking stub. I now have that framed on my wall. I didn’t know I saved it. I came across it one day and had it framed. I was able to finish the song in a couple of days. I didn’t know it would be a hit, but did feel it was successful. The chord changes and the melody were strong. It didn’t have a hook, but it had something. It caught a great moment. Marty’s voice is unreal. Marty captured the moment. I remember I played the song for Marty and he wasn’t that knocked out. The first time I played it he felt it was okay. The producer of the album John Hug liked it. John also produced a record of mine called Mercury Shoes. John and Marty became friends. John was able to convince Marty to sing the song. I was in Maui, Hawaii and I got a call from the studio. Marty and John are playing the recording of the tune for me. That was the first time I heard the song with music. I don’t know if it was the final mix. Bill Champlin (Sons Of Champlin) did background vocals on the song.”
Jesse Barish : Flute Salad

Craig: “Marty told me that he thought Bill was terrific and in fact always liked the Sons Of Champlin.”

Jesse Barish: “When they played the song for me on the phone I knew it was a hit. I was closing a chapter of my life. My marriage had ended and I wanted to make a fresh start. I left Mill Valley, California for Los Angeles. I have been here ever since.”

Craig: “What do you remember about Atlanta Lady?”

Jesse Barish: “There aren’t vivid memories of Atlanta Lady. I thought it was a great song. Marty liked that one more than Hearts.”

Craig: “It is fortunate that Marty had an open mind.”

Jesse Barish: “It is gratifying for me. I’m glad he still performs Hearts.”

Craig: “What do you remember about your musical tastes in the 1960’s?”

Jesse Barish: “I loved the Airplane as I mentioned and the Beatles. I would sit by the record player and listen to Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper by the Beatles and Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde. Time would stop when those records came out. What do you have now? Music had a spiritual dimension. Surrealistic Pillow was the album I listened to over and over.”

Craig: “What was your reaction to the album you did in 1980 Mercury Shoes?”

Jesse Barish: “I was in a messed up place. There are a few moments that are good. The album before was better. I thought it would put me on the map. We had gigs and a great band. I didn’t come through.”

Craig: “Do you consider yourself somebody that writes songs for other people?”

Jesse Barish: “I never considered it that way. I write songs all the time. I have friends that write songs that are used all the time. I had a couple of hits. I had Count On Me used in a movie fairly recently. It’s in The Family Stone. They called either Marty or his dad for permission.”

Craig: “What have you done the past several years musically?”

Jesse Barish: “I did an acoustic album with my son. We called it Farther Son. I did a folk-rock album called Cherry Road. I didn’t try to market them. In the last year I did an instrumental CD called Flute Salad. It is a smooth jazz record but more funk. It is a style they have in Europe.”

Craig “I hope you consider marketing the CD’s. We have a mutual friend that will be happy to do the leg work for you. Jesse, it was a pleasure to hear the stories of the songs you wrote and I thank you for your time.”

Jesse Barish: “Thank you. Let me know when the book is ready to come out.”

(An added note, Marty Balin was very impressed with Jesse’s latest song Love Is).

Craig Fenton
Author Craig Fenton's Take Me To A Circus Tent
Have You Seen The Stars Tonite (Jefferson Starship Flight Manual 1974-78 & J.S. The Next Generation 1992-2007),
Take Me To A Circus Tent image

Craig Fenton

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Published 10:05 PM Sunday September 6, 2009

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Remember to click on album covers to go into to find the music

Last Updated on Sunday, 18 October 2009 23:26

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