Sunday, February 23, 2014
Gene Clark-'Here Tonight' The White Light Demos 1971
After the opening 'White Light' acoustic guitar and harmonica version that opens the collection like the original LP, the first major revelation appears. 'Here Tonight' originally recorded by the Flying Burrito Brothers with assistance from Clark, surfaces here with a swaying strum, buoyant, intimate and uncluttered. Every crevasse and recess delicately explored, every breath and hum of throat captured.
If the previous song was a revelation, the next is an epiphany, 'For No One' is an unreleased jewel, a weightless circular acoustic finger picked melody line carries with it, some the most mournful harp interludes I've ever had the pleasure to hear Gene blow. His voice enters, a light fragile china, a misty specter of loneliness, quaking with a shaky falsetto. The minimal and concise lyrics elicit powerful images intensified by the ghostly accompaniment. An amazing find, a legendary piece of music.
What has been reported as Bob Dylan's favorite piece of Gene Clark music, 'For A Spanish Guitar' follow next, one of Clark's most regal and endearing melodies. This version like the entirety of the release takes on a magnified aptitude through the 'in the room' ambiance. A darkened room, some headphones and time to kill is needed for the weightiness of this track. This is not casual listening music. Worthy of note is the thick maple syrup of Clark's harmonica prowess. His playing is showed a more direct spotlight on this release and is an absolute joy to hear!
'Please Mr. Freud' is another discovered song and reflects a heavy Dylan influence both rhythmically and in attitude. The liner notes for the release attribute the lyrical content to Clark's deep interest in exploring humanity, religion and alternative ways off viewing the world around him. The tune's lyrical melody is brimming with flashing imagery, echoed in between verses by gentle harmonica. The reason for its remaining unreleased is unknown, but maybe its Dylan influence was too much for Clark? We will never know.
The unreleased and unheard songs disposed of, a folky version of 'Where My Love Lies Asleep' with a rolling tempo differing from the released version and a naked interpretation of 'The Virgin' follow.
'The Virgin' is missing its central Davis guitar riff but still retains its vivacious groove centered around its central vocal melody.
The following 'Opening Day' and 'Winter In' were both unreleased until their appearance as bonus tracks on the remastered version of White Light. 'Opening Day' is a bright song that rises like a early morning view of the sun, while questioning time as it hangs against gravity like the pendulum of an ancient clock. Clark's strumming unusually excitable and bright a contrast to the surrounding numbers. 'Winter In' is a song made from the inspiration of its creation, a song that apprehends a moment and paints it across time like a brush to canvass. The tune collects discard moments like scattered photographs and collates them into shared experience. Another song that leaves me wondering the reasoning for its eventual disappearance from the running for the record.
If you do not already own White Light do not pass go until you are the proud owner of the album. After digesting it and letting its soulful living lines seep into the fabric of your musical life, search out the collection discussed above. Similarly to John Lennon's home recordings, or Pete Townsend's available demo recordings, Clark's song sketches offer a peek through the keyhole, pulling back the shades to reveal the heart of inspiration for the songwriter. For the duration of the listening experience Clark is in your room, the music wrapping its metaphorical arms around your ears and heart.
Gene Clark-Winter In
Gene Clark-Jimmy Christ
Gene Clark-For A Spanish Guitar