M E L A N I E
M U S I C
S O C I E T Y
Interview by: David J Boldinger
© 1974 Melanie Music Society
Roger Kellaway has arrived in London as part of a new band called LA EXPRESS lead by Tom Scott.
They're in London as the backing band for Joni Mitchell's LA Express three sell-out concerts at the New Victoria Theatre on 20-22nd.
Roger has arrived in the Park Tower after a ten and a half-hour flight direct from LA
As soon as he's taken his coat off, he receives a 'phone call "can we have little chat please?" I ask, "Yes, come right over!"
So, half-hour later I'm in his hotel room drinking coffee and talking, and the following is the result........
"When my wife and I first came to London, I was musical director for Bobby Darin, for a couple of years. Presumably you're aware of the Cello Quartets the first-one, prior, before Tom Scott, those are on imports "Hear To Jazz" and "Paint Your Wagon", which was also the same quartet with Chuck Domonico and John Guerin, and then after that I went to A & M and made my first Cello Quartet albums cello, bass and marimba. Chuck Domonico on Bass and Emil Richards, then I did a boogie album for A & M, "Center of the Circle".
There's a Melanie song called "Center of the Circle" on "Gather Me", have you used the same song on your album?
"Center of the Circle" is Melanie's, I did it first with her. I've arranged five albums for her.
Five? I thought it was three-and-a-half?
"The new one is half but we did all that last summer. we did 20 sides last summer.
I did her first album, "Born To Be" and then the next one I did was "Gather Me" and then "Stoneground Words", and now this one, "Madrugada" which is half. But still the songs from "Stoneground Words" were done at the same time as the ones on the new one, in fact "The Actress" was done when we did "Gather Me". It's very complicated actually why she's released old material. You see it didn't fit with "Gather Me" and it didn't fit with the "Stoneground Words' album, but it fits in with " Madrugada"
I'll make one blanket statement about Melanie, which is I think she is one of the most extraordinary talents I've ever come across she is extraordinary to the point where she could be sitting right here in front of us in this room and sing something like 'Momma Momma " right to us, and it would just go right through your whole entire being.
In fact that happened to us, because the second time, when we were doing "Gather Me", Peter had been looking for me for a couple of years, I had been hiding out, 'cause I owed a lot of alimony to my ex-wife, and no-body could find me. So finally he found me while I was in New York doing a ballet for George Ballenchine, I wasn't easy to reach I was living in Hollywood but my numbers weren't that available, people in the studios knew how to get hold of me. But anyway he found me in New York and he took me out to their house just as a surprise, and after just about fifteen minutes were sitting at the kitchen table and Melanie was singing her new songs from "Gather Me" .and I couldn't believe how she could get so far into it, in that kind of situation; we hadn't seen each-other in years, and yet, there she was, as real as life, just sitting there doing what she does. There are just some incredible performers that are like that. Joni's another one. Joni Mitchell, when she starts to sing or starts to perform, it's there. There's a considerable difference between the two, Melanie's extraordinary power for one thing is far more -- I can't say it's far more gut-level because Joni's music is gut level too, but it's in a much different place. It's far more sophisticated melodically, lyrically and harmonically. But Melanie is very real.
I'm very close to the projects I've done with-Melanie, and I love her songs.
I'll tell you, its a devastating experience to go to New York to prepare for an album, and be brought down into the studio, end to sit in front of two speakers and to be played fourteen of Melanie's songs right straight through, and have 'em all be heavy; that's really a draining experience, because her songs are so complete, and so full of life.
My wife has always been a fan of Joni's, and I've never been on her trip until "For the Roses", and suddenly that album got me. The ones before "For The Roses", I don't really know, I never paid any attention to it. I grew up though the be-pop era and she essentially just represented another folk singer to me. Melanie represented another folk singer to me also, but I had a tremendous identity with her as an artiste. I could relate to her, the humanity in her performance.
Is there much of your own self in the music that we hear on the records that you've arranged?
"In bits and pieces really. It's quite a bit of collaboration, some of it with Melanie and quite a bit with Peter Schekeryk. A great deal of it is collaboration, but the thing with me is that because my name is going on it, I want it to meet a certain musical standard. So I have to be able to deal with taking my own suggestions with two other people's suggestions and adding them up to something that I feel proud to put my name on, which is another draining experience. But it's something I was willing to put up with because I wanted to work with Melanie.
Can you explain what arranging is?
"First of all, to me there's no category that exists, that's arranging. There's a lot of people in the business who, I feel are arrangers, they're able to play sounds, backgrounds behind existing melodies and lyrics that makes them sense, to me it's a composition of sound. First of all it's a composition, and it's a composition of sounds exciting sounds that are densities and intensities that are essentially backgrounds, they're sub-serving into the tune and to the lyric. Usually I sit at the piano and play through the things and sing them myself, until I feel, that I think the essence of the tune is. And there on I extract from the tune itself what usable material there is in order to formulate the background. This is part of a compositional process, other than just putting as we say, a bunch of pads behind it, or a bunch of horn notes with footballs as we call them for strings, which really bores the hell out of it
Do you write out a score for the orchestra?
"I do, yes fully."
Melanie has said in the past that she doesn't actually write down the actual music; that it's done by someone else?
"She doesn't herself, she makes her tape and someone else writes it down. Then they're given to me as work--sheets, melody and chords. What happens is we take those chords and those sheets and go into the studio with the rhythm section, and we begin to play through them, to get ideas, and after we've done all the tunes that way, we generally do then again with Melanie and a rhythm section. Then we begin to get ideas. Then we take all of the tapes that we've done and we make a master chart of some of the best ideas that have happened during the improvisations. And the main chart begins to be built from there.
To me personally that's an idiotic process, it's not something I've ever been used to, but it seems to me that a lot of producers want to work that way. I can get rather adamant on this conversation because it is just something that I don't believe in. Like when I did an album of "Dr. Doolittle" with Bobby Darin, he called me over and said "these are the tunes we're going to do", we did a rehearsal, then we went into the studio with 35 pieces and I cut the album in two hours. And that's the way I'm used to working. When I go in, I know exactly what I want,. and I'm not used to having to deal with somebody who's constantly changing their mind, it's not Melanie so much, it's mostly Peter.
Melanie and I have a communication.
Is Peter a perfectionist?
"That's what it is, yea it's a perfectionist that's carried to the point of an inability to make a final decision.
If you want to take a look at any given situation, there's always something that you could do to make it better. But there is usually a point at which it's very good and it's fine to leave it right there, and we in the studio as composers for television and motion pictures, you can't spend your time on trying to perfect. You got to be able to write it good the first time, cause you haven't got the time to mess around like. So for a long time you just don’t, we're used to that, we're used to doing it quickly -and high-level; a few of us anyway.
Are you mainly -with TV & pictures?
"Well, I was doing quite a bit of that. I scored the "Paper Lion" a few years ago and I scored the "Psychiatrist" pilot, I did an episode of "M*A*S`H", and I did a new picture that's coming out it, it was called "Who Fears The Devil", it's now called "The Legend of Hillbilly John" which is a disastrous title but it stars Hedge Capers of Hedge and Donnor and he's quite good in it, and it's a good picture, its a picture that the whole family can go to see, which also delights me. It was Tom Scott's score for the new "Fritz The Cat" porno, and I helped him out with that and wrote six minutes, we just finished recording that yesterday. In fact it feels like today because we just got on the plane tonight, you know, or was it last night now? Yea it's last night. We finished that and we went right to the plane and came here.
How did you first become involved with Melanie and "Born To Be"?
"I was in New York and I was hanging out with a guy named Artie Ripp. Artie wanted to get involved with me - I didn't know if I wanted to be involved with him, he was a crazy guy, and that appealed to me. So I figured I probably did want to get involved with him. I still love the guy, and we hung out for a while and he said "I've got an artiste I want you to arrange for and her name was Melanie. As far as I know Peter was in the picture at this point but I didn't know it. Apparently Peter had discovered her but Artie just had so much strength and power that he controlled the whole thing at that time. So anyway, Artie brought me over to the studio, Artie was sort of running Buddah at the time, and he played me Melanie, and he played me the entire tracks of "Born To Be". And I listened to then and I told him that he didn't need me. I said "you don't need charts at all, all you've got to do with this lady is just put her on record, just the way she is and put it out and you've got it.
Cause I hadn't heard anything like that and I've always believed in Melanie that way anyway. She's so strong by herself and her vibes are so great that way, and I spent two weeks trying to talk him out of using me, but he just kept on after me "I've got to have charts, I've got to have charts etc" - "You don't need charts, you don't need me, l going home! She's great just put her out!"
So finally he talked me into it and I got involved in it. As a matter of fact as far as Melanie is concerned for her talent, that particular album was the least manipulated of any of the albums I've done; the background was simple and it had colors and things. She likes the Incredible String Band, that's the kind of album "Born To Be" was. We did that album, and there's a lot of charm in that album and there's a lot of different kinds of colors, but not overbearing colors, just very simple kinds of backgrounds. Anyway that's the way that went. The next tine I worked with Melanie, Peter had apparently bought out her contract or something and he had control of the project, it was a completely different story.
It seems to me that the majority of musicians don't like to get involved with the business side of music? "That's a long story that's the hassle of our lives, it's a hassle of my life right now. It's a pain in the ass because the purity of the creativity gets impaired when you start having to deal with all these idiots, and it's better to pay someone a percentage if you could find somebody who you could trust, that isn't going to take you for a ride; to have them deal with it so that you can create and do your thing.
Melanie seems to be in a very good position? ;
"She is in a good position, she's got a company behind her, she's got somebody that can handle her entire life.
How do you feel about Buddah repackaging "Born To Be" in the States?
"I have only barely noticed it, that they did repackage it. But the album is "Born To Be" to me.
It doesn't make any difference if they want to repackage it record companies do that every now and then. The albums get old, in terns of the visual of the cover, so they repackage it, and attempt to re-sell the album because of the success of, maybe a fourth album that's suddenly become Gold like "Gather Me" or something; and then 'Oh boy we'll take the old album out of the archives', because I assume Buddah owns that album so they're gonna repackage it and try and make a Gold album out of that. it happens all the time.
Were any "Gather Me' tracks especially hard to do?
"It's hard for me to talk about these things because if you've followed my career at all, I've moved around a lot, I do that because it keeps my life alive and I believe that my creativity is pure enough to be able to tap any source. So that the more variety I have in the sources I have to tap, the more interest there is, particularly if it's something I've never done before, like I've never played for Joni. and that's a whole learning experience to learn her music now; particularly having touched it intimately, it's a whole different trip. My whole reaction to it is different.
How come both you and Tom Scott are with Joni Mitchell?
"Well, first Tom did "For The Roses" and then he had the band LA. EXPRESS a backed potato, and Joni came to hear the band and she said to Tom 'do you think the band would like to do my new album?' and then he so 'well, I think so'
So the band did the album "Court and Spark" and then the road tour was set up and Joni wanted the band for that, so that was all worked out.
How did you get involved with LA EXPRESS?
"Well Joe Sample was playing in the band and he had commitments with the Jazz Crusaders so they asked me if I wanted to do it. And I had a nice lull going on at that point; and really felt like travelling and the band is very high quality; all people I've played with for a long time so I really wanted to do it.
Robin's the newest one; Robin Ford, we all heard him with Jimmy Witherspoon and wanted him to be a part of the band because Larry Carlton wanted to stay in LA and stay in the studios. Essentially we all come from LA Robin comes from. around San Housa.
"Stoneground Words" seemed to mark a lack of hope on Melanie's part, can you think of any reason?
"There's been more despair in the last couple of albums, or the last twenty songs that we did. I mean the material out now, because that relates even as far back as "Gather Me".
Even "The Actress" there seems to be more despair in her songs and I don't understand why. A lot of people have many theories as to why and I have some of my own. But it's unfair for me to say what I would think those theories would be. I don't understand why the child-like quality in her, which is a part of her hope, seems to be stomped on. I for one have no control over that. Because I'm not in direction, Peter is really in direction of the entire project, When I leave, he mixes it the way he feels like mixing it. And we work together on ideas throughout the entire project. So I don't know what to say. I've discussed it with Melanie, and I've told her how painful it is for me to work, the way I have to work in making her albums. Because I don't believe in doing thirty-four takes to make twenty sides - it doesn't make sense to me.
It makes sense to me, to go in with the whole business knowing what you're going to do and doing it, and if it were me. I'll do it on one or maybe four tracks and save a couple for the vocal. And I'd put the whole band on two, with the right engineer. That's a whole other conversation.
I'm not a pro sixteen track - definitely not a pro thirty two track because thirty-two tracks enables all the incompetence in the world to - you know. It's the Peter principle: 'the man with the least incompetence gets elevated to the highest office, which is the Peter principal, no pun intended (I don't think so) I-can't really answer that, 'cause my work even in her house was so closely related to listening to tracks with Peter and working on ideas for what the tunes would be; that Melanie would be out boogying at the stores like with a girl friend or something or going out buying antiques, and I wouldn't even see her.
She's got this thing on antiques hasn't she?
"She loves antiques, oh yea her home is unbelievable, they've some great taste.
Is the house finished yet?
"It was finished the last time I was there, although I think they're thinking of selling it because they called us a few months ago and asked us to look for a house in LA So we found them a house I don't know if they wanted it or not.
Where is 914 studios?
I believe its in New Jersey, because it's Area Code 914, that's where it gets its name from. It's a nice studio and thanks to Brooks Arthur who's been engineering the last couple of albums, I've got to hear more of my music than I normally would.
Is Brooks Arthur very good?
"Yea I think he's very good, he's very talented and he's sensitive and he can hear music and his temperament is pretty good because it gets a little berserk in some of these things.
Was you involved with "Bitter Bad" or "Seeds". In this country "Seeds" was without the "Gather Me" speech, which I think is rather stupid'
"Yes, we did "Seeds", that was during the "Gather Me". It is stupid, that was the whole point of the thing. The whole title of the album came from that 'Oh, Gather Me on a hill of wild flowers' and the whole speech that she had. Well, that's too bad. I tell you another reason why it's too bad, and not just because it isn't there. It's because that "Oh, Gather Me" poem has some of that hope in it which is one of the qualities I love about it.
I think they edited the part off, they should of cut some of the "any old tine etc".
"I go hone before all that starts, I get to hear it later.
I've got books as to how I felt about every single track.
My views and criticisms are aesthetic; I don't believe that Peter actually understands what I'm talking about when I begin to get into aesthetics. First of all, I don't think he has the slightest idea of who I am. or what I do. He's just one of those people that knows he's got something; he doesn't know what it is. And in Melanie, I have always had a communication with her, I think Melanie knows a lot more about what I am without knowing technically. It's just a field between human beings. First of all I'm a meditator and I can understand the spiritual vibration that Melanie could go to, and I can see it, and it's very painful to me to see now over the last few rears a path that seems to be more going towards despair rather than enlightenment because I know the power of the lady; she's very strong and she could be extraordinarily uplifting to millions of people. I would love to see her go that way, but I have no control over that.
Ron Frangipane has arranged the remainder of "Madrugada", why wasn't you involved?
"Yes, there's a reason for that. I flipped out at the end of the last project ("Stoneground Words"), it just got so berserk to me that I said I couldn't take it anymore, so Ronnie got called for. Those are the newer tunes, the newer tunes were done by Ronnie who's in New York by-the-way.
And Ronnie and I have worked together with her, Ronnie and I played keyboards on a lot of her stuff. I did "Wild Horses", " that was done last summer with "Stoneground Words", ah "The Actress" was done at the time of "Gather Me". I'll give you an interesting insight: What was the tune at the end of "Stoneground Words"?
Here I An"! It was the flip side to........
"It was a "B" side?....shhhh now I had gone through a lot of frustration on that project due to the way I felt that I had been manipulated. And every time somebody would ask me what I thought the single would be, I would say "Here I Am" regardless of the situation. Because I was holding on to that, and that was my identity. I have an ability to accompany like Ellis Larkins and I can accompany Melanie and she will sound like a jazz singer, she'll sound like she came right out of Billie Holliday and it sounds so fantastic to me, and it's such a delight with the two of us, it was a communication that the two of us have. It's a hook-up with her mother for one thing who was a jazz singer.
And it frightens a bunch of people, it did because I had the power just through that little communication to change Melanie's image - not directly, but I mean to broaden it and I was -- I can't tell you how surprised I was when I saw "Here I Am" was actually on that album because in the end; I used strings and I had Al Cohn on it, all my old buddies playing for her and absolutely adoring the way she sang that song. Cause none of us in the last twelve years have heard anyone that come out of folk music, pop music or any of that area and then have them be able to sing with a jazz rhythm section, and have it sound like music and she can do it! We made a play out of it, and that's what she wanted.
I do think that "Here I Am" is the best on the album, certain people have said I'm mad, but I really like it, especially the intro.......
"Why do you like that; Peter hated it' The musette; he wanted to take it out ~ de da de de da - with the musette in the background but we were talking about Melanie as an off-shoot of Edif Piaf and so I put an alto sax in and a musette in there to get a French left-bank sound.
What's a musette?
"It's like an accordion only it's played with buttons. It's a French left-bank sort of sound and I love it. and Melanie loved it so I didn't care who did not love it. We also sung together on that album on "Song of the South": dobe dobe dobe doo da do - you can't hear me, I mean it's way in the background, but we had fun doing it alright--zzzzzzzzz You see the tunes that are considered the real hits of the album are the ones where I get my most manipulation; the other tunes that are not so considered I get a lot more freedom and I can be in to play with Melanie and we can have some fun together, and I jab her as many tines as I can in order to put back into it --- you know to make some sort of balance with what I think is going on. This has been an extraordinary experience for me, and it may happen again.
You'd like to work with Melanie again?
"You know what I world like to do, with her I'd like to have total control cause I know what I'd do with her. I'd put her back in the place where I know she should be, or where I see her and bring back spiritual elevation and bring hope back into her life, that's what I'd do.
But nobody's going to give me the chance
Did she spend a lot of time in a desert?
"She did, I don't know for how long, with Maddy I think, a photographer friend of hers.
What's she like?
'Maddy, lot's of fun, yea they're great laughable pals together. Maddy's very good for Melanie,
Maddy didn't do the pictures for "Stoneground Words" do you know of any reason for this?
"Well, that's another complicated Neighborhood Records process; there were many; there were drawings that were gorgeous, there were pictures that Maddy took that were gorgeous. Tom Wilkes did my new album, a new Cello Quartet album called "Come To The Meadow" which is out in the States, it's available on import here, it should be released here in a few months
One of the reasons I went on this tour with Joni and the LA EXRRESS was to meet the A & M people and do promotion on my new album cause I'd like to tour next year, I think England would be marvellous for me!
You're somewhat of an expert on Prepared piano I believe, has it been used with Melanie?
"Yes that was used for the "Bicycle Song" and briefly in "The Actress"; it's never been utilised correctly, that's the one bad thing about it because the instrument has such enormous singular personalities that it needs to have time to say what it can say, because it has multitude of colors depending on how you prepare it. You use a normal piano to begin with, it is made with nuts and bolts and things in it, and depending on where you put the nuts and bolts in the strings, or it could be rubber, if you put rubber in you get no pitch, you just get a thud so that it creates a sound of its own. Depending on where you put a screw in the strings you'll get a different overtone, I mean in the entire length of the string. You use a grand piano when you prepare. You get a completely different sound, I've used dows, plastic whistles, which can give you an almost tambourine like sound. and large bolts in the lower register will give you gongs; it's an endless thing.
I've been doing it since about '64. I discovered John Cage's music and Cage was the one who invented that. He had first done it in early sixties or fifties. I didn't recall. There was a dancer named Sephela Farth, she was a modern dancer apparently.
She wanted John Cage to write a piece, but there was no room in the pit for an orchestra, So he invented this thing with prepared piano. I thought it was a tremendously imaginative idea so I made one up. anything that Cage has ever done, has been very interesting which is another reason I like him. It's very difficult to discuss Cage in musical basis, it's such easier to discuss him on a philosophical basis. Nevertheless he's had some really imaginative ideas and prepare piano is one of them. His sounds a lot more oriental than mine does. And mine varies depending on the project.
The film I did, "The Legend of Hillbilly John" uses Prepare Piano throughout.
It hasn't been utilised well in Melanie's albums because of the manipulation of having so many sounds happening at the same time, and those sounds wipe out the overtones in the prepared piano; it's such a delicate instrument.
We also did a title called ''Water-melon Sugar" which you haven't heard yet which was an instrumental that Melanie wrote the melody to, and I scored for strings and English Horn which were also recorded.
So we can look forward to that?
"I hope so. I look forward to having a tape one day. It's one of the nicest experiences I had because I had, I was totally on my own to do with it whatever I wished. and it was fun for me to orchestrate a melody of hers.
Any chance of seeing the tune on one of your future albums?
"Yes I could I would yes. I'm considering it. If I do an album that's orchestral or if I do a concert series with symphony orchestra which is what I'm considering, 'cause it's pretty.
Has Tom Scott played with Melanie?
"No, because all recordings have been in New York.
What are your plans now?
"My plans have been very up in the air this year. I wanted to go on the road and stop beating my brains out trying to figure out what my relationship to the music industry is for me and I wanted to make a new Cello Quartet album, which I did and I wanted to go on the road and play with people that I love, and play for a lot of people and see what that's like. Learn Joni's music and meet the A & M people and see what my relationship from their point of view is to A & M.
Now that I know that that's solidified I have a better idea of what my career is all about in relationship to the Cello Quartet 'Cause I can always get back to my studio and write for films. I don't essentially want to do that, I would rather be spending my tine writing more ballets and concert stand more symphonia stuff. But that's not a lucrative place at the moment, and I have a family (one son; Colin and wife), a bunch of responsibilities.
Where do you get your inspiration for the things you write?
"It just comes, can come from anywhere. Somebody asked Stravinsky that one and Stravinsky said "Somebody hands me a check, and I start writing". I'm not trying to draw a parallel, I just found that extremely amusing and now that I've written a ballet for Ballenchine who was also a Russian, I understand exactly where that comes from, I mean there is no wishy washyness about -- 'Oh I sit and dream and I meditate and my inspiration comes from the clouds' and all that business. there's some of that with the Russians, it's understood. You have a job to do - you do it, you sit down and you start writing.
My inspiration can come from anywhere, but it doesn't always happen when I sit down and say to myself 'today, I'm gonna write' and very often there are things that happen that I don't like at all.
How do you write physically?
I sometimes write with the piano and sometimes without the piano. Sometimes I sit down and improvise, sometimes with a tape recorder and then listen back to that and start the pieces from there.
Nave you met Melanie's sister?
Stephanie?...Yes I don't know Stephanie that well, she's very nice, but we haven't spent any time together.
She's not singing, is she?
"No, I don't think she is a singer, I don't know.
What about Melanie's parents?
"I've met both of them, one of then runs a sort of antique type store and Polly runs a kind of artists' paints shop. But it has a lot more goodies in it than that. She seems to be very happy. She was absolutely delighted with "Here I Am". I haven't heard any of Polly's material, I understand she was a great jazz singer.
What about her Fathers Fred?
"Yes, it is Fred. I haven't spent much time with him, he was involved in some sort of thing with Peter involving the new house and things that had to be put into it. That's all I know, I don't know him all that well.
Can you describe the house?
"The house was originally a monks' retreat when they bought it. The main building was already there which was the kitchen and one, maybe two rooms, and from there they built on twelve rooms, an Olympic size swimming pool, that's all laminated beans. A sauna, and the house kind of goes on forever.
It's quite a roomy house. Not tremendously large rooms, but there's a lot of different trips in the house. The kitchen floor is brick as I recall. But it's got a heating element underneath the bricks; you can walk on it in your bare feet and it's warm, you know--they've made quite a bit of money and they've used it, they've got some wonderful antiques.
They've got at one end of the house; the guest end of the house has a part in the living room that's sunken. And with couches and a fireplace and all sorts of rugs from all over the world.
(at this point the tape ran out without me realising, but after some time, the conversation reverted back to Melanie and her music)
"The fact of her childishness, of her quality that I would like to hear is no detriment whatsoever to her creativity.
But it's that child-like quality in a performer, that the humour out of that, does for an audience, you know it's very uplifting.
What's Peter like?
"I refuse to answer that on the grounds that it may incriminate me, no I'll tell you exactly what I think. He's one of the most loveable guys in the world, I absolutely adore the guy; to work for he's a maniac!
That's exactly what… he's absolutely monotical; one minute he had changed like that, and you'd have no idea. One night he told me I drank too much, which is absolutely absurd. He told me I drank too much wine, and he said "Don't ever drink on my dates again".
Now at that point he owed me a lot of money, and I would of walked on him but I didn't even have the plane fare home, I would of walked; no one's ever talked to me like that -- the next minute he hugs you --- you know that's a strange kind of situation.
He seemed a nice guy when I spoke to him for about 10 seconds once!
"He is a nice guy. He wants to make all the decisions for Neighborhood Records and that makes it very difficult for the operation of the company. Nothing will happen without him making a decision.
He seemed to be just like a fan of Melanie's!
"of Melanie's? . . .He really is a fan of hers. "
Are there many tracks recorded that haven' t been released that you've done? -
"I think they're nearly all out Except for "Water Melon Man", "Pretty Boy Floyd" which is on the new one, we did last summer or two years ago—I don't know what I did last summer now, gee I've lost a year. That's far out, I didn't do much last summer, I know that. No I think all the tracks are out.
(Roger has seen the postcard size picture by Robert Ellis:)'
"That's a nice picture there's a brightness in that picture that's....I recognise that brightness. 1 know what this is, and I know what's underneath all that; creativeness.
She sent me a poster of her coming out of the water, and it says 'AND OUT OF THE WATER, IT CAME THE WATER BABIES'.
Which is, you see that child-like hook-up that we have, I know it's there otherwise she wouldn't of sent me something like that. That's an absolute link with a communication that we have together, in the middle of all that insanity.
And in the studios when we did the 'Water Babies' improvisations, that gives me hope, it was really nice. I know that communication exists. But in the elements that happen, and the way she's recorded it's sometimes very difficult to tap that particular place
And I've been asked to do her next album. And I think I'm gonna have to base that on the material. Peter asked me several months ago I haven't committed myself; I have a lot to think about than just whether I want to work with Melanie again, because there's no question about that, I would work with her. It's the elements around, that surround the recording of Melanie that can be very straining for me.
You don't like the business side of music?
"It's full of shit you know, I mean you're dealing with so many people that don't know anything about music - how can you communicate with them? They expect you to grind it out, and I don't grind it out; even in a situation where I have no time, I still push my body to the point where the quality of music is still up to the level that I want it to be at, because that's what I stand for, myself.
I received a letter this morning, which requested the use of the title "Stoneground Words", to be the name of a group? this boy hopes to get together next year ........
"It nice idea you know where 'Stoneground' comes from., it's because certain wholemeal is Stoneground - the way they make it; Melanie's a health freak; she's had offers to do Coke and Pepsi commercials; she won't do any of that.
Yoghurts and beats for breakfast -- still it's good, I like that kind of thing too. I'm a meat and potatoes man, but when I'm home we eat as much organic food as we can because I know I'm destroying myself with the rest of the poison.
Anyway we might see an album maybe next year with you arranging?
"Yes possibly particularly if they come out to California in which case I'll be working on my home turf. It'll be a whole lot easier could go home at night.
(Somehow the discussion turns slightly to Joni)
The fact that I'm here with Joni Mitchell, as far as Peter is concerned; is competitive: 'Ah you're not available for Melanie's next albums I understand, you're out with Joni Mitchell." He feels it's competitive; that's bullshit to me, what sense does that make? - none whatsoever. Joni is Joni and Melanie is Melanie. There is no competition there at all.
You seem, together with Tom Scott, he was with Carole King a few months back, happier working with females?
"Well that just happened to work out like that. My personal feeling is that because of the male/female relationship?, its more fun to work with females. because their whole set up is so different, and it's always a challenge one way or another to communicate with them. Plus music is so sensual to begin with, so it makes more sense to work with females. I'm a doing e concert next month, Santa Barbara, with Sarah Vaughn with the Cello quartet.
© 1974 Melanie Music Society
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