Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Paul Surratt has just completed a 93-minute concert/documentary DVD featuring Bob Lind singing 13 of his hard-hitting songs plus candid interview footage that sheds light on Lind’s battles with the music industry, his resistance to the “oldies” circuit and how the elements of his life form themselves into his work.
Some of the previously unreleased songs feature a little-known, jazzier aspect of Bob’s composition. And many are performed with a fantastic band, sparked by veteran rocker Jamie Hoover (of Spongetones fame).
Reviews for BOB LIND Perspective.
BOB LIND Perspective opens with some archival footage of Bob performing his big hit “Elusive Butterfly” before an audience of dutifully screaming teens on the 1960s TV show Shindig. From this beginning, you might assume that perhaps this is going to be your standard “look back” at the career of someone who had a hit record. But, barely a minute into the song, we cut away to a recent interview segment, and the back-and-forth pattern continues through the rest of the tune. The message is clearly: “This ain’t no retrospective, it’s a perspective”- just like the title says.
In one of those first interview segments, Bob Lind emphatically states that he does not want to be defined by the music that he wrote and recorded four decades ago, just as none of us would still want to be defined by whatever we were doing that far back in our lives. So it is fitting that Perspective is held together by a recent studio concert instead of by grainy archival footage. Bob performs thirteen songs, the vast majority of which are relatively new and have never been in wide release. They range from the gently rocking “Roll the Windows Down” with a full band that includes Jamie Hoover of the Spongetones, to the jazzy and humorous “How To Get Depressed” with Bob at the piano, to the intimate “Wearing
You” featuring just Bob and his guitar.
The only songs performed that a fan from ‘back in the day” might be waiting to hear are “Elusive Butterfly”, “Cheryl’s Goin’ Home”, and “Love Came Riding” (from the 1971 Since There Were Circles album). “Cheryl” is particularly enjoyable, sounding fresh and vibrant. Bob is in great voice, and the band is pitch-perfect in its backing. There is a moment during the song that Bob looks directly at the camera, and I found it almost disquieting. Instead of posturing, mugging, or acting, Bob just looks clearly and directly into the lens as if to say, “This is what you get. This is me.” At that moment, no layers of BS or pretending exist between Bob and the viewer. I don’t know that I’ve ever before seen a performer on film convey that sense of there being no barriers between him and the audience.
The interview segments continue the whole “no BS” feeling, with Bob freely owning up to his mistakes and shortcomings, admitting that for awhile in his career ”no one could stand to be around me” and that he was “a pain in the ass” and “poison to work with”. As someone who lives with a level of melancholy in my own life, I was particularly touched when Bob talks about his “deep core of sadness” and how he doesn’t want to get rid of it but instead wants to be free to feel those things. He talks about his realization that many of the difficulties that he saw in the music industry were actually inside of him, but he also has some very direct comments about “the suits” in the music business..
BOB LIND Perspective is not a nostalgic trip down memory lane or a biography of someone who “used to be”. It’s an insight into a talented, imperfect, and evolving person. As Bob says in the film, “I don’t want to dish up memories. I’m still moving.”
— Kim Clark, Syndicated Music critic and host of THE RECORD SHACK on WTZQ in Asheville, NC
BOB LIND Perspective, Produced by Paul Surratt, 2010
If you don’t mind the paraphrasing, the world is just a document’ry / about Lind’s life and times…
As did most of my generation, I grew up listening to Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.” When it came on the radio I enjoyed it, but never searched any further. Then in the late ‘70s, John Otway barreled through a cover of Lind’s “Cheryl’s Going Home,” one of Lind’s multi-covered tunes, though I hadn’t heard it before. Great song, I thought, and not only because of Otway’s own wonderful spin. Hmmm, there’s more to this Lind guy than “Butterfly,” I was coming to realize.
Luckily, in those heady ‘70s record collecting days of scouring the stores, I came across Lind’s Don’t Be Concerned LP (arranged by Jack Nitzsche), which contained both “Butterfly” and “Cheryl.” But I learned something else: there was not a bad cut on the entire album. Seriously, every song was a wonder, from “Mr. Zero” to “Unlock the Door,” “Truly Julie’s Blues,” “Dale Ann,” and right to “I Can’t Walk Roads of Anger.” Not a bad cut.
I found one other album, The Elusive Bob Lind (recorded before Concerned, but released after), which was also a treasure, and that’s been it. There were a couple of other albums, released in ’66 and ’71, along with some “best ofs,” but I never saw them. Considering how great his music was, and since there was so little out there, I just figured he either retired or died. Remember, there was no Internet back then, so it was not always easy to check.
Then not too many years ago, I found out through YouTube that he was indeed still kicking and performing, and I wrote him a fan email, which he answered. Through Wikipedia, more recently I found out that: “Lind retired from the music industry in 1969 to pursue other interests. In more recent years he has resided in Florida and works as a writer. He is the author of five novels, and has written for such supermarket tabloids as the Weekly World News and the Sun. Lind returned to music in 2004, when he began performing again.”
A few years after that first email (i.e., last month), I heard that he has just released a new DVD of a performance from a 2006 tour. Again, I wrote to him, and now I have had the chance to see it, and have learned so much more about the music, and especially about the man.
The crux of the DVD is a live concert, taped in front of a small, invited audience at the intimate Blue Palm Studios in North Hollywood. Lind, with the help of guitarist Jamie Hoover (Spongetones, Smithereens), has assembled a fine assortment of musicians to back him: Dave Carpenter on both stand-up and electric bass, indie folk alt rocker Matt Cook on electric keyboards, and rock soul pop drummer Kevin Jarvis. Despite the age differences among the ensemble, they all work together well.
Between the songs is a compilation of interviews from various sources, such as Art Fein’s Poker Party, hosted by music historians/fans, and an on-air interview on The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn, who is also a musician. Thrown into the mix occasionally of the Poker Party footage, is DVD producer Paul Surratt (who was in the Shilohs with Graham Parsons back in the early ‘60s), and Lind’s manager, Jill Guerra. The concert and the interviews are all taped during the 2006 tour.
It’s nice how the interview segment topics flow into the particular song he about to sing, sometimes in imaginative ways. Also, it was smart to put the interviews at the end of each track rather than at the beginning, so if you want to just listen to the music after a couple of viewings, you can skip right to that.
Bob Lind’s genre has changed a bit, hardly drastically though. Used to be he was a singer-songwriter (“I’m not a folk singer; I’m not a rocker”), at least what I heard of him on vinyl, never having seen him live, but on the DVD he has grown, and the numbers with the band have more of a jazzy feel, such as the Gershwin-esque “I Like Your Company Tonight”; however, he definitely has his idiosyncratic style intact. I imagine him as an ice skater: his vocal glide over certain phrases of songs, and then does a maneuver, usually a staccato-ish pacing over minor chords, switching seamlessly back and forth. Quite the joy to just sit back and listen.
When he plays with the band, he switches back and forth from guitar to piano, but his solo material, which is closer in form to his earlier work, is strictly acoustic guitar. The Dylan (and I would add Phil Ochs) influence of being lyrical is pretty obvious, but we learn that Lind also has a strong passion for early doo-wop (even though it’s not really reflected in his music), having grown up listening to it back in Denver; he even saw a few shows as a youngster, including Chuck Berry.
The interview segments show off some aspects of Lind’s personality: he is brutally honest (that’s why so much of his material is so poignant, in my opinion), and he is definitely a hardass. Perhaps it was his years of drug and alcohol abuse, maybe being trampled over by the music industry. Whatever, he is a force; though he admits he’s finding it a bit easier these days to give in and compromise in some aspects, but not about his own music.
Some of the other topics include working with Jack Nietzsche (some of Lind’s best earlier material was with him, in my opinion), how he was living on the residuals of people having covered his music after he quit because he was tired of the business of the music business, until he started writing novels and fictitious bits for tabloid journals like the World Weekly News (he even had his hand in the infamous Bat Boy series, I’m happy to report), and how he’d rather be both feeling what he feels, and getting the audience to feel it too (“like when I listen to Richie Havens,” he states).
The performed songs here range from old to recent. Lind clearly states that while he does not like the oldies circuit (“I don’t want to dish up memories; I’m still moving”), he doesn’t mind doing some of his classics along with the newer material. And as he says and clearly proves, he does his songs differently now than then.
There is a lot of interesting material here, such as “Two Women” and “Looking For You,” two songs about choices, both good and bad, and “China,” which has a feel like his earlier work. Most of the tunes are, as I stated above, done with a slight jazz feel, like the sometimes humorous “How to Get Depressed,” and “Spilling Over.”
This DIYer is a really good way to get to know Bob Lind the artist from various aspects of his life and music. I’d love to see even more of his concerts released, and I look forward to some new songs.
— Robert Barry Francos, FFanzeen
BOB LIND: PERSPECTIVE ***1/2
Though the mainstream media knows Bob Lind best for his top five hit of 44 years ago, “Elusive Butterfly Of Love,” he is not simply a “one hit wonder.”
You can tell by merely listening to the song and analyzing the poetic lyrics that whomever could come up with such honest clarity and originality has a lot to say creatively. If you’ve ever wondered about where that creativity has taken him since, this documentary is a must. If you don’t know anything whatsoever about Bob Lind, it’s a beautiful and sincere introduction. For longtime fans, it’s a treasure trove of memories and an exciting look at the present in this illustrious career. Documentarian Paul Surratt puts a lot of heart and soul into his presentation, that combines a staged performance of thirteen songs with insights and recollections by Lind spoken in four settings – some staged for the documentary itself, a radio interview, two different visits to LA cable TV favorite ART FEIN’S POKER PARTY (known as “the world’s only rock and roll talk show”) where he’s interviewed by Fein and music historian Todd Everett in one sequence and by his manager, Jill Guerra, Surratt, and promoter Ian Marshall in another.
Each one has their place and adds perspective and insight, while praising Lind’s talents without making it an ego trip. Of course, nothing really wrong with ego. Lind talks down on himself a bit, no more than anyone else does, though he’s not afraid to take pride in his work. His jabs at the music industry, his resentment of being labeled as a “one hit wonder” and feelings toward the oldies circuit show his negative professional side and may disturb some, though his every word is from the heart.
As for the songs, he plays guitar and piano along with a rockin’ band that’s anchored by the underappreciated lead guitar of Jamie Hoover of the band The Spongetones. The band is in top form, and even the audience adds to the ambiance, as they sit positively mesmerized. Highlights include the admission to self-destruction in “Looking For You,” the soulful “Wearing You,” and the deep and sincere “Spilling Over,” a longtime favorite among his fans. How he came back to performing on a regular basis after many years and what he did in between is fascinating. It comes to a full circle with his willingness to continue to embrace “Elusive Butterfly,” which does stand-up today. If I didn’t know Bob personally prior to watching this, I would be feeling like I did after. You can feel his desire to tell his story, and Surratt’s determination to share it. If every musician could only have a documentary like this….
— Aaron “Smokey” Arnold, nationally syndicated film critic.
The folk revival’s most important contribution to popular music was moving lyrical content beyond the trite, perfunctory and clichéd — and Bob Lind was one of its chief authors.
That the new BOB LIND concert documentary is entitled Perspective — and not Retrospective — is significant.
This DVD is “about” relatively recent performances of 13 songs, some of which happen to be 40-year-old chestnuts. It’s not about examining the past, gathering accolades and insights from peers, or even about providing insight into the music industry except as it does incidentally.
So don’t expect a biopic — that’s not what you’re getting here, even if filmmaker Paul Surratt (Resarch Video Inc.) ever had that notion.
Lind is a bit of a mystery man, however, having “dropped out” of the music scene as the 1960s became the 1970s. Dropped out from somewhere near the top of the music scene at that. He does manage to address that topic in “backstage” interviews that are interspersed between concert segments. Given that perspective, one has to admire Lind’s judgment and his courage to change … to “reinvent” himself, as it were.
Bob Lind’s career roughly parallels the 1960s folk revival … well, more than “roughly.” His personal story seems to mirror the folk revival. He explains in the film that, as a folk coffeehouse performer, he was signed by World Pacific Records, a jazz subsidiary of Liberty Records, which was looking to ride the surging folk wave. Lind was paired with legendary arranger Jack Nitzsche and suddenly, it seemed, Bob Lind went from relative obscurity to #5 on the Billboard charts in 1966.
With Nitzsche’s arrangments, Lind’s folksinger sensibilities emerged in a setting that seemed to reflect the exploding youth culture about to sweep a country increasingly focused on — as Lind himself was doing — the West Coast.
There were new freedoms, new ways of looking at the world, new ways of living. There was still heartache, there was still conflict and there was still injustice, and Lind was right there with ALL of it in songs like, “I Can’t Walk Roads of Anger”, “San Francisco Woman,” “Remember the Rain”, etc. This was the 1960s — the overwhelming cry was for freedom — and the folk revival helped lead the cry: “belonging to no one but free to love the world that grows around my smiling mind,” Lind sang in “(I Can’t Walk) Roads of Anger.”
Here for the first time in popular music, as Paul Simon has famously noted, lyrical content went beyond the rite and perfunctory and clichéd. This is the single most important contribution of the folk revival and Lind, as one of a handful of chief authors, was adept at bringing poetry and its devices to popular song. Comparisons to Dylan actually made sense with regard to Bob Lind.
“This is the moment that pauses to hold us as you and I move in a background of wonder,” Lind sang in “Counting,” perhaps the most formal example of poetry into song. It was, indeed, quite a moment: No less than three Bob Lind LPs were issued in 1966!
As the folk revival was at its pinnacle (think hit songs like “You Were On My Mind”, “Baby the Rain Must Fall” and scads of others; think pop crooner Bobby Darin emerging with a folk album and other mainstream singers exploring their “tender” sides) Lind, too, had his mega-hit in “Elusive Butterfly.” Artists covered that and other Lind tunes — this in an era when cover songs, rather than originals, were the commercial mainstays of the most popular artists.
What’s more, Lind brought wisdom to the lyrics of songs like the achingly beautiful “Truly Julie’s Blues.”
The last collection of songs before Lind left the limelight entirely was even wiser. Since There Were Circles (1971) included a full-blown masterpiece, “Spilling Over,” in which Lind uses a variety of poetic devices and performance techniques to produce the folk music equivalent of the Fountain of Trevi with its famous Plato’s Phaedrus symbolism. It is Lind’s La Dolce Vita, a holy grail of folk songs, written by a performer who had not approached 30 years of age.
Lind and his band flat out nail “Spilling Over” in the new DVD, Perspective, and that alone makes the project a vital document in popular music. Guitarist Jamie Hoover’s arpeggios roll like water in a pool between Lind’s dramatic buildups. Keyboardist Matt Cook, drummer Kevin Jarvis and bassist Dave Carpenter provided what may be the truest possible backing for the interplay of Lind and the certainly underrated Hoover (The Spongetones, etc.).
This combo’s treatment of the lively, “Cheryl’s Going Home,” perhaps even surpasses the original flipside to “Elusive Butterfly.” Here is Lind pulling out all the stops: Singing, scatting, playing guitar and even — harmonica. Who would’ve have thought this guy, in his mid-sixties at the time of the concert taping, would be so full of surprises?
There is no “past prime” here. This is a fresh, new, vital performer! “Roll the Windows Down” is just as strong in this setting as the songs I’ve mentioned — and this is just the beginning of the DVD! I hasten to add “China” to that list of highlights. These songs were written before we referred to an “overentertained” public … and yet they hold up to the highest standards.
Now there are some songs in here of the sort coffeehouse folkies play — “Two Women” and “How to Get Depressed” — to bridge the distance between performer and audience. At the top of the game, performers like Lind, Richard Thompson, and a few others become intimidating in the sheer mastery of their craft. Songs like these put them in closer touch with the audience. So by the time we get to “Elusive Butterfly,” we have fresh ears and, in spite of many years and countless cover versions (I’m sorry — I’m fond of strumming this tune, too), it, too sounds fresh and new. Lind does a little something rhythmically on the acoustic guitar you don’t hear on the original recording, which is just fine, thank you.
Maybe this fresh sound has something to do with the fact that Lind withdrew from the music business as the 1960s lurched into the 1970s. That has been a mystery to listeners from the old days. Certainly a photograph of the editorial staff of the shock/bizarre tabloid The Weekly World News including Bob Lind can be seen as a Zelig moment. Imagine if it was Bob Dylan in that mob and not Bob Lind and you get the idea. Why … the only “dimension” in which one can imagine such a photograph existing is … in the pages of The Weekly World News!
Yet there it is posted to Lind’s facebook “wall” by a former colleague.
Perhaps we should consider that, in a way, The Weekly World News was a forerunner of The Onion. That gives us some truer perspective. Lind was also writing novels … some five of them, including East of the Holyland (lulu.com).
Consider also that, had Bob Lind somehow continued to perform the folk “circuit” — largely nonexistant by the late 1970s — we would not have the concert documentary we have here.
These songs would probably never have been presented so successfully. They might have been a little tired. And this, mind you, is not a big-budget documentary but it is plainly good.
I watched a folk coffeehouse struggle through the 1970s and 1980s until the “unplugged” era made acoustic music chic again. I saw new performers struggle to gain any audience at all and veterans who’d been at or near the top, minus health insurance and travel/lodging budgets, play for aging diehards … it was, at best, a little weird, especially in the mid-to-late 1980s.
Having this DVD makes up for a lot, though. It’s a pure pleasure to watch an old master at the top of his game and full of the wisdom and peace maturity can bring. Of course, as with every artist, there’s a song or two one might wish had been included: Just as examples, the poignant, “Long Time Woman,” which, fortunately, Jackie Guthrie (Arlo’s spouse) captured on video in the Berkshires and uploaded to youtube; the haunting, “How the Nights Can Fly,” which is on the Live at the Luna Star Café CD.
Odds are the Surratt documentary gives you a new Bob Lind favorite, however and if you are unfamiliar with this folk phenomenon, you will wonder why after watching this documentary. As Kenneth Patchen was a “one-man literary movement,” Bob Lind is a singular American master.
— Robert Preuss, POETS COLLECTIVE
I’ve mentioned the new Bob Lind DVD Perspective a couple of times now in the newsletter … but FINALLY had a chance to watch it this weekend. It’s a VERY interesting, appropriately titled piece … introspective, candid, honest and entertaining, all at the same time … guaranteed to hold your attention (and make you both smile and cringe) for 93 straight minutes!
It’s also a GREAT chance to hear some of Bob’s newer material … (no, as he points out in the video, he did NOT die in 1969 … he’s been doing … and is STILL doing … the same thing … making music … and observing and relating life’s experiences for the entertainment and enjoyment of us all. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t always been out there and accessible for many of us … but this new release helps get us all up to date!)
In addition to his musical stories (and there are plenty … my personal favorite is a piece called “Looking For You” … and you’ll find a video clip for this one on Bob’s website), Bob also shares some of his own life stories and experiences. (His remembrance of his time spent working as a staff writer for The Weekly World News is priceless!)
There are moments where his soul is stripped naked for all the world to see … and we get a much better understanding as to just what makes up the man as well as the “tortured artist” … and we’re all the richer for it.
(By the way, Bob, for ANY paranoia you may have experienced while putting together the band for the concert sequences, you needn’t have worried … you couldn’t have assembled a better group of musicians to bring to life your musical visions. Kudos to ring-leader Jamie Hoover on lead guitar, Matt Cook on keyboards, Dave Carpenter on bass and Kevin Jarvis on drums … they truly do bring your thoughts and dreams to life on stage.)
All in all, an interesting and enlightening way to spend an hour and a half.
— Kent Kotal / Forgotten Hits / www.forgottenhits.com