ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969
This is Chapter 37 (day 11):
Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love
Performed by The Beach Boys
Recorded at Western Recorders, CBS Columbia Square, Gold Star, and Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California 1966
Drummer: Dennis Wilson (concert); Hal Blaine (studio)
The receptionist at Capitol Records did not know they had an appointment.
“Can I help you?” A cigarette dangled from her very red lips, and every red hair on her head was sprayed in place like it was part of a cranberry helmet. She turned her head, blew smoke toward the gold records handing on the wall, and put her cigarette into a holder in a bright red ashtray. She raised her eyebrows and gave Molly and Norman an impatient, expectant look…//
“Is Hal Blaine here, please?”
“Who wants to know?”…//
“He’s expecting us,” Norman said.
“Really,” said the receptionist sardonically. She looked Norman up and down like she was his bad mother. “Who sent you?”
“Mary Beal,” Molly snapped.
Norman shot Molly a look. “Al Jackson, Jr. at Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee,” he said.
“Also Roger Hawkins at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.”
“Actually,” Norman said, his voice gatherig all the authority his seventee years could summon, “Jai Johany Johansen of the Allman Brothers Band.”
He stared as menacingly as he could, directly into the receptionist’s eyes, and hoped she could hear his mental command. Hal Blaine now! And step on it!
A good song for Molly and Norman’s entrance to California and its laid-back vibe and beach culture. “Good Vibrations” and the Beach Boys were an exciting, energetic shot in the arm to hear alongside records by Del Shannon, Ricky Nelson, the Righteous Brothers, even Elvis.
Suddenly we were in the middle of a musical sea change, just as Molly will be soon. Capitol Records was a huge part of that sea change.
I spent weeks researching Capitol Records — not just the history of the label, but the story of the building, and how they got that special studio sound, so I could write Chapter 37, and realistically put Molly and Norman in Studio B and introduce them to Hal Blaine.
I came to love Hal Blaine as I read and listened to interview after interview of this iconic drummer who played on more than 40 number 1 hit records and scores of other hits during his long and illustrious career.
I’ll write more about Hal here and edit this entry and provide more links when I’m home from my travels, which I’m going to write up as well — a bit of mail coming into your box in the next few days, but thanks to Mail Chimp’s delivery system, you’ll have each day’s posts in only one email, coming soon to a mailbox near you.