This week's song takes me back nearly 40 years! But actually I'm not going to talk much about Kevin Conner's great tune "Living In Colorado," rather I'm going to share some retrospective regarding the pitfalls and foibles involved with producing the debut album on which this song first appeared. The album was flawed, but Kevin's song speaks for itself - a gem amongst some rocks!
First a little background . . .
In March of 1977, Larry Crandall retired from the road after having spent seven years touring the Upper Midwest with me as a Memory Brother. With his sons entering high school, Larry figured he would be spending too much time away from the family. It was time to get off the road and get a "real job!"
One week after Larry and I did our "Farewell" performance at the Sportsmen Club in Oelwein, Iowa, Kevin Conner became the new, official Memory Brother.
After a late-night call from me and a bit of contemplation, Kevin found himself on the Holiday Inn circuit and living out of a suitcase. Kevin, a recent graduate of Luther College, had already established himself as a solo act playing college coffeehouses - backing himself on acoustic six and twelve-string guitar - ala John Denver and Cat Stevens.
Being on the road was fun but also grueling. I felt the prospect of doing an album of original material might spice things up a bit and be a welcome change from the monotony of playing cover songs night after night in lounges up and down Interstate 80.
Kevin was (and is) a gifted songwriter and already had a trove of wonderful material just begging to be recorded. So by late 1978 the two of us found ourselves busy rehearsing tunes, booking studio time and putting together a backing band in anticipation of our upcoming, recording session! We soon found ourselves at the venerable IGL Studios in Milford, Iowa working on our very first album, "Yellow River Serenade."
My thinking at the time was that the songwriting for the album should be equal offerings from each of us. However Kevin's material was seasoned and already tested, whereas my tunes were hastily thrown together and undeveloped.
38 years later I find the cringe factor is off the charts when I now listen to "Yellow River Serenade." Actually the LP as whole wouldn't have been half bad had I utilized more of Kevin's material. But one lives and learns - and the lesson I learned was that selecting suitable material is paramount for an album producer.
Now in 2015 my critique of our debut album would be as follows: Despite the LP's flaws, it was a fun project; and the creative process served as an important learning experience - especially for me. The excitement and fun we had in the studio was priceless. Kevin's songs and performances were downright great, and the album cover design by graphic artist Lyne Neymeyer was stellar. Her gorgeous artwork belied the uneven nature of the recorded material.
So bottom line - yes there are some "clunkers" on this album but nestled amongst them are a few gems - "Mornings In New York", "After Tonight", "Yellow River Serenade", "Good-Bye Old Friends" and yes, this week's featured song: "Living In Colorado." (Click here
to view album cover and to listen to these five songs.)