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Lamont Dozier, June 16, 1941 – August 8, 2022

In Memory of A Beautiful Soul
& True Genius of Songwriting

Lamont Dozier at the 2007 ASCAP POP AWARDS, Beverly Hills, California.

Words & Photographs by PAUL ZOLLO

Two days ago, on August 8th, the legendary and beloved Lamont Dozier left our world to start his next great adventure.

Unlike multitudes through the ages who depart after bringing havoc to the world and often worse, he  left this world a better place than when he arrived. Because, on his own and with the enduring musical brilliance of Brian and Eddie Holland, his Motown songwriting-production partners, he injected our lives with joy. The real-time, inspirational, romantic, danceable, soulful and glorious joy instilled in all of their songs is alive and more powerful than ever in their songs, all of which are modern standards. 


He was born on June 16, 1941 [a birthday he shares with Tupac Shakur, Stan Laurel and Geronimo]  in Motown itself – Detroit, Michigan. He died on August 8, 2022, though the news didn’t emerge until yesterday, August 9. 

Lamont wrote an astounding bounty of great songs, including fourteen songs which became Billboard Number 1 hits. Fourteen! Ten of them were all with one group.  Led by Diana Ross, who became a star and then an icon, soaring on the wings of his great songs, they were The Supremes.

Lamont’s Fourteen Number One Hit Songs:

  • “Where Did Our Love Go?” The Supremes, beginning Aug. 22, 1964 (two weeks at No. 1)
  • “Baby Love,” The Supremes, Oct. 31, 1964 (four)
  • “Come See About Me,” The Supremes, Dec. 19, 1964 (two)
  • “Stop! In the Name of Love,” The Supremes, March 27, 1965 (two)
  • “Back in My Arms Again,” The Supremes , June 12, 1965 (one)
  • “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” Four Tops, June 19, 1965 (two)
  • “I Hear a Symphony,” The Supremes, Nov. 20, 1965 (two)
  • “You Can’t Hurry Love,” The Supremes, Sept. 10, 1966 (two)
  • “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” Four Tops, Oct. 15, 1966 (two)
  • “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” The Supremes, Nov. 19, 1966 (two)
  • “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone,” The Supremes, March 11, 1967 (one)
  • “The Happening,” The Supremes, May 13, 1967 (one)
  • “You Keep Me Hangin’ On,” Kim Wilde, June 6, 1987 (one)
  • “Two Hearts,” Phil Collins, Jan. 21, 1989 (two)
The Supremes, “Where Did Our Love Go,” 1964, bt Holland0-Dozier-Holland.

He was also a great singer and artist, and he recorded two top 40 hit songs as both the artist and songwriter. both in 1974: “Trying to Hold on to My Woman” and “Fish Ain’t Bitin’ ” 


I was among the many very lucky songwriters and music people who got to know and even work with Lamont. How sweet it is, and always will be, to have connected with his gentle, joyful soul in all of these songs. It’s a body of work unified by the word which recurs most in his titles and life: love. Because Lamont loved life. He also loved songwriting – and his great fortune at becoming one of the world’s most successful songwriters without diluting ever, even slightly, the beautiful purity of his immense heart and sweet soul. 

The Supremes, “Stop In The Name of Love,” 1967.

He was always an authentic and generous man. That generosity is something I got to know first-hand. I was editor of SongTalk, the journal of the National Academy of Songwriters, for more than ten years. NAS was a non-profit organization created to provide songwriters with information, protection and inspiration. During my first years, Lamont became the Chairman of the Board of the academy. It was a position which came with much effort and little glory. Yet he took it on with the purity that he brought to everything in his life – work, friends, family and faith.

I asked him if he would consider writing a column for each issue of SongTalk to share his wisdom on the business and art of being a songwriter. He was an honest guy, and didn’t want to make any promises he didn’t feel he could keep. He told me he would like to do that, but knew he didn’t have either the time or the knowhow to do it well.

Of course, I understood. And, of course, came up with a solution. How about if I were to interview him every week or so about certain songwriting issues, and then I would remove the questions, and form his column out of his answers. He immediately agreed. This was thrilling for me – I was still new to this job, and I had landed Lamont Dozier as a regular columnist! 

Lamont in 2010 at the opening of the 2 Songwriter’s Hall of Fame wing of the Grammy Museum 
in downtown L.A. Taken on Tom Petty birthday, October 20, 2010.

We started a series of phone interviews in 1987 that worked even better than I had hoped, providing the perfect mix of Lamont’s humble wisdom about the business and the art, as well as golden tidbits about the iconic songs and records. All of which served to provide ample and genuinely insightful, practical wisdom and advice for songwriters, as well as very engaging stories of his songs and success.

Also he was a man that people could trust. His Motown success was immense, after all. That alone, separate from the timeless beauty and enduring greatness of the songs and records, was more than enough to garner great respect for him in the industry itself. Commercial success does always create more revenue than artistry. But those who could do both – write great songs and also create astoundingly dimensional and powerful records that were instantly loved upon release yet never shed their greatness, evolving into standards – those songwriters have reached the “toppermost of the poppermost” as the Beatles used to call it.

Their songs did everything that songs can do, and have never stopped. Like the greatest songs through our modern times, his songs expand in time. It’s not that they still sound good. They sound greater than ever. And we carry them not only in our physical world and experience them again in real-time every time we hear them, we carry them in our hearts. They are parts of us. With good reason. 

Tribute to Lamont Dozier

When Lamont stepped down as chairman, replaced first by John Bettis and then Jeff Barry, the column by him was done. I reconnected them all, and put the questions back, so that I could include it in the first volume of my book Songwriters On Songwriting. 

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, “Two Hearts.” By Lamont Dozier & Phil Collins.

Lamont delivered a lot of wisdom in his columns, and in the world. Not only about life – and about the vagaries and victories of love – but about songwriting itself. He recognized the unbound potential of the song itself to speak to our hearts and our minds at the same time. He also realized he was given a whole lot of musical talent, and for this he remained always grateful. He knew that to whom much is given, much is asked. It was a fair deal to him. Yes, he and the Hollands and everyone at Motown had to literally compete with each other to get their songs recorded and released there. It wasn’t easy at all, and required real diligence and dedication both. Many times some of the greatest songs didn’t get chosen as the next record for a great Motown act, though they all knew that had it been selected as the next single for The Supremes (who recorded many of their songs), or Marvin Gaye,  or other Motown icons, it would have been a hit like the others on their long hit list. 

The Supremes, “You Keep Me Hangin’On” Written by Brian Holland,Lamont Dozier,and Edward Holland Jr.(Holland-Dozier-Holland or H-D-H). Produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, 1966.

Of course, it could be heartbreaking and maddening, after investing so much into the writing and arrangement of a song, to see it cast away.  (Many castaways did eventually get recorded, and joined the others in Lamont’s songbook of soul standards.) But that experience of being jettisoned from the perpetual Motown roller-coaster of triumph and tribulations derailed great songwriters for decades. But Lamont was never derailed. Never did he give up hope, or abandon ship.

To the end of his 81 years, he beamed with that calm  joy  which distinguishes his music. Rather than ever feel entitled in any way by his talent and success, he felt grateful. And any sorrow inflicted by a song’s reception was more than compensated by the real pride and joy of being a songwriter – and a successful beloved one – in these modern times. He never took it lightly. Writing a song – any song – he knew was a triumph. Writing ones which become beloved by millions over many decades was beyond triumph. It was a serious blessing, and one for which he never took for granted. 


Nor did he take the artistry of songwriting and record-making lightly ever. To him songwriting called on our better angels, as it is a creation which can bring hope, healing and harmony to lives forever darkened by racism, poverty, dissonance, intolerance, hatred and everyday brutality. Like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and others, Lamont felt the airwaves were a sacred trust – a direct pipeline to the people at all times – and that songwriters had a responsibility to bring songs to the world which lifted our hearts and eased our minds with positivity. And to avoid the opposite.

“I no longer think in terms of good days or bad days,” said Lamont. “There are good days and learning days. If you woke up today, that’s a good day. And when things don’t work out your way, there’s always something to learn.”

Lamont Dozier, “Fish Ain’t Bitin’, ” 1973.

And he knew well, as do all songwriters, that those songs which lift the spirits of others first lift the spirit of the songwriter himself Much in the way ancient scriptures tell us that when man writes songs, and creates a “joyful noise,” that it makes God happy. The songwriter, like the creator of all songs and author of all books, feels forever blessed when one of his own kids – a song – becomes world famous. 

Lamont’s  lifetime as a songwriter – first as a dreamer, then aspirant and ultimately one of the great geniuses of modern song – was a true journey of joy for Lamont, and he shared that joy freely with the world. Always the man was always generous. With kindness, compassion, time and love. Which made him happy. It’s why his autobiography is named after the single song he wrote which sums it all up: “How Sweet It Is.”

That book, which he composed and realized as beautifully as one of his miracle songs, reflects his richly reverential, generous spirit. Not only does he share with us all the telling, poignant, sad and triumphant details of his life, he also shared with all songwriters a great gift: a lexicon of the ample wisdom about songwriting he’d accumulated throughout his lifetime. He called it his “Guiding Principles of Songwriting.”

He generously allowed me to reprint this section in a series of articles I wrote then about him and the new book in 2020. Those principles will be reprinted here in Part II of our Lamont celebration.

Lamont knew well that it takes a whole lot more than talent to both write good songs as well as propel them into our world, full-blown. It’s the writing, but also the diligence in never giving up until the song is right, and also educating one’s self always on the elements which combine to create not only a great song, but one which will resound powerfully through the culture at that moment and beyond. Always the songs were both timely and timeless, about that which was then, and that which is forever. 

With love and thanks to God and the universe for bringing Lamont’s soul into our lives within his beautiful songs, we will bring you his principles of songwriting in Part II of this tribute.

Many Holland-Dozier-Holland gems.

Ringo Celebrates 82nd Birthday with Love & Peace

RINGO’S 82ND BIRTHDAY
7.7.22 BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA
USA
Photos by Paul Zollo

& with a Little Help from His Friends
& Family

Ringo Starr on his 82nd Birthday, July 7, 2022.

Words & Photos by PAUL ZOLLO

LOS ANGELES, July 7, 2022. In what has become one of L.A.’s most beloved and joyful traditions, Ringo celebrated his birthday on this past July 7th as he has since 2005: gathered with a big gang of friends, family and some lucky members of the press, he celebrates another year on this planet by inviting friends nearby, as well as all around this world, to join together in a celebration of peace and love at 12 noon Pacific time.

Though this event was inaugurated in Chicago, fortunately for us Angelenos, it’s mostly been held here, and usually outside the iconic Capitol Records tower on Vine Street in Hollywood. ***

Ever since the pandemic & lockdown, however, with ongoing Covid caution, they have maintained the tradition but held it away from Capitol at a different location unannounced to the public. This year it was at the Beverly Gardens Park in Beverly Hills, which is already famously distinguished by its monumental Ringo connection: it’s there that stands an immense and shining eight-foot tall,  800-pound steel sculpture of his own design of his own hand giving the peace sign.

He donated the sculpture to Beverly Hills, which (after initally rejecting it, before coming to their senses) installed it here across the street from their City Hall. 

“Peace & Love,” by Ringo Starr.
Ringo’s luminous vision of peace is now a beloved and historic artistic addition to Los Angeles. It’s an 8-feet tall, 800-pound polished steel monument of his hand making a peace sign. He first created it years ago in bronze. Like everything that emanates from this man’s loving spirit, it shines always.
Ringo with Steve Lukather & Greg Bissonette


Friends and luminaries in attendance included many of the great members, past and present, of his All-Starr band, including  Steve Lukather, Greg Bissonette and  Edgar Winter. The legendary drummer, Jim Keltner was also there (who is the only drummer, except for Ringo and Pete Best, to have played with all of the Beatles), and Ringo coaxed him up onstage to join the others.
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The great photographer and beloved friend Henry Diltz was there, and received a shout-out from Ringo, onstage. “There’s Henry Diltz,” he said, “still standing!”

Henry Diltz. Who is, according to Ringo, “still standing.”
(In fact, he’s doing more than standing. He is dancing through life. Kind of like Astaire, but better..)
Two of the best better angels together: Henry Diltz & Elizabeth Freund


Also present were Diane Warren, Linda Perry, Richard Marx, Colin Hay, Warren Ham, Matt Sorum, Ed Begley Jr, Roy Jr. & Alex Orbison, Randy Lewis, the photographer Jill Jarrett, and others.

This year Ringo’s global message of love was sent even farther than  usual:.

The Artemis Music Space Network, through the International Space Station (ISS), brought Ringo’s message out to the galaxy.  At noon he signaled their Mission Control Center in Houston to beam his message & music (his 2021 single release “Let’s Change The World” and his “Star Song”)  to the International Space Station.

From there it was sent into orbit around the Earth, passing over many countries and much of the Earth’s population and beaming back down messages of peace and love while also traveling out to distant stars.

Before this commenced, two great performers –  Langhorne Slim and Sawyer Fredericks – performed many of Ringo’s great songs with infectious joy.

Henry Diltz & Langhorne Slim

As Ringo greeted the press before noon, I had the chance to ask one quick question. Captured on video (see below), it is preserved. It starts with another press guy asking about Boris Johnson, who resigned days earlier. Ringo’s shakes off that question. Then you hear Elizabeth sweetly exclaim, “Paul!!”

Henry Diltz & Elizabeth Freund II

Then I mentioned that last year I asked him how he looked so great at 81. His answer was “It’s because I don’t wear a hat,” pointing at mine.

This year I mentioned that answer, which caused him to laugh. (My first time ever causing a Beatle to laugh.) I then asked if there were any other reasons that in his 80s he looks so young and healthy. The video cut out here, but he said, “Well, you know I try to keep myself fit. You are what you put into the world.”

Edgar Winter. At the 2019 Ringo Celebration at Capitol Records

I asked if having a great marriage was part of it. “Yes, it is,” he said warmly. “She is my best friend. She is always with me. Yes, Barbara is a big reason I’m still here.”

Barbara & Richie Together
I took this photo last year, 2021. But as he wore the same jacket,
and since they both still look great and in love, it works.

Ringo’s Answer to Zollo’s Question







Video by Allison Johnelle Boron
Cohost, BC the Beatles podcast @BCtheBeatles

Henry Diltz, a man happier on the other side of the camera


*** Capitol, as you probably know, was the Beatles’ label in America, as part of the EMI label. And though the lads recorded famously at Abbey Road in London mostly, Capitol has been an American touchstone for them for decades. It’s there they famously charmed all the secretaries and everyone else when first visiting back in 1964. And it’s there, on the sidewalk in the front, where The Beatles’ star on the Walk of Fame is located, as well as their individual stars.

Henry Diltz & Greg Bissonette

In Memory of Human Sunshine:

Barbara Morrison

September 10, 1949
– March 16, 2022 


There was nobody else quite like her. Whether on the stage of a giant concert hall or a small club; whether performing solo with her band or backing up the countless giants with whom she harmonized, she always cooked up a mighty gumbo of jazz, blues and classic song, ladled out with loving generosity for all in attendance. Whether to a sold-out concert hall, or to more empty chairs than people, she sang with as much momentous spirit, love and delight as if she was at Carnegie Hall.

In fact, she did perform at Carnegie Hall many times over the years, solo and with others. But whether she was there, the Sydney Opera House, or the hip but decidely non-royal Pip’s on LaBrea, she never dialed down. That’s who she was. It didn’t matter who was in the audience, or if there was an audience at all. What mattered was the song. The music. And the bond between musicians.

Barbara Morrison, 2022.

Barbara Morrison. A champion of song, if ever there was. A vocalist of genuine soul and grace, unbound power, purity and passion. Born in 1949, she died two weeks ago on March 16, here in Los Angeles.

It’s also here in L.A. that she performed her final show. It was at Vibrato, the beautiful jazz club owned by Herb Alpert, which up at the top of Beverly Glen at Mulholland.

Although we hadn’t planned on it, my son Joshua and I were at that final show.

We had dinner at Fabrocini’s, the great Italian restaurant also up there in Beverly Glen Circle, just blocks from my beloved new home in Beverly Glen. During dinner I told Josh about how much I loved being so close to Vibrato, where I’ve come several times. Most recently to the great show givien by Paul Simon’s longtime African bassist of multitudes, the great Bakhiti Kumalo. So Josh suggested going in for a drink after dinner. We didn’t know she would be there.

I had never experienced the greatness of one of her live shows, nor did I know much about her. I knew the name, and knew she was an esteemed jazz singer and deliverer of standards from that Great American Songbook.

Yet it seems that Providence (or God, if you will) wanted my son and myself to experience this greatness first-hand, and guided us, gently, quietly, without our knowledge, to what was her final performance ever. It was February 13, 2022. Two weeks later she went into the hospital and her earthly life came to an end.

Yet we happened to be there for the last show, without even knowing of our great good fortune.

Was this an accident?

No.

A mere coincidence?

Nope.

Was it confirmation that our lives are never random, and as long as we keep our hearts open with loving trust, we will be guided to the exact right place and time?

Yes!

And that’s exactly what happened. Joshua, who is 22 now, a very recent college graduate and now a full-time producer-plus for Tom Segura’s great Your Mom’s House podcast, was back home after his recent move to Austin to work on YMH at their new Texas home. After dinner we walked over to Vibrato.

When we entered, there was a small crowd there, but it was mostly quiet. We got some good cocktails, and sat at the lovely bar feeling happy, as it’s hard not to feel happy there. Nobody was performing, and I figured there would be no live music on this night.

I was wrong. There’s music there seven nights a week. Suddenly a small ensemble took stage and readied their instruments: piano, bass, electric guitar and drums.

Then we heard the words which surprised and thrilled us:

“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome – Barbara Morrison!”

“Barbara Morrison?!” I didn’t know this was her night, though I had noticed her name on their calendar regularly.

Suddenly she was rolled onto the stage in a wheel-chair. The joy she projected was monumental, though her physical presence had been diminished; alhough she beamed with tender joy and gratitude, her physical body was small and bird-like, and seemed incapable of containing such capacious, unbound talent. Her voice was still strong – and joyfully and poignantly expressive. Though illness had stolen much of her physical self, it didn’t steal the music in her, and her ability to share it with us.

She sang like someone in love with her fellow musicians, with songs, and with the songwriters who brought them to us. She felt every line, and we felt it, too. She sang in a voice was resonant and clear, and she delivered every melody note, and every lyric, with such absolute heart and soul, and with such engaged lyricism, that it was stunning.

Every song was a delight. But none was so powerful, beautiful and sad as when she sang what is perhaps Cole Porter’s greatest and most poignant song, “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” Its poignancy was both sweetened and deepened immeasurably by a force we didn’t recognize then, but do now. Time. Her’ time here was coming to an end. It was her final show ever. Days after that performance she went into the hospital, and from there left this realm to start her next adventure.

But when she sang that song – and every song – it was genuinely beautiful. Only a smattering of audience members were still there, but that didn’t matter – she sang as if she was singing before a packed audience at Carnegie Hall. She so expressed the fullness of the lyric – the shared humanity of each phrase -, and always with a smile bigger than the whole room, as if to say: Listen now and hear me : this is what matters. Love. And it lasts forever. Yet while still in this realm, divided from each other in so many ways, it is easy to dismiss the fullness of our blessings, and the power of love which has enlivened us forever.

But she she sang those words, and with that singular soul of purity, and honored the songwriter, the song and all who could hear and feel its message of joy and sorrow forever entwined:

“Ev’ry time we say goodbye
I die a little
Ev’ry time we say goodbye
I wonder why a little…”


And then the great final verse, with its musical symbology in perfect rhyme and meter:

There’s no love song finer
But how strange the change
From major to minor
Ev’ry time we say goodbye

Barbara Morrison concert, streamed live on November 14, 2020

We knew that night how lucky we were to have walked in for a drink, not knowing she would be performing. But since then we’ve recognized it was more than luck they led us there on that night, the last show of her life; it was a blessing, and our gratitude has deepened.

I learned of her death from my old pal Sal Guitarez, a songwriter-musician-teacher and great dad (to musician-producer Jason Gutierrez) if he’d heard of her, in advance of relating my lucky tale of wandering in there with my lad just in time for her full set.

He said, “Yeah, sure. Barbara Morrison.” Then he added, “I heard she’s gone.”

“No, she’s not,” I said. “I just saw her last week–“

“No,” he said. “She is gone. She just died yesterday.”

Yesterday ? I was hoping he was wrong. He wasn’t.

I called Vibrato to ask if that was her final show that we saw. It was. I thanked them for that night, and every night of great, real-time music.

Herb Alpert’s Vibrato * 2930 Beverly Glen Circle
Los Angeles, CA 90077 * (310) 474-9400

Barbara Morrison, “I Love Being Here With You,” 2010

Her life reads like a good song lyric: Born in Ypsilanti , she was raised in Romulus. Which is Michigan, where she first emerged on September 10, 1949.


Her father was a professional singer, and she followed in his footsteps soon as she could walk. By ten she was already recording and performing, after making her musical debut on a Detroit radio station. She started singing and recording in the service of others singers. That long list of artists begins in 1977 with Johnny Otis, who featured her on many albums, as well as Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Count Basie Orchestra, Ray Charles, Etta James, Doc Severinsen, Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell, Keb-Mo, Terence Blanchard, Joe Sample, Cedar Walton, Nancy Wilson and Joe Williams.

When she was 22, she moved to L.A., and joined the band of Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson’s Band. Once she started, she never stopped. Till now.

She always let us knows that songs mattered. Lyrics when sung by others could seem hackneyed, and disconnected from real life. But from her deep soul, songs became real conversations with a friend. And no ordinary friend, but a spirited, inspirational friend, one radiating joy.

So direct onstage was her delivery that often she’d be answered, as when she lifted up a room already soaring on the combined energy of Santana and Buddy Guy by igniting Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler’s “Stormy Weather,” with her own brand of authentic soul. Written for Ethel Waters in 1933, she easily tapped into its timeless realm.

Barbara Morrison with Buddy Guy & Carlos Santana, “Stormy Monday.”

Her band was made up of four great musicians. Happy ones, even. Maybe not always, but on this night they were jamming like at a party. She encouraged this. Her patter between songs was less about performance and more about our great good fortune to hear songs at this level played by great musicians. Every song soared, and the band rejoiced in their recognition of her sheer candle-power. Her joy was infectious, and lit up every song she sang.

Her voice was always warm and friendly. Smiling, she’d bring the song with loving sweetness and generous clarity, like a great teacher sharing the most beautiful poetry of man to her students. She didn’t take liberties with songs, careful to deliver the beautiful lyrical wisdom and melodic beauty undiluted, while preserving the sanctity. In her singing there was always the undeniable bridge to the eternal.It was about now, but also always about forever.

Barbara Morrison, “What A Difference A Day Made,” 1986.
Written by Stanley Adams and Mariah Grever

Here in Los Angeles she devoted her life to enriching and expanding the musical community, and giving new talent a chance to develop and emerge. In 2009, she opened the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in Leimert Park. Two years later, she founded the California Jazz & Blues Museum in the same hood.

Barbara Morrison in concert at the California Jazz & Blues Museum, which she founded.
This is a full show which she gave on New Year’s Eve, 2021 to usher in 2022.

She also served as an associate professor of jazz studies at UCLA. The university recently launched the Barbara Morrison Scholarship for Jazz.

When sung by her, a song came alive in all its fullness and glory. All its aspects were celebrated in the heartfelt joy she’d bring to every melody note, and lyrical phrase. She sang the famous lyrics of standards with a an exultant authority, as if this was the premiere of this miraculous song. In every line, she sang with a depth of gratitude and adoration for the songwriter’s genius and deep artistry that allowed tsomething so brilliant and tender at once; an expression of love so sad and real, reflecting in its aching sweetness the eternal human conundrum, the soul’s journey of love eternal and unbound, though forever bound to a humble, human life, a “brief candle,” as Shakespeare wrote:


“…to the last syllable of recorded time,
and all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death.
Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow…
that struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
and then is heard no more.”

But some voices are heard long after the singer is gone from our realm, just as some songs are sung and last forever, far beyond the life-spans of its songwriters and singers. Songs, when she injected them with her full soul power and love, were like lit candles that could burn brightly forever, illuminating our human hearts with everlasting incandesence.



There’s no love song finer
But how strange the change From major to minor
Ev’ry time we say goodbye

She is survived by her brother, Richard Morrison; two sisters, Pamela Morrison-Kersey and Armetta Morrison; and 10 nieces and nephews.

Flowers and donations will be received at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center, located at 4305 Degnan Blvd. #101, Los Angeles, CA 90008.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Rescinds Bob Dylan’s Induction Due to Alleged Use of “Creativity-Enhancing Drugs”

APRIL 1, 2022 Edmund Martifice, spokesman for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, announced today that the 1988 induction of Bob Dylan into the Rock Hall has been rescinded permanently due to “alleged use of creativity-enhancing Drugs.”

All Dylan memorabilia, paraphenalia and assorted writings now in the museum’s collection, he reported, will be auctioned off, destroyed and/or “left out in front of the museum.” Mr. Dylan will be banned from the museum, as will any of his bandmates, collaborators, former wives, present and ex-girlfriends, children, grandchildren or lawyers. All his songs will be deleted from any museum-generated playlists.

The statement read: “Mr. Dylan has been involved in an illicit system of acquiring illegal and/or formally illegal substances, which he used regularly when writing his songs. Our investigation has revealed that many of his most famous songs were written when under the influence of a drug or a combination of drugs, alcohol, caffiene and cough syrup.”

Dylan was also accused of providing drugs for other bandmates and/or friends.

We emailed Mr. Martifice at the Rock Hall for further details. He declined our request for a spoken interview, but did answer in email. Asked if other famous inductees were suspected of also using drugs to fuel their music, and in danger of being deducted from the Cleveland institution, he said he had to first confer with his advisors before responding. Six hours later we received his response.

“As far as we know,” responded Martifice, “no other Rock Hall inductees are suspected of drug usage. Fortunately, this sad and insidious scheme belonged only to Bob Dylan. All in a tragic attempt, evidently, to defraud the public into belieiving he was some kind of creative genius. Now, sadly, we know the truth.”

We contacted the Recording Academy to ask if Dylan’s ten Grammys would be revoked.

Their response was concise: “What? Is this some kind of joke?”

If only.

We also contacted the Nobel Foundation to inquire about the status of Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature. They have not returned the call.


Bob Dylan

the eternal wheat field

By John Kruth

a poem for vincent van gogh
on his 169th birthday

Vincent Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887
Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Cypresses, 1889.

everything was alive

in your absinthe-green eyes

when only deep shades of blues

could still sooth your black moods

and red vineyards cloaked you

from the darkness

of the ever-encroaching winter

some say it was glaucoma or lead

poisoning that caused you to see

halos around everything

but maybe you were

just closer to heaven

than that drab bunch of potato

eaters who lived next door

everything you witnessed

breathed electricity

the shape of the wind

and clouds spinning in turbulent skies

as gray clouds like dark birds rose

from your pipe and sunflowers danced

with delight in the vase on your table

all the colors we knew

turned a different hue

when you painted them

and the wheat waved back in gratitude

so drop that pistol vincent,

the paintbrush will always love you better

nobody saw the world through your eyes

for another hundred years or so

and by that time, you were long gone

never knowing your paintings

— John Kruth, 2022

La Berceuse (Woman Rocking a Cradle);
A Portrait of Augustine-Alix Pellicot Roulin, 1851–1930) 1889

Vincent Van Gogh, Nursery on Schenkweg
April–May 1882

GREAT NEW SONG ALERT: The Black Keys, “Wild Child”

From the new album Dropout Boogie, out later this month.

By PAUL ZOLLO

A brand-new classic by the Black Keys – Dan Auerbach & Patrick Carney – arrived on March 10, of this year (2022) – “Wild Child,” from their new album, Dropout Boogie, which will emerge on May 13.

The Black Keys are Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach, two old tuneful pals from from Akron who teamed up in 2001. Similar to the way the duo of Becker & Fagen were Steely Dan, around which other satellites spun and which signified songwriting and record-making greatness always, Dan & Pat have united in a musical mission that has deeply enriched these times. Their songs and records shine always with the warm purity of two seriously singular songwriters in harmonic and spiritual sync with each other, and in love with the unbound power and potential of song.

And like Steely Dan – not stylistically, mind you, but in terms of their aim – their work is always reflects the ambition and diligence to make real-time, timeless, rocking records out of these songs. Classic, soulful, rock and roll, analog and digital both, dimensional, and expansive. Built to last,

They will embark on a new 12-show tour this year (see below). Like their legions of fans, I am thankful for each successive brand-new classis they’ve created over these past years. Somehow they remain plugged into the source, and connect with the real-time rock, roll, soul, whimsy, wisdom, irony, passion and fire. Few other bands, for this writer, consistently create new music that I genuinely want to keep listening to over and over. That’s what it’s all about. Their music makes me feel good. It feeds a hunger that very few new records ever feed. And they keep doing it.

And it is needed – and appreciated – now more than ever, as the foundational ideas which guide this kind of work have been dismissed, abandoned, forgotten and/or lost by so many.

And, like Tom Petty and others who kept doing it, they make it look easy. Also fun.

They also make compelling, unexpected and great videos like this one below, the official music video, starring Dan & Pat, of “Wild Child.”

The Black Keys, Patrick Carney & Dan Auerbach,
“Wild Child”

Black Keys forever, bitch.”

So ends this video with these words. We agree.

Forever. That’s what it’s all about.

On behalf of rock & roll and those who live in its forever realm, allow us to say to Dan & Pat: Thank you! This world would suck even more without you.

The new album, Dropout Boogie, Out May 13

“Wild Child”
By Daniel Auerbach & Patrick Carney

I’m just a stranger
With a twisted smile and I’m wondering, ah
Your heart is in danger
Come close now, let me tell you a lie

Wild child
You got me running through the turnstile
Baby, come with and I’ll make it worthwhile
You’re gonna get my love today, yeah

You are a sweet dream
With a tender heart and beautiful smile
But things aren’t what they seem
So I’ll let you go and dream for a while

Wild child
You got me coming outta exile
Baby girl, you know I’m liking your style
You’re gonna get my love today, yeah

I just wanna hold you at the end of every day
Girl, I wanna please you, oh, I’m needing you to stay
The sun is gonna shine if you would just come out and play
Baby, won’t you show me your wild child ways

Wild child
You got me running through the turnstile
Baby, come with and I’ll make it worthwhile
You’re gonna get my love today, yeah

Wild child
You got me coming outta exile
Baby girl, you know I’m liking your style
You’re gonna get my love today, yeah

Wild Child lyrics © 2022 Wixen Music Publishing

The Black Keys have officially announced their 32-date Dropout Boogie North American Tour. Dropout Boogie Tour begins July 9 in Las Vegas with special guests Band Of Horses. Ceramic Animal, Early James, & The Velveteers for select dates.

Fans can join the FREE Lonely Boys & Girls Club for more.



Presale codes can be found once signed up and logged into your Lonely Boys & Girls club profile starting Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 10 am ET.

A limited number of VIP packages will also be available starting Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 10 AM local time. VIP packages include premium seats, sound check visit, an autographed lithograph and more!

Great New Song Alert: Trombone Shorty, “Come Back” .

A brand-new timeless soul classic by Chris Seefried, Derrick Thomas, Sam Plecker & Trombone Shorty

By PAUL ZOLLO

It’s one of the most infectiously uplifting soul singles to emerge in a long time. If Marvin Gaye, Sly Stone, Isaac Hayes, all of Earth, Wind & Fire, and the Tower of Power horns were to team up to make one record, it might sound something like this. But maybe not as great.

From his first album in five years, Lifted, which arrives on April 29, this is Trombone Shorty with “Come Back.”

Trombone Shorty

The song and album were produced by Chris Seefried, who has written and produced great music for many bands and artists (including Andra Day, Lady Blackbird, Joseph Arthur, Counting Crows, Fitz & The Tantrums, Vintage Trouble). He co-wrote “Come Back” with Derrick Thomas, Sam Plecker & Trombone Shorty. Chris has been steadily establishing himself as one of the most soulful and savvy songwriter-producers making music now; like Mark Ronson, he ‘s got a gift for easily merging the real-time, soul magic of the analog past with the new sonics and grooves of our digital age. Usually a little more hip-hop than rock, these grooves propel timeless melodies that never fail to touch the heart, even while you are dancing.

Both romantically tender and anthemic, “Come Back” is built around an undeniably killer hook. It ‘s one of those which makes you feel happy the first time you hear it, and happier with each listening, as all its facets coalesce. It’s brand new and timeless at the same time, all about now but without abandoning those ancient elements which combine to make songs soar forever .

Since you've been away
I've been hurting
Since you've been away
Come back baby
Since you've been away
I've been hurting
Since you've been away
Come back and stay

Does it get better? This is new, true and it’s 2022.

“Come Back”
℗ Blue Note Records; ℗ 2022 UMG Recordings, Inc.
Released on 18 February 2022

Producer, Arranger, Composer, Lyricist: Chris Seefried
Mixer, Mastering Engineer: Mikael “Count” Eldridge
Background Vocalist, Trombone, Trumpet, Vocals: Trombone Shorty
Drums: Alvin Ford
Bass Guitar: Mike Bass-Bailey
Guitar: Pete Murano
Hammond Organ, Rhodes: Brandon Butler
Tenor Saxophone: BK Jackson
Baritone Saxophone: Dan Oestreicher
Background Vocals: Chris Pierce, Derek Thomas, Trombone Shorty
Recording Engineer: Charles Smith
Engineer: Seth Atkins Horan
Mastering Engineer: Bernie Grundman

Chris Seefried. Photo by Majoryabo

Great New Song Alert: “Magnificent Hurt” by Elvis Costello & The Imposters

From his new album The Boy Named If, which burst forth in January, 2022 (it didn’t simply drop).

It comprises a song cycle which, according to Elvis, spans from “the last days of a bewildered boyhood to that mortifying moment when you are told to stop acting like a child—which for most men (and perhaps a few gals too) can be any time in the next 50 years.”

This is the single, and is perfect for this series in which we celebrate great songs which are brand new. This is a brand-new brand-new classic, written by Elvis, produced by him with Sebastian Krys, and recorded during lockdown with The Imposters (AKA The Attractions).

This is new, this is timeless, also charged, passionate, fun, mysterious, visceral, danceable, delicious, in funkified, unbridled B minor, and delightfully delightful.


“Magnificent Hurt”
Words & Music by Elvis Costello

After talking in tongues, I began to preach
What falls from the branch is an apple or peach
Hold on to me, there’s a red alert
It’s the way you make me feel, magnificent hurt

I took a little walk, I took another stimulant
I shed a single tear for my predicament
Don’t act surprised or insolent
It’s the way you make me feel, magnificent hurt

When we first met, I knew you were beautiful
You fit like the seat of a blue mohair suit
And the pain that I felt let me know I’m alive
And I opened my heart
To the way you make me feel, magnificent hurt

I speak low and intimate
Like a cardboard sophisticate
What if this is true love?
Not some town hall certificate
It’s the way you make me feel, magnificent hurt

I stood at the door, and I almost went through with it
Tight as the angle of my amen
And I swore, there and then, as I feign and I flirt
I unbuttoned my shirt
To the way you make me feel, magnificent hurt
To the way you make me feel, magnificent hurt

Behind the Song:

“My Old Man,” by Steve Goodman

STEVE GOODMAN,
“MY OLD MAN”

By PAUL ZOLLO

When it came to writing a song about your father, even John Prine knew that nobody ever did it better than his pal, the late Steve Goodman. Prine had already written a great song about his own father, “Paradise.” It was a song that moved his father more than any he ever wrote. But that was about more than his dad. It was about coal-mining in America, and the little town of Paradise where it happened. It was about America, and how swiftly it has changed.

But this one. “My Old Man” by Steve Goodman. It’s a song long beloved as among the greatest ever written from a son to his dad. For so many reasons. But more than anything, because it’s genuine. From the heart. The son, the father, the love, the regret, the tune. All of it. When Stevie wrote a song, he wrote a song to be remembered. More than forty years since it first emerged, it still is pure and perfect.

Steve Goodman at Wrigley Field

It’s also a perfect example of the songwriting wisdom that the more specific a song is, the more universal. Although this is as specific as it gets, with the true details of the life of his dad, known as Bud Goodman, a used car salesman in Chicago, it’s a song about all dads, and all children of parents who have dealt with the grief of losing their own dads.

JOHN PRINE,
“MY OLD MAN” BY STEVE GOODMAN

Anthology: No Big Surprise
Steve Goodman
Buy from Amazon

“He wrote it for his father, Bud,” said John Prine, who has performed this song more than any other by Steve Goodman, his best pal, “It was after Bud died of a sudden heart-attack. Took about six months for it all to sink in, He kept telling me he was wondering when it would soak in, but he didn’t know it would turn into a song.”

Prine heard this one long-distance, and in the middle of the night.

“Usually when he finished a song he’d get on a pay-phone, wherever he was, and call me, and wake me up, and say, `Prine, I got one.’ That’s how I heard this one the first time. I always thought it was a really pretty one.” 

Steve Goodman’s dad didn’t work in a coal mine. He was a used car dealer. But as Steve sings in the song, never was there a more charming guy on this planet. Even when he’d look you in the eye and sell you a used car. And never was there a more sweet and poignant song about a father than this one. Written in 1977, it was on Steve’s album Say It In Private, produced by Joel Dorn.

It’s got his dad’s real character – the corny jokes, the cheap cigar, his greatness at selling used cars. But also the history – time in the war, marrying mom, and then, becoming a dad. Then the fights with Stevey and his brother. The guy was human, not a saint. And Stevey also was human, and hardly a perfect son – admitting to tuning out his father – and the regret:

“And I’d give all I own to hear what he said when I wasn’t listening.”

Plus the sad and ironic humanity of father and son reflected:

He was always trying to watch his weight/but his heart only made it to 58…”

And then the key line, which is about the songwriter, and about all humans having to somehow accept a loss so deep that it’s hard to fathom. Yet it’s a necessary acceptance, though heartbreaking, before singing the inevitable song of grief, the one which never really ends. But it begins.

“And for the first time since he died/late last night I cried/I wondered when I was gonna do that for my old man…”

In concert he introduced it with a smile, saying, “This song is for Joseph Bayer Goodman, my father. I asked my grandmother why she named him Bayer, cause there were no Bayers in the family. Anywhere. She said she had her reasons.”

He then shrugged to the audience, as if to say, “Who knows what that is all about?”

In 2006, Steve’s daughter Rosanna Goodman produced a tribute album for her dad called My Old Man, featuring many artists doing songs by Steve, and not the usual ones. But the highlight is her own beautiful version of the song. 

ROSANNA GOODMAN,
“MY OLD MAN”
Written by her old man, Steve Goodman

Like many songwriters, when I first heard Steve’s song about his dad, I abandoned any idea of ever writing one of my own for my father. Because he’d done it so well. It’s simple, funny, poignant and beautiful. It doesn’t get better really. After knowing this, what could I write? It’s a dilemma never resolved.

John Prine felt the same way. Usually it was Steve Goodman who sang John Prine’s songs, as he sang Prine’s praises to everyone and anyone who would listen. It was Goodman, and those in the know already know well, insisted Kris Kristofferson hear him, which led to Prine getting signed but Atlantic.

But of all the songs by Steve Goodman, this was one Prine performed more than any other. He knew Bud, Steve’s dad, so he could see into the song as if he wrote it himself. He also knew and loved Steve Goodman, who died at only 36 years old in 1984. John outlived his best pal by 26 years, and kept Goodman’s spirit alive always. Prine’s performance of this song was always poignant and great, paying tribute to his absent pal with this song Steve wrote about the death of his dad. He wrote as a way of making sense of his own grief, and poured into it the loving, gentle whimsy that was his essence.

STEVE GOODMAN. “THIS IS A SONG FOR MY FATHER, JOSEPH BAYER GOODMAN.”

My Old Man”
By Steve Goodman

I miss my old man tonight
And I wish he was here with me
With his corny jokes and his cheap cigars
He could look you in the eye and sell you a car
That’s not an easy thing to do
But no one ever knew a more charming creature
On this earth than my old man

He was a pilot in the big war in the U.S. Army Air Corps
In a C-47 with a heavy load
Full of combat cargo for the Burma Road
And after they dropped the bomb
He came home and married mom
|And not long after that
He was my old man

And oh the fights we had
When my brother and I got him mad
He’d get all boiled up and he’d start to shout
And I knew what was coming so I tuned him out
And now the old man’s gone, and I’d give all I own
To hear what he said when I wasn’t listening
To my old man

I miss the old man tonight
And I can almost see his face
He was always trying to watch his weight
And his heart only made it to fifty-eight
For the first time since he died
Late last night I cried
I wondered when I was gonna do that
For my old man

Steve Goodman & John Prine together

THE BEST STEVE GOODMAN BOOK EVER!!

For more on the timeless greatness of Steve Goodman, look no farther than Clay Eals’ tremendous book Steve Goodman: Facing the Music. It’s one of the best books ever on a songwriter. It’s a book as great as Steve was great, and as loving. It’s the comprehensive, untold story of a young man whose hilarious, touching and heartening music — “City of New Orleans,” “You Never Even Call Me by My Name,” “Banana Republics,” “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”, “Go, Cubs, Go” and many more stellar songs — uplifted millions.
All books ordered from this site will come with a special postcard, autographed by the author, and a CD (or CD-R) of 18 songs written after Steve’s death that pay tribute to him, and one track of interview clips with Steve himself.

Click here to purchase the book:



www.storerevenue.biz/clayeals/order.asp

Steve Goodman: Facing the Music
By CLAY EALS
Steve Goodman

In Honor of the 80th Birthday of a Great Songwriter, Poet & Friend, Stephen Kalinich

Featuring Stevie’s own remembrances of writing the beloved Beach Boys’ song “Little Bird” with Dennis Wilson

By PAUL ZOLLO
Photos by Paul Zollo/Tremolo Ghost


Happy Stevie Day! Today, remarkably, is the 80th birthday of the great songwriter-poet-painter-pacifist-visionary-mensch Stephen Kalinich. AKA “Stevie” to his friends, of which there are multitudes. I am proud to be a lifetime member of the FOS (Friends of Stevie), which is an expansive coalition of artists, musicians, poets, actors, writers and also civilians: those who love artists, musicians, poets, actors, writers and all they bring to our world

Happy Stevie Day! Today, remarkably, is the 80th birthday of the great songwriter-poet-painter-pacifist-visionary-mensch Stephen Kalinich. AKA “Stevie” to his friends, of which there are multitudes. I am proud to be a lifetime member of the FOS (Friends of Stevie), which is an expansive coalition of artists, musicians, poets, actors, writers and also civilians: those who love artists, musicians, poets, actors, writers and all they bring to our world


He was the closest and most trusted friend of the late great songwriter P.F. Sloan, known as Phil to his friends, of which I was one. It was Phil who first introduced me to Stevie, and let me know – without words – that Stevie could be trusted. That he was one of the good ones. Real good.

But it was at Phil’s funeral at the South Pasadena library that Stevie and I bonded. I gave the eulogy and Stevie read his beautiful poem, “If You Knew.” And I knew. This is a man of real-time heart and soul. A man of peace, as was Phil, in a world of war. A man of poetry and song in a world of dissonance and fury. A man of love in this sorrowful war-torn world. A man of hope and light always, even through these long seasons of darkness and despair.

He’s the rare poet who has always reflected the joy of life and art. He loves words, and he knows all the traditional structures and frames. He also knows truth. But what matters most, as we learn from his art, is the human connection. His message is to feel the joy. Don’t worry about life. Love the journey. And remind others just how finite and fleeting it is, so don’t get too distracted by the shiny things, or the darkness. Better to light your own light, and with it to illuminate the pathways for others hoping to make it through.

He is, as one friend said, someone “who will always show up.” Whether physically or with spirit, Stevie is well-known for letting others feel his love, and know they are not alone.

Happy Stevie Kalinich Day! - American Songwriter
Stevie Kalinich at Book Soup, 2020.
Photo by Zollo.



Often he does beautiful, magical things for his friends. He does these usually in semi-secret, so as to deliver the joy without any hint of self-glory. No doubt most of these remain unknown, but one recent one surfaced, and stands as a great symbol of Stevie’s tender heart and gentle benevolence:

When our friend Zak Nilsson, the son of Harry, was fighting a long and devastating battle with the cancer that took his life in March, 2021, Stevie reached out to a famous friend to let him know what Zak was going through, and maybe inspire a few words from him. That friend was Paul McCartney. (Paul sang on the beautiful “A Friend Like You,” which Stevie wrote with Brian Wilson.)

McCartney immediately sent off a letter of love to Zak. Zak, in turn, moved by McCartney’s expression and also his identification of the man who triggered it, posted a message about it online:

“I got this letter from Paul McCartney the other day,” wrote Zak. “He heard I had cancer and sent me this note. I was very touched that Harry’s friendship meant this much to Paul.”

In the letter, Paul wrote this:

“Paul McCartney here. Steven Kalinich wrote to me to let me know that you are about to have chemo, so I am sending you this note to encourage you to be strong and positive.I was privileged to know your Dad whom I knew as a lovely guy and a great talent. I wish you the very best of luck with the treatment. My wife, Nancy, went through it years ago and stuck with it even though she hated it. She is now better and well, except for the fact she is married to me!!

Sending the very best vibrations to you. Be well. Love Paul.”

Paul McCartney’s letter to Zak Nilsson, requested by Stevie, February 4, 2019.


Stevie has long embodied the beautiful symbol in his most beloved song, “Little Bird,” which he co-wrote with Dennis Wilson. It’s on the Beach Boys’ 1968 album Friends,  and was produced by Brian Wilson. Brian also wrote the music for the bridge section, though chose to be uncredited for it, perhaps to shine more light on his brother Dennis, and also Stevie.

“`Little Bird’ blew my mind,” said Brian Wilson, “because it was so full of spiritualness.

It is a magical, wonderful song. It’s not as famous as the big hits, which seems right, as the subject is delicate and small, yet makes a timeless impact, because it is genuine. Stevie always wrote from his heart, informed by his unbound love of language and poetry and song, and sweetened by love itself: for life, for Dennis , for art, music and beauty.

“It’s something people don’t talk about much, or even ask about,” Stevie said, “but I was in love when I wrote that song. Love shaped “Little Bird” more than anything.,

In honor of Stevie’s 80th birthday – and the fact that Stevie at 80 remains one of the youngest, most exultant, sweet , brilliant and funny people there is – we are happy to celebrate him here with this journey into the origins of “Little Bird.”  I

t began, as he told us, with a poem he wrote inspired by seeing a little robin outside of Dennis Wilson’s home. 

Stephen Kalinich, “Dennis”
A Poem for Dennis Wilson
Video by Paul Zollo

STEPHEN KALINICH: There was a little bird who gave me the poem, these words. The bird gave me the poem. It was a little bird, a robin with kind of a rough breast. And that bird, for me, was God’s messenger. His messenger of life for me. That is what I believe.

“Little Bird”was a miracle song for me. I felt so good about it. And my truth is I never thought of it becoming a hit. I never thought of money. I wanted to pour this kind of feeling into the world. 

Remember Jay Ward who did “Bullwinkle”? In 1966 I met a guy that worked with him at the Hollywood YMCA and he loved my poems.

Stevie with his Art
Photo by Paul Zollo

He said, “I’m good friends with Jay Ward and I’m friends with Brian Wilson.” So I would go down to Jay’s studio on Sunset there and I would sing him my folk chants that are now on the World of Peace album. I got to be friends with them and he set up meetings to go and see Brian Wilson. 

Brian was playing at the Smothers Brothers Theater on Sunset in Hollywood. The first time I met him., The Beach Boys were rehearsing there. 

Brian and I hit it off. He loved me and we just hit it off. Then the next thing I know, I had a contract with the Beach Boys as a writer and as a performer. The name of my group was Zarasthustra & Thelebeus.  It was with Mark Lindsey Buckingham, who is  not the one from Fleetwood Mac.  He was a singer/songwriter and 12-string guitar player. He and I got signed, both of us, to Brother Records as publishers and performers.

Stephen John Kalinich | Light In The Attic Records
Brian Wilson & Stevie Kalinich

Brian drew up the contracts. Nick Grillo was the one who actually had us sign the contract. I had no attorneys so it was not the fairest deal.

So then they introduced me to Dennis, and we got together to write a song. The first song we wrote was “Little Bird.” I went to his house at 14400 Sunset Boulevard. He was renting Will Rodgers’ old house.

“Little Bird” was done in that house. Dennis had a tree hut in the front of his property; a little house about 30 feet up. He and I would go up there. And that was the “Little Bird” time.

I was sitting at his piano, looking out the window, and I saw a bird up in the tree. And it’s almost like God or grace: The sun was shining. It was mid-afternoon. It was still light in the day and there was a little sunshine.

I wrote the words to “Little Bird.” I left it on his piano. He was upstairs doing something. He called me that night at midnight and had the melody done. He didn’t like one word: “stripe.” So he went right off my lyric. In fact, all my early songs with him, I did the words first. Like “Be Still.” I did the words first and then he did the music. I never wrote off a track with him.

Brian did have a hand in this but never claimed credit. He wrote the bridge part of the music: “Where’s my pretty bird? He must have flown away.”

I wrote the poem, the lyric, when I was sitting at the piano. Brian was not there, only me and Dennis. I wrote the lyric first and then in less than an hour, Dennis found it and was inspired with music. It was as if the words and melody were in him. Brian added his part in the studio.

The Beach Boys, “Little Bird”
By Stephen Kalinich & Dennis Wilson. Produced by Brian Wilson. From the Beach Boys’ album Friends, 1968.

That was our first song and six weeks later it was out all over the world.

 When I said, “the little bird up in a tree looked down and sang a song to me of how it began,” I wanted to repeat the words “how it began.” It was a lesson that the bird was giving me of life.

The little bird’s phrase was about all the secrets of all the universe, and of every song that’s ever been written, and every possible creative act. Because it all comes from the sea of divine love, or energy, if you want to call it that, if you’re a physicist. Or you can call it God, the universal music. The Sufi’s call it the one vibration where all music emanates in the stillness.

It’s also in the Bible, “Be still and know that I am God.”

All this was in “Little Bird.” Later, “Be Still” became a song of its own, but it was already in “Little Bird.” That’s why you can see out of that, the first one, how it began. And then he says, “How it began.” Which meant how all matter began.

Donovan and Stevie.
Photo by Zollo.

It’s about what Einstein wrote about: the all-encompassing universe. “Little Bird” was a microcosm of matter and energy; the creation of the solar system. And I thought all that then when I wrote it. That’s why on the next refrain, the trout in the shiny brook gave a warm and loving look. To say that you don’t need to worry about us. That’s what he said.

So I’m saying by that reflection to you out there listening: “Don’t worry about your life. Here’s all the answers. It’s in the trout. It’s in the little bird. It’s in the flowers in the meadow. ” That theme is running through a lot of my work then. Little bird might drop me a seed for a tree to grow…

It’s so magical, like a Zen moment.

A lot of people misheard the lyric, and got it wrong – and it is even printed wrong often. The real lyric is “the trout in a shiny brook gave a warm and loving look.” But often people think the trout “gave the worm another hook.”

If people sing it that way, fine. But the original thing is that instead of the hook, he gave a warm and loving look and said, “Don’t worry about your life.”

Stevie with Quincy Jones
Photo by Paul Zollo

Other writers borrowed words from other people. I tried to do it from the pure Zen of the experience with simple words that everyone could understand. It was the fashion then to be abstract. But instead of being abstract, I tried to put it in plain words. I wanted to be an effective communicator, and I hope I have become that in some areas.

`Little Bird’ was one of the greatest experiences in my life. The grace of the universe was involved and it has blessed me my whole life.”

“Little Bird”
By STEPHEN KALINICH & DENNIS WILSON

Little bird up in a tree
Looked down and sang a song to me
Of how it began

Na na na na na na
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na na

The trout in the shiny brook
Gave a warm and loving look
And told me not to worry
About my life

Na na na na na na
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na na

Tree in my own backyard
Stands all alone
Bears fruit for me
And it tastes so good

Where’s my pretty bird?
He must have flown away
If I keep singing
He’ll come back someday

Dawn, bird’s still gone
Guess I’ll go mow the lawn

What a day, what a day
Oooo, what a beautiful day this is
Ooooooooo

Little bird up in a tree
Looked down a sang a song to me
The trout in a shiny brook
Gave a warm and loving look
And told me not to worry about my life

Little bird looked down
And sang a song to me
Little bird looked down
And sang a song to me
Little bird looked down
And sang a song to me