Friday, July 4, 2014

Gene Clark 43 & The Cowboy Life

It was a cowboy life with ol Gene Clark.  A cowboy life all the time and little lasts so long and you can see the wear and tear on him he waved that great smile lit up the world with his kids laughing and I'll remember that for my whole life.

That moment in the golden California sunshine Under that cottonwood tree I'll remember Gene Clark and his sons singing making up songs he put his he put the Dodge Van in gear, turned off the other way that I hitchhiked to San Francisco because you could do that then it was It was a rock 'n roll thing. Gene called that night at my apartment just to make sure I make it okay and told me about the kids he was like that, like a cousin he would check in you wanted to make sure.

Said he was going get back to the studio and do some more songs and he thanked me for getting in touch with Bob Dylan again laughed about how much fun it was he said blissful and boastful and crazy there's always that scattershot crazed edge teaching Clark that scratching on the strings of the guitar with your nails are the bottleneck guitar sound screeching Highlow and screeching a freight train sort of energy there was always that with Gene Clark.

Gene Clark 42 & The Silverado

The next morning we got up and we drove to Mendocino.
I went with them along for the ride by that time and I'd not spent this long with ol Geno since the first time on the No Other Tour of 74-75 that changed my life! 
It was a dozen years later like I said Gene Clark didn't have the full throated delivery when he had wings y'all and could sing all the octaves like Elvis and hit all the notes.

It was late when we drove up to Mendocino and picked up his kids.  His wife was in rehab, her boyfriend jail.  The two teenage boys had been on their own for 10 days. Gene was devastated and hugged those boys.  He had never been a daily father to them even when he was around and couldn't be the father that he wanted to them.

He dropped me off in San Francisco to get back to Magazine.
There was a big cottonwood tree up in the mountains splitting an intersection on acid.  

You can just let me off here this the road to San Francisco and he started singing no writing a song right there the road San Francisco or some sun. 
Or somesuch in that voice he couldn't help himself everything was a song the leaves were blowing around the wind was awesome and there was his voice on the road to San Francisco dropping me off and Gene Clark's smile and the kids were laughing.
As Bob Dylan told me in Anaheim, When Gene Clark is on, the rest of us sing backup. 

Gene Clark 41 Or Either Babe Ruth

 Gene came off a tour that started with Danko/Manuel, Rick Roberts, as well as original Byrds Clarke and Hillman and ended with Geno alone on guitar and harp.  He sang for his life on an absolutely killer last set. Featuring the ever mysterious gem Communication, never officially recorded, owned today by family and a private collector or two. A ditty about the connection between the artist and space traveller, the harmonic soaring voices, the flight imagery he first embodied the summer of '65 on the Strip.

I invited him to come to the show in Anaheim.  Backstage Jerry Garcia was sweetly stoned.
You want to play with us?
What could Gene say?  He was touched and thrilled to see them all.  Dylan hugged him like a brother.  
When they went out I stood in the wings and for a moment I saw the whole thing from his eyes.  
Man, he laughed like a child.  I've never played before so many people.

It dawned on me: No Monterrey, no Woodstock.  Dylan was gracious, introducing Gene playfully ironic as The Original Mr. Tambourine Man himself.  He let Gene sing the lead and just added his own chantey bard style of harmony. Gene nailed it.  Then on Chimes of Freedom Gene sang his ass off.  It was really beautiful everyone stepped back; Jerry put on a high harmony.  Dylan sang verses with Gene together they did a bit of a harmony too. It was one of those rock 'n roll moments those of us who were there remember it the rest of our lives, positively monumental. 

It was also sad seeing Gene out of breath a couple times and so taken by the moment I think it wasn't that he was tired though he was then on his way to death at that point Dylan still goes on today God bless them they were fucked up on that tomorrow with a lot of heroin around and five years since he crashed and burned & had to go to Hawaii to get cleaned up with David Carradine, famous old Indian trail buddy and fellow Joad of the road. We got to Maryland with drug dealer who's there we known this guy forever Jimmy Geng hand delivered cocaine to the Rolling Stones on the '72 to work in Texas.  Wanted to be an artist in New York City was a drug dealer and engineer on the Imagine John Lennon sessions.  Worked with Iovine.  Of Springsteen, Dre Beats and Apple. 

He it also got a hold of Dylan's Basement Tapes: The great white wonder he was the one who bootlegged that started the whole bootlegging thing.  Jimmy G moved to Hollywood became a good friend to the stars cause that's what he did best that's what he knew baskets toward no running a block or two as an Irish tough when in the area around Houston St., Elizabeth. Was rolled by the Irish his people were by the Times Little Italy Jimmy G was there in June

Of course everybody knew Jimmy.  Gene Clark had known him since the canyon days and here began the last desperate run of our hero's last doomed Gig.  
Old friends from the scene so we got high when the show was beautiful and you could see it had a interesting effect on Gene because you know these guys treated him like he was one of them but he wasn't it was like you can play to McDonald's for the gigs that he was playing compared to what they were doing; this is a stadium and you can see that he had trouble breathing that this was working from just the whole thing, from just kind of freaking out and hyperventilating when you're doing that song you look down And there's 75,000. Never played a show that big before was all he said, in perfect pitch like he was singing Silver Phial.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gene Clark 40 & The Great Fool

Like his lifelong hero, sometime brother and mutual admirer Bob Dylan he kept a notebook to write songs in, but he also performed songs that he’d never written down at all.  In fact from that first song at age 12, the recording process became a more important part of his writing process.  Keith Richards has always been like this too, as anyone who has read his autobiography can attest.  Clearly he told it to his ghost.  The middle of the night inspirations they tell enough waking up in the middle of the night and grabbing not a pen but a guitar.  As later collaborator Duke Bardwell attested, watching Gene clark compose a song was one spooky process.

There was a lot of humming and calling out to the gods involved.  Clark did not write lyrics, he wrote songs.  His form of expression was not the written but the spoken (sung!) word.  He quit the New Christy Minstrels after hearing the Beatles on the radio while on tour.  He could not hear what they were doing on the radio. Finally at a stop in Norfolk Virginia he kept feeding nickels into the jukebox until he ran out of change.  The next day he flew to Hollywood to catch the wave of the next musical explosion.  Though he’d been lying about his age since he started playing professionally, he was 19 years old. With the Minstrels he’d toured extensively in the US and Canada and sung at the White House staying for a week in Washington where the group partied and Gene Clark made out with the President’s daughters Linda Bird and Lucy Baines Johnson.  With the Minstrels the touring was constant, they flew everyday which was grueling and hard for Gene especially who had once witnessed a plane crash as a teen at the municipal airport in KayCee where he saw people on fire running out of the wreckage.  He was already missing flights.  He never told anyone he was leaving.

Neither of the Clark(e) boys really were timekeepers.  Their song sense was spatial rather than on beat.  Crosby could keep time on rhythm guitar.  He also learned to play electric and developed a signature beat-driven sound which stood out on Eight Miles High and later complimented the twin leads guitars of CSNY.  Crosby was also balding and tended toward chubby, so he looked a lot better onstage with a great big guitar.

Harold Eugene Clark had the looks and presence of a classic front man and the Byrds were originally sold as a pop band so his looks alongside those of the gorgeous young other Clarke were essential.  As a composer, less of Gene Clark’s songs made it to the second album.  This must have been frustrating for such a prolific songs-man.  Also the other bandmates songs were pretty lame at that point.  Later all of them would write some pretty good songs, but as Dylan noted, none of them even came close to playing in Clark’s league.

This was the second wedge to the breakup of the band.  Crosby was also a complete pain in the neck, famously insecure and hounded the less accomplished musicians Clark and Clarke.  Another big wedge were the drugs the boys were given on tour.  In those early days doctors prescribed speed to artistic touring types like the Beatles and Elvis. Clark also could never handle his liquor.  All this contributed to one freaked out dude who walked off the plane weeks after the band recorded the first single that separated the band from their influences:  Eight Miles High.

39 Gene Clark & A Worried Mind

Gene Clark, in fact, very seldom told the truth of where he came from and who he was in interviews. His reticence reminds me of two of the first people who helped me out in NA. Neither went by their real name. It was a rock and roll time and it was downtown New York and some of it was just about being cool, but with Blade and Ringo Heretic it was years before I learned that they were both of Jewish origin. It’s one thing to be black or Hispanic, it’s not something you can hide.

I know nothing really about this; I am as white as the day is long, but I do know something of what it’s like to have an artistic sensibility. And I do come from poor immigrants who sometimes learned from elders to lie about who they were for protection from oppression, who learned that it was better to pass as an American then to be called out as the Other. It reminds me of Gene Clark in an unguarded moment so many years ago in that beat up and dented Dodge Van on an Ozark Mountain American byway telling Diz and I about his Indian heritage. Duke Bardwell was driving, I was riding shotgun and Gene and Diz were in the back talking.

You grow up learning not to let anyone know something they can use against you.

His words hit home; it’s no badge of honor to come from a junkie dad or a barmaid mama. Part of it is shame: to come from such a large family, with a mentally disabled sibling whose challenges often dominate the very tenor of the household. You don’t invite a lot of people over when your grown up sibling has the intellectual capabilities of a three year old.

My mother had a childhood friend named Grace who would sometimes bring her boys, similarly disabled, by the bar. It was weird to see how Diz could always put everyone in such a situation at ease. Something I could never accomplish. And how everyone who lives with someone with such social challenges can’t help but have some of them too. When the Byrds first broke, Gene told people who asked that he was from Southern California. He wasn’t lying. That’s where he lived for all of his adult life, but he was passing.

Gene Clark's Tambourine 38

Other than Gene Clark who left the Byrds because he was afraid to fly, so goes the story, the only other major stars to leave bands either died from drugs, see Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin or were acid casualties like Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac or Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd.  The two latter bands of course would not become famous until after their first leaders left, the others all came much later, after Monterrey Pop and Woodstock so were arguably from a different generation because of the short shelf life of pop stars.  There were really only three bands in the first wave who not only wrote most of their own songs but were also cool:  the Stones, The Beatles and The Byrds.

Whether Gene Clark had a bad acid trip, he seemed to prefer speed and alcohol from the testimony of intimates, he did freak out.  And nevertheless Gene Clark did leave the band.  It would seem beyond the sensationalism that he did this for identifiable reasons.  He had more songs than the band needed.  The other members were jealous of his songwriting success and Gene’s modest nature struggled with this situation.  These things are true but if one looks at the Byrds future output Gene Clark’s growth into country closely paralleled the band’s.  And despite the tension, no one asked or expressed any desire for Gene Clark to leave the band.

What is clear is that whenever Gene came back to the band, first in 1968 and then in ’73 and ’78, he again freaked out.  He might have had a fear of flying but worse was his inability to deal with fame. In ’73 he did not get the chance to sabotage his success with the Byrds so he made sure to do it by famously choking David Geffen in Hollywood over No Other.  In ’79 he had to leave McGuinn, Clark and Hillman because of his exacerbated drug use for the first time threatened his health.  The question with stars of this magnitude is: Who doesn’t freak out.  The Beatles quit touring and became a studio band. Paul quit; John Lennon became a heroin addict; George Harrison became a religious fanatic as did McGuinn. This is what Clark's valedictorian song, Some Misunderstanding, is about.

Look at Brian Jones and Keith or Jagger who did his best to became an actor.  Only the workmanlike or non creative types like Hillman and Ringo Starr seemed to survive with their personalities intact.  It’s hard to name a single original rock star who did not end up as a drug casualty, see Crosby, Stills, Young, and of course Dylan.  At the very same time that Gene Clark quit the Byrds, Bob Dylan also spun out with his near fatal or faked motorcycle accident, marriage and family that completely altered the trajectory of his career after Blonde on Blonde.

It is further interesting to note that any pop success that Dylan had enjoyed depended on the cover releases of bands like the Byrds.  He had nothing close to a hit until Mr. Tambourine Man, it was after the Byrds that he was able to break national with songs Like A Rolling Stone and Positively 4th Street.  So whether or not Gene Clark had to quit the Byrds to make his own music, he did have to quit so as not to lose his mind or his life.

When I asked him about it, he shook his head.  It was a mistake to quit the Byrds.  He said the same thing ten years later in an interview in 1986.  Where he went on to say that his quitting had nothing to do with a fear of flying.  This was a joke.  It was about the fame, he said, and everything that came with it.  They were all so young.  As noted before, Gene Clark had never finished high school and was still in his early 20’s when he set out solo.  Something else to consider when cataloging the trajectory of Gene Clark’s career and music is his ability as a musician.

A famous story goes how David Crosby bugged and bugged him to take over the rhythm guitar slot for the Byrds because of the tending to rotund Crosby’s fear of standing in front of an audience without a guitar.  Whether the truth of this, Clark then and throughout his life showed a complete indifference to learning to play the electric guitar.  While Crosby became quite an accomplished rhythm player, no known concert photograph exists of Clark with an electric guitar.  And though he was an accomplished finger picker on acoustic, most of his playing on record consists of simple strumming.  He played the guitar like a field hand, was the immutable Duke Bardwell’s comment.  Ol’ Geno could not care less.

Whether he had to collaborate, he was certainly no guitar hero.  Some, myself among them, might argue that some of his songs (see White Light) were somewhere between unfinished and spare in terms of arrangement.  This is not to say he could not be a commanding performer, often with just a guitar.  See his take on Your Fire Burning, recorded live near the end of his life where his slight chording accompanies a performance that is like Caruso in its majesty.

This is the point

Gene Clark & The 37 Who've Lost

In the Troubadour one night he heard another former folkie Jim McGuinn singing trad folk songs in Beatles 4/4 time.  He offered to sing harmony.  David Crosby heard them practicing one night, walked up and added a third bar of harmony and here the glorious Byrds chorale sound was born.  

Listen to Bells of Rhymney.  It’s basically a church choir sound with a beat.  Under the direction of Jim Dickson their longtime booster, they added a bass player and a drummer and began recording dozens of songs to try to secure a record contract.  Hillman could also sing which added a fourth harmony.  

On these first recordings they could not afford a drumkit and Michael Clarke played cardboard boxes.  Famously the first time deadpan Dylan ever saw the band play Mr. Tambourine Man his most effusive words of praise were for the box player.

Besides the covers almost all of these songs were composed by one member of the group, Gene Clark.  The other members’ contributions were derivative Beatles knockoffs.  The other members only began writing songs seriously when they saw Gene Clark’s MG sportscar, which he bought from royalties received from their first album.  McGuinn and Hillman came from the folk and bluegrass tradition repectively where songwriting is discouraged in favor of passed down songs.  

Again it was Dylan who first broke this tradition by writing his own songs.  Crosby came from Hollywood; he wanted to be a star.  The others wrote songs for the money; Clark composed songs because he had to.  

Gene Clark's 36th Psychic Break


he beginning of the LA Rock scene dates without a shadow of a doubt to the Byrds extended run of shows at Ciro's.  As a live act they never sounded better.  Ciro's was a legendary Supper Club on Sunset Strip right down the strip from The Whiskey a GoGo.  Once the hang of mobster Mickey Cohen and home of stars like Peggy Lee it had fallen on hard times and in early 1965 it had decided to try rock.  The Byrds had been signed by Columbia as a potential rival to the Beatles.  But after recording their first single with the session musicians later known as The Wrecking Crew in January the record co. Sat on it.  The poetic folk rock sound was so new Columbia evidently had no idea what to do with it.  

With the band cooling its heels their manager Jim Dickson whose idea it was to record the Dylan song over the vehement objections of one David Crosby, got the band the Ciro's booking.  It made LA music history and created the happening scene of the moment. Later Gene Clark was one of the first newly minted rock stars to live in Laurel Canyon in 1965 when he got a place off Lookout Mountain Road to go with his new Ferarri with the first of his songwriting royalties.

The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition by Grant against Lee's army.

Gene Clark's wilderness was of the metaphorical kind.  It was a battle he fought the rest of his life and lost.  It started the day he walked off the plane, when often unintentionally cruel bandmate Jim McGuinn told him, If you can't fly, you can't be a Byrd.  Ironically the Byrds were on their way to NYC from LA with the acetate of their brand new career highlight single Eight Miles High to appear on the Murray The K show.  

The pressures of the last year had certainly been intense, constant touring, interviews, publicity campaigns.  McGuinn cited a beautiful GoGo dancer from the Whiskey and a bad acid trip.  The other members of the band were jealous of his lucrative songwriting talents; insecure David Crosby constantly needled Clark, Hillman and Clarke. Gene Clark was eternally restless and his solo prospects looked promising.  His leaving the NCM had certainly worked out well.  If Brian Wilson could take a break from touring.  Others blamed Exhaustion & undiagnosed, misunderstood manic depression.  No one really wanted him to leave the singing group, though only Hillman and mgr Jim Dickson tried to talk him out of it. Instead Gene Clark escaped LA to go stay with his family in Bonner Springs, Kansas.  He had not been home since leaving to join the New Christy Minstrels.  He was barely 21. 

He had dropped acid with John Lennon, discussed songwriting over weed and speed with Brian Jones and dated Hollywood starlets. He was a Mid West Country boy where word was bond who found out that the star eat star ethos of Hollywood acted very differently.  The Byrd who would not fly angle that dogged him until his death made good fanzine copy but the context is misunderstood. He was white knuckle flyer who'd been forced to fly on a weekly sometimes daily basis for the past three years.  And it had all happened so fast: from August 15, 1963-Feb '66, from Missouri kid to #1 and back in the time and exactly at the age when others his age spent in their frosh & soph years in college.

Back in LA by March, he tore his telephone off the wall, and would not fly again for a year.

Gene Clark 35 & Gone

The other thing that had happened that month was my brother was deployed to Iraq in a special forces unit on the border.  Until the invasion they would be one of the few units to try to infiltrate the State of Hussein.  Every mission was top secret.  He gave me all kinds of material, none of which I could use.  We had national advertisers after all.  

The funny thing is I felt sort of faint when I made it to the gates of the hospital.  I lit a cigarette and made it as far as the front entrance.  I sat down on an empty planter a ceramic thing filled with butts and discarded cups.  That was the last thing I remembered until I saw my mom’s face.  

There he is, she said.  
Did I faint?  
You Od’d right out front.  You got a lot of nerve.  
She gave me a big kiss.  She handed me a can of 7-Up.  I fingered a cigarette from my coat and lit it with shaky hands.  How long was I out?  
Four or five hours, she said unfazed.  I stood up, I got to go to work.  It was that moment I realized  I had an IV in my arm.  I was in a chair in a hallway.  
We could not get you a room.  
Thank God you work here.  
I didn’t tell them I knew you.  You can make a better impression next time.  
She looked me over.  

What the hell is this?  A tear ran down her face.  You think you’d have learned from your father.  Mom this was not an OD.  
What was it?  
I fainted.  
You shouldn’t smoke in here.  
It’s a hospital.  
I checked my watch.  Shit, what time is it?  
I get off at six you want to have dinner?  
I’ll take a rain check.  I’m supposed to meet Candy at a show in Boston.  
I already called her.  
You did what?  

What was I supposed to do I was scared to death.  
She was on her way here.  Really.  She’s going to call from the train station.  
Tell her I’ll see her at the show.  Can you get me out of this thing? 
I’m supposed to call a doctor.  
Mom, we’re in a hallway here.  
She went to the nurses’ station.  
I pulled out the IV and followed her, with my hand holding the vein on my hand.  
She turned and I gave her the get out of jail free smile.  
You got a bandaid?

Gene Clark 34 At The Master's Room

 The Wizard of Oz started talking and once again I got that open abyss feeling in my heart.  
Jan had that tone of voice a boss gets when he’s going to offer the business to his son-in-law, only that wasn’t it.  

He talked like and how you never really know yourself, something along those lines.  Like sometimes we are the last to know.  He repeated that.  
The Last to Know, Who we Are.  
You knew where the caps were from his expression.  It was a moment for reflection.  Like in church when you stop and think because you’re told to and it’s goddamn sanctified.  I nodded.  I had to.  It seemed like the most important thing in the world to agree with Jan at that moment, so that’s what I did.   He told me he had always known I wanted to write.  

To Really Write.  

He let go the caps again.  He told me he’d trusted me to tell him what I wanted.  He had noticed me missing meetings and frankly not looking well lately.  He had wondered but he was caught up in his own thing.  It’s one of the most important times in my life, he said, and you know what I could see it was.  I could see that Candy had talked to him, out of trust because she loved me.  She still believed in me.  She wanted to anyway.  Mr. Check Back in Six Months notwithstanding.  It took Jan awhile to get around to it, but he did.  I want to make you an offer you cannot possibly refuse.  What’s that, bub?  Wiseass was all I had left, at this point.  Everything he was leading up to looked I was losing my job.  I should have defended myself but something in his manner cut that off at the bud.  You know what it felt like. 

But, I mean…I was completely at a loss.  It was a great honor, but I also felt like a big hole was opening up in front of me.  Don’t worry, you can take as long as you want.  It would be nice not to have to work but… He has always been such a sincere hard worker this guy.  Sabbatical means you will be taken care of my boy. What if it sucks? I asked.  He laughed and hugged me again, pulling Candy into the embrace. We’ll take care of the details later, let’s go see some rock and roll history.  For our next brief tableau let us concern ourselves with Christmas week.  My darling wife Candy spent it at her sister’s in Chelsea receiving condolences on the unfortunate breakup of her marriage.  
Conventional wisdom goes that you leave a dopefiend to save a dopefiend.  Otherwise you join the dreaded tribe of the ennabler.  Candy had done her best; it was agreed, and now it was time for her to pick up the pieces of her own life.  Whether I lived or died, I needed to be dead to her now, or else as long as she loved me I would continue to take up as much space in her life as she let me.  For the most part I tend to look at most recovery talk, like self-help talk with a jaundiced eye at best.  That the wisdom makes one sick to the stomach, does not make the wisdom any less true.

At Rolling Stone you don't get sent to rehab, you get another story.  Mine was Gene Clark.

Gene Clark 33 FireByrd

I ran cross town to Pennsylvania Station and jumped on the next train for Boston and then a connecting bus to Northhampton, Massachusetts.  This was for a record company premiere.  The hype on the two bands was out of this world.  It was a showcase for a lost but awesome band called Bullet Lavolta who I was hoping for and hoped If you’re going to lie, he always said, make it a good one. I told her I had found the envelopes in the hallway.  Don’t let anyone you don’t know in the building, I said. 

This might be cool now, but it’s still Alphabet City.  She nodded and wiped her face, but she didn’t look like she believed me.  I kissed her and we fooled around but it was spooky.  When I opened my eyes in medias ras, she was staring at me.  All our romantic liveslong she had kept her eyes closed, but not this time.  She was looking at me, but she did not acknowledge my look.  She was faraway, like she was watching me for miles.  I finished up and turned over; to admit I was scared to look at her.  I went into the bathroom on the train and did half of what was left in the bag. 

This was the rule after an OD, to use half.  Half of me still wanted to believe I had fainted.  I could really use a cheeseburger and scarfed three Nathan’s hotdogs in the train station with chili and relish.  Plus the vitamins must have helped.  Anyway when I went to the bar car, I ordered a glass of bourbon, lit a cigarette and thanks to the dope, mighty dope, I felt like a million bucks, like they had built the very train for… hell like they had invented train travel for me so I could better enjoy my life that moment.  It was that good. 

Candy’s folks were in the Berkshires for the fall season.  Plus she had gone to Smith and had many friends nearby and had gone up a couple days in advance. It was also a chance for us to catch our breath.  When I got there it was like there was a spotlight on her.  She had her hair up and had on one of those great little black dresses that were just coming on to the scene at that time.  I had bought it for her at Patricia Fields.  I stood there and watched her from the crowd at the door.  It was a few steps down to the bar so there was a view.  She had a martini and was touching it with her fingers in this way that brought me all the way back to our first few dates

Gene Clark 32 Newspaper Boy

Remember when Raskolnikov’s been raving and he awakes finally and finds his mother, his sister and Razmukhin at his bedside.  And his good old best friend has explained everything.  We know everything his mom says.  

He remembers he had raved about murder to his friend before and told him to go to hell.   He knows he has just recently killed two innocent women with an axe.  He looks at them, staring at him.  What could they be so happy about.  How could they know everything?!  This is what it felt like when Candy rejoined us with three martinis.  Get us martinis, Jan had said magnanimously. 

This is a special night.  This is a night for beginnings.  
For Nirvana and Bullet Lavolta, I said wanly.  
They both smiled, but I could see that wasn’t what he meant at that moment.  Are you guys done talking?  

I can hear the PA.  The lights have gone down.  I shrugged and looked at Jan.  He sidled up to me.  I want you to take a sabbatical and write your book.  
I looked at Candy and her eyes were shining.  
You don’t want me to edit the magazine anymore?  
Of course I want you too.

When Gene Clark 31 Sings Lead

She liked Odeon and Marian’s wherever there were good martinis downtown, always downtown.  It was my great campaign to prove to her that everything was about downtown.  That was when I saw the guy she was talking to, and my heart fell into my stomach.  It felt just like that.  Each of them were keeping their distance, but there was something about her posture that told me they were together, that told me I was in trouble.  

She turned then and saw me.  Her eyes told me how bad I looked, but her lips were open to me.  She introduced the dude.  I knew him from the biz, another record exec.  He was cool but there was something everso condescending about the way he shook my hand.  And some level of disappointment.  I might be a failed novelist but that does not make me any less sensitive in a moment when my antenna is up, and this was such a moment.  And I was so uncool.  

I stood there holding his hand for a couple beats too long, just spacing on all the vibes in the moment.  Candy took my elbow and led me away.  We’ve still got a few minutes until the show starts, Jan asked me to let him know when you got here.  

Oh yeah am I in trouble, I said trying to make a joke but Candy once again like the night before looked at me with a desperate sense of sincerity.  
I don’t think so, she said.  
Jan was talking to a bunch of people, holding court like the kingmaker he most enjoys being.  Hell he’s earned it.  

At one time I thought I aspired to the same thing, about the same time I asked Candy for her hand in marriage as a matter of fact.  He turned, took a long look at me, too long for my taste, he wiped his eye and then gave me a big hug.  I felt like everyone else knew something that I didn’t.  There was something about the way he wiped his eye after such a long pause.  He would never cry, certainly not over me.  

And I swear he had never hugged me before.  
You sir have a fantastic wife, he said.  Well thanks.  I married her, didn’t I?  
I looked at Candy and she shrugged her shoulders.

Gene Clark 30 Blue Blazer

Later she said she'd come east looking for me.
Why didn't you just call? I asked.
That would have been too easy.

Inhalation of toxic fumes causes the most death in car fires.  This could come from the hoses or more likely from the battery acid.  Or the carbon cocktail of those cut with oil and gas. It was Hemingway that recommended the image as a metaphor for opening a story, though it was probably something he got from Maupassant. And from Pound that Hemingway got how each word should add to the picture.

The fire, that day in the street we first saw Candy, burned for a long time.  Like I say, the street was locked down and paid off so it took awhile for the cops to get there.  The cops sat in their car and waited for the fire engine.  By then the fire had mostly burned out.  It was cool to watch the metal hood expand, the paint peel off and the windshield crack with a poof sound.  We stood around to watch and that's when I met Blue Blazer for proper.  He claimed he knew Candace.  We had time, the needle guys went somewhere to get off.  We stepped in a doorway, stuck a rolled matchbook in half a bag and tasted cottony heaven, turning back with a cigarette lit so it looked like that's why we had paused.  Cigarettes are better with heroin.  A missed ad campaign there, eh? Nothing is as pure as a real junkie testimonial.                                                                                                                                          

What was really beautiful were the clouds that afternoon, like great city buildings.  We don't stop to look at the clouds enough.  Especially in New York.  After all, we are no longer children.   There's too much going on.  There's always a pretty girl going by.  You might miss something or get hit by a truck.  Well, let's all stop for a moment and look up; the clouds are big pure white cumulus, mid August after a storm when the sun cuts rough them and starts to set over the great west side of the Manhattan isle. 

This is what Candace Allyne Gansevoort saw when she looked back and the fire on the street fore lit her face and I saw her for in that moment's pause between the fire escape and the rooftop when a time and place came together.                                          
The quality of her skin was such that with the fire one believed that it was possible to see all the way to the twining fire of her soul. Let's picture the canyon walls of clouds banked by the gorgeous orange of the setting sun as the years we lost in our youth and say like kids making up a blood promise that if we study the heavens well enough we can recreate that lost age as it was.  We were in our twenties then, young and New York City east of the Bowery was our revolution.                                                                                                                                      

Let me try to explain.   Remember we are looking at clouds; they can be anything; we cannot reach them nor hold them in our hands unless we climb to the top of a building.  The towers were still alive then.


Gene Clark's Past Addresses 29

Twas a very different kind of apprenticeship with Jan Wenner and Rolling Stone.  Funny thing about the time Creem moved to Cally was the same period when the Stone was pulling up stakes in San Fran and moving east to New York.  

Jan of course was famously smart and saw the corporate direction the industry was going and he took advantage of it.  Punk was the last great gypsy years of rock and behind the scenes during that period was when music went corporate. Wenner admired the Creem crowd because we were authentic but he like my brother hated the druggie lifestyle.  

Because I was able to avoid it, because I had the college degree, a grad degree no less, he was really impressed by that.  So that when the Stone went to NY he made me an offer to go with them and I jumped on it.   

28 The Gene Clark Group

Gene looked a little worn out, my friend.  Northern California was a tough place for him.  He’d had his family there and it did not work out.  He was more like the white night in the English ballad than someone who could handle anything like domesticity for any while.  The road called to him.  The No Other tour was the beginning of this.  

Family life was more a dream than a reality, to cop a White Light lyric.  He loved the idea of love, but intimacy was never something he could sustain.  This is the thing that brought me back to Gene Clark years later, long after his death, when I failed at the same thing myself.  He’d been to see his family and it took the heart out of him, to see his boys growing up without him, to know he was better absent.  The whole thing came apart ten years later when he had to rescue his kids from the wreckage of his wife Carlie’s drug crash. You could see his heart recusitating through the lines of the song. It was a life source for him. After the show we partied with the band, Gene confided me about the state of his family and we met Jan Wenner who would become my employer and my next weird rock and roll uncle figure.  He hit it off more naturally with Candy then he did with me. It was amazing to see her come back to life.  

Taking that one kiss in Iowa for what it was and not trying to come on to her was what would bring us together.  The trust she had for me would explode in our faces back in New York.  And of course the recommendation from Lester went along way with Wenner as well. Those of us who are not always have a thing for someone who is the real thing as a writer.  And at that point Lester was in his flowering, at the dawning of punk, hanging in New York and CBGB’s with DeeDee, Captain Sensible and Johnny Thunders.  

After a few weeks when Rolling Stone moved I would join them all in New York.

Gene Clark 27 Sings For You

From Iowa we made it to Nebraska the next day, to Hwy 20 through Valentine following the lowlying Niobrara River on the Dakota border where the pheasants lurk in the grass and take flight through the cloud riven impossibly blue sky.  The road asphalt is mixed with feldspar and has turned purple over the years.  

Candy and I traded verses of This Land Is Your Land as Guthrie’s words came to life before our eyes.  We detoured through the Badlands, crossed the Rockies at Wind River Range, south to Ogden, skirting the Salt Lake and dropped down to the lonliest highway in America: Ely, Eureka and onto Carson City, crossing the Sierra Nevadas dropping down into old Frisco via the Sacramento byway.  We arrived delirious and as close as twin brother and sister.  It was the first time I’d ever seen the city that would become my home for the next ten years, with the woman that would become first my wife and then one of my oldest and most special friends.  

The Byrds show that night was incredible.  

We missed Michael Clarke who was somewhere on tour with FireFall but OhmyGod what a night, what a performance by the erstwhile flyboys.  Each of the first threre did a couple solo numbers and then Crosby came out to join them and their voices, together for the first time live on the old songs were sublime together.  When clark took his first on Tambourine Man it was fittingly the most existential of the verses and he owned it.  Dylan songs can be like that.  They bring out the best in the interpreter.  

Dylan himself can be hit and miss as a performer, but his songs ask so much that when the interpreter rises to the occasion, wow!  And Gene Clark soared on that verse.  No one else combines the richness of voice with the ability to project emotion with the abstract vocabulary of the song.  It gave you goosebumps, like Candy who looked at me in a way one never forgets.

Gene Clark & Friends 26

The pretty girl.

She stuck out her tongue and we laughed.  No hard feelings. So anyway, we’re driving on Highway 30 which is a great Route 30 in fact called the Lincoln Highway, which I explained to Candy always had the best old motels, the Originals, I called them and she made fun of my profundity.  We had this thing where we made fun of each other but then one of us would get our feelings hurt because it cut too close or something.  Eureka, she shouted.  What?  We should turn right in Galesburg and check this thing out.  I was skeptical.  Check what Out?  This.  I can’t look.  I’m trying to drive.


We are in a fine American automobile.  She was mocking me.  A Chevrolet.  We have miles of open road before me and you cannot turn, look at the map and keep the car on the road?  I ignored her, turning red I imagine.  Which only pushed her.

Then you should let me drive.  You’re not insured.
This isn’t your car.  It’s the Creem magazine car and as an employee of Creem, I can drive.
Wait a minute, I am employed by Creem Magazine as well.  I even have an uncashed paycheck here.  She reached into her pocket.
I thought you were an intern.
She showed it to me, again laughing as the car swung a little from side to side on the old faded tarmac.
The sun had come out.  The wind was blowing and we were on top of the world.
I chased her to the edge of a bluff, overlooking the soft, shaley cliffs of the river.  A deer somehow slipped between us and we stopped and stood there, quiet in the breeze, until something, not us, started the deer.  It looked up, its tawny back dotted white, saw me and then Candy.  It winked and ran away.  We stayed up there until we got so hungry we had to come down.  We were human after all and spoiled by civilization.

Gene Clark 25 Crossroads

Only if you let me drive, Candy said.  
She held up the map and pointed:  The Effigy Mounds, it’s north of Dubuque.
North of Dubuque, that’s out of our way.
But I want to go.

It’s a National Monument.  My dad used to take us to National Monuments.
Okay, no problem, I said.
I would have done anything to please her.
And the dad thing was a clincher.  It was Lester who told me once, she starts talking about her dad and you’re in.
Don’t be gallant or anything.
What do you mean?  You don’t want a knight in shining armor?
I made the turn but then she lectured me for like the whole drive about how the knight in shining armor treatment was actually more sexist than some other kinds of abuse.  Like being expected to put out for roadies.  She looked at me, really hurt.  What, I’m sorry.  A tear welled up and I started to yell when I almost ran into another car which woke me from my pity by beeping for like three whole seconds.
Then we both laughed at the other driver’s face.

Did you see how mad he looked?  She did a great mimicry.  I’m glad you stopped talking.  What! You are rude.  What?
Sunning myself in the reflected glory of her smile.
I can’t kiss you when you’re talking.  But you’re driving.  You’ve already shown a propensity for shoulder and wrong lane driving.
Lean over here and I’ll show you how it’s done.
And that was our kiss.  I will always remember we were driving and her lips, just opened a touch, were soft like little pillows. The thing about that place.  It was seven miles of trails, along the northern section of the Mississippi River.

From the banks in Iowa where the National Monument Park is, you can see the Wisconsin Bluffs on the other side.  There are ancient woods, mostly untrammeled and unknown, except by locals because it’s hard to find the place and it’s certainly off the beaten path.  The mounds are gigantic, created by prehistoric Indians in the shape of animals of the local forests, a bear, a deer, a snake, smaller rodents.   And you cannot really tell the shapes from walking around.  They have to be seen from above.  Which is wild to think about, on the banks of the greatest river on the North American Continent.  Who did the Indians think were looking down on them?  Their ancestors?  The gods?  The great cosmic American dream.

Gene Clark 24 Was A Sign

She told me she finished her sophomore year at San Francisco State College of the Arts when she wrote to Creem for the internship.  Did you go to Detroit?  They told me to check out one of these nostalgia tour shows.
It was at the Cow Palace.  That’s where I met Chuck.  He seemed like such a nice guy.  When was that?  Last May?  Now look at me, I’m a fucking road whore in a third rate Holiday Inn.  In St. Louis!
I got a surprise for you.
What’s that?
This is not St. Louis.  This is East St. Louis.
What’s the diff?
Well one is in Illinois and one is in Missouri.
Party Pooper.  They’re right next to each other though right?
Across the border.  Except the border is this little thing called the Mississippi River.
Oh, you should have said.  She laughed.
When I was speaking to her I felt like I was walking a tightrope.  Not that I would upset her.  But that I worried I would upset her.  I wanted to witty.  It was great to make her laugh.

To take her away from where she’d been.  You could see her sense for adventure, and what it had led her too.  And how a girl could be taken advantage of.  Frankly I was appalled by the little she had told me.  She had not really told me anything really.  Just this backwards self-immolating braggadocio.                                                                              You’re sure you don’t have any coke?  I might have some weed at the bottom of my suitcase.  You can have some when we get on the road.  Get on the road?  I’m here to drive you back to San Francisco.  Oh yeah what do you get out of it?  Five nights on the road with some band’s coke whore.
It’s all part of my rock n roll fantasy.
She sang the last line ala Paul Rodgers. Actually I owe Lester a favor.  And not for nothing, but not all guys are like those guys.  No? She wiped her face and downed the beer in one long gulp, wiping her mouth with her blood-smeared hand.
I’ll believe it when I see it.  Believe what?