Somewhere, in the back of our consciousness, resides the soundtrack to our lives. It plays on occasion and you know it’s there when you handpicked the music that would be played at your wedding, your backyard parties and the remembrance of your first concert. Just north on 611 in Buck’s County there’s a 200 year old farmhouse where some of that soundtrack started. Acoustic guitars played every day and the vinyl that was cranked in between that permeated the air was Dave Mason’s “It’s Like You Never Left.” In many ways, I haven’t.
As he opened for Journey, I couldn’t help but to play the soundtrack in unison to original tracks. Sometimes music touches us because of the melody, the vocals or just the memories. On this night it wrenched an emotional response to the surface that usually has to be restrained in order to get the work done.
Dave Mason may not be known as part of the “English Invasion” but arriving on the scene around the same time and hailing from Worcester, England, is about as “English” as it gets and his music has certainly invaded my soundtrack. Having recorded with some of the notable “Invasioners” such as Paul McCartney, George Harrison, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, should include him as part of the invading party.
As the founding member of TRAFFIC he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Perhaps the “farmhouse” for him started while retreating to their Communal Stone Cottage in Berkshire. I can hear the acoustic tracks through the stone walls, its where the invasion was planned. It’s been said that Traffic “Expanded Rock’s Sonic Palette” and “Feelin’ Alright” was one of those songs that just kinda made ya feel, well you know; (and I know).
Playing lead guitar for Delaney & Bonnie he wrote “Only You Know And I Know.” I took it as a personal comment and the song reached #42 on the Billboard charts. It was shortly after that the he signed with Blue Thumb Records and began his solo career. “Alone Together” was released in 1970 and had the unique distinction of having 30% of the production done in “marble vinyl.” It was a psychedelic swirled mix of pink, brown and beige instead of the usual black vinyl. I really can’t recall if anyone else ever did that but it was just another one of those things. He eventually became Blue Thumb’s most successful recording artist.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed Traffic and Delaney & Bonnie, it was hearing “It’s Like You Never Left” that forced the acoustic sessions while sitting by the side of the pond on that 200 year old farmhouse. Prior to that, I really didn’t notice the lyrics of most songs. I played rhythm guitar and the rest of the instruments (Including vocals) just made it harder to hear the rhythms. For the first time, it sounded as though the artist was speaking directly to me. They hit a chord that resonated. On some of the vocals you could hear Graham Nash as well as Clydie King (who was a member of Ray Charles’ Raeletts). I heard another instrument for the first time, the haunting sounds of a harmonica which was crafted by Stevie Wonder. The drums on a lot of the tracks were, at the time, a session drummer, Jim Keltner, whose list of associated acts includes Leon Russell and Joe Cocker. I guess it didn’t hurt to also include George Harrison on the LP.
Sometimes it’s just hard to listen to the soundtracks of our life. It can stir up components and memories that may be hard to deal with. Yea, you get all the nice memories but on all soundtracks we have the melancholy ghosts that we try to keep in the back. But, for me it’s Like I Never Left. Now, Only You Know and I Know.