the once but now not so elusive bob bind

THE YEAR 1966 was rather mag­ical for me in re­gards to music and records. I was 14-going-on-24 and the music with which I connected—the charm, the magic—has lasted all these years. There were a handful of records from that year (I should say that era, as 1966 seems like an era unto it­self, lodged in be­tween the British In­va­sion and psy­che­delia) that have an ef­fect on me like few others.

When I hear one—especially when it mag­i­cally ap­pears on the car radio—I am trans­ported in time and space: it is 1966 again, I am 14 again. Records that trans­port me the fastest and the fur­thest in­clude (but are not lim­ited to) Simon & Gar­funkel’s Sounds Of Si­lence, the Mamas & Papas’ Cal­i­fornia Dreaming, the Rolling Stones’ Paint It Black, the Vogues’ Five O’ Clock World, the Hol­lies’ Look Through Any Window, the Four Tops’ Reach Out (I’ll Be There), and Bob Lind’s Elu­sive But­terfly.

Lind is known by most music lis­teners and record col­lec­tors as a one-hit wonder. His glo­rious Elu­sive But­terfly was a high­light of Top 40 radio in the Spring of 1966. (“Don’t be con­cerned, it will not harm you. It’s only me pur­suing some­thing I’m not sure of.”) But his ca­reer is so much more than that one hit. Here is a brief look at his suc­cess and what fol­lowed.

 

The magic of the quest, the thrill of searching, even when that which is sought is hard to see.

 

Lind’s tale was both fa­miliar and in­ter­esting: In late 1965, singer/songwriter Bob Lind found him­self a free-agent. So he moved to Los An­geles and im­me­di­ately signed to World Pa­cific Records—once an indie but then a sub­sidiary of Lib­erty Records:

“When I first signed with World Pa­cific in ’65, they were looking for a folk-rocker—a singer/songwriter who would be their own pri­vate Dylan. I seemed to come to Los An­geles at a time when the music world was ready for me—no pa­tience or per­sis­tence nec­es­sary. I took a tape of four of my songs into World Pa­cific Records and played it for the head of the com­pany, Dick Bock, and on [my re­turn] there was a recording con­tract waiting for me.” (Bob Lind)

Ac­tu­ally, he was first as­signed to Sonny Bono in one of his many in­car­na­tions in the LA recording scene. Due to Sonny having other en­gage­ments, Lind found him­self in the hands of Nitzsche, for whom he cut the stan­dard four sides. Lind re­mem­bers them as being Cheryl’s Goin’ Home, You Should Have Seen It, Elu­sive But­terfly, and “prob­ably” Truly Julie’s Blues. These may have been the same four that he had de­moed for Bock.

“I gladly and hap­pily sur­ren­dered all say-so about how the record­ings would be done. I knew Jack loved my songs as much as I did and would do nothing to ruin them. His heart was in what I was doing [and] he just hap­pened to be the best arranger in the world and had spent five years learning record pro­duc­tion as right-hand man to the best pro­ducer in the world, Phil Spector.” (John Kutner)

“When they were all in the can, the record com­pany ex­ec­u­tives asked me which song I thought we should re­lease as the single [and] I told them, ‘Any­thing but Elu­sive But­terfly.’ There was just nothing like it on the charts at the time and it didn’t smell like a hit to any of us.” (Song­facts)

 

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Above: World Pa­cific 77808 Elu­sive But­terfly / Cheryl’s Goin’ Home: From the top find a white label promo, a first pressing with the ear­lier label de­sign, and a later pressing, which made up the ma­jority of those sin­gles sold in 1966. The sole copy of 77808 listed on Pop­sike was the promo that sold for $60 in NM in 2010.

Don’t be concerned

Elu­sive But­terfly was an odd com­bi­na­tion for the time: it fea­tured plainly po­etic lyrics sung in a re­laxed folkie style with rock in­stru­men­ta­tion aug­mented by a string section—the type of sweet­ening usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with easy-listening arrange­ments.

“So Jack picked Cheryl to go on the A-side and the ‘suits’ de­cided to put But­terfly on the B-side to avoid split air­play. The single came out in early ’66 and in­stantly took the sad, toilet-ward plunge into ob­scu­rity. The record got very little play and no at­ten­tion at all—except from a DJ in Florida who, for God only knows what reason, turned it over and started playing the B-side.” (Song­facts)

The thunder cracks against the night.
the dark ex­plodes with yellow light.
the rail­road sign is flashing bright.
the people stare but I don’t care.
My flesh is cold against my bones.
And Cheryl’s going home.

Come hear me shouting through the rain.
Is there a way to stop the train?
I’ve got some rea­sons to ex­plain
about the way I was today.
The whistle moans and I’m alone.
And Cheryl’s going home.

Santa Rosa Spe­cial down the line.
I’m run­ning des­per­ately be­hind.
There’s only one thing on my mind.
The rain and tears are in my eyes.
The things I have to say will not be known.
And Cheryl’s going home.

The backing track to Cheryl’s Goin’ Home has an ob­vious Byrdsy/electric-Dylan sound and feel. In fact, it has a bouncy feeling that looks back to Sonny & Cher’s Baby Don’t Go and for­ward to the Nashville ses­sions that would pro­duce BLONDE ON BLONDE—es­pe­cially the bouncy I Want You. (Which sounds like it owes more than a nod to the rhythm guitar in Lind’s recording.) Alas, Cheryl went nowhere fast, never a good sign for a first re­lease from a new artist. Lind re­calls, “Cheryl be­came a for­gotten en­tity.”

As if to ce­ment Lind’s modest for­tunes and his rep as an even more modest cult star, the song was recorded in Italian by a long­haired group (real long hair for 1966) called the Rokes. Che Colpa Ab­biamo Noi was a huge hit and, ac­cording to Lind, “sold a mil­lion copies in Italy.”

 

BluesProject Projections 250

The Blues Project was very hip band for a few years, and PROJECTIONS was their first studio album. Aside from in­cluding their ver­sion of Bob Lind’s Cheryl’s Going Home it in­cluded an 11:20 ver­sion of Muddy Wa­ters’s Two Trains Run­ning.

The Blues Project kicks ass!

At the same time that the Rokes were recording their Italian lan­guage ver­sion of the song, New York’s main claim to fame in the ‘new’ rock music (no­body took the Young Ras­cals se­ri­ously at the time) was the Blues Project, fea­turing Al Kooper and Danny Kalb.

“Months later, a kick-ass group called the Blues Project fea­tured it on their fan­tastic [PROJECTIONS] album, which gave the tune some cult status. Within months, Sonny & Cher, the Cas­cades, Noel Har­rison, and the Hon­dells had all cut the song.” (Song­facts)

The Blues Project were taken very se­ri­ously on the East Coast club scene and big things were en­vi­sioned for their fu­ture. The group re­ceived a lot of pos­i­tive press from Craw­daddy mag­a­zine in their first two years but, alas, they went nowhere on the Top 40.

Too bad: their ver­sion of Cheryl’s Goin’ Home would have made a great hit record! His­tory has not been kind to the group: they have re­ceived little at­ten­tion in such web­site pres­ences as Wikipedia and All­Music.

 

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Above: A pair of pic­ture sleeves from the Nether­lands and Norway (or­ange border).

It was kind of a boring tune

Elu­sive But­terfly is a folkie-based tune that ba­si­cally fea­tures acoustic guitar, elec­tric bass, un­ob­tru­sive drums, per­sis­tent tam­bourine (but then, aren’t they all?), and some swooshing strings. For some, Nitzsche’s strings were a plus; for others (such as my­self), well, they did not get in the way.

The sparse folk-rock backing track fea­tures a few of LA’s finest ses­sion mu­si­cians, in­cluding the now leg­endary Carol Kaye on bass. Years later, Ms. Kaye had this to say about the ses­sion:

“It was kind of a boring tune—I think it was D-flat or some­thing, and it stays a long time in that chord and then it moves in a funny way to the next chord. It’s like a sidebar phrase or some­thing like that. I missed it and I went to go up to the G-flat or what­ever and I missed it and I came right back down.

I did a slide up and down and they stopped and I thought, Uh oh, he caught me. [Nitzsche] said, Do more of those! So the slide was born, then. I’d stick that slide in here and there on the records I cut.” (Carol Kaye)

Afi­cionados take note that at the time that Ms. Kaye was working with Nitzsche on Elu­sive But­terfly she was also working with Brian Wilson on PET SOUNDS.

The lyrics were re­flec­tively ef­fec­tive, the singing plain but also effective—to me, Lind sounds like he oc­cu­pies a place be­tween Bobby Golds­boro (but without the grating sen­ti­men­tality) and Glen Camp­bell (but with some true grit in his voice).

You might wake up some morning,
to the sound of some­thing moving past your window in the wind.
And if you’re quick enough to rise,
you’ll catch a fleeting glimpse of some­one’s fading shadow.
Out on the new horizon,
you may see the floating mo­tion of a dis­tant pair of wings.
And if the sleep has left your ears,
you might hear foot­steps run­ning through an open meadow.

Don’t be con­cerned, it will not harm you.
It’s only me pur­suing some­thing I’m not sure of.
Across my dreams, with nets of wonder,
I chase the bright elu­sive but­terfly of love.

You might have heard my foot­steps
echo softly in the dis­tance through the canyons of your mind.
I might have even called your name
as I ran searching after some­thing to be­lieve in.
You might have seen me run­ning
through the long-abandoned ruins of the dreams you left be­hind.
If you re­member some­thing there
that glided past you fol­lowed close by heavy breathing.

Don’t be con­cerned, it will not harm you.
It’s only me pur­suing some­thing I’m not sure of.
Across my dreams, with nets of wonder,
I chase the bright elu­sive but­terfly of love.

Elu­sive But­terfly (World Pa­cific 77808) peaked at #5 on Bill­board while reaching #7 on Cash Box.

 

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Above: A couple of EPs from Aus­tralia and Por­tugal (photo cover).

We welcome Val Doonican as himself

Lind’s record ran into an ob­stacle in the UK: while his recording was climbing the US charts, Irish pop singer Val Doon­ican rushed into the studio and recorded an easy-listening ren­di­tion of the song. Mr. Doon­i­can’s beyond-casual manner was seen as the BBC’s an­swer to Perry Como, al­though the singer pre­ferred com­par­isons to Bing Crosby.

While smooth as a baby’s bottom (and that’s a com­pli­ment), Doon­i­can’s reading of Elu­sive But­terfly lacked the res­o­nant folk­i­ness (the true grit) that made Lind’s ver­sion so mem­o­rable. That did not af­fect its pop­u­larity: it reached #5 on at least one UK weekly chart.

Lind’s ver­sion fol­lowed Doon­i­can’s up the charts by a few weeks. It also reached #5, cer­tainly leaving one to ponder how much higher it might have gone had the Doon­i­can’s ver­sion not al­ready made such an im­pact on the radio and with record buyers.

 

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This is the sheet music for Elu­sive But­terfly, which was avail­able for 75¢ at music stores—not record stores—around the country.

There’s that terrible piece of shit

World Pa­cific fol­lowed the single with an album, DON’T BE CONCERNED (WP-1841, mono, and WPS-21841, stereo), which had little im­pact on the charts on found its way into Amer­i­ca’s ubiq­ui­tous cut-out bins. Lind’s second of­fi­cial single was a new recording, Re­member The Rain, backed with one of the al­bum’s better tracks, Truly Julie’s Blues (World Pa­cific 77822).

When the A-side did not take off, radio sta­tions started playing the flip-side. In this case, the split air­play did not ben­efit the record: nei­ther side came close to reaching the Top 40 in ei­ther the US or the UK. For Bob Lind, they were his last charting sides.

To cap­i­talize on and ex­ploit Lind’s suc­cess with World Pa­cific, Verve dug up some old am­a­teur record­ings (es­sen­tially a home­made, or vanity, recording project of the teenaged singer) of Lind’s, handed them over to a staff en­gi­neer for balancing/equalizing, and then to a staff pro­ducer for the over­dub­bing of elec­tric rhythm tracks and sweet­ening. This hodge­podge was re­leased in haste and ti­tled THE ELUSIVE BOB LIND (Verve/Folkways FT/FTS-3005)

“I was 17 when I made that album. Some of my friends wanted records, so I got nine of them to­gether, they put in $12 each, and I went and got an hour of studio time. I took my guitar and recorded these 12 songs—all acoustic, just me and my guitar—all in an hour. I got an ac­etate copy for every­body and thought that was the end of it.

Elu­sive But­terfly be­comes a hit and my man­agers get a letter from Verve/Folkways saying that they’d just bought these mas­ters. The next thing I know, I hear this album that has strings, drums, and all these other in­stru­ments all dubbed over me and my guitar.

They didn’t even get the ti­tles right and cred­ited me with writing songs like The Times They Are A-Changing and Song Of The Wan­dering Angus. I sup­pose I should be flat­tered that some people like the album, but it’s a ter­rible piece of shit.” (Ace Records)

In his book Turn! Turn! Turn! – The ’60s Folk-Rock Rev­o­lu­tion, Richie Un­ter­berger called the newly added parts “fre­quently bla­tantly out of sync with Lind’s voice and guitar” and took Verve to task for having “the gall to name the album THE ELUSIVE BOB LIND, in spite of the ab­sence of Elu­sive But­terfly.”

 

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Since there were circles

For­tu­nately, Elu­sive But­terfly was the type of hit that had a very broad and very lasting appeal—you didn’t have to be into rock music in the slightest to enjoy hearing it. It al­lowed Lind to main­tain a pres­ence in con­cert and on tele­vi­sion. 

In 1969, Lind sev­ered ties with World Pa­cific after sev­eral un­suc­cessful sin­gles and an­other album. In 1971, he re­leased his third album, SINCE THERE WERE CIRCLES (Capitol ST-780); it was re­ceived well by critics but not com­mer­cially suc­cessful and Lind dropped out of the music in­dustry. 

For the next couple of decades, Lind worked as a writer (novels, plays, and screen­plays) and as a staff writer for the news­stand tabloids Weekly World News and the Sun. Lind re­turned to music in 2004; since then, he has been touring non­stop, playing var­ious cir­cuits in the Sates and oc­ca­sion­ally vis­iting Canada, Eng­land, and Spain, where he re­mains a minor Six­ties legend. 

The BIG title in Lind’s cat­alog is SINCE THERE WERE CIRCLES, which is de­scribed by some sellers as folk-psych and by most fans as folk-rock (and ap­par­ently nei­ther group ever both­ered to do any acid to find out what they were talking about).

The backing group fea­tures the nu­cleus of Gene Clark on har­monica, Doug Dil­lard on banjo, and Bernie Leadon on lead guitar, making this album a kissin’ cousin to THE FANTASTIC EXPEDITION OF DILLARD & CLARK from 1969. Sug­gested NM value of $50.

In 2006, SINCE THERE WERE CIRCLES was reis­sued with five bonus tracks (RPM 321).

In 2007, ELUSIVE BUTTERFLY - THE COMPLETE 1966 JACK NITZSCHE SESSIONS fea­tured 25 tracks from the two World Pa­cific al­bums (Big Beat CDWIKD 265). In a lengthy, per­cep­tive, lit­erate re­view of this set, Phil Rogers wrote:

“The early kiss of death he re­ceived at the hands of some long for­gotten critic who once pro­claimed him the next Bob Dylan does not in any way di­minish his achieve­ment. More a folkie type than Dylan, Lind’s songs do not re­semble Dy­lan’s other than in the fa­cility of his use of metaphor, and the den­sity of some of his texts, which one can have dif­fi­culty keeping up with without paying very careful at­ten­tion.”

 

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The first album re­leased was DON’T BE CONCERNED; the second album THE ELUSIVE BOB LIND con­tained the ear­liest ma­te­rial; and the third album, PHOTOGRAPHS OF FEELING, may have been the best.

The Avid Record Collector’s price guide

Bob Lind records are not highly sought after by con­tem­po­rary col­lec­tors. That is, with one major ex­cep­tion, the supply of his vinyl ar­ti­facts is greater than the de­mand. For this ar­ticle, I am listing his big hit.

Since I could no other reg­is­tered sales of Lind’s sin­gles, I would have to as­sume that all of them have a NM value of $10-20 each. The plus part of that means that a com­plete col­lec­tion can be put to­gether quickly and af­ford­ably.

There is not a lot of de­mand for the World Pa­cific al­bums. I will sug­gest a broad NM value of $10-20 for the mono or stereo al­bums, with the biggest de­mand for the first one with the hit. There is even less de­mand for the Folk­ways album: $10 may be high for any copy, even factory-sealed.

 

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Flo­rence Hen­derson per­forming Elu­sive But­terfly on The Muppet Show in 1976.

Oddses and endses

In 1966, pop singer Jane Morgan recorded a MOR ver­sion of Elu­sive But­terfly that reached #9 on Bill­board’s Easy Lis­tening chart.

In 1976, Flo­rence Hen­derson per­formed Elu­sive But­terfly on the first season of The Muppet Show.

In 1978, Charles Bukowski in­cluded Lind as the char­acter Dinky Sum­mers in his novel Women.

In 2009, film­maker Paul Sur­ratt com­pleted a concert/documentary DVD called Bob Lind: Per­spec­tive.

In 2012, Lind is­sued FINDING YOU AGAIN, again on Ace, an album of new music that some critics hailed as his best work ever.

In 2013, Lind was in­ducted into the Col­orado Music Hall of Fame, along with Judy Collins, Chris Daniels, and the Serendipity Singers.

The photo at the top of this page is taken from the home page of Mr. Lind’s web­site, Bob Lind On­line.

Ac­cording to Mr. Lind’s web­site, Bob Lind On­line, more than 200 artists have recorded his songs; these in­clude artists as styl­is­ti­cally dis­parate as Lou Christie, Petula Clark, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, Carmen McRae, and Chad Stuart. Even groups such as the Kingston Trio, the Four Tops, Jay & the Amer­i­cans, and the Gants recorded his songs! For a more com­plete list of those artists, refer to Bob’s web­site. Bob also has a Face­book page under his own name so go on ahead and “Like” it!

 

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FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page cap­tures Bob Lind with mem­bers of Buf­falo Spring­field with their wives and girl­friends. From the left: Bruce Palmer, Dewey Martin (who looks like Sean Penn with a pipe), Lind, Neil Young, and Steve Stills.

Fi­nally, this ar­ticle (“the once but now not so elu­sive Bob Lind”) was orig­i­nally pub­lished as two sep­a­rate pieces: “no pa­tience or per­sis­tence nec­es­sary” (Feb­ruary 6, 2014) and “even when that which is sought is hard to see” (Feb­ruary 7, 2014). A huge error of both his­tor­ical and aes­thetic meaning was cor­rected by sev­eral fans of Mr. Lind. (You know who you are, Jan and Jill and Rick!)

 

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What a great ar­ticle! Bob Lind made woderful music, and “Elu­sive But­terfly” helped make 1966 spe­cial, for me, an 8th grader. I’m fas­ci­nated by the “A side or B side?” dilemma. Hard to be­lieve “Elu­sive But­terfly” wasn’t an­nointed the A side right away. But this hap­pens, the B side being the big hit, often. Rod Stew­art’s “Maggie May” a good ex­ample. “Reason To Be­lieve”, an­other great recording, was orig­inal A side. The Stones’ “Let’s Spend The Night To­gether” an ex­cel­lent A side, but, oh what trea­sure on the B side! “Ruby Tuesday”, for my money one of the Stones’ ab­solute top record­ings, ever! Anyway, I REALLY en­joyed this ar­ticle about Bob Lind. Splen­didly written! Bravo! -Jack Pri­pu­sich, 5−4−20. P.S.- “May the 4th be with you!”. :)

Neal

So nice to read your reply and in­sights! Yeah, “Ruby Tuesday” as a B side was prob­ably a stroke of ge­nius, just in case “Let’s Spend The Night To­gether” got “banned” by some radio sta­tions. After all, Ed Sul­livan him­self had Mick and com­pany change the lyrics for their per­for­mance to “Let’s spend SOME TIME to­gether”! But an awe­some two-sided single!

A few other no­table sin­gles where two mon­ster A-side worthy songs ap­peared on the same single, “Hound Dog/Don’t Be Cruel” for Elvis, and “Hello Mary Lou/Travelin’ Man” for Rick Nelson. Plus, of course, all Bea­tles sin­gles and Cree­dence as well. Thanks for your love of music and great writing! Be well and keep rockin’!

Best,

Jack Pri­pu­sich. 5−17−20

Wow! Some­thing re­ally cool to look for­ward to! Can’t wait for your “Hound Dog”/“Don’t Be Cruel” ar­ticle!
Keep on rockin’! ~Jack Pri­pu­sich 6−3−20.

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