the once but now not so elusive bob lind

Estimated reading time is 14 minutes.

THE YEAR 1966 was rather magical for me in regard 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)

This article 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 in one of those articles was corrected by several fans of Mr. Lind. (You know who you are, Jan and Jill and Rick!)

 

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World Pacific 77808, Elusive Butterfly / Cheryl’s Goin’ Home: On top is a white label promo, and below it is a first pressing. The black label with silver print pressings are rather rare records as the majority of the sales of this record used a new label design (image below).

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.”

 

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World Pacific 77808, Elusive Butterfly / Cheryl’s Goin’ Home: This is World Pacific’s new blue-and-black label. The majority of the sales of this record were pressed with this label.

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, Noël 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 EP from Australia.

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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Above: An EP from Portugal.

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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Bob Lind’s elusive SINCE THERE WERE CIRCLES album from 1971 could set you back a pretty penny to acquire a copy.

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 .

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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Lind’s first released album released was Don’t Be  Concerned while the second album, The Elusive Bob Lind, contained earlier material.

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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Lind’s third album, Photographs Of Feeling, may be the best of his early albums.

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: unknown woman, Bruce Palmer, Dewey Martin (who looks like Sean Penn with a pipe), unknown woman, Lind, Neil Young (who looks toasted), and Steve Stills. The “thing” in the lower right of the photo may be the back of Richie Furay’s head.

 


 

7 thoughts on “the once but now not so elusive bob lind”

  1. 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!”. :)

    Reply
    • JOHN

      Thanks for the comment!

      I became a fan of Rod Stewart via the first two Jeff Beck albums and consequently bought Rod’s first three albums as they came out. The first time I heard “Maggie May” on my stereo in May 1971 I said to my roommate, “Wow! That’s a #1 record waiting to happen.” It took Rod or his manager or the record company two months to decide it was a better B-side for “Reason To Believe.” Thankfully, disc-jockeys around the world knew a hit when they heard it and flipped the record over.

      (Everyone knew Timmy was a great songwriter and that “Reason To Believe” was a great song but no one ever made it the hit it deserved to have been. And I love the Youngbloods’ version!)

      I always wonder if the Stones made “Ruby Tuesday” the B-side because they assumed there would be problems getting airplay with “Let’s Spend The Night Together”? 

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkaVYzGi2MU

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYov9UQ7Ib8

      Both are great tracks and should have been the A-sides of separate singles!

      NEAL

      Reply
      • 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

        Reply
        • JOHN

          Thankee kindlee for the fine words.

          I am working on a lengthy article on Elvis pairing up “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel,” two obvious #1 records. In fact, since the latter was the bigger hit in the US, modern writers generally refer to it as the A-side. Elvis clearly intended “Hound Dog” to be the A-side and RCA Victor initially promoted it as the A-side. And, in every other country in the world where it was played, “Hound Dog” was the bigger hit. But I will save any other observations for my article.

          POne of my faverave records of all time is “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” paired with “God Only Knows.” Had Capitol had the brains Wholly Grommett gave a hammer, both those sides would have been issued as A-sides in advance of the PET SOUNDS album and been huge hits. As someone once famous once said, “So it goes.”

          Keep on keepin’ on!

          NEAL

          Reply
          • 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.

            Reply
  2. Great article, thanks.

    I hope that Bob Lind is able to visit some of the new senior citizen communities in Florida, where he might discover some long-lost fans.

    One small correction: I think the photo of Bob with Buffalo Springfield should take note of Richie Furay on the far left of the photo.

    Reply

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