Fabulous Flip Sides highlights more of Buffalo Springfield with Carla Olson, who discusses her new duets album

Carla Olson and Timothy B. Schmit cover a Buffalo Springfield flip side and she blends with Peter Noone on a Searchers buried treasure on her new duets album, "Have Harmony Will Travel 2," on Sunset Blvd Records.
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Photo courtesy of carlaolson.com

Photo courtesy of carlaolson.com

GOLDMINE: Carla, it is great talking with you again for our Goldmine Fabulous Flip Side series about Have Harmony Will Travel 2. Let’s start with the flip side of The Buffalo Springfield’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman,” written by your friend Richie Furay, who you worked with on your first Have Harmony Will Travel album. On your new album you perform that single’s flip side, “A Child’s Claim to Fame,” with Timothy B. Schmit. I first became aware of Timothy as the bassist on Poco’s live Deliverin’ album in 1971 by hearing, on WIXY AM 1260 in Cleveland, their single from the album, “C’mon,” which Richie wrote. I have found it so interesting to watch Timothy’s pattern of following Randy Meisner with Poco and then with The Eagles. It was good to hear him with you on a Buffalo Springfield song as his work is certainly part of that same genre. It is also good to feature another Buffalo Springfield flip side. Last year we highlighted “Go and Say Goodbye” by the Ohio band Red Wanting Blue.

CARLA OLSON: I was always a huge Buffalo Springfield fan and obviously a Poco fan after that and I actually did see both of them live in Austin, although with The Buffalo Springfield it was a bit later when Jim Messina was playing with them and then when I saw Poco, Timothy was playing bass and Jim was playing guitar. Then everything flipped. The Eagles had Randy Meisner and I grew up in Texas with Don Henley. I saw them a couple of times. The Buffalo Springfield’s “A Child’s Claim to Fame” received a lot of radio airplay in Austin. I always enjoyed singing along with it and now it was great sharing vocals with Timothy on this song.

Carla 2020 flip side

The Buffalo Springfield

Flip side: A Child’s Claim to Fame

A side: Rock ‘n’ Roll Woman

Top 100 debut: September 30, 1967

Peak position: No. 44

Atco 45-6519

GM: My favorite song on the album is “Goodbye My Love.” Once again, here is another Searchers song from the 1960s that I missed. I learned “Sugar and Spice” through The Cryan’ Shames two years after the original. In the next decade I learned “When You Walk in the Room” through Lisa Burns’ debut album. I learned “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” in the 1980s in Richmond, Virginia through D.J. Bob Keeton on his WRVA Saturday Night Gold Show. Now I am learning “Goodbye My Lover Goodbye” (re-titled as “Goodbye My Love”) through your and Peter Noone’s wonderful vocal blend.

CO: Well, thank you. It was Peter’s idea when I approached him and then months went by until he said, “I’ve got the song, ‘Goodbye My Love’.” I only vaguely knew the song. We listen to a lot of Searchers songs in our house, especially the European hits and flip sides. It was not a big hit in America so it is a new song for a lot of people.

GM: What is interesting is that in my Top Fabulous Songs of 2018, you and Peter were very close to each other, you with “Bared My Soul” by The Textones and Peter with “Ooh Girl,” where he joined The Red Button for that song. I learned that song on Little Steven’s Underground Garage Sirius XM channel through D.J. Kid Leo, who I used to listen to on afternoons on WMMS, growing up in Cleveland. I hope the station picks up “Goodbye My Love” also.

CO: I hope that will happen too. I have been tipped off that they have the recording and we hope that they find a place in their playlist for it.

GM: Your album starts off with excitement on a song that I knew as a Patty Loveless country hit, “Timber, I’m Falling in Love.” It is a lot of fun. Please tell me about Stephen McCarthy from The Longriders, who you sing with.

CO: Stephen and I crossed paths in the 1980s with me in The Textones and Stephen in The Longriders. Saul Davis, my manager and husband, got The Byrds’ Gene Clark to record on The Longriders’ album. Gene also sat in with them at a club that we all played at. I have been friends with members of the band for years. Stephen and I have always hit it off, liking the same groups, sounds and guitars. He played on the album that I did with Gene in 1986, so we have a history of working together. I love Stephen and love working with him. He is a great guy and is so humble, but such a great talent.

GM: Here is a pleasant surprise to me, the actress Mare Winningham singing and doing so well on “After the Storm.”

CO: She is a wonderful singer. I produced her 1997 album Lonesomers. I flew up to Northern California and stayed a couple of weeks to work on it. Mare has won a lot of awards for her acting but really has not been recognized for the incredible songwriter and musician that she really is. She recently was performing on Broadway in the Bob Dylan musical play Girl From the North Country. She has a lilting voice with an Emmylou Harris-like quality. The song “After the Storm” is one that Gene co-wrote. I always loved that song due to its autobiographical content. I had recorded that song for a Byrds tribute album with Mare in 2000 and have included it here as well. The new album has seven brand new recordings followed by four songs from my prior recordings, beginning with that one.

GM: The next song is “Honest as Daylight” featuring Percy Sledge. It is so soulful. I saw and met Percy at a brief concert on the historic Election Day 2008. He autographed his latest and final CD, Shining Through the Rain, which included a lesser known Hollies cover, “Lonely Hobo Lullabye” from the 1970s and a previously unreleased Bee Gees song, “A Lonely Violin.”

CO: In 1994, Barry Goldberg and Saul were producing Percy’s first album in over twenty years. I was recording my third solo album, Reap the Whirlwind, at the same studio. One night I offered Percy a ride from the studio back to his hotel when he asked me, “Carla, do you have a song that I could sing on your album?” I played him several tracks and he chose “Honest at Daylight.”

GM: Where did you first hear “Bossier City?”

CO: From listening to David Allen Coe. Being a Texan, he is just a big hero to all of us. I went to see Bernie Leadon, from The Eagles and The Flying Burrito Brothers, and opening for him was a band called I See Hawks in L.A. and was so impressed with their alternative country sound. I went to a few more of their shows and they asked me to sing background vocals on a couple of their songs that they were recording for their 2009 Shoulda Been Gold album and that is one of the songs that we did, which I have included it here. They are a really fun band to see play with kind of a Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks-style humor.

GM: I would love that and I am also a David Allan Coe fan. The late Steve Popovich, from Cleveland International Records, first introduced me to his music in 1978. There is a composition of his called “She Used to Love Me a Lot” which was finally released in 2014 by Johnny Cash on his posthumous Out Among the Stars album recorded in the 1980s, that had been scrapped at the time. Finally, from your new album, please tell me about “Haunting Me” with Jim Muske.

CO: Jim co-wrote that song with Pat Robinson, who I met years ago. Pat was one of the songwriters who benefitted from writing for Joe Cocker and he was also the co-writer with Gene on “After the Storm.” Pat wrote that song with Jim specifically for Phil Seymour, who we discussed in our 2018 interview session. I was the bandleader at the time for Phil’s sessions and then Phil’s health failed and he unexpectedly passed away. Unfortunately, the song did not get recorded by Phil and was put in a folder of songs that we love that we wanted to record someday. I had a cassette of the demo from Jim and Pat and finally digitized it and would always listen to it in the car. Saul had managed Jim when Jim came out here to California from Minnesota. He was one of Prince’s friends from their teenage days, when Prince was a young up and coming singer/songwriter. Jim and his musical partner were at The Record Plant, where Saul worked at the time, and got them some sessions to cut demos. So our relationship with Jim goes back decades.

Carla 2020 album back cover

GM: As this year began, you let me know about “Ode to L.A. While Thinking of Brian Jones, Deceased,” the opening song on the new True Voices various artists collection, which I included at the end of my Ray Manzarek Doors film review in February. The recording begins eerily and Johnny Indovina’s vocals at the beginning remind me of Lee Hazelwood’s “Summer Wine,” the flip side that he recorded with Nancy Sinatra in 1967, as The Doors’ first album was building interest. The strings on Johnny’s recording give it a wonderful sound.

CO: Oh wow! I composed the music to Jim Morrison’s poetry, which he wrote in 1969. I met Johnny Indovina through a friend. He was a fixture in the L.A. music scene in the 1990s with the band Human Drama. He now plays often in Mexico, where they really want him. It is nice to find a place to play where you are wanted. My mom used to say, “Go where you are wanted, kid.” Saul had reviewed that poem for his college newspaper in the early 1970s, which I didn’t know about until I had written the song. Jim Morrison had written the poem about the death of Brian Jones, from The Rolling Stones, and how it impacted him. In his mind he had an incredibly clear vision of what had happened. Saul approached Jim Morrison’s estate and they approved the song. I wanted someone with a dark voice to sing the words of Jim Morrison and I thought of Johnny with his smoky baritone. Johnny made the demo and chose the instruments. He produced it with exactly the vision of how I think it should sound. Jim Morrison was a brilliant genius and I don’t want anyone to think that we are trying to put ourselves in that realm at all but sometimes you just have to go for it.

GM: In 1978, when An American Prayer came out with the surviving Doors adding music to Jim Morrison’s poetry, I loved it and it was my favorite album of the year. So I certainly enjoy hearing more of this approach through you and Johnny, so thank you.

CO: Wow! You are very welcome. I feel so honored that this was allowed to happen. It is so daunting to work on a project like this with words from someone who was so talented. I did see The Doors in 1968 in Dallas. I took the bus up there from Austin with my girlfriend and stayed with her grandmother, who drove us to see the show, and it was tremendous.

Carla 2020 True Voices

GM: What a year 1968 was for The Doors with “Hello, I Love You” at No. 1 and Jose Feliciano’s version of “Light My Fire” also in the Top 10. I know Ray was thrilled about that, in talking with him. Also in that decade, we first saw Gordon Lightfoot’s name as a songwriter with “Early Morning Rain,” a Top 100 single for Peter, Paul & Mary. I look forward to hearing you perform that song on Ladies Sing Lightfoot. How is that project coming along?

CO: We have about half of it done. It is an album that was conceived for the reason that ladies don’t sing Gordon Lightfoot songs that often. We are purposefully going for Gordon’s incredible music and lyrics from the perspective of some gals who are pretty good. We have two rock and roll daughters on it, Arwen Lewis, the daughter of Peter Lewis from Moby Grape and Natalie Noone, Peter Noone’s daughter. You will hear “Sundown” like never before by Darling West from Norway.

GM: We talked about Brian Jones, how about your work with Mick Taylor from my favorite Rolling Stones vinyl album period?

CO: Mick and I have a vinyl album coming out later this year which includes a live version of the song “Sway” from a show that we did together in San Francisco with guys from The Textones from 1991.

GM: I am looking forward to that. 1991 would have been the 20th anniversary of “Sway” from my favorite Rolling Stones studio album Sticky Fingers and was the flip side of “Wild Horses.”

CO: That one is finished and I have another one called Americana Railroad, also for later this year, on vinyl and CD, hopefully for the November Record Store Day, Thanksgiving weekend. Brian Ray, the blond guitarist in Paul McCartney’s band and I cut Procol Harum’s “Whisky Train.” Rocky Burnette will be on it too.

GM: Brian Ray was great in the Ray Manzarek tribute film and this year is the 40th anniversary of Rocky Burnette’s Top 10 hit “Tired of Toein’ the Line.” I look forward to this too.

CO: We are just having fun. I’ve got to make more music because that is one thing we know and can do in these times. Thank you for supporting not only our music but all the music you promote at Goldmine. I still read magazines. Bless your heart to be part of a team that can still get out issues of magazines.

Related links:

carlaolson.com

Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides Interview with Carla Olson of The Textones 2018

Goldmine film review-The Doors Break on Thru-Celebration of Ray Manzarek

Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides Buffalo Springfield 2019