Rolling Thunder

In the late winter/early spring of 1995, Native was in the midst of preparing the follow-up to our eponymous first record. Having traveled far & wide to promote that effort, we’d had a whole year to write new material. John Epstein had delivered the excellent Hot Day; Mat Hutt & John (Woody) Wood were coalescing into a formidable songwriting team; I was coming up with my own small contributions; Matt Lyons did not write (but rather chose to lend a big hand on arrangements); and Mike… well, Mike left us gobsmacked and astounded at the sheer genius he could summon when he decided to compose.

I have a distinct memory of thinking that the amount of goodness Mike packed into the two minutes and some odd seconds of today’s featured song had few comparable antecedents. The world in which we operated was the early jam-band scene, where longer is normal, and even longer is even more normal. But, as we finished the first run-through I clearly remember thinking that Mike seemed to have the composition skills of a Jerry Garcia, and the astounding sense of brevity found in that other great California-based tunesmith — Brian Wilson.

The song I compared it to that day was This Whole World, a brilliant two minute plus opus found on The Beach Boys Sunflower. Mike, of course, had not heard that one, and in fact he was not aware that he had packed so much goodness into such a small time frame.

The song was so short that our Sound Wizard, John Fitzwater took a recording Woody had made when he lived on 99th Street at the Hippie Hotel. With a microphone lowered out his window, he’d captured the sound of dogs barking furiously in the courtyard below. Now, those sounds were incorporated into the opening and closing moments, a touch that Mike absolutely loved.

When we played it live, Woody & Mat barked like those courtyard canines, bringing a smile to the listeners, and certifying the wonderfulness of the choice Fitz had made. After all, if most people were looking for a sound effect for a song with the title this one has, they’d have probably reached for a sound-effects record with a thunder track. But, Native was not ‘most people’.

The multi-tracks of this (and all the songs we’ve presented recently) are lost. If anyone ever finds them, let us know. It would be fun to remix them. But, if a remix were possible, the dogs would still be inserted right where they are now.

(Click on the following link to go to our Bandcamp page. This song, like all the selections in our Nativology series, are free to listen to, and download in the file type of your choice.)

Rolling Thunder

Cornbread Wednesday

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