BO MENART “THE TRANE MOB”
After my first album, I decided that my second would be more of a band-oriented album. I began selecting the musicians that I would rehearse and take into a studio to record the majority of the album all at the same time. Then the Pandemic hit and we couldn’t do that. Fortunately, all the musicians I work with have their own studios and we were able to send files to each other and get the project done that way.
For years, I’ve had musician friends tell me they were working with a fellow named Craig T Fall, who had a home studio near me in Sunland, CA. One day I saw a video on Facebook of Craig playing 12 string guitar and I was blown away. I contacted him and went to meet him. He lives within walking distance of my house. This was in 2019 and we were still able to work together pre-Covid. One of the first songs we worked on was LOVE ADDICTION. We started with me playing bass and Craig playing drums on his keyboard. The vocal was intended to be a guide vocal done in 1 take. Then I played the rhythm guitar part on his Stratocaster. He immediately grabbed the guitar and played a counterpoint part. We recorded the organ part with me controlling the modulation wheel while he played the opening chord. This was all done in less than 3 hours. I envisioned both Craig T Fall and Nick Kirgo playing guitar in my band, so I went to Nick’s studio next to have him play the lead guitar part.
I’ve never liked drum machines or synthesized drums. Somehow it seems like cheating to me. I like real drums played by real drummers. I knew Darren Elpant as an audio engineer and I went to visit him at his studio in Silverlake. He then told me, “I also play drums. Why don’t you let me play on a song?” I already had a drummer and thought, “Yeah sure. Every engineer is a musician.” Then I thought I’d give him aa shot on this song and he nailed it. He ended up playing most of the drum parts on this album.
I love the simplicity of LOVE ADDICTION and I’ve had to restrain myself from adding anything else to it.
SHE’S A YOUNG GIRL NOW was written by one of my oldest friends, the late David Beaudry. He often wrote songs from personal experiences in his life. I knew the person and the circumstances that inspired this song. Sometimes women get married when they are too young and a few years later think about what their life could have been.
I woke up one morning hearing Linda Ronstadt singing a chorus in my head. I remember thinking, “I’ve always loved Linda Ronstadt. Who wrote this song – JD Souther or Warren Zevon?” When I Googled the title, I’LL CATCH YOU IF I CAN, I realized nobody had written this song. It was given to me. I had 2 separate lyric ideas I had in my head for a while and they became the verses.
One day I went to a festival at Sunland Park and there was a guy with a cowboy hat and an acoustic guitar on stage. I got there in time to hear him sing his last song and I thought, “I could sing that song.” His name is Jeb Lipson and he also lives in my neighborhood. I got his CD and learned his song, POCKET KNIFE, which I consider to be a perfect American song covering 4 generations in 3 and a half minutes.
CHILD OF GOD is a song obviously influenced by Ellas McDaniel and McKinley Morganfield. This recording was originally a demo. The guitar and vocal were recorded at the same time, then I overdubbed the bass. It was sloppy and done quickly but had a raw quality I knew I could never recreate. At this point, I was enjoying the remote recording process we had developed and sent it to Darren to add the drums. Then Nick Kirgo did the lead guitar. Finally, Chad Watson, Pam Loe and Dave Coleman added the vocal chants.
I wrote BACK IN MY HEART with my old friend Fred Guerra when we were working on a band project called AMIGO. A few years later, Freddy was homeless and living on the streets of either San Diego or Honolulu. I guess if you’re homeless, that’s better than Chicago or Seattle. I tried to convince him to stay with my family but he was restless and left the next day. A couple weeks later I got the news that he was found dead under a railway bridge in Vancouver, Washington. His liver and kidneys had ruptured and he bled to death. Eventually I realized I had to continue music without him. Next time you step around a homeless person on the street, consider they might be a creative person capable of beautiful art.
This arrangement is influenced by The Band and Little Feat. As I recorded the vocal, I pretended to be playing drums to approximate how Levon Helm might have sung it. Listening to the final mix, I thought “That’s damn tight for some guys who’ve never met each other!”
Jim McGuinn, Gene Clark and David Crosby were folk singers when they went to see “A Hard Days Night”. They came out of the theater and said, “That’s what we want to do!”, and the Byrds were born. The Beatles admired the Byrds and George Harrison was clearly influenced by their first album in his song, IF I NEEDED SOMEONE. I wondered what ir would sound like if George had sent a demo of the song to the Byrds to record before the Beatles. While my arrangement bears the Byrds-Beatles-Hollies influence, it ends up sounding like Bo Menart & The Trane Mob.
I don’t often write love songs but “I CAN’T DREAM ABOUT YOU” was written about a special lady in my life. Before laying down the basic track, I asked Darren to listen to a Bily Joel song call “Until The Night”. He responded, “I’m from Long Island. I love that song and Liberty DeVito was one of my drum heroes.” Although the song sounds quite different, Darren did provide a very dynamic drum track. This was also the first song where Larry Antonino and I developed the Bo Menart vocal harmony sound. While my guitar player, Craig T Fall, provided the piano and organ parts, my longtime keyboards player, Arlen Shierbaum, played the pedal steel guitar.
If you were into the L.A. music scene of the 60’s, you were probably a fan of a group called LOVE. A rare bi-racial rock band for the time, they evolved from the simple garage rock of their first album, to a more jazzy second album and culminating with a much heralded masterpiece on their third album, “Forever Changes”.
As I was working on a new song, the chord changes reminded me of “Forever Changes”, so I endeavored to write my tribute to that album. Once I had the structure and melody down, it took me around 6 months to write the lyrics because I figured it better be good if I was going to call it LOVE FOREVER CHANGES.
While “LOVE FOREVER CHANGES“ was one of the first songs I was developing for this album, I also had another set of chord changes I had been playing for years that I thought would work. But I forgot about that song until the rest of the album was finished. When I started playing those chords again, I remembered I had written some lyrics a long time ago. I have a briefcase full of song ideas. When I opened it up, practically all the lyrics to “THE ROCK AND THE ROSE” were right on top of the pile, as if destiny put them there.
One night I had a dream. I dreamt I was an A&R man for Capitol Records in the early 60’s and was assigned to produce a very young singing duo. They were enthusiastic and cute and just wanted to be famous. They kind of reminded me of the early Walker Brothers. I told them they needed a song that would mean something to people and define who they were. I descended some stairs to a room where I began to write a song for them.
It was around 3:00am. When I awoke, I had that song in my head and thought, “That sounds pretty good. I should remember that when I wake up in the morning”. Then I recalled I had lost a few songs like that and forced myself to get up immediately to write down this song. A voice in my head said, “Don’t think about, don’t analyze it or try to make sense of it and, most of all, don’t work at it – just write it down as it comes.”
40 minutes later, THE RIVERS OF MY LIFE was finished – words, music and every inflection. At first, the song did not make any sense to me but after a few months and a few changes in my life, it became clear to me that the song written to mean something to me and to define who I am.
My dad worked in radio in the 60’s. He had a concept for a radio station that would service the large post World War 2 immigrant population in Cleveland at the time. The AM band was full and securing a license was rare and expensive. So, he and his investment group got a license for one of the first FM stations in that market. Car radios, transistor radios and home console radios were almost all AM. So, their first challenge was to convince local merchants, and future advertisers, to carry FM radios to sell to potential listeners. Over the next few years “The Station of the Nations” became a success. In addition to being a host of Slovenian programs, my father was also the chief engineer of the station as well as their sister AM R&B station at the same facility. He would often bring me stacks of 45’s they chose not to play. He even brought me a promo copy of the “Meet The Beatles” LP in January 1964, weeks before they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
One night in 1967, my mother and I went to dinner at an English woman’s house. She had a British music program on the station. I couldn’t figure what might be distinctively British, other than folk music, cabaret or show tunes. Nonetheless, I was drawn to the stack of albums next to her record player. I came upon an LP by a young man named David Bowie. I carefully removed the record from the sleeve, put it on the turntable and dropped the needle on the groove. I played that album over and over again all evening. When it was time to go, I asked her if I could have the LP and she said she rather enjoyed listening to it as well and might play it on her program. So, the next day I went to a downtown record store and special ordered the first David Bowie album on Deram Records and it has been a lifelong favorite of mine ever since.
I’ve been working on this arrangement of WHEN I LIVE MY DREAM for about 50 years. While it is completely different than all the other songs on my album, I still recorded it with my core group – Larry Antonino on bass guitar and harmony vocals, drummer Darren Elpant and guitarist Craig T Fall providing the orchestral arrangement that perfectly captured what I was hearing in my head.