DEAR JERRY: Late last year, I was pleased to see you write about Bob Lind. His “Don't Be Concerned” album was one of my favorite LPs of the folk-rock scene.
Despite being one of the period's more eccentric songwriters, his entertaining lyrics nevertheless often baffled me.
For example, just what is “Elusive Butterfly” all about? I'd appreciate your take on this.
Fergie Stigman, Lancaster, Pa.
DEAR FERGIE: No need for my take it's Bob Lind's that matters, and he willingly explains the song's background and message:
“We recorded four songs at that session: “You Should Have Seen It; Cheryl's Goin' Home; Elusive Butterfly;” and “Truly Julie's Blues.”
“They [World Pacific Records] asked me what I thought we should release as the first single. I said, “among these four, I don't care which one you put out as long as you don't put “Elusive Butterfly” out. That's the worst. That's the last one I would have as a single.
“They agreed and said “We'll stick it [“Elusive Butterfly”] on the B-side of “Cheryl's Goin' Home,” so that later on we can release the other two numbers as A-sides. [“Truly Julie's Blues” was the follow-up hit to “Elusive Butterfly.”]
“So there you go. That shows you what my perspective on my hits is worth!”
“Like most of my best songs back then, this one was written in the small hours of the morning when the border between dreams and wakefulness softens and melts. [Producer] Jack Nitzsche knows that world too. It's the only place he could have found that perfect haunting string line. Half the credit for the success of the song goes to him. (Half at the very least.).”
Commercial though it is, “Cheryl's Goin' Home” didn't attract much attention; however, a few weeks after its release, a Miami radio station began playing the B-side. One month later, “Elusive Butterfly” was that city's No. 1 hit. In another four weeks, the tune had flown into the nation's Top 5.
As for the song's meaning, Bob offers the following interpretation:
“I think the words are about the magic of the quest the thrill and passion of searching, even when the thing sought remains distant and hard to see.”
Like most investors, I have lost my shirt in the recent bear market. Often, during the downturn, I have endured the lyric, “The night they lost the Titanic, and the Wall Street panic.”
Since I can't recall anything else about this song, I am dying to know its title and singer (a woman). Please help!
Richard O'Connor, Terre Haute, Ind.
DEAR RICHARD: You don't reference this tune to a time period, but I know of only one song containing that line, so it must be the one in your mind's portfolio.
It is “The Boys Night Out,” a summertime hit in 1962 for Patti Page (Mercury 72013). This is also the theme from the film of the same title, in which Patti Page has a role alongside James Garner, Tony Randall, and Kim Novak.
DEAR JERRY: I enjoyed reading your recent essay about “Unchained Melody,” which raised a question with me.
I once owned a 45 of this song, by the Blackwells, which I estimate came out around 1960. I have since been unable to locate any information about this particular release, but I continue the search.
If you can confirm these details, please let me know.
Ernest L. Gowen, Oak Forest, Ill.
DEAR ERNEST: Your recollection is exactly correct. Consider this the confirmation you seek.
A version of “Unchained Melody,” by the Blackwells, came out in mid-1960 (Jamie 1157). The flip side is “Mansion on the Hill.”
IZ ZAT SO? Rather than “Don't Be Concerned” (World Pacific 1841), “Don't Be Confused” may have been a more appropriate title for Bob Lind's debut album.
At roughly the same time as “Don't Be Concerned” came out, Verve Records jumped on the bandwagon and issued a competing collection of older Lind tracks. To tie in with the hit single, “Elusive Butterfly,” they deceptively titled their release “The Elusive Bob Lind” (Verve-Folkways 3005).
Buyers were likely quite disappointed to discover that “Elusive Bob Lind” did not contain “Elusive Butterfly.”