Title: Folkscene 1974, With Howard And Roz Larman
Source: KPFK-FM 90.7 radio (USA), audio tape. Transcription by Gary Tausch as sent to Rain Dogs Listserv Discussionlist, June 6, 2001
Date: Los Angeles/ USA. July 23, 1974 (June 10?)
Key words: Opening acts, On A Foggy Night, The Heart Of Saturday Night, Bones Howe, San Diego Folk Festival, Jack Tempchin, Jim Ringer, Bruce Phillips, Napoleone's Pizza House, Closing Time, Depot Depot, Kerouac/Allen, Lord Buckley, Charles Bukowski, Touring, Songwriting, Randy Newman


Folkscene 1974, With Howard And Roz Larman


(Gary Tausch: note beginning of tape is cut off - Tom is talking about opening for the Mothers Of Invention on the 1974 tour)

... it was all right, it was in the south primarily, my end of the show was doing 30 minutes as the opening [GT: something missing here] act - in Mobile, Tuscaloosa & Memphis & St Petersburg & Miami & Detroit & St Louis & New Orleans & Phoenix & San Carlos & Bloomington & Montreal & Ottawa & Quebec City, that was it, not in that order.

Interviewer - A lot of acoustic acts have had trouble opening for rock bands.
You're looking at one of them right now. I'm getting better I guess, but it takes a certain attitude that you have to develop after a while, you have to just go out there with the intention of trying to entertain when people don't want to be entertained - by you. But it goes all right most nights. In the south we played some small halls and they were good for me and I thought I did real well in spite of everything.

Interviewer - It seems like such a massive challenge.
It is but it's good because I guess you can really get tired of performing for people who just think you're the greatest thing since sliced bread before you open your mouth. You have a tendency to - course I haven't seen too many of those - but I mean people that do. I guess you can get a little bit lazy - I enjoyed the challenge and the travel so it was real good

Intro to On A Foggy Night:
This is the soundtrack for a film - the soundtrack was written quite a bit later than the film - the film came out about 1947 and I wrote it just a couple of weeks ago and it's about a foggy night on one of those "triangle" films that you see on The Late Show and this is just about the eternal triangle - like George Raft and Fred McMurray and Rosalind Russell - and somebody has to go and it's going to be George Raft in this case and Fred McMurray's got this old Plymouth and he's on this foggy road with McMurray in the trunk, a little bit of his lapel sticking out the back of the trunk and this song comes on the radio ....

Interviewer - Are you working on your 2nd album now?
I just finished one before I went out with the Mothers, I finished a record with Bones Howe producing, called Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night, it 's going to come out sometime in mid September.

Interviewer - Is Foggy Night on it?
Yeah, I think it might be, we recorded 15 songs and he's picking 12 off there, 11 or 12, cause some are kind of long and I did some spoken word stuff, it's just a veritable - , just like a fruit salad of all different kinds of songs and I'm real proud of it. I think it's gonna be a blockbuster, I don't know, it's kind of speculation but I listen to it a lot at home so I think it's a good record. I enjoyed very much working with Bones Howe and I had a good group behind me. The songs were strong, I thought, so it'll come out in September, we'll see what happens then, I guess. On a record you're faced with a real collective effort with so many people that have to be happy with it so it's not one man's decision at all. I enjoy working with a group, I very rarely get an opportunity to when I perform so I enjoy it very much. I think they complemented the songs rather than put a band aid on them like a lot of groups do to people's songs. I'm proud of it.

Interviewer - At the San Diego Folk Festival(1) you did Ghosts Of Saturday Night together with Heart Of Saturday Night, was that a spur of the moment thing?
Yeah, it kind of was, they said everybody gets one song so I figured if I just stretched a song far enough I could really do two, so I did that poem and very quickly did the song and it seemed like it was part of the song so I got away with 2 songs really.

Interviewer - And you got called back for an encore...
I enjoyed that whole festival, that's the first time I've been on a roster at the San Diego State Folk Festival, I've been there many times but never been asked to play, so I felt really a part of it so that's good. See, at that songwriting workshop - Jack Tempchin(4) was there, and Jim Ringer(3) was there and Bruce Phillips(2) was there - that was the first time I'd been able to see Bruce Phillips perform and he slayed me - he's slick as deer guts on a doorknob, he's the cat's meow and I haven't had so much fun since granny put her tits in the wringer.

Interviewer - Are you doing a lot of poetry?
A couple of things like that, I don't know if it's really poetry but it's just like - instead of writing a song I just wrote a mouthful of words and just talked 'em instead of singin' 'em. I guess you could call them poems, yeah, there are a lot more, they can be palatable for an audience I think, in a lot of cases more so than a song when you get hung up on the melody and the mood and what kind of voice this guy's got and the sound of his instrument. You can lose a lot of the lyric so I like that piece you're talking about, why don't I do it right now.

Intro to The Ghosts of Saturday Night:
It's about National City which is primarily a sailor town, a suburb of San Diego, where the infamous Mile Of Cars is on National Avenue and at the north end of National Ave is the Burge Roberts Mortuary and the Golden Barrel, Escalante's Liquor Store, sandwiched in between a Triumph Motorcycle shop and Burge Robert's is Napoleone's Pizza House(10), it's been there for a good 25 years and I worked there when I was real young. I've worked since I was 15 there and I guess not till I was away from it for a long time I could really sit down and write something constructive about it. This is called Ghosts Of Saturday Night or Looking Out From Napoleone's.

Plays Ghosts & Heart Of Saturday Night - interviewer asks about recording of Heart:
All we did with that song was bass and guitar, we taped a little traffic on Cahuenga, just stuck his microphones out there and got about 20 minutes of rush hour and cut it down and put it on there, it really sets it up.

Interviewer - Is Closing Time still available?
I don't know, I haven't seen it anywhere recently, in fact it may even be out of print - it broke even for me and got a little bit of action and did all right but I think they pulled it off now, friends of mine are looking for it and can't find it. maybe they'll re-release it when the 2nd record comes out, we'll see what happens. I wanted to have a brand new song for tonight and I worked on this rascal and I just didn't come up with anything but by the next time I'll have a whole new thing - it's called "Looking for a romantic investment with emotional dividends" - I think it could really skyrocket to the top of the charts but it's not done yet.

Interviewer - Did you write new songs especially for the new album?
I guess I wrote some stuff that, conceptually, I guess, had in mind an album storyline with some sort of collection of songs like chapters - that weren't just a random handful of ballads but something that tied together - so I guess I did. Once I wrote Saturday Night I started thinking in terms of other ways of approaching Saturday night and things like that.

Intro to Drunk On The Moon:
Maybe I'll try to talk this thing cause it doesn't work very good if I sing it (sings it anyway).

Interviewer requests Martha:
Maybe I'll do that a bit later in the program, I wanted to do something a little more of a toe tapper before I do a Sominex on your listening audience.

Intro to Depot Depot:
This is a bit of local colour here, this is about 6th & Los Angeles in downtown Los Angeles, about the Greyhound Bus Depot, about going down to the depot on a Saturday night with plenty of quarters for the TV chairs and it's just a great place to take a date.

Interviewer - The Eagles & Ian Matthews both recorded Ol' '55, anything else been covered off your album?
Lee Hazlewood(5) did one of my songs, called Martha, and I think that's all I know of, oh, Tim Buckley(6) did Martha as well.

Intro to Diamonds On My Windshield:
This is about driving in the rain. I used to make that track from San Diego to Los Angeles a lot, usually with several pit stops on the way with engine trouble. So this is about driving in the rain, circa 1973, so slip me some crimson, Jimson.

Interviewer - How did you get into doing those kind of things - the spoken word pieces?
I don't know - the first time I heard any spoken word that I was really impressed with was an album called Kerouac/Allen - Steve Allen & Jack Kerouac and he talked while Steve Allen played some stuff and he just talked over the top of it and it was real, real effective - I had never heard anything like it - so I wrote a few little things.

Interviewer - I guess there was kind of a craze for that in the 50's
Yeah, Lord Buckley and all that, it frees you as a songwriter to be able to just throw down some colour and not worry about any sort of meter at all, so I enjoy writing stuff like that. Lately I seem to be more concerned with that than writing real songs.

Interviewer - You read a lot of Kerouac, don't you?
Well, I've read all of his work, actually I've discovered some magazine articles by him that are in some very colourful magazines like Rogue and Cad - magazines like that. he used to publish stories and there were a lot of articles written about him in those skin magazines. But I've read everything I can get my hands on by him.

Interviewer - Any other writers?
Oh, yeah, Charles Bukowski is probably one of the most colourful and most important writers of modern fiction, poetry and prose, in contemporary literature right now. I'd say he's at the vanguard in my book, he just levels me, I've been reading Charles Bukowski. Now I think I'll just segue into another song, this is a little ballad here.

Plays San Diego Serenade:

Interviewer - What are your plans now?
Right now I guess I'm gonna stay in one place for a while, I think I've got a gig at Redlands(7) and I think I've got one at McCabe's(8) and I got one at Folk Arts in San Diego at the end of August and then in September when the record comes out I'll go out on the east coast for probably 3 months and do the club circuit out there.

Interviewer - Is there a legal commitment to tour when the record comes out?
Well, I guess it's for your own good, essentially you're going out and playing your record, you're going out and doing the hard sell, pimping for yourself if you will, and that's what everybody does. You know, you talk to magazines and stuff and see if it does any good so I'll do that in September. Up until then I'm gonna write a bunch of stuff. And if this record does all right I'll go into the studio and do another one I hope.

Interviewer - What is your approach to songwriting - is it a craft or something that just comes to you?
It's a craft by all means, you can tell it's a craft when you hold 2 songwriters up side by side, one who's good and one who isn't - you can tell who is craftier, I guess.

Interviewer - I know a lot of songwriters who say things just float in...
No, that's not true. It's not some kind of divine inspiration or anything, there are times when you're moved to write something but I don't think you quake and talk in tongues or anything, I think that's a lot of poppycock and balderdash myself. You work on a concept, work on an idea, and you read and you listen to other writers and you listen to the radio and you listen to the hit parade and you listen to KPFK - and then you get better, hopefully, of course it's all a matter of opinion, there are songwriters that I like that aren't so well liked - it's still a matter of what your own taste is but I do think there's a strong difference between someone like Randy Newman who is certainly a craftsman when it comes to putting a song together, someone who can evoke such a feeling from his listeners and it comes from him really sweating over a song and then you take somebody like - I don't want to slander anybody, we're on the air- but take somebody like [mumbles] who really writes ridiculously childish songs that don't have meat to them or real vision - I think it's certainly craft.

Interviewer - Are there other songwriters you listen to - besides Randy Newman?
Yeah, I listen to him and I like Mose Allison, I think he's a very economical songwriter with his - he's so damn stylized that you can't help but love him to death - he's like honey poured all over you - I admire him a great deal. I still listen to "These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You" - now was that George Gershwin or was that Cole Porter? That was Cole Porter, there was a similar song along the same lines by Gershwin. So now I have to pick a real crafty song. Drunk On the Moon was kind of crafty, it was a matter of taking a whole bunch of words and trying to hang them in the right place on a melody. Sometimes you get so many words you don't know what to do and you - sometimes you don't need 'em all, sometimes you do, so I think that's a crafty song, I'll maybe play something, that Ghosts Of Saturday Night is kind of crafty, it's stylized, let me see, maybe ....

Plays Rosie:
We have time for one more, maybe I should go out on a rousing sort of thing, I'm concerned with putting people to sleep sometimes so maybe I'll do something with a backbeat.

Plays Fumblin' With The Blues:
I'd like to say hi to my .... Hello, Susan(9) ...


(1) San Diego Folk Festival: Grand Valley State University, Allendale/ San Diego. April 19, 1974. Further reading: Heritage Coffee House

(2) Bruce Phillips aka U. Utah Phillips: respected folk artist. Check out this Utah Phillips site for further reading

(3) Jim Ringer: respected California folk artist. Died on March 17 in 1992 - St. Patrick's Day. He was 56 years old

(4) Jack Tempchin. writer/ singer/ guitarist. Longtime friends during the late 60's/ early 70's. Check out this Tempchin site for more information. They did a gig together for the KCRW-FM Snap Sessions, Santa Monica, November 10, 1973. "TW: Jack, you wanna come up and do that... song? [off-mike confusion over the title of the thing]. JT: I don't know... TW: Eh... maybe... You got me in a spot there! I don't know. JT: Tijuana... Sun? TW: Tijuana... eh... Tijuana! We'll just call it 'Tijuana'!"

(5) Lee Hazlewood: released on "Poet, Fool, Bum", 1973 Capitol ST-11177 UK- Stateside (EMI) SSL-10315 A Maverick Production Ltd. Titled: "Those Were Days of Roses (Martha)"

(6) Tim Buckley: released on "Sefronia", 1973 Third Story/Fifth Floor. DiscReet Business: Herb Cohen (first cover of a Waits song ever, mid 1973)

(7) Redlands: unknown/ unidentified show in Redlands, CA. (also mentioned in Folkscene, 1973 (KPFK-FM) Radio interview by Howard Larman. August 12, 1973). The city of Redlands located in San Bernardino County, CA.

(8) McCabe's: McCabe's Guitar Shop, musical instrument store in Santa Monica, California. Opened in 1958, specialized in acoustic and folk instruments. Well known for their concert series.

(9) Susan: One would like this to be the mysterious Susan Michelson as mentioned in the sub-title for "Eggs & Sausage" from the album "Nighthawks At The Diner", 1975. (In a Cadillac with Susan Michelson). Your guess is as good as mine...

(10) Napoleone's Pizza House: at the age of 14 or 15 Tom gets his first job at "Napoleone's Pizza House" 619 National City Blvd. in National City (San Diego) as immortalized in "I Can't Wait To Get Off Work". Further reading: Napoleone Pizza House full story