Thursday, May 8, 2008
(part 66) HENDRIX, ZAPPA, AND LEAVING NEW YORK
After seeing and hearing Hendrix on that muggy afternoon in the Village, Frank took me to the Le Figaro Cafe to introduce me to Jimi. When we got there Hendrix was already at a table with two or three girls and otherwise occupied. The cafe was pretty empty so even from across the room you could see everybody in the place.
At one point, Hendrix looked up and caught sight of Frank and me and acknowledged Zappa's presence with a smile and a wave. He was so loaded, that at best, it was a half hearted attempt to be cordial. I told Frank it was OK, and that it was obvious that Jimi was in no shape to meet me or anybody else at the time. "
It's cool Frank," I said, "I don't think he needs to be interrupted right now." Frank agreed and we left the Le Figaro and I carried the memory of Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, and me, on that hot muggy afternoon in Greenwich Village, New York in 1967.
I remembered hearing about the Monterey Pop Festival a month or so earlier, and some guy who had blown everybody's mind along with Janice Joplin. It was this guy I had just seen and heard with Frank, Jimi Hendrix. I always remembered what Frank said to me, "This guy's gonna be the next Elvis Presley." It stuck in my mind as an odd way for Frank to put it, but I never forgot it, and in some ways it turned out to be true.
When I got back to L.A. I was all hyped up about writing new songs, promising myself that what had happened in New York with Tom Wilson would never happen again. I started writing all kinds of heavy lyrics that were extreme versions of the opposing parallels I'd used in songs like "Sea Dawn" from "Color Him In."
Somehow I got it in my mind that the point of "Sea Dawn" was right, but that I needed to make it more like a sledge hammer. Two of these songs were, as I mentioned, "Holy Holy Holy" and "Hitler And Jesus." Nobody was too sure about what I was doing, but I just kept writing whether they liked it or not.
I managed to convince Steve Clark to record a couple of these songs after telling him if he didn't Tom Wilson would. Whatever it was I told Steve, it worked. I ended up in the same studio where I'd cut "Color Him In" with a 30 or 40 piece orchestra and recorded "Holy Holy Holy."
"Holy Holy Holy" was about the hypocrisy of the church and the priests' shortcomings according to me. We cut the track with no problem, but when it was time for me to lay down the lyrics the engineer got up and walked out of the studio about half way through the song.
The session stopped and Steve went running after the engineer, who we later found out was a devout Catholic. He told Steve he couldn't be a part of something like that, because it was blasphemy according to his belief. After about 40 minutes or so Steve and the engineer came back together and the session went on.
I later asked Steve how he got the guy to come back and Steve said he reasoned with him that this was art, and that I had a right to express my opinion artistically, even if it offended some people. The guy thought about that and decided he agreed with Steve's reasoning and was willing to finish the session, but said he wouldn't do any more if they were like this. I thought that was pretty clever of Steve to bring up this particular point of logic which I fully agreed with.