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Get Yourself In Tune and Slide Over Here…

I used to have these jams at my house, Wednesday evening, everybody’s welcome as long as they don’t get in the way of the music.

The only electric instrument allowed was a bass always expertly played by Rick Joudrey, and Lloyd Smith’s electric guitar because he knew how to find his level and he was also a fine player.

Homemade music, that’s what I’ve always called it.  I was always amazed at how I could drag myself home from a long day at work with no enthusiasm for anything and a couple of hours later, with everybody picking and grinning, feeling like I could go all night.

I wrote the song about it way back in the distant past.  It was easy to sing so I’d pull it out often and everybody seemed to like it. 

Terry Young introduced himself to me and asked if he could learn it, and we became lifelong friends as a result. 

I really liked the idea that he sang it all the time so I didn’t have to.

Everybody kept saying I should record it.  Terry and I never attempted it because he had adapted it to a style that was different from mine, but other friends tried from time to time to help me capture it.  Back in the reel-to-reel days Don and Barb Cavin, original folkies who had an acoustic group called Townline, spent a pleasant afternoon in the kitchen with me singing and recording it. Steve Magill recorded it in his Bracebridge studio.  I tried my own overdubbed version.  Gary Gillespie invited me to record it at his School of Rock studio in Owen Sound.  And I couldn’t get into any of these versions.  They lacked something.

Song sheetRESIZE

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The song wouldn’t go away.  Even after all these years people kept telling me it was their favourite song of mine.  It was getting a bit old for me but who am I to argue?  I was talking to Michael O’Connell about it and suggesting that maybe we could arrange a party and have everybody bring instruments and try to record it as a jam, just like what it was written about.  He thought it was a great idea and Diana Young, who was within earshot, did too.

So it happened, all in good time as things tend to do with me, and really because Michael and Diane in particular got everything together to make it happen.  Judy likes to host parties and she was into it.  It was a pot luck meal and we gathered downstairs to play the song.

I’m a lazy musician who is always more than ready to lean on the talents of my friends. 

Michael went to great lengths to set up eight channels of inputs  with players around a circle of mics to capture every part of the sound.

We played it through once, everybody following the lyric sheets, Michael with headphones tweaking the levels.  Immediately everyone started comparing notes, talking about harmonies.  Dave Hawkins assigned points in the song for each player to throw in their own thing.  He and Alan Johnson worked out guitar riffs a third apart.  Tom Thwaits and Mike Belec each took half the instrumental break for solos.  The crowd on one side of the room worked out where they were going to put vocal harmonies in the verse.

A second run-through sounded pretty good.  More excited talk followed and quickly we tried take three.  We all felt it. 

We’d captured something, mostly spontaneous and stopping short of premeditated perfection.  It sounded homemade.