Thursday, February 25, 2010

Happy 60th Birthday, Emitt Rhodes!!!

Up until a few months ago I was in the dark about Emitt Rhodes.

The fact that I am no longer in that state is an indication of the greatness of YouTube.

I use YouTube as a device to listen to music rather than to watch videos.

Not only can I listen old songs I haven't heard in years I can also discover the work of artists I never knew existed. Enter Emitt Rhodes.

As a teenager, Rhodes was a member of a short lived pop group called The Merry Go Round. One of the songs Rhodes wrote for that group was a song called "Time Will Show The Wiser." It was later recorded by Fairport Convention, a British folk-rock group whose original male lead singer was Iain Matthews. If you are familiar with my Amelia Earhart poetry you will know that it was Matthews' music that spurred me to write it. So too did Matthews lead me to Emitt Rhodes.

After leaving The Merry Go Round, Rhodes recorded four solo albums in the early 1970s for the Dunhill label. Dunhill featured such artists as The Mamas & The Papas, The Grass Roots and Three Dog Night. Although he was compared favorably with Paul McCartney, he would not experience the kind of success those aforementioned artists did.

Rhodes signed a six album contract over three years. The problem was Rhodes truly recorded solo albums. He wrote, arranged and produced all the songs. He recorded all the vocals and played all the instruments and did so in a shed on his parents' property. But this kind of creativity did not lend itself to being able to churn out an album every six months. Let us also not forget that Rhodes had to tour constantly as well. This raised the ire of Dunhill who sued Rhodes and withheld his royalties. The acrimony that arose from this dispute has meant Emitt Rhodes has not released an album of new material since 1973.

Now one can fault Rhodes for having signed the contract in the first place. On the other hand, Dunhill set up him for failure and instead of finding a way to work with his creativity they effectively silenced a musical genius. Today, recording artists routinely go three to four years between albums. Who can tell how Rhodes career might have flourished had he been given the room he needed.

But there's a possibility Rhodes will have a second act. He's been at work recording a new album. It'll be out when it is good and ready.

Why is Rhodes making a new album now? Possibly because of a documentary made last year about Rhodes by Italian filmmaker Cosimo Messeri called The One Man Beatles.

Well, today is Emitt Rhodes' 60th birthday and I thought I'd share some of his songs with you. The first three songs are from his 1970 self-titled debut album - "With My Face On The Floor", "You Take The Dark Out Of The Night" and "You Should Be Ashamed".

But my favorite of all is "Golden Child Of God." It appears on his follow up album Mirror. When I couldn't find it on YouTube I asked beatlefan64 if he or she could post it. I must say that beatlefan64 was more than obliging. YouTube might be the greatest online innovation of the 21st century.

Even if Emitt Rhodes never releases another album the quality of his music will stand the test of time. Happy Birthday Emitt!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very nice to read a well-written blog about one of the finest creators of music of our time - happy birthday Emitt! V