Welcome to Raker john's CD liner notes page! First, let me say that this is a work in progress as the selection and recording of the songs is currently taking place. This means that there may be some additions/subtractions along the way and I ask your patience (or forgiveness) as the effort continues...
Some time ago I put together a summary of my musical history which presents the different stages in chronological sequence. This also describes the various places I was living and (some of) my personal relationships and professional situations at the time - all part of the influences effecting my music. It may be a little long for some but it became my way of putting it down so I wouldn't forget it - sort of like a memoir. (More like a string around my finger...) Used in conjunction with these liner notes, it should give you a pretty complete picture of "where I was" at the time these tunes were written; I hope you enjoy the ride...
This site is a general collection of thoughts, comments and trivia related to my first CD, It Was Easier Back Then .... I feel lucky to have been able to include some of my dear friends, including John Austin and Pat McConnell in this project since they so often joins me at the bakery on Friday mornings or in other musical groups that I participate in locally. Both bring a totally new dimension to many of these tunes. Each contributor created their own parts with only minimal direction from me (can you believe that?). We hope you have fun with our thoughts and abstract ramblings as well as the detailed instrument listings for each tune. For the sake of brevity (and when did that ever become an issue with me?) Most of the information I provide is to the best of my ability to remember. Things get a bit hazy after 50 or so years... Enjoy!!! Raker john
This is the initial recording of Raker john's original material and its purpose, content and style is probably best discussed tune by tune. There were some early recordings made of my early group Rita, Rail & Raker john but they did not include any of my original material. Hence, as usual, I have to do that on my own... This CD collects the music I wrote between 1960 and 1970 which I choose to refer to as my "early period". Where possible, I will list the year each tune was written and where I happened to be at the time...
The CD Tracks Themselves
Roll On Baby - Ft. Myers, FL 1962
This is one of the earliest surviving songs I wrote. It was my attempt at a "train song" even though, as a junior in high school, I had extremely little real experience with the subject matter. However, even at this young age I had already lived in 6 different states and seven different houses (eight if you count the motel we lived in for several months while we looked for a house in Ft. Myers) so I had already developed a feeling of impermanence about things around me. It also shows that, even at an early age, I seemed to know that I would be inclined to make hasty and, at times, regrettable decisions in my life.
Find Me A River - Ft. Myers, FL 1962
Though not written until 1962, this song had its origins back in 1957 when I was living with my family on 48 acres of woodland outside of Butler, PA. In those days, I'd leave the house after breakfast and often not return until it was suppertime. One of the activities I enjoyed was to bicycle to this wooded area about 7 miles from our house and then follow a path back into the woods for about half a mile to where it came to some large boulders bordering a small stream. You could lie on the warm rocks in the summertime and listen to the water babble over the stones and branches in the stream. I called it my "thinking place" because I never saw anyone else there - even though the path gave evidence that traffic to and from the area was relatively frequent. It was one of the first places that brought me solitude and, at times, clarity. I would often doze off while listening to the wonderful "white noise" of the water. Places like this are becoming harder and harder to find...
This was my first "protest" song. The atomic revolution was in full swing and I was right there pointing out the hypocrocy of the politicians, scientists and military of the day. Strangely, it seems that there are still signs of this today if you choose to look toward the Middle East... Hmmm.
This was written in the summer of 1963 having moved back home after a miserable year at FSU. Even though I was back "home" it seemed that almost everything had changed. I was no longer training for olympic competition, my girlfriend was decidedly distant and I had to find a job while preparing for the next semester at Edison Junior College (now South Florida University at Ft. Myers). It all sucked and the only thing I thought I could "control" was my girlfriend - boy, was I wrong...
This was written in the early Summer of 1963 when we were all writing songs and putting the poems of others to music as well. This poem by Rudyard Kipling "spoke" to me about being connected to one's country. A brief synopsys, courtesy of Wikipedia, follows:
"The poem appeared in the book Young Men at the Manor which is set in the time just following the battle of Hastings in 1066. The hero is one Sir Richard Dalyngridge, a young Norman knight in the army of the Conquerer, who after Hastings was awarded a manor in Sussex. Unlike many of his fellow countrymen, he falls in love with the land, the people and the Saxon lady whose lands he won."
For some reason the poem brought me peace at times; I think it helped remind me how much better off I was than many others around me and those in less developed regions. Thank you, Rudyard!
The back story on this song is not something I'm particularly proud of but it was the result of my first, and only, experience with LSD. A trucker neighbor who used to provide certain pills that kept me "up" for performing at the local hotel lounge after working all day at the paint store gave me this sugar cube with the caution, "Try this when you have some time to spend in one place - you might find this to be fun!". So, after our Saturday night gig and after-hours jam at the apartment, I tried it out and had a very mellow and sensory expanding experience just sitting on the front porch listening to the surrounding sounds of the night until it grundgingly gave way to the dawn. I swear I could hear the grass grow... I gave this recording to Mike Ashworth (along with the bqack-story) and requested he explore doing a "real" bass part for it. He gave it one listen and declared that what it really needed was the Rick Wakeman (of Yes) treatment! I told him that I didn't have that in mind but that's why I gave it to him to listen to; he promised me that it would work - I think he was right!
This was written in the early Fall of 1967 having moved to Manhattan Beach from Englewood. I had new roommates from Tennessee and had spent a bit of time at the local beach watching the volleyball players, playing a little music and trying to relax.
This was written in the early summer of 1968. A friend of mine from Florida and come and stayed with me for a while on his way to San Francisco and, while there, we had met his long-time girlfriend and stewardess during her layover in LA. for a short evening "out". Her coworker joined us and it all started out fine but then took a sharp turn-toward-bad as she told him she had met someone new and did not hold the same feelings for him as before - he was destroyed. After a week or so of trying to make sense of it (a failure as well) he had to head north in order to get settled before he took his new position in banking. A few weeks later, the beginnings of this tune came to me, though I'm not really sure I understand it either...
This may have also been influenced by my friends breakup depression - not that I needed outside influences to feel depressed in those days. --- more ---
This was written in collaboration with my then roommate, Rod Cook. We were living at the "Never On Friday Club" Apartments while I was working for Service Bureau Corporation (IBM) and he was a postman, delivering the Venice route. Many on his route were in the music business with Jim Morrison being the best known at the time. He hung out a bit with them and we'd go to Griffith Park for the "happenings" on weekends and watch all the freaks do their thing. It was a good time to be in the LA area and life was not all that complicated. But there were undercurrents and you can perhaps feel them at play.
This was written in the early Fall of 1969 having moved back to Manhattan Beach from Torrance. I had no roommates to deal with and was living in a cottage-like small house on Manhattan Beach Boulevard across from the El Segundo oil fields. Just me and the snakes. Anyway, this was for my girlfriend at the time who would later become my fiance and then first wife; I'm not sure I ever told her it was for her...
About this time I was beginning to consider a change in jobs. The writing was on the wall for the group I was in and it was not good. There were some possible options with client companies and even a couple competing companies but, regardless, it meant change and I have never been very comfortable with that...
At this point I had made my decision to not only change jobs but to move to Cambridge, Massachusetts as well. My previous supervisor at IBM had left to join a startup there and had called to recruit me as well. It sounded exciting as we would be writing the operating system and language software for a new breed of computers called "minicomputers" that you could contain on the top of a desk! Exciting, yes, but also terrifying in that, once again, everything that I had would have to be uprooted and transported. And there were things that could not be done that simply, like my then girlfriend... I feared the worse and we talked about how tenuous the new position might be and how I had to get a feel for it before feeling comfortable in feeling secure. She said she would wait - and I feared the worse. This was my promise to her. (Again, I'm not sure I ever told her that...)
As always, I'd like to thank Rocky for hanging around and taking pictures for me while I attended to the business at hand.
I thank her for her patience and understanding when things didn't go as planned and took longer than I'd originally thought
they would ... I admire her patience with me, letting me undertake this incredibly ego-centric exercise of painfully recording
songs that very few will want to listen to. It's more of a musical memoir for me - I have to record it so I don't forget the
way I once was..
Please remember that your comments and suggestions are always welcomed. I take requests; I won't promise to play them but I'll take them, none the less... Keep those electronic cards and letters comin', folks!
Send comments to: Rakerjohn@comporium.net
Changes last made on: Saturday, February 4, 2017 at 11:19am