Answers Feb/Mar, Part VI
5/6/2009 (updated 5/24/2009)

Do you play the Ukulele, have you ever, are you ever considering it? Speaking as a recent convert, I have found that taking it up also improved my guitar playing (not that you'll have that incentive!) Two songs of yours that I find suit the Uke: Jimmy Shands and, bizarrely, Sloth. Maybe I should draw a discreet veil over that. All the best, Richard Harrison-London N19

It's very natural to pick up the uke as a guitarist, the tuning being the same (top 4 strings of the guitar), so no great learning curve there. Sol Hoopi is my Hawaiian hero, and Formby my English hero. Your namesake, George, was a huge fan of the instrument.

My husband and I love your music. Will you be in Princeton, NJ, at the McCarter Theater or any other theater in the New York-Philadelphia area in 2009? If so, any idea when? We'd like to be sure to get tickets. Thanks and happy travels, Lari O'Donnell

We will be at Princeton on October 20th, God willing, See Tour Dates section for other East Coast venues.

As a biologist who has taken students to Costa Rica many times, I was interested to see Richard's support for the Organization for Tropical Studies, and wondered how he got involved with OTS. Thanks! Dave Hicks

I've visited OTS stations in Costa Rica many times, and at one point, my family did a week's scientific 'boot camp' at La Selva. I see their work in training and research in Central and South America as vital to the continuation of the rainforests, and the species therein, and the human race, and the planet.

I wonder if you could tell me the guitar Richard uses on the studio version of "Cavalry Cross" which is my all time favourite song of his. I am convinced it is a Fender Telecaster as the bite seems more pronounced than that normally heard with a Strat. I am considering adding a 52 reissue Tele or Nocaster to my collection precisely because I think that is the sound I am hearing on the track and it blows me away. Thanks for your time and best wishes. Shaun

This was my 59 Strat through a blackface 1960 Pro Reverb, though in no way would I wish to deter you from spending money.

I am thinking about the byrds. an early influence for all of us. it has been said that in many cases, the music industry took over, and replaced band members in the studio with experienced session cats such as tommy tedesco, glen campbell, and many others. in the case of the byrds, it has been said that roger mcguinn made the cut, and much of what we know from byrds records was not "the byrds". what do you know about this? i find it very interesting that the properly reviled "music business" may have been in part responsible for some of the celestial and heavenly sounds that we all so cherish. thanks for your thoughts! John Novack

As far as I know, because I like to know these things too, Tambourine Man was definitely McGuinn and LA session players (I don't know who). Possibly Turn Turn Turn, the same lineup (sonically very similar). Everything else, I'm pretty sure, is The Byrds. Michael Clark was a distinctive, surfy kind of drummer, and Hillman had his own sound. On later records, you can hear the addition of Clarence White on guitar on some tracks (like Time Between), and pedal steel on a few things, Hugh Masekela, of course, on Rock and Roll Star.

Of course, the LA 'Wrecking Crew' did play on shitloads of pop songs, Paul Revere, Tommy James, The Beach Boys, the Monkees - a look at Carol Kay's website, or Hal Blaine’s autobiography, is gobsmacking! And often you found very good jazz players doing these sessions. One example is 'Lipstick On Your Collar' by Connie Francis, which featured Dick Hyman on piano, Panama Francis on drums, George Barnes on Guitar, and Milt Hinton on bass!. Barnes plays a killer guitar solo.

Footnote: To answer a fan query from John Novack in the Feb/Mar questions/answers, Part VI, regarding studio personnel who played on The Byrds cover of "Mr. Tambourine Man":

According to the booklet in the Byrds 1990 boxed set, studio musicians who played on this cut included: Hal Blaine (drums), Larry Knechthel (bass) and Leon Russell (piano), all members of the Wrecking Crew. - Douglas Alan Feinstein

I am pretty certain that Richard Thompson plays on Francoise Hardy's 1971 album 'If You Listen'. I am sure that he plays on at least one track, a cover of Trees' 'Garden of Jane Delawney', and probably on another, a cover of Beverley Martyn's 'The Ocean'. The fact that the album was recorded at Sound Techniques makes it more likely to be RT playing. Steve Royston-East Sussex

I did do a couple of days in the studio with Francoise Hardy, with Gerry Conway and Pat Donaldson. I do remember 'The Sea'. I'm foggy on other titles.

Just wondering, since tracks from "First Light" and "Sunnyvista" are on the upcoming Shout Factory box, I'm assuming the masters have been found. If they haven't, and these tracks were simply copied from the Ryko release, why don't you release the whole thing, a digital copy of the existing cd, and let your fans hear these records again without having to pay a ton of money to acquire them? RC

We may, in desperation, do this.