Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Different Bob

Personnel:

Bernie Heveron: Upright bass
Colorblind James: Vibes, vocals
Phillip Marshall: Guitar
James McAvaney: Drums
G. Elwyn Meixner: Guitar

A supreme example of what Chuck referred to as "fake jazz". Fake, I guess, because regardless of how well or poorly the listener may think it swings, none of us were experienced jazz players. The first set of solos is Chuck on vibes and G. Elwyn on guitar. The second is Bernie on bass followed by me. G. Elwyn again played his blue Tele while I played my white '75 Les Paul. I'd also used that guitar on "Why'd The Boy..."

Double tracking the lead vocals, a technique Chuck discovered from Peter Miller, was a given back then. Considering the loose open feel of the track, it sounds pretty weird to me on "A Different Bob". Chuck was always self-conscious about his voice and explored any options to disguise what he perceived as its flaws. I always wish he had been more secure with it. It wasn't until the last CD, "Call Of The Wild" that Chuck threw in the towel. Most of the vocals on that record are unadorned scratch vocals.

When Chuck penned this song back in San Francisco, he sensed it would be popular: the 'joke' was easy to get. I remember Chuck had originally written a fourth verse, something about the narrator sitting alone in his apartment and staring at a candle. I believe a ghostly voice calls out for Bob and when he answers, once again, he hears "I mean a Different Bob". He scrapped it early on feeling, correctly in my opinion, that three verses told the story perfectly.

He was correct about its popularity, being one of the songs John Peel featured regularly on the BBC1 in '87 and '88.

A Different Bob
Words and music © Chuck Cuminale

My baby was taking in her sleep
She said “Bob”
I said “What”
She said “Bob”
I said “I’m Bob”
And she said “No,
I mean a different Bob”

And so I asked her the next day
I said “Jane”
She said “What”
I said “Who’s Bob?”
She said “You’re Bob”
I said “No.
I mean a different Bob”

My baby was run over by a truck
It was a Dodge
As she lay dying
She called for Bob
I touched her hand and said “I’m here”
She said “No.
I mean a different Bob”

My baby was talking in her sleep

1 comment:

alanforduk said...

Thanks for these insights Phil. It's good to finally understand better what these songs are about, and the stories behind them.
Looking forward to more in the future - especially Considering A Move ...