You never really know where the next gig or great adventure is going to come from, and that has certainly always been the case for me! It’s a wonderful thing, because when you put out the good stuff, it always seems to come back to you in the wildest ways, and sometimes the timing itself can seem downright mystical.
I’ve certainly learned over the years to have my ear to the ground just in case one of these occurrences happens, because this is what many times has really shaped my life in music, and otherwise. For example, one time I was walking down 57th Street in Manhattan, when I got called up to do a recording session upstairs! I had several times, while up in Woodstock the previous year, done some sessions and some informal rehearsals with the band, Looking Glass. They were basically “picking my brain” for ideas, something I learned folks have continued to do for my entire life, but then a few months later, there I am walking down the street in NYC, and this guy, I guess who may’ve been their manager, sees me and says, ‘Hey, you’re Arlen Roth, c’mon upstairs, the boys are recording now, and they can use you!” Well, next thing I know I’m in a recording session, and I end up playing on their hit song, “Brandy”, along with the B side, which I can’t remember the name of.
Other wild things have happened like that too, such as being in this studio called “Greene Street” in Manhattan, and cutting an all-Robert Johnson record called “Incarnation” that was slated to be the first
“Crossroads” before I did the actual fim by the same name 5 years later. That studio was at the time, where some of the first true “rap” records were being made, by an artist named Curtis Blow, who was sort of alternating sessions with us. Somehow, I met some players who were doing that recording there, and next thing I knew, I was working on a “parody” of a Rap record with them, along with the famous author George Plimpton, called “Doing the Preppy Step!”
Another crazy one at around the same time happened when I was up in Woodstock, rehearsing over at Eric Andersen’s house. Suddenly, a guy comes to the door and says, “hey, you fellahs wanna make a record for The New York Mets? We’re cutting a song for their pennant drive over at Bearsville Studios, and we need a band!” Well, number one, I’m a huge Mets fan, and was very excited, because this was their “Ya Gotta Believe” year 1973, thanks to their beloved pitcher, Tug McGraw (father of Tim McGraw) who coined the phrase, and number two, he was gonna sing it!! Well, when I showed up to the session, they were working it up as a Latin number, which made little sense to me, and I told them, “Hey, WHN is the Met’s station isn’t it, and it’s the only country station in NYC, so let’s play this song Country!” Well, we did, and it ended up becoming quite a sports collectible, thanks to the fact that the Mets lost the World Series to Oakland that fall, and Tug never did sing on it, instead it was Happy and Artie Traum! But if you want to look for it, it’s called “Ya Gotta Believe”, on Fun City Records, and we were called “The Amazins”! And by the way, when I showed up to record it, the song’s writer turned out to be a kid I had graduated High School with back in ’69, who never even seemed interested in music at the time!
I’m sure you’ve got some crazy stories like this of your own, from your own careers too….cherish them and appreciate them for all they’re worth, because they are really worth a lot, forever!