It was during Randall's trip to Westfield with Keith Richards that I figured
it out all over again that the Rolling Stones
coming to Long View Farm.
I was true to the promise I made to Patti Hansen, although it took me a
day or two longer than expected to deliver.
"What d'ya think, Keith," I began. "We've been in here for days, it
seems. I've got to do some things in Worcester. You've got to go to
Rome. Why don't I call Bill Mahoney, the pilot, and get you and Patti
out of here before the front comes through?"
a lot of bad weather on the way, and it's best
not to fool around with that unless you really have to.
"Sounds O.K. to me," Keith said. "Sounds O.K. to me. Either that or
you've got to give me a job banging nails with those lads out in the
Wouldn't that be something, I mused. Last remaining superstar guitarist
knuckles down with North Brookfield country strong hands building a
Sound Stage for the use of his band, the Rolling Stones.
That didn't happen, of course. Instead, we called Mahoney and set up a
departure out of Worcester for Teterboro at 11 AM the next morning. And
I set about doing some rough mixes of the two-inch recording tape I'd
made the night before. The piano demos I'd done with Keith. As luck
would have it, our Chief Engineer, Jesse Henderson, had taken a week to
do some engineering chores for Sha Na Na, in California. And so I had
to engineer myself, leaving Reed Desplaines, Night Manager, to play
assistant engineer running back and forth to the tape library for
more reels of virgin tape. This for studio buffs: we used three Neumann
'87 microphones on the Steinway, which Pat Metheny left with us two
years ago. The piano, I mean. Mikes in our top-secret positions.
Another Neumann '87 on him, close up, with a pop filter; voice highly
compressed using an Eleven-seventy-six limiter set at twelve-to-one.
Finally, a good measure of live acoustic reverb on either side of his
voice, in stereo. Lots of E.Q., on everything. I had only one shot at
this, and I wanted it to be right the first time.
The live mix was great all by itself, and the best results of that
extraordinary session were in fact recorded directly onto our Studer
mastering deck, and not the 24-track. 30 ips; no noise reduction, very
hot on AMPEX 456 tape.
"Listen to this one, Keith," I said, just before driving him to the
I selected the live stereo tape of "The Nearness of You,"1
Hoagy Carmichael ballad dating from the late '30's. Keith Richards
playing the Steinway, and singing, too.
"It's not the pale moon, that excites me,
that thrills, and delights me;
Oh no, It's just the
nearness of you."
"Far out, Gil. Voice sounds great. Sounds great."
"ZIP BUZZ . . ." There was a loud, familiar noise on the tape.
"What the hell was that?" Keith asked, with a look of anguish on his
"Jane Rose taking a picture of you with her Polaroid camera," I
"Bloody well ruins that take, didn't it?"
"No, Keith," I said. "I think I can razor it out later. We've
tune about six times, anyway. So don't worry."
Recording enthusiasts will be interested to know that the eventual
edits on these ten or so tunes classic Keith Richards piano demos
took nearly two weeks' work. I found the time to do it only a month
after the Stones had finally gone, and performed the edits on a 7 1/2
ips dub inadvertently left behind at my house on Cape Cod. Editing at 7
1/2 ips is no fun, as you may know. Several hundred cuts were required,
since Keith never really bothered to begin or end any of the tunes.
He'd just keep on playing, and singing, with me scrambling to keep tape
on the tape machines, late at night in the A-Control Room at Long View
Studio A at Long View is the one people travel considerable distances
to use, and I think you'd hear it said at the Farm that I can make it
work pretty much as well as anybody can. Mixing tape is what I like to
do. I can make really good, live, super-present mixes. That's what got
me into all this, back in '72, when I was still teaching Philosophy at
Clark. I figured I needed some time off to build a studio to make some
mixes in. And that's how Long View came about.
So when I tell you that the live stereo tape of Keith Richards sounded
good, you better believe me that it did.
We drove Keith Richards and Patti Hansen to the airport the next day.
300-foot overcast; visibility a quarter of a mile in rain and fog.
Mahoney couldn't make it in, missing two instrument approaches in an
attempt to land 75 X-Ray. So Randall Barbera, who works for me, as you
may remember, offered to drive Keith and Patti over to Westfield in the
Cadillac. Westfield was still operating, and only about 45 minutes
away. They had a wonderful trip, I learned later. Cruising along on a
light powdering, Stolni's and orange juice, and a fantastic compilation
of fifties rock 'n' roll classics played at high volume on those
wonderful-sounding Auratones mounted on the rear deck of the car. Pete
Wolf of the J. Geils Band had left this particular cassette behind. By
mistake, I'm sure, because it was a real beauty. "Earth Angel," "Good
Golly, Miss Molly," "Tears on my Pillow," and songs like that.
"Take this and listen to it on the way to Westfield, Keith. Only
remember it's not mine but Pete Wolf's, and he's certain to want it
"O.K." Keith said laughing. "I'll bring it back with me. See
"See you, Keith," I said.
"Bye, Gil," Patti said, and then they roared off.
And you take it from here, Pete, if you want that cassette back. He
won't give it to me.
Let's all pause for a second and note that Keith Richards said "O.K.
I'll bring it back with me." Meaning the cassette of course. Meaning
also that he intended on coming back to Long View. That this gig was
going to happen, after all. It was during Randall's trip to Westfield
with Keith Richards that I figured it out all over again that the
coming to Long View Farm.
Maybe I'm just a bit slow, sometimes.
Famous Music, Inc., 1937. Permission granted.