This completes our set of Dion's Warner Bros studio albums, compiled 2 on 1 with three very hard-to-get bonus tracks. This finds Dion at his most wistful and mellow.
A personal perspective from songwriter BILL TUOHY on the second in our reissue series of Dion's original Warner Bros albums. (Bill co-wrote many of the songs on 1972's Suite For Late Summer and went on to collaborate with Dion on over two hundred songs).
On 18 November 1968 I was living in a contemporary South Miami apartment writing poetry and songs that I was convinced the world needed to hear. Propelled by all those creative, magical songs pouring from my radio throughout the 1960s, I craved to become a part of that musical movement.
Dion's Abraham, Martin And John was the #1 record in an American musical scene normally dominated by everything British. My political idealism had been shattered forever as Bobby Kennedy lay dying after his victory in the California primary, months earlier. As Dion's plaintive voice soared sorrowfully above the harps and violins, I saw Bobby's clear silhouette rise and join Abraham, Martin and John at the top of that hill.
Dion was appearing at The Flick, a coffee house in Miami. I set off to find him. After seeing an extraordinary performance, I wandered back behind the row of stores. There, nearly hidden in the alley shadows, and sitting on top of a huge trash can was Dion, softly playing his guitar. Bob Lang introduced us, and that was the beginning. We talked, laughed, and I gave him copies of my songs, hoping he would find time to at least look at them. Dion called me days later with his guitar in his arms. "I love your lyrics, man!"
In the following three decades we would work on over two hundred songs. They would include blues, rock, folk, spiritual, country, television themes...Unlike most other collaborations, we never had an argument.
Fred Neil, Joni Mitchell, John Sebastian, Jimmy Buffet and John Lee Hooker appeared often at The Flick. It was a serious time for serious songs about everything important. Sometimes Dion came over to my place after his shows. He admired my lyrics and I was absolutely enthralled by the way his fingers could make guitar strings speak with emotion. In those days Fred Neil made us think, Gabe Kaplan made us laugh and the whole folk-rock scene instilled us with a desperate desire to create music.
Soft Parade Of Years is our only perfect song. We were picturing a man sitting on a curb watching as the people and events of his life pass before like a silent procession. It remains the only song we've written that we have never wanted to change - not a note - not a syllable.
Tennessee Madonna is a verbal portrait of an ideal girl: touched by everything around her, natural in every way. It was the only time we created a song that was both erotic and spiritual. To this day, Dion's sensitive treatment of these songs always gives me a rush.
We wrote Seagull on a Florida beach at twilight...or perhaps the birds created it for us. Near the close of the song, when Dion cries, "Fly seagull", and those strings whirl up into an impossible note, I am transformed to that day at the beach where the salt water was running through my younger toes.
We have always felt that children have the ability to look under everything we try to be and truly see us as ourselves. Jennifer Knew, is our attempt to describe that notion. Those violins, trailing away at the end of the song, are a musical image of that perceptive and wise child...dancing off...fading in the distance.
I wish everyone alive could have the opportunity to feel something in their heart, rationalise it in their mind, describe it in words, then finally hear it set to music. There has been no other sensation as exhilarating in all my human experience.