The Secret Museum
By Jim Webb and Michael Mooney
I was listening to “The Radha Krishna Temple” CD recently and started to dig deeper into George Harrison’s involvement with the Hare Krishna movement in the late ’60s and ’70s. George produced and played harmonium on “The Hare Krishna Mantra” single, which was released in August of 1969 on Apple Records, and it quickly went to No. 12 in the U.K and No. 1 in Germany & Czechoslovakia. “Govinda” was the second single released in March of 1970 and it peaked at no. 23 on the British singles charts. George has said that watching the Hare Krishna devotees sing on the UK TV show Top of The Pops 40 years ago was one of the greatest thrills of his life. As big as The Beatles were, George Harrison’s role in helping The Pepsi Generation discover the sacred vibrations and religion of ancient India might be a bigger accomplishment than anything he ever recorded with The Fab Four. To all of the smart asses who want to know why, if Krishna (God) is so powerful, his devotees didn’t always have a no. 1 hit in every country—that’s just another mystery you can ask The Big Man (or gasp, Woman) about when you finally leave the material world. Chant and be happy.
George’s Spiritual Timeline:
- Born February 25, 1943 in Liverpool England
- First Holy Communion, age 11, 1954 (Anglican father/Roman Catholic mother)
- Spring 1965 takes LSD for first time
- June 1965 meets Indian musician Ravi Shankar in London
- October 1965 plays sitar for first time on Beatles record (“Norwegian Wood”)
- September 1966 visits India/Kashmir with Ravi
- July 1967 sings Hare Krishna Mantra for first time on holiday in Greece
- August 1967 meets Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
- February 1968, travels with Beatles to Rishikesh, India, for retreat with Maharishi
- December 1968 meets Hare Krishna devotees for first time
- August 1969 Apple releases “Hare Krishna Mantra” single, produced by George
- September 1969 meets Swami Prahbhupada, head of Hare Krishna movement
- March 1970 records “Govinda” single with devotees of The Radha Krishna Temple
- October 1970 finishes recording for his “All Things Must Pass” LP
- January 1971 “My Sweet Lord” single no. 1 around world with Hare Krishna refrain
- May 1971 “The Radha Krishna Temple” LP released, produced by George
- August 1971 organizes/performs at The Concert for Bangladesh in N.Y.C.
- March 1973 purchases Tudor Manor on 70 acres outside London for Krishna Temple
- February 1974 visits Krishna’s birthplace in Vrindavan, India
- November 1977 Swami Prahbhupada dies, Hare Krishna Movement struggles
- December 1980 John Lennon killed, George retreats to his Friar Park estate
- April 1996 travels to Vrindavan, India
- August 1997 undergoes surgery for throat cancer
- December 1999, attacked/stabbed repeatedly at his home outside London by intruder
- September 2000 makes trip to India
- March 2001 cancer spreads to lungs
- Spring 2001 visits India for last time to bathe in Ganges River
- November 29, 2001 dies at a friend’s home in Beverly Hills, California
- George’s body is cremated and his ashes are rumored to be scattered in the sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers of India
“I, Me, Mine” by George Harrison
“Here Comes The Sun” by Joshua M. Greene
Art Of Flying Interview: David Costanza, Anne Speroni, and Peter Halter
(For Anne and David): Your press kit states that you were both participants in the 1980s Los Angeles Free Rock/improv scene through your membership in The Whitefronts (I presume this was during the Downtown/loft heyday, e.g. Blue Daisies, Party Boys, Savage Republic, etc., so correct me if I'm wrong.) Tell me about those times, the San Francisco connection and what led you here. Also, a word or two about The Lords of Howling.
Anne: ’80s-’90s- When we started out in the ’80s it was kind of the heyday of college rock and we were pretty tuned into that stuff, though I don't remember being crazy into any one thing. The Minutemen were a big inspiration, and older stuff like Velvet Underground, but we were also exploring stuff like Art Ensemble of Chicago, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor. We moved away from song and form for a while and connected with some free improv players from the Boulder/Denver area. That was when we started playing with Lords of Howling, a move back into song and deeper into language, and met Peter, our drummer, who we have been playing with since then.
David: I think the L.A. part is a bit over-stated—we once stopped at the MUSIC MACHINE in Santa Monica or West Hollywood & saw five bands play—"blood on the saddle” was one & a band I forget the name of that had Hilel Slovak & Flea & would be later called “red-hot-chile-peppers” & of course the MINUTEMEN which would be the reason we were there—BUT, basically—the band lived in Santa Barbara which isn't as cool—we played parties in people's little apartments & we tried to play 'second-wave' ska like the selector & english beat—these parties deepened our love for improvisation—as we just kept the few songs we knew going & going & going until the keg ran out—later we would hear the MINUTEMEN & meat puppets & husker DU & mixed that into the ska bit & the improv bit—the whitefronts ended up in San Francisco—which was very cool musically & had 4 guitarists & 2 bass players & really started making some NOISE & having fun—& weren't really appreciated all that much—we hooked up with Camper van beethoven & played shows with them & then turned down an offer for a record on their pitch-a-tent/rough-trade label & high-tailed it for the land of enchantment—I toured with camper once as a trumpet player in 1986 or thereabouts & played on their first album for VIRGIN “our beloved revolutionary sweetheart” & made a little $$$dough which I really thought was cool. the guy from savage republic—Bruce Licher—had a label & a letter-press & put out a bunch of beautiful albums—camper's first being one of them—that letter-press stuff was a big influence—-'let's move out to new mexico & get a letter press & record our own albums & release them'—lots to learn—ThOUGH the LIGHT seem SMALL is AoF's 6th CD—we did get to do an album—GALALA—that was on a label in SF & was all beautiful & letter-pressed by our friend Shane De Leon in Portland, OR.
The Lords of Howling started around 1990 after the demise of the whitefronts—we had a crazy great time & recorded 12 cassettes at the barn & one CD—toured the NorthWest maybe five or six times & really learned—again—how to play—we made some beautiful music & I got to be around an amazing & scary-prolific songwriter—which influences me to this day.
Your songs seem particularly well suited to this region. Is that by design? To what extent, if any, does the physical environment of Northern New Mexico, specifically your neck of the woods, influence the music you create?
Anne: PLACE, well, I'm sure it plays heavily into our writing and sound. All that vastness and beauty, and even the isolation, in terms of not really being part of something scene-wise certainly feels inspiring. The intention or design was not necessarily an artistic one, but rather a lifestyle choice. Choosing to live in a place where the music we created was rarely heard by anyone, was obviously not very wise in a career sense, but brilliant in the sense that we have been able to continue to go deeper into the realms that really interest us, and in turn, the music has kept us well fed spiritually and artistically for all these years and hopefully many more. I just look at it as the soundtrack to our lives.
David: I like to mention places/people/things around me in a song—when I can—I don't know how this town affects the music—other than being so far from a 'current' music scene—it allows us to breathe & make music & let it sound like whatever the song wants to sound like—we've been making music in the BARN for over 20 years—all kinds of music—the 'marching band' kind of stuff & the free-improv stuff & the folky song singing kind of stuff—the People central to Art Of Flying & the friends around them—they make as much music as they can—always working towards some sort of beauty & playfulness—never mentioning the words 'genre' & 'style.'
CD Baby recommends your music to fans of Bob Dylan, Nick Drake and Tom Waits. However, your latest release, thOUGH the Light seem SMALL (am I getting the cases correct here?), reveals other, less-obvious influences. I'll go out on a limb and suggest Syd Barrett, early Milhaud, Peter Perrett, Dr. Strangely Strange, Van Dyke Parks and The Plugz. How wrong am I?
David: I don't know any of those bands except Syd Barrett that I listened to maybe twice—I wasn't that into him—I might listen to it again if an LP was lying around the studio—I listed a bunch of influences above—& they were really LIVE stuff influences—watching D. Boon (minutemen) sing & jump up & down—just watching people play—in real time—like—shit—how do they play & sing at the same time—on record I listened to DESIRE by Bobby D a thousand times—& slow train coming—& Peter Tosh & Richard & Linda Thompson & rolling stones—Art Ensemble of Chicago & Cecil Taylor—monk, mingus & the Clash- tons of Glenn Gould bach piano solo stuff- & now I'm listening to the bach cello stuff & a little beethoven violin/piano sonatas—I listened to ziggy stardust (bowie) a bunch before making the last CD hoping that would leak in a bit—
Anne: I don't know about influences really. I love Dylan. I like Nick Drake. I like Tom Waits. Dylan is always on the top of my list. The other stuff I’m not that familiar with, Syd Barrett a little.
What’s your opinion of the local music scene?
David: My favorite parts of the 'music seen' around here are: the people I get to play music with; the seco pearl; KUNM free-form & my recording studio up in Questa: the BARN.
Anne: I love Two Ton Strap
(For Peter Halter): Sir, explain yourself.
Peter: At age 13 I watched Count Basie turn a high school auditorium into a hip joint. The drummer Sonny Payne became my idol, with his driving laid back beat. Since elementary school I played the drums and my brother played the trumpet. We'd listen to albums along with my father, a lover of jazz. Rock and roll (from my older sisters) and jazz were my first musical influences, which led to free jazz, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and Art Ensemble of Chicago. Listening to free jazz led to Fred Frith, John Zorn and avant-garde music, which expanded to more obscure groups. Then working with community radio, KGNU in Boulder opened me to all musical genres. But, the most fulfilling influence is playing music, the language of music and camaraderie. Currently, I play with Art of Flying and The Marching Band. In the past I've played with Frio (Front Range Improv Orchestra), Oriental Surfer Head and The Lords of Howling.
You are in the unique position of owning your own analog studio. Setting aside my envy for a moment, doesn't that particular method of recording require a degree of preparedness and/or patience beyond what's normally expected of a 21st century Rock group?
Anne: Having our own studio (Dave's studio) has always been our saving grace. We've never had to work with the pressure of the clock ticking away. Though there have been numerous other technical challenges which continue to try our patience, we all have a good sense of humor about it. The Barn (the studio) has been as much a part of our process as anything else, and for me, it doesn't ever get any better than playing there. I enjoy going out and playing for other people to a certain extent, but really, it's all there, all the feedback I need is in the energy of that room that has accumulated over the years.
David: pATIENCe is (sometimes) ALL there is ... well ... there IS more ... but how to see IT without patience?
-when I returned to the BARN in 2006 the first thing I put in the (out of) control room was a cast-iron BuddhA I got at a flea-market. "what do you have to teach me, mr. Buddha?" I asked. "PATIENCE." he replied—"GREAT!" I said, "I'll be here 'til 4:0-clock!"—then I bought the old QUAD EIGHT conSOUL...
It took me two years of wiring & crying to get a sound to come out of the new (old) thing; another year before we finished the first record: thOUGH the LIGHT seem SMALL ... patience—yes—I am beginning to understand ... ALL during that time I was writing the songs—my impatience being slowly peeled off of me like an old skin ... no more use for it ... impatience ...
Chris the Beautiful said: "no one can stop us from making records ... not even by not listening to them."
I guess I'm not interested in what is expected from a 21st century rock group—how about a 19th century rock group? Herman Melville on guitar. Walt Whitman on turn-tables. Emily Dickinson on bass. Abe Lincoln on drums.
thOUGH the Light seem SMALL is truly an exceptional record. Why are your local appearances so infrequent?
Anne: Where would we play??????????
David: right now—other than the Seco Pearl—there isn't any place in town that's a very good fit for us—we love to play LIVE—& we play quite a bit at the BARN—our musical 'bat-cave' so-to-speak—going out 'into the world' needs to be something special—
Choose one: Melville or Hawthorne?
David: Melville … and even if it isn't a photo-finish- I would have trouble saying sayanara to all Hawthorne forever ... (I've only read the Scarlett Letter—& it was so great—I couldn't put it down—unlike theWHALE which I've put down maybe 25 times—maybe only 10 ... BUT, it seems like 100!) like BOWie—Hawthorne reached th'MILLION-which I have great respect for ... the title: ThOUGH the LIGHT seem SMALL- is either hawthorne or Melville—I took a bunch of notes a few winters back & I no longer remember which book it came from—the chorus from 'the LOVE song for LARRY YES' is definitely Moby Dick—
You've got some European shows set for late spring. What comes after?
David: we're booking an Italian tour right now—15 shows & a festival—we're rehearsing a bunch for it—we have a show in Albuquerque at a place called the KOSMOS April 30th then May 1st at SHADOWs w/ Manby's Head & then May 15th at Seco Pearl—those 3 shows should get us warmed up for Italy—I want to head back to the NorthWest in the fall—in between I want to continue on this new record we started—we have a bunch of stuff on tape—some old methods of making sounds & layering it & seeing where it goes & some folk songs just sung on to the tape wondering if something/anything is needed to be added to it—we have SUANFEST #11 this summer—lots of music going on.
Anne: I am dying to get back in the studio. There is never any shortage of material, and after the last session of recording we did, which was a bit of a departure, i'm really anxious to get into a different space and experiment a bit more, leave space for some more unknown elements to emerge.
Art Of Flying releases can be obtained at their performances, and website: www.discobolus.net
Also, here: http://artofflying.bandcamp.com/
thOUGH the LIGHT seem SMALL is available locally at Taosound.
Art of Flying calendar:
April 30 @ The Kosmos, 1715 5th Street NW, Albuquerque
May 1 @ Shadows Lounge & Grille 330A Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos
May 15 @ Seco Pearl, 590 Hondo-Seco Road, Arroyo Seco
This Week's Top Selling Albums and Top Sellers By Veteran Artists Around the World - The highest charting album and the highest charting by a veteran artist who has been recording for twenty years or more from around the world: Australia (5...
4 hours ago