Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Anson Williams Reality
The titles for the songs on the Le Bonx album were pulled out of the air by either me or Steve, usually immediately after recording them. Steve came up with the deathless "All Men Are Brothers (All Sisters Are Women), "Cosmic Anarchy" and "Punk Jazz Opus One" and I was responsible for "How Great Thou Aren't" - my favorite - "Have You Seen the Seen" and "The Anson Williams Reality". Some of the titles were nonsense but some, like this one, have an actual story.
In '77, '78 and most of '79 I was employed as a delivery driver for Kerry's Stationers, an office supply retailer in downtown Oakland. These days everything is mega super huge discount and there's only one or two suppliers of whatever you're looking for but back then there were lots of little businesses specializing in various retail endeavors. When I worked at Kerry's there were at least 3 other office supply stores in walking distance. If Kerry's didn't have the particular pen you wanted you could simply walk around the corner to Flapdoodles or whatever and get it there. Kerry's was the only one that delivered. A lot of the local law firms bought from us - there were TONS of them - because if they ordered early enough in the morning they'd get their stuff that same afternoon. (Those were the days before the big discount warehouses and profit margins were huge. Most people paid list price for stuff. Kerry's biggest customers got a 20% discount!).
I've written about this before - I had a lot of freedom when I delivered for Kerry's. No one knew exactly how long it took to make my rounds and some days, if I played my cards right, I could have 2 or 3 hours of free time in the middle of the day to do whatever - or as it was usually in my case, whoever - I wanted to. Nothing was electronic. There were no computers. The only way they kept track of me was with a list I made up each morning of the day's deliveries - and I had fun with that. It didn't take me long to get bored with writing out the names of the companies I was delivering to and I soon started to amuse myself by altering them. The law firm Crosby, Heafey, Roach and May became Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young, Gifted and Black. Stuff like that. I got away with it because no one ever checked my list. There was a realtor's office in Castro Valley that was something-something Williams Realty and it morphed into The Anson Williams Reality on my list. Anson Williams was the actor who portrayed the character "Potsie" on the (quite undeservedly) hugely popular TV show Happy Days - the show responsible for giving the world "The Fonz". I think he went on to be a producer or director or something - his name always seemed slightly absurd to me. Who names their kid "Anson"? Anyway, when it came time to name this particular improvisation his name popped into my head.
As I've said, there were 3 sessions for Le Bonx. The original cassette release contained recordings from the first session in the summer of '77 when Arlene was playing the Wurlitzer and the last (the "covers" session - more about that later). For the second and third sessions - Winter '77 and early '78, the Wurly had been replaced with a Fender Rhodes. When the time came to put the final sequence together for the release I didn't feel that the material in the second session was as inspired as the first and third. Interestingly enough, when Mike Cogan and I were remastering the tapes for the CD release in '04, I completely changed my mind. The second session had a different feel - the songs were longer, slower and had a darker feel but they were just as interesting. That's why the Le Bonx CD has several extra songs, among them "The Anson Williams Reality".
("The Anson Williams Reality" was released on the CD Le Bonx in 2003)