I was reading the Wikipedia entry for The E Street Band the other day and it mentioned the phrase “courtesy of The E Street Band” that would be given on an album to credit a member of the band for playing on that album. Way back in the 2nd blog post that I did I wrote about The E Street Band being inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame and how I came to meet the rhythm section—Garry W. Tallent & Max Weinberg, the bass player and drummer, who also happened to be playing on DownTown Mystic’s Way to Know single.
Given the fact that Way to Know was so successful at Radio worldwide and went to #1 on an important Indie Radio chart, as well as sync licensed on NBC TV’s The Voice, it occurred to me that I should celebrate the recording sessions that I did with these guys. Outside of Ian Hunter, after he left Mott The Hoople, and one or two other artists…having Garry & Max play together with me in the studio is something they’ve only done with Bruce Springsteen. This is something I find to be very cool! I mean, both Garry & Max have played with a good many other artists in their respective careers, but only a handful of times have they been some artist’s rhythm section other than Bruce. You have to admit that’s some very select company to be included with and well worth celebrating. 🙂
So to celebrate the sessions, the DownTown Mystic on E Street EP was created and will be released on June 22. That date was chosen because of the Summer Solstice, which occurs the day before. For me and most natives of New Jersey, summertime is celebrated by going to the Jersey shore. And being that E Street is in Asbury Park, there’s no better symbol for summer at the Jersey shore. The EP release will have 4 tracks that I recorded with Garry & Max, including Way to Know. The 1st track Hard Enough was originally released on Standing Still in Europe and was not on the US version, and I explain why in that earlier blog post.
The interesting thing about cutting this particular song with Max on drums is that we went to the same high school and knew some of the same people. So while setting up in the studio before recording Hard Enough, we were reminiscing about our alma mater—Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ. While mentioning various names of people we had in common, at one point Max stopped and asked me, “Do you remember this girl”—and was about to say her name, when I looked at him and we both said her name together, which really got Max going, “YES, you remember her??!!” 🙂
Garry had been slightly paying attention to our conversation, but when Max and I both roared about this girl (who I will not name to save her any embarrassment), he had to know about her. Garry asked us, “Who is this girl? I want to meet her!” Max began to tell Garry about the hottest girl in our HS, and how every red-blooded male in that school would drool over her. I added that she was like a Playboy Centerfold at 17, but looked like 25. The irony was that the song we were about to record was probably written using her, from my subconscious, as the model for the girl in the song! Crazy, right?
Like any good classic RnR song, there’s a double meaning that’s sexual in nature. However I must confess that the double entendre of “it gets hard enough to love her” was more by accident than plan. The only reason I wrote hard enough was because “it gets difficult to love her” didn’t fit or sound right. The whole song is about how difficult this girl makes this guy’s life, but she’s too hot for him to say no to. Garry had a good laugh about me and Max still being able to rave about this girl so many years later. How could this song not be about her? I’m telling you she was hot!! 🙂
We cut 2 tracks in that session—Hard Enough and Sometimes Wrong. Hard Enough was the keeper. You can hear the muscular drumming of Max. There’s something about playing with a drummer who’s solid like that. The track just feels right playing rhythm guitar to it. It’s so in the pocket. The other thing I love is Garry’s bass line. It reminds me a bit of the bass line he played on Springsteen’s Ramrod, which is a fave of mine, although twice as fast. 🙂
The next session we cut And You Know Why and Way to Know. Max wrote a book called The Big Beat where he interviewed great drummers like Ringo, Charlie Watts, Levon Helm and Hal Blaine to name a few. Everyone knows “Mighty” Max and how bombastic he could be live during a Springsteen show (you can hear examples of it on Sometimes Wrong). But I think he really took to heart what some of these great drummers told him so he could become a better-rounded drummer. On And You Know Why he put that knowledge to good use. It might just be the least “Mighty” Max you’ll ever hear on a song he plays on, but he’s still solid keeping the groove against Garry’s economical bass line.
There’s an aura of mystery that surrounds The E Street Band. It’s a very exclusive group of individuals who have a private code among themselves. They backup “The Boss” every night on stage, but they are a separate entity from him. Here’s something not many people know—they agreed to never endorse anything as The E Street Band. Individually they can have endorsements but you will never see any product endorsed by the band itself, which I think is really unusual and speaks volumes to who they are.
DownTown Mystic on E Street is my brush with 2 of those individuals. I feel very honored and lucky to have had the opportunity to play with one of the greatest rhythm sections in the history of Rock—Garry W. Tallent and “Mighty” Max Weinberg, courtesy of The E Street Band. 🙂