October 10, 2005

  • Monday, 10 October 2005

    4.24 p.m. NZ time



    Eve of Destruction



    So many people ask me about “Eve” and how it all happened; I thought I would put this account down as best as I can remember it.


     I left the “Christies” in January 1965. I’d just spent four years on the road doing 200 to 300 shows a year. When Randy Sparks and I co-wrote the song, “Green Green”  in 1963, it pretty much summed up my philosophical outlook on life.


    “Well I told my momma on the day I was born don’tcha cry when you see I’m gone, there ain’t no woman gonna settle me down,  I just gotta be travellin’ on, Yeah There ain’t nobody in the whole wide world gonna tell me how to spend my time, ‘cause I’m just a good lovin’ ramblin’ man, hey buddy can you spare me a dime” It was all about me, me first, me second and me third.


    But as time went by, my exposure to world inequity and the moral hypocrisies I saw, even in my own life, changed the way I felt about everything. But the owners of the group didn’t want us to change. They wouldn’t let us sing anything controversial. They just wanted us to go on singing the shallow, little fun songs we were known for. I reached the point where I couldn’t sing “Green Green” or “Billies Mule” one more time.


    So, when we returned from the San Ramo music festival in Italy, I quit. One of the owners of the “Christies” told me if I left the group he would make sure I would never work in Hollywood again; he told me I would be finished in the music business.


    And it was true; every door I knocked on was closed to me. Every record producer was out of town, out of the office or just too busy at the moment to see me. Would I please leave my name and number and they would get back to me. But they never did. I couldn’t believe it; I mean I had just spent four years as a lead singer/song writer with one of the biggest groups in the country and I couldn’t even get someone to call me back on the telephone.


    I remember walking down Hollywood Boulevard with my friend Paul Potash. We were on our way to a movie and just as we were walking past this music store, I heard my voice coming out from inside. They were playing “Green Green”. There I was; I had $5.00 in my pocket, just enough to go to the movie, buy a popcorn and a Coke. Then right at that exact moment a convertible stopped at the stop sign and playing on its radio was “Chim Chim Charee”. I just stood there dumbfounded, here I was dead broke on the street, (when you only have $5.00 to your name, you’re broke) I’m standing there listening to my voice, coming from two different directions, singing two different songs and there isn’t an A&R man in town that will see me. I felt like an actor playing a part in a movie, who could write a script like this?


    A month or so later some friends of mine were introducing their new hit single “Tamborine Man” at Cirros, a one time hot club on the strip. It was Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, (who’d come through the Christies) David Crosby, Chris Hillman and ?????????? As I recall it was their first public performance and everybody had turned out for the show. All the A&R guys that were out of town must have suddenly come home because they were all there. The Press was there, Bobby Dylan was there, and I was there, and at that moment I didn’t care who was there because my friends were breaking a new sound that had never been heard before, and I was dancing! I loved to dance, whirling, leaping, spinning, swimming under water, just trying to wriggle out of my skin.


    Right in the middle of my self-generated euphoria, someone nearby called my name, “Hey Mac,” (as I was called in those days) “What you doing these days?” I danced over to his table and told him I was dancing, he said “Yeah, yeah, but are you singing?” Right away he had my attention. “No, not right now, no one wants to see me.”  He introduced himself, “My name is Lou Adler.”  He invited me to sit down at their table saying, “ these are some of my friends, Phil Sloan, Steve Berry and Bob Dylan.” I said something like “well it’s great to meet you guys, what’s up?”


    Lou told me that Phil was writing some new tunes and they were looking for somebody to sing them. He asked me if I would like to come by his office next week and give them a listen. I said “Sure, I’d love to.” So Lou gave me his address and phone number and I danced off into mental oblivion.


    Three days later, I was staying with a friend in North Hollywood when the phone rang, it was Lou. “Hey Mac, you’re a tough guy to track down. I thought you were going to come by and see me this week.”  I told him I’d lost his number. He asked me where I was and told me to stay right there and he would send a car to pick me up. Two hours later I was sitting in Lou Adler’s office listening to Phil Sloan’s new tunes. They were very cool songs and Phil’s lyrics were saying exactly what I felt. So we set a recording date for a couple of weeks later.


    It was a three hour session. We’d finished two songs and Lou thought the third song sounded too much like the first song, so he said let’s do something else. I’d been working on “Eve” and had the hand-written lyric sheet in my back pocket, so I said I would really like to do “The Eve of Destruction.” Lou said, “Let’s go for it.”


    So I pulled out the wrinkled up piece of notebook paper, smoothed out all the wrinkles as best I could, and hung it on the music stand over in the corner where I’d been singing. None of the musicians that day knew the song, so Phil went through it twice, all four chords.  Hal Blane said, “We got it, let’s cut it.” So with Hal on drums, Phil on guitar, and Larry Knechtel on Bass and me over in the corner singing the words from the wrinkled up paper, Bones How pushed the red button and it was a done deal. One take.

    I missed the high note in last chorus, so we did a very rough punch in and that was it, we were out of time. Our three hours was up and another band was out in the hall waiting to get in the studio.


    I didn’t like my vocal because I had missed the last note in the chorus and there was a place in the song where I go, aaaaaaaaugh, you can’t twist the truth….. The reason for the aaaaaaaaaugh, was because I lost my place on the wrinkled paper. I wanted to re-cut the vocal track but we were out of time, so we decided we would come back next week and re-do the vocal.


    I think that was on a Thursday afternoon. The next day Ernie Farrell, who was a professional photographer as well as a record promoter, came by Lou’s office to see if he had anything new. While Lou was out of his office, Ernie picked up a couple of dubs off of Lou’s desk. “Eve of Destruction” was one of those dubs. He went straight from Lou’s office to photograph a birthday party for a young teenage girl whose dad was the program director for KFWB.  In 1965 KFWB was the number one rock station in Los Angeles.


    After a few shots Ernie ran out of flash bulbs, so he went out to his car to get some more, and he saw the dubs he’d picked up at Lou’s, so he thought “Hey, I think I’ll play these for the kids at the birthday party and see what they think.” So he did, and when he played “Eve” the kids said, “Can you play that one again?” And he did, two or three more times. The girls grabbed the dub and ran into the house and said, “Dad, dad, listen to this.”

    He did. He then told Ernie that if Dunhill could get this record mastered, pressed, and shipped by Monday A.M. he would go on it as a “Pick to Hit” for that week.


    Ernie called Lou, as usual Lou couldn’t find me, so he got some background singers to go “ooooooooh, aaaaaaaaaah” and over the weekend he mixed it, mastered it, pressed it, and shipped it. So four days after I recorded it, I got a call at the North Hollywood number where I was staying, saying “Barry turn your radio on to KFWB.” I did and there it was, “The Eve of Destruction” it still had the “aaaaaaaaugh, you can’t twist the truth…..” line in it because I never got to back in to record over it. Sometimes raw and naked is the way it’s supposed to be. Over the years people have said to me, “Wow, you really sound angry and frustrated in that song.” I always tell them “Yeah I was, I couldn’t read the words on that dumb piece of wrinklie paper.


    When the song hit the charts I started getting all kinds of hate mail. “Go back to Russia you commie Bum.” Years later I found out they even had an F.B.I. file on me. They immediately labelled the song a “Protest Song” which to me it never was. If you go to a doctor and he tells you, you have a melanoma that needs to be removed, do you call him a protest doctor, I don’t think so. To me “Eve” was, and still is, nothing more than a societal mirror, reflecting back at the world the hypocrisy of this present age, Political hypocrisy, Industrial hypocrisy, Social hypocrisy, Spiritual hypocrisy. The song offers no answers, it just asks the questions and hopefully the listener will wake up and look around.


    Years later I wrote and recorded a song “If you’re still alive and you can hear this song, you know this world cannot survive ‘cause somethin’s all gone wrong, you may not like hearing it, you could be right in fearing it, but this world of ours is dying and you know it won’t be long till it’s gone. So don’t blame God for the sins of humanity, the human race has fallen from the ways of the Lord, Yeah, don’t blame God for the sins of humanity, livin’ for the dollar we’ll be dyin’ by the sword.”


    Not a happy song, but sometimes I feel like a passenger on the Titanic, running up and down the companion ways, shouting, “The ship is sinking”, but everyone is so busy wheeling and dealing, so busy making money and chasing their sensual fantasies, they’re just not interested. And the few who are trying to do the right thing, just don’t know what the right thing is to do.


    How about you, do you know what the right thing is to do………?


    I still sing “Eve” because I feel it’s more valid today than it was when I first recorded it forty years ago.


    Rodney King once asked “Can’t we all just get along?” The truth of it is, without a common God or a common enemy, human beings just don’t seem to be able to get along…………..What do you think?