This record quickly reminded of the glory folk days of Joan Baez and Judy Collins. This was even before I read that although Alicia Bay Laurel recorded this album within the last year, she wrote these songs in the 1960s and 1970s when she lived on various communes in the US. She has that same beautiful voice with occasionally barbed lyrics. The arrangements are classic folk, but there is also some lounge jazz in a few of them, which plays well. While this is not a Linda Perhacs style discovery, Alicia Bay Laurel is a nice find, taking us back to a great time in folk music.
© David Hintz
Folk World Europe
Alicia Bay Laurel: I just received notice from the Harry Fox Agency that my song “Hard Living,” which I wrote in 1970 at Wheeler Ranch, and recorded in 2014 on my CD, “More Songs From Living on the Earth,” has been licensed for recording by the Aaron Woods Band, a country-rock group from Oklahoma. They are planning an April 28, 2017 release. Apparently Spotify is producing the recording. Yee-haw. Dwight Kilian and Mark Hewins played this song with me on the CD.
Karin Lease: HOW FABULOUS!!! and I imagine much more of this coming up. You wrote some absolutely iconic and amazing songs!
Alicia Bay Laurel: Thank you, Karin! I wrote this as a folk song about the satisfying exhaustion resulting from participating in public non-violent protest. But Dwight Kilian, who grew up playing country western, recognized the form for what it was, and made it sound authentic.
I received your CD!
It’s so beautiful.
Your songs make me calm, and I am able to go back to my golden childhood.
Love, Banana 🙂
I am loving this album!!! It is so nice, calming, simple and beautiful!!!
I can totally see myself relaxing and enjoying this music at a cozy cafe! Tim loves it, too!
We are keeping your CD in our CD player, and listening to it again and again.
Thank you for your creativity and love for music!
Mayu Uotani Jensen
Translator of Yogananda’s books
Wife of songwriter Tim Jensen, who creates songs for anime films
Dear, Dear Alicia,
I have just heard it once so far, but I am delighted by your music. Wonderful!! So many nice touches, like the flute – really, really delightful. And your voice is GREAT. Joan Baez-like. I love it. So proud of you!
Big Hug and Love,
Noelie Rodriguez PhD
Professor of Sociology
Hawaii Community College, at the University of Hawaii, Hilo
Listened to your CD for the first time this morning – the first time with any new music for me is freely experiencing it, feeling it as the music dances around the room. Subsequent listenings are for hearing what comprises the layers, but first time, just like first time sex, is all about the experience.
THE EXPERIENCE WAS GREAT!
Takes you back to the Sixties.
Love your voice. You sound like a young girl, a young hippie girl singing about the joy we had back then. In a few of the songs your voice is reminiscent of a young Norah Jones.
I especially love the way the language itself brings back the times – words that are not in common use now (at least in the terms we used them back then) come to life in your songs. Part of keeping the times alive.
And with all that said, the songs are also timeless in that the music still matters. It is so unfortunate that Dallas is barren of folk (other than one venue). The East Coast would eat this up – you would shine at the folk festival I attend yearly (other than this year.)
Hippie Hill and Have a Good Time especially made me smile. What it was all about. And the wistfulness in Paisley Days as you talk about the way it was. How did war and failing economies and faltering ecologies allow society to forget what we were trying to teach people – eat when you are hungry, sleep when you are sleepy. And the simplicity of moving from one moment to the next – sing me a song and I’ll sing you a song and weÂ’ll listen to each other’s music all night long.
Barbara Light Lacy
Author and musician
Ah yes…can’t help but plug my dear sister’s new CD…New to me that is… these songs (so Alicia tells me) are from back in the days of Wheeler Ranch…and more…Alicia, recovered from her old tapes the music from back then, and re-recorded the lot… If you like John Fahey, Maria Muldaur and a spice of jazz… you’ll love this…If you want to know more…just ask me…or better yet… ask the lady herself…but, do yourself a favor and pick up your copy now!
“Butterfly Farewell” is my current favorite. It surprisingly feels to me very melancholy (in a peaceful way).
Alicia’s voice rings of daybreak. I think the production is marvelous, and her ability to warm a heart is still intact.
Very much enjoyed listening to your new CD today.
Well-produced, with welcome messages of hope and beauty!
Post-theist Visionary, Author and Composer
San Francisco, California
Simply WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL. And so much more.
From the moment I tore open the envelope, I’ve been inside out, smiling. I soaked in that familiar face, now radiant, etched gently from your joy living on this Earth, then your artwork – then discovered your dear words to us…. Thank You.
Then your MUSIC. Oh does it resonate. Your lyrics, intonation, instrumentation, sequencing, back-up singers, gleeful sarcasm…. Your voice retains a sweet, magical ability to lovingly communicate with my spirit, my nature, the joys and responsibilities of living on this Earth. And it reminds me, regardless and because of life’s challenges, never to remove the “rose-colored glasses” my mother unwittingly implored me to “take off” and “grow up.”
Your voice/music/gift/you are miraculously facilitating a kaleidoscopic shift in my world view and confusing moods. My heart is grateful and delighted for you.
Your latest CD helped crystallized something so special: that one of the precious gifts of aging is increasing and embracing our joy and other’s if we take responsibility for and reappraise who we are, how and why we got here, and how we choose to go forward.
Your beautiful, beautiful CD has become my most welcome companion; I carry it from house to car and back again routinely. Without fail, like natural aspirin for the soul, it elevates my threshold for pain, reduces my anxiety, and brings me mindful equilibrium. Thank you for such a magnificently generous gift.
I wish you peace, joy, strength, really great connections and laundry facilities, laughter, and fun on your physically demanding tour. I’m sure the audiences will be captivated.
Alicia dear: The gorgeous sounds of your voice are floating through the house right now. One copy is going in the camper van. So we drive along listening to your beautiful voice and songs. I had a wonderful time recording with you. It’s a special memory for me.
Awesome job, you! Have a Beautiful, Beautiful weekend!
I am listening first song “Surviving in Style” now and I can’t stop my tears. This song is so beautiful and touches my heart.
Business and Marketing Manager
Tateyama, Chiba, Japan
What strikes me over and over about this music is a kind of purity and a sweetness.
I was surprised when I popped the CD into my car’s CD player at how soothing it was. Some of the vocals are really stylish, such as on “Serenade” and “Hippie Hill” and others fun and humorous such as on “Have a Good Time”. I love the liquid and haunting quality of the vocals on “Onward, Onward Ever Flow”. A few “romantic” songs such as “Piper of the Woods” and “Yabyum” add to the diversity of the collection. And there are a number of purely original folk songs. My favorite song may be the “Devotional for a Spiritual Guide” because of its many-layered richness.
This seems like a new sound. The sweetness is deeper, riper and more relaxed.
There’s a strangely familiar freshness and simplicity to the whole collection and an innocence that is impossible to find anywhere in the music world.
Alicia’s guitar playing and arrangements are as beautiful as ever and the performances of the accompanying musicians are wonderful. The production and quality are the highest, as usual.
I still have a lot of listening to do. There’s a lot on this album.
Artist, Permaculturist and Environmental Activist
Sometimes, someone’s life and essence lives and flourishes during a certain period of one’s life, in it’s first encounter, and this was in its most naive and direct sense of experience, while the rest of that persons life could be be used to work this essence out more economically and in different parts and sections. Alicia’s highlight came with her book “Living On Earth”, a practical guide of how to live your life as a hippie. She still is guided by those forces/inspirations, being stimulated by an inspiring optimism, which tried to see the positive side in all things and above all in humans.
In the end, it eventually led her further to meetings to such wonderlands in people more often and continuously, while being able to be guided by choices to look for them and attract them more often. While the optimism brings forward the hippie folk style, realistic confrontations add more like a slight touch of country/Americana flavour (while still being guided by a now this time more gospel-folk way of optimism), the practical workouts side is able to show by nicely worked out acoustic and blues-jazzy electric pickings (with Tom McNalley), with the addition of some flute, organ,…. I still can perceive Hawaii underneath, a place, which for many people must have stimulated that positive heart-attitude towards life.
Alicia continues to spread her message of possibilities, which is nice to notice. She definitely deserves a box set of LP’s with the inclusion of a book with some of her artworks and that of her students. Anyone?
Gerald Van Waes
Psychedelic folk radio host, collector and critic
I met Alicia Bay Laurel at a peace demonstration. She was making peace that day, and her music at night. She is still at it.
Her new CD of music, More Songs From Living on the Earth, is just that. It’s a Sunday morning spring day kinda sweetness Alicia takes you to.
All the while, underlying these sweet melodies, Alicia is a multi-talented visionary, and sage of our times. She creates a place with sounds and poetry, where you just know this day is going to be a mighty fine one. I like that.
This album is a sleeper, that must be listened to several times before you can BEGIN to get a handle on its complexities…it grows on you, and is very sweet.
It has taken me awhile to hear it all.
Your new CD is subtlety addicting. I find myself waking up humming little snippets of melodies you made. It is a gentle knowing smile you bring with this music. The more I hear it, the more I see the different layers you put into it. Much success with this one.
It’s a YAYY. My favorite song is track #2, Piper of the Woods.
Stephen Frank Gary
Hi Alicia, this is Gonzalo.
I don’t know if you remember me. I hope you do – I recorded the mandolin tracks on your record that you recently released, and I was listening to it, and I think it sounds fantastic, so I was just calling you to say “Thank you for recording this beautiful music.” Thank you very much for having me play on it, and, of course, thank you for sending me a copy. I think that, not only are your compositions beautiful, but, also, Ron Grant did a great job with the engineering.
Your record sounds beautiful, really. It reminded me to the feeling of the first time I listened to “Come away with me” by Norah Jones. Your record is a beautiful acoustic trip! Please let me know when you play live and also if the album comes out in vinyl.
Los Angeles, California
Songs are beautiful – pure and lovely! They remind me of the first time we met in our small room in Otsuka. The days in 1960’s and 70’s, memory of hard fights against the war in Vietnam, against everything of authority, lost dream of utopia, and new vision coming from the teachings of Black Elk, all came back as I listened to your songs.
Yes, so many years have passed since then…Still, as you sing, we praise those old days and their dreams.
Retired Professor of Mathematics, Tokyo University
Still an activist!
Oh Alicia – your new CD!
I LOVE IT!
It makes me so happy!
I put it on every day – really LOUD.
I played it for some guests today.
They loved it, too!
Thank you SO much for making this music.
Huntington Beach, California
The CD is very diverse – a wide variety of musical styles and sounds: country, celtic, folk, jazz, blues. The production is amazing, and Alicia’s voice is just tremendous. I really like this album a lot!
Photographer and Earthship Builder
Arizona and Colorado
While driving the back roads to Esparto I listened to Alicia Bay Laurel’s new cd, “More Songs From Living on the Earth.” There are no front roads to Esparto, and similarly the songs approach the listeners through back channels old and new, and timeless. Fluid motion, jazzy riffs, heartfelt lyrics, joyous celebrations, ecstatic visions, transcendent melodies, osmotic orchestration, happy hippy harmonies, and authentic phrasing grace the tracks, condensed and accessible, expanding, unfurling, spirit intonation of John Fahey and kupuna invocation of Auntie Clara, steeped in poetic Wheeler Ranch revelations, and all through the tunes, Alicia, chanteuse in tie dye. River Road meets Loomis Lane. Country funkin’ and commune groovin’, a world that just couldn’t be, but was for awhile, a stretch of infinity for us time beings, jikan ikimono. This album is creative and entertaining. Listen and remember, sing along and be here now.
Real Goods Solar Living Institute
Mendocino County, California
As a flower child of the ‘60s and ‘70s, I really liked all the songs on this newly-released album: “More Songs from Living on the Earth.” Just as Alicia Bay Laurel’s unique style of hand-drawing her books made them so special for my generation, there’s something wonderful about the unique way she uses her gentle humor and sweet soft voice to express so many truths. My own faves from this album are: “Devotional for a Spiritual Guide”, “Beautiful, Beautiful”, “Hippie Hill” and “Paisley Days” – the last two evoke memories of hanging out on Hippie Hill on lazy Sundays, listening to the cool pro jazz players who would come together to jam for free every Sunday. These are memories unique to the boomer generation.
Linda Joy Lewis
Author and Chef
Earth Angel Kitchen:
Vegan Alternatives to Meat, Dairy, Eggs and Sugar
I received your CD and love it, because the songs are all very gentle and filled with love.
I believe in Love.
That is what you gave me.
I really thank you.
Television Producer and Environmental Activist
We are enchanted by your CDs… Heaven has come to earth… Mahalo for the gift of your artistry in all its many forms.
I have played this wonderful CD over and over on my computer while I spend the countless hours a day that I must be “in office”. Thank you for this great gift of yours.
It is wonderful that you resurrected these precious songs from days gone by as they are all special. I love them all, but my favorite has to be “Piper of the Woods.” Long may you live to continue to share your unique talents and beautiful Spirit with us!
The whole of the recording is a joy…to try and sing along with!
More Songs from Living On The Earth proves again that the flowers are still in full bloom and I haven’t changed much in the several decades since they were first written & sung. What a great soundtrack to play in my car amidst the raging chaos on the highways. I’m on my way to Hippie Hill and I’m NEVER coming back. Thank You!
Alicia’s songs are beatiful and real. In a troubled times like these, we need her songs and art more than ever!
Professor Emeritus of Mathematics
I had an amazing experience leading my Introduction To The Inner Clown workshop this weekend. I played Alicia’s music from her album, More Songs from Living On The Earth as my sonic environment while we were on breaks. It was so beautiful. What a weekend. I feel inspired for the first time in awhile.
I don’t listen to many albums these days. Back in my 20s, that’s all I did, when I played in bands for a living, but now, writing mostly poetry or essays, I tend to put them on as background music while I’m ironing. (Hey, don’t knock it! Ironing is a form of Zen mediation. The Way of the Straight Crease.)
It’s especially difficult to comment on music created by your friends – or family – mainly, because you love them and want to empower and encourage them on, not expose them to the harsh wind of critical thinking or ‘too much head in bed’ as some freaked out flowerchild once put it. Artists get enough useless opinions, whether amateur or professional, from the uncaring. But you also want to be honest and help with intelligent commentary, not just sugarcoat everything so as not to hurt feelings.
As a professional songwriter and poet, I listen quite differently to music than people who are not in these professions. Music for me has never been simply entertainment. (It took me many years and many wasteful arguments to finally grasp this.) I listen to music perhaps more like an anthropologist – (if any single analogy is adequate) – looking through a desert of sand for single bone fragments that can reconfigure everything I have learned to date and make it vitally present again. A key to unlock something. I prefer watching films for entertainment. The great songs of the late 60s, from The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, so many others, all derailed me from whatever track I was on, whipped me around the cosmos and then rerouted me back onto the same track, but as though experiencing it for the first time.
So today, I piled up my wrinkled clothes, set up my ironing board, switched on my Always-Expecting-A-Miracle work light, and put on Alicia Bay Laurel’s, More Songs from Living On the Earth.
The soft tones and clarity of Alicia’s vocals, which are her trademarks, were immediately there. Alicia is Alicia and no one else. No jarring pseudo-melismas (ie.vocal runs with too many notes), so infesting vocal stylists (and especially, lead guitarists!) in the music marketplace these days. A simple tone and respect for a good melody and the clarity of the lyric. You do not need to read a lyric sheet with songwriter-singer sings like this. The words are vulnerable and ring out and you can take them, or leave them, depending on your taste, but itÂ’s clear that Alicia stands by what she sings. She lives it and has lived it for over forty years. Daniel Berrigan, 60s Civil Rights activist once said, ‘Know where you stand – and stand there.’ This assuredness is reassuring in a world where everything is about conforming and being popular.
I long to be led back to lost, forgotten and unfamiliar pioneers of music, by the present generation, much like Bob Dylan led us to Woody Guthrie, the Rolling Stones led us to Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton led us to Robert Johnson and The Beatles forced us back to not only The Everly Brothers, but Little Richard, and even the Tin Pan Alley songwriting teams of the 30s and 40s. Country music has always had this sense of history and connection with ‘elders’ but pop music only nods back to the closest reference point. For a singer-songwriter, it is certain death.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, I am ironing my way through my t-shirts (fewer difficult bits to iron, always a good place to start) and about to hit the more resilient jeans and pajamas. The tracks on Alicia’s album play one after another. I’m half-listening; half-thinking about the spaghetti sauce I am about to make for lunch.
In the music, I hear Alicia’s precise fingerpicking, often echoing the melody line of the songs. I’m waiting for her to hit a bum note (like I sometimes do when I finger-pick) but there are none. I think she rehearses her guitar playing as much as she does her vocals – which is every single day.
In a few of the songs, I hear the memorable and transporting traces of a mutual friend of ours, Sunny Supplee, effortlessly woven into her vocal style. Sunny lived with both Alicia and I, at different times, never together, on various back-to-the-land communes in the mid-70s. Sunny was accidentally killed in a car crash in the 70s, in Maui. I once asked Alicia whether she had been influenced by Sunny’s style. She said something to the effect of, ‘Oh yes, of course – but as she is no longer using this voice, I thought I would pass it on.’ I loved that. This is what I meant about an artist in the present leading us back to an artist who is gone or forgotten.
Ironing finally finished, I go into the kitchen to start the pasta sauce. I can still hear the music coming through the walls but I’m not really concentrating now. I feel guilty. Like I should be sitting down and doing a serious ‘review’ of this album. After all, Alicia is my friend. But, as I said, that would not be honest, because that is not the way I experience music. I am waiting for a little miracle. The REAL thing. Not lip service.
I go back into my music room to check my email. I have forgotten that the album has been playing all along in the background. I have also forgotten that I am ‘supposed’ to be listening. My critical mind is completely turned off and I am just Being. (I attribute this state, in part, to this album, which works on your Be-Here-Now chakras even when you are not noticing.)
Suddenly, I HEAR ‘The Last Song of the NightÂ’, second to last song on the album. This one stops me in my tracks. This song resonates with everything that I like in music. No BS. I can hear myself singing it in performance. I can hear others singing it. Several artists come to mind. It is a simple, practical and well-written song that actually is quite useful. (A good closing song is rare and handy to have in your repertoire. I remember once hearing a similar themed song that Lou Gottlieb wrote for The Limeliters that closed one of their shows. Perhaps the spirit of Lucky Lou visited Alicia disguised as a Muse?) Alicia sings it with a light dirge-like quality, echoed by a supporting vocal, sung an octave apart from hers. I love it.
It’s the Last Song of the Night
It’s the Last Song of the Night
We’re going to sleep
but in our hearts we’ll keep
the Last Song of the Night.
OK. I found a key. An old bone. Now lets have a closer look.
There are many experiences of late 60s culture. It would make a varied and psychedelic pie chart. There was the aggressive Jimi Hendrix, drop-acid, set-your-guitar-on-fire slice. There was the Richie Havens-social-protest-solo singer slice. There was the Bob Dylan surreal-angry-who-cares-what-the-audience-thinks (as long as they buy your records) slice.
The last album of Alicia’s that I listened to in depth was ‘What Livings All About’. The tracks that stood out for me on that album were the jazz influenced songs like her great and original interpretation of ‘Nature Boy.’
While there is definitely some jazz-influence, the music on More Songs from Living On the Earth suggests another neglected area of the great musical pie. The easy-listening music of groups like The Lovin’ Spoonful (reflected in songs like ‘Have a Good Time’, ‘Beautiful, Beautiful,’ and ‘Hang Around and Boogie’), the husband-wife folk love duo of Maria and Geoff Muldaur, and even the laid-back jug band music of Jim Kweskin.
One of high points on More Songs from Living On the Earth, for me, is ‘Green, Green Rain, surprisingly laced with lovely Appalachian and Irish flavours, and an inspired guitar harmonic counter-theme.
Alicia remarks, about several of the songs, in her liner notes: ‘It’s a sentimental review of the ’60s and ’70s, and also a decision to continue with the best of what I learned and lived then.”
This is clearest in songs like ‘Hippie Hill’, and ‘Paisley Days.’ And I know this state of mind well. It was the driving force behind my own album, Freelovedays. Having lived and loved through the flower-power generation and seen most of our idealistic dreams, and ‘ideal’ relationships, crash to earth, how does one continue on in today’s very different culture? Free love was a rebellion against the ‘nuclear couple’ monogamy that most of us ran away from. But, after having children and grandchildren, the joy, comfort and security of a stable relationship with one person, who is also your best friend, is very appealing.
The poet Rilke once said the job of the poet is to experience life, absorb it, making the visible, invisible. Then later, often decades later, through ones’ work, reverse the process. Make what is invisible, visible. Pass it on to others – the best – and the worst – of what you have seen and done, for anyone else desiring to go down similar paths. So that others, who will also be consumed by passion and also lost in Ideals, can possibly learn sometimes from our generation’s mistakes – and our triumphs.
Or in other words, as a sanyasan of The Way of the Straight Crease might put it:
Cows are beautiful, but no need to step in the same cow patty twice.
Follow Alicia. She knows the way through the field.
Immortal for his multi-platinum song Shaddap You Face
I put on headphones and laid in bed and laughed and cried revisiting innocence with your pure tones. Immediately replayed twice and gave to Diana to do same.
James Cook Loomis
Author, Environmentalist, Joyous Being
Alicia – really enjoying the CDs.
Great tunes, as always, and very good acoustic vibe and production.
I remember seeing you on TV as a guest on the Mike Douglas show in or around 1969 with Carol Channing talking about communal life. You sang a folk-style song (as far as I can recall), “Green, green, green is the color of the spring,” and “You and I say goodbye at last to the cold, cold winds of the winter.” Is this the same song as Green, green rain which is on one of your CDs?
If not, do you have the lyrics to this which must have made quite an impression on me as I still remember it today just as if it were yesterday. I play and sing with dulcimer and would love the words. It just had a nice California, bohemian feel to it, like something you would play for people who are just relaxing and baking in the sun.
If it is the same song, then I would love to buy the CD.
Hello Marcia Clark!
I am very flattered that you remember my song 45 years after hearing it on television! Thank you so much for sharing this!
Yes, the song “Green Green Rains” which I wrote around 1969 and recorded in 2014 for my CD “More Songs from Living on the Earth,” is the same one I sang on the David Frost Show on June 10, 1971. Here’s a web page about that show: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1691270/
I was also on Mike Douglas’ TV show a week after that, but I did not sing on that show. Both of these shows were part of the publicity tour that Random House arranged for the publication of my book Living on the Earth in its second edition.
You can download Â“Green Green Rains” here: www.cdbaby.com/cd/aliciabaylaurel3. The lyrics are on the same page, as part of the extended liner notes that I wrote to accompany the recording. I’m playing it in a Double Drop D tuning (DADGBD) on a steel string guitar, and the bass drone is a bowed upright bass played by Dwight Killian. We are joined by lead guitarist Mark Hewins.
You can buy “More Songs from Living on the Earth” as a download or as a physical CD from CD Baby. There are also some for sale on eBay, but CD Baby, which I supply directly, is less expensive.
All blessings, peace and love,
Alicia Bay Laurel
I went ahead and purchased “More Songs from Living on the Earth” and have enjoyed the CD very much. I have to say that Green, Green Rain is my favorite. It was interesting to hear it again after all those years.
It seems that I have been singing and playing dulcimer to some version that I thought I “recalled” and ended up with a totally different melody! Different words too! None the less, all credit is due to your lovely song which ignited the spark! Now I can learn the original version & lyrics. It is so nice to see the alternate ideals of our generation artistically expressed and still remaining solidly intact to this day.
Marcia Scott Clark
(from the green, green mountains of western North Carolina)
I’m so pleased that your memory of my song inspired to write a new song! And I am glad you are enjoying More Songs from Living on the Earth. Thank you for writing back to let me know.