The making of 'Love Has Got Me'

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Bryndle broke up in 1970, quite discouraged by a bad experience with A&M records. So many stories start this way. Kenny Edwards and Andrew Gold went to work with Linda Ronstadt, Karla Bonoff retreated to writing songs (some for Linda) and I kept making music, with Chuck Plotkin as my producer. He had negotiated a lease on a cool studio down on Santa Monica Blvd, Clover Recorders,  which was owned by some old jazz guys, drum makers, and mighty users of contraband.

Their deal was that every Thursday was for them. The rest of the time, we made records. We were prescient, I think, because we were tracking songs with no record deal and no prospect of one, but at the time (ironically just like I am today) we were music first, business hopefully later.

In 1972, Maria Muldaur released a solo album on Warner Brothers, then the “Cadillac” of all new record labels. The label was headed up by Mo Ostin, and the head of A&R was the brilliant Lenny Waronker, who also produced Maria, Randy Newman and others. Warners in those days - it’s like looking back on Camelot. Artists of extreme merit, sales not figuring into the equation - were signed there: Randy Newman, Ry Cooder, Maria, Frank Zappa on his affiliated label, Captain Beefheart, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor, Carly Simon, America, The Doobie Brothers, the Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Alice Cooper, Rickie Lee Jones, Black Sabbath and more. I remember then vice president of Warner Brothers, Joe Smith, telling me one night, “Black Sabbath is paying for all of you.”

Maria Muldaur had discovered my songwriting, and she included, on her first multi platinum record, two songs of mine, “Mad Mad Me," and “Vaudeville Man.” We had recorded these tunes at Chuck’s studio on Santa Monica Blvd, and we recorded a few more as well. Maria went on to record other songs of mine on subsequent records, and a few other artists picked up on some of my music as well, Judy Collins recording “Pirate Ships” at that time.

We took this half an album to Lenny Waronker at Warner Brothers, and he signed me to a deal, giving us money to finish the album. We were able now to assemble an all star cast of players on this album, not only my great colleagues Kenny Edwards, Andrew Gold, Karla Bonoff, the marvelous and not well known Steve Ferguson, but also Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, the great bassist Wilton Felder, violinist/arranger David Campbell, and the fabulous horn section consisting of Jim Horn, Jackie Kelso, and Chuck Findley. We had a few other wonderful singers on this project too: Maria Muldaur, Greg Prestopino, and my old colleague Carmi Simon on mandolin too.

Chuck pushed me to write string and horn parts, which of course, I’d never done. I did so on several tunes, with Jim Horn circling the unnecessary parts in red pencil: “Lee’s Traveling Song,” “Love Has Got Me,” “Can’t Come In,” “Old Time Love,” and “Waiting for the Rain." But Chuck also convinced me to ask my father, Fred Steiner, much admired composer of the Perry Mason Theme and other iconic music—to write arrangements for “Pirate Ships," “Thinking of You," and “Gringo en Mexico."

It was an eclectic but completely natural, honest record. It was unlike anything else coming out of LA at that time because of the orchestral, almost jazz-tinged side of things - it sold extremely well, for example, in Boston where such music was readily acceptable. I was very young and green, but I was quite determined when it came to the music. Truth, I was probably too young to be putting out records then, but that’s how it was in those days.

This album set the stage for my entire life: It was released in the fall of 1973, and to my amazement, Rolling Stone featured it as its big spread, calling it the “Singer Songwriter Debut of the Year” in a generous and detailed piece written by the great music/film critic Stephen Holden. Though it’s true that I never became a “pop star,” the acceptance of my music at a critical level, and the fan base that really got it - have carried me to this day, and I have never stopped writing nor working. Because I didn’t become an overnight sensation, I was and have been forced my whole life to continue searching, studying, trying, playing different positions on the team, and trying to stretch. All in all, I owe this entire career to Love Has Got Me, and the great team that supported it.

One last note in this lengthy discourse: The original Bryndle had recorded an album on A&M (unreleased) of some interesting, if immature work, with our cool vocal harmonies. To hear exactly what we sounded like with our rhythm section (as opposed to just the four of us), “Train Song” on Love Has Got Me is the original Bryndle.

"Twisted Love Song (Love in 7)"

 

Latest single "Twisted Love Song (Love in 7)" is available for streaming and download.

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Wendy Waldman: Lead and backing vocals, piano, programming
Marcin Pospieszalski: Bass
Scott Babcock: Drums
Rob Hoffman: Additional programming

Produced and arranged by Wendy Waldman
Recorded and mixed at The Longhouse by Wendy Waldman and Robert Hoffman

Artwork:
Illustration by Saida Staudenmaier
Design by Mark Nubar

Hot days of Summer July 2017

Mid Summer

July 26, 2017

In the deep summer heat, here in the north San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, I’m grateful for family, friends, and opportunities to make music in the studio and elsewhere.

My family had lots of events from June until last week: a grand kid was Bat Mitzvah, which is a ‘coming of age’ event involving about 3 years of study for Jewish kids, then the next week, an uncle turned 95 in New Jersey, and we flew back for a marvelous weekend connecting with the family there. That part of our family has some quite formidable musicians: the legendary old time musician Dan Gellert, his brilliant daughter, a writer, fiddler and emerging star, Rayna Gellert, my cousin Chris Rogers-superb jazz musician, arranger, performer, son of the great horn player Barry Rogers, descended from one of the finest cymbalum players in America—and other too- film makers, inventors, dedicated education specialists, and …us.

Then a week in Mexico at the family seat there—which involved a lot of tamales, swimming, exploring, and playing with dogs.

Back at work now, some interesting things ahead: recording choirs all summer for the HB Barnum/Mietek Szczesniak / Life Choir project, planning the final stages of the WW cd, scheduled for March 16, 2018, with some more tracks coming in advance. We have a few clients who are also recording here, so never a dull moment.

Also working on consolidating an agreement with the superb author and film music historian Jon Burlingame to finish and release the book my father, Fred Steiner, wrote on the life of Alfred Newman, one of the great film composers of all time. My dad wrote a definitive and carefully researched book, but he passed before he was able to do the final edits and publish it.
Now, and hopefully with the help of the Newman family (including, David, Tom, Randy, and Maria) I believe we will be able to see this fine work finished and released. I expect it’s not only a history of this great composer, but also a window into a time we won’t see again.

Studio is rocking-enjoying the new sound library from VSL, and some other new additions—a mic or two, and of course, guitars….

Yeah the garden is in fine shape this summer, albeit in need of weeding! We’re digging a pond, at last. I have always wanted a pond, and always wanted frogs to live near me, ever since I was a resident of Topanga Canyon many years ago. My native gardens are now enormous, and I decided it’s time to put in a pond—no koi—mama doesn’t want to work that hard—but goldfish, mosquito fish, and tadpoles… downside: raccoons and hawks might be interested, and frogs may find their way to the pool, but I think we can forestall disasters with careful planning, optimist that I am.

The yellow orioles are still hanging around my hummingbird feeders, so fall isn’t even close!

Back to the studio....

Enjoy these slow and hot days of summer.

WW
Northridge, California

 

 

 

 

 mid summer flowers from the garden

mid summer flowers from the garden

May 29, 2017

It's a beautiful, clear day here in Southern California, on this national holiday, Memorial day. There is so much pain and destabilization in the world today, and so many people wiser (or not) than I who have comments about it that I will choose to talk about music and gardens right now.

How incredibly lovely to watch the endless coming and going of the birds who live in the trees on my tiny patch of ground in the city, and to witness the antics of the squirrels, who long ago won their war on the bird feeders and thus now have feeders of their own. Also, the great pain-in-ass (as my Polish colleagues would say) raccoons who come around and wreak havoc here, yet somehow belong as well. Then there's the hawk family in the tall pine tree. These guys have been here for years and the yearly ritual of nest building, then the birth of the tiny cheeping babies, the parents raising them together--and the funniest part of all, when the babies learn to fly in a neighboring tree and I hear them howling all day long as their parents insist that they fly. This time of year is special also because the orioles come to the hummingbird feeder and I recognize their chatter. The first time one showed up, a male, bright yellow and black, I was delighted and surprised. Now it's a spring ritual as well, lasting into the summer, and then mysteriously, they go away.

My three old cats are content to lie around, be fed, pile on top of me at night, and talk to me constantly. They feel safe here, as do all the other critters hanging around. The only time everyone gets on edge is when there's a big windstorm, a peregrine falcon in the yard, or firecrackers.

My quest to do my part in monarch butterfly restoration is coming along well. There's a ton of milkweed in the garden, and monarchs are flitting around everywhere, hopefully laying eggs. I saw a couple of fat babies about a week ago, perhaps they're butterflies now.

I transformed my entire yard, front and back, into a native habitat three years ago-well, it took a couple of years. It's amazing: when you plant local, indigenous plants, the insects and birds that depend on those and only those plants show up in your garden! It was a huge amount of work lasting, as I said, for several years, but I don't regret it for a second.

Meanwhile, back in the studio, which admittedly is hard sometimes when you are sitting there and you look out the window at the sunny garden with its busy population--so much happening in here.

The gigs in Alaska were a total blast. It was, with some intense and accelerated rehearsal, a cold plunge back into performing for me. Now, encouraged, and also seeing the end of the recording process on my own cd, I've begun to schedule some solo concerts starting in November.  I expect that the cd will be available around that time, though my advisor, Mr. Nubar and I are discussing release options.

School is over next week, with just finals to come, and that should be NO PICNIC! However, my woodwind quintet came out pretty well, and I'm so excited to have the opportunity to do more composition for orchestral instruments, with the chance to hear them played by humans! I'll be back in school come the fall, continuing music studies and composition.

Mietek and HB Barnum were in the studio with me in April: we finished tracking all of the basic tracks for the Mietek/HB/Life Choir cd, which is an inspirational project, and a lot of fun. Looking to finish that over the summer and to have a pre-Christmas release. Mietek's other recents cds are brilliant, having sold extremely well in his native Poland. He is still one of the greatest singers I've ever worked with, and a dear friend.

Now many things are wrapping up: Rob Hoffman, our great mixer (and doctor of Chinese medicine) just took the Refugees tracks to his studio to mix them, as well as some tracks of mine.

I'm also quite proud to be doing some composition of songs and instrumentals for library use, to be distributed by First Com, which is a vast music library, and friends of mine. Abraham Parker and I have begun to collaborate on cues as well--it's the most fun I've had with a collaborator since my dear and foremost partner Kenny Edwards. Abe and I have a growing, innate musical understanding, even though we have slightly different harmonic sensibilities, thank the Gods. And we get each other, much like Kenny and I did, but our work is on a different level. Abe is also related to me so there's a genetic component, but man, this guy is a very exciting, deeply educated musician and it's a blast to work with him!

So, the Longhouse is thriving and the president/janitor does her daily rounds, feeding, watering, cleaning, composing, studying, 'dreaming stuff up' and trying to get a little more wisdom each day. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

More to come, and wishing all a fine day and a fine month of June.

WW

 

GIGS!!!!!

Actual gigs coming up!!! Three concerts in ... Alaska with Cidny Bullens. One of us hasn't been out playing in a while..hint, the one who lives on the west edge of the country... it will be fun, regardless!

March 31 - Latitude 62
Talkeetna, AK US

Apr 1 - Sydney Laurence Theatre
Anchorage, AK US

Apr 2 - Vagabond Blues
Palmer, AK US