NeologisticsMusic → Think Dog

Dog Days — The Story of Think Dog!

Lynn David Newton

... as remembered from the perspective of July 1, 2000

In 1966, the whole world was drunk on the music of the Beatles and the social and cultural changes of the era. Students everywhere were dropping out of school and joining bands or becoming hippies or both. In that year, as a graduate student of music composition at the University of Illinois in Urbana, I, too, became infatuated with the notion of forming a rock and roll band.

As a lifelong lover of chamber music, I believed then, as I still believe, in the magic and power that can be summoned by a small group of fine musical minds working closely together over a period of years. I also believed that the optimum number of musicians in an ensemble is four. In my mind, the Beatles were just another embodiment of the ideal represented in the model of the classical chamber music quartet — four creative souls working together to produce something immensely greater than the sum of its parts.

I theorized that the right combination of musicians, having deep classical background, appreciation for and experience with so-called "new music," and love for the best rock and popular music of the time, might create the chemistry necessary to produce music that was genuinely different and memorable. Whether that hope was naive is a moot question three decades later.

The tale that follows is a greatly simplified and sanitized version of the basic facts concerning the band finally known as Think Dog!, reconstructed to the best of my ability from memory. Some of the details, particularly regarding the sequence of events, and dates of the recording sessions, may be slightly jumbled.

The band had problems throughout its existence — problems with getting enough money to live, problems with thieves stealing our means of living, problems with playing well together, problems with keeping the personnel stable, problems with personality conflicts, problems with the draft, problems with drugs, problems with health, problems with our love lives — you name it. The environment we lived and worked in was not conducive to intelligent, disciplined, artistic growth. That some took place despite it is a miracle.

For me the three-year history of Think Dog! is partly a story of personal failure. Suffice it to say that I bet the farm on this venture, as did at least one other member, but we were unable to make it work. Some of the blame can be put upon me, though by no means all of it. The times were hard. The year 1968 was one of the worst of the century for almost everyone. That I just happened to pick that inauspicious year to make a start in my professional life in New York City did not make it any easier.

Humble Beginnings
Urbana, Illinois, May 1967—September 1967

My hope to form a rock band must have seemed especially insane in that I'd never played either jazz or rock music, and didn't play the right instruments for the era — guitar, electric bass, or drums — and my singing was reminiscent of a kitten being strangled. But I wanted to learn, and at least I played piano reasonably well. However, I was not to become the keyboardist in the band.

In early spring of 1967, I bought a Danelectro electric bass for $25 from a fellow student and began practicing it with records, using my stereo as an amplifier. I also borrowed my father's classical guitar and plowed through the Carcassi guitar method. What I lacked in experience as a rock musician I made up for in classical training, so I learned very quickly. By summer I managed to acquire a marginally adequate electric guitar.

In late May 1967, I met blues guitarist Jim Siemans. We got together to play the next night and decided to start a band. Why him? He was the only available guitarist I knew. Immediately I invited two of my best friends to join us: first Tom McFaul, then David Rosenboom.

Tom had even less cultivated skill to start with than me, and was nonplussed by the proposition. He was a musicology student, about to enter graduate school. As an undergraduate he had been at first a not-very-good trombone player, but had a rudimentary ability to play piano, and he enjoyed singing. We used to have fun sight singing Renaissance vocal music with other friends years before. By this time Tom was married, so had his wife Ellen to consider in any life-altering decisions he made. But I knew Tom to be a creative guy, someone with a deep intuition for what makes music good. I was sure he could make a contribution. He agreed to try to become a keyboard player, singer, and songwriter. In time he also played bass and guitar a couple of times, as the need arose for us to switch instruments.

David, who is four years younger than I, had been a prodigy musician. Like me, David was a music composition student; we both studied with Salvatore Martirano. David was a virtuoso violinist and violist, and also played piano and percussion well, and a bit of trumpet. Just a few months before we had joined together with a third friend to form a musical coalition called The Black Bag. We collaborated to present a concert of our own works on May 18, just a day or two before I met Jim Siemans. The experience proved that we got along well and could work together. David could do anything necessary, except sing. He agreed to join, too, as our drummer.

As for me — as a musician I was and always will be first and foremost a composer. My intent all along was to use the band as an outlet for my own writing, and for the music written by any band member. I was significantly less enthusiastic about playing the music of other bands, even the Beatles. They did their own thing. This band would be ours.

Instrumentally, I served primarily as the bass player, and sang. Over time I also played guitar, piano, recorder, trombone, and probably a few other instruments as well.

We rehearsed all through that summer. No words I muster here can possibly describe how terrible we sounded the first few months. Imagine the worst garage band you have ever heard. We were worse. But we were ambitious and idealistic. And we kept getting better.

How Badly Did We Want It?

A crisis of faith came early. In July, David, Tom, and I each received tempting offers which, if accepted, would have ravaged our plans.

First, David, as a nineteen-year-old student, was offered a paying job playing viola with Lucas Foss' new music performance group at State University of New York (SUNY) in Buffalo. Foss was a well-known composer, conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic, and a protege of Leonard Bernstein. It was not an offer to be taken lightly.

At nearly the same time, Tom was offered a graduate fellowship in ethnomusicological studies. As a married, starving student, the promise of income this would bring was tempting, not to mention that it constituted an invitation to walk though an open door and into a life as a scholar and researcher in musical academia.

Finally, I received mail informing me that I had been awarded a Fulbright-Hays fellowship to study composition at St. Cecilia Academy in Rome for a year. Although I had applied and almost expected to get a Fulbright, this came as a surprise, because most of the grants for that year had been awarded earlier, and having heard nothing, I assumed that I had been passed over.

Staider persons than we were likely would have abandoned the childish fantasy of playing in a rock and roll band, and would have gotten on with their lives as originally planned. But we were far too idealist and too strongly influenced by the spirit of the times to give in so easily.

A factor that made the decision especially difficult was that for the band to work, we all had to buy into it unreservedly. The entire future career and ultimate life course of each of us was at stake. What any individual decides for himself is his own business, but it is a difficult thing to ask friends to take the same harebrained risks that we would impose upon ourselves. This was especially true for me, since I was the one who got us into this mess. But I really wanted to go for it.

We had some soul-searching discussions. In the end, we compromised. We couldn't all go to Europe. We didn't want to stay in Urbana another year. So we decided that we would all move to Buffalo together, where David would fulfill his contract commensurate with the school year. The rest of us would struggle to get by, and meanwhile we would try to rehearse, develop material, and learn to play better. Then we would all move to New York City to try to make the big time.

Jim Siemans, who had a wife, young son, and local commitments, was unable to join us. We never saw or heard from him again. It was a mutually agreeable separation. He did not fit our profile. But this left us badly in need of a guitar player.

Tom and I both wrote dignified, grateful letters to our benefactors, acknowledging the offers made, but declining to accept in order to pursue other opportunities. We braced ourselves for whatever the consequences would be.

Both of us became the recipients of caustic criticism from associates, among both faculty and students, most of whom concluded we had lost our minds. That we now had long hair, and were wearing beads and flowers and carrying around prism glasses didn't help our reputation in those circles.

We Play, Who Pays?

Meanwhile, we had another serious obstacle to overcome. It's expensive to be a rock and roll musician. We needed decent equipment to play on. Guitars and amplifiers don't grow on trees. We were all dirt poor students without a dime between us. Where would we get the money, and what would we buy?

We worked out a financial deal with my generous father. He fronted us the money to buy what we needed for the time being, including a PA system and microphones. We were eventually to pay him back. That we were never able to do so, and that my father in time smilingly forgave the debt was a testament to his monumental kindness.

By the end of the summer, the three of us were ready to burn our bridges behind us, fully committed to making a go of the band, which still didn't have a name.

The Beginning of Time
Buffalo, NY, September 1967—May 1968

The night we arrived in Buffalo, burglars broke into our still unloaded U-Haul van and stole a number of things, including my trombone, and other items of value. Tom and Ellen's possessions were hit harder than my own. That event set the tone for our seven-month stay in Buffalo.

By the time we all arrived in Buffalo, David had already located a guitarist for us to audition — Richard Stanley, who taught guitar and lute at SUNY, and was anxious to become a rocker.

Life was extraordinarily hard for Tom and Ellen and me in Buffalo. David was employed and very busy with performing and composing, but he wrote nothing for the band. Ellen worked at a TV station, which helped them. I tried to limp along the best I could without a regular job. Richard, as a lifetime local resident, with a wife and young daughter, was adequately funded to sustain himself, but he lived a long way from the rest of us, requiring him to commute for rehearsals.

We secured a loft in a factory building where they used to make Pierce-Arrow automobiles, and began to rehearse regularly. We also got to work writing songs.

Before long we also acquired Jim Mohr as our manager, a kind and generous advertising man with six children. Jim was rightly nervous about investing in a rock band. He seemed to be looking for a package more like the Monkees, who would generate Top 40 hits, than our group of avant-garde artists. But he liked us, trusted our musicianship, and was convinced we could do something good.

Soon we adopted our first official name: Time. I always liked it, but the others didn't. Later, another band by that name released an album, so we were obliged to change it.

It didn't take us long to become involved with the avant-garde music scene. Soon after arriving in Buffalo we participated in a piece by performance artist Marianne Amacher. She had arranged for sound events to take place all over the city, and for them to be broadcast on the radio simultaneously. For people who chanced to be in the locations where these events were going on, it was like a happening. Our band set up in the lobby of a large business building with an enormously high ceiling. As I recall, we didn't play anything but random isolated sounds on our instruments.

David and I had the opportunity to take part in a historically significant concert. Trombonist Stuart Dempster performed a Creative Associates new music recital at SUNY, in which he concluded with Terry Riley's piece In C. David played viola and I played guitar. Not long afterward, the group that played this performance recorded it for Columbia Records, but without me, because I was not a Creative Associate. This recording became famous, and today In C is recognized as a seminal composition in the world of so-called minimalist music.

On December 6, 1967, Time made its official debut on another Creative Associates new music concert. The program began with non-rock compositions by other composers. A percussion piece of David's was played, and there was the premiere of my own theater piece What Good Is a Trombone Player? for trombone, tape and girl, which was generously reviewed in the newspaper the next day, to my landlady's thrilled delight. The reviewer failed to stay for the main event.

In the final segment, Time played a set of four works: a song by Velvet Underground; a song called Introductory Lines that was mostly by Tom, but for which I created the background electronic tape; a more traditional song I wrote in Urbana called Sad Benjamin; and we ended with my seventeen-minute atonal, serial rock and roll piece The Aluminum Foil Fantasy, a three-part extravaganza.

The middle section of the Fantasy also used electronic tape I created in the experimental music studio at the University of Illinois. This piece was the anchor work of the Black Bag concert that David and I produced the previous May. I taught a local band of high school aged kids to perform it. Time later played that work at a small festival in town. No one ever knew quite what to make of it. After our second performance we abandoned it, as we began to head down the path of greater conventionality.

It was not until June 2000, that I discovered this debut concert was recorded by the university, and that tapes are in the music library. A copy was sent to me on inquiry for the cost of media and shipping.

Going for the Record
January 1968—April 1968

In January 1968, we traveled twice to a recording studio in Toronto, where we made our first recordings, an album-length demo tape of original songs. Considering it was our first effort, it came out well. Until just yesterday I believed those recordings had been lost. However, this very morning, as I am rewriting this account, Tom and Ellen McFaul sent me email saying they found it in a box in their garage, and will be sending it. With this acquisition, every recording that we ever made has now been recovered.

There is some unusual material on the Toronto album. It begins with my song A Song for You, with an opening of two simple verses, a middle that consists of an electronic collage of sound, and a closing verse of the song. Richard wrote two songs for this album. One, Ma's Pan is a bluegrass instrumental on which he plays both guitar and dulcimer. Waking opens with a closely miked cymbal sound followed by the song accompanied on lute. We also recorded Tom's song Introductory Lines, which we played at our premiere. And there is also my best song from our early material, Lily Has a Rose, with text taken from a poem of E. E. Cummings, distinguished by its 18/16 time signature (6/16+3/4) with sections in 12/16, and occasional measures of 1/4. I fully scored a lute part that Richard played to fill out the original solo guitar sound.

None of the Toronto songs are on Dog Days, except for a later re-recorded version of Green Fields. I wrote out every note of the original arrangement of that song in score form. It was a much gentler rendition than the brash, overproduced version on Dog Days. (See the recording notes below.)

In March, a low-level producer at Columbia Records in New York City contacted us. He had our demo tape, and wanted us to come to New York to re-record one song — Green Fields. We would be auditioning each other. We allowed him to exercise complete artistic control to see what sort of producer he was. At the same time, he was testing us as possible Columbia Records artists. He was no George Martin. The result was the version of Green Fields on Dog Days, in which he threw in everything but barking dogs and a circus calliope. We parted company having decided we did not want to work together any more.

That recording was made in the same gymnasium-sized studio where Columbia recorded some of the great orchestras of the world. On that trip, while sitting in a booth watching Sly Stone dub in a vocal, we met John McClure, who was for decades the director of Columbia's Masterworks classical division, and producer of some of the greatest classical recordings in history. We had never heard of Sly before that day, but we knew McClure.

We Waited for Nothing

The seven months we spent in Buffalo was difficult. The winter was bitter, and Tom and I were bored and hungry much of the time. We played one festival and a few jobs at clubs, which we didn't enjoy, because Buffalonians were more interested in soul music and Young Rascals than in our unusual original material.

We played a week at a cavernous drink and dance joint called The Inferno, as the second band, in the smaller bar. They didn't like us at all when we played the Velvet Underground song Heroin, and Frank Zappa, and sang Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix songs in falsetto voices. We hated playing other people's music, and weren't very good at it, but until we could record, playing in dance clubs was our only option.

The greatest poetic justice of that period came the night the entire Inferno burned to the ground! It was the highlight of our tenure in Buffalo.

In April, Tom and I went together to the Bethlehem steel mill in Lackawana, and both got hired. We kept our jobs just long enough to get enough money together to pack up and get out of town and on our way to New York. I started working there the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. The mood at the plant was tense for a few days afterward.

In the move to New York, once again David led the way. Richard, a native of the area, packed up his home, wife Kathy, and young daughter Almitra, and headed off, driving me up in his Land Rover.

Jim Mohr, with his large family, business, and roots in Buffalo, was unable to do as much for us after that time, though he did try his best. If only we'd had the Internet back then!

A New York State of Mind
New York City, May 1968—September 1968

Our first order of business on arriving in New York was to get settled and become New Yorkers. As before, David was already employed, working on an experimental music program called the Electric Ear at the Electric Circus in the East Village, a disco stuffed with high tech audio-visual equipment. Not long before, David had managed to squirm out of the draft.

Tom also had a draft problem, and could not come with us immediately. We had grave doubts as to whether he would make it to New York at all. Then one day, just after I settled in my apartment, Tom showed up at my door, having been excused and sent home.

Those days were the most intense of the Vietnam era. That both of these guys were able to beat the draft was a miracle of no small proportion. Once again we were united.

Richard soon found work repairing guitars, for which he has a true talent.

The day I arrived in the city I called Music Art, a music engraving business in Times Square, and explained that I owned my own music typewriter and needed work. The owner offered me a job on the spot. This became my primary means of making a living until I left New York eight and a half years later.

I also had the advantage of relatives living in New Jersey within commuting distance of the city. They kindly put me up for a couple of weeks while I secured a place to live. Soon I found an apartment on West 15th Street in Manhattan, in a frightening area right across a narrow street from a noisy shipping depot that had large trucks coming in and out, loading and unloading, 24 hours a day. I was on the second floor, in the front of the building, and could have whacked the smokestacks on the big rigs from my fire escape as they pulled up under my window to back up. It was the worst place I ever lived in. It was home for a year.

Although I now had a job, I worked little at first, because my real job was the band, which required an up-front investment of all the time and energy I could muster. Music Art paid me on a piecework basis, and I could work as much or as little as I wanted. I wasn't governed by a clock. But sometimes I had no money whatever, not even enough for a subway fare or food, so I walked and I lost a lot of weight.

We rented a loft to rehearse in, in the second basement of a warehouse in the Little Italy section on Mott Street, south of Houston, one block west of the notorious Bowery. At times I had to step over bums lying in the street who were apparently dead.

Woodstock and Beyond

That summer our biggest performance was in a rock festival in Woodstock, New York. No, not that one! This small two-day festival took place one year before the famous one. Bob Dylan sat largely unnoticed in the audience, but not during our performance. Tom, who has a lot more chutzpah than I do, introduced himself and invited him to come to the nearby farmhouse where we were staying to listen to our tape. Dylan politely begged off, claiming that he's no critic. Years later, Tom was credited as a keyboard player on one of Dylan's albums.

David also got us a couple of jobs playing multi-media performances at the Electric Circus. We played a piece by composer Mel Powell, who had been a well-known pianist with Benny Goodman for years before turning into an avant-garde composer.

A turning point came in early August, the week Bill Russo came to town. Russo is known primarily as an arranger for the Stan Kenton band, and author of stock charts played by student jazz bands. He had written a composition in concerto grosso form for rock and roll band and concert band. It was to be played by the Goldman Band, a famous professional military style band that has played free summer concerts in Manhattan's Central Park and Brooklyn's Prospect Park for over ninety years. Somehow, allegedly because we were the only rock band in town who could all read music, we got the job as soloists. We also rehearsed a multi-media piece by Russo for the Electric Circus, and were to play it two or three days after the park concerts.

I'm Down

The week of the Russo concerts I became so ill I was forced to check into St. Vincent's hospital. I managed to play the park concerts, and even played well, but had to lie in David's VW bus when I wasn't playing. But I couldn't get to the Electric Circus job. Fortunately, I had a phone and was able to call one of the guys to warn them — probably Richard. It was the only time I ever missed a playing job that I can remember. (Russo hired a substitute.)

I was having a recurrence of kidney stone blockage that I had experienced exactly five years minus one day before. Because I was only twenty years old the first time, I was considered a medical curiosity, and came to be well known by several doctors on the staff of Evanston hospital, the teaching hospital for Northwestern University's medical school, where I stayed.

That first night at St. Vincent's, I believe that if my fever had gone much higher, I could have died. Fortunately, my parents still carried health insurance on me. I can't remember when I ever felt so alone as I was lying in that hospital bed, hallucinating while the fever broke. After that, I felt better, but they kept me in the hospital to run tests, even though I was able to tell them exactly what was wrong. The tests made me sick again.

My condition was serious enough that after three days of testing the doctors insisted I needed immediate surgery to have the stones removed. I had been through this before, so I telephoned my parents in Chicago, who immediately arranged to have my aunt and uncle pick me up and take me to the airport to send me home. It was my very first airplane flight.

My parents delivered me straight to Evanston Hospital, within walking distance of my old home. I had the same doctors I'd had before. It took only two or three hours for them to confirm the diagnosis done in New York.

The next morning I went into surgery to have the kidney stones dug out. That morning a nurse's aide woke me up and tended to me. Fourteen months later I married her!

Although I made an unusually rapid recovery, being sick took me out of commission for about three weeks.

New York City, September 1968—Winter 1969

During the summer it had become obvious that David was moved to work in a different direction. After some heartfelt discussions, David left the band and continued with what became a remarkable career. We all remained good friends.

This left the rest us back at the beginning again, looking for a new direction as well as a new drummer. From my own vantage point, David's leaving significantly altered the profile of the band into something I had not originally intended for it. We were no longer the group we started out to be. This event turned out to be the early beginning of the end for us.

We advertised auditions in the Village Voice. Most of the people who responded were awful. Eventually a tempermental drummer who lived in the East Village joined us. He played passably on a good day, but his perspective was strictly rock and rhythm and blues. He knew little about jazz and nothing whatever about classical music. He did not sing at all. But he learned our repertoire fairly quickly. How hard can it be when you're just the drummer?

One day after he had been with us a few months, he showed up in a foul mood. He showed up for work stoned, and didn't appreciate being criticized for the negative effect it had on his ability to play. He quit in a fit of anger, packed up his drums, and left. In some ways we were glad to see him gone. He never really fit.

It was this drummer who played with us in Woodstock. We may have played some club jobs together, too. At the same time, David played the Electric Circus and Goldman Band concerts, which the other guy was not even capable of playing. So there was some overlap there, as we phased him in.

When he left we were drummerless again, so once more we advertised in the Village Voice. After rejecting many, we hired a drummer whose name I no longer remember, and don't care to. His idea of the greatest music ever was the band Vanilla Fudge. He turned out to be a jerk. He played a few jobs in the Village with us, but we kicked him out after a night when he decided to play every tune at his own tempo regardless of what the rest of us were playing, while maintaining an angry expression on his face.

So far we had been through three drummers. Finally we connected with Bob Stuhler, a drummer from New Jersey. Bob was an agreeable fellow who fit in well with the rest of us. Importantly, he played drums well, and also had a strong, clear singing voice. He was willing to commit wholeheartedly to the band, ready to put everything he had into making it work. Bob remained with us to the end. He is the only drummer heard on Dog Days, except in Green Fields.

Thinking Like a Dog
New York City, September 1968—Winter 1969

It was in this time frame that we changed our name from Time to Think Dog! We always had to explain that the name includes the exclamation point; it's an imperative.

We struggled for months trying to create a good name. One night, while gathered at Richard's apartment, I told an anecdote about how a friend was told to write Spanish-flavored music by telling himself: "Think Spanish!" which everyone thought was hysterical. Later, for reasons I have long forgotten, someone asked: "How do you act like a dog?" I replied: "Think dog!" We thought it was funny and relevant at the time. The rest is history. A friend says that Think Dog! sounds like a dyslexic way of saying Thank God!

While doing research for these notes I discovered on the Internet that there is now a book in print called Think Dog! — yes, with the exclamation point. Appropriately, the subject is dog training. I considered buying it just for the fun of having the title on my shelf.

Something else we needed was a stronger guitarist. Richard did a fine job of learning his parts, but he was neither a rocker nor a soloist. It was the era of guitar bands; every group had to have a strong lead player, preferably an Eric Clapton or a Jimi Hendrix. We decided to look for a fifth person, though we did not know where we might find one.

One afternoon I was working alone in the loft, when Ron Renninger, then an eighteen-year-old kid from the Bronx, walked in with his Fender Telecaster. We talked, and soon he took out his instrument and started to play. I was astonished by his spectacular talent. He wasn't just good — he was a genuine original, and he was available. I had him come back, and immediately told the others about him. After one session together, we invited him to join the band. We learned quickly that Ron was also a prolific songwriter, and an undisciplined but passionate singer. For the first time we started to sound like a real rock and roll band.

Ron and I began playing as a duo at a small coffee house in the West Village where we would get up and do nothing but jam for a half hour or more at a time, and then pass a basket. Whatever customers saw fit to throw in would be our pay. Sometimes it barely covered subway, but it gave us a great opportunity to get to know each other's playing very well. I played mostly bass on those jobs, though I think I must have played some guitar, too.

Loft Recordings
New York City, Winter 1969

By this time we had been together nearly two years, and were getting anxious to make greater headway. We wanted more than anything to record our own songs. Clearly, the best thing we had going for us was very good original material, although no particular direction or "sound" had developed to market an image around. We were interested in too many things to be tied down to a style.

We borrowed some usable recording equipment, though nothing we could do overdubs with, and a mixer, and made a demo tape in our loft with eight songs on it, which we circulated to producers. Five of those "basement recordings" are on this album. These performances are raw, but are the only ones we have with Ron Renninger playing guitar.

During that time period we were playing jobs on the weekends at cheap joints in the Village, mostly for experience. One Friday afternoon, hours before we were supposed to load our equipment, I arrived at the loft to find it unlocked. We had been burglarized. A great deal of equipment was gone, including my bass and our entire PA system. The thieves needed a truck to haul it all away. They had to carry the heavier pieces up two flights of stairs, unless they were people from inside the building who had access to the freight elevator, which I have always believed was the case. They had even gone through a large box of my records and carefully selected what they wanted. The police later found the speaker columns on the street nearby, with the speakers ripped out.

Mysteriously, Ron's distinctive Telecaster was left lying out on a stool. Ron had stripped the body down to bare wood and had a leather hand guard on it. The thieves may have thought it looked too distinctive, or else hand-made, so wouldn't touch it. Ron had paid $50 for it in 1965, and later sold it for $1000.

I still had the Danelectro bass I bought in Urbana, and somehow we scrounged up enough equipment to play the job that night. Soon after that robbery, Bob Stuhler took up living there, sleeping on a cot with a crowbar under his pillow, until we were able to move out.

A month or so later, we got hit again while Bob was out, and most of whatever had been left in the loft was gone. This time Ron had taken his guitar with him. Strangely, I no longer remember what we did for equipment after those robberies, but somehow we managed.

Meanwhile, our loft tape came into the hands of producer and jingle writer David Lucas, by way of our remote manager, Jim Mohr. David and his associate George Grant came to our loft to hear us one day. We were impressed that Lucas wore a cape and looked prosperous.

Sometime not long after we made the tape, Ron quit to pursue other opportunities. After all we had been through by then, this was for me the hardest blow to take. First of all, Ron was really good, and his contribution was valuable. Second, we had a repertoire of arrangements worked up in which Ron played a central part. We were suddenly crippled again, and unable to work until we could find and train a new guitarist. Of course, when Ron left, his songs left with him. None of the previously departing band members ever wrote any song material for the band, not even David Rosenboom. Third, I liked the kid, and thought we could work well together in the long run. This turn of events turned out to be a crushing disappointment.

I saw little of Ron after that time, but did run into him twice on the street. The first time I invited him to my apartment to hear tapes and play and talk. The last I saw or heard of him was in 1971, when he spoke of going to California, until I found him again recently on the Internet.

Steps Forward
New York City, Late Winter 1969

Despite our misfortune, David Lucas remained interested in us. He was drawn primarily by the quality of our songs, and reasoned that we could always find a guitarist. We were swept along by his optimism. In late winter of 1969, David signed us to a one-year production contract, during which he attempted to find a record deal for us. He never did get one, but we did do some demo recording during that year, all in excellent studios. All those recordings are on the Dog Days CD.

Our first job after connecting with Lucas was an upscale fashion show in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We all got to wear Calvin Klein originals while we performed, but had to give the clothing back. In addition to the most cash by an order of magnitude we had ever received for a single job, plus travel expenses, we got paid off in the form of a Gibson ES-335 guitar, which I still own, a Vox Beatle amplifier, which I also used until it fell apart, and one or two pieces of lesser equipment, all for a single thirty-minute set of our own material, which we played well.

Our first recording session with David Lucas producing was done in early spring 1969, at Tower Studios, where we recorded three of our songs with the most commercial potential: No Julia No, Sunday Brings Another Day, and We Waited for Nothing.

Once we connected with Lucas, much of our time was spent hanging out at his office, which was at first just an empty warehouse with a pile of sand in the middle, but was slated to become a state of the art eight-track recording studio. It seemed as though we rehearsed very little, but we did become acquainted with some of the best studio musicians in New York.

More Changes

During the next several months I experienced some significant changes in rapid succession. The first week of June I moved into a much better apartment on 71st Street, in the block west of Central Park, taking over the lease that David Rosenboom held. This apartment was located just a block and a half from the Dakota apartments where John and Yoko Lennon lived not long afterward. I watched Neil Armstrong step on the moon from that apartment. I lived there for over two years.

Soon after moving there I took a week of vacation at my parents' home, though I went as much to visit my long-distance girl friend as them. Within two weeks after I returned to New York, we were engaged to be married.

Then we got a new guitar player, Chuck Chittendon. Chuck was not as fluid a lead player as Ron, but had good rhythm, played competently, and learned quickly. However, for quite a while we didn't get any club jobs, and our economic situation was getting desperate. Richard was working at a guitar shop and doing adequately. I continued to work for Music Art, but as little as possible. Once I planned to get married, I began working longer hours in order to make more money. Tom and Ellen McFaul had their first child, Julian (named for the young and then-popular African-American politician Julian Bond), and had a small amount of income, but barely enough to pay rent and eat. I never did know exactly how Bob or Chuck got along from day to day, nor did I even know where Chuck lived. Neither one had day jobs.

It was in this general time period that Tom and Bob and I concluded that we no longer wanted Richard to play with the band. It had nothing to do with him personally — everyone loved the man. We just felt his playing was not strong enough to carry the load. However, we asked him to continue as our equipment manager. Now, over thirty years later, in some ways I regret that decision, but the remorse is academic at this juncture. For better or worse, we were now back to being a quartet, which I preferred musically, but I also missed Richard.

The last few weeks before the wedding I worked long hours at Music Art, including one stretch of 24 hours straight, so was less available to rehearse. For two weeks before leaving, we played at a singles bar on the east side. We earned respectable money and even played well, but few people came in from the bar to the dance area to hear us. It was during this job that we realized that Chuck had a disturbing personal problem that manifested itself during performances, and affected his ability to play. Talking to him about it didn't help. We got through the job, but our future was once again tenuous.

On October 13, 1969, I flew to Chicago for the week of our wedding. We returned to New York on our wedding night. Within days the band got back to rehearsing regularly, but it had become difficult to get everyone together at the same time.

Chuck had a friend named Harry who played tenor saxophone, and wanted to beef up our sound by adding him to the band. Harry was a nice enough fellow, but there was no way I wanted the sound of persistent chicken squawking in my band, so I put my foot down at the suggestion.

The whole nature of the band had changed. We were no longer the radical band of classical musicians with brave new ideas and high ideals. Adding saxophone would have made us just another not very good bar band with a catalog of difficult original music, much of which we couldn't play. Chuck was unhappy with me for the veto.

About that time I acquired my Gibson EB-3 electric bass, an instrument with a short scale (the same model Jack Bruce used), which I still have and like.

In late November 1969, we played what was to be our last public performance, a dance at Fordham University in Bronx. Beforehand we had a heated discussion with Chuck, at which time he decided that he would play that one remaining job with us, and then call it quits. We played reasonably well that night, and students came up to tell us that they hoped we would go far. I never saw or heard from Chuck again after that job. I remember being very depressed that night.

The Last Months
New York City, Winter 1969—Spring 1970

Tom and Bob and I remained. Things were not officially over for us, because our one-year contract with David Lucas had not expired, but we were in Limbo. We never again made the effort to find another guitarist, or to seek club work, and Lucas did little more to promote Think Dog!

In December, we went into the studio once again and put down at least five more tracks: Good Time Jimbo Jim, I Wish I Could Cry For You, The Perfect Believer, Maybe in December, and Sitting. The recording notes indicate how far from polished these works were, although we had fun doing Jimbo Jim. We all loved recording.

There are three more songs that for the life of me I cannot remember recording, which leads me to believe that there must have been one more session sometime. I vaguely recall playing For a Dime Or So at Lucas' new Warehouse studio on 46th Street.

As the weeks rolled by, we became more inactive. We would all go to the studio almost every day and hang out for hours. Music Art was just two blocks away, so it was easy for me to walk there. Sometimes we would rehearse or jam together for a while; sometimes we would practice on our own; sometimes we would sit and chat or visit with some of the best musicians in New York who were constantly passing through; and sometimes we would just sit and wonder what would happen next.

Tom began trying to get a handhold in Lucas' jingle business. I worked a few hours a day at Music Art. Stuhler lived pretty much hand to mouth during that period.

Going Solo
Early Summer 1970

Two final events involved me apart from the others. The first was my last recording session. Lucas' associate George Grant wanted to do some work tuning up the new studio. They had just bought a new grand piano for it, and wanted to get some use out of it. Meanwhile, I had continued to write new material, and had several new songs that had not been recorded. One day in late spring or early summer 1970, I went into the Warehouse, and George recorded me singing and playing solo. The songs from that session were Lovely Lady, How Shall I Speak to You?, Untitled, and Very Natural, recorded in that order.

Soon thereafter, George got me appointments to see some influential people in the music business. First I met and played for Barbara Streisand's producer at Columbia Records, then high-ranking officers at both ASCAP and BMI, the artists' licensing and royalty paying agencies. I was given some compliments and encouragement, and ASCAP and BMI both offered me significant and unprecedented advances against future royalties as an incentive to join. I joined ASCAP because they offered the most, and I needed the money. In the long run, BMI probably would have been a better career decision, if I had stayed in the business.

Letting It Go
Summer 1970

But by that time nothing else was happening for us, and I privately decided to leave the business. In March 1970, I had begun studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses. What I was learning had a profound effect on me. It was not long before I came face-to-face with the reality that there were undesirable aspects of the life I had been living that I was too much attached to.

Worst of all, popular music in New York in that era was a drug-saturated world, even among the very best professionals. In order to avoid sinking ever deeper into it, I had to extricate myself entirely from that destructive way of life. My friends sensed that I was changing, and I believe that near the end we became mutually uncomfortable around each other, with the result that we began distancing ourselves from each other. It became difficult for me to talk openly with the others, because we were no longer broadcasting on the same wavelength.

One afternoon, after hanging out at the Warehouse and talking with a well-known musician who was on hand, while a 7-Up commercial was being recorded in the studio, I walked out of the place without saying good-bye to anyone around, in the knowledge that there was no longer anything there for me, aware that I would never return. No one ever called to wonder where I'd been.

I can't remember ever getting together with Tom and Bob and formally calling it quits. I don't think we ever did. As long as Think Dog! was together I continued to have hope that something would happen for us, but it never did. As we worked together, we all lived closely, and suffered together. Our lives became deeply intertwined almost as one, as in a family relationship. Watching that come to an end was as painful as watching a family break up.

In the beginning it was I who started the band, as a vehicle for my own music. I also wrote the most music. Often Tom, with the more extroverted personality, acted as our spokesman, and was somewhat of a leader. He did as much as any of us to make Think Dog! a success, but it was not to be. For that I have always blamed mostly myself. In the end, I was also the last to quit. For these reasons I have always thought of and referred to Think Dog! as my band. But as John Lennon wrote about a similar difficult decision he made: "I just had to let it go."

Where Are We Now?

Over thirty years have passed. Life has been good. I had thought about my rock and roll days only occasionally until recently, when Charles Wolff, a friend at work, offered to convert some old reel-to-reel tapes to digital form for me. The result is this CD project and program notes, for which Charles also kindly produced the cover art, using photographs I supplied him.

The Cover Pictures: The four black and white pictures on the cover were all taken in our Mott Street loft, probably on the same day, around January 1969. Pictured are: Lynn David Newton, top left; XX XXXXXXX, top right; Tom McFaul, bottom left; Richard Stanley, bottom right. Regrettably, I have no photographs from that period of Bob Stuhler, our real drummer, nor of Ron Renninger. But I do like the arrangement and concept of the cover, vaguely reminiscent of the Beatles' Let It Be album.

Recent research has turned up a lot of information about the lives and welfare of all the band members who ever recorded with us. Following is a summary of what I know.

David Rosenboom
never returned to school, yet has led a distinguished life in academia, where the greatest amount of activity in new music takes place. He has been been the dean of the music school first of Mills College, and presently of California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita, California. His astonishingly productive career has led him through work in interdisciplinary studies, especially in high-tech multi-media research. He was the leading pioneer in the performance of brain wave music using biofeedback, which I saw him do on television one day in the early seventies on the Mike Douglas Show, when he was brought on and introduced by John and Yoko Lennon, as their personal friend. He sat and accompanied himself on piano, while controlling a synthesizer with electrodes strapped to his head, very much to the amusement of Mike Douglas.

David has also written scholarly technical articles with mind-boggling titles, such as Propositional Music: On Emergent Properties in Morphogenesis and the Evolution of Music, Part I: Essays, Propositions and Commentaries and Part II: Imponderable Forms and Compositional Methods. He continues to be very active as a composer and performer, and has numerous CD recordings to his credit. His personal Web site, with a complete biography and discography, can be found at <>. We have maintained periodic email contact since about 1990.
Ron Renninger
has managed to make his entire living in music. Presently, he is active as a touring solo singer, songwriter, and guitarist, on the folk music circuit, working out of New York City. He also does shows especially for young children, and entertains in rest homes. Ron has an eight-track studio in his home, and has five CDs out, which he distributes through his Web site, <>. His most recent CD, Music from the Final Woods, is delightful. It was in early June of this year (2000) that we re-established contact, thanks to the Net.
Richard Stanley
I found through his daughter Almitra. I have not seen since Almitra she was about six years old, but discovered through the Net she was an art museum director in Massachusetts.

Richard and Kathy, who now goes by Kate, are living happily in Concord, Massachusetts. Both are active in singing and playing music. Richard is still repairing and building guitars. He is not on the Net, but will be soon. I was able to obtain his telephone number, and recently talked with him for over an hour.
Bob Stuhler
It was through Richard that I learned Bob Stuhler became the drummer with Hot Tuna, the band formed by Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady when Jefferson Airplane split up. Bob always hated his German name, and so used Steeler for professional music work, which is how it is listed on the albums he played on. According to a discography I found, he played with Hot Tuna from 1973 until 1979, then again from 1990 when the band reformed, until at least 1994. He is no longer with them, but is presently an artist living in the Denver area. Last week I phoned him, and we talked for about 45 minutes, catching up and reminiscing about old times.
Tom McFaul
continued with the jingle business, became David Lucas' partner, and eventually took over the business completely. My search for old band members came to a conclusion when I finally reached him on the afternoon of June 29, 2000, following which I was able to complete writing these notes. He and Ellen now live in Southport, Connecticut. Tom also has an apartment in New York where he lives during the work week.

Tom has done some of the top line commercials in the industry. For 25 years he has done the General Electric campaign: "We bring good things to life." He also did the memorable Ray Charles Diet Pepsi ad, "You got the right one baby, uh-huh!"

A couple of years ago Tom had open heart surgery for a triple bypass, but seems to be healthy now.

Tom has written a Mass, based on the Roman Catholic liturgy. The work is for chorus, four soloists, and orchestra, and is nearly two hours long. He has also written some piano music for fun. After so many years of writing primarily music for commercials, he now feels that he can finally call himself a composer.

In addition to his work in music, in the 1980's Tom got deeply into studying astronomy, and built an observatory in his home. For a while he was doing photoelectric photometry, and collaborated on articles that were published in journals. Since the early eighties, Tom and Ellen's greatest passion has been their beautiful garden at their home, which they have named Bogmoor.
Jim Mohr
I learned about from Tom and Ellen. To my surprise, he is not only alive and well, but has been very active as an actor. He has played on the road, and on Broadway. He stayed with McFauls in Connecticut when he was there to perform in a production of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapine Agile. He is reportedly well and robust, and in fine physical shape, which is gratifying to hear, given that he is by now well into his seventies.

Jim generously financed Think Dog! for much longer than he could afford to be with us, and got nothing in return other than our everlasting gratitude for his forbearance.
Lynn David Newton
Naturally, I believe that I ended up with the best life of all. For the last thirty years my primary interest has been studying and teaching others the Bible. Although this pursuit is not as glamorous as doing creative work in the upper echelons of the music business, the knowledge that I have personally played a part in rendering significant help to others, along with the Bible-based hope I have acquired for an infinite life on earth, with which to pursue worthwhile and creative work, has brought me unsurpassable satisfaction, and contentment with my present lot in life.

Meanwhile, that present lot is not bad at all. There has been time for other things as well. I've been happily remarried since 1978, and have a son and a daughter. I have been working as a software engineer for Motorola Computer Group and its predecessors since 1983, which means I get to play with the latest computers all day long, and get paid very well for it.

My interest in music has not waned. I now play only piano, and have a large collection of recordings. While he still lived at home, I used to play chamber music with my son Aaron, who is a talented violinist. Since 1982, I have not composed anything of substance, largely because of a lack of opportunity to have it performed. When I had an Amiga computer in the late eighties to mid-nineties, I created a few amusing MIDI experiments. It is my hope that I may yet work in that area again. I've also thought about composing some piano etudes for myself to play.

I've been a runner since 1977. A few years ago I started running long distances. Now, at nearly age 57, I run marathons and ultramarathons, and am healthier than I have been my whole life. Later this year I will participate in my first 48-hour race, where I hope to cover 130 miles or more.

Writing has become an important diversion for me. Two of my books are on my personal Web site. One is a monograph on linguistic practices of Jehovah's Witnesses in the US, and the other about training for and running my first 24-hour race last year. More about me can be found on my Web site at <>. Unless you are reading a printed copy of this history, it is likely you are already visiting my Web site.

Overall, it appears that all the Think Dog! alumni I have been able to track have done far better than merely to survive. All seem to have done well in their chosen lives, and are apparently happy with the choices they have made. I can only hope that each one, in the times they reflect back on the experiences we shared together, will remember the good times, and the fun we had playing and recording together, and will consider the sacrifice and effort they put forth as something valuable and worthwhile.

The Songs

Caveat: Nothing on this CD is of production quality! All tracks are incomplete demos of work in progress, though some are more polished than others. Several were made on cheap equipment in our basement loft. Some of the vocals are hard for me to listen to. In places the playing is rough. The latest work, four songs which I recorded solo, was recorded in mid-1970. But hey, if the Beatles weren't ashamed to open their workshop doors and release some of that stuff on the Anthology albums, then I guess I shouldn't be too sensitive about this work!

No Julia No

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: Spring 1969, Tower Studios, NYC
Personnel: Tom McFaul — lead vocal, piano
Lynn David Newton — bass, backup vocal
Richard Stanley — guitar
Bob Stuhler — drums, backup vocal

I wrote this song in a half hour in our loft on Mott Street, using my bass (not a guitar or keyboard), with my manuscript on the floor, so I had to stoop over to write something down. The arrangement fell together easily. It's one of the few songs I wrote that I was able to get someone else to sing adequately.

This song had potential to be a hit, if we could have added just a little more sugar to it, perhaps with just a lead guitar. A producer responsible for the bubble gum band called Ohio Express showed some interest in releasing it, but nothing came of it.

Good Time Jimbo Jim

Composer: Tom McFaul
Recorded: December 1969, NYC
Personnel: Tom McFaul — vocal, wah-wah piano
Lynn David Newton — bass
Bob Stuhler — drums

Tom wrote this because he had just acquired a wah-wah to use on his piano and was having fun playing with it. By the time of this recording we were completely guitarless — there were just the three of us.

Can't Begin to Be Happy

Composer: Ron Renninger
Recorded: Spring 1969, Mott Street loft
Personnel: Ron Renninger — lead vocal, guitar
Richard Stanley — guitar
Tom McFaul — organ, backup vocal
Lynn David Newton — bass, backup vocal
Bob Stuhler — drums, backup vocal

Ron was eighteen years old when he came to us. His singing on this tune is incredibly heart-rending, and I always loved his guitar playing. He could write a song in a very short time. This song, with its technical complexities, octave unison guitar and bass riffs, and changing rhythms, was not unlike a lot of late sixties acid rock that was being done by San Francisco bands. At the time Ron's favorite band was Jefferson Airplane.

Very Natural

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: Warehouse Studio, summer 1970
Personnel: Lynn David Newton — vocal, guitar

This was the last song I played on this session, and therefore, the very last recording I ever made in my brief career. It was not long afterward that I left the business. It was also probably the best vocal I ever recorded. The reason for that is simple. It's not a difficult song technically, and one of the only songs I ever wrote that wasn't way too high for my voice.

Very Natural was written over a year before I recorded it. We just never got around to arranging it. It's sort of a country song, and we didn't know how to do country.

This song originally had a technically tricky solo guitar ending, but it was risky. There was a possibility I would get all the way through the song and then trip over the ending, which would happen about two times out of three. This was especially likely because George Grant had rented me a very nice steel string guitar to play it on, which sounded nice, but the action was very stiff to me. Therefore, for the sake of the demo, I opted to play a dead simple I-IV-V-I cadence.

For Peace

Composer: Tom McFaul
Recorded: unknown
Personnel: Tom McFaul — vocal, guitar
Lynn David Newton — backup vocal
Bob Stuhler — backup vocal, knee slaps

Tom could play only three or four chords on the guitar. You're hearing two of them here.

The backup vocal consists of nothing more than Bob and I singing "for peace," over and over in unison. This was harder than you might think, to keep it together and in tune. I'm assuming that's Bob supplying the knee-slapping rhythmic background, since he was our drummer. But it may have been David Lucas.

Though Tom is the composer of this, I'll take credit for the very last line of lyric, heard as the song is fading out. It's a combination of two sixties clichés, "Let it all hang out" and "Do your own thing." The resulting eyebrow-raiser was intentional. Can you hear what it says? Blame it on the sixties.

Sunday Brings Another Day

Composer: Tom McFaul
Recorded: Spring 1969, Tower Studios, NYC
Personnel: Tom McFaul — lead vocal, piano
Lynn David Newton — bass, backup vocal
Richard Stanley — guitar
Bob Stuhler — drums

The bouncy, shuffling rhythmic feel to this song was a typical beat for late sixties pop music. None of us, including Tom, particularly loved this song, but it did have a pop quality to it, and was potential big hit material. We referred to this as our Beatles song, but I can no longer connect it to which Beatles song or songs that made us think that, unless perhaps it's Getting Better from the Sgt. Pepper album.

For a Dime Or So

Composer: Tom McFaul
Recorded: unknown
Personnel: Tom McFaul — vocal, piano
Lynn David Newton — bass, bass trombone
Bob Stuhler — drums

Tom wrote a lot of cute, short ditties that could be categorized as novelty songs, an ability that served him well later on as he acquired success in the jingle business. This song is a good example. I loved every one of the songs Tom wrote for the band.

I play trombone on this recording, in addition to bass. Unfortunately, I had not been playing much trombone at the time, and my chops were very rusty, so much so that I bleated one note outright during the take, an unforgivable, embarrassing clam that should have resulted in another take. However, Dave Lucas insisted that we didn't have enough studio time available (it was his studio), and that this was just a demo, so let it go. It made me mad, and I never forgave him for it.

Lovely Lady

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: Warehouse Studio, summer 1970
Personnel: Lynn David Newton — vocal, piano

This was the first of four songs I recorded at this session, with George Grant in the booth. It was strictly a solo session, for the purpose of making a permanent record of four tunes I had recently written, to be pitched to producers in the industry.

The studio was still quite new. Part of the purpose of this session was to get used to using it, and "tune it up." We worked quite a while on this first song, as the engineer ran in and out, moving around baffles between me and the inside of the open grand piano. The instrument was about a seven-footer, though I don't remember the make. It was an okay piano, not great. It was not in perfect tune for the session.

The introduction to this song is taken from Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu, Opus 66, which leads, after its fast and furious first part, into a romantic ballade-style section which was turned into a popular song in the forties. I believe the title was I'm Always Chasing Rainbows. Somehow there was a connection in my mind. My song is in the same key as that middle section (D-flat), and I thought it made kind of a subtle lead-in. A pop producer probably would have bagged it and substituted Montovanni violins with echo or something.

How Shall I Speak to You?

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: Warehouse Studio, summer 1970
Personnel: Lynn David Newton — vocal, piano

There is something about this song that doesn't quite work for me. It's hard to categorize — it's not a rock and roll song, that's for sure. Dave Lucas thought it might be a good song for the group the Fifth Dimension. Personally, I didn't hear that. What you hear is what you get.

Let the Sun Shine Through

Composer: Ron Renninger
Recorded: Spring 1969, Mott Street loft
Personnel: Ron Renninger — guitar, backup vocal
Richard Stanley — guitar
Tom McFaul — lead vocal, organ
Lynn David Newton — bass, backup vocal
Bob Stuhler — drums, backup vocal

This song was not easy to play, as the performance makes obvious. The lead vocal is thrown back and forth between Ron and Tom.


Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: Warehouse Studio, summer 1970
Personnel: Lynn David Newton — vocal, piano

Astute listeners with an ear for structure may notice that this song is "through-composed," which means it doesn't have traditional verses, though it may sound as though it does, and it definitely has a chorus. To this very day I am unable to think of a title for this song other than If I Believe, which stinks, or maybe You Reap What You Sow, which I don't like either, so it seems destined to remain forever unnamed. The hook line, "You reap what you sow," is a paraphrase of Galatians 6:7, which I knew at the time, but the song was written before I took up studying the Bible in earnest.

The high note at the end is an E, a tenth above middle C. Sometimes I made it, sometimes I didn't. This was probably the second best vocal I ever did. I practiced very hard for a couple of weeks before this session. It helps to pretend there is a big arrangement with harmony voices going on during the chorus and repetitive instrumental breaks.

For a little while around 1972—1973 I played a few jobs in a trio with some friends, where we performed ordinary pop music at weddings and bars. We actually performed this song at a wedding once, with an improved ending (I always hated fadeouts), and it came off well. Think Dog! never even tried to work out an arrangement for it.

My Toy Soldiers

Composer: Ron Renninger
Recorded: Spring 1969, Mott Street loft
Personnel: Ron Renninger — co-lead vocal, guitar
Richard Stanley — guitar
Tom McFaul — co-lead vocal, organ
Lynn David Newton — bass, backup vocal
Bob Stuhler — drums, backup vocal

This song is another one of Ron's goodies, certainly an unusual one, particularly the part at the end where Tom, Ron, and I repeat the title in tandem over and over near the end. We should have practiced this vocal a lot more before recording it. It was hard!

We Waited for Nothing

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: Spring 1969, Tower Studios, NYC
Personnel: Lynn David Newton — lead vocal (doubletracked), bass
Tom McFaul — piano, backup vocal
Richard Stanley — guitar
Bob Stuhler — drums, backup vocal

I wrote this song not long after The Band released their stunning album Music From Big Pink. I still think The Band is one of the greatest bands in history. The evidence of that early album's influence may not be as obvious to others in this song as it is to me.

The subject matter has to do with the frustrating and depressing times we all experienced during the months we lived in Buffalo, New York, just waiting for the opportunity to get out of town and move to New York City, where we were sure we would soon hit the big time.

Maybe in December

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: December 1969, NYC
Personnel: Lynn David Newton — vocal, guitar

My vocal is timidly weak on this, which was characteristic of my singing in those days. It got substantially better later, but then we weren't a band any more! I have a hard time listening to this.

Let's Take it Home

Composer: Tom McFaul
Recorded: unknown
Personnel: Tom McFaul — vocal, organ
Lynn David Newton — backup vocal, recorder, finger snaps
Richard Stanley — guitar

This is another one of Tom's novelties. I think it's wonderful, and as usual for Tom, very funny as well. Songs like this one remind me a lot of the Scottish duo the Incredible String Band, which we all loved and listened to over and over. It may not be rock and roll, but we enjoyed putting together songs like this.

The Perfect Believer

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: December 1969, NYC
Personnel: Lynn David Newton — vocal, piano

The short introduction prepended to this song had nothing to do with me. Tom wrote it and recorded it with David Lucas, who assisted on vocals, while I was barely conscious that they were doing it. When they put together the whole tape from the session, this airline commercial had been grafted onto the beginning of my song.

This is my personal favorite of all the songs I wrote during the band's existence. It is subtitled "With Apologies to Dylan", which refers to the poet Dylan Thomas, not Bob Zimmerman, a.k.a. Bob Dylan. This is because the little break passage in the middle inverts the most famous line from Thomas' famous poem "Do not go gentle into that good night."

When I recorded this, I had just finished writing it about two days before, and had barely learned it. Therefore, I played it too slowly. It didn't help that the aforementioned passage, which reaches up to a high C, is incredibly difficult to sing. I don't know why I kept doing that to myself.

I Wanna Be Free

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: Spring 1969, Mott Street loft
Personnel: Ron Renninger — guitar
Richard Stanley — guitar
Tom McFaul — organ, lead vocal
Lynn David Newton — bass
Bob Stuhler — drums

It took some analysis to conclude by process of elimination that I must have written this song, though I don't remember doing so. Neither Ron nor Tom ever wrote lyrics such as these, but I wasn't above such corniness at the time. Other characteristics are like things that I have done. Therefore, I must be the culprit. It may have been a throwaway I wrote in Buffalo that we decided to work up in order to pad out our loft set. I love the interplay between guitar and organ in the instrumental section.

Tell Me a Story

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: Spring 1969, Mott Street loft
Personnel: Ron Renninger — lead vocal, guitar
Richard Stanley — guitar
Tom McFaul — organ, backup vocal
Lynn David Newton — bass, backup vocal
Bob Stuhler — drums

This song may have been another leftover from our days in Buffalo. The lyrics make this song my candidate for worst song on the album, or maybe worst song of the sixties, or perhaps even worst song ever written. Well ... maybe not that bad, but judge for yourself. It was really just a vehicle to play a I-IV jam for ten minutes at clubs.


Composer: Bob Stuhler
Recorded: December 1969, NYC
Personnel: Bob Stuhler — vocal, piano

Sitting is the only song Bob ever wrote with Think Dog! He has a good, strong, clear voice, and should have been featured more as a singer.

This recording represents the upper limit of Bob's ability as a pianist in those days. Plunk, plunk, plunk, plunk. He had to do several takes because he kept making mistakes. I don't know why Tom or I didn't learn and refine the piano part. This song is obviously too short, and needed to be developed more, but was a good start. It begs for an arrangement with horns. I think of Blood, Sweat, and Tears when I hear it.

I Wish I Could Cry for You

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: December 1969, NYC
Personnel: Lynn David Newton — vocal, guitar, bass
Tom McFaul — piano

Inserted at the beginning is the shortest song I ever wrote: Apples and Oranges is three measures long! We were in the recording studio that day, and someone said, "Well, why not?" so here it is.

I Wish I Could Cry for You was one of my best songs, one that we tried to peddle to various biggies in the business, but no one wanted it. It's obvious that the arrangement is incomplete. There is nothing but voice and guitar until the chorus. The song was around for over a year before we recorded it. We just never knew quite what to do with it.

After it was recorded, I changed the expression "beauty of love" to "power of love."

Green Fields

Composer: Lynn David Newton
Recorded: March 1968, Columbia Studios, NYC
Personnel: Tom McFaul — lead vocal, harpsichord
Lynn David Newton — bass, trombones, backup vocal
Richard Stanley — guitar
David Rosenboom — drums, chimes, trumpet

Green Fields was originally recorded during our Toronto sessions. The other version was slower, and had a softer, gentler sound. I sang lead on that one. In this version, we gave the producer, whose name is deservedly forgotten, license to do whatever he wanted with it. He turned it into a bubble gum song.