As a lover of dub "versions" and remixes, I often find alternate mixes and performances insightful into a song's intentions.
The song "Dear Friend (Collapsing Domino)" has seen many versions, some of which I grew attached to but ultimately left behind. I've selected a few of these to show other roads the song could've taken, to illustrate the song's evolution, and to hopefully provide insight into the creative process. I've enjoyed digging through these older version, and I hope you will too.
Dear Friend, Original Version ( Cold Concrete Garage ):
I stumbled over this tune for hours before I could finally get it recorded. Recorded on my brother's upright piano in his cold concrete garage apartment. This is the original recording and it eventually found its way onto the "Pink Clouds" cassette.
The wild percussion was a group of 5 or so of us around a mic, banging on whatever was close at hand. Only one person could actually hear the track (one set of headphones), which turned out as an advantage : the playing was wilder than I would've anticipated. I really like random musical moments, especially when they fit the fabric of a song.
Bill Baird: piano, bass, guitar, percussion. Jordan Johns: drums and percussion. Michael Baird, Paul Sisler, Sam Sanford: percussion.
Dear Friend (Live at Sugarhill)
This version was recorded live at Sugarhill studios, in a beautiful room designed to look like a small Mexican village. Murals on the walls showed cactus and mountain ranges, a small hut was built inside the room as a vocal booth. Apparently, these details were done for Freddy Fender, who used to track frequently at Sugarhill. He sang the classic tune, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights." This version features the stellar guitar work of Nathan Stein, whose parts hint at the melodies revisited in later versions.
Performers: Bill Baird, Nathan Stein, Paul Sisler, Hiram and Cley from the Young Mammals, Cary from The Satin Hooks, Alejandra Olivares.
Dear Friend (Solo at Big Orange):
Recorded live at Big Orange with a few additional overdubs. Almost unrecognizable from the later version with its heavy overdubs. The song rises to the occasion, though, and almost seems better without all the extra instruments. The song here seems mostly carried by a Rhodes piano. This early version contained a lengthy spoken word middle section, which during live shows would often last for five minutes or more.
Performers: Bill Baird, Nathan Stein (French horn).
Dear Friend ( Second Draft ):
Here the song has started to fill out a bit more, with pounding drums and mandolin. Some folks prefer the drums on this version, with their stiff pounding, over the jazzy drums that made the final mix. I like them both, and used them both in the final mix, although these drums do get buried a bit.
Performers: Bill Baird, Jordan Johns, Nathan Stein.
Dear Friend ( Full Band ) :
This represents the furthest extension of the song. 7 people on the song, 3 pianos, moog, guitars. Recorded live at the Daytrotter studio in Rock Island, Illinois. The night before the session, I drank a full bottle of wine under a full moon with Willis McClung, good friend and bass player. We slept under the stars in Wildcat Den State Park, Iowa, and watched the moon glitter over the running waters of the Mississippi.
Performers: Bill Baird, Will Patterson, Michael Baird, Michael Bain, Sam Miller, Willis McClung, John Kolar.