Wednesday, October 2, 2013

America: Don't Cross the River

For today’s Wooden Wednesday selection, I bring you a Dan Peek tune from America’s second LP: “Homecoming.” “Don’t Cross the River” was not the best known song from America, as this 1972 hit only charted at #35. It didn’t fare much better on the adult contemporary chart either where it peaked at #23.

I’m not sure why it wasn’t a bigger success. America had a great following in 1972. The lyrics have a catchy hook; however, it does come late in the song – and the song was short. At 2:29, it was the perfect length for AM radio. They didn’t have to edit the song as was the custom of many stations back in the day to give the illusion that they played more music than the competition across town.

Snip a guitar solo out here, shorten a verse there – it was a real talent in those days before music editing software. You had to have a splicing block, a sharp razor blade, a china marker, and plenty of splicing tape. It was an art form. How I miss those days . . . not. You can do a whole lot more with Sound Forge or other software today, and if you make a mistake – you just undo and recalibrate your edit.

Maybe its poor performance was due to Harry Diltz’s banjo. Surely, a pop song couldn’t have a banjo? But then again, there were the Eagles with “Take it Easy,” The Stampeders with “Sweet City Woman,” The Who’s “Squeeze Box,” and The Doobie Brother’s “Listen to the Music” to name but a few. Interesting note, Diltz not only played banjo, but he also shot the cover photo for the album. How often does that happen? Oh, yeah, back in 1977-78 I did the photograph for an album as well having played on it – so I guess it’s not that uncommon of feat.


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