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David Lindley

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As a radical Zevonista blog, we should acknowledge the passing of a giant of the LA music scene:

To some segment of the public, the California-raised Lindley first became best known for his tenure with the acid-folk psychedelists Kaleidoscope in the late Sixties. But even before he came a superstar sideman, he hinted at what was to come: That’s his drony, mystical fiddle on the Youngbloods’ “Darkness, Darkness” (1969) and, supposedly, here and there on Leonard Cohen’s 1967 debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen. The original LP didn’t list musicians’ credits, but it’s since been sussed out that Kaleidoscope played on several cuts, meaning the fiddle that roams throughout “So Long, Marianne” is likely Lindley’s. Even if you didn’t know who was doing the playing, you heard those records and wanted to know who it was — early examples of how Lindley could stand out in the world of studio musicians, who are often required to be as musically under the radar as possible, especially in the worlds of folk and troubadour rock.

Of course, the ablest sidemen know how to unobtrusively play their parts and not get in the way of the melody or the sentiment. Lindley knew that as well: Listen to his fiddle work on Warren Zevon’s “Mama Couldn’t Be Persuaded,” Linda Ronstadt’s “Heart Like a Wheel” or the alternate version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Racing in the Street” (released much later, on The Promise) — his playing underscores the songs, but never overwhelms them.

As Browne told me in 2010, he sensed that from the start, when the two of them went on tour opening for Yes. “I don’t know what they thought of us,” he said of Yes fans. “And we couldn’t play ‘Doctor My Eyes’ because I thought we couldn’t play it without congas and a drum kit. At the end of the tour, we had to play it because people kept asking for it. We’re playing at this concert at a college and they were calling for this song. And we said, ‘What the hell, let’s just play it.’ And it was a revelation. The piano part is sturdy enough — it’s just playing fours — and it was enough to support Lindley doing this insane grooving, swinging playing. He wasn’t even the guitar player on the record. But he just ripped it up. And I realized then I didn’t need a band to play with David. It just comes out of him.”

R.I.P. Let’s do another bad one then, cause I like it when the blood drains from Dave’s face:

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