Remembering Forgotten Songs!
John Simon - The Song of The Elves
John Simon is an American music producer, composer, writer and performer. Recognized as one of the top record producers in the United States during the late 1960s and the 1970s, Simon produced numerous classic albums that continue to sell more than 50 years later, including the Band’s Music from Big Pink, The Band, and The Last Waltz, Cheap Thrills by Big Brother & the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, Songs of Leonard Cohen by Leonard Cohen, and Child Is Father to the Man by Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Who is John Simon?
John Simon began his career as a trainee at Columbia Records where he was first assigned to the Legacy department under the guidance of Goddard Lieberson, then the president of Columbia. Simon’s work during that period involved original cast albums of Broadway shows and audio documentary albums, including Point of Order, an LP of the notorious Senate hearings conducted by anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy, and The Medium Is the Massage, inspired by the writings of media guru Marshall McLuhan.
In 1966, he arranged and produced the single Red Rubber Ball by the Cyrkle. The song, which was co-written by Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel and Bruce Woodley of the Seekers, went to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
With the success of Red Rubber Ball, Simon was assigned other pop music artists like Frankie Yankovic, 'America’s Polka King', and jazzman Charles Lloyd. The first production for which he also wrote extensive arrangements was Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen’s debut album. While assisting on what was to become the Simon and Garfunkel album Bookends, he met Al Kooper, who encouraged him to leave Columbia and become a freelance producer, which he did, producing Blood, Sweat & Tears’ first album, Child Is Father to the Man.
About that time, he was recommended to Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary to help Yarrow with a movie he was making with cinematographer Barry Feinstein. The film was released in 1968 as You Are What You Eat and contained the song My Name Is Jack, written by Simon for that movie, which later became a hit for Manfred Mann.
Work on that film brought Simon to Woodstock, where he met manager Albert Grossman. Grossman asked him to produce several acts from his stable of talent, the first being Gordon Lightfoot. Once again, Simon sweetened the project with his orchestral arrangements.
Following that, he was asked to produce an album for Janis Joplin and her band Big Brother And The Holding Company (Cheap Thrills, which featured the hit single Piece Of My Heart. While producing an album for the Electric Flag, he met blues artist Taj Mahal, beginning a musical association which continues to the present. His name is often linked with the Band, with whom he was very closely associated, and he has been referred to as 'the sixth member of the Band'. The albums he produced with them in the 1970s, Music From Big Pink, The Band, and The Last Waltz, stand as precursors to the genre later labeled Americana. He was also the music director for The Last Waltz concert and contributed as a musician to Stage Fright and Islands and produced, played on, and cowrote for their 1990s comeback album Jericho.
Other albums from this period were Morning Bugle by John Hartford, Jackrabbit Slim by Steve Forbert, Priestess by the jazz arranger Gil Evans, Mama Cass's Dream a Little Dream of Me album, Tiger In The Rain for Michael Franks, and Down Home by Seals and Crofts, as well as albums for Rachel Faro, Hirth Martinez, Cyrus Faryar and others.
Simon, as would be his natural habit, kept quite busing as time went on. He composed the score for the controversial Frank Perry film, Last Summer (1969), starring Barbara Hershey and Richard Thomas. He played keyboards on the album Alone Together (1970) by Dave Mason, including the haunting piano on the song Sad and Deep As You.
Once popular music sprouted disco and heavy metal, he lost interest in producing and only occasionally produced new recordings. In the early 70's, Simon recorded two albums for Warner Brothers, John Simon’s Album and Journey.
In the Eighties, Simon wrote two ballet scores for the choreographer Twyla Tharp and composed circus music for aerialist Philip Petit (after his solo walk between the World Trade Towers). He was the music supervisor for a Broadway venture called Rock & Roll! The First 5,000 Years, modeled after Beatlemania, and produced the original cast album of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
A self-described 'compulsive musician', Simon continues to be active. These days he performs his own material in concerts on rare occasions, but plays piano weekly with his jazz trio in his hometown near Woodstock, NY.
In 2018 Simon wrote a book, Truth Lies & Hearsay: A Memoir Of A Musical Life In And Out Of Rock And Roll which received extensive favorable reviews as an accurate, yet personal rock history, combining first-person details of iconic recording sessions with lively, chatty wit.
John Simon - The Song of the Elves
The Song of the Elves
Once upon a time
In the land of Rhye
There was a ship at sail
Upon a magic sea
And stowed away on board was me
On the galley shelves
Was food for elves
And the elves rode along
Singing this song
For anyone who came along and for themselves
I try and I strain
To make out their refrain
But the words tumbled out upon an endless sea
And following them along was me
So take a hand, take a hand
Down to that sand
Direct your soul and your senses too
And that ship will pull up alongside of you
Faiderol (You can make it out if your listen clear)
Faiderol (It's nothing you wouldn't wanna hear)
Faiderol (They're singing, singing)
Faiderol (Singing, singing, singing)
Elves something 'bout tall (Singing...)
Holy, holy, holy
'Cause elves believe in God
'Cause they know there's a possibility of dying in a fog
And they think of fortunes on the run
Singing 'bout the power of a gun
Singing battles lost and battles won
And staying clear until they're done
And having kids and having fun
And sailing high across the sun
Until out of rhymes they've run
They begin again, they go:
Faiderol (Singing, singing)
Elves something 'bout tall
Holy, holy, holy
Singing, singing Faiderol
Singing elves are tall
Singing, singing, singing
Singing holy, holy, holy
Singing holy, holy, holy