Thursday, March 14, 2019

The First Day Of Spring | Lefsetz Letter

Is today.


Well, spring is here
I feel it in the air
The world is turning green

“Spring Is Here”
Wendy Waldman

Actually, it was white in Colorado last week. At this time of year you never know, you can get slush or firm, but you don’t expect thirty inches of new snow. John was scared of the powder. Strasburg wanted to go into the trees. Felice didn’t even go out. But it felt like winter to me, and I love the winter. The warmth of coming inside after braving the cold. Having dinner at Sweet Basil, where that pork chop was served, as the wind swirls and the flakes fly.

But the snow was heavier than it was in December. And when the sun came out, the last few vertical feet were soft. And one day it even rained at the bottom, even though this never happened in the old days.

And when I got back to SoCal, it was still locked in its severe winter, i.e. the fifties. Heat was still required. Yesterday it even rained a bit. But when I exited the house today…

It was spring.

Not by the calendar, we’ll have to wait another week. But I could feel it, it was undeniably spring.

The wind is sweet
I smell it everywhere
And I know that God must be smiling

It was the angle of the sun, as the Beach Boys would put it, the warmth of the sun. And the wind, which was brisk, but not cold.

It brought me back to the east coast, where the seasons are definable, when I rode my bike to Keith’s house on the first moderate day only in my Yankees jacket and my mother put me in the tub to warm me up when I got home.

Major League Baseball didn’t start until April, but we were watching the Grapefruit League on TV, in black and white, and as soon as the field dried out, we went out and played. One person pitched, the other batted, then we’d run after, and ultimately walk after, the ball. It was a while before there were enough boys to play a game, but that didn’t stop us.

But that was back before we realized there were only so many springs, and so many falls.

After a minimal ski season last year, I was looking forward to a long one this year. And I’ve gotten plenty of days in so far, forty one to be exact, but I expected it to continue, I’m not ready for the world’s rebirth.

And Mammoth will be open until the Fourth of July at least, one of the benefits of living in California, you can surf and ski on the same day, and corn snow is my favorite, but still, it’s another year down the drain, I want to put on the brakes.


The first Wendy Waldman album, “Love Has Got Me” is a classic.

The second had growing pains, with part of it cut in Muscle Shoals.

And the third was completely ignored, but not by me.

It was stripped down instead of produced, it was sparse and intimate. But I didn’t hear it for nearly thirty years. It was lost in a divorce, not mine, and it was out of print, so it never resurfaced until…


Without Napster you don’t have Spotify. You no longer have the ability to hear all the world’s music at your fingertips for one low monthly price.

And at first I was thrilled by the live tracks on Napster. I remember being wowed by the Samples’ “When It’s Raining.” And then that version of “Can’t Find My Way Home” by Bonnie Raitt. And then I started looking for personal rarities, songs I knew by heart but had lain dormant for years.

That’s when I tried to excavate Wendy Waldman’s eponymous third LP.

It had no hits. But so many of the LPs of yore did not. They were personal statements.

And the opening track, “Western Lullaby,” was on the greatest hits collection, it was the most known.

But it’s the stuff like the ultimately anthemic “Wings” that embedded themselves in your soul. Back when music had melody and was not rhythmic.

And then there was “Constant Companion.” Which sounds like lying on your bed contemplating your life. You know the opportunities, but you’re not quite ready to take action. And if it’s just you alone, you can make it with this music.

And the closing cut is a cover of the folk classic “Green Rocky Road.”

But the song that resonates most is “Spring Is Here.”

In the pre-iPod days, when everything was still difficult, when all the software was not integrated, we Aspenites were all gifted Rios, which I didn’t use until I put Napster on my computer, i.e. Macster. This was long before the iTunes Store.

But when I downloaded “Spring Is Here” I decided to break out my Rio. I wanted to transfer the track to it.

Which required me to install third party software and plug the Rio in via the USB port and drag and drop and watch the bar complete all the while wondering whether it would work, back then you still had to be a mechanic, you didn’t expect it to work the very first time, which is why the iPod was ultimately so successful.

And when the bars were complete, I disconnected the Rio, plugged in some headphones and pushed play. VOILA! That elation of instant success, the ability to hear my songs, MP3s, on the go.

And when I heard “Spring Is Here” I literally jumped up from chair and started dancing. It was nearly midnight but I opened the front door and danced on the sidewalk outside. I felt so good.

Like I do today.

Spring Is Here

P.S. You won’t listen to the playlist, you’re too busy, inundated with not only music, but news, TV and social networking. And you don’t want to feel a party of one, what is listening to this music gonna do for you? We’re all alienated today, looking to connect in the wilderness. Yesterday society was much more coherent and you were alienated from it, if anything you were looking to extract yourself from the scene with music, believing only the musicians understood you. But back when music was scarce, we listened to the albums we bought until we knew them by heart, and that was a good feelin’ to know. And if you like singer-songwriter music, this is for you.

P.P.S. Wendy Waldman never made it as a solo artist. Ultimately she succeeded as a producer and songwriter. But when I compare her forgotten LPs to what passes for hit stuff today I shake my head. By time “Wendy Waldman” was released, in ’75, opportunities were receding for those without hits, AOR radio was codified and dictated. Maria Muldaur had success with one of Wendy’s songs, but she didn’t break through. A song doesn’t have to be a hit to be great. But you’ve got to have experience and talent to make it so.

P.P.P.S. Wendy is still working. She’s studying classical composition at Cal State Northridge. You see it wasn’t about the riches and the fame, but the music. Which is why the thread of credibility runs through her work. We can tell if you’re doing it for the right reasons.


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