How sensitive to I feel today?
I have fears that Paul Parrish is going to be a singer songwriter of the most maudlin kind. Usually, the piano player ones, for whatever reason, lean that way. That, combined with the song titles, anything with "poem" or "time" in the title.
Still, I don't mind maudlin.
It may be contrary to the punk I may listen to (though, admittedly, that is less frequent now) but I like either end of the noise spectrum. It's the squidgy, neither here nor there middle, that usually bores me.
If you are going to be punk, be 100% punk, if you are going to be pop be 100% pop.
And, it's not about the music exclusively it's about attitude.
Paul Parrish on fist listening is 100% singer songwriter and, to some, definitely, 100% maudlin.
But he does like most artists I have time for throw something else into the mix.
The entire allmusic entry on him is: "Paul Parrish is an American singer, songwriter and pianist. His songs have been recorded by Helen Reddy, Kenny Rogers, The Dillards, Robin Dransfield, and others. Jon Pruett of Allmusic called his first album, The Forest of My Mind, "a bright, excellently produced LP filled with remarkable sunshine-dipped folk-pop songs." … Parrish wrote the song A Poem I Wrote for Your Hair for the 1970 film "Fools" starring Jason Robards and Katharine Ross … With Lorenzo Toppano, Parrish was half of the duo Parrish & Toppano. They recorded two albums together". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Parrish
All other google searches and searched through my paper library indicate very little on him:
- He was friends with producer Dan Dalton and singer and songwriter John Beland (later of Swampwater and The Flying Burrito Brothers) who he seasoned for.
- He sang the theme song to "The Brady Bunch" sitcom in 1969. Yes, you read right. You have to eat I suppose. Wikipedia: "The theme song, penned by Schwartz and Frank De Vol, and originally arranged, sung, and performed by Paul Parrish, Lois Fletcher, and John Beland under the name the Peppermint Trolley Company" though hey weren't in that band. The Peppermint Trolley Company is credited with arranging and singing the theme song for the show's pilot. After the band left their label, the vocals were re-recorded and sung by Paul Parish, John Beland and Lois Fletcher leaving the original music intact. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Brady_Bunch https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peppermint_Trolley_Company
- Beland says this "Ahhh the Brady Bunch. I was just a teenage new kid on the block when I sang it, along with Paul Parrish and Lois Dalton (Dan Dalton's wife). I was more impressed by the $350.00 check I received for doing it, than the actual show. LOL….." http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/hello-john-beland-here-new-to-the-forum.180209/page-2
Most praise heaped on him is in relation to that first album from 1968, "The Forrest of My Mind", which has a cult following and discovered an ever bigger (cult) following after its digital release.
It is, and I have listened to a few snatches on youtube, lush orchestrated pastoral folk pop-psych betraying a heavy influence of Donovan with sunshine pop and baroque pop asides.
And, there is nothing wrong with that.
This album came along in 1971 and on the Warner Brothers label (the first album was on the small though MGM backed label, Music Factory, label). I'm not sure how he got that deal but sensitive singer-songwriters were the flavour and all the majors were rushing out to sign them up, record them, and see what struck gold.
I have no idea how old Parrish is here but I suspect he is in his mid-to late 20s. On the 1968 album he betrayed (on what I have heard) a wide eyed innocence and optimism that only works when you are young.
Here things are getting darker, though not gloomy.
Lyrically, the album can be (prima facie) a little precious much like Shawn Phillips (who I like) but without the accompanying musical virtuosity. The difference is that Parrish keeps it straightforward. Many of the songs deal "looking back" , "things past" and "passing time" (check out the song titles) but his knack is in keeping everything low key.
It is a very simple album, there is a band behind him but they don't intrude. The piano (played by Parrish) is dominant whilst the classical or "non-rock" instruments (melodica (played by Parrish also), clarinet, harp, cello) make appearances throughout adding to the mood. What better instrument than the cello for "things past" and melancholy songs?
This album, then, is a nice mix of chamber pop and singer-songwriter though there are elements of soft rock also creeping into the sound (good to some but something I approach with a lot of trepidation).
The music would be a close to early Elton John if his music was more gentle or David Ackles, if Parrish's voice was deeper or gruffer, but it's not. His voice is high and sweet. Very high and sweet. It is akin to Art Garfunkel and perhaps even a little sweeter.
In fact, the album at times is quite Simon and Garfunkel (in their ballads) with Parrish playing both Simon the songwriter, and, Garfunkel the gentle singer.
There was a third album in 1977 (Song For A Young Girl) and then he formed half of Parrish & Toppano in the 1980s who played soft rock. They released two albums and from what I have heard it's not that good unless you like 80s soft rock … soft music against a lot of keyboards and a full orchestra. (It seems the band did well in Europe. "The Royal Falcon" from 1987 album went to #38 in Germany).
This album does have it's soft rock tendencies. It is a slippery slope, and not a good one.
But, for the moment, Parrish is at the top of the slope.
All songs written and arranged by Paul Parrish.
Tracks (best in italics)
- Many Years Ago – A "Jesus" song and a good one. Parrish (though it should be "parish" here) has given the backing a contemporary medieval feel to fit the reverential though matter of fact lyric. Quite moving.
- I Once Had A Dog – is this dog a metaphor for something or is it just another rehash of "Old Shep"? There is a touch of Cat Stevens here.
- Jaynie – pretty and up-tempo by this albums standards.
- Poem I Wrote For Your Hair – a sweeter David Ackles. Quite melancholy and quite wonderful. The song was written for the film "Fools".
- Time – another beautiful melancholy song.
- Numbers – a big ballad beat and not as effective
- Cello – The song features, err a cello. Beautiful. Parrish later did this (and released it as a single) when he was in Parrish & Toppano.
- Pink Limousine – an interesting song and fun. Quite English. Poppy and a cross between David Ackles, The Monkees and Ray Davies.
- Nathan – moving into bombastic Elton John territory but diverting.
- When They Return – I'm not sure who the "they" is but the song is quite spiritual and hymn like. Quite good.
Quite beautiful at times, more often than not. It gets under your skin … I'm keeping it.
Many Years Ago
Poem I Wrote For Your Hair
- Personnel: Bass – Steve LaFever / Cello – Nathan Gershman / Clarinet – Bill Fritz, Jim Snodgrass / Drums – George Bell, Larry Brown / Guitar – Dick Rosminni, John Beland / Harmonica – Danny Cohen, Tom Morgan / Harp – Verlye Mills / Piano, Organ, Melodica – Paul Parrish / Producer – Dan Dalton
- Apparently Parrish is a Michigan native (from Walled Lake)…unsubstantiated but the first album was recorded in Detroit.