Deep Down in My Heart
Author: Robert Force, Bill Dwyer, Michael Moore
Date/Studio: 1984 Altman, San Francisco, CA
Engineer: Sandy Stone
Producer: Robert Force
Original Release: When the Moon Fell on California (KM318)
Current Release: The Complete Recordings (BSR 158)
The magical school bus, Lulla, had just arrived after a cross-country trip from New York to Bellingham, WA having survived many adventures including a breakdown at Wall Drug, SD that required a full engine transplant. The musical monkeys piled off babbling stories of playing (and paying) their way out to the west coast with folk tunes and buffoonery.
I wasn't on that trip. Mark and Pat and Albert and a few others were delivering Lulla, the multi-colored, polka-dotted rolling piece of artwork painted by David Preston with a commission from the Washington DC city government. She had been my transport as a rolling embassy the year previously when I had arranged a college tour for the Icelandic folk group, Rio Trio (the name is funnier in Icelandic.) In Search was in production but had not yet come out. It was the summer of 1974.
Michael and I owned an instrument building shop. He was a guy who could fix anything. Do anything. His instrument of choice was the concertina but he dabbled equally well in many others. Later that summer he was part of the band of Albert and myself and seven cymbal players as we drove Lulla to every tavern in Bellingham, double-parked, went in and played a sketchy but recognizable Hail to the Chief. The cymbals helped a lot. Nixon had just resigned.
Bill Dwyer, the other co-writer, owned Puget Sound Records. He probably did more to educate me about music than anyone on the planet before or since. He made me sit down and listen to the roots of American music-- the giants of blues, early folk, bluegrass, jazz and gospel. He led me down the outsider path of the likes of Jenx Tex Carmen, Rev. A.W. Nix and Slim Gaillard. He took me across oceans with Stomu Yamashta. He made me listen to the heritage of being a songwriter.
While swapping stories and hilarity at the kitchen table one afternoon Bill said, “You and Albert need a good country western song.” So the three of us made up a three-chord-change tune, threw out verses and Deep Down emerged. It was almost ten years before Albert and I got around to recording it. We were still in the serious song phase of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights and other “heavy” social issues.
As the 70s progressed the song worked its way into our stage sets. We were slowly turning into a comedy act. Well, maybe not an act. We just went out and had a good time playing off of each other's witticisms and impromptu character sketches. None of that was ever rehearsed. Albert was a Jack Benny fan. He said we could stand there and never play just as long as it looked like we were about to.
In the studio, as the song took shape, we really went all out. One one point, perhaps hearkening back to Michael, Albert commented that we needed a Flaco Jiménez-style accordion player. Sandy Stone, our engineer, agreed. We all charged out into the Castro District of San Francisco. Busking on the street we found Mary O'Sullivan playing her melodian. Close enough! We invited her into the session.
Why stop? We got Mayne Smith to come in to play pedal steel. I'd met him earlier that year while producing a cut with him on Neal Hellman's Dulcimer Airs, Ballads and Bears (on which my 3-year old son, Dakotah, sang backup for Teddy Bears Picnic.) My brother, Steve, flew in from Las Vegas where he was the bass player for a stage show featuring Elvis impersonators. Caryl Sherman supplied the back-up, sultry, country vocals. Albert and I both laid down killer, honkytonk solo breaks.
The session was fueled by hot beef and cheese piroskis from the Chinese-Russian bakery around the corner and an endless supply of Mystic Mints which Sandy insisted was the food of choice for all audio engineers. All these years I thought Albert was also a co-writer. No. But he made it his song anyway.