In the Fall
Author: Albert d'Ossché
Date/Studio: 1978 Kaye-Smith, Seattle, WA
Engineer: Dave Mathew
Producer: Bill Tootell
Original Release: Crossover (KM308)
Current Release: The Complete Recordings (BSR 158)
“In the fall my heart turns gold.” What a beautiful opening line. Albert had a tumultuous childhood. I am not sure I can piece it all together but I know some of the major turning points. His storytelling always included a bird-walk or two off into his past, almost improbable vignettes but later, confirmed by second and third retellings and cast in a different light, his past slowly revealed itself.
The heart of this song is about returning to meet his father and his father's new family in New Orleans after a long estrangement. In the fifties his father and mother had something to do with the early television industry in New Orleans. It was from this that Albert was early on exposed to many of the city's musical elite who attended or performed at the many soirees his parents hosted. His mother was a socialite of note. Her mother, Albert's grandmother, had painted the official presidential portrait of Harry Truman.
Albert's mother was to leave his father before Albert was six. Both he and his mother began living with the grandmother in a mansion close to Beverly Hills. (He took me on a drive-by one day back in the middle 80s.) Before too much longer he had been entered as a boarded student in the pre-prep school, Fessenden, in Massachusetts. He was to stay in boarding schools for the rest of his pre-college life, eventually graduating from Taft in Connecticut.
During the summer of 1974 spent in Bellingham, WA prior to our book-release tour for In Search, Albert became good friends with the person with whom I had an instrument building shop, Michael Moore. At this same time Albert and I were shopping for a tour vehicle. We found her, Izzy, a green volkswagen bug in the possession of a local shade-tree mechanic, Joel.
Joel had grand ideas and great abilities. He proposed to put a Porsche cam into the VW saying it would boost our mileage considerably. He did and it did. Esmeralda (Izzy) ended up getting over 40 miles a gallon, perfect for musicians on tour. In his garage was another treat with which Albert fell instantly in love, a 1942 Dodge pick-up truck. Albert bought it and he conspired with Michael to have him build a round-top gypsy caravan camper for it.
One year later the restored '42 Dodge he named, George, was ready for the road. Carrying Michael's masterpiece gypsy camper complete with bed, woodstove and an herbal apothecary cached in an antique Dr. Munyon Paw-Paw Elixir cabinet, Albert embarked on the journey to meet his New Orleans family. This was a time period during which Albert, thanks to John Griffin, was steeped in the writings of the Sufi poet, Rumi, and in the idea of being a rolling hospitality center, a caravanserai.
In the Fall tells something of the trepidation, the joy, the resolve and the hope in his journey to the South to pick up the thread of his past. He draws us in, tells us that this old story is the same one we all know in our hearts. He comforts us (and himself) with the day-to-day of his cat and of meeting new friends in Mississippi. He tells us that “the same old specters chase him down”. He was, after all, going to confront and hopefully reconcile with a huge part of his early, formative youth.
In every verse he first describes the experience and then lays the resulting feelings at the feet of the Beloved, as did Rumi. Each verse ends with, “Because of You.” Bringing it from reflection to a song of praise, he substitutes, “Oh, I love You.” at the end. It is an emotionally complex, powerful song. On the recorded version, Ted Brancato plays an ethereal, cascading waterfall of notes on the Fender Rhodes piano to surround Albert – alone with his dulcimer, his voice, his Beloved.