orgins of "Rooty Toot Toot For The Moon"
I loved a song called "Aspen Turned Gold" and would give anything to hear him sing "Dream of Wild Geese Flying" again. Another gem (that I sometimes still do) is "How Black the Fields," a short, achingly evocative tune that Greg played on piano. "Flim Flam Hobo" was another great one (but I always was suspicious that the song was about me). The problem with asking him to do early tunes is that he couldn't possibly remember them all. There are hundreds that are not in his current songbag. There exist some real good live tapes from the early days that contain a lot of these songs. But most are lost forever.
What got the crowd going? I guess it was "Rooty Toot Toot For the Moon" which he says he wrote in about 5 minutes after a vivid dream. The "real" name, the original name for it was "Moon Tune in June." Michael Johnson (Bluer Than Blue, Cain's Blood) made a regional hit out of it. There was a lot of midwest Top-40 and national college radio airplay. That song gave Greg's career some wings as it passed from musician to musician, campfire to
I spent an afternoon at Michael's house teaching him some tunes, mine, Greg's and others. Leo Kottke was there. He played along using a beer can as a slide. Michael started playing "Pilot Me" and "Rooty" in his sets. Michael's big time manager called me a couple of months later to say "congratulations," Michael was releasing one of my songs as a single.
"Oh, wow!" I said, "Which one?"
That version of "Rooty" was recorded with great somber seriousness, but the song is basically a nonsense song. You know, a weird dream. Greg hated seeing the "Kumbaya factor" applied to this song. He tried to demolish it every night by singing it as ragtime, be-bop, funk - anything but a waltz. I actually thought I was helping by writing an extra extra stupid verse for it:
"All of us are primates and some of us were classmates,
But that verse propelled the song even further when Bill Staines picked up on it. It now resides firmly in print in the Rise Up Singing songbook published by Sing Out. Who knew?
One night, one guy, one dream. Wake up, take a leak, write it down, go back to sleep. There's a Dilbert cartoon where Alice is trying to explain a weird dream she had. In the last panel her audience of bored co-workers is trying to slip away. She cries, "No, wait! You don't understand! It was a SEEDLESS grape!"