m (fritz lang, 1931)
music friday: bruce springsteen, roses and broken hearts

music friday: dave mason, "look at you, look at me"

In 1969, Boz Scaggs, who had left the Steve Miller Band, recorded a solo album in Muscle Shoals. The centerpiece of the album was Fenton Robinson’s blues song, “Loan Me a Dime”, which went on for 13 minutes and included some red-hot guitar, with the last 4 1/2 minutes being a jam featuring the Muscle Shoals gang and guest guitarist Duane Allman. Funny thing is, the name “Duane Allman” meant little to me at the time. The Allman Brothers had yet to release their first album, Layla was still on the horizon, and while Allman was already a session man of note, that didn’t make him famous to the general public (i.e., me). Meanwhile, Scaggs had recorded two albums and a soundtrack with Miller, and there was some red-hot guitar there, as well, most notably on “Your Old Lady”. I added all this together and decided that Boz Scaggs was a red-hot guitar player. It took me awhile to realize it was Steve Miller playing those hot licks in his band, and Duane Allman who famously laid down the solos in “Loan Me a Dime”.

(Odd tangent about “Loan Me a Dime”. The one thing that always bothered me was that Allman’s guitar was buried in the mix … he’d be wailing away, and you’d hear the organ vamping louder than Allman. Some years later, I heard it mixed “properly”. I just checked Wikipedia, and sure enough, it was remixed in 1977 to bring Allman’s guitar to the front, just as I always wanted it. If you hunt down that Boz Scaggs album now, you’ll hear the remixed version … the original isn’t available. Except on Duane Allman: An Anthology, which came out in 1972. So if you want to hear Allman’s guitar buried in the mix, you have to listen to Allman’s album.)

But this is supposed to be about Dave Mason. Mason was an on-again, off-again member of Traffic, and in June of 1970 he released a solo album, Alone Together, which drew immediate notice because the vinyl was like multicolored marble. The last song on the album was “Look at You, Look at Me”, a mid-tempo shuffle with Mason’s usual serviceable, somewhat inscrutable lyrics. There is a fine guitar solo in the middle, and then, at the end, comes a three-minute solo that blows just about any guitar solo you’ve heard out of the water. I wish I had the words to describe it. It’s not complex, drawing on repeated figures, but everything is perfectly placed, and the flow is psychedelic. In fact, I have always said the solo personifies the psychedelic experience to me more than any music I’ve ever heard (and I spent more than one session on acid listening to it).

I was listening to it the other day, and decided I’d make it this week’s Music Friday entry. So I went surfing the Internet to gobble up trivia on the song, thinking I might even find Mason commenting on the solo. What I found was a lot of praise … I’m not the only person who loves that solo. But I also found a rumor that I had never heard: that Eric Clapton played that second solo.

The notes are the same, I don’t know why it even matters. But this floored me, nonetheless. That wasn’t Dave Mason playing my favorite psychedelic guitar solo?

After a few more days on the Internet, I’m willing to say with some certainty that Mason does indeed play that solo. The style isn’t much different from the solo in the middle of the song, and the kind of fluid phrasing sounds more like Mason than like Clapton, whose style is more stinging to me (I don’t have the right vocabulary for this). I saw Mason in the mid-70s, and his guitar work was fine, although I don’t recall him playing this song. (I saw Clapton a few years earlier, and to be honest, Mason’s show was better.)

Well, let’s get to the song. First, I’ll post an example of Clapton’s work at the time. Then, when you hear “Look at You, Look at Me”, you can decide who plays what.

And “Look at You, Look at Me”:

Comments

copans

I used to be in the EC camp as closing soloist, but I recently found myself listening to Graham Nash's Military Madness and the guitar part on that was so good (wah wah), it put me back (without much backbone) in the DM camp. (Maybe it was George Harrison)

A funny thing. I'm not a musician, but it always seemed that the tempo and chord structure of "Look at You, Look at Me" was similar to "All Along the Watchtower", which DM performed on later albums. I just discovered last week that he played acoustic guitar at the opening of the definitive Jimi Hendrix version.

I can't believe the author of that solo is still a mystery, and still under-appreciated.

Steven Rubio

That's it, isn't it? In an era when it seems like you can find out anything by just logging on to the Internet, this solo is still a mystery.

copans

Do you know for sure that is Billy Preston on organ in "World in Changes"? I used to think that it sounded more like Winwood, but I read somewhere it was Billy Preston.

Let's start a website where people propose new lyrics for really good songs where the lyrics aren't up to the caliber of the music. "Alone Together" could be the first guinea pig.

kris doe

I, like you, have always thought the solo at the end of "Look at You, Look at Me" is about the greatest solo ever, absolutely sublime. My others are the solos in "Darkness, Darkness" by the Youngbloods and Clapton's solo in "I Feel Free". I too had heard and read the rumor of Clapton laying down the final solo but I'm not convinced. It sounds like Mason's style to me. What caught my eye in your post above was mention of "Your Old Lady" on Boz Scaggs solo album. I've looked and cannot locate that song listed on any of his releases, nor any note of Steve Miller playing on his solo albums. I'm curious if "Your Old Lady" is the Isley Bros. song that was covered so brilliantly by David Lindley?

Steven Rubio

Sorry I wasn't clear. "Your Old Lady" is indeed the Isley Brothers song. It was recorded by the Steve Miller Blues Band before Children of the Future had been released. Boz Scaggs was in the band at that time. The track turned up on the soundtrack album to a movie called Revolution. The soundtrack also featured the Quicksilver Messenger Service and Mother Earth. The Quicksilver cuts turned up on an anthology or two ... not sure about Mother Earth. But Steve Miller has never put "Your Old Lady" on any anthology, not even the box set that included Miller at the age of five, talking to Les Paul.

"Your Old Lady" was often played in the band's early days, when they were still called the Steve Miller Blues Band, and there are various live versions out there. It's hard to find the studio version, which I think is far and away the best ... it's more concise (live versions could go on for a loooonng time), has good sound, and Miller's solos have never been topped.

Kathy Sexton

Did you start that website yet??

copans

2 follow ups:
1. I just read the source of rumors that Clapton was the soloist (also the clearly wrong rumor that Billy Preston was the Hammond organ soloist on "World in Changes" see point 2 below). It's from the most popular review on Amazon for the album.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R5394HCO5AON0/#R5394HCO5AON0

I think the comments to the review make me more convince that DM is to be credited. But again, it is nearly inconceivable that this has to be guessed at, at this day in age, with both parties still alive.

2. This site claims for Leon Russell as organist on WiC.
http://texasthinktank.net/KimbroCon1/Leslie_Speaker_Organ_Favs1.html

Steven Rubio

Good catch! The reviewer's subsequent comments are odd ... he keeps asking people to point out just one other Dave Mason solo that matches Look at You, Look at Me, as if he is proving something. But you can't find a Clapton solo that matches it, either, because it doesn't sound like Clapton in the first place.

David

I know this is an old thread but it intrigued me and I have another question about "Look at You, Look at Me" by Dave Mason. He says something at the end of the song after the mind blowing second guitar break, that's not in the printed lyrics. It sounds like "This is the (something)." I have heard this amazing song countless times, including while on acid back in the day. I have always wanted to know what Dave says after shredding that blistering guitar solo. Anyone who knows, please let me know at dac10012@gmail.com. Thanks!

Steven Rubio

Hi David, thanks for the comment! I just gave it a listen. You're right, he says something there at the end, but I can't make it out, either.

shanekennedy@deakinchambers.com.au

I reckon what he says at the end of the solo seals it for me as to who played it.
He says ' Listen to me.... then a bit later ' I tell you right now. Its obviously Dave. In an interview he says that it was him and I think he says he was playing a Martin

Bernie

I read through and appreciate all the discussion regarding the final DM solo on LaY,LaM. My intent was to find out what guitar he was playing. I also think it's a gem...clean and pure and rhythmically flowing..and one of my all-time favorites. Maybe the reason DM or EC haven't commented on the assertion/speculation (by one person?) that EC laid down the final solo was that they never heard the comment or it was too silly in their minds to bother with. In any event, I could be convinced it's a Strat, but what Martin if so? I found a reference (not tied to any particular track though) to a Gibson Reverse Firebird: http://www.guitarworld.com/tour-my-guitar-heroes-part-2-dave-mason but I had read he made the switch to a Firebird in the mid-70s, well after Alone Together was pressed.

Carl

The solo in question is diffentaley Dave Mason. I also think he used a Fender strat for the solo. I have spent hundreds of hours trying to duplicate some of mason's guitar leads. As good as the studio version of the song is, I have heard live takes that are much better. I have a strat and a Les Paul, you can almost get the Gisbson to sound right, but never perfect. Best live solo is from It's a Beautiful Day, White Bird, Live at Carnegie Hall.

Phil Brigham

I've been playing guitar since 1966. I didn't hear Alone Together until 1972 when a fellow musician played it in the van I the way to a gig. Look At You, Look At Me blew my mind. The tone, the phrasing, the echo make for excellent solos.
I'm pretty sure it's Dave on both solos, but his playing does sound Clapton influenced. Perhaps that's where the rumors started.
That song was the main reason I purchased an Echoplex, an early echo effect that had a tape loop in it. In 1974 it cost around $300, a lot of money back then for a musician to come up with.
It is IMO, Dave Mason's finest soloing on record, although he always plays tastefully.

David

Want to be clear - you say he says: "Listen to me.... then a bit later." Are you sure?

copans

In 1988, Greil Marcus wrote a mini-review of a Clapton retrospective that makes it clear that Marcus believed that Clapton was the the soloist on "Look at Me Look at You":

"At its most distinctive, there was something heroic, something tragic, about Clapton’s playing—you don’t sense self-expression so much as struggle: the resistance of the music in the guitarist’s mind to his will to realise that music, his resistance to losing himself in the sound he can make. What’s being transcended is a kind of neurotic distance, a wish to disappear, to cease to be; the result is focus, elegance, balance—not blues. It’s there in the solo in Cream’s ’66 “Spoonful,” especially the three final notes; most of all, it’s in the long, unsatisfied, unsatisfiable solo that ends Dave Mason’s “Look at Me Look at You,” which closed his ’70 Blue Thumb LP, Alone Together. That performance is not on Crossroads, and I’m glad."

bluewhitewavw

personally, i believe the solo tracks to be pretty close to perfection.. passionate, beautifully conceived and artfully played.. i stumbled upon this discussion by accident, but figured i would add my 2 cents.. i have loved the album and the track for over 45 years.. still moved by the music..

as to the solos.. i must vote for clapton.. here is why.. if i had conceived of these gems, which are transcendent, i would have played them at every opportunity.. like a concert violinist who regularly performs his or her own cadenzas when playing the concertos.. if it's yours and heavenly.. you play it.. it is your special mark on the music..

So.. why is every subsequent performance by DM, at least those that i am aware of, devoid of the transcendent solo lines? yes, over the years, there might be small changes (little improvs, perhaps) but the core would remain the same and be clear to all who listen.. in every performance i have heard, the lead solos bare no resemblance to the '71 original.. and, to my ears, are sadly missing a lot.. Why?

My answer.. DM does not want to abscond with these transcendent solos which he did not conceive.. and to me, this decision is worthy of a boatload of respect.. his respect for clapton (or whoever wrote the lines) forced him to avoid playing the lines, and falsely living off someone else's music.. bravo Dave.. well played!!

David Wright Smith

I thought it might be Michael de Temple playing the solo on Look At Me.......I'm on a mission to find out definitively who plays this solo...

Steven Rubio

I have left a question about the solo on Dave's Facebook page. If he replies, I'll post his answer here.

Jon Pastor

Yes, it's a bit late to chime in, but 1) anyone who thinks it's Clapton, please name another extended Clapton solo -- particularly early-mid 1970 -- that even remotely resembles it; 2) remember that around this time, this whole group of musicians was cranking out joint projects like this, Delaney & Bonnie's albums, Let It Pass (!), and of course Layla, so it'd be shocking if some cross-blending of styles hadn't occurred; and -- wait for it -- LaYLa

David Lee Preston, Philadelphia

Greil Marcus does not even provide the correct name of the song, so one must wonder how he can speak with assurance about its soloist.

David Lee Preston, Philadelphia

Here is Dave Mason performing the song with his transcendent guitar solo at the end: https://youtu.be/EPeFPQ7NzRI

Rick Eberharter

Most awesome discussion ever, for those who think Clapton compare some licks from the song Holy Mother, my view is its DM based on the distinctive rummy jumpy rollicking moves center of said second solo. Then again it could be Mick Taylor.........

Rick Eberharter

I also would bet it’s Fender Stratocaster wailing that second solo. Too crisp brassy for anything else

jdubbiyou

I used to wonder about that song but, it's Mason. I just today heard a live version of 40,000 Headman from a more recent release and Dave is using some of the same phrasing. I agree, his attack is different than Clapton's. What you didn't mention was the lead guitar on ONLY YOU KNOW AND I KNOW.....that is definitely EC. The song is one he wold have been familiar with from Delaney and Bonnie. The phrasing and tone is very Clapton

jdubbiyou

might be Leon playing organ og LOOK AT YOU LOOK AT ME but not WORLD IN CHANGES I believe that is fellow wrecking Crew keyboardist Larry Knectel or B Preston

Cheri Beauvet

I have always loved this song and all of these musicians on the album, Alone Together. I think it sounds like Leon playing piano on this.

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