Jerry Hopkins on Fred Neil
Thanks to the suggestion of my friend Nacho Genzon, I have been listening quite a bit lately to Fred Neil, the American singer-songwriter of the 60's & 70's most regarded for penning the tune “Everybody's Talkin',” popularized by the use of the Harry Nilsson version in Midnight Cowboy. And thanks to some unpleasant and unfortunate personal heartache, I can't seem to remove his comforting, mellow self-titled 1966 album from my turntable. Listening to the first track “The Dolphins,” is like getting a musical hug.
What caught my attention, though, after the 322nd time listening to this record, was the short liner-note biography on the back cover of the album, written by the fantastic music journalist Jerry Hopkins. It is one of the sweetest, most heartfelt, and most succinct album liner-note biographies I have ever had the pleasure to read. It is so nice, you don't even need to listen to the record to appreciate its tenderness (although, I recommend listening to the record). Here it is:
In a small town in Florida lives a man who sails and sings. He also swims in an ocean warmed by the Gulf Stream and he talks to dolphins. Sometimes he ventures into the Big City, to sing at the Night Owl in Greenwich Village or to cut a record in Hollywood, but he does not like that much. They don't have dolphins there. So it is an event when Fred Neil comes to the Big City. The word goes out: “Freddie Neil is in town, have you seen him yet?” And when he goes into a recording studio, to bend over his 12-string guitar and shove his voice into his pocket and sing in that peculiar position of his, he is followed by hundreds of friends. They weren't invited, really. They just knew Freddie Neil was recording and they had to be there. As on this album, occasionally they'll even sing along with him. Some of the best singers and musicians were present when this album was recorded. Fred Neil attracts the best. He is a kind of legend, although he wouldn't like that said of him. As a matter of fact, Fred Neil probably wouldn't like anything said of him. (Capitol has no prepared biography and his longtime friend and manager Herb Cohen isn't even sure how old he is, or where he was born, or a lot of things about Fred Neil.) He is a quiet man, a family man. Almost everything he sings he wrote. He likes to swim and sail and talk to dolphins. He also has a fine voice. And that is all there is to Fred Neil.
Most people think that's enough.
Glorious Fred Neil disciple Tim Buckley covering "The Dolphins"