Gene Clark has been mentioned several times on my Facebook wall recently and it got me thinking about the album \”Grey Life\” by Val Stoecklein from 1968.
Val was the \’leader\’ and singer, songwriter and guitarist in the brilliant Kansas folk-rock group, The Blue Things. When they broke up in 1967 Val signed a solo deal with Dot Records and \”Grey Life\” was the fruits of his labour.
It\’s full of loner type introspection, with eleven sorrowful acoustic songs accompanied by orchestral arrangements, and very much like Gene\’s solo music. \”Possibility I Was Wrong\” is a stand out and a huge fave of mine….
\”Look around your room where it\’s so dark and cold, you won\’t find me…\” The grey mists were beginning to clear away from Val Stoecklein\’s life again as the new year came in. He phoned from Kansas to his Texas friend who was now putting together records in Los Angeles.
He was ready to write songs again. Just like he had in 1964 when he left Kansas State University to record and travel with his group, The Blue Things. The group broke up then there was a love that broke up very badly so Val drifted out of Kansas to work the Oklahoma oil fields and ride cowboy in Wyoming.
\”Passing through the Oklahoma, Summertime, harvest crew, Dollar hotel rooms and smokin\’ roll-your owns…\”
Too much time had been lost in the greyness for Val to wait out his tapes in the mail. He came west of Utah for the first time, hitchhiking with his 12 string guitar. The Texas friend was jammed up in the recording studio for four days and Val\’s songs sat there in a tape on his desk while Val examined the walls of his motel room and very slowly watched his money go down to forty cents.
\”No hard words were said the time we parted friends. We should have thought a little more about the baby then. I\’d like to see him now….before the train pulls out of town.\”
This record was made less than two weeks later. Do yourself a favour and find a quiet room the first time that you listen to the beauty of this music Val Stoecklein made from real pieces of his life before it went grey – till these songs brought back his rainbow.
(back cover sleeve notes – Nat Freedland)