Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Green Eyed Lady

Hey folks!

So a few years ago I recorded my own version of the Sugarloaf classic, "Green Eyed Lady". This track appears on my album, "King Friday". I had started playing this song in my band when I was in college in Pittsburgh. I always liked the riff and thought the original version, as cool as it is, could be done a little more "rocked out." I remember seeing a video of 80s artist David Drew (who?!) doing a cover of Green Eyed Lady when I was a young kid... and liked it. However, the lyrics always seemed strange if not as cool as the actual riffs. When I finally got a band together in college, this was one of the first songs I thought we'd tackle as an instrumental. To me the riff stands very strong on its own. Since then (1994-ish), its been in the set list.

After moving to Los Angeles and starting a band here (song still in the set), I was recording my 2nd CD, "King Friday". In 2001 I worked at SWR bass amps and met Dennis Noda, bassist for the Classic Rock All Stars, and former bassist for Cannibal and Headhunters. He came in the office and we were discussing our music, when I mentioned my cover of "Green Eyed Lady." He said, "I know the guy that wrote and played on the original, his name is Jerry Corbetta. You should have him on your record!".... to which my answer was probably, "Sure, but why would he want to do that, he doesn't know me?" Dennis insisted that I call Jerry right then and there, so I did. I told Jerry who I was, and that I was recording a version of Green Eyed Lady, and that Dennis thought he'd play on it. To my surprise, Jerry agreed to play organ on my version.

I called Jerry Corbetta again later that week, and we set up a time to have me come over with the ADAT tape, which had the drums and bass tracks, with a guide track of guitar on it. Jerry lived right up the road here in San Fernando Valley, so later that week, on a rainy Friday in LA, I drove to his house. Jerry invited me in and showed me to his small home studio/keyboard room. Jerry looked a little like Gene Wilder to me, with curly blonde/brown hair. Jerry was very nice and as we listened to the tracks, Jerry played along with them, explaining that the idea for the two main riffs came from some piano finger exercises that he developed in college.

The arrangement of Green Eyed Lady that I recorded was based off of the radio edited version, that clocks in at about 4 minutes. I learned the song when I was about 20.... so perhaps my ears weren't that great back then. It turned out, Jerry explained, that the opening chromatic run was played wrong on my tracks. He played the correct line on his keyboard for me to hear the difference. Woops! I never considered re-listening to the original recording to see if we were playing it right all these years! There was no iTunes or Youtube back then to find the song and listen. If I remember correctly, I recorded Green Eyed Lady off the radio on to a cassette. Anyhow, Jerry asked if I could have the bass and guitar re-tracked to sound correct, but I explained that on my budget, I couldn't get the bassist (Philip Bynoe) back in the studio to redo his part. Jerry, bless his heart, agreed to learn the opening line the way I mistakenly rewrote it, and the rest of the song's keyboard parts were tracked in under an hour. In effect I may have rewrote history.

I distinctly remember how fast he tracked his parts. He's been playing this song in so many variations for over 30 years, he could have tracked it in his sleep. The solo section is a trade of Jerry's organ playing and my guitar. For the whole song, Jerry's keyboard sound was a straight organ sound/patch from a 80s era Roland... D50 perhaps. I do remember adding leslie afterwords to get a livelier rock organ tone.

Over all I think my version turned out great, and I consider myself very lucky to have been able to have the man who wrote, sang, and played organ on the original Sugarloaf recording play on mine.

On a side note, as I was jogging my memory, researching online, I found out that bassist Dennis Noda passed away in May of 2009. He died of a heart attack and a stroke - he was just 60. I had lost touch with him after SWR closed its doors in Sun Valley in 2003, but I just want to say thank you again, Dennis. Some of the best musical memories we have are of playing with those we admire, and Dennis facilitated that.

Here's Dennis Noda on bass and Jerry Corbetta on organ and vocals doing Green Eyed Lady for real:

For more information about Adrian Galysh, including video guitar lessons, concert dates, clinics, merch and music, visit: 

No comments:

Post a Comment