Try To Love One Another

This song is a call for unity and understanding, an appeal for peace and brotherly love, that shows the polarity of love versus fear.  In 1967 on January 27th, a band called The Youngbloods formed in San Francisco and they became a local favorite in the Haight-Ashbury community, but the Flower Power plea for peace from this song didn’t change the world.  The Youngbloods, however, grew in popularity, so much so that when they released this song ‘Get Together’ again in 1969 at about the time of Woodstock, this timeless tune climbed to fifth place on the pop charts and sold more than a million copies and this tune went on to be adopted as a counter-culture anthem.

This song has a very interesting story which is rather long, however it demands to be told.  It was written as ‘Let’s Get Together’ by San Francisco musician Dino Valenti who organized the group Quicksilver Messenger Service.  Dino Valenti had big ideas and his birth name was actually Chester Powers.  Dino Valenti was raised by carnival performers, so he was constantly on the move.  In the early ‘60s, he made his way to Greenwich Village, New York, where the folk scene was starting to take shape and he began performing in coffee-houses, along with fellow singer-songwriters Fred Neil, Bob Dylan, Lou Gossett, Josh White, Len Chandler, Paul Stookey (of Peter, Paul & Mary), Richie Havens and other influential performers.

He moved to Los Angeles, and he claimed that he wrote the song in the summer of 1963 at the estate of the actress Edie Sedgwick who was best known for being one of Andy Warhol’s superstars, where he was staying.  In the excessively intricate version of his tale, he was thinking about the force that music has, and how he could use it to convey a powerful message that stated ‘Relax and smile at each other’, sort of a predecessor of the smiley face be happy emoji, which fit the mood of the times.  Valenti moved north to the San Francisco Bay area where after working with several groups, he played in an early line-up of the San Francisco psychedelic rock group Quicksilver Messenger Service that featured John Cipollina (guitar), bassist David Freiberg, and Jim Murray (harmonica/vocals).

Soon after Valenti began playing in Quicksilver Messenger Service, he was arrested on drug charges (busted twice for marijuana possession, and a third charge for speed) and eventually he was imprisoned and began serving his one-to-ten-year sentence at Folsom Prison.  He got out early in 1967 though a series of legal maneuvers that included a deal with Epic Records.  This deal required Powers to pay for a lawyer, which he was able to do by selling the rights of his song ‘Let’s Get Together’ to SFO Music.

In 1964, the folk group The Kingston Trio became the first to record this song, in a live performance in March 1964 that was released on June 1st on their album Back In Town (as ‘Let’s Get Together’).  The trio was initially made up of Dave Guard (vocals, six-string guitar, 12-string guitar and five-string banjo), Bob Shane (vocals, tenor banjo and six-string guitar) and Nick Reynolds (vocals, tenor guitar, conga and bongos), but by 1964 The Kingston Trio had 5 members which included Bob Shane (vocals, guitar), Nick Reynolds (vocals, tenor guitar, conga), John Stewart (vocals, banjo, guitar), Dean Reilly (bass) and Glen Campbell (guitar, banjo, vocals) who went on to have an illustrious music career.  John Stewart quit the group in 1967, but he continued to perform this song in his solo years with folk singing partner Buffy Ford.  Most people remember Stewart for writing ‘Daydream Believer’ for the Monkees and for a Top 10 hit that he had in 1979 with ‘Gold’, that featured Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac.

In 1965, the California group We Five were the first to release the song as a single, taking it to #31 in the US (as ‘Let’s Get Together’).  The We Five played adult rock ‘n roll, pop jazz and they were formed by Michael Stewart, the brother of John Stewart.  In 1966, the Jefferson Airplane recorded it on its 1966 debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, with the soon-to-depart founding member Signe Anderson on lead vocals and Skip Spence on drums who was dismissed by the band after taking an unannounced vacation to Mexico and ended up being a co-founder of Moby Grape.  In the interim, this song became a fixture on the San Francisco music scene, with Judy Collins recording this song and performing it often, and Joni Mitchell sometimes performed it.  Nick Drake an English folk musician and singer-songwriter also recorded it in 1967, but he died in November of 1974, at age 26 before the song was released, however there were a lot of bootlegs of him singing this around and it was released later posthumously.  Chester Powers or Dino Valenti released his debut solo album titled ‘Dino Valente’ in 1968, but he didn’t include ‘Get Together’ on the track list, probably because he didn’t want SFO to earn any royalties.  ‘Get Together’ was also covered by Linda Ronstadt, The Sunshine Company, and The Staple Singers in 1968.

In 1927, the National Conference of Christians and Jews (NCCJ) was founded in response to anti-Catholic sentiment being expressed and to discuss the growing power of the Ku Klux Klan.  This organization backed the four time Governor of New York Al Smith’s in his run for the Democratic nomination, but he was defeated in that election.  In 1934, the National Conference for Christians and Jews came up with the idea of celebrating National Brotherhood Week during the third week of February, but this ended sometime in the 1980s.  In 1969, The NCCJ distributed this song to radio and TV stations to support their National Brotherhood Week.  At this time broadcasters were required to run public service announcements consisting of short messages for the public good, donating a fixed percentage of air time as required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  Non-profit organizations vied for this airtime with messages and when this catchy tune started playing in the background, listeners started calling radio stations to ask about the song which was still not a hit.  This prompted The Youngbloods record company, RCA, to re-release it, and this time it became an undeniable hit, reaching #5 in September 1969.  In the 1990s, the NCCJ changed their name to the National Conference for Community and Justice.

The band had a talented composer in Jesse Colin Young, and he was performing as a solo artist, before The Youngbloods. Jesse Colin Young said that he heard the song at a New York City club the Café au Go Go, on a Sunday afternoon when he stopped and noticed that there was an open mike and a fellow named Buzzy Linhart who had a quartet called the Seventh Sons, and he was singing this song called ‘Get Together’ that interested him.  He ran backstage and said, “Buzzy, write the lyrics out for me because I’ve got to sing it.”  He was so anxious to show this song to The Youngbloods that he took it into rehearsal the next day, he realized that ‘Get Together’ was fortuitous for his group and that it was going to be a game changer, as it was up tempo and posh.  Buzzy latter worked as a session musician on recordings by Buffy Sainte-Marie, Richie Havens, Carly Simon and Jimi Hendrix.  The Youngbloods October 1967 release had little impact, peaking at #62, barely making a dent in the charts in America, this was far from being a victory maybe because the Summer Of Love had already ended.

Jesse Colin Young got his start as a solo act on the Folk circuits of Boston and New York, and had already cut a couple of unsuccessful albums before deciding to form a band with guitarist Jerry Corbitt.  They started to tour in Canada under the name The Youngbloods and eventually hired aspiring Jazz drummer Joe Bauer, along with guitarist/pianist Lowell Levinger III, better known simply as Banana.  Felix Pappalardi tried out as the bassist, but he ended up producing The Youngbloods’ first album titled ‘The Youngbloods’, however he is probably best known for being the bassist and vocalist of the band Mountain, and for writing, arranging, and producing for Cream’s second album ‘Disraeli Gears’.

Jerry Corbitt left The Youngbloods in 1969 and he made 4 albums with Charlie Daniels. Jerry produced a number of albums for most of the major labels including projects with Don McLean, and Janis Ian.  After Corbitt left The Youngbloods Michael Kane, joined the band in the Spring of 1971, but they split the following year when Jesse Colin Young left the band and Levinger, Bauer and Kane continued as Banana And The Bunch.  Since the demise of the Youngbloods, Young played on 15 solo albums where he released a string of well-received albums featuring songs like ‘Ridgetop’, ‘Before You Came’, ‘Darkness Darkness’ and ‘Motorcycle Blues’ while also touring with his band called On the Road.

Love is but a song to sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Some may come and some may go
We shall surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment’s sunlight
Fading in the grass

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

If you hear the song I sing
You will understand (listen!)
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

I said, come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
Right now

Right now
Right now

Written for Daily Addictions prompt – Anxious, for FOWC with Fandango – Number, for Sheryl’s A New Daily Post Word Prompt – Fortuitous, for Ragtag Community – Posh, for Scotts Daily Prompt – Victory and for Word of the Day Challenge Prompt – Carnival.

11 thoughts on “Try To Love One Another

    1. Thanks Dango and I really can not say how long I spent writing this post, but I probably spent about five hours on it. It was finished yesterday, but the prompts were added today and it was fortuitous for me that I had already used your word number and also carnival in this post and I was anxious to try and fit in posh and victory.

      Liked by 2 people

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