363) The Appletree Theater — “You’re the Biggest Thing in My Life”
I could swear this wonderful song was an omnipresent 80’s new wave hit, or a demo for Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky”, but it was actually a ’60’s lark by the Brothers Boylan and the album from which it came “received virtually NO advertising or radio play in [the U.S.] at the time.” (https://psychedelic-rocknroll.blogspot.com/2009/05/appletree-theatre-playback-sunshine.html) Hmm . . . . maybe I had too much to dream last night.
So, the story of Terence and John Boylan, as Brian Sweet describes it on Terry’s website:
Following a chance meeting with Bob Dylan in Greenwich Village in ’62, after which Dylan, [Terence] Boylan and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot went to Izzy Young’s Folklore Center and traded songs for a long evening, Boylan returned to Buffalo, N.Y. with encouragement from his new hero, and began performing in many of Buffalo’s most popular coffee-houses . . . . still a sophomore in high school. . . . He formed a band with his brother, John, The Ginger Men, playing in Greenwich Village . . . during summers and ‘field-periods’ [while he attended Bard College] and singing solo [in the Village]. The NY Times’ Robert Shelton gave him a brief but laudatory mention following an appearance at the Village Gate, and the record companies started calling. . . . [B]efore beginning a solo album, he recruited brother John for an experimental ‘rock meets theatre’ album. The duet, along with a dozen top studio musicians, recorded The Appletree Theatre in 1967, a ground-breaking effort among the so-called “concept” albums of the late sixties, fusing brief Saturday Night Live type comic sketches with slightly tongue-in-cheek parodies of contemporary musical genres. John Lennon, in an interview with Penny Nichols in London, called The Appletree Theatre one of his favorite new albums, Time Magazine lauded the Boylans’ sense of humor, and Phillip Proctor acknowledged their influence on his own group, The Firesign Theatre.http://www.terenceboylan.com/biography.html
Oh, and John Boylan later became a producer for the Eagles.
John Peel loved the album — he “praised [it] in International Times, calling it ‘one of the best and most adventurous LPs I’ve heard‘, played tracks from it on his shows in 1968 and 1969, and returned to it periodically in later decades.” (https://peel.fandom.com/wiki/Appletree_Theatre) And Psychedelic Rock’n’Roll raves:
The songs are so strong. It’s grade-A Sunshine Pop with occasional psychedelic arrangements, dipping occasionally into hard-edged soul and music-hall . . . . offer[ing] up a rather weird concept piece, though admittedly the plotline was largely lost on us. [T]he collection offered up a bizarre collage of interlaced vocal narratives, sound effects, song fragments, balanced by an occasional Pop piece [including] the trippy “You’re the Biggest Thing In My Life”). . . . There was no doubt the Boylans were talented: on the other hand, the set was simply too experimental for the normal listener.https://psychedelic-rocknroll.blogspot.com/2009/05/appletree-theatre-playback-sunshine.html
Kingsley Abbott calls it a “strangely beguiling album . . . . essentially a mixture of folkish pop and some Greenwich Village social commentary/satire . . . . The songs here are punctuated by stoner references and outside influences . . . . Charming, weird, questionable, interesting – though not to all.” (https://recordcollectormag.com/reviews/album/playback) And Jason Nardelli throws in that:
It’s an inventive pop album with great songs, strange sound effects, comedy bits and trippy dialogue in between some of the tracks. . . . The real meat of this jaded pop album lies within its best 3 tracks [including] You’re The Biggest Thing In My Life . . . [which is] superb . . . with tons of guitar feedback within the confines of a creepy but pretty conventional pop song.. . .http://rockasteria.blogspot.com/2011/10/appletree-theatre-playback-1968-usuk.html
I’ll just call it creepy but pretty! —
“Sundown, sleeping town, flashing twilight upside down. Passing sounds, seasons changing, time turning, re-arranging all around me. Now that you′re the big thing in my life. You’re the biggest thing in my life. . . . I’ll be leaving you. Sad times, glad times, no reasons underived. Wings to try on, dreams to sigh. Angel girl mystifies all around me. Now that you’re the big thing in my life. You’re the biggest thing in my life. . . . I’ll be leaving you. Young man, younger girl, signs of love in a lover′s world. Somewhere feelings re-awaking. Young for the asking, love for the making all around me. Now that you’re the big thing in my life. You′re the biggest thing in my life. . . . and I’ll be leaving you.”
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