United Travel Service — “Wind and Stone”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — September 14, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

581) The United Travel Service — “Wind and Stone”

Before Portland was hip Portlandia, it was this college band’s mission to bring the sounds of San Francisco to the stodgy Northwest! Vernon Joynson and Max Waller call “Wind and Stone” “excellent soft psych-rock . . . a classic ‘back to the wilds’ theme song with a glorious spirit-lifting raga-esque break, and lyrics reflecting the rejection of ‘the plastic society’.” (https://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/4368823) Learyfan says the “lyrics are as hippified as you can get”. (https://www.shroomery.org/forums/show flat.php/Number/4368823)

As to the band, whose name is sort of a twist on Quicksilver Messenger Service, 60sgaragebands.com writes that:

Guitarist and vocalist John Reeves formed The United Travel Service with the intention of starting a rock group that would bring the sound of San Francisco to the college he was attending, Oregon State University. Although the band was primarily Northwest–based, they recorded two singles that have kept them well known to ‘60’s music fans and collectors worldwide.

https://web.archive.org/web/20081231085720/http://www.60sgaragebands.com/unitedtravelservice.html

Reeves himself reminisces:

We formed in . . . 1966, the beginning of my sophomore year at Oregon State University. We were together through college until I entered active duty with the Air Force in July 1969. . . . I grew up in the Bay Area in the ‘60s and was a regular patron at the Fillmore and Avalon. It was a magic time for music. Heading up to Oregon State University for school, I was discouraged by the music, or lack thereof, in Oregon. Save for The Sonics and a couple others, the music up there was a bit disappointing so I set my aim on starting a band and bringing a more San Francisco sound to the Northwest. I placed an ad on the school bulletin boards–Wanted: Drummer–knowing I was the only bandmember and owned a guitar but not even an amp at the time. Dale Sweetland answered the ad and was at first skeptical but agreed to listen to my musical interests. He came to my dorm room and I had him lay on the floor between the speakers bellowing out The Grateful Dead’s ‘Viola Lee Blues’. Dale sat up, totally bought in and agreed we had a band to create. . . . Dale and I pulled in Ben Hoff who . . . . brought his incredible songwriting into the picture . . . .

[As to the Portland music scene,] it was all Sonics and Kingsmen. Other than that, you had Gary Lewis and The Playboys and the like. I recall the first time I heard The Jefferson Airplane . . . on the radio up there. The DJ said they should fly back home. I was committed to changing that attitude. By the time we started recording and playing regularly, things had quickly changed. Quicksilver headed a card which we were also on at the Portland Masonic Temple . . . . We also opened for The Doors at OSU . . . so the music in the Northwest was changing rapidly. . . .

We managed ourselves entirely. . . . [which] was one reason (perhaps) we never really made any big moves with our recordings or touring. We had no money, as we were all starving students. Had we had some money behind us, I think, we could have made a reasonably good-sized splash, even on the national scene. . . . At one point, ‘Wind and Stone’ was #3 on the KFLY charts in Portland. I think we were reasonably well known at the university but beyond that . . . . “Wind and Stone” . . . was national but they did not print a lot of records and so when folks looked to buy them they couldn’t find them. So the record hit the charts and quickly fell. Because the first release was less than a hit because of this, they were very reluctant on the second release. We mutually voided the contract with Laurie Records . . . .

https://web.archive.org/web/20081231085720/http://www.60sgaragebands.com/unitedtravelservice.html

“Left the graveyard today. Made of things that people say. The games they play. Left what some men call home. But to me they’re graves of stone. I’d rather die alone. I don’t mean to be spoiling your plans, but I won’t be a wealthy man. The wind and the forest does far more for me than your plastic society. From a building of glass, I ignored wild mountain grass and the world that passed. Now our world is the wind that takes me where I’ve never been. My song begins. I don’t mean to be spoiling your plans, but I won’t be a wealthy man. The wind and the forest does far more for me than your plastic society.”

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