The songs are left unsung and hung upon the scars
February 17, 2013 6:01 AM   Subscribe

Tandyn Almer, composer of Along Comes Mary, died last month. Dawn Eden wrote about Almer after attending his funeral, and more recently he was profiled in The Washington Post.
posted by maurice (8 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Maurice, thanks, those were interesting reads.
posted by HuronBob at 6:46 AM on February 17, 2013

Wow, sure, I remember the song from childhood: AM radio hit, it was. Seeing the video was very strange, as I'd never had any idea what The Association looked like or... came off as. The 'machine parts' introduction was at one and the same time funny and... stupid and kinda embarrassing. Haha! Those were the days, eh?

From the Washington Post article, this grabbed me:

“He told me that his head was completely turned around by Bob Dylan,” Puterbaugh said. “Up until then, he had been a jazz freak.”

Yeah, there you go. Dylan turned a lot of people's heads around. Youngsters who bad mouth ol' Zimmerman now, or call him overrated, they have no fucking idea how important he was at the time. How revolutionary, how revelatory. But, hey, that's what growing old is about, right? Young people not understanding where you're at. Thinking they invented the fucking wheel, and dissing the ones who invented it before them!

And then along comes Mary.

RIP Tandyn Almer.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:44 AM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the interesting post.

posted by nickyskye at 9:24 AM on February 17, 2013

There's a lot to read here, and it's really interesting. I get the sense that his career was short-circuited both by crippling stage fright and unadressed mental illness -- it sounds as though he had a bipolar diagnosis, and tales of him refusing to sleep for long periods of frenetic composing seems consistent with manic behavior. Thankfully, it also seems as though a lot of his work is preserved, in some for or other, and there is at least a mini-revival of his wonderful songwriting just now.

I have a sort of free-floating excess of civic pride, to paraphrase Tony Wilson, and so I was thrilled to discover he was a fellow Minnesotan. We Minneapolitans like to claim our own, and so I wouldn't be surprised if he enters regional historic books as an example of Minnesota's impact on the national music scene in the 60s. At least, I'm going to push for that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2013

At least his obituary in the Washington Post settles an important debate:

If anyone asked Mr. Almer, he wasn’t coy about the meaning: Yes, of course, it was about marijuana

Almer's song "Alice Designs" has a similar title pun to "Along Comes Mary." (Alice Designs = LSD Signs, get it?)

posted by jonp72 at 7:32 PM on February 17, 2013

Despite having heard the song for decades, tonight was the first time I read the lyrics. I came upon that WaPo obit and found a YT video with lyrics (the comedy on the Smothers Brothers clip, I couldn't make it through).

Great stuff. I see his Dylan love after reading the words.

posted by the sobsister at 8:04 PM on February 17, 2013

Thanks for this, maurice. I usually pay attention to who wrote what — even more so back then, and that song was a huge favorite of mine at the time — but I don't remember ever hearing anything of Tandyn Almer before. Interesting to see that he also was involved with Sail On, Sailor, to my mind the last great Beach Boys song. (40 years ago now!)

I knew I was getting on in years myself almost 30 years ago in rural Idaho, when a friend introduced me to the college-age son of one of The Association.

p.s. Trivia from the group website: “In 1967, The Association made history being the first band anywhere to open a rock festival — the now historic Monterey Pop Festival.”
posted by LeLiLo at 9:38 PM on February 17, 2013

A couple days ago I stumbled across a 1967 video broadcast on CBS called "Inside Pop", in which Leonard Bernstein explains what's so great both musically and lyrically about the newfangled youth music. At around 20:30 he specifically mentions Tandyn Almer, and the lyrics to "Along Comes Mary" -- and explains that it refers to marijuana, adding:

"The message in the lyrics of most of these songs is delivered by implication. This is one of our teenagers' strongest weapons. It amounts to almost a private language."

The first half, with Bernstein, is great fun, and I highly recommend it.
posted by ariel_caliban at 10:39 AM on February 18, 2013

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