Monday, October 1, 2018

Marty Balin, 1942-2018

If Marty Balin's only contribution to music was "Comin' Back To Me," it would have been more than enough.

Thanks, Marty.

And thanks, Rickie Lee, for your gorgeous take.


Robin said...

I so agree re "Comin' Back to Me". A top ten song of all time for me, on one of my favorite albums "Surrealistic Pillow". A lot of people over the weekend were mentioning "Today" as well. His songs were also the best part of Jefferson Starship for me, and despite their rivalry his voice and Grace's together were special heaven (though of course the entire classic Airplane line up sang beautifully together). He was and is one of the most under appreciated vocalists and songwriters in rock. Rest well, Marty.

Shriner said...

Unabashed Jefferson Starship fan here.

My fave Marty vocals while in the Starship:

Count On Me
Miracles (of course)
St. Charles
With Your Love

(And probably a few others that are not coming to mind at the moment...)

One of the things I liked most about The Starship was the trade-off on vocals between Grace, Marty and Paul. The whole was better than the sum of the parts.

But, yeah, "Comin' Back to Me" and "Today" -- it doesn't get much better than those two.

buzzbabyjesus said...

And then there's "We Built This City".

Anonymous said...

Well, well, most significant ex had texted me that she was listening to JA's "Coming Back To Me" in tribute to MB's passing, and I texted her back that RLJ did a 'harrowingly good' version of said song that she should look up (if I hadn't already committed it to one of the numerous comp tapes I'd made for her back in the day). And here you are, thinking similar thoughts.
C in California

Sal Nunziato said...

You know what "We Built This City" and "Abbey Road" have in common? Marty Balin had nothing to do with either of them.

But I am a bit shocked to find out Bernie Taupin co-wrote it.

buzzbabyjesus said...

That isn't Marty in the video?

Sal Nunziato said...

Mickey Thomas.

Mr. Baez said...

Sal, I was hoping you would have a comment on Marty's passing and I thank you for that. Rickie Lee Jones' take on "Comin' Back to Me" is beautiful. Robin your remark is so right on the mark. "Surrealistic Pillow" is just such a special album. I came across this over the weekend and though I would share:

From Jorma Kaukonen:

Now We Are Three
Requiem For A Friend
Marty Balin
30 Jan. 1942/27 Sept. 2018

Life is a thin thread
It’s a thin little hand on a hospital bed
It’s all the things you’ve left unsaid
Life is a thin thread

It’s a fine line between loving and not
Between holding it back or giving all that you’ve got
Feeling you’re free, thinking you’re caught
It’s a fine line

(Thin Thread by Connie Kaldor)

I was more than saddened yesterday to hear of Marty Balin’s passing. Jack and I were in Northampton, Mass. at the Academy Of Music and we were just getting ready to do our sound check. I knew that Marty had been sick and I knew in a general way that he had grievous issues but I did not really know what they were. Marty always kept a lot of shade on himself. I stood there in the little room in the wings, stage left… struck dumb. What can you say? We always say and hear, ‘I’m sorry for your loss,’ but what does that really mean? We say it. We have to say it and then in the confines of our hearts we try to process the sorrow and search for the words that really convey what we feel. It is an imperfect process.

Marty and I were young together in a time that defined our lives. Had it not been for him, my life would have taken an alternate path I cannot imagine. He and Paul Kantner came together and like plutonium halves in a reactor started a chain reaction that still affects many of us today. It was a moment of powerful synchronicity. I was part of it to be sure, but I was not a prime mover. Marty always reached for the stars and he took us along with him.

I always felt that he was somewhat guarded… the quiet one. Perhaps that’s because I was one of the noisy ones… I don’t know. It’s probably not for me to say. His commitment to his visions never flagged. He was always relentless in the pursuit of his goals. He wrapped those he loved in sheltering arms. He loved his family. Times come and go but his passion for his music and his art was never diminished. He was the most consummate of artists in a most renaissance way. I always felt that he perceived that each day was a blank canvas waiting to be filled.

It was fortuitous that we were able to stay connected in a loose way over the years. He and his friends graced our stage at the Fur Peace Station in Ohio and he was able to join us at the Beacon Theater in NYC the year we celebrated Jack’s 70th birthday.

Very good stuff!

Coming to grips with reality is a process that starts at birth. I am always stunned when one of my friends passes and yet, it would seem that at some point we will all take that journey. It’s almost like, ‘How can this be? There are things I need to say.’ There were indeed things I needed to say and the fault for that lack lies on me and me alone. I don’t think any of us really think that we will live forever yet often that thought lies dormant in the back of our minds. At my age my world is starting to be surrounded by passing. I will miss my friends who rest on the banks of the River Of Time and I am reminded to make the most of every moment as I am swept downstream! Marty’s passing reaffirms the power of love, the power of family, the power of possibilities.

So many of our brothers and sister from that time are gone. Skip Spence, Spencer Dryden, Joey Covington, Paul Kantner, Signe Anderson and now Marty have all joined the Heavenly Band as Rev. Davis would say.

We were young together. I would like to think we made a difference. As for Grace Slick, Jack Casady and myself…

Now we are three…

Anonymous said...

Someone wrote once that Balin had the kind of voice that's more often heard in musical theater than at the front of a rock and roll band, which I guess is just a roundabout way of acknowledging that he was a really, really good singer in a milieu that has never put much of a premium on singing chops. He could have successfully sang anything, but the first few Airplane records would be the high point of anyone's singing career.

buzzbabyjesus said...

Please forgive my ignorance. I know practically nothing of Marty Balin, or the Airplane, for that matter, not to mention the Starship, Jefferson or otherwise.
What a Maroon!

whattawino said...

He was in and on the scene from the jump. He influenced a generation of kids to head to San Francisco or at least experience what they thought that meant. What a band! "Comin' Back To Me" will still stop me in my tracks and touch me with it's simple beauty... And thanks to Mr. Baez for Jorma's thoughts. Perfect.