In 2011 at some point I was playing a solo show at The Standard in West Hollywood when my friend Ryan Fuller (Fort King) introduced me to Ruthann Friedman for the first time. I didn’t know much about Ruthann other than she penned the song ‘Windy’ which was a hit record for The Association in 1967. Ryan then introduced me to her music through the album ‘Hurried Life’ and I immediately became a huge fan of her writing style and started working my way through her back catalog.
I listened to songs like ‘Silver Bird‘ and ‘I’m Asking’, amongst others, and as a songwriter I could only hope and aspire to write poetry and music that perfect. As much as I love ‘Windy’ as a pop song, it does not show the depth and complexity to Ruthann’s songwriting that I really connected with on ‘Hurried Life’ & ‘Constant Companion’, her first solo record.
Ruthann was playing shows round Echo Park at this time so I eventually asked her to play at the first ‘Mad For Sadness’ night I ran at Taix. She graciously obliged. That evening she played almost all new material, that material would later become her ‘Chinatown’ album.
Since then Ruthann and I have become very close friends and she’s been a constant companion in my life in many ways since we first met. She’s incredibly supportive of my music career, nights that I put on round town and the lady shows up and does not mince her words when it comes to music, which is one of the things I love the most about her. It’s also been an experience seeing the ‘young folks’ on the eastside discover her and over a period of time see her fan base grow and her music reach a new generation of music fans and musicians alike.
Earlier this year Steve Stanley from Cherry Red Records finally convinced Ruthann (after a fashion) to release ‘Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook’ which consists of 18 remastered tracks from 1966-1970.
Here’s what the label had to say about these recordings….
“Having written The Association’s ‘Windy’ while living in David Crosby’s basement, RUTHANN FRIEDMAN remained an intriguing and mysterious figure of ‘60s pop for decades. Until recently her released output consisted of a lone folk album issued in 1970. Unbelievably, many fascinating recordings she created with some of the most revered names in West Coast pop have remained locked away in the vaults… until NOW!
Featuring productions by CURT BOETTCHER, TOMMY LiPUMA, and VAN DYKE PARKS, Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook contains 18 tracks from 1966-1970, focusing on Ruthann’s pop/rock efforts from this era. Musicians include RANDY NEWMAN, RON ELLIOTT of The Beau Brummels, and RUSS GIGUERE from The Association!”
This record became the soundtrack to my summer this year. The tracks “High Coin”, “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” and my favorite, “When You’re Near” really show that Ruthann has great pop sensibility but was probably a bit ahead of the game for major labels at that time in terms of her writing style and her incredible ability to write a dark, psychedelic tearjerker like “Don’t Say No”. There are also some beautiful pop songs on there too like “Burning House” and of course “Windy”.
It’s been a real pleasure getting to know Ruthann and to keep discovering all the wonderful music she has written over the years. Her voice sounds as beautiful now as it did then. Do yourselves a favor and get a copy of ‘Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook’ and you will not be disappointed.