In the early 70s, Marty Balin was kicking around unemployed, an ex-member of Jefferson Airplane. Paul Kantner, Jefferson’s guitarist was putting together a new version of the group and asked Marty if he had any songs. He held back one he was working on for a while and gave him a tune called Caroline. When asked to join the band full time in 1975, Marty brought them a tune he thought would take them to the top. Everyone hated it. The song was Miracles.
The band relented though and recorded the tune for their new album, Red Octopus. [classy, huh?] The song shot up the charts to #3 and the album went to #1. Marty was back and was their new lead singer. All for a song which Marty says was inspired by the love of his girlfriend and the love for Indian Guru, Sathya Sia Baba. That’s it, Marty? Are you sure you didn’t get any inspiration from this:
Sound familiar? This song, If Only You Believe, written by Dennis Lambert & Brian Potter was recorded by the Free Movement in 1972 and by Gayle McCormick for her debut LP in 1971. Ironically Lambert was the co-writer on We Built This City, a #1 hit in 1985 for (Jefferson) Starship. Marty was gone by then, by the way.
The album version of this song is nearly 7 minutes, but they edited the 45 down to 3 1/2 minutes. Good thing too, cause it gave the producer an excuse to edit out all the creepy bits of this song. Marty talked about his love a little too explicitly. Now I’m not a prude by any means. It’s just that it comes off sleazy and not very erotic when he, without irony or sensuality, talks about dancin’ inside ya after he’s had a taste of the real world when he’s goes down on you. And the band thought this song was weird? Thankfully the 45 leaves the line about you ripple like a river when I touch you. All I can picture when I hear lines like that is this guy:
I don’t mean to disparage Marty’s ‘love’, especially when he hears windmills & rainbows. Didn’t that drive Don Quixote insane? Maybe Marty is hanging out in the Netherlands eating Skittles. Who knows?
I am very glad I have the 45 in my memory rather than Plato’s Retreat version. It makes me think of buying puzzles at Child World and running home to put them together on the basement floor while my mom had friends over for ‘tea’ upstairs. If only I could have existed on the stars. I heard it was so easy.