TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 136: Jesse Colin Young

What happened to that 1960s optimism, the peace, the love, and the understanding? Unfortunately, the sentiment hasn’t endured socially in the mainstream dialogue over the last few decades. But—as Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello are aware—there’s nothing funny about those ideas. It may not be fashionable, but a focus on spreading peace and love and trying to understand those who are different from you are incredibly important tasks; ones that must be seriously explored if we hope to keep this world spinning for a few thousand more years.

It was Jesse Colin Young’s voice in the summer of 1967 that implored everyone to “Get Together” in a song that wasn’t just a big hit of the psychedelic ’60s, it was a clarion call that epitomized the best ideals of that summer of love. While Young didn’t write the song, it was his version with the Youngbloods that became the touchstone of the concept, transferring a feeling that so many strongly felt into a song. The message has endured as well—albeit through different generational lenses—Nirvana even lifted the introductory lyrics to use in a song from their Nevermind album in 1992.

After the breakup of the Youngbloods in 1972, Jesse continued a solo career and 2023 saw the 50th anniversary and remastered reissue of Young’s most important solo work, Song For Juli. The album was recorded at a home studio that Young built upon a ridge in Inverness, California, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. It’s a dynamic group of songs that explore a wide range of genres and styles. Jesse joins me on this episode to discuss the reissue, but also walks us through many of the high points and pivotal moments of his long career.

Young’s ridgetop home burned down during a massive forest fire in the 1990s, but, by some miracle, the studio that he built survived. If you walk through those woods today, and the wind from Drake’s Bay whistles just right through the pine trees, you might still be able to hear echoes of the romantic and idealistic sentiment from all of those years ago: come on, people now. Smile on your brother. Everybody get together, try and love one another right now. What’s so funny about that?

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector, and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Evan Toth Show and TVD Radar on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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