Richard Clapton

Music is Love (1966 – 1970)

 

Richard Clapton is one of our finest songwriters. His iconic songs – ‘Girls On The Avenue’, ‘Deep Water’, ‘Capricorn Dancer’, ‘I Am An Island’, ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’, ‘Lucky Country’, ‘Glory Road’ – have provided the soundtrack to endless Australian summers.

Richard has never released a covers album: until now. Richard Clapton will release Music Is Love (1966 – 1970) on 9 April 2021.

Two years ago, Richard did some shows in San Francisco, going on the hippie trail to Haight-Ashbury, and he came home buzzing. After a gig one night, he was talking about the trip with an old friend, Terry Blamey, who briefly served as Richard’s booking agent in the ‘70s, and who was back in Australia after 30 years living in England managing Kylie Minogue. “You know what you should do,” Terry told Richard. “You should do an album of hippie anthems.”

The album started out as a deeply personal collection, a way for Richard to reconnect with his musical beginnings. “These songs are where I came from,” he says, highlighting his love for Bob Dylan, The Byrds, David Crosby, Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield.

These are songs that defined an era, including Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’, Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’, Neil Young’s ‘Southern Man’, The Byrds’ ‘Eight Miles High’, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s ‘Almost Cut My Hair’, and The Youngbloods’ ‘Let’s Get Together’.

While recording the album, as the world dealt with Trump, COVID-19 and racial unrest, Richard realised there was something happening here. “It struck me that the world needs these songs.”

I can’t think of anyone more suited to singing an album of anti-establishment counterculture songs than Richard Clapton,” smiles Terry, who serves as the album’s executive producer.

Richard Clapton – Ralph to his mates – has been called “Australia’s favourite hippie”. In his autobiography The Best Years of Our Lives he writes, “I was one lucky hippie”.

During the summer of love, Richard was living in London and Berlin. He owned only two cassettes – Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush and David Crosby’s If I Could Only Remember My Name. “I look back at that whole period of my youth and those years 1966 to 1970 and I think, “wow, talk about being born precisely at the right time.””

Music Is Love (1966 – 1970) is Richard Clapton’s 16th studio album. He has lived – and survived – “the money, the fame and the public acclaim”. In the 80s, he did a six-week tour with Neil Young, and after coming off stage one night, Neil put his arm around him and said, “You’re a bad boy, Ralph. My band hasn’t been to bed for two days. I’m gonna change the name of my tour from Rust Never Sleeps to Ralph Never Sleeps!”

The partying is legendary – INXS’s official autobiography noted that “Clapton was known to party like the Eagles wrapped up in one man” – but the music has always been his first love. Like the protagonist in ‘Midnight Rider’, Richard Clapton has spent his life on the road. “And I’m bound to keep on riding… the road goes on forever.” He was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 1999.

The working title for this album was Hippie, and Richard considered calling the record Almost Cut My Hair, before settling on Music Is Love. “’Music Is Love’ [by David Crosby] sums up the whole album for me. And the reason for doing it.” Produced by Richard Clapton, and engineered by David “Chippa” Nicholas, Music Is Love is an unforgettable trip to the summer of love.

“We are but a moment’s sunlight, fading in the grass,” Richard sings in the opening track, ‘Get Together’, but these songs will live forever. Music Is Love is a collection of songs from another time. But songs we still need. Now, more than ever.

“If you hear the song I sing, you will understand. Listen! You hold the key.”

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